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Lunch Break

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Tuesday, November 3, 11:22a.m.

   Gold tapped the end of his pen against the paper, glowering at it as if he could burn it with his vision. Clicking the pen, he brought the tip down to hover over the paper before growling. He stood up and threw his pen, satisfied with watching it hit the wall. Fortunately, it was stainless steel, so it didn’t spatter his crisp wall paper with ink. Gold grabbed the half-filled paper and crumpled it in his hand, tossing it into the trash bin.

“Bollocks,” he muttered, laying his palm flat against the cool surface of his desk.

   He was the best lawyer in New York, and he couldn’t write a simple opening statement. Who was he if he couldn’t win this case? ‘Bloody worthless.’

“You know, there are other ways of releasing your temper besides taking it out on your lovely wall. I know a good therapy circle you could attend.” Someone pushed his door open.

That would normally set him off, but his friend never knocked. “Jefferson, to what do I owe the displeasure?” Gold snapped.

“I didn’t mean take it out on me .” Jefferson straightened his tie in mock condescension as he strutted over to Gold’s desk.

“Yes, yes. I apologise. This case is stressing me out,” Gold sighed and sat back down.

Jefferson tsked. “And you’re not even getting paid for it. Such a shame.” 

“It’s the most important case of my life, and I can’t even fathom how to begin.” Gold ran his fingers through his jaw-length hair anxiously.

“Really? I’m pretty sure you’ve had more important cases than a lawsuit for your career-” Jefferson started.

“I said ‘life,’ not ‘career,’” Gold corrected.

Jefferson pulled one of the chairs from in front of the desk and set it next to Gold before sitting down in it and crossing his legs, “What’s so special about this one, hmm?”

“Do you remember Bae’s young friend, Morraine?” Gold asked.

“The pretty little blonde?” Jefferson furrowed his eyebrows.

“Yes. She and her family were taking a boat out to a lake for vacation a few weeks ago; in the middle of the lake, the motor faltered and exploded. The boat filled with water, and when Morraine’s parents jumped out, the boat flipped. Her father had thought he had a good hold on her, but she was trapped under the boat.” Gold watched Jefferson drop his head and put a finger over his lips. “By the time they were able to flip the boat back over, Morraine had drowned.”

Jefferson shook his head. “How old was she?”

“Fourteen,” Gold sighed.

Jefferson ran his tongue over his teeth. “And what exactly are you doing?”

“Her parents had bought the boat three years prior from some man in Boston. They’re suing him on the basis that he knew something was wrong with the boat. Since he has been accused of several crimes before and it had to do with a child’s death, the court accepted the case. I’m helping Morraine’s parents sue him as a favor… pro bono.” Gold steepled his fingers in front of him, sucking his teeth in contemplation.

“Dang. You said you were doing this lawsuit for free, but… dang,” Jefferson rested his elbow on the desk, “Do you think this fellow knew?”

“I don’t know, but I’m clearly willing to bet my reputation on it.” Gold motioned at the paperwork spread across his desk.

Jefferson’s face broke into a grin, “Finest lawyer in New York; never lost a case. You should put that on your business card.”

Gold gave him a flat look, “Then it will just sound like I’m full of myself.”

Jefferson tilted his head to the side, “Aren’t you?”

   Gold snorted, standing from his rolling chair. He needed coffee; whether to drink or throw in his face, he hadn’t decided. It was eleven twenty-eight, so his lunch break was in two minutes anyways. He could go to the nearby cafe instead of subjecting himself to the torture that was the office’s coffee machine. Almost everyone in the building was either bordering on rich or swimming in money, yet no one bothered to buy a good coffee maker. These people were animals.

“I’m taking lunch,” Gold announced, shrugging his suit jacket on.

“Say ‘hi’ to Ariel on your way out.” Jefferson smirked. 

“She’s married,” Gold deadpanned.

Jefferson just sighed. “A guy can dream.”

“Are you going to stay in here?” Gold inquired.

“She looks like an angel. No, a mermaid. Right out of the ocean,” Jefferson mused.

“Jefferson?”

Jefferson grabbed a pen off of Gold’s desk, running it between his fingers, “And her hair is like strawberry silk-”

“Jefferson!” 

“Hmm?” Jefferson turned his head.

“Are you staying in here?” Gold asked again.

“Maybe for a little while. If I hide in here, maybe the Evil Queen won’t find me.” Jefferson grinned.

“Regina’s not that bad.” Gold picked his pen up off the floor and deposited it on his desk.

“She always has more work for me to do,” his friend complained.

“Jefferson, you’re a lawyer .”

And ?” he looked at Gold expectantly.

“Nevermind.”

   Jefferson moved to Gold’s desk chair and spun himself around once before looking over the paperwork on the desk. He looked over at the phone and slid his index finger over all of the buttons before landing on one near the bottom.

“Does this one summon her?” Jefferson asked when Gold’s digits landed on the handle.

“Summon who?” the man huffed.

“Ariel! Who else?” Jefferson flashed his teeth.

“You will not subject that poor woman to your company. She deals with me all day, she won’t deal with you, too.” Gold shook his head, but smiled nonetheless.

“What do you mean? I am delightful!” Jefferson scowled.

   Jefferson looked back down at the button happily, like he had the whole world on a platter. He smirked at Gold, waiting for the man to walk out of the office. Gold walked back over to his desk, yanking Jefferson’s hand away from the phone before leaning down.

“Do not, under any circumstances, press this button.” Gold squinted at Jefferson.

   Jefferson just crossed his arms and pouted at the desk. Gold sighed and walked back over to the door, casting only one glance back at his friend before exiting. He walked down the hall to where a large desk was stationed near the elevators. He saw his lovely red-haired secretary sitting there, sorting through something he had probably forgotten about.

“Mrs. Fisher?” Gold called while he walked towards the metal doors.

“Yes, Mr. Gold?” she answered automatically.

“If someone buzzes you while I’m away, ignore them,” he ordered, pressing the descension button.

“Yes, Mr. Gold.” Ariel nodded with a baffled expression.

 

=~<3~>

 

Tuesday, November 3, 11:34a.m.

   Belle pushed the next book into place carefully, making sure not to bend any of the pages. She preferred hardcover books for that very reason, but the library needed variety for all of its patrons. She had gotten a new shipment of books that week due to a donation from Gaston's Gadgets, her fiance’s business. One of her fiance’s businesses. The young adult’s science fiction section had needed new books, so she sent the majority of the donation money into those. No one could ever have too many books, and she had a whole building to fill, so she figured everything worked out perfectly. Mrs. Potts, the only other person who worked at the library, had thought so, too.

“That is a lot of books,” said a voice behind her.

   Belle yelped, jumping back with a hand over her heart.

“Relax. Just me.” A tall brunette smiled.

   Belle allowed her breath to steady as she recognized her friend, Ruby, standing with her purse set near her foot and her arms stretched out in front of her. The librarian gladly accepted the hug, melting into her best friend’s - sister, really - embrace. Ruby ran her hand fondly over Belle’s red-brown curls.

“How have you been, sweetie?” she asked quietly.

“My wedding is in two weeks. How do you think I’ve been?” Belle sighed into her friend’s shirt.

Ruby pushed Belle back, holding onto her upper arms to give her a once over. “You’re not wearing your ring.”

Belle frowned, looking at the floor guiltily. “It’s just, it was very nice of him, really… I think it looks gaudy . It has a huge diamond that would probably drag me to the bottom of the ocean if I was ever pushed in.”

“You’re about to get married and you’re worried about drowning? Belles, what if it had been Gaston behind you?” Ruby cocked her eyebrow skeptically.

Belle put her hands on her hips, “I’ve thought of that. The ring is in my pocket. I could just shove my hand in there and grab it. And you can call him ‘Gus,’ you know.”

“‘Gaston’ will do just fine, honey. What are you going to do when you marry him and can’t take it off?” she watched the librarian carefully.

Belle hung her head, “I will be subjected to wearing it all day . Rubes, people will stare .”

“In his mind, I think that’s kind of the point. And people staring have never bothered you. Remember in elementary school when everyone started calling you ‘odd’ because you like books, and you hit Keith in the head with one of your hardcovers for calling your book ‘stupid’?” Ruby nudged her friend’s shoulder playfully, prompting Belle to smile.

“Yeah.” She grinned reluctantly.

“What are you going to do if someone calls your ring ‘stupid,’ then?” Ruby asked leadingly.

“Agree with them,” Belle laughed.

“Oh, come on!” Ruby smacked her shoulder playfully, but laughed along.

“Wanna get a muffin? I’m starving.” Belle grabbed Ruby’s hand.

   The two walked out of the building at eleven forty, intent on getting to Lupus Cafe at twelve. Mrs. Potts would watch the circulation desk while her coworker was gone, and Belle could finish putting the books away when she got back.

   Talking and laughing with Ruby all the way to the cafe, her friend almost ran into someone on their way in. He quickly moved out of the way and kept walking, though, pushing past Belle in his hurry to get to the door. All Belle saw was a well-tailored suit and long-ish brown hair before the door shut behind him.

“Jerk,” she muttered.

“Man, no one cares anymore. Everyone’s in a hurry, and everyone else be damned.” Ruby shook her head. “I have the four to twelve shift today. Can you believe I have to deal with these people until twelve a.m.?”

“They’re always this rude?” Belle asked incredulously while she got in line.

“Most of the time.”

   Belle looked around, smiling at all the people. It was a small cafe, but it felt just as much like home as Granny’s Diner had in Storybrooke. Ruby and Amilia - Ruby’s grandmother - had brought the jukebox over with them when they moved, so it sat in the corner, happily waiting for use. It was different in a lot of important ways, though. In Storybrooke, everyone had called Amilia "Granny" - Belle and Ruby still did. Here, everyone just called her by her first name with no welcoming tone or cordiality. In New York, it wasn’t one big family; it was a bunch of individuals living their lives. As much as she missed Maine and her father, Belle was happy here. Homeliness was just the cost she had to pay for happiness and anonymity. There was mild comfort that came with knowing none of these people cared about her business. In a small town, everyone thought gossip was the best thing since toilet paper.

“When’d you get all the new books?” Ruby brought Belle out of her wistful reverie. “I thought the library was tight on funds.”

“Gus donated a ton of money.” She smiled, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes.

Ruby snorted, “He probably wants to look all sweet and innocent, donating to a public place. Next, he’ll offer to have a top-brand fountain installed in the park.”

“I think he said something about that this morning,” Belle giggled.

“Public suck up,” her friend murmured.

“I suppose he just wants to maintain a good face for his business and his employees. If people stopped buying his things, he might have to lay people off,” Belle reasoned.

“You’re too good for him, Belles, you know that? It’s not about the people for him, it’s about the money. And I’m pretty sure he’s rich enough that this won’t bother him. Unless he goes to jail, of course.” Ruby slung her arm around her friend’s shoulders.

Belle sighed, “I always dreamed of a wedding surrounded by roses and gardens, not prisoners and bars.”

“You’re still going to marry him if he gets locked up? Honey, no,” Ruby snorted.

“Well, I didn’t say ‘yes’ because I thought I would get my dream wedding; he wanted to get married in a room filled with animal heads on the walls, anyways. I said ‘yes’ because I love him.” Belle stepped forward as the line moved.

“I will never understand you. You’re totally the Beauty to the Beast,” her friend exhaled.

“He’s not a beast. He’s my fiance.” The librarian nodded firmly.

“You know, in the movie, Gaston gets killed, and the real Beast marries Belle.” Ruby grinned.

“Oh, shut it,” Belle laughed.

The line moved forward again before Belle spoke, “Do you really think he’ll go to jail?”

“I don’t know. I heard Gold is a great lawyer. He’s won harder cases than lawsuits.” Ruby patted her friend’s shoulder. “I’m sure everything will work out the way it was meant to be.”