Sweet, capturing music was filling the street when Emma drove to Diana's home. She sighed. Perhaps Gold was right after all. Perhaps they needed to stop talking like an officer and a suspect and move on to actually talking. It wasn't as if they didn't have anything in common.
For now she followed the music to the small flat Diana rented. Music was awesome she had to admit, far better than she expected from someone from Fairy Tale Land whose fairy tale history didn't mention anything about music.
Diana opened the door and almost shut them back seeing the sheriff.
'I need to talk to Kay and I think you know why. May I come in?'
Diana reluctantly let Emma enter the flat and guided her to colorful, enthusiastically decorated room. Kay stopped playing and looked at Emma with hard gaze of born prince.
'I need to ask you, how did you get those violin?' asked Emma without preamble.
'I took them from Rumplestiltskin as a compensation for what he did to me,' explained Kay coldly and without remorse.
'You stole them. A compensation works differently. And in this land we actually have strict law that forbids breaking in.'
'So what are you gonna do, sheriff?'
'Kid, do we really have to talk like that? And in all truth I need to speak with your legal guardian, you're what, sixteen? That's underage.'
'Sheriff, you know he doesn't have one. Or maybe I can be one for him?' asked Diana with some hope.
Emma looked at her skeptically.
'And how old you are? Whatever, anyway, that's beside the point, appointing guardianship isn't as easy as you seem to think. And the position is already taken, I've checked. He was somehow taken into account by the curse.' Emma took deep breath. 'It would be much better if we resolve this peacefully. I'm sure Mr. Gold would be open to discussion if you return the violin and apologize.'
Kay snorted and Emma wasn't exactly surprised.
'I am afraid that the curse might have decided that doctor Andersen is your legal guardian, as your aunt. You were also dead in city register, but now that you're not, well... You don't want to take the official route of resolving it, kid.'
Kay looked furious.
'Why should I submit to your laws when I never was a part of this world? And why should I care what a stupid curse decided?! If so, then maybe the curse made her a murderess also in this world and you should lock her up and sentence to death?'
'Even if, that won't nullify your theft. And any sentencing requires evidence. I have it in your case. Which doesn't mean I trust doctor Andersen and that I don't remember that you are scared that she'll hurt you. She won't, I promise. Now, the violin. Give it back, Kay. If you want it, you should buy it. Also, I don't want to hear that you are using that magical key of yours for anything illegal or stupid.'
Kay stared at her like animal trapped in cage. He clutched the violin protectively to his chest.
'Kid, don't be afraid.' Emma stepped closer. 'She won't hurt you. And I just want to keep you out of trouble. I don't suppose you have money to buy that violin, but maybe you can trade something for them?'
'Rumplestiltskin would want the mirror. And he can't get it. No telling what he would do with it.'
Emma personally doubted that the mirror would be such a tremendous addition to Gold's potential to cause trouble, but kept that opinion to herself.
'The key!' Diana chipped in. 'I couldn't afford to buy the violin too, but maybe Mr. Gold would be willing to trade them for the magical key.'
Emma considered it. Would it be safe to give Gold such a thing? But he probably has every mean to break and enter magical and non-magical barriers anyway. If anything, he may just refuse the key as too low price.
'I'll call him,' she decided at last. 'We'll see.'
Gold picked the phone after such a long time that she thought it wouldn't work.
'Yes,' he agreed at once. 'If you throw in a favor from you.'
'Something specific, Gold?'
'No, just like the last one.'
This was told in a quiet voice without any malice or double meaning. Emma hoped that this one wouldn't end in such discoveries though.
From Diana's flat Emma drove to the hospital, for another chat with doctor Andersen.
'You again, sheriff?' asked the doctor, looking at her tiredly.
'If you don't mind, I'd like to talk.'
The cardiologist sighed.
'I'm too exhausted to argue with you, sheriff. I've just had bypass operation. This is not a good moment.'
'I insist anyway. There is the matter of legal guardianship over Kay.'
'But Kay is scared of you and accuses you of murdering his parents. So now I'm just asking you: what happened to them?'
Doctor Andersen didn't speak until they were in her office. This time she didn't sit, instead she stood by the window, looking at parking space and the forest in distance.
'What happened to them...' she sighed. 'I was driving the car. They were sitting in the back, with little Kay in a baby seat. We were arguing. And I lost control of the car. They died and it was a miracle that Kay lived. I never drove a car after that, didn't even got into one as passenger. Fortunately, it's a small town, I can manage going by foot. I raised Kay, but one day he vanished. The sheriff and many other people were looking for him but he was never found. Eventually he was officially pronounced dead.'
Emma looked at her unrelentingly.
'You know I was asking what really happened.'
'Something very similar, sheriff.' Doctor Andersen turned completely to the window, not letting Emma see her face. Her voice was calm, quiet, controlled, but sad nonetheless. 'We were arguing, I felt threatened, lost control of my magic. You have magic too, right? Do not tell me you are always able to control it.'
'What about Kay?'
'I had to run and how was I supposed to leave him there alone, among people who didn't love him as I did. I took him and raised him. From then I was known as the Snow Queen if you are interested in that detail. Somehow Kay discovered the truth. I let him go to the nearby town, couldn't keep him all the time alone in the ice castle. Someone must have told him something. He stole my mirror and ran after that.'
'My parents told me that you've met with them, searching for Kay.'
'Ah, yes. Snow and Charming. They couldn't help me though.'
The was a silence, for a few quite a long moments.
'Thank you, doctor Andersen. Your story here fits with what my files tell me, and for the real story... It sounds good, but I still must insist that you don't contact Kay on your own. He's safe and he could use some rest.'
'I know. But he was in my mirror. There is no telling what it could have done to him. I know he doesn't want to see me now. But sheriff, keep an eye on him and at some point I will be requesting to talk to him. In your presence if it has to be so.'
'Fair enough,' Emma nodded. 'Alright, thank you doctor.'
Henry was on his way to his grandparents' home when Emma called him.
'Hey, kid! Need a lift?'
'Sure, mom. I was at Regina's.'
'She seems to be managing somehow. But this is all so not right.'
'Too many things ain't, kid. I hope she really knows she can count on us all.'
'I think that may be what will make her stronger after all this. Where are you going, mom? Station?'
'No, I have something for Gold.'
'Can I come too?'
'Sure. Maybe he'll be less willing to bite this time. Are you sure that this book of yours has nothing on Kay and the Snow Queen?'
'Nope. I'm afraid the book told us everything it was meant to tell. But Kay told you that grandpa Gold wanted to trap him in the mirror to use the mirror himself and to strengthen its power. Yet it was just laying around in the vault when you were there.'
'Maybe he didn't have time to get to that part before we snatched it into the portal.'
'And in the unchanged timeline? I just don't know what the mirror would be useful for. Kay told us it has ice powers and can answer one question per person.'
'And can trap people forever.'
'Yeah, that too.'
They were in front of the pawn shop at that moment, so the conversation was cut off. Emma entered the shop taking care to open the door with a bit less amount of energy than before.
'Hi, grandpa,' chimed in Henry, coming close to the counter. Gold looked up from some papers with mild surprise.
'Henry,' he smiled. Then, more businesslike he added, 'Sheriff. Do you have it?'
'Right here.' Emma laid small key on the counter. It was made of brass, had a big ear and a green fringe attached to it.
'Thank you. I trust you warned him to not try anything again?'
'Sure. But he's pretty mad at you. Can't say I'm surprised.'
Gold didn't respond for a while.
'One day you might consider telling me what happened,' Emma sighed. 'Because something's telling me that Kay isn't entirely truthful.'
Gold looked at papers he had on the counter.
'Perhaps. Now, sheriff, I have much work to do.'
'Grandpa?' Henry sounded thoughtful, serious.
Emma noted that there was no impatience in Gold's voice now.
'I was wondering if I can ask you something. I meant to come for some time actually.'
Now Emma was surprised. But Henry always had a mind of his own.
'What can I help you with, Henry?'
Henry hesitated and looked quickly at Emma.
'Mom doesn't have to stay for it if you don't want to. And I won't insist if you don't want to do it at all.'
Gold looked surprised, but gradually understanding was dawning in. Emma too was suspecting where this was leading.
'Can you tell me about my father? What he was like as a kid and teenager? I didn't have much time to spent with him. And I miss him.'
'I miss him, too' said Gold quickly, drawing breath sharply. 'I will tell you, Henry. But not today. Is that alright?'
'Yes. I'll wait, but I'll remind you about your promise if it takes too long.'
Gold nodded. Emma felt that he just want them both out of his shop. Henry must felt that too, because he quickly bid him goodbye. Emma wondered if she wanted to hear about Neal as a kid. Maybe someday, she decided. Not now, though. And judging by Gold's expression, it wouldn't be a good idea anyway.
When they left the shop, Emma turned her head around for a moment and noticed that the sign on the door was now flipped to 'closed'.
He remembered only when he entered his house and closed the door. But Belle was in the entry hall already, with smile and a greeting, so he didn't have time to correct it with magic.
'Belle, I'm so sorry... I forgot about the eggs.'
Belle, deliciously sweet in her kitchen apron and smudges of flour on the cheek, sighed.
'I texted you twice about it...'
'I know, sweetheart, I know,' he cut in. 'I can just...'
'No,' she said firmly. 'You promised, no unnecessary magic. Well, I'll just go get them myself.'
'No, no, I'll go! I'll be quick! I was meant to buy them. It will be ten minutes at most, the shop is close.'
'Alright. I'll make something that doesn't require eggs for the moment.'
He hurried back to the car feeling like a useless idiot. He was toying with the idea of magically creating the eggs without actually going to the shop, only driving the car around a few streets. But he promised Belle, so he gritted his teeth and went to the supermarket, hoping to make it quick.
He chose a few more things that Belle liked and paused over frozen vegetables. How different this world was from the Frontlands. How different his life was. How wonderful it would be to be able to buy little Bae vegetables every day. Not to mention meat. And all kinds of fruits. And sweets. Gold shook his head and went on. He had a reputation to maintain and it wouldn't do him any good to be caught daydreaming over packs of frozen broccoli.
Still, this was surreal and cruel, even if he knew well that as a Dark One he couldn't possibly have a happy ending. He was awfully sure that he would taint and ruin Belle as well and that the whole marriage was an unbelievably selfish and wrong thing on his part, and a mistake, and he never should have hurt Belle like that. And yet at the same time he was constantly grateful and surprised she wanted him. Even the simplest things that Belle was doing, coffee brewed in the morning, a shirt ironed, his favorite cookies baked, everything was like a fuzzy dream.
'Sir?' cashier's voice brought him back to reality. He quickly paid the woman, sparing some effort to look as menacingly as ever, even if holding eggs and groceries and two bars of Belle's favorite chocolate.