Her hand was only resting lightly on his thigh even though she wanted to push forward and grip onto him. She needed to be anchored by his body, needed to feel it more than she had ever thought possible. Her mouth was curved, ready to say all she had been practicing to in her walk back from town. She just needed a sign from him, a sign that he was ready to embrace the feelings between them in the way that she was.
"And since then, you've loved no one, and no one has loved you?"
He moved forward, looking at her with a mix of hope and wonder, as if he didn't believe she was real.
"Why did you come back?"
"Belle...Belle, wake up!"
Deputy Belle French's head snapped up from her desk at the sound of her boss calling for her. What had she been dreaming about? Belle rubbed her face in an attempt to get the sleep out of her skin. Turning, she saw that Emma was sitting on one of the desks opposite, holding out a cup of coffee for her. Belle took it and tried to ignore the concerned look that the blonde was wearing.
"Have you been here all night again?"
Belle took a hard swallow of her coffee before gazing over the stack of papers spread out in front of her. "If it's morning then I have been."
Ignoring Emma's groan, Belle focussed on clearing the paperwork off of her desk. Five months ago, Emma had been on patrol just outside Storybrooke when she had found a car crashed into a tree. In the driver's seat had been Belle, with no memory of her life before the accident. Since then, Belle had been trying to piece together her life. She had photographs and stories that her estranged father had given her, and a few things Mayor Mills had provided, but that was all. Everything else was a haze. It was easier to work on this mystery at the Sheriff's office than at the apartment she shared with her fellow deputy, Ruby. Her roommate didn't understand her need to know who she was.
Once all the paperwork was organised into a pile, Belle turned back to Emma. Her expression hadn't shifted. "Is everything okay, Emma?"
The blonde shook her head. "Aimee Frasier just called and said Gold stole one of her flowerpots."
Belle indulged the urge to laugh. "The town's loan shark is stealing flowerpots? Come on, Emma."
The look on Emma's face was not an amused one. Belle believed that she should keep her mouth shut. "I know, I know. Just go over there, get the flowerpot back and stick him in the cell for the rest of the day."
"This is the third time this week I've had to bring him in," Belle groaned, putting her research in the binder she used to gather it all together. The binder would go in the bottom drawer of her desk, locked by the key she kept around her neck. She knew that Ruby and Emma respected her privacy, but there were others in town that did not.
As Belle stood up, her boss handed her a bacon sandwich from Granny's as a thank you. "I'm sorry, kid. But Regina's called me in to a town meeting and you know Ruby won't go near Gold."
"I know," Belle pushed her brown curls out of the back of her jacket. "Wish me luck, Emma."
"Good luck kid. Try not to let him get under your skin."
After making sure the file was safely locked away in her desk, Belle grabbed the keys to her car and headed off in the direction of Gold's place. When she had first begun her new life in Storybrooke, Belle had known nothing. Now she knew the way to the pawnbrokers place better than her own.
Gold was anxiously waiting by his window. Such an act had only happened once in his life, a time where he had spent all day waiting for his housekeeper's return. Now he waited for her again, only this time she was the one with the power. Regina had taken her memories, given her a badge to keep her close and told her to steer clear of the man with the cane. As had everyone else in town. But she wasn't scared of him, and there were always ways to see her.
Such as stealing random items from his neighbours, making overt threats to random citizens and some days even hitting people with his cane. It was brutal, unnecessary, but he had to see her. He needed to see his Belle or he would go mad.
The squad car pulled in a little way up the street from his house. No doubt so his neighbours could get a good look at him being put once again in handcuffs. He loved it when she did that, she always made them a little tight. He could smell her perfume then.
Gold grinned when his love got out of the car. Although she didn't remember her past life with him, he knew that it had some effect on her. She wore tight leather trousers, a short sleeved burgundy blouse with a vest cutting low on her cleavage. The necklace she had always worn, the tiny diamond hanging off a golden chain, was there with a key he knew opened her bottom desk drawer. Even after five months of having her in his life, seeing her alive and well made his breath catch.
Her heels clacked on the stairs up to his house and Gold waited for her to knock on his door. When it came, he shuffled to greet his Belle. She looked tired. But she was still his Belle. The first time he had ever seen her in Storybrooke, huddled under a large blanket in Emma's office, she had started to weep without knowing why. She still loved him, under the layers of enchantment he and Regina had enacted. He didn't care what he had to do to break the curse around his little Belle, but he would. He wouldn't let his chance slip them by. He was tired of regrets.
"Mister Gold, did you steal Aimee Frasier's flowerpot?" Belle asked, her hands resting on her hips. She didn't have any patience for him. Pity. He had all the time in the world for her.
Gold shrugged. "I don't seem to recall, Deputy French. Would you like a cup of coffee? I just put on a pot."
The flowerpot in question was right behind him, in full view of her. He smirked as she realised what it was. He had made sure that it was the second thing she saw when she came into his house. The first thing being him, dressed impeccably well indeed. He had made sure his purple shirt had been freshly pressed after he had broken into Aimee Frasier's back garden.
"Why do you keep doing this?"
"I'm sure you'll figure it out soon, Deputy French."
She slammed him against the wall of his foyer, knocking his cane out of his hand. He didn't mind the loss of the stick, especially when Belle pushed herself flush against him to put his hands in handcuffs. She squeezed them tight around his wrists and he couldn't help but groan at the smell of her. She smelled like spring. He could only fantasise about what it felt like to touch her.
"Mister Gold, you are under arrest for petty theft and for being a pain in my arse."
He smirked as he was forced out of his own house and down to the waiting squad car. Mister Booth was working a few shifts for him this week to pay for his father's hand surgery, so he would still get money even if he had to spend the entire day locked in a cell. And if he got to spend it watching the woman he loved, then it was not time wasted.
"Thanks Johnny," Belle said as she handed the teenage boy the money for the pizza resting on her desk.
Johnny grinned at her. "No problem, Belle." The fifteen year old was a regular visitor to the Sheriff's office, always delivering pizza at random hours of the day. 'Pan Pizzas' made the best pizza in Storybrooke, although their rival 'Hooks' was getting better and more ferocious in their feud. Ruby dealt with that trouble - she was always trying to negotiate between 'Hooks' owner James and Johnny's boss Phil.
"See you later Belle!" Johnny grinned although that soon faltered when he saw the legendary pawnbroker hanging out of the cell. "Mister Gold."
Gold waved goodbye to the teenager as he sat in his cell. Belle turned to the paperwork, filling in the last bits and pieces of Gold's third arrest that week. She honestly wondered what his game was, why he was so determined to get into the cells. Of course, he never got arrested when Emma was on duty and Ruby wouldn't go near him after everything he had done to her family. So it was always her call.
Ignoring Gold and taking a slice of pizza for breakfast, Belle thought about the folder hidden in her bottom drawer. Her ID had said her name was Isabelle French, although she had gone as Belle since...since some time, for some reason. For another reason, after graduating from Storybrooke High School, she had decided to travel round Europe and soak up the history. She had been on her way back home when her accident had occurred. She didn't even remember that, she just remembered her father telling her the story.
That was all she had - stories told by a man she didn't recognise as her father. The Mayor had given her photographs of the summers she had worked as her assistant at Town Hall, but they didn't produce anything either. Belle was obsessed with what she had been doing before the crash, and knew she was letting her future slide her by. But how could she have a future when she didn't remember her past?
Despite her uncertainty, Belle did enjoy working at the Sheriff's office. She did enjoy living with Ruby, and she did enjoy the very awkward Sunday luncheons with her father. For some strange reason, she did actually enjoy picking Gold up from his escapades. Even if he did look at her like he wanted to eat her alive.
"May I have a slice of pizza, Deputy French?"
Belle looked at the pizza and then back at Mister Gold. "If you say please."
He smirked and Belle rolled her eyes. Same old routine. She couldn't count the number of times that she had had Gold in her cells, and they always did the same thing. But not today. For some reason, today felt different.
Gold watched as the pen Belle had been holding rolled under her desk. Not being able to reach it, she got out of her chair and went down on her hands and knees to get what she needed. That gave Gold a perfect view of Belle's behind encased in leather. He could see why she had stared at his own many sunsets ago when she thought he wasn't looking. He growled as he watched her shift forward.
"Want me to leave you alone, Gold?" Belle asked over her shoulder.
He smirked. "I do believe that would defeat the object, Deputy French." Gold smiled as she stood up and wiped the dust from her trousers. "Now, a slice, please?"
Gold smiled as Belle brought him a slice of pizza. He would have preferred ice cream, but there was no way he could talk her into that. He smirked as she pressed the slice into his face, smearing congealed cheese and tomato base over his face. "Fancy a second, Mister Gold?"
He took the handkerchief out of his top pocket and wiped his face clear of the remnants of pizza. His Belle was smirking at the state of him. He decided to do something about that. Reaching through the bars he clasped her wrist and pulled her flush against him. Her eyes blazed with something that Gold had to admit he liked seeing. Defiance and a hint of lust. He just needed to aim the former at Regina and not at him.
"You keep asking the wrong question, Deputy French."
"And what's that?" she whispered, her breathing ragged. His fingers were stroking her pulse point, dancing over her skin. He so did like the effect he had on her.
"What do I get out of being arrested so often by you?"
He watched the confusion flare up in her eyes like water under ice. Belle opened her mouth to reply when Ruby's cursing alerted their presence to a third. The former merchant's daughter turned housekeeper turned sheriff deputy slammed her knee into his testicles and forced him to the floor. He may be in need of a new seduction tactic.
Ruby came into the office and raised her eyebrows in confusion at Gold. They were all used to seeing him in the office, but not writhing on the floor. It wasn't something he enjoyed doing. "What's he doing here?"
"Stole Aimee Frasier's flowerpot," Belle explained, offering Ruby a slice of pizza.
Ruby smirked as he spat curses on the floor. "What's he doing on the floor?"
"I kneed him in the flowerpots."
Ruby giggled as she moved over and sat on Belle's desk. He watched the two girls, two roommates, discuss business. Ruby was growing into her own quite nicely, and Gold had to admit that she was helping Belle to do the same. She had always been brave, but there was an energy to her now that he had to admit he was falling more in love with. If that was even possible. If only she could stop being so obsessed by what she kept in her bottom drawer. That energy...that life she had was being wasted.
"Anyway....tonight we're doubling. You've got a date with Gregory, the cute guy from the photography place," Ruby explained. Gold wrinkled his nose. Gregory was the present incarnation of Gaston, the man he had turned into a rose. He was even dimmer in this world.
Watching them, he could see Belle hesitate over Ruby's proposal. Good. She shouldn't be with that hulking dimwit. She should be with him. He would give up everything for her - well, nearly everything.
He had experienced life without her and life with her and he knew which he preferred. All he had to do now was get her on the same track as him.
"You can do a lot worse than Gregory Vale, Belle," Ruby chided, leaning back on Belle's desk.
"Yeah, and she can do a lot better too."
The words had slipped out without him meaning to, but he didn't regret them. They had made Belle smile. Ruby, however, was glaring at him from across the office. "What, like you Gold?" She walked over to face him in the cell.
"Much braver now that you've got a badge and a row of bars between us, aren't we Ruby?"
Ruby flipped him her middle finger. "Much weaker now you keep fawning over my roommate, huh Gold? Is that why you keep stealing things, to get Belle's attention?"
He was about to rebuke the statement, turning it back on her to stop the discussion about his feelings for Belle. But before he could, his love brought his cane down hard on her desk, startling them both out of their attack on the other.
Both of them by the bars turned to the pissed off brunette. "I will go, Ruby, I promise. Now stop picking fights with my prisoner."
Ruby grinned and kissed her friend on the cheek before she headed back out into the big wide world. Belle took another slice of pizza and stuffed in his mouth to stop him talking. "Whatever your reasons for getting arrested Gold...you're wasting your time."
As she turned away from him to return to her desk, he felt his heart drop. He was a fool to believe she could fall in love with him when she was so obsessed with finding out her fake life. She couldn't possibly imagine a future together when she didn't believe she could have one at all.
She should have turned Ruby down. But she and Gold were preparing for a smack down and it seemed the easiest thing at the time to just agree to the date with Gregory Vale. Belle didn't want to go; she had more important things to do then go on a double date. But she was a woman of her word, and she would join Ruby in some pleasant restaurant for an evening that hopefully wouldn't be too horrible.
"God, Belle! You look hot!"
Ruby brushed past her in their tiny bathroom to find her red lipstick. She wasn't sure about that, but Belle did know the dress looked good. The royal blue hem came to just above her knees, and two curled straps held it over her shoulders. The fabric gathered at the bodice. Reaching down, Belle picked up the two golden hoops she would slip into her ears. Gold. God that man got under her skin, and not in a good way. Not always.
"Gregory is going to freak when he sees you!" Ruby stated, bouncing as she threw her arms around her best friend. "He's wanted to ask you out for ages but he's been so shy. When Billy suggested we double..."
"Sounds great, Ruby."
"Better than great!" Ruby grabbed her purse as she heard the buzzer go on their apartment. "Finally you'll be out with a man other than Mister Gold!"
"I'm not out with him!" Belle yelled after her, but Ruby didn't answer back.
Gregory Vale, Belle discovered, was a nice guy. Strong jaw, jet black hair with possibly a little too much hair gel. Wide smile. He had failed at getting a scholarship out of Storybrooke so he currently ran the photography place with his father. He did seem like a genuinely nice guy. If he wasn't so boring, Belle would be interested to see him again. But then she was just used to Mister Gold. Perhaps this was just what normal men were like.
"So, Belle, remembered anything about your life before you returned to Storybrooke?" Billy asked as the waiter left with their dinner order.
Ruby smacked her date on the shoulder, giving him a warning look. Gregory looked interested, but Belle just took a sip of her wine and tried to remain calm. "No, I haven't yet. But I'm sure it will come back to me in good time."
Billy nodded and put an arm around Ruby's chair as the conversation once again halted. There was only so much conversation they could go through - she and Gregory couldn't even talk about her life. She had nothing to share. Belle bowed her head and realised she wasn't ready for this, wasn't ready to start moving forward. She needed to know who she was. She took another large gulp of wine.
"You know, I saw the most incredible sunset the other day," Gregory started, putting his own arm around her chair. He pulled out her phone. "It's a hobby of mine, taking pictures of the sky. The patterns of colour...they're so beautiful."
Belle looked at the photograph Gregory showed her on his phone. It was definitely a good picture, and Ruby gave her an excited grin over the table. "I would love to go shooting with you one evening, if you're free," Gregory mentioned, putting his phone away. "I think you'd like the serenity of it all."
Belle smiled. He may be dull, but he was still a nice guy. He didn't steal flowerpots or hit people with canes or drag her up against prison bars to stroke her...the vibration of Belle's phone wanted to stop all her thoughts about Gold, but it didn't. The call could possibly be her father double checking about dinner on Sunday, or could be Regina checking up on her in general. But Belle knew who it was, and if she didn't answer then she would get yelled at when she went in tomorrow.
"Belle, don't answer it," Ruby hissed as she brought her phone out. It was indeed Emma.
Glaring at Ruby, she opened her phone up. "Hey Emma."
"I know you're on a date, Belle, and I am so sorry. But there was a disturbance at Gold's place and I need you over there, now." She could hear Emma tremble over the phone. "Henry broke his leg, his mother is not answering...dammit Belle I need you to deal with this."
Emma's voice was too much for Belle, and she started mentally preparing herself to go arrest Gold again. "Okay, Emma. I will."
Ruby threw her hands up in the air, pissed off. Belle ignored her roommate and started gathering together all her belongings. Gregory pressed his hand over hers. "I'm sorry you got to head into work, Belle."
She shrugged. "It's me who should be sorry. It's just Mister Gold, he's a nightmare."
"So it is true - Gold does have a crush on you!" Gregory joked, and Billy joined in across the table. It seemed to be a well discussed joke between the two of them and Belle could hear the spite, the mocking in his voice. They were mocking her.
Slipping her coat over her shoulders, Belle left the restaurant. The dress, the dressing up - all for nothing. In the end, she was nothing more than the amnesiac that Gold was obsessed with. This had to stop. The arrests, the touching. At some point she wanted a future, and her future didn't include being at the whim of a pawnbroker. It just didn't.
Gold waited in his living room with a tumbler of whiskey in one hand, the cup in the other. He knew he should put it back in its cupboard, keep it safe and sound but he needed to hold onto it. It was...it was a reminder of who he was. The cane made him weak but this tiny tea cup reminded him of what he had lost, who he had lost. And the power he would wield to get it back.
Outside, a car drew up. He brought himself to his feet and moved to the front door, ready to open it to his new guest. An angry knock reverberated in his house, and Gold opened the door quickly. There stood Belle dressed in a stunning blue dress with her leather jacket over the top. She looked beautiful.
Then she slapped him.
"How dare you?" She slammed his front door so it was just the two of them in his little house, the two of them in close quarters. His cheek stung from the force of her hand, and his heart hurt from her words. "I was on a date. I don't know if you really have a crush on me or just like pissing me off but I'm tired of you calling me out here so the entire town makes fun of me...why do you have a black eye?"
Gold raised his fingers to his face. Another sign of his weakness, his ability to bruise. "One of my tenants couldn’t pay their rent so they decided that beating me to a pulp was a better idea. They ran off when I pulled a gun on them, though."
The anger deflated out of Belle and she walked past him to go into his living room. He was still trying to understand what she had been screaming about. His tactics hadn't been the most subtle, true. But he hadn't wanted to cause her pain by them. He only wanted to please her. As he followed her in, he saw that she was sitting on his sofa and taking a sip of the drink he had poured for himself. She always did surprise him.
"I was in the middle of a date."
"You said. I'm sorry," he stated as he hobbled over to join her on the sofa. Belle raised her hand to drink from his tumbler again but he moved the glass out of her own and into his. He needed it more. He was the one with a black eye and a sore cheek.
She smirked at him. "No, you're not."
Gold shrugged. "I am and I'm not." He chuckled evilly at her. She bowed her head. "I'm sorry I ruined your plans, Deputy French, I am. But I'm not sorry I got to see you." He watched Belle blush. Was he being too obvious? Maybe he needed to be obvious. Maybe getting down on his knees and declaring his love for her would help. "You look beautiful, by the way."
She looked at him like he had slapped her. Always saying the wrong thing - obviously she didn't want a compliment coming from a man like him. A man who had made her the laughing stock of the town it seemed. The whiskey felt harsh against his throat. When he turned back to her, she was smiling sincerely at him. "Did I say something amusing?"
"My date didn't even comment on my dress."
He laughed. Maybe it wasn't hopeless after all. "Well Gregory Vale is a very dim boy. Dull. Idiotic. Not right for you at all." It was true. Even if she wasn't meant for him in this world, then Belle deserved more than some washed up man-child that spent every Friday night trying to get in whatever would have him at last call. He knew a great deal about the inhabitants of Storybrooke, had twenty eight years to know everything about everything.
Everything apart from Belle. The first time he had seen her had been in Emma's office. He'd looked, had searched, had threatened. But her past was just as much of a mystery to him as it was to her. She had no past, whatever place Regina had kept her in was no longer there. But Gold didn't care about her past; he just wanted to be a part of her future.
"At least he asked me out instead of stealing things to get my attention," Belle teased, taking back his glass to finish off the rest of his drink.
Gold took his glass back and went to pour her his own. By the small cabinet of whiskeys, he watched her lean back against his sofa. What could he say to that? How could he say everything he needed to? But his tongue got the better of him, and his spite built up in his defence. "At least I'm actually doing something instead of letting the entire world pass me by."
That got her attention. She sat on the sofa, watching him. In the soft lamps of his living room he could see a tear. But it would not break her skin, oh no. His love was tough, and she wouldn't cry in front of him. "You don't know a thing about my life; you don't get the right to comment on my choices. You think because I arrest you that that gives you a right to be part of my life?"
She'd awakened the monster in him. "Well it's not like you've got anything else, Belle." Her name felt good on his tongue. It was the first time he had used it in this world that hadn't been in a personal moment. "You barely eat; you sleep at the sheriff's station half the time looking for evidence of a life that doesn't exist. I know, I've looked. You're not going to find anything. I don't know where you were before your accident, but you were not in Europe. I may be wasting my time on some frivolous crush." There. He said it. "But at least I'm not wasting my life trying to find something that isn't there!"
He put the drinks down on the cabinet and tried to get his breathing under control. Crush. Was that the best word he had to describe how he felt about her? Love, a burning all consuming love that he had every time he thought, looked touched her? That was more accurate.
He felt two hands press against his side and he was pushed backwards, making him stumble on his carpet. Belle was there, back with the fire she had had in their last argument. The argument where he had sent her away.
"You think you're better than me? You think that whatever you feel for me doesn't waste your time as much as me looking for my memories does?" She laughed at him. "It's not just me you watch. You sit in Granny's every day before my shift starts with your scrambled eggs and coffee and watch everyone! You don't live, you're a voyeur. At least I want something at the end of my time wasting."
He grabbed her hips then, forcing her against him with a thrust. She felt good so close, so warm under his hands. His mind replayed the little moan she gave when their bodies touched. One of his hands slowly reached out to stroke her cheek. "Oh believe me, Belle. I want something."
"You never take it." Her blue eyes were defiant against his. "Today in the station you could have kissed me but you didn't."
He licked his lips, not sure what to say to that. "How long have you known you have no past, Belle?"
She opened her mouth to correct him but nothing came out. She just dropped her head, still allowing him to touch her cheek. "I'm there on paper, a few photographs but that's it. There's nothing else."
"But you keep looking, yeah?" Belle nodded. Oh she looked so heartbroken. "Once I take that chance and you...once I know for sure that there's nothing there, it's all gone. You keep looking even though in your heart you know there's nothing there. It's the hope of something." The hope of a future.
He snorted at that. Denial it may be. He continued to stroke her cheek, enjoying his moment with her. The hope was gone now, the hope of her past and their future...gone. He had ruined both of them in his little tirade. The water broke over her skin then and Gold instantly wiped it away with his thumb. "I'm sorry, Belle. I shouldn't have..."
She smiled weakly at him. "You called me Belle. You never call me Belle."
He beamed back at her, enjoying the way her eyes seemed to light up in that moment. God he wanted to kiss her. "Belle...take it from someone who knows. Wasting something precious as your life and letting it pass you by will only make you miserable. For whatever reason, you have a fresh start in Storybrooke. Stop looking for why."
She paused for a moment, and then spoke. "Why do you have a crush on me?" Belle's lips fumbled over each other. "Why me?"
His face moved closer, too close. She would pull away at any second, would realise who she was dancing with and the moment would be over. Their moments would be over. He closed his eyes but when he opened them she was still there. He was too far gone now, it was best to just throw himself at her mercy.
"Because you're incredible, and you don't even realise it. Because you have pizza for breakfast and don't care." She laughed at that one, her eyes sparkling. "Because you're not scared of me, not really. Because you make me do foolish things in order for me to see you and I don't care because seeing you makes me happy. I'm sorry if the entire town laughs because I like you, I'm sorry if you don't feel like you can have a future without knowing your past." He paused before leaning forward, his mouth so close to hers. "Actually, that's a lie. I don't have any regrets when it comes to you. Not anymore."
Belle grabbed him by his shirt and thrust his mouth down to hers. Gold groaned as he felt her lips slide over his, trying to be as close as he could. His hands grew tighter around her, trying to bring her into him. Her mouth sucked, nibbled, and then her tongue got involved. He opened to her, groaning as he felt her tongue run along the length of his. They were stumbling, stumbling to his sofa but he didn't care. His mouth was gripping hers, his hands were moving over her thighs in an effort to take all of her. He wanted her. And right now it seemed like she wanted him back.
They banged against the sofa and they broke apart. Belle's skin was flushed, swollen. He supposed his didn't look much better. She was smiling at him, and Gold rested his forehead against hers, nuzzling her gently. He loved her; he loved her so very much. "Kiss me again."
She reached up to stroke his cheek, but then the pads of her fingers touched his black eye. "I need to get that statement; I need to arrest whoever did that to you." Was he imagining the worry in her voice, the slight tone of emotion? He hoped not.
Gold shook his head. "I don't want to press charges." He closed his eyes, moving forward for another kiss but she pushed him back to the sofa. His Belle, Deputy Belle, was back with her fire.
"You don't want to press charges? Then why did you..." At least he hadn't made up a fake story to get her over or steal something himself. That had to earn him something. "You are the most infuriating man I have ever met!"
Apparently not. He chuckled at her tone, at how she stood over him with her hands on her hips and her skin so flushed that it looked like she had just come from a run. "I may be, Deputy French. But you wouldn't change me."
"No," she smiled at him, a smile so sincere his heart warmed. "No I wouldn't. But I'm going home now."
She picked up her bag and headed towards his front door. "Are you going to yours and Ruby's place, or to the Sheriff's station?"
Belle turned round to face him, softly smiling at him. "I'm going home."
She may hate him tomorrow; she may bribe Ruby into arresting him the next time. But even so, he seemed to have got through to her. He put the chipped tea cup back in its cupboard and rested his fingers on his lips. No regrets seemed a good way to begin tomorrow.
Belle sat behind her desk and looked at the file in front of her. Fragments of her past life, photographs that told her nothing except things she had done. No feelings, no memories. It was like someone else's life. She really was tired of trying to discover someone else's life. She was tired of people asking her if she remembered anything yet, of people telling her stories that they remembered about her in their lives.
She wanted a future. And she wanted it now.
"You okay, Belle?"
The brunette turned her head to smile at her boss. "I am."
Emma dropped a cup of coffee down on her desk and a lighter too. Belle looked at it curiously for a moment before turning to see Emma smile. "You may think it does, but your past doesn't matter. Only your present and your future do. I didn't hire you because of Regina, Belle. I hired you for the same reason Graham hired me. To create something new."
Belle beamed. New was good. "How's Henry?"
Emma shook her head, rolling her eyes in the process. "Don't ask. I got into a grudge match with Regina over his broken leg. Thanks for dealing with Gold, though. I'm assuming he didn't want to press charges?"
Belle paused as she looked over her file. "Wasn't what he wanted."
She blushed as she thought over what he did want. Her. She couldn't shake the thought of him, them, together. He was infuriating, but the thought of their kiss overcame her again: his mouth on hers, the feeling of his fingers up and down her thighs as if they were going to touch her any second...
"Why are you smiling so much?" Belle looked up to see Ruby enter, ready for work. "Could it be due to these?"
Her roommate put the most beautiful bouquet of roses on her desk in a stunning blue vase. There was a small envelope attached to the rim of the vase and Belle eagerly reached over for it. Please be him, please be him. It seemed alien to her, the idea of thinking about something other than her past. But it felt right. Gold was one of the few people who cared about her future, and despite his wicked side, Belle was beginning to wonder what that would look like. Well, at least fantasise on the possibility.
"I bet they're from Gregory," Ruby nudged her shoulder. "He really likes you!"
Belle nodded, not thinking about Gregory at all, especially not when she had the envelope in her hand. She recognised the script on the envelope, knew the handwriting from many arrest forms. She couldn't help but smile as she opened the little card and saw the words printed there.
"'I very much enjoyed our 'argument' last night. Can't wait to do it again'." Belle laughed. "'Ever yours, Gold'."
Ruby stole the card away from her after a moment and her eyes widened. "I knew he liked you! Hell, the whole town did but this is proof!" Her roommate reread the card twice, her brow furrowing each time. "What argument, Belle? Did you two have hate sex? God Belle if you've slept with Gold..."
Belle hit her friend in the arm, causing her to hush up. She smirked as she did indeed quieten down. "Ruby! Not everything is about sex."
With the conversation at a standstill, Ruby looked at Belle's desk. She looked at the file that wasn't in its drawer and the lighter beside it. She looked at the key without the chain that it had been attached to for so long. Without warning, Ruby reached over and hugged her, holding her close. Belle could barely breathe through the force of Ruby's arms around her. Eventually she pushed her away but her roommate continued to grip her shoulders.
"We should go out tonight, get drunk." Her eyes gazed towards the file once more. "Celebrate you moving on from things! Even if it was with Gold."
Belle hit her again. "I'm not moving on with Gold! I don't know what I'm doing with him. I mean, we did kiss..."
That got Emma's attention and the blonde rushed out of her office to join in on the gossip. They wanted to know everything: how it happened, what it felt like. It all felt new to Belle, and that was when it hit her. She couldn't remember being kissed before. Her first kiss had been with Mister Gold. Deep down, in the part of her chest that recognised who she was, that felt right to her.
Before Belle started to refuse their questions, Emma's phone started to ring. Growling, she answered it."Sheriff Swan...Okay Aimee, calm down...okay so your vase was stolen. Blue." Ruby and Belle both looked to the vase that currently held her roses. "With a black rim and a tiny golden flower round the bottom." Emma's words perfectly described the vase in front of them all. "I'll get Deputy French right on it."
She was going to kill him. She was actually going to kill him. It seemed he wanted a follow up to their kiss and getting arrested was his only way of getting her attention. Well he had got it alright. Emma smirked at her. "Guess you're going to have to arrest your boyfriend now, Belle."
Belle bit her lip. "He's not my boyfriend. We just..." She sighed and stood up, getting her bag. He was a dead man. She was going to throw the vase at his stupid head and then maybe kiss it better. No. Bad plan. Best not to think about his lips and his hands and..."He's a dead man."
Emma and Ruby laughed as she went to arrest him. He was such a dead man. If he kept doing this, one day she would end up doing something she regretted in the cells. Or possibly not regretted at all. This was not a day for regrets. This was the beginning of something new.
At seven thirty five on a warm, Storybrooke morning, Mister Gold was arrested for the fourth time that week. The handcuffs were on a little tighter than usual; Belle's face a little closer to his. The routine was the same, but things had changed between them, even if it was only slightly. For the first time in decades, though, there was the hope of a future.