Author’s Note: This chapter includes 4 musical interludes via YouTube.
This is written with great respect, love and gratitude for the talents of Robert Carlyle, Emilie de Ravin, and everyone involved in of Once Upon A Time. I do not own these characters, nor do I own the songs mentioned in this story.
For the next few days, Izzy-B opts to eat breakfast at home. She avoids Mr. Gold like the plague until she has a chance to regroup and decide on her next course of action. After two days of not seeing her at Granny’s Diner for breakfast, Mr. Gold finds himself increasingly tempted to call the number on her business card. He vows to fight the impulse a little longer. On the third morning after the doughnut calamity, he arrives at the diner as Izzy-B appears to be getting ready to exit. They nod to each other, and he makes his way to the pastry display. Upon arrival, he frowns looking at the blueberry pie. The piece with the bubble in the crust is missing. Granny fidgets uncomfortably. Mr. Gold queries, “Dear, do you have another blueberry pie in the kitchen?” Granny coughs out, “Uh, yes, but it has a piece missing.” Annoyed, he asks, “You cut into a new pie, before the other pie was gone. What kind of business is that?”, ignoring the irony of the fact that he was about to expect her to do just that for him. Flustered and a bit grumpily, Granny points to Izzy-B standing by the door holding a To-Go bag, saying “That daft girl offered me fifty dollars for two pieces of pie with a bubble in the crust. When a whole pie costs fifteen dollars, I would have been mad to say, ‘no’.” He gazes at Izzy-B dumbstruck, as she smiles at him smugly, waves and then leaves. His ire at the inconvenience dissipates, pondering what possessed Izzy-B to spend fifty dollars on two pieces of pie. Granny asks, “Would you still like a slice of pie?” Inattentively, he mutters to Granny, “No, I think I prefer a cinnamon bun today.”
At ten minutes passed noon, the bell chimes on the front door of Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop. Mr. Gold’s heart quickens at the sight of Izzy-B French, wearing a charcoal suit jacket and shirt and a flaming red blouse and spiked heels to match, holding a To-Go bag from Granny’s Diner. Getting straight to ‘business’, Izzy-B asks, “Do you have the ability to make tea here? If not, I guess we can drink water.”, as she pulls two water bottles from her purse and sets them on the counter. Narrowing his gaze, Mr. Gold leans in and says, “Now, let me get this straight. First, you highjack my pie, and now, you come to my store begging for tea?” She smirks at him, “Is that any way to talk to the person who has a piece of pie with your name on it?” With intrigue shining in his eyes, he asks, “What game are you playing at Miss French?” Setting the slices of pie on the counter, she leans in fearlessly and says with a mildly haughty tone, “No game. I understand that this may be new to you, as designated town recluse, but this is called a ‘social interaction’. Most of this town bores me; however, you strike me as anything but boring. So here I am. Which slice would you like? You get to choose…and they both have a bubble in the crust.” Mr. Gold fights the desire to kiss her hard up against the counter, instead saying, “I’ll go put on some tea in the back, then I’ll decide. Would you and your pie like to join me in the back room?” She nods and strides confidently into the back room with two pieces of pie in tow.
Seated comfortably on a plush, large chair, next to the couch, Izzy-B places plastic plates with the pie slices onto a coffee table. As they wait for the water to boil, Izzy-B reaches into her large purse and pulls a can of whipped cream from inside. He looks at her a bit astonished. She explains, “I swiped it from the staff refrigerator. I didn’t know if you liked whipped cream on your pie.” Licking his lips, he says, “You think of everything, don’t you?”
She grins, “I try.”
He asks incredulously, “Did you actually spend fifty dollars on two slices of pie?”
She smirks proudly, saying, “Absolutely!” Then she leans in biting her bottom lip and says sheepishly, “But I need a tiny favor.”
Cautiously, he asks, “And what would that be dear?”
Nervously, she says, “Well, in order to acquire the pie, I had to pay the fifty dollars…and promise you would not raise their rent or seek other retribution against them for denying you your favorite dessert. I need you to help me keep that promise.”
With faux sternness, he says, “I don’t know. I wasn’t part of this negotiation.”
Undeterred she says, “Oh come off it. You have your pie without paying a dime for it…and I come bearing whipped cream. Surely, that is worth your cooperation.”
He leans back nonchalantly on the couch and says, “Well, if you say so, Miss French.”
She says, “You can call me Izzy-B, if you want.”
The kettle sounds, standing up, cane in hand, he says, “If you’ll excuse me a moment, Izzy-B, I’ll start the tea brewing. As he prepares the tea, he asks, “What on earth possessed you to spend that much money on pie? Don’t I charge you enough in rent?” She chuckles, “Oh no, the rent is fine. I, unlike some people, am good with saving money. I never splurge, unless it’s something I really want. It’s been quite a while since I’ve tapped into my ‘splurge fund’. It was time to do something fun.”
Sarcastically, he replies, “Paying an exorbitant amount of money for pie for the Monster of Storybrooke strikes you as fun?” Matter-of-factually, she says, “You’re not a monster. And if you were, I imagine it’s more the Sesame Street variety. Though I’m not sure if you’d be Elmo, Oscar or Cookie Monster.”, she notices the smile in his eyes, and adds, “Plus, the look on your face at the diner was priceless, when you realized that I had your pie. Perhaps money can’t buy happiness, but on occasion, it can make life entertaining if you use it right.”
He shakes his head marvels at her, as he puts the finishing touches on the tea, “Belle, how do you take your tea?” She tilts her head in reaction to the name ‘Belle’. He suddenly says, “My apologizes ‘Izzy-B’. I don’t know why I called you that.” She blinks and says thoughtfully, “Actually, I like it. I got the nickname Izzy-B in school, and it just stuck, but Belle sounds nicer.”, and then remembering his original question, she says, “Oh, and I like one lump of sugar and a dash of cream in my tea. Thank you.” Finishing her tea, he hands her the filled teacup and a saucer and says, “Here you go, Miss…uh, Belle.” She smiles warmly, and then looks a bit confused at his cup, “The great Mr. Gold drinks out of a broken cup?” He shrugs, “It’s just a chip.” “Gash.”, she interjects. He adds, “I think it gives the little cup some character.” She shakes her head and smiles.
Once he is seated on the couch, she waves her hand towards the pieces of pie, as if she is a model displaying a prize on a game show. After making his selection, Izzy-B says in an all knowing voice, “You’ve chosen wisely. The other piece is laced with iocane powder; a deadly poison from Australia.” Mr. Gold’s forehead crinkles in confusion. Putting whipped cream on her piece, she says sarcastically, “Honestly? You’ve never watched ‘The Princess Bride’?” Flatly, he responds, “Is that inconceivable?” Her brow furrows mildly, and then she asks, “Whipped cream?” pointing to his slice. With a smirk, he replies, “It would be ungentlemanly of me not to partake of your pilfered topping.” Amused by his wordplay, Izzy-B raises her eyebrows and smiles, as she covers his pie with a generous amount of whipped cream.
Trying to look at his pie, but distracted by her crossed legs behind the coffee table, he attempts to gain control of this peculiar situation. Though he has long had what amounts to be a schoolboy crush on Izzy-B, he is no fool and refuses to be taken for one. The woman sitting across from him must have an ulterior motive. He just has not found it yet. Deciding it is better to cut to the chase, rather than indulge this fantasy to the point of his detriment. He says suspiciously, “Miss French, this has been interesting, but why don’t you come clean about what you’re really playing at? Is this perhaps the result of a dare from Miss Lucas?” The thought occurs to Izzy-B that another woman might be insulted by his insinuation. However, she realizes that he has no reason to trust her. His distrust of people matches her own distrusting heart. It is one of the things that attracts her to him. She understands him. In her opinion, trust is to be earned, and only a ninny would trust a stranger without reason. She looks around, as if to ensure that nobody is listening, and then leans in whispering, “Alright, I’ll ‘come clean’. I’m here to abscond with your collection of damaged dishware.” Izzy-B then leans back in her seat, surveying his expression with a gleam in her eyes that makes him think she would be the best dessert that he could ever have. In a thoughtful tone, she asks, “Is it so hard to believe that I’m here because I want to spend time with you?” He responds, “Well, I am a bit long in the tooth. I must be nearly twenty years older than you.” She scoffs, “Yeah, but you’re a man. There’s a whole other standard for men versus women. Men become distinguished as they age, and women get old. You want to talk about long in the tooth? By most people’s standards, at thirty, I’m no spring chicken. To hear my friends talk, they seem to think that I’m more likely to die in a crocodile attack, than find a man.” Finishing swallowing a bite of pie, seeming to stare her down, he says smugly, “So you’re looking for a man?” Feeling she has said too much and wishing to maintain control, she says aloofly, “I never actually said that, did I?” He answers sternly, “No, you did not. Which is probably just as well, because I have a myriad of bad traits. Many of which, I’m sure the residents of this town could enumerate for you.”
Having set aside her pie and tea, she eyes him thoughtfully with her chin in her hand as her elbow leans against the arm of the chair. She says softly, “Whoever she was, she was an idiot.” Rather bewildered, he asks, “What are you talking about?” Softly chewing her bottom lip, she looks at him with a tenderness that he has never seen from her, “I don’t know if it’s just your ex-wife or some other woman that did a number on you, but she or they didn’t know what they had. A man doesn’t generally become as guarded as you, unless he’s been kicked in the teeth by some woman. That kind of woman always makes it tougher on the rest of us”, leaning forward tilting her head as though she’s studying him, she adds, “Whoever she was or they were, they were unworthy. Maybe it’s time to stop letting them kick you.” Such an assessment would typically irk Mr. Gold, but he cannot help being touched by her sincerity. He asks softly, “Is this the voice of experience speaking?” She takes a long sip of her tea and shrugs her shoulders. He wonders who has hurt Izzy-B to make her so guarded.
In a serious tone, Mr. Gold says, “Hypothetical past experiences aside, Belle, spending time with me will not benefit your reputation. I am not particularly embraced by this town.” Matter-of-factually, she says, “I don’t put much stock in other people’s judgments. I’d rather see for myself, if someone is worth my time. Plus, given the fact that I rub some people the wrong way, it could be argued I might not be best for your reputation. I’m willing to risk it, if you are.” Thinking aloud, Mr. Gold asks, “Who have you been rubbing the wrong way?” She scoffs, “There’s probably a list, but the top of that list would have to be our, oh so regal, madame Mayor.” Amused, he asks, “So you get under Regina’s skin, do you? I knew there was a reason that I liked you.” With a slight smile while sipping her tea, she replies, “I’d say we get under each other’s skin. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like that woman. I’ve never trusted her. It takes all the BS that I can shovel to be polite to her, just because the print shop has contracts with the town.”
Opting to change the subject he asks, “What exactly is a Beastie Boy?” She retorts flirtatiously, “That could be many things.” Then answering the question at hand, “Some would term the Beastie Boys a musical act. It always seemed like a stretch to me.” He says, “Your date didn’t share your musical interests. Is that a prerequisite?” She responds, “Not necessarily. I have very diverse tastes in music. So much so, that I can’t pick a favorite, song, group or even genre. It all depends on my mood and what part of my spirit needs feeding. However, for those who can select a favorite, their selection speaks volumes about them. Günther’s favorite was The Beastie Boys, ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’.” He looks at her baffled, thus she explains, “Some would call it a youth anthem.”
“But not you?”, he asks.
“Well, it hardly reveals much of the human experience, and musically, it’s tedious.” Smugly, Mr. Gold says, “Perhaps you should sing a bit and let me be the judge.” Shaking her head adamantly, Mr. Gold finds he is pleased that she turned down his challenge. It is not every day that someone gets the better of Izzy-B French. His smugness only serves to embolden her, she leans in and whispers, I’ll do something better. Moving her plate and cup aside, she begins to softly tap a rhythm and to soulfully sing, “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. Her otherworldly expression and impassioned singing, claim him to the point that he must concentrate to remember to swallow the bit of pie in his mouth.
“There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speakin’ their minds
Gettin’ so much resistance from behind
I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down”
Pleased to have won this latest battle of cat and mouse, she reclaims her pie, basking in the way he looks at her. He asks, “Then is that your favorite song?” She shakes her head slightly, “I told you, I don’t have a favorite. The best I can do is, narrow down to favorites, plural, within musical performers. Although in theory, I do have a favorite Beatles song, The Golden Slumbers Medley, but that’s kind of a cheat, since it is actually multiple songs with various movements. It does have the best single line in any song.” She then sings softly, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…ah-ah”.
Lost in her, Mr. Gold can only utter one word, “Lovely.” She smiles wistfully, “Yes, music has a way of making the myth of true love seem real.” His stomach tightens at her sweet sounding cynicism. Disappointedly, he asks, “You don’t believe in true love?”
She responds, “No, surely you don’t believe in it, do you?”
He had never given the idea much thought, until this moment. Once he loved his wife, however he could not actually call their relationship true love. Still, something begins to gnaw at him. He wants to believe.
Haltingly, he responds, “I don’t know, but I want to believe…believe that there’s something more than what I’ve experienced. Why don’t you believe? I thought women were supposed to believe in such things.” She scoffs, “There’s a grand generalization if I ever heard one. We’re not all alike you know. I’ve just never seen true love. I’ve read about it, listened to songs about it, and watched way too many movies about it. But I’ve never seen true love; not in this town. Have you?”
He found himself wanting to say, ‘yes’, though he honestly had not, and then an answer starts to bubble up from within the back of his mind. Looking at her thoughtfully, he says, “I don’t think it’s like in books, songs or movies. I think love is layered. Love is a mystery to be uncovered.” A look of dumbfounded awe claims her face, and she finds herself scrambling for thoughts and air at the same time. Finally, she utters one word, “Remarkable.” She feels herself blush and hopes he does not notice.
There is a softness in her eyes that makes him want to get lost in them. Mr. Gold wonders, is he responsible for softening the edges of the ‘tough as nails Izzy-B French’? There is a spirit there that he yearns to know. After a couple of minutes of eating the remainder of their pie in silence, Mr. Gold speaks tentatively, “If I weren’t in the presence of such a lovely woman, I’d lick this plate clean like I normally do.” Izzy-B bursts out laughing, “You do that too?” Staring each other down, almost daring each other, they both pick up their plates and set to work cleaning them. Once finished, Izzy-B slides closer to Mr. Gold and dabs a napkin over the dollop of blueberry filling on the tip of his nose. Before she can retreat, he firmly wraps his fingers around her wrist, and with his other hand, traces the tip of his index finger along a smudge of blueberry colored whipped cream at the corner of her mouth, and then quickly sucks it off his finger.
Gazing into each other’s eyes for several heartbeats, Izzy-B feeling overwhelmed casts her eyes downward and asks, “What do you do for fun?” Still mindlessly holding her wrist, Mr. Gold strokes his thumb against her pulse point, “Fun?” With a slight smirk, Izzy-B says, “Yes, fun. Surely, the great Mr. Gold has heard of it.” Licking his lips, he replies, “I’m finding this quite enjoyable.” A cheek splitting grin breaks across her face. “Nice side-step of the question” she observes, and then studying him intensely, “Does your girlfriend mind you spending long hours at your shop?” Unabashed confusion claims his expression, “What girlfriend?” Exceedingly pleased with his reaction, Izzy-B teases, “You are the mystery man of Storybrooke. For all we know you could have a harem.” He barks a laugh, “Harem? Hardly. What?…are you applying for the job, Belle?” She leans back slightly, while maintaining eye contact, “Harem girl? Me? Not my style. I have no desire to be part of a crowd.” With a husk to his voice, he replies, “There’s no crowd around me, dear.” Very satisfied, she says, “Duly noted.”
Reluctantly sliding her wrist from his warm grip and folding her arms in front of her chest, “What kind of music do you like?” He shakes his head, saying “My legal instincts say I shouldn’t answer such a question. It’s been the downfall of others of my gender.” With a bit of coaxing, she replies, “Oh come on, you can’t do worse than The Beastie Boys. Besides, you already have my interest more than Günther ever did.”
Acquiescing, he answers, “I enjoy classical music mostly; Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Bach…” “Ah Bach!” she giggles. Confused by her reaction, he stops momentarily; she waves him on, saying “Never mind. Continue.” “Some jazz; Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, then also Gaelic music as well. I don’t particularly play favorites either, but at this very moment the Gaelic song, “Ae Fond Kiss” is playing in my head. The words by Robert Burns and melody are quite haunting and lovely.”
Leaning in raising an eyebrow, Mr. Gold asks, “So, did I pass muster?” Rubbing her chin with her finger, smiling wryly, “Well, I don’t know. I’d like to hear some of that Gaelic song. What do you say? I showed you mine, how about you show me yours?” Scoffing mildly, he says, “I think not. I don’t perform at The Rabbit’s Hole.”
“Oh, you know about that, do you?”
He confirms, “Indeed, I do. Word has it that you play a mean guitar.”
“I never asked my guitar about its anger management issues.”, tilting her head, she coaxes, “Please, just give me a taste of the song.” Mr. Gold notices that his tie suddenly feels too tight. He prides himself on not being eager to please anyone. However, her blue eyes implore him in a manner beyond anything that he has experienced.
Sighing, he affirms, “Just a wee bit.”, and his warm Scottish brogue disperses in the air like cascading honey as he sings,
“Ae fond kiss and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, and then for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee…”
Something incomprehensible wraps around Izzy-B’s spirit; a longing that takes her breath from her body, as her eyes glisten with tears that grasp desperately to her lashes. Mr. Gold had only intended to sing a verse, yet he is captivated by her expression, so he struggles to remember the more of the song…anything to remain lost in her eyes.
“…Had we never lov’d sae kindly,
Had we never lov’d sae blindly,
Never met – or never parted,
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.”
Izzy-B’s hand reaches out, seemingly of its own volition and caresses his forearm. With a barely perceivable gasp, Mr. Gold continues.
“…Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.”
Karen Matheson with Paul Brady – Ae Fond Kiss
Trapped in the moment, lost in generations, they stare awestruck at each other. Mr. Gold cannot recall ever wanting to kiss a woman more. Izzy-B’s lungs ache as they fight to breathe; to breathe him. He lifts her hand, and places a warm kiss in her palm. She shivers under his lips. She is torn between desire and her own ingrained need to stay in control. She is losing herself in the moment and is frightened because she wants to lose herself. She wonders, should she move forward or would moving too fast ruin everything?
The alarm on her phone chimes, reminding her that her lunch break will be over soon. The sound separates them, thus purging her of her dilemma. She sighs, “I should be getting back soon.” She observes the disappointed look on Mr. Gold’s face. They both stand, as she slides her purse over her shoulder. “I’ll see you out” he says with a hint of sadness. With his gold handled cane in his right hand, he begins to move forward, but Izzy-B stops him, grabbing his free hand. She says, “You know, I always set my alarm a little early; kind of a compulsion I have. I have time for a quick tour of the shop, if you’re willing.” He smiles, “Right this way then.” As they exit, she observes, “This is the first time that I’ve been in your shop.” He replies, “That’s because you always mail your rent, rather than rushing in here at the last minute or having me knock at your door.” Slyly, she says, “It’s seems I’ve made a mistake there. From now on, I should run a little late on my rent, just so I can run in here all flustered, looking for forgiveness.” He retorts, “That could be dangerous. You might end up owing me more than your rent.” With a throaty chuckle that makes him shiver, she responds, “Oh you are a naughty thing, aren’t you?” Feeling that he may be over his head, he opts to respond only with a devilish grin.
Mr. Gold escorts her to the front of the shop where Izzy-B admires various items; the crystal unicorn mobile, some antique musical instruments, various books that she makes a mental note to investigate in the future, but then a glint of blue reflecting the sunlight streaming in from the window catches her attention. It is a necklace with a variety of blue stones. Mr. Gold follows the path of her eyes to an extremely old necklace and smiles. Letting go of her hand, he travels behind the counter, retrieving it from its case, placing it delicately onto the counter, saying, “It’s a favorite piece of mine. Nobody else has ever given it a glance.” Izzy-B looks mesmerized by it. She observes, “It looks like it’s hundreds of years old. It’s also been fixed a few times.” He says, “You have a good eye. Now tell me, dear, what do you make of this?” pointing to gold embellishments. Matter-of-factually, she responds, “It wasn’t a part of the original piece. Someone must have added that quite a while later. The gold has a unique almost magical quality.” With a slight chuckle he says, “You are correct about the gold being added later. Indeed, it appears that it has also been restrung with a gold cord to strengthen it, but I dare say, there wasn’t magic involved.” “Oh, show a little imagination! Magic could exist.” noticing his skeptical look, she continues “Okay maybe the necklace is not magical. But we, as a species, seem to miss magical elements that may lie in front of us. The harmony of nature and all the elements have their own energy, which could be defined as magic.” Izzy-B finds herself baffled that she is telling him this and yet she feels safe around him; safe to say what is on her mind. Her phone alarm chimes again. Smugly, he says, “I think you have some magic in your purse, telling you that you’ll be late for work soon.” She rolls her eyes and walks to the door, saying, “Bye then. Thanks for the lunch company.”, and then grinning she adds, “And the serenade.” “Good day, Miss French.” As she opens the door, he calls out in strangely shaky voice, “Belle? Can I ask you on a date sometime?” Leaning cockily against the door frame, she tilts her head and says, “I doubt that would break any of the laws of physics, so I suppose that you can.”, biting the tip of her tongue with a grin. Before he can say any more, she waves, “Bye!”, hurrying back to work. With the taste of blueberry and whipped cream on his tongue, he has never had a more satisfying lunch break and hopes there are many more to come.
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This video of Rum/Gold/Baelfire/August to The Beatles “Golden Slumbers” was created for me by tardistwin last year, after “The Return” aired. It still makes me tear up.