[identity profile] mirrani.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] fanficfocus
After I swore I wasn't going to put Once stuff up... I have this amazing dream. :p

Title: The Message (PG)
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Canon
Pairing: Not really, but it's the Gold Family, including Baelfire
Timeframe: Taking place after Gideon returns to Rumple and Belle, after he has settled in... There will be an episode for this, I'm sure. The shop has been renamed Gold & Son. We know it's coming, just hasn't aired yet. :)
No Content Warning

Background for those unfamiliar with OUAT: Belle and Rumple are Beauty and the Beast. Rumple's first son, Baelfire is from his previous marriage, hundreds of years ago. Yes, he's immortal. He was consumed by a dark power and is now known as The Dark One. He and Belle married, but had Gideon in a time in their relationship where they were going through some stuff. Both Baelfire and Gideon were lost to Rumple when they were children. Baelfire vanished into a portal to our world when he was a young boy, Gideon was stolen from his Fairy Godmother when he was only a few hours old. Both grew up without their father or mother around. It's way, way more complicated than that, but them's the basics.

For those wanting visual references:
Belle, Rumple, Gideon
Belle, Rumple, Baelfire
Inside Gold & Son Antiques
(It's a lot lighter on set than in the show, BTW.)

Disclaimer: This stuff just floats around in my head. I don't have anything to do with the franchise and I'm just having fun here. I earn nothing other than the smiles of fans for doing this work.

* * *

It had been a dull afternoon in the shop and Gideon found himself pacing among the displays and shelves with little to do other than contemplate this unfamiliar world. Storybrooke was the town that he was born in, yet of everyone that lived here he was the most foreign citizen of all. Of course no one /really/ belonged here, the town had been created by his father and the Evil Queen as part of a curse on their realm. All the people here had been plucked up from whatever they were doing and plopped down into the middle of the woods, surrounded by a town that had never before existed and memories that weren't their own.

The only person that Gideon had found so far who had gone through this awkward transition from other realm to this spot on Earth was Killian, the pirate most people called Hook. It wasn't necessarily something he had been told, but something he had observed. There was a restlessness that came with not completely knowing a place and Gideon had recognized it in the other man because he felt it strongly in himself. Would the honk of a horseless carriage or the music from a small box ever seem normal to someone who had never experienced disembodied sounds beyond what was allowed by magic? How had his father managed to put his voice onto a hard object filled with flimsy ribbon and allow his mother to listen to it repeatedly, if not with some spell? The pirate had lived here for years, Gideon held out little hope of adjusting as quickly as his parents hoped that he would.

To calm himself from these frustrations, he had begun studying what he could in his father's pawn shop. The place was filled with items from both this world and realms he knew. It felt childish, but Gideon had almost created a game from his observances, trying to guess the purpose of certain things or the place that they could have come from. A vase was a vase in any realm, but did this particular clay item with the dragon design come from his father's collection in the Dark Castle, or was it from this very town, created out of thin air and completely meaningless? Typically he could recognize magical things, but something as mundane as a hairbrush was anyone's guess. His father had several of those in the case to the right of the door and Gideon was certain that while they didn't all contain magic, they were used for it. The best at magic can do a lot with a single strand of hair.

Gideon leaned closer to peer at something on a shelf against the wall. The bronze of it shone in the dim light, though there wasn't anything magical about it. He lifted a tiny, infant-sized shoe and frowned. Was this part of a set? Where was the other one? Why had they been bronzed? “Father keeps everything,” he mumbled to himself as he placed the object back where he found it.



As he put the shoe in its rightful place, his hand brushed against what looked like a mirror, but was something that Gideon could now identify as something the Savior, Emma, used. What was it called? A cell? Whatever the true name was, the item came alive when it made contact with his hand, lighting the shelf and his part of the room with a brightness that was only blinding because of its unexpected nature. The screen dimmed, then went dark a moment later. His father and his mother each had one these, but theirs folded like stiff clothing and had buttons that could be pressed to tell the device what to do. They were apparently ordinary machines that had nothing to do with magic.

The item before him was different beyond the lack of buttons. The pull of magic was so powerful that Gideon was almost afraid to touch it again. Nothing he had encountered here in the shop had been such a combination of two worlds. The unexpected merge between technology and magic rapidly began to eat at him. It became something he could no longer resist, and so, with extreme hesitancy, he touched the edge of the now dark object.

Again it came to life, but Gideon did not remove his hand and so this time the light remained on, making it obvious that there were also words printed in the light, “Hello, brother or sister.”

Now intrigued, Gideon lifted the lit rectangle of a thing and studied it further. Well below this greeting was a much smaller instruction: Slide to unlock. He turned the thing over in his hands, trying to determine where exactly the lock on such a tiny item could be, but with no result. There were only three buttons anywhere that he could find, which made the light come on and off when pressed, but did nothing else and certainly did not slide in any direction.

“Annoying nonsense,” he grumbled at the light and prepared to replace the cell where he had found it. “Nothing in this land makes sense.”

In answer, a muffled voice began to talk incoherently, then called out to him, “Hi? … Wait!”

Gideon spun and searched the shop, but there was no one around. Realizing a second later that the sound had actually come from the device in his hands, his eyes turned to the screen, where they met with the somewhat sad eyes of another man.

He blinked, unsure of what to do. Televisions and other such things did not talk /to/ the person who was watching them. So what was this? Trying to ignore how ridiculous he felt, Gideon responded in a hesitant whisper, “Hello?”

The man smiled suddenly, his expression changing from one of pain and sadness to one of pure joy. “Wow. I feel... I think I got it to work.” He took a long breath. “Magic from me. Won't Papa be surprised?”

“I don't-”

The other man took in a sharp breath, cutting Gideon off. “I hope this spell works... I want this to transfer to the phone... Papa used a sand dollar once... If you see me it means Hook got to Emma... It doesn't matter... I don't really have much time and I had to give this a try while I still could.”

Gideon fell silent, staring at the small flat box in his hand.

“I have no idea what you know about me, but if you found this it means I have at least one sibling out there in the world, probably having to go through what I went through. Being the child of the Dark One... It's a lot more complicated than anyone thinks...”

“You're /my/ brother.” Gideon couldn't help letting out the whisper. The message in print on the screen must truly have been meant for him. He had heard the stories of his brother told by his father, Belle, and other people of the town, and through those stories he knew the man facing him through this shining surface was a true hero. Someone to look up to and admire. Even the Prince was named after him. “Baelfire.”

“If our father ever talks about me, yes.. I'm Baelfire. Or... They... call me Neal in the city, but that's... a lot more complicated than I have time for right now.” The man winced slightly and took a breath. “I'm not really supposed to be here, but... I had to do some things... And..”

Pain or confusion seemed to contort Baelfire's face for another moment before he continued. “Look... I got this idea from our father. When he was dying... Belle was cursed and didn't remember him, but he had to say goodbye...” Tears filled the man's eyes as he spoke and he managed to gulp up a sob before pressing himself on. “He loves her /so/ much. I didn't know he had that much love in him until I heard him talking to her...”

Gideon glanced at the curtain that separated the private work space from the shop proper. His father was back there now, could he hear this? Could he /explain/ any of this? He turned back to the screen as his brother continued.

“He had to tell her who she was because she didn't remember... I've got to tell you who /you/ are because people will want you to forget... He... Papa can explain all this... I don't...” Baelfire took a gasp of air and crumpled, the image jostled and it was then that Gideon realized that the background was not a modern one, but one of primitive walls and a familiar glow of more natural light sources than anyone used in this land.

“You... You are the child of Rumplestiltskin before you are the child of /anyone/ else.” A slow breath followed before Baelfire went on, seemingly stronger than before, determination plain on his face. “No matter what anyone else tells you, that man will love you and your mother more than anything. /Everything/ that he does, no matter the consequences, he does /for/ you, for Belle. You have to know that. Because I didn't, not for a long, long time... And that hurt him... so much... It hurt /us/.”

“Belle... must be your mother... I can't see Papa with anyone else... She helped me to save him. She won't remember. No one will. I... You're my brother...”

There was a long moment of confusion and movement, then the sound of someone writing. In this pause Baelfire seemed focused on something else entirely and Gideon wondered if the moving picture spell had been forgotten.

All of a sudden Baelfire looked up, an intense passion on his face. “Don't /ever/ give up on him. Because he will /never/ give up on you. No one in that cursed town knows who he /really/ is, the man he is under that... poison that took him. I knew him before... He was the only father... I could ever... want to have... He became the way he is to /save/ me. He's more of a hero than anyone could believe.”

Gideon wanted to reach out and help his brother to stand, wanted to prevent the suffering caused by whatever hideous fate was happening to him. He knew that he could not, this was magic, but it was old, a distant memory of what once was. The knowledge of that was almost more pain than he could bear.

“Tell him that. Tell your mother I wish she could have been mine... If... If you know Emma... Say goodbye.” With those words the spell was broken and the device went dark.

Without considering the rationality of his actions, Gideon called out to the past, “Brother? Wait!” There was no reply and the cell in his hand remained a mirror, showing his own reflection where the image of his brother had once been. He tried to remember the man's face. Had they looked the same? Did they share any features in common?

Furniture moved in the other room and the sound of footsteps could be heard across the floor, but Gideon was only aware of what was gone. Suddenly he felt a touch on his shoulder that made him jump so suddenly that he lost his grip on what he was holding and it fell to the floor.

“No...” The young man bent to pick up what he had dropped, turning it over and over in his hands, inspecting it for any signs of damage, wondering if it would ever show him his brother again.

Rumplestiltskin stood, smiling fondly at him. “Don't worry, son. These things are usually less fragile than they look. The screens are what break first and they can be replaced if you know how.” He held out a hand. “May I?”

Reluctantly Gideon passed the cell over to his father. “There was a picture. It was talking,” he tried to explain.

“Yes. It's called video.” Rumple's smile began to turn into a contemplative frown. “This isn't any of ours.. it looks like... Ms. Swan's.”

Gideon nodded once, slowly. “It is. At least, I /think/ it is.”

“How did you get it?” The question was sharp, but genuine, less of a scolding from father to son and more the curiosity of a collector. Any other parent would probably be accusing their child of thievery with the same words, but not Rumplestiltskin.

“It was here, on /this/ shelf.” The younger man indicated where he found it, then realized what his father had said. “It's Emma's? You mean... This wasn't my brother's?”

Rumple blinked at his son, lines of confusion appearing across his face. “Bae's? Why would you think that?”

“Well,” answered Gideon, “he said he wanted to transfer something on the phone, and I-” His voice cut short as he watched his father spin sharply, trying to take in all directions at once.

“Bae?” His father called out quickly, in an almost desperate whisper, as if his oldest son would simply appear out of the air around them or step away from a dark shadow in the corner. He turned back to Gideon. “Am I asleep? Is this one of your dreaming spells, because if it is-”

“No, father, he was there.” Gideon pointed to the useless machine in Rumple's hands. “He was in the glass, talking to me.”

Rumple stepped as close to his son as was physically possible and held up the cell in one quick motion. “What did you do? Show me.” He radiated urgency with every pore of his being.

“I don't know, I only touched it and-”

There was no time for another word because his father had forced the machine into his hand so quickly and with so much force, that Gideon almost stumbled backward into the shelving behind him. The moment the slick surface made contact with his hand, the text was visible, just as it had been in the beginning, before the video had shown him so many confusing things. Gideon had so many questions, but his father seemed lost, a tear running down his cheek.

“Bae,” Rumple whispered, caressing the screen. “This is magic... Blood magic. Very specific blood magic if your brother can use it and I can't. How did you do this?”

Gideon shifted slightly forward, wanting to support his father, but not knowing how. He kept his voice quiet, trying to be soothing, but they were still awkward as father and son, even though they were spending more time together. He desperately wanted to have answers, if only so that they could /both/ understand what had just happened. “He said it would surprise you.”

Rumple nodded slowly and took a breath to compose himself. “Your brother wasn't capable of magic. He hated it, actually...” Memories flooded the older man's mind and reflected in the waves of expression that passed over him before he looked up at Gideon again. “What did you do next? Did it play when you unlocked it?”

“I... There isn't a lock.” Forcing himself not to feel ignorant in front of his father, Gideon held up the cell to his father in order to prove his claim, which brought out a smile.

“Slide your finger across the front.” Rumplestiltskin demonstrated the motion on the smooth surface, which refused to react to his touch. “Like that.”

Gideon did as he was told and his brother reappeared, mumbling to himself. “What do I do? Think something... Hi? … Wait! Wow. I feel... I think I got it to work..” Having seen the entire picture once before, things began to fall into place and Gideon could now imagine that the breath his brother took was one of surprise. “Magic from me. Won't Papa be surprised?”

He tried not to notice that more tears were falling from his father's eyes as the man again whispered his brother's name, clinging to it as if it were a lifeline. “Oh.. Bae...” Had Rumple nodded in answer to his brother's question? Gideon couldn't be sure.

“I hope this spell works... I want this to transfer to the phone... Papa used a sand dollar once... If you see me it means Hook got to Emma... It doesn't matter... I don't really have much time and I had to give this a try while I still could.”

Gideon glanced at his father. “Does any of that make sense to you?”

Rumplestiltskin nodded and tapped the screen. “Do this.” His son did as he was told and the video paused, Baelfire's mouth about to form his next words. It wasn't exactly a flattering image, but that made no difference to Gideon and certainly didn't phase his father, who was obviously used to such things.

“When we went after my father in Neverland, your mother stayed here because I needed her to cast a protection spell for me, one that would keep anyone from coming in to the town. Once we got there I didn't have any way to talk with her, so I sent her a message in a sand dollar. It's a simple communication spell...” He picked up a random object off of the counter and waved his hand over it with slow grace. Nothing seemed to happen, but Gideon knew better. “Now, when she holds this she will see the message that I left for her, but if anyone else touches it-”

“They can't.”

“That's right. It doesn't take as long to make the message as to watch it, but Bae... He had never done anything like this before...” Rumple studied the image now. “Does he say when this was?”

Gideon shook his head. “He says something about mother … saving you?”

“Of course!” A thoughtful tone filled Rumplestiltskin's voice as he paced around to the other side of the counter and back again. Gideon knew this was a sure sign that his father had figured everything out all at once. It was a reaction that was unmistakable, especially when he talked as he moved. “He must have used some of my magic when we were joined.”

“Joined? Father, I was hoping you could /explain/ this to me-”

A warm smile came across Rumple's face and he nodded slowly. “All right. In order to defeat my father, I used the dagger and sacrificed myself, which somehow lead to everyone going back to the Enchanted Forest.” His hands moved as he talked, gesturing at his own chest and casting themselves to the side, then waved in the air dismissively at Gideon's uncertain gaze. “I wasn't exactly here for all the basics. I was transported back to where all Dark Ones return. Your mother and your brother found a way to release me, but at a price...”

“Baelfire's life.” Gideon knew about the Saviors and the Dark Ones, how they were made or remade. He knew the cost of bringing his father back would have been the life of the person who had used a key to open the lock that contained him.

“Yes. Your brother released me, but had to give his own life in exchange. I was desperate to save him, so I... consumed him.” Rumple reached out into the air and mimicked drawing something close. “I pulled him into me and for a while the two of us existed together as one. I... I couldn't let go of him. I wouldn't lose him again, Gideon.”

Gideon nodded slowly, “Yes. I think I understand. Somehow, while you were joined, he used your magic?”

“He must have. That looks like the place where Zelina was keeping me... In fact... I think that might be the very room...” He took a closer look. “Yes... I believe it is. Your brother somehow sent a message to the Pirate that Emma could break the new curse... I wonder if that isn't when he made /this/ message... Perhaps it didn't take him as long as I thought...”

“And he had this... phone?”

Rumple chuckled. “Oh, I very much doubt that. I expect that his idea was to transfer this message to the phone whenever something he was holding at the time came into contact with Emma. Though how he managed /that/ or how Emma's phone ended up in my shop...”

“Father,” frowned Gideon, looking over at the single copper shoe. “/Everything/ ends up in your shop.”

The corner of his father's mouth rose ever so slightly and a sparkle seemed to return to his eyes. “That's true,” he confessed before nodding at the device in Gideon's hand. Understanding what was expected of him, Gideon tapped the screen again and the message continued from where it had left off.

“...no idea what you know about me, but if you found this it means I have at least one sibling out there in the world, probably having to go through what I went through. Being the child of the Dark One... It's a lot more complicated than anyone thinks...

If our father ever talks about me, yes.. I'm Baelfire. Or... They... call me Neal in the city, but that's... a lot more complicated than I have time for right now. I'm not really supposed to be here, but... I had to do some things... And..”

Rumple couldn't watch the suffering of his first son, his eyes closed to the image before him. Gideon tentatively reached a hand to his father's arm. “Father, you-”

Baeilfire unknowingly interrupted and his words seemed to cause even more pain than before. The older man's face contorted into an expression of deep sorrow as his oldest son recounted painful memories that the younger would never truly know.

“Look... I got this idea from our father. When he was dying... Belle was cursed and didn't remember him, but he had to say goodbye...”

His brother talked on, but eventually Gideon touched the image again and it froze, mid sentence. He didn't think his father could hear what was being said anyway and for some reason that he could not understand, all he wanted to do in this moment was console his father, find him some comfort from whatever it was he was being forced to remember.

“What did you say to mother? Do you remember?”

Rumple took a deep breath and faced his son, trying to compose himself, but it was his mother's voice that answered the question.

“He said, 'You're a hero who helped your people.'” Belle smiled fondly at the the two of them from where she stood in the side door of the shop. She walked forward, closing the door behind her and crossing the distance to her husband and child. “ He told me, 'You're a beautiful woman who loved an ugly man. Really, really loved me.' He said I found goodness in others and if I couldn't find it, then I created it.”

Belle reached her hand out to Rumple and the simple touch seemed to steady him. Gazing fondly into his eyes she spoke to Gideon again. “Your father told me that I made him want to be the best version of himself and that had never happened before. 'When you look in the mirror,' he told me, 'and you don't know who you are... /That's/ who you are.'”

The sad eyes of Rumplestiltskin met the beautiful blue gems that were Belle's, his smile returned fully as he strengthened himself beside her. “You remembered?”

“Parts of it. Eventually. Once Lacy was gone.” She couldn't help flushing a little at those particular memories. Trying to avoid the subject of her alter ego in front of their son, she quickly hunted for something to say. “You um... Found something of Baelfire's?”

Gideon explained what had happened and together the three of them continued where the video left off.

“You are the child of Rumplestiltskin before you are the child of /anyone/ else. No matter what anyone else tells you, that man will love you and your mother more than anything. /Everything/ that he does, no matter the consequences, he does /for/ you, for Belle. You have to know that. Because I didn't, not for a long, long time... And that hurt him... so much... It hurt /us/.”

His parents exchanged something unspoken in that moment. Gideon felt uncomfortable with the mention of his father being loyal to Belle, knowing that something had come between them in the past, but their reaction to it seemed blank at worst, so he chose not to disturb them.

“Don't /ever/ give up on him,” Baelfire's image desperately insisted. “Because he will /never/ give up on you. No one in that cursed town knows who he truly is, the man he is under that... poison that took him. I knew him before... He was the only father... I could ever... want to have... He became the way he is to /save/ me. He's more of a hero than anyone could believe. Tell him that. Tell your mother I wish she could have been mine... If... If you know Emma... Say goodbye.”

Belle's eyes were moist at hearing Bae's words and Rumple reached up to caress her cheek. “He hardly knew me,” she insisted gently.

“Anyone who spends time with you knows he's telling the truth, Belle,” Rumplestiltskin whispered softly, drawing her into his side so that she could rest her head on his shoulder. “And... apparently you are all I think about if we've been away for too long...” The confession came with a loving smile.

Gideon looked between them.

“There was plenty of time for your brother and I to talk on the journey back on that pirate ship,” Rumple said as an explanation. This seemed to be enough for Belle, though it took some figuring on Gideon's part to realize that his father must have talked Baelfire's ear off about his step mother.

Gideon looked at the now lifeless phone in his hands and pondered everything that he had learned, taking in his brother and all that he was. He had so many questions and was certain that his father would willingly provide the answers, but the largest of his problems pulled at something deep inside of him, making it twist into a kind of sadness. Baelfire had given a dying request to a younger brother that he never knew, entrusting him with a message meant for the woman he loved, the very same woman that Gideon had once sworn to kill in order to become the hero that he dreamed he could be.

Would Gideon's history with Emma turn his brother's request into a promise that would prove impossible to keep?
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