He heard the bell ring as Marco left the shop. Rumplestiltskin made his way back past the counter and to the dollhouse Marco had traded in return for a fortnight rent free. Rumplestiltskin understood the difficulties a single father faced afterall, which led to deals being made that others couldn't hope to get away with.
Staring at the little wooden house Rumplestiltskin wondered where he should display it, certainly not near the puppets. He grimaced. While they might be the only dolls he had within the shop it seemed a bit cruel, even for him. He was still pondering this when he heard the rolling rumble of thunder.
Limping slowly over to peer out the front door he noted the dark skies with a smile. The storm that had threatened all day seemed about to break which would give him a much-needed break from the idiots that often wandered into his shop. In fact, his smile grew, he might as well close up early and head home to Belle.
With a flick of his wrist Rumplestiltskin flipped the sign to closed, locked the door and made his way to the backroom. Marco's dollhouse could wait until the morning, he thought as he gathered up his jacket and car keys. As the rain began to pound the pawnshop roof he considered the umbrella hanging from the coat rack. He imagined the fool he would look like trying to hold his cane and umbrella while unlocking the car door. Grimacing he decided to just make quick work of the three meters from the backdoor to where the cadillac was parked. He could handle a bit of rain.
He stepped out, locking the door, and umbrella, behind him. Then, as if to taunt him he cursed, the storm seemed to pick up. He gathered himself together to step away from the meagre shelter the shop offered, glaring into the rain. He was about to rush to the car, as much as he was able, when he stopped.
Rumplestiltskin tilted his head and strained his ears for the sound that had stopped him. He was about to dismiss it when he heard it again, weaker this time. Looking around he couldn't see the source and considered leaving. However he couldn't convince himself and after all, he thought with a sigh, Belle wouldn't approve. So he stepped out into the rain and began looking.
Luckily he kept behind his shop free of junk and the only out of sight places were around the dumpster and under his car. Not looking forward to getting down to check under the car, Rumplestiltskin made his way to the dumpster first, becoming more soaked every step of the way.
He heard the sound once more as he rounded the dumpster and saw the cardboard box someone had left there. His hair was soaked and he felt his rage begin to burn as the rain practically destroyed the box. Someone had just left the box here, behind his shop, with the storm brewing all day. As he bent down he heard the sound again, sounding very weak and sad. Someone, Rumplestiltskin knew, was going to pay quite dearly for this.
Belle was curled up reading on her chair, enjoying the sound of the rain, when she heard the car pull up. With a smile she bookmarked her page and jumped up, rushing to the door to greet her husband.
'Rumple! You're home early.' Her grin widened as she threw the door open, only to fall at the sight of her husband.
And a sight he was. Her Rumple was soaked from head to toe, his hair plastered to his head and his expensive jacket was dripping all over the front porch.
'What happened!' she rushed him inside and shut the door. 'Where's your umbrella, you silly man?'
He looked a bit sheepish at that as he put down his cane and took off his wet jacket. Ruined, she thought with a shake of her head. It was then that Belle noticed the scarf he held bundled in one of his arms as his other hand reached up to adjust something within. She gave him a curious look.
'Ah, Belle,' he pulled at a piece of scarf and stepped a bit closer, 'I hope you don't mind that I brought home a houseguest, he shouldn't be much trouble I should think.'
She peered into the bundle and couldn't help the way her heart melted.
'A kitten!' she awwed at the little orange creature. It was so small and had obviously been quite as soaked as her husband before being wrapped within his scarf, his fur wasn't fully dry yet and he looked miserable.
As she stuck her finger in to touch his little orange covered ears, he opened his eyes and looked at her before meowing pitifully.
'Oh Rumple, the poor thing! What happened?' she continued to coo at the kitten while meeting her husband's eyes. She could see the barely constrained anger that he was holding back while he cradled the little creature in his arms. He opened his mouth to answer her.
He looked quite surprised and Belle had to hide her smile behind her hand. He was soaking wet, she remembered, she shouldn't laugh at him no matter how pitiful and cute he looked in that moment.
'Here,' she reached for the kitten, 'Give him to me and you can tell me what happened after the both of you are dry and fed.'
With a grateful look he passed the scarf and kitten bundle over. Belle kissed him on the cheek and headed for the kitchen to warm up some milk.
Belle was outraged. She just couldn't believe someone would abandon a defenceless little kitten, especially with the storm brewing.
'How could they?' she couldn't help asking hotly, 'And why leave him there? Why not take him to the animal shelter?'
Rumple sipped his hot chocolate while they both watched the kitten lap at his own warmed milk, he was so small and couldn't be more than a few weeks old.
'Perhaps they thought the Dark One had run out of kitten hearts for his evil potions.' he quipped wryly with a wiggle of his fingers.
She smiled, as she knew he had intended, 'But I thought you skinned kittens for their pelts, not their hearts?' She tried to look coy despite her amusement.
'Belle!' He stated with mock outrage as he put down his mug to scoop up the kitten, 'How could you say that in front of him!' He brought the kitten close to his face, 'Don't worry little one,' he reassured him,'I don't use hearts in my potions and it's children I skin.' He smirked at Belle.
While Rumple was looking at her the kitten wriggled forward in his hands just enough that it bumped his little nose to Rumple's own. This time Belle couldn't help but laugh at his look of befuddled astonishment.
She stood and rounded the table towards them. Leaning forward she rubbed her own nose softly against Rumple's, smelling the rain on his skin and smiling. He still looked confused and hadn't put the kitten down, but now his expression had softened.
'What was that?' he had a small smile now.
Belle grinned at her husband, 'You saved him, so we were giving our hero thank you nose kisses.'
'Nose kisses?' his smile grew.
'Yeah.' She nodded decidedly daring him to question her on this, 'Nose kisses.'
He grinned mischievously, 'Really?,' he raised the kitten again and rubbed his nose to the tip of the kitten's. The kitten meowed in protest.
'Looks like I'm not very good at these nose kisses', he drawled. He carefully placed the kitten back on the floor in its bed of blankets next to it's bowl of milk. The kitten snuggled into the warmth they provided and seemed ready for sleep.
'Don't worry, Rumple.' Belle grinned as she reached for him,'I'm sure you'll be a very quick learner and it might even warm you up.'
Nose to nose, Rumple looked at her softly, all the love he felt for her was clear in his eyes. 'Anything for you, sweetheart.' he breathed.
The little orange kitten began to purr.