Chapter 12: Pleases and Thankyous
Emma was more than pleased to see Ben push open the front door and give her a big grin. She smiled back and let out a sigh. "Well I'm glad to see you're alright."
Ben shrugged. "Yeah. I guess I should thank you for… everything." He paused briefly, then stepped out and gave Emma a quick squeeze.
"Yeah, pretty much," Emma grinned, returning the hug. "Look I just wanted to check up on you. And to return this." She handed over Ben's suitcase. "I figured either way you'd need it."
Ben smiled at her again. It was impossible not to tell he was happy. "Don't worry. I'm staying."
Emma found herself smiling back. She'd been hoping he'd say that. "There isn't anything else you need a hand with?"
Ben face twisted into a half smile. "Nothing right now." He poked at the hole in his shirt. "The clothes are probably all I really needed." He shifted aside as Rumpelstiltskin came to stand beside him at the door.
Ben glanced between the two, then broke into a grin and slapped his father on the shoulder.
Rumpelstiltskin looked momentarily startled before he realised the gesture was a display of affection.
"I might let you two talk," Ben said, and disappeared back inside with his suitcase.
"I'm glad this all worked out," Emma said. "For both of you."
"Yes, me too." Rumpelstiltskin glanced away briefly, his hands fiddling with the top of his cane. "Miss Swan, I wanted to thank you for finding Bae."
Emma sighed. "You don't need to. We had a deal, remember. And we can't go back on our deals, can we?"
"Yes, but I only asked you to find him. I didn't ask you to give him a place to stay, and to help him try to get it through my thick head who he was."
Emma shrugged. "Well, maybe that runs in the family. I don't know how many times I told him to not go around antagonising you, but…"
Rumpelstiltskin gave a small smile. "Yes, well, I wish he'd told me sooner, but I can't blame him for my own actions. If you had not come after him when he came for the Knife…" he trailed off, then just let out a sigh and stared at his cane. "Thank you, Miss Swan."
Emma smiled. Despite her frustration with all that he'd done, it was genuine. "Kids are pretty forgiving, Rumpelstiltskin. Even when you don't think you deserve it. You'd think they weren't but… they'll surprise you."
"Yes, well, let's just say I'm very surprised."
"So…" Emma folded her arms. "Are we even? Or am I still in your debt?"
Rumpelstiltskin shook his head. "Most certainly not. If anything, I'm in yours…"
"Careful," Emma smiled. "I might think you mean that. Well, I'll leave you two to catch up." She turned around to leave.
"Wait," Rumpelstiltskin said, "there is one thing you can do for me…"
Emma closed her eyes briefly and let out a frustrated sigh. Why was she not surprised? She turned back around. "Is this still part of our deal?"
Rumpelstiltskin thought briefly. "No. I only asked for one favour… this is… something else…"
"In other words I'm under no obligation? Alright, out with it then…"
Rumpelstiltskin glanced behind him briefly. "The Knife. I…" He stared directly at Emma then, and seemed to steel himself. "I left it in the car. And the car…"
"The car is still in the woods," Emma finished for him.
Rumpelstiltskin nodded. "I'd ask you to take me to retrieve it, but if Bae finds out I was going after it… I don't know if it'll upset him or not, but I don't want to take the chance. If you could go get the car… or if not just the Knife? If you'd like, I'll owe you a…"
Emma shook her head and held up her hands. "You know what? I'm the sheriff, and if you've lost something it's kind of part of my job to help you find it… you don't have to owe me anything."
Rumpelstiltskin looked puzzled. "You're sure?" And a little suspicious.
"Yup. Look, I'll go get it now."
She gave him a coy smile and waved then headed down to her car, leaving him standing on his porch still looking a little confused. Emma smirked to herself, deriving some small amusement from making the man uncomfortable with such a simple act of good will. She climbed in her car, and headed up the road into the woods.
Regina was in a dilemma. "Surely he wouldn't…" she muttered to herself. She stood just inside the tree line, but visible to the road. She could slip away at the first sound of traffic, and no one would even have known she was there.
When she'd seen magic had returned, she'd been elated. But, after a quick dry run in her house, before the inevitable angry mob had arrived, she'd realised she had a problem. The magic wouldn't work! Well, it kind of had… but looking at her dining table… which she had turned into a small pony, she didn't think it was going to do her any good. She'd meant for it to go up in flames. The risk had been too great.
So, she'd run (the pony had actually come in useful). She'd been hiding out in the woods. Not the most fun she'd ever had. Regina had grown too used to the comforts of the modern world. But she was determined. She'd survived, even if it meant a few sneaky trips into town to 'borrow' clothing or food, and she had not yet been caught.
She'd been regaining her command of magic. It had been difficult, and she was still not entirely confident in her abilities. But this…
Regina could sense its power even from here. She knew it was there. It would solve everything; she could take back control of the town. But why would Rumpelstiltskin leave it lying out here?
Regina drew in a breath to steady herself and strained her ears to hear the sound of traffic. Nothing. And it could not possibly be a trap. Not baited with something so precious.
Steeling herself, she stepped from the trees, marching determinedly towards the abandoned vehicle. She didn't even try the door handle, but smashed the driver's side window with the hilt of a dagger and opened it from the inside.
She could sense its power. She didn't need to rummage through the vehicle. Regina reached under the driver's chair and her hand immediately found it.
Regina grinned, and pulled out Rumpelstiltskin's Knife. "Oh, my dear…" She shook her head as she studied the blade, then she ran a finger along its edge. She flinched, as the ever sharp blade nicked her finger. Regina glanced at the drop of blood that formed, then stuck her finger in her mouth and sucked on it for a moment.
"Now why would you leave this here?" She returned her attention to the Knife, turning it over in her hands. "You're going to have to do everything I say." A grin touched her lips and a small laugh escaped. "I won't even have to say 'please'."
Regina looked up as she heard the sound of an engine approaching. When Emma's sheriff's vehicle pulled up, there was no sign the Queen had been there barely moments before. Save for the shattered car window.
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