Next day started with a break-in and a burglary.
Those were words that Belle would love to see in the book, but not as a description of her very real morning.
Yet it was there – doors to the pawn shop not damaged but just not closed with a key. Which Rumple was sure wasn't the state of things when he left the shop previous evening.
She hated the slight hesitation when he said that. Rumple was always so proud of being in control. If he doubted that he closed the doors to his shop, it was worrying.
'Let's go in and check if everything is in place,' she suggested, tugging Rumple by the arm. He followed, closing his eyes briefly as he crossed the door. She knew he had magical barriers in place when he was leaving the shop. If not for the customers, he probably would have them all the time.
'It seems that no one entered. But there are ways to make it appear so.'
He seemed to have an idea, because he went to the specific place without hesitation. He stood before the glass cabinet and pointed at the empty space.
'It was Kay,' he said.
'How can you know?'
'When we met in Enchanted Forest, he had a very clever key that was able to get the bearer not only through almost any door, but also through magical barriers. And the missing item? The enchanted violin he wanted from me in the first place.'
'How come the deal wasn't completed? What was your price for the violin? The mirror?'
Rumple shook his head.
'No, I sent him to steal something for me, something I needed for the curse. But he failed, returned with empty hands and some weird ideas that I planned to take his mirror and capture him to augment its power. Then he tried to capture me and we know how that ended.'
'Is it possible to enlarge mirror's power by capturing someone?'
'I don't know. It might be so, but there is no evidence for that. And no one really experimented, which might be even weirder, come to think of it.'
'Rumple!' Belle was a bit scandalized by the matter-of-fact tone he used.
'What? It's not as if people who had the mirror over years were angels. They wanted it for the power. Perhaps they tried and discovered that it's not working. And Kay wouldn't be a very powerful addition anyway.'
'We need more research,' sighed Belle. 'There is still so many books we didn't check. Sometimes I envy this world its information networks.'
'You will manage anyway.'
'What do you plan to do now? We should call Emma, let her know there was a break-in? And check if Kay didn't take anything else.'
Rumple's expression darkened.
'I suppose so. Can you make the call, Belle?'
That was a bit surprising, but Belle obediently fished out her phone (from next to the dagger), and made a call.
Not even fifteen minutes later, Emma barged in. Rumple winced at the force she used to open the door.
'Miss Swan, carefully. Those doors had enough for one day.'
Emma rolled her eyes.
'So, someone robbed you, Gold?'
'Not just someone. I know who it was.'
'I should have expected that. And who was that?'
'Your new friend, Kay.'
'Kay? Really, Gold? And why do you think so?'
'Because he stole the exact thing that was of value to him and because I happen to know that he posses the key that allows him to enter almost everywhere.'
Emma still looked skeptical.
'He took the enchanted violin he wanted from Rumple in the Enchanted Forest,' Belle supplied.
Emma furrowed her brows.
'I feel that there is more you should tell me about what happened in Enchanted Forest, Gold.'
'There's not,' said Rumple irritably. 'Sheriff, we called you to catch the thief, not to make an interrogation.'
Belle discretely touched his arm, but it did little to calm him. He and Emma looked at each other angrily and Belle decided against repeating aloud what Rumple told her earlier. Perhaps later she would talk to Emma in private.
'Alright,' said Emma at last. 'I'll ask Kay about the break-in and violin. You sure that wasn't someone else?'
'The only people who maybe would be able to get through the magical barriers are you and Regina,' replied Gold coldly. 'Kay had his key.'
'Snow Queen maybe?'
'No, not without her mirror, which I understand is still in Kay's possession.'
'Right. Then I'll be back in some time if something will get clear.'
Rumple nodded, with brows furrowed and eyes squinted, visibly irritated and tense. He relaxed a little when Emma disappeared behind the doors.
'I think we shouldn't have called her,' he said.
'No, Rumple, she's the sheriff, she'll help. You're not planning to come after Kay yourself, right?'
Rumple sighed and leaned heavier on the counter.
'No. Not if the Savior can do her job. But I won't allow people to just break into my shop and steal from me.' Something hard was back in his voice. Belle tentatively snuggled her arms around his waist.
'No harm done, Rumple. Only the violin, that's not much and that's not dangerous. Right? He must really love music if he's so desperate. Perhaps he wants to be an artist. Though here in Storybrooke he won't have much chance to learn.'
Rumple patter her shoulder and disentangled himself from her embrace.
'Yes. Now, sweetheart, I have quite a lot of work, I need to restore some antique pieces for clients. I think library needs to be opened soon as well.'
Belle nodded and kissed him on the cheek.
'Till evening then. Call me if you need anything, Rumple, okay?'
He made some sort of confirmatory sound and disappeared behind the curtain.
Belle sighed. Somehow she doubted he would call anyway. She headed towards library, enjoying warm autumn day and first colorful leaves on trees.
Meanwhile, in the shop's backroom, Gold took a few deep breaths and tried to calm his trembling hands.
He wanted to teleport to Kay this moment and teach him thoroughly what it meant to steal from the Dark One. A lesson he apparently did not learn from the first time.
He sat at his desk and concentrated on repairing old clock, trying to banish each and every thought from his mind.
This was not the first time his shop was broken into.
It happened before and he didn't made it such an issue.
Hell, his home was broken into, plundered and his most valuable thing was stolen (Belle! He already missed her, even if she left only moments before), and he didn't reacted as strongly as now.
No need to make such a fuss.
He'll reinstate barriers, this time in a way impenetrable to the key and that's that. The Savior will catch the little pest and teach him a lesson. This way the whole deal won't go unpunished and Belle will be happy that he didn't mete out justice himself.
He would be in a really tight spot if the Savior didn't do what she should.
There was no way such trespassing can go unaddressed by him.
But he already deceived Belle once. He couldn't repeat it. Couldn't do such a disgusting thing.
The Savior better work because right now Gold was sure he would do exactly such a disgusting thing. He won't kill Kay, but teach him a really memorable lesson, and then Belle will leave him.
And everything will be in vain.
She already took Kay's side, telling all about being a musician and about the break-in being nothing. But it really should be nothing. It was just him being a coward as usual.
The clock lied forgotten on the table for the rest of the day. It required much more concentration and steady hands than he had in days.
The last guests in library that Belle expected were Robin, Marian and little Roland, though after all it seemed obvious (at least to Belle) that Robin would work on Marian's knowledge about this new world and where better to look than in books.
'I guess you weren't properly introduced,' said Robin sheepishly. 'Marian, this is Belle, she's the one who helped me escape from the Dark Castle. Belle, this is my wife, Marian.'
Belle smiled warmly. She remembered Robin's escape well and how she started to see more and more goodness in her Rumple.
'Is it true that you are married to Rumplestiltskin?' asked Marian, looking a bit confused.
'Yes,' Belle nodded, hoping to gods that it wouldn't turn into another litany of how horrid her husband was.
'This is even weirder that this world in general,' sighed Marian. 'I'm sorry, Belle, I don't mean to hurt you. I just know Rumplestiltskin as an evil sorcerer who tortured my husband. I hope you understand...'
She paused, looking at Belle as if a bit afraid.
'I understand,' sighed Belle. 'But Rumple changed since then. He's not an evil sorcerer anymore. Well, just not evil.'
'That's the same thing that I've heard about Evil Queen.' Marian didn't look reassured. 'Well, perhaps it's true after all. I still feel so lost here. Maybe we can meet sometimes, talk, so I can try to fit here better?'
'Sure,' Belle smiled happily. The more occasion to make friends and cement the fact that all evil is firmly in the past, the better. 'Maybe we can even meet today for lunch at Granny's?'
'I would like that.' Marian looked relieved. 'Without husbands and kids. I need to feel on my own here.'
As promised, they had lunch together, sitting in one of the booths at Granny's and having nice view on the street. Marian looked at everything with interest.
'This world is so much different than ours,' she marveled. 'I like it here, even if I'm missing home. But I have Robin and Roland, while there I had only a grim perspective of swift death at the Queen's hands.' She sighed and shook her head. 'I still can't forget what she did to me, to us, to everybody back home.'
'I can imagine...' Belle looked at the woman with sympathetic eyes. 'I'm not very fond of Regina either, but she really seems to try to be better here. She has a son and she's doing it for him.'
Marian nodded pensively.
'But it can't erase what she's done, right? I mean, she murdered people without batting an eye. And I... I still have nightmares about being imprisoned by her.'
She looked down at her hands, not at Belle, and Belle felt the urge to soothe her and assure that this isn't anything to be ashamed for.
'I understand, Marian. I was her prisoner too. Back in Enchanted Forest and for all years before the curse was broken. I had nightmares too.'
'Did they end?'
'They did. I haven't dreamt of anything related in quite a long time. I think it's because Rumple was with me and I could tell him everything.'
Until they broke up and then she lost her memory and awoke as Lacey at least. But what wasn't worked through with him was picked up with Ruby and Archie, and after the whole Lacey adventure the memories of the hospital basement faded significantly, replaced by the bizarre life of adventurous but devoid of compassion witty girl, who always knew what she wanted. Though some bits of it were so embarrassing that she hoped to never meet people who might have been gifted by the curse with matching memories.
'Robin is wonderful.' Marian sighed again. 'And he listens patiently to everything I'm saying. But he... I'm sure you know. He was in love with her. He's not really able to feel for me.'
Belle's heart broke for the poor woman who couldn't even have full support of her husband. Belle knew it didn't have to be Robin's or anyone's fault, except Regina's, but still.
'If you need to talk, Marian, you can always come to me. I'll listen.'
Marion smiled with gratitude.
'Thank you, Belle. I'll remember. And Robin bought me this cell phone, I understand if we exchange numbers, we'll be able to talk to each other even from distance?'
Meanwhile, Regina was in the process of trying to banish Emma Swan from the city hall. The first, crucial mistake was letting her into the office.
'Swan, I told you I don't need a nanny or a therapist.'
Swan's face brightened with the idea.
'That's it! You were going to Archie once. Maybe you'll arrange for sessions again?'
'I was, then he rattled out that fact to the entire town and I deserve some kind of medal for not drowning him in the sea for that. I am not going to the cricket anymore. I can manage on my own. I did for many years.'
'I'm worried about you, Regina.'
'No need.' The mayor flashed her best smile, sitting behind the desk with arms crossed, the perfect figure of power and control. 'I am much stronger than that.'
Emma Swan looked skeptical. But then again, that was her natural face expression.
'Did you talk to Henry?'
'I did, I am his mother too, Miss Swan.'
'And I don't think I want to repeat that conversation to you. It's called private for a reason.'
But something about her face or body must have betrayed her, because Swan looked more relaxed. Indeed, without Henry the world, their world at least, wouldn't stand a chance.
'We agreed that it's difficult, Miss Swan, and that we can count on each other in any situation,' she clarified. 'Also Henry invited me for dinner at Charming's, though I somehow doubt if it is such a good idea.'
'Why, great idea. I thought you reached quite an understanding with my mom and dad?'
'Yes, but it's still awkward. I'm not speaking about Henry, but it would be as getting invited so they can have an eye on me. And I don't like that.'
'I can imagine, yeah. But it's more like getting invited to be doused in persistent family love I think.'
Regina didn't suppress a small snort of laughter.
'Perhaps I'll consider this.'
She was almost convinced, because even Charmings, irritating as they were, would be an absolute win over sitting alone, drinking cider and thinking how Robin looks at her now – from distance and with doubt and disgust. He must have heard from Marian how prisoners were treated in her dungeons and the first-hand relation was bound to be horrid. It was horrid even to Regina in retrospection, reminding her of everything she fought not to be anymore. Better to think of Henry. And even Charmings, she added resignedly. Happy endings have many different forms beside having True Love.
But each time when Regina accidentally saw Marian, she was subject to cold gazes. Not only Marian looked at her like at a monster but so did whoever talked to Marian at the time, and the fury in Regina rose. She wasn't the Evil Queen anymore. People would accept that. But with Marian here, with reminder of what Regina once was, with even subtle but direct evidences and memories, things may not settle for a long time yet.