Chapter 9: The Knife
"Yeah," said Emma. Too much work, too much madly running around making sure everyone behaved themselves and didn't run anyone through with a sword. Weather was a safe topic; she felt like discussing nothing else. A far away rumble of thunder underlined her words.
Snow frowned, turning the hot water tap on harder with a scowl. "Do you think that you could tell your boyfriend to get out of the shower?"
Emma sighed. "Snow, you know he's not my boyfriend…"
Her mother gave her a wicked grin. "Yeah, but Henry says I have to stay in character…"
"Of course he did…" Emma shook her head. She loved Henry to bits. But actually living with him was getting to be handful. Maybe it was the cramped quarters, but she was finding out what it was really like to have a child.
"Seriously, he came in like half an hour ago and hasn't come out... he's got to have used all the hot water by now."
"Yes, mom," said Emma. This earned her a glare from Snow. Emma went down to the bathroom door. Just as she reached it she heard the water turn off and something clatter to the floor of the shower. She heard Ben curse. "Hey, Ben… do you think you could not break our bathroom? It's the only one we've got…"
She could hear him mutter something, then more clattering. In a moment the door opened revealing him standing in a towel and looking a little sheepish. "Sorry…" he muttered. "I really needed to wash my hair, got grease bloody everywhere…"
Emma looked him up and down, only briefly distracted by his bare chest. "What happened to you?" she asked.
Ben rubbed at the bruise on his shoulder and winced. "Yeah… papa didn't take kindly to me pinching his car…"
"You did what?! Ben…"
"I know. I'm stubborn… I didn't actually steal it I just got Belle to bring it the shop."
"And he did that to you? Wait, I shouldn't be surprised…"
"It wasn't about the car," Ben huffed.
"That damn… the Knife." Something flashed across his face then. An anger that Emma hadn't seen him show before. His hands clamped into fists, hanging useless at his side.
"The knife… you mean the Knife?"
Ben frowned. "He told you about it?"
Emma shook her head. "Of course not. Henry's book… I remember seeing… wait, let me show you…" She turned to head to the bedroom she shared with her son, then turned back around. "Maybe you'd better get dressed; put on a shirt. I don't want Henry to see…"
"Yeah, okay, I got it…" Ben closed the bathroom door.
Emma went into the bedroom and retrieved the book, sitting down on the bed.
Ben followed a moment later, now wearing jeans and a t shirt. As he sat down next to her, Emma noticed he was also starting to get a black eye, but at least it didn't look as bad as his shoulder.
"What's this?" Ben asked.
"Henry's book. For some reason it's very… accurate. Unnervingly so."
"Where'd it come from?"
"Damned if I know…" Emma flicked open the pages, finding with some difficulty Rumpelstiltskin's story. Perhaps it would pay if she got to know this a little bit better.
Ben leaned over. "That's the Knife…"
Emma skimmed the pages. She really did need to take a better look at this. "Apparently it's something to do with the source of his power. Ben, when you said this was about the Knife and not the car…"
"The Knife was in the car. That's why he went nuts on me."
"Can't you see how dangerous this is? Especially now? You need to tell him who you are, before you get hurt worse…"
Ben stood to his feet. "What does it matter? That damned Knife! He still has it! Why can't he let the damned thing go!?" He lifted a fist as if to slam it into the wall, but just managed to hold it in. "What does he need me for? He's got the Knife!"
"Ben…" Emma stood up and grabbed his arm, bringing it down before he changed his mind and did some damage to their little apartment. "How are you supposed to know if you don't tell him? You have to tell him; even if it's just to make sure he doesn't hurt you again."
Ben drew in deep breaths, then pulled his arm free and turned away. "I have to get rid of that Knife…"
"No, stay away from the Knife entirely!"
Ben turned at her commanding tone. "I… I have to do something. Look what it's done to him." He let out an exhausted sigh, and hung his head.
Emma reached a hand to his shoulder, then moved it right before she touched him to his back, for fear of hurting him. "If you go near that again, he's going to kill you. For once, stop trying to do things on your own, and listen to me. Tell him who you are. Somewhere away from his car, and away from the Knife. He won't kill you for that, even if he doesn't believe you right away. But Ben, you have to stay away from that Knife. Promise me."
Ben nodded slowly. "Yeah, alright."
Rumpelstiltskin wondered if Belle had suspected he'd done something to Ben when he'd finally returned with the car. But, for once, she had him entirely confused. Usually, if she'd taken issue with something he'd done, she would not hesitate to spell it out for him.
He's snapped at her when he returned over her taking it in, to which he'd got a terse reply on him never actually telling her not to. Then she'd asked about the man.
"I only gave him what he deserved. Don't you see he was just using you to get to me?"
"Because that's the only way he'd talk to me, is that it?"
"No. Because he took my car!"
"It's just a car! What are you so scared of?"
"Nothing. I have magic, what do I have to be afraid of?"
"Lots of things. I can't imagine why, with the magic. But you're definitely scared. Did you hurt him?"
He sighed. "Not permanently."
She fixed him with a glare.
"What does it matter to you anyway? He was using you, Belle."
"It should matter to you."
She sighed. "He didn't tell you, did he?"
"He told me he wanted a deal. You knew about this?"
She would usually have told him the truth then; tell him exactly what she thought. She would tell him exactly what he was thinking too, like she could see through him as if for all his attempts to hide his feelings he was nothing but a thin pane of glass.
Instead, she'd shaken her head and muttered something about being 'too much alike' and then stomped off into the kitchen. What was that supposed to mean?! Rumpelstiltskin didn't like these sorts of arguments. Belle was always crystal clear. This just left him confused.
They hadn't really spoken to each other for the rest of the night, though they made no overt attempts to relocate to a different part of the house. Eventually, Belle went up for a shower. She'd been gone for nearly five minutes, when Rumpelstiltskin remembered he'd meant to hide the Knife again, once she was out of the way. He'd been too distracted wondering what was going on with her.
A brief hint of fear stabbed at him, but he pushed it down. The Knife had been safe in the car for a few months. Ben hadn't even found it. It wouldn't suddenly be a problem because he'd forgotten if for five minutes. But he should move it, one because Ben may have seen it, and two because the car had been a rather silly place to hide it in the first place. And, as he heard the thunder growing nearing, if he left it much longer he was going to get his suit wet.
With a sigh, Rumpelstiltskin stood to his feet and headed towards the front door. He was nearly there, when he thought he heard something creak. He was imagining things surely, but it sounded like the bonnet of his car opening.
Rumpelstiltskin felt his heart skip a beat. He retrieved the hand gun he kept in the little table in the entrance hall, and cautiously opened the front door.
Ben stared up at the lounge room ceiling. He lay on the sofa, for once, unable to fall asleep. A flash of lightning briefly lit the ceiling through the crack in the curtains. He counted to thirteen before he heard the crack of thunder. His father had taught him that, he remembered. He shook his head. How had that come to mind? And what if sound travelled faster or slower in this world? He shook his head again at the absolutely randomness at that thought. Then, with a growl, pushed himself to his feet.
He hadn't planned to lie to Emma, he told himself. But his black, hooded jacket has lying beside the sofa, waiting for him. As were his shoes. He slipped these on, and quietly opened the front door.
"Where are you going?"
Ben spun around to find Henry standing in the hallway, rubbing at his eyes.
"What are you doing up?"
"I was getting a glass of water… you didn't answer my question."
Ben sighed. This kid was way too smart. "I'm going out…"
"At nearly midnight? Is this about your dad?"
"Yes. Henry… I'm, I'm going to go tell him who I am." When, Ben suddenly realised, had lying come so easily to him? He'd been doing it so much over the last week that had slipped out with barely a thought. He sighed. "Please don't tell Emma…"
"Yeah, I guess, but…"
"Thanks, Henry." Ben slipped out without looking back. He wasn't going to continue that conversation; he didn't feel like getting argued into a corner by a ten year old. Or stopped.
The wind was picking up as he walked down Storybrooke's nearly empty streets. It didn't take him long to get to his father's house. He paused at the gate, standing in shadow. He'd frozen. His heart thundered, like the sky in the east. Taking a deep breath, Ben slipped up the driveway. The car sat there.
Ben stood there in the darkness, staring at if for a full minute. Did he want to find it there, or did he want it gone?
Slowly, he would feel his anger begin to build again. He'd do what he came here to do. Get that Knife away from this father. It'd serve him right if he found it suddenly missing, but it'd be for his own good.
His lips twisting into a scowl, Ben stomped through the gravel to the front of the car and lifted the hood. He reached down, his fingers finding the wad of duct tape easily in the darkness. It was right where it had been. He yanked it free, making sure he kept his fingers away from the blade. He ripped the duct tape away, grasped the hilt, and held the Knife up before him.
Lightning flashed in the sky, illuminating the blade in a cold white light. His father's name shone back at him, etched into the metal's surface. This was it. A part of him had thought for a moment he could have been mistaken, but he could no longer fool himself now.
He drew in deep breaths as tears stung his eyes and blurred his vision. "Damn it, papa…"
"What do you think you're doing?!"
Ben spun around, and from pure reflex held the Knife out in front of him.
Another flash of lightning revealed his father, moving cautiously towards him across the yard. He held a pistol in his hand.
The two men faced each other. One holding a gun, the other a knife. They were mismatched, but not in the manner it would first appear. In the next flash of lightning Ben saw his father's hand shook, the tip of the pistol wavering.
"Give... give me that knife." Rumpelstiltskin's voice wavered too. Then he seemed to grasp at some remaining shred of anger, and snarled out. "Give it back to me!"
Ben's eyes moved to the Knife. He held it in front of him, in more of a defensive posture, rather than if he would thrust it into his father. He looked back up in time to catch Rumpelstiltskin take a step closer. And then, feeling the pain in his shoulder, realising his father held a gun, Ben suddenly feared for his life. He held up the Knife. "Don't come any closer!"
Rumpelstiltskin froze, and a shudder ran through him. It seemed as if he'd engaged some great feat of will, but failed to disobey Ben's command. Because with the Knife in his hand, a command it had been. "What do you want from me?" His father asked, lowering his gun. It was no longer the hate filled demand he'd shouted at him before. He was begging. In fact, it looked like he was about to burst into tears.
Ben had seen that look before. Before his father had taken the Dark One's powers. When the soldiers had pushed him around, so many times. Only now it was he who was doing it to him. "God… no, no…!" Ben lowered the Knife.
What was wrong with him?! What was he doing?! He was no better than those soldiers, no better than his father. He was a coward, pushed to this by fear, almost before he realised how far he'd gone. But he would go no further. "No…" He looked at the Knife, suddenly just wanting to be rid of it. "I'm sorry…"He stepped towards Rumpelstiltskin.
His father shied away from him. But Ben grasped him by the arm, snatched the gun from him and threw it to the ground, then placed the hilt of the Knife into his hand. "Here, I'm… I'm sorry…" He couldn't stay and tell him now. Not after what he'd done to him, not after seeing that fear in his father's eyes. He'd go back to Emma's apartment. He'd find Rumpelstiltskin tomorrow, or the day after. He'd let him know he was his son, and beg for his forgiveness. He turned to leave.
Ben turned back, just in time to see the fear and confusion on his father's face disappear to be replaced by hate and blind rage. And then he felt cold steel pierce his belly.