Jefferson watched the young girl make her way through the crowded streets. In her torn and tattered shirt and pants with her hair tucked up under her cap she looked any other of the local boy riff raffs on the crowded market square. No one would give her a second look to see she wasn’t really a boy.
She reminded him of that street rat Aladdin he had run into before, but that was in another kingdom in a different world.
He couldn’t help but smile every time she picked someone’s pocket. A girl after my own heart, he couldn’t help but think as he flipped his hat on to the top of his head, before following her down the street. He had been tracking her for three days now and he was sure she was the girl Rumple wanted him to bring back.
At first he couldn’t believe the girl who was cover in dirt and muck, in torn and tattered clothes could be the young lady he searched for. But Jefferson knew the lengths people could go to, to survive. If it wasn’t for Rumple Jefferson’s own life could have been quite similar to what he was watching. He shivered as he pictured himself in old raggy clothes. Mumbling to himself, “Note to self, don’t ever let this happened to yourself old boy. Always make sure to stay on Rumple’s good side.”
Movement from his right caught his attention as he notice he wasn’t the only one following the girl. A member of the queen’s guard was now closing in. Jefferson stopped dead in his tracks. “Shit” He cursed. Rumple wanted the girl taken without Maleficent’s knowledge. What could the odds be of Maleficent finally finding her as Jefferson had decided to grab her?
He watched as the girl picked another pocket and went around a corner. The guard followed her. Then again maybe the guard had just spotted her as a thief. Jefferson rolled his eyes, “Oh Rum, you really have no idea how much gold you are going to owe me for this one.” He took off his hat pushing it into his bag and rushed round the corner.
The first thing Jefferson noticed was a blast of heat as he rounded the corner. The girl was fighting with the guard, “Oh Paige! There you are! Do you know how worried mother is?” Jefferson inquired coming to a stop half way down the alley, as the guard turned his sword towards him. Jefferson threw his hands up in the air to show he wasn’t a threat. “Thank you for finding her.” He moved closer putting his hand on the girls arm. “I will just take her home.” The girl tried to jerk out of his grip but Jefferson held tight.
“You know this thief?” The guard asked.
“Thief?” Jefferson looked shocked. He looked at the girl who was glaring at him and back to the guard. “She is my little sister.” Jefferson eyes grew big as he said the word sister giving her a nod taking her cap off so her long blonde hair fell down around her shoulders. “How many times have I told you this stealing problem has to stop?” Jefferson moved in between the girl and the guard. “She will give you back all the items she has taken. She has problems!” He added moving his hand in a circle besides his head, “She likes shiny things.”
“You expect me to believe that she is your sister.” The guard huffed returning his sword to the sheath at his side.
“Oh I know she looks horrible.” Jefferson said, leaning forward into the guard. “She thinks if she is going to go out to steal things she should look the part. It drives our dear mother MAD.” Jefferson stated with a slight giggle. “But I think the fancy clothes make you seem less suspicious.” Jefferson stepped back holding the guards’ belt with his sword. Then with his other hand he smashed the guard’s head into the brick wall.
“Run” Jefferson screamed. But the girl was way ahead of him. “Wait, come back! We were supposed to run together!” He called as he chased after her holding the guards sword in one hand and his bag in the other. As he rounded the corner he saw that he lost her. But he had been following her for the past two days so he had a good idea on where she was going. If he cut across to the left and down two blocks he could beat her to her hiding place.
He ducked into the room and up the stairs to the loft she had been hiding out in. He sat down in the dark corner and waited.
About two minute later the girl came up the stairs and flopped down on the bed spilling out her loot on to the bed. Jefferson stood up out the shadows and put himself between her and the stairs. “Now running away…” he slides a chair over turning it backwards before sitting down. “that is no way to show your gratitude for me saving you from Queen Maleficent’s guard.” He smiled flashing teeth as he lean down over the top part of the chair before adding. “Princess Aurora”
“Who ..?” She hissed backing away from him into the wall on the other side of the bed. “How do you..?”
“Know your name?” He laughed “I know lots of things. The name is Jefferson and I am a traveler of worlds.” He rested his elbows on the back of the chair and placed his hands under this chin. “A very powerful man has paid me to bring you back to him.”
“You mean you’re not working for Maleficent?”
“My dear I just saved you from her guard. Granted the fool didn’t know who he had cornered in that alley but I am sure someone would have figured it out and then the Queen…” Jefferson did air quotes for the word Queen. “…Would have had you.”
“You say Queen like Maleficent isn’t your queen?”
“Nothing gets past you kiddo.” Jefferson stated as he gripped the top of the chair and leaned back stretching out his arms.
“Who are you calling kiddo? I am 16. You can’t be but a year or two older than me.”
Jefferson smiled, “I am a lot older then I look. I guess you would say I am 18, but I am well-traveled between worlds for 18, thank you very much. You … “he waved his hand as if in disgust. “Need a bath, which the man who I will now be taking you too will supply.” He stood up and turned the chair around to face the right direction back at the table.
“Well traveled between worlds? You are mad… there is only one world and Maleficent controls this part of it.”
Jefferson sat back down “You dear, young thing…” He went to pat her leg but she pulled back.
“Don’t touch me.” She said taking a swing at him with a small well concealed knife.
Jefferson jerked back, hitting the chair as he avoided the blade. He raised his hands in mock defense. “Point taken, but you are wrong about this being the only world.” He opened his bag and started looking through it. “There are in fact an infinite number of them.” He continued searching in his bag. “But suffice to say I am here to take you to a better part of this world.”
Aurora watched as his hand disappeared into the bag. First his wrist disappeared into the bag and then his elbow, which didn’t make sense because the bag wasn’t that deep. “How are you planning to take me there? Are you going to fly me there in your bag?” She asked sarcastically.
“Well…no” At last finding what he was so intently searching for Jefferson presented his hat. “In my hat actually…”
She laughed. “Yeah you’re not crazy or anything.”
“Well I guess one has to be a little mad...” Jefferson placed his hat on his head with a toothy grin. “…to travel across worlds looking for a lost Princess who is wanted by an Evil Queen. An Evil Queen who can just by happenstance turn into a dragon. But if Rum says jump I usually say where and how much gold?”
“This man does he work for your Queen too?” She mimicked the air quotes around the word Queen like Jefferson had done earlier in their conversation.
“Rum… I mean Rumpelstiltskin doesn’t work for anyone but himself. I on the other hand work for whoever has things I want. Mainly gold, nice clothes, huge castles…” He drew a line in the dust on the table. “You seriously live here?”
“There is nothing wrong with this place.” She said as a rat ran out from under the shabby looking bed.
“It doesn’t have heat, running water, or a kitchen. Princess do you even remember life at the castle? This is worst then my Queen’s Servant’s Quarters.” Just at that moment the rat noticing it was not alone made a return dash back to the darkness under the bed. Jefferson uncharacteristically lost some of his manners. “Scratch that it’s worse than my Queen’s Dungeons. “
“Spend a lot of time in your Queen’s Dungeons have you?” The princess asked as she stood up off the bed her arms crossed giving him a rather unpleasant glare. Jefferson watched her hand with the knife and shifted unsteadily in his seat.
“I have had to deliver a person there once or twice.” Jefferson said as he gave his head a shake trying not to think about those memories.
“But that won’t be where you are taking me?” She asked cautiously taking a step closer.
“No, I am not here on the Queen’s orders. I do have a Royal Passport from her so I can travel about without being harassed.” He slapped his left hand on his knee, while fanning himself with his hat in his right. It seemed like the temperature had gone up at least 20 degrees since they had started talking, similar to how the temperature had gone up in the alley.
“But she doesn’t know that Rumple wants you. And it’s best for everyone involved that she doesn’t know.” He looked around the room again. “All in all I guess your life could be worst. You could be stuck in Wonderland with the Queen of Hearts after you. Maleficent may be able to turn into a Dragon, and Queen Regina maybe cold hearted, but The Queen of Hearts…” Jefferson shivered convulsively. “…now that is one Crazy Bitch.” Regaining his composure he ended with a smiled. “Here are some words to live by… Never go to Wonderland, if you can help it!”
“Great so if what you say is true, and we can travel to this other world…”
“Other worlds actually… As in ending with an S...” Jefferson corrected her writing a small S in the air with his index finger.
“Fine, if these other worlds do exist, you want me to go to another Kingdom where this Queen Regina isn’t going to like the fact a Princess who is going to grow up to be a Queen, is in her realm? Thanks but no thanks!” She took the last two steps to stand in front of Jefferson. “I think I will just stay in my Kingdom with my own Evil Queen to deal with.” And with that she pushed Jefferson down the stairs and dash out the window. His bag, hat and the sword he had stolen went flying as he tried to stop his fall down the stairs.
It took Jefferson about 10 seconds to collect his bag, put his hat back on his head, and grabbed the guard’s sword as he rushed outside after her. He spotted her jumping from roof to roof as he rushed down the crowded street.
Shit thought Jefferson. I can’t lose her now. If she knows I am after her she will go to ground more then she already had. It would take weeks if not months to find where she would have disappeared to. Jefferson was looking up and didn’t see the guard until after he had tackled him into the alley way.
The guard shouted over his shoulder “In here, I found the guy in the weird coat.”
Jefferson pushed the guard off of him and stood up dragging the sword up with him “What coat are you calling weird? Do you have any idea how much this coat cost? It’s the finest leather in Never… “ the guards’ sword came out and Jefferson jerked his head back, “and you don’t care.”
Two other guards joined the one which had tackled him. “Three against one, well that really isn’t far. I have to tell you I did train with King Arthur and his round table. “
Jefferson dodged the first guard who came at him which caused the guard to go tumbling down against the wall. He brought up his sword to block the second guards blow and he pushed him back into the third guard. Their armor clanged together as they fell to the ground. Jefferson turned to block a blow from the first guard who had gotten back to his feet. Deciding he didn’t like being on the defensive any more he rushed two blows which the guard blocked. But the with the third blow he moved in closer slamming him into the wall and trapped the guards sword arm at his side bring up his elbow into his the guards unmasked face. The guard fell to the ground unconscious.
Jefferson turned as the other two started to advance on him. His free hand went into his bag and he pulled out a little bottle and popped the top off one handed. As the first guard advanced he threw whatever was in the bottle into his helmet. Some of whatever it was got inside the masks and guard fell over asleep.
“Fairy dust.” Aurora muttered to herself. She knew a thing or two about fairies since they had helped her hide from Maleficent when she had escaped the night the Evil Queen killed her parents.
Aurora watched from the roof top as Jefferson fought what he thought was the last guard in the alley way. He rammed the guards head into a wood box filled with fruit. Cracking it open the fruit spilled all around them. Aurora noted that Jefferson didn’t kill anyone. Jefferson leaned over and picked up a red apple polishing it on his jacket. Aurora was about to warn him that there were more guards coming but it was too late.
Jefferson turned to see the head of the Queen’s guard who he had stolen the sword from earlier marching towards him with about 10 to 12 men behind him. The head of the guard raised his sword to Jefferson’s throat and Jefferson threw his sword to the side. “If you wanted your sword back you could have just asked nicely.” He commented still holding on to the apple. The guard motioned for him to drop the apple. “What? First you want me to drop the sword and now my lunch?”
The guard punched him in the stomach causing him to drop the apple and fall to his knees. “Where is that little street rat you saved earlier?”
“See” Jefferson cough trying to catch his breath. “That is the funny part. I have no idea where she got too because your men tackled me before I could catch her.”
“No matter I will find her next. But first your crime is punishable by death.”
“My crime? Death?” Jefferson coughed again “What for? Defending the little street rat?”
“For attacking the Queen’s Guard.”
For the third time Jefferson felt the air grow hotter around him. That is weird he thought but he didn’t have time to reflect on the rising temperature, he was trying to figure out how to talk his way out of this. “I didn’t kill anyone. I hardly think showing where your guards need to improve should be a crime. You should be thanking me for pointing out weakness in your ranks. You should replace them I lied about training with King Arthur and his Round Table it was Captain Hook.” Jefferson comment was cut short as the guard’s sword dig into this neck.
“You talk too much. How much can you talk without your head?” Jefferson fumbles with his bag going for his hat. “Off his head.” The guard shouted raising his sword.
Jefferson had just found his hat when he heard a girl’s voice say. “No off with yours!” and he felt a rush of hot air all around him. When he opened his eyes he saw the Princess standing there and all the guards laying on the ground unconscious
“You’re a witch?” Jefferson laughed falling forward catching himself with his hands… “Of course that is why Rum wants you.” He smiled laughing he got up to his feet walking around the guards’ body pulling his hat out of his bag. “A really powerful witch at that.” He turned in a circle looking at all the down guards.
“It’s not like that. I can’t control it very well. Things usually happen when I am upset.“ Aurora blushed feeling slightly embarrassed at what she had done.
“Well that explains the rising temperature here, and back in your room, and in the alley the first time.” Jefferson counted the times off on his fingers. “You don’t know how to control your emotions. … Wait you were upset they were going to kill me?” He put his hand on his chest in over the top gesture of shock.
His silliness brought a smile to Aurora’s lips. “Well you did save me earlier. So we are even. I am still not going with you.” Aurora stated crossing her arms.
“Oh yes you are.” Jefferson was close enough to grab her and grab her he did. With his free hand he spin the hat on top of his head and in a cloud of purple smoke they were gone, leaving the hat spinning there on the ground of the alley for a second or two before it popped out of sight.
Jefferson and Aurora arrived at Rumple’s castle in the main hall instead of the tower room he usually arrived in. But Jefferson was just happy to get to right castle with the way the girl was fighting him. He had grabbed her because he knew her magic would be low after she had use so much of it and figure she wouldn’t be able to hurt him.
With all her kicking and squirming he couldn’t focus on the place he wanted to land clearly and they crashed into the table in the main hall of Rumple’s Castle. “Awww!” He screamed letting go of her. “You burned me.” But when he looked there was no mark on his arm and the pain was gone.
Aurora made a mad dash for the front double doors but they wouldn’t open for her.
“Well. Well.. Well. Welcome back Jefferson. I see you found our little lost princess.” Rumple purred appearing from the door way of the dining room.
“You could have told me she was a witch.” Jefferson exclaimed pointing at her. “Just for future reference, please let me know if the people whom I track down for you are dangerous or not? She took out half of the Queen’s Guard with a spell. A spell that could have been just as easily aimed at me.”
“Half the Queen’s Guard, really?” Rumple questioned with glee moving closer into the parlor.
“Well like 10 or 12 of them. But who is counting when they have sword at your throat.” He moved aside his coat collar to show Rumple and Belle who had just joined them in the hallway, the cut on his throat.
“Oh Jefferson your hurt.” Belle came over, “Let me help you get that cleaned up.”
“Yes please anything to get away from the Princess Street Rat.”
“Now stop that Jefferson, she is clearly scared out of her mind.” Belle turned to her, “But there is no reason to be Princess Aurora, we will keep you save.”
“Not me.” Jefferson commented. “I already saved her once. I think my work here is done. “He made an over the top gesture, of wiping his hands clean of her, as he started up the stairs. “ I hope you spun a lot of gold Rum.” He turned with a sweeping manner to look down at them in the parlor “because this time I am taking all the gold!”
“Are you staying for dinner?” Belle called up to him.
“No I think I will stop in and see Regina” Then his face light up with a smile like he just thought of something. “Oh Rum I am thinking all the gold and maybe some potions or ingredients.” And with that he turned and headed back up the stairs.
“Don’t touch my potions Dearie.” Rumple called up after him. Jefferson gave a little backward wave of the hand to Rumple’s comment. “I mean it Jefferson” Rumple moved to the base of the stairs to yell up at him.
“Oh Rumple” Belle placed a hand gently on his shoulder. “He is only messing with you, like he always does.” She turned to the Princess. “Well Jefferson was right you need a bath, why don’t you come with me?”
“Come with you? I don’t know you people.” She looked Rumple over. “If you are people... What is wrong with your face?”
“All magic comes with a price, dearie. That is Rule One. If I am going to teach you anything you first have to learn that.”
“Teach me?” Aurora questioned.
“Why yes Dearie, didn’t Jefferson tell you? We are here to teach you how to take out Maleficent and become Queen.”