Author’s Note: This chapter includes 1 musical interlude 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.
In the front office of Storybrooke Printing, two coworkers, Clarice, a blonde pixy of a woman, and Jeremy, a hulk of a man with dark curly hair, curiously watch their manager. Izzy-B is in an exceptionally good mood after her lunch break with Mr. Gold. Clarice pipes up, “I heard you had quite a hankering for Granny’s blueberry pie today. Where did you go to eat lunch? You weren’t in the break-room.” Izzy-B replies nonchalantly, “It was such a beautiful day so I decided to take my lunch off property.” Jeremy chimes in, “You stole my whipped cream.” Izzy-B defends, “I brought it back, and I didn’t use that much.” Clarice snickers, “Yeah, but did you break any health codes with it?” Jeremy groans, saying “Clarice, stop or I’m putting out my mind’s eye.” Izzy-B folds her arms and says, “Jeremy, stop whining. I’ll get you a new can tomorrow and keep your mind’s eye out of my business. Speaking of business, that’s what we are trying to run here. Clarice, have you called Manny to deal with the hold up on the card stock?” Clarice smirks, and then says, “I’ll do that right now, Izzy-B.”
Clarice picks up the receiver of the old rotary dial phone to call the supplier in question. Izzy-B sits at an adjacent desk analyzing a spreadsheet on the computer. Izzy-B half listens to Clarice, who is clearly getting the run around from the supplier. Izzy-B decides to give Clarice a little while longer to smooth out the situation. Just then, the electric door chime to the print shop sounds, announcing the arrival of someone new. In full business mode, Izzy-B’s head pops up from the spreadsheet to address whoever has come to call. Her heart flutters at the sight of Mr. Gold, and she graces him with a beaming smile. However, before she can speak to him, Izzy-B’s attention is turned back to Clarice’s phone conversation. Through gritted teeth, Clarice says, “Miss French, would you like to speak with Mr. Thompson?” Izzy-B takes a breath, jaw set firmly as she grabs the receiver, and says, “Come on, Manny, talk to me like you love me.” Mr. Gold raises an eyebrow, while Clarice and Jeremy sit in rapt attention to see what will unfold. Firmly, Izzy-B says, “Three week back-order? Totally unacceptable! I need that card stock here tomorrow.” and then her voice seems to purr, “Manny, Manny, Manny, you wouldn’t be trying to leverage a higher price, now would you?” She rolls her eyes, “Sorry, I have a margin to make, and I’m not paying more for your ‘exclusive supplier’ to expedite the order. We had a deal.” Izzy-B sighs in false resignation, “Well, if your hands are tied, I understand. There’s nothing you can do.” She waits a moment for effect, and then says, “Oh Manny, before you go, on another topic entirely, did you and your cute blonde wife enjoy that movie last Wednesday? Was it as good as the reviews say?” She grins broadly as she pumps a fist in the air, “What’s that? You just found extra card stock in your inventory, and we’ll have it first thing tomorrow with a discount on delivery? Wow, what luck! Great doing business with ya, Manny. Love to the wife.” She hangs up the phone, and then laughs maniacally. Clarice says, “Isn’t his wife a redhead?” Glancing at Mr. Gold, who seems awestruck, and then back to Clarice, “Oh no, she’s not a redhead. She’s a hot tempered, redhead with a wealthy father.” Mr. Gold ponders whether it would be too outlandish to propose to Izzy-B on the spot. Jeremy says, “Good gravy! It’s only October tenth, and we just got to see a performance of ‘The Nutcracker’!”
Beaming with pride, Izzy-B strikes a pose and says, “All hail the queen.” Clarice fans her with a file folder, saying “We’re not worthy.” Izzy-B laughs saying, “No, you’re not. Throw roses and money.” Feeling quite pleased with the show that she put on for Mr. Gold, Izzy-B swaggers to the counter and purrs, “So Mr. Gold, what can I do for you today?” Clarice snickers at Izzy-B and Mr. Gold before answering the ringing phone. Clarice’s demeanor immediately changes, hearing the voice on the other end of the line, saying, “Yes, right away, Madame Mayor.”, then reaches out the receiver. Izzy-B’s expression sours as she whispers to Mr. Gold, “This was a good day. Please wait ’til I get off the line.” He whispers back, “I’ll be here.”
Steeling herself, Izzy-B says, “Mayor Mills, what can I do for you today?” She holds the phone away from her ear as the Mayor bellows something. Trying to sound as pleasant as possible, Izzy-B says, “Of course, Mayor Mills, you’re absolutely right. I’ll be sure that’s taken care of.”, and then she waits for a moment for a response, concluding with, “Have a wonderful day, Mayor Mills.” Izzy-B hangs up the receiver, breaks a pencil and says, “Drop dead, Mayor Mills! I doubt many would miss you.” Mr. Gold smirks. Going back to Mr. Gold, Izzy-B’s posture is a bit deflated from its bombastic levels minutes before talking to Mayor Mills. Izzy-B says, in a business like tone, “Mr. Gold is there something that you need printed.” Questioning if he should have come up with some bogus printing emergency, he decides to be straight forward, “Miss French, I would like you to go on a date with me.” Unable to breath as a chorus of “Yes!” resounds in her mind, she decides on a risky gambit. She keeps her voice steady, “Mr. Gold, given that we are in a place of business during business hours, I cannot, in good conscience, answer that non-business related proposal at this time. If you would like to ask me sometime when I’m not working, I would most certainly give your idea due consideration.” As she finishes, a slight sting heats her back from the paperclip that Clarice hurled at her, as a means of editorial comment. Mr. Gold’s and Izzy-B’s eyes lock, and Izzy-B wants to take back what she just said, and replace it with an “I’d love to.” He smiles knowingly and says, “Of course, another time then. Good day, Miss French.” Barely breathing, Izzy-B says, “Good day, Mr. Gold.”
Once the door closes behind him, Clarice shouts, “What the Hell are you doing?!? Okay, first it appears you have major thing for Mr. Gold…and if that’s not enough to wrap my brain around, he asks you out and you turned him down.” Defensively, Izzy-B says, “I did not turn him down. I just…I just…” Jeremy announces, “I have to go on a smoke break.” Dismissively, Izzy-B replies, “Okay, fine.” as Clarice and Izzy-B continue to look at each other, and Jeremy charges out the front door.
Mr. Gold slowly strolls back to his shop, as he ponders this interaction with Izzy-B. “So she wants to be a challenge? I could let her stew for a while. That would serve her right for playing such games. Then again, no one challenges me, and that could be fun in the end. Oh and what an end she has.” Jeremy calls his name, “Mr. Gold.” He turns to see Jeremy lumbering towards him. Jeremy continues, “Mr. Gold, we weren’t introduced. I’m Jeremy Andrews, a friend of Izzy-B’s, and I want to ask you a question.” Mr. Gold’s hands clench the gold handle of his cane, as he waits for Jeremy to get on with his inquiry.
Clearly uncomfortable with the yet to be asked question, Jeremy presses forward, “What are your intentions with Izzy-B?” Mr. Gold scoffs and rolls his eyes, “Taking a survey, Mr. Andrews?” Resolutely, Jeremy says, “This is a serious question.” Mr. Gold asks, “And you ask it of all of Miss French’s prospective suitors?” Jeremy answers, “No, you are the only one.” Snidely Gold asks, “Because I’m the Monster of Storybrooke?” Earnestly, Jeremy replies, “No, because you are the only one she has actually liked. If you had no chance, I wouldn’t bother. She’s more than capable of kicking unwanted men to the curb.” Mr. Gold smirks knowingly. Jeremy continues, “I know her dates are a source of entertain for this messed up town, but I never watch. I’ve always thought her girlfriends need to stay out of it. Izzy-B will know who she wants when she finds him.” Mr. Gold questions, “Is this your way of staying out of it?” Jeremy defends, “Look, everybody knows her as ‘tough as nails’, but that’s not her. She can be hurt. She has been hurt…beyond the crap that her dad put her through. When we were in high school, Izzy-B was totally different. She was open, but then something happened. I don’t know what, but she closed off. And I’m worried that if she’s hurt again, she’ll completely shut down from people.” Studying Jeremy, Mr. Gold says, “Your concern is admirable, yet seemingly misplaced. She just sent me packing.” Jeremy rolls his eyes, saying “Mr. Gold, you and I both know that she was trying to assert control over the situation. Izzy-B is a control freak pain in the ass, but she’s also one of the coolest people that I know…and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She seems like a game player, because she wants to be seen that way. When you get passed all the walls she puts up, you’ll realize that she’s the most genuine person around. I know she went to your shop at lunch. She’s already dropping walls for you. You’ve been given an amazing gift. Just please treat her right.” Mr. Gold’s expression softens, “I assure you, Mr. Andrews, that I have no intention of hurting Miss French. I find her to be a captivating woman who I really want to get to know better.”
Izzy-B, already too distracted to process the spreadsheet in front of her, looks up and says, “Wait a second, Jeremy doesn’t smoke.” Clarice stretches her neck to look out the window, “Nope…he’s not smoking. He’s playing big brother.” Izzy-B’s eye’s become wide, “Nooooo!”, and then races to the door. Izzy-B calls out through clenched teeth, “Jeremy, sweetie, where do I send the flowers?” Jeremy turns around cautiously, “What flowers?” She growls, “For your funeral!” Mr. Gold chuckles under his breath. Jeremy says to Mr. Gold, “I’d better get in there. And if I don’t live, it was nice talking to you, Mr. Gold.”, and Jeremy extends his hand. As they shake hands, Mr. Gold says, “Quick question before you go in front of the firing squad, what kind of food is her favorite?” Jeremy says, “You can’t go wrong with seafood, especially crab legs with drawn butter. For someone so petite, she can really pack the seafood away. I think she has a spare compartment in her foot.” Mr. Gold smirks, “Thank you and good luck.” Jeremy nods, “See ya, Mr. Gold.”
At the end of the work day, Izzy-B hurries out of the print shop, still uncertain of how she handled things with Mr. Gold. From a distance, she sees Mr. Gold walking towards her. Suddenly from the side, Graham appears, “Izzy-B, we on for Sunday?” Distracted she says, “Yeah, sure. Can we talk about it later. I have something else going on right now.” Graham says, “That’s fine. Just want to make sure you’re not going to end up face down on the mat.” Mr. Gold approaches, as Izzy-B responds to Graham, “That was months ago, when we first tried Krav Maga. I will kick your butt, Sunday.” Graham scoffs, “Big talk. So did you find it?” Izzy-B suddenly remembers the CD in her purse, smiling brightly, she says, “Here you go…Billy Joel’s Russian concert. It has ‘Stiletto’ on it.” Graham gives her a quick hug, “Thanks! Can’t wait! Bye!”, and then he nods to Mr. Gold and his on his way.
Feeling the need to avoid any misunderstanding, Izzy-B says, “Graham is one of my dearest friends. We spend Sunday’s beating the heck out of each other. But we’re friends. He has a girlfriend, of sorts.” Mr. Gold nods, “Regina.” Izzy-B shakes her head, “That is the worst kept secret in town. Graham is a great guy, but he’s made a lousy choice for a girlfriend. What’s weird is, based on recent conversations about Charlize Theron, Meg Ryan, and the really pretty blonde, what’s-her-name, from ‘Lost’ who played Claire, Graham is much more into blondes. Mr. Gold shrugs, “I guess the heart wants what the heart wants.”
Mr. Gold says, “Now, Belle, may we continue that conversation that we tabled earlier?” Izzy-B slips her arm around Mr. Gold’s arm and says, “Walk this way.” Then after a few steps, she says, “Now, we’re off property. I’m a stickler for details.” He smirks, saying “I can see that.” Before they can continue, Izzy-B hears her name being called and cringes, and she says, “Oh for the love of God! Let’s keep walking.” Their attempt to flee is of no avail, as Günther comes charging up and says, “Hey Izzy-B, guess you didn’t hear me.” She says dryly, “I heard you, but I chose to walk the other way.” Günther responds, “Uh…okay, whatever. I was thinking we should go on another date.” She and Mr. Gold share a disbelieving glance. Then she says, “Günther, that’s a nice offer, and I’m sure there is some woman out there with substandard self-esteem, who’d be perfect for you, but I’m not her.” Oblivious, Günther says, “Aw come one, Izzy-B, you’re good enough for me.” Mr. Gold holds in a laugh, as Izzy-B’s head starts to pound. Izzy-B says, firmly, “Look Günther, the answer is NO! End of story.” Dejected and unaware of what he interrupted, Günther says, “Fine. Be that way. Date Mr. Gold for all I care.” and stomps off. Mr. Gold smirks, saying, “I’m touched to have Günther’s blessing.” Izzy-B shakes her head.
Mr. Gold continues, “Now, where were we? Ah yes, you were about to agree to go on a date with me.” Izzy-B grins, “That’s a wonderful idea, but there’s one tiny problem, which only you can fix.” Looking intensely into her eyes, “What precisely, would that be?” Tilting her head, Izzy-B says, “I don’t date someone unless I know their first name.” Leaning on his cane studying her, Mr. Gold says dryly, “Well dear, names have power. I don’t know about this.” She retorts, “All the more reason for me to know yours. The choice is up to you. How much do you want to date me?” In fake exasperation, he sighs, “If you’re going to be this much of a pain in the arse about it, I choose where we have our date.” Izzy-B grins and says, “As long as it’s not Granny’s Diner, deal.” He says, “My name is Randall.” Izzy-B smirks, saying “So it could be said that you’re Randy?” Smugly, he replies, “I’ve been known to be.”
Trying to keep her knees from buckling, Izzy-B asks, “Where do you propose that we have this date?” He answers, “Considering that any date you have in public is likely to turn into a spectacle, I suggest my house.”, and then leaning in ominously, “If you dare enter the monster’s lair.” She shakes her head and says, “I’m sure I can handle it, Oscar.” He asks, “Could I pick you up at seven tomorrow evening?” “I’d rather meet you at your house.” He points out, “Technically, dear, your house is my house.” Determinedly, she responds, “All the more reason for us to meet at the house where you live. Let’s not muddy ‘date night’ with the landlord/renter dynamic.” Feigning annoyance, he replies, “Fine. Have it your way.” She smirks, “I usually do.” Deciding to up his game, he retrieves a pen from his suit coat pocket and without a word, grabs her hand beginning to write on her palm. Trying to keep her wits as the warmth of his hand and the spark in his eyes electrifies her, she reads his writing. It is his address. She is well aware of where he lives, however she has no intention of clarifying that fact and ending this contact. When he is finished, he blows on the ink to dry it and for effect. Looking into her eyes that reveal unabashed desire, he is extremely pleased at the effect he achieved. Hoping to regain her composure, with a husk in her voice, she asks, “Is there anything I can bring or do for dinner?” Without missing a beat, he says with a wolfish grin, “Wear something Velcro.” Izzy-B squeaks out “What?” He smirks, saying “Just a quip. Not serious.”, thinking “Well not that serious.” She narrows her gaze and says, “Fine. I’ll leave my Velcro dress in the closet.” He confirms, “Seven tomorrow at my house?” She smiles and says, “I look forward to it.” He backs away and says, “Have a good evening, Belle.” She nods and says, “You too, Randall.” Once he is several paces away, he thinks he hears a hint of a squeal emanate from Izzy-B. He thinks to himself, “If she wants to play, I’m up for this game.”
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