Belle slowly peeked out the window. The town was mostly dark, with the glow of daybreak. Her tired, baggy eyes scanned the roads. All was clear. With a shaky hand, she let go of the curtain and let it fall, leaving her and her husband in the dimness of their living room. "We have to go," Robert said, in a raspy voice. His left cheek was swollen and his right eye was bruised. He was covered in cuts and marks from the fight earlier and acquired stab wounds on his right upper arm and abdomen. Belle had done her best to stop the bleeding on his wounds and bandage him up. She had done an average job but it was better than nothing. What else could they do? They couldn't go to a doctor. They couldn't go anywhere without receiving taunts or threats of violence. Belle stood still, staring at nothing with her empty, hopeless eyes. "Belle, sweetheart, we need to get out of here," Robert said, "Now, when there is no one out there. If we don't want to run into them we have to act fast. Now is our chance."
They walked quickly and quietly through the chilling cold dawn toward Granny's, Robert trying his best to be swift and silent with his cane. He spotted their Cadillac and stopped abruptly in the middle of the street. The car was now busted up and completely damaged. All the windows were shattered; the rear, hood, and sides were smashed in; and the tires...flattened. On the sides were the faded spray painted words, "Cheat" and "Whore", but now a new one was added: "Murder." Belle's tears ran furiously down her cheeks as Robert stared at the ruin in shock. They were trapped. "Did you really think you were gonna get out so easily?" Belle turned to see Emma Swan standing a few feet away from them, her hair uncombed, face pale, and her eyes puffy, red, and hollow. In her right hand, which was drawn to her side, she held a gun.
1 year earlier
Belle stepped out into the cool autumn air with her box of house decorations. She walked down the stairs of the apartment complex and went straight to the Cadillac where her husband was packing up the trunk. Belle opened the back door and shoved the box right in.
Robert laughed. "Belle, there are so many things in here that it's blocking the back window!"
Belle giggled. "Well I don't have much patience when it comes to organizing things."
Robert raised his brow. "This coming from a librarian?"
"Yes." Belle smiled sweetly and gave him a kiss.
Robert rolled his eyes and muttered, "Looks like I'll be cleaning it up on my own then."
"Oh come on, it's not too bad. I just didn't know where to put the box of decorations in all the clutter. I'm sorry."
Robert chuckled. "It's fine, it's not much a mess anyway."
And it wasn't. Some of their things simply needed rearranging. After a couple minutes, Robert shut the door and the trunk. "And that was the last box?" he asked her.
"Mhm," Belle replied, "this is it...We're really doing this aren't we?"
"We have a new life ahead of us," Robert said, putting his arms around his wife. "A fresh start."
"A fresh start," Belle whispered. Robert smiled and gave her a long loving kiss.
"Well," he said, "it'll take us 5 hours to get to Storybrooke so we better get a move on."
They got in the car and pulled out of their gated community. Belle stared out the window, watching the little city she had lived in for 5 years pass by her. She wondered about Storybrooke and what fortune it would bring them. After working in a few shops over the years, Robert had decided to open up his own pawn shop, as he was skilled in making good deals with people. When hearing about the closed up thrift store for sale from Emma Swan, who happened to live in Storybrooke, Robert accepted the offer. At first Belle was a little concerned that she would be jobless there, but Robert had already learned that Storybrooke's library was hiring a new librarian as the previous one planned to retire soon. Belle thought it was too good to be true. They had actually only visited that small town once before about 3 years ago. Sadly it wasn't a very cheerful visit. Robert's son from his first marriage, Neal, had passed away due to heart trouble. The couple had gone to his funeral, and no one was really in the mood for much of a tour. Neal was such a good man and would often come visit them with Emma--who was his wife at the time--and their son Henry. Henry must have grown quite a bit, Belle thought. The last time she saw him he was about 11. Other than that one time trip, Belle and Robert had always been much too busy to go to Storybrooke, and they just didn't have the money to catch plane tickets. Besides being eager to see family, they've always been the type of couple to keep to themselves, which is why moving to a smaller town away from all the hustle and bustle was going to be good for them. Or at least it should be.
Belle awoke with a start as their car jerked back into its lane.
"Jackass!" she heard from another driver outside.
"Yeah fuck you too," Rob muttered with a wave of his hand.
"Oh my god!" Belle cried out. "What the hell happened?"
Robert yawned. "Sorry dear, I was falling asleep."
"What? Why didn't you tell me you were tired? Robert, you could've had us killed!"
"Yes, COULD have," he said.
Belle shook her head. "Not funny. Pull over somewhere so we can freshen up and switch places for a while. How much longer to Storybrooke?"
"About 2 more hours."
Belle nodded as Robert took the exit off the freeway. They were almost there and it was a relief. They had gotten a late start and it was already dark out. Poor Robert. She felt bad that he had to do most of the driving, especially since he had stayed up most of last night doing last minute packing, even though she told him a thousand times not to worry about it. "Honey?" she said, resting her hand on his arm.
"What is it?"
"Next time we have to make a trip like this, let's split the driving equally."
"Belle really, you don't have to worry about it," he reassured her.
"I can handle it." Belle laughed, "Really? Robert we almost crashed!"
"I am sorry about that you know."
"Yes I know, and that is why we will take turns next time because you deserve to have a break every now and then."
Robert parked in front of a gas pump at the gas station. He looked at his wife with a loving smile. "I love you," he said.
"Right back at you," she chuckled.
Robert laughed then said, "It's a good thing you told me to stop. We were almost out of gas. How about after this we have dinner? I have a very special restaurant in mind, a place that serves deluxe steaks in between lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, finely seasoned and flavored sauces, and soft freshly baked bread with a side of crispy sliced potatoes and our choice of drink. Also, did I mention that we will be dining with a king at this exquisite eatery?"
Belle grinned. "Really? A king? Well what is this lavish place called?"
"I'll give you a hint. Look behind you." Belle turned to look out her window and burst out laughing. "I knew it!" she giggled.
There across the street from them, stood a fast food place with bright yellow, red, and blue neon sign that read "Burger King." She gave Robert a playful slap on the arm and then kissed him gratefully. "I love you, you silly imp."
Robert chuckled and tucked her loose hair behind her ear. "Right back at you dear."
They got out of the car. Belle went into the convenience store to use the restroom and Robert worked on filling his car with gasoline. He thought about Belle, and this move. Storybrooke is a lovely small town. Best of all, it was a quiet peaceful place, perfect for a secluded couple like themselves. He knew Belle would be happy there and that she would make a few nice friends for herself. As for him, he had his shop to look forward to, and his grandson whom he hadn't seen in quite a long time. He also had his memory of Neal, which pained him, but he also saw it as a good thing, a way to be closer to his son. Robert saw Belle walk out of the store and back toward the car. She gave him a dazzling smile when she saw him notice her and Robert couldn't help but feel content. Everything about Storybrooke seemed rather pleasant and he was glad that he could share his life there with the most beautiful woman in the world.