There was no way out. At least, none she could find for that moment. This was bad, very very bad. Not only did she have no idea where she was, but everything was foreign, as it has been for some time now. So many loud noises and strange devices. There was a mad she'd knocked out right in front of her. He had a uniform on, though she had no idea what it meant. but, the item in his hand, she'd taken from him. It looked important. However, she didn't know how to use it, thus she knew having it in the first place was rather worthless..

"Hey! Stop where you are!" another voice shouted. There were more men in those uniforms, and she was getting sick of them rather quickly. Maria ran, there was no way she'd answer to him. She shoved the device away, drawing an arrow from her back. Its tip stopped at the beat of the officer's heart. Then she jumped up, climbing the cold, metal fails, flinging herself up before smashing the glass, letting her outside to grasp the crisp moon of metropolis.

On the rooftop, Maria was getting used to this. These people had been pursuing her since she'd taken a trip to the market, though she failed to understand why. Either way, she had to defend herself. Armed in a leather jacket and what they call jeans around here, she knocked another arrow. After landing on a lower roof top, Maria turned around to see the officer looked down at her. Right when he came into her sites, she shot. Right in the forehead, and she fled again.

Once more, she'd gotten away.

"Mom, what's happening?" Baelfire asked, rushing to the door as she walked in, out of breath and setting her bow and quiver aside.

"Bae, I fail to understand. I've paid for everything fairly, more than fairly. Yet, I am chased," she sighed, crashing onto the couch.

The two had gotten an apartment since they'd found each other in this chaos of a city. The world was different now, as they both expected. This was no fairy tale, there were no fairy godmothers and magic that existed.

"Again?" Bae asked in shock. Then he dug into his backpack. "What are you paying with?"

"Your father's gold of course. The last he gave me, I'm trying to make it last," Maria replied.

"Ok, let's try this now," Bae handed her some green pieces of paper, all the same size, but with different numbers. "It's called money. This is what people use here."

"Money huh? Isn't it a little late for that?" Maria asked. "I'm chased whenever someone points at me to those men in the blue uniforms...what are they called again?"

"The police, Mom. They aren't the people you want after you. Also known as the cops," Bae replied. "How about I run the errands tomorrow after school, just give me a list."

"All right, but Bae," she called before the boy was off to bed. "be ready to move again. Things are looking dicy."

"Still here?" he asked. Sadly, Maria shook her head.

"Somewhere else, far away from here as possible. We could try Boston...or Maine I don't know, but we have to get out of her soon."

"All right," Bae said. "I'll get my letters tomorrow, Ottis shouldn't mind."

Bae had been working at various mechanic shops since he'd been in this world. Whenever he found that he had to move somewhere else, he'd always asked for a letter of recommendation of sorts. His boss would look at him in an eccentric way, but then the boy would explain that all the boss had to do was write what Bae knew how to do and how hard he worked at his job with a signature at the bottom to confirm it, along with a number just in case. Ottis was Bae's current employer, and he was sad to leave the shop he was working at now, as they were all friendly people and they hadn't a need to move for months now.

Maria had many jobs under her belt. Once she worked as a seamstress, once at a few fast food joints, anything to pay the rent really. She was trying to earn this so-called money so she pay for it. Otherwise, she used Rumpelstiltskin's gold thread he'd given her. Of course, she still couldn't take the piece around her neck off, ever. There was still no clasp on it. In fact, that necklace was the only piece of magic Maria found in New York City.

Maria wasn't the only one to miss him. Bae was having a deal of a time adjusting. Maria tried to help him as best she could, but she knew that he'd miss his father nonetheless. Moving was actually a good idea for them because as they found out over the years, the two never aged. Bae's voice hadn't deepened enough, and it never did the following three years after that. Bae was supposed to be in high school, but he was much smarter than that. He'd been to high school seven times...it'd been 28 years, and they knew it. Yes, it was time to get out of New York City.

Baelfire would try to show Maria the new technologies of the world, but the only things she really used out of them was the stove, sometimes the microwave, the refrigerator, and the bathroom essentials. The rest of it: cell phones, cars, any of it, she never used. Bae had a cell phone, which he could afford from his job himself, but he'd taken a bike everywhere he went. The city was tiring him, almost to the death. The homework had gotten easier for sure. The two never spoke of the time issue between them. They had established that Rumpelstiltskin's magic was the clear cause and if they found him again, perhaps things would change. If they ever found him again.

Some things were the same. Both of them read the paper often, and that was how they kept themselves entertained for the most part. Bae would read shelves of books, just taking them from the library, which he rather enjoyed for free. Maria herself often appeared in the paper, and Bae knew this wasn't good. Luckily, no one knew Maria was even his mother. His friends would always hang out with him at a different location or when his mother wasn't home. Maria felt awful, not being able to meet any of her son's friends, but they both knew it would just be a bad scenario.

"They keep calling you a mystery, and because our DNA isn't in the system, we have an advantage," Bae said. "But they have us on file for sure. Each arrow you shot, you left a fingerprint, and that's how they can chase you. Not only by image, but by your routine."

"Better start packing then," Maria sighed, setting the gun on the table. Bae's eye widened. There was no way he was going to bed now!

"Where did you get that?" He rushed over to the table.

"From the officer who chased me. Well, one of them. Why, what is it?"

"It's a gun, they are faster than arrows, well, maybe about the same as your arrows from the way you shoot them," Bae observed. "These are filled with led, so be careful. Here..." Bae took it apart so the bullets were on the table. "Now we won't have any issues."

He further explained the trigger and how guns generally worked, or at least, all he'd seen from movies.

"I'm surprised they haven't tried to shoot you yet. They must want to question you or something," he observed. "Still, you've been shooting at them..."

"Hmm, something to ponder. Go to bed," Maria said, ruffling his hair. The boy smiled.

"Okay fine. Good night, Mom." Bae disappeared into his room.

"Good night, Baelfire."

Chapter Two

"And now, a breaking news story: police fail to catch mysterious Robin hood once again. The woman allegedly shot and killed two officers last night. Police chief Ramsey finally has a comment tonight.

'It's the weirdest thing. This female's DNA was not in our system at all until her first uproar. We know it's the same girl, but haven't a name or motive'."

"Hm, you'd think the police could catch one woman around here," Granny sighed, shaking her head at the TV.

"It's not even around here," Red said, pouring coffee for Snow. "It's in New York City."

"How long as this been going on?" Snow asked.

"Months," Granny replied. "She shoots with a bow and arrow. Each time the police say they have DNA there is never a match...to anyone."

"Weird."

"Yeah, it's like she was never born," Red said.

"I'll bet Emma could catch them," a little voice chimed in. Red's head jerked up, and everyone else's followed suit.

"Henry! Emma," Red greeted. "What can I get you?"

"Some hot cocoa please," Emma requested. Red smiled and went to make their order while the two sat with Snow White. Henry called to make sure the waitress didn't forget the cinnamon.

The three talked for a while, and a few hours later, Henry had to go and help David with a few things. The little bell sounded and Henry met Mr. Gold at the door. He bid them good day and was off again. Mr. Gold looked up and smiled at Red, but Granny just looked away.

"My, my, my," Red sighed. "What have you done now?" It was complete sarcasm of course, but Mr. Gold shot her a vast look of disapproval. She was not afraid of Rumpelstiltskin.

Emma and her mother left the diner as well, deciding it was a good time to go their separate ways as well. No one wanted to be involved with Rumpel's business if they could avoid it altogether.

"Nothing of your concern, Red," Mr. Gold replied. "If I may offer you this." He put a twenty dollar bill on the table. "In exchange for two peppermint teas."

Ruby took the money.

"Two? Comin' right up." She knew he never wanted the change whenever he ordered something, so she usually kept it to herself. Granny usually didn't notice. Mr. Gold took a seat at a table and talked with Red about various things for a little while until the TV news came on again.

As Ruby brought the order out, she tried to make conversation about the mysterious woman that had been in the news lately; however, Mr. Gold didn't seem to understand what she was talking about. The news was limited where he lived, and whenever he had a TV on in his house, it wasn't the news. Everything that happened in Storybrooke was usually by word of mouth.

This, Red saw as a fail, and went about her work. The topic changed to Red's little problem of changing into a wolf. She looked to her grandmother who was watching the TV to see if she was even at all interested, and then she saw the picture appearing on the news.

Granny turned up the volume so she could hear better. It was about that girl again. Man, she was just all over the place these days. Very popular. Rumpel's attention turned to the TV and he got up to walk closer to the TV. He stared for a while, and Red watched him.

"That's the story I was talking about before," she said, wiping down the counter. Mr. Gold did not reply however, he was too busy staring intently at the screen before him. His eyes analyzed everything on the screen: every frame, every word, every sound, nothing escaped him.

When the small bit of the story was over with and the next subject resumed, Gold turned back to her.

"If you'll excuse me, dearie," he said suddenly as he walked over to her. "Perhaps another time we can further discuss your little...problem on the full moon."

Red gave him a look, but he just let it go as he usually did, thanked Gold coming in and watched him walk out of the diner.

"Do you think he knows her?" Ruby asked Granny.

"I dunno, who?" Granny asked.

"That girl, on the news," Red gestured to the TV as Granny turned it back down. Red held a rag on her hip and leaned against the counter.

"Maybe, I don't know, but that was a little strange," she admitted. "Usually when Mr. Gold asks for something, it's supposed to be immediate. I wish you wouldn't talk to him like he's changed."

"Everything about that Rumpelstiltskin is strange," Red said. " but I'm not afraid of him. I think he's lonely." No one really knew Rumpel's business unless he stated otherwise. For the most part, he was a rather private person.

Chapter Three

"So, where are we going now?" Bae asked as he packed everything in the car. Only the boy could drive the car, but he rarely used it unless they were moving again. Gas was just too highly priced and he much preferred his bike anyway.

Even though money was not a new concept to Bae, his mother was still trying to grasp everything. Adjusting to such a society as this was still difficult for her. They were chased all the time, and this place confused her. However, Baelfire also knew that his mother paying in gold thread couldn't continue. There was enough trouble as it was with them because of it. Whenever Bae and Maria moved, the boy would have to go down to a DMV and tell them that the dates on his license were incorrect. They would change them and then Bae would carry on as normal.

As far as an actual name, ever since he had to be registered, Bae had written his name as Baelfire Richardson. It worked for him, though the first idea was part of his father's name...no, that wouldn't do at all. Too many memories. Only he was entered in the system since he had to attend school when he and his mother first met in this world. Now, Bae was growing tired of it, school and all. So far, he'd changed wardrobes twice, completely, however, he still kept the old clothing he had come in.

"Okay, but this time, I'm not going to school," Bae said. "I can't afford it anymore. You can't even afford it anymore."

"All right, you've been seven times, I suppose that's good enough. We'll just have to find a small town then huh?" Maria said. The boy nodded as he slammed the trunk of the car with his belongings in it. The rest of the trunk housed Maria's clothing and weapons. Then the pots and pans when in the back seat in a large box. Bae packed the microwave inside too, along with his backpack and other items. It all just fit, but it was all they had really.

The letter in Bae's hand sat on the floor the front seat along with his wallet and debit card. He sighed as he took the wheel and turned the key. Maria sat in the passenger's seat with her little purse of belongings and shut her car door.

"North or South?" Bae asked when they were about to get on the freeway.

"Doesn't matter," Maria replied. "We have a place either way: if you go South we have to go to Florida. North, there's a small town in Maine with an inn or in Boston. You pick."

"I don't feel like driving to Florida," Bae said. "And I tire of the city. What's this place in Maine?"

"It's called Storybrooke...did I say that right? Well, whatever. I'll tell you the exit," Maria said. "We can rent a room either at a bed and breakfast or a series of apartments owned by a Mr. Gold? Who's last name is Gold? Well, he seems to be rich enough to suit the name."

Bae drove North, hardly hearing his mother's ramblings.

As usual, the drive was a few hours, and once they had to stop for gas. Along the way, Bae looked for a dealer he could possible trade with. He could barely afford the $110 he gave up in cash for the first fill-up. Unfortunately, there was no time to stop in a jeweler's shop because it was about another two miles to Storybrooke by the time Bae found one. By then, he'd just forgotten about it.

"How are we paying for this apartment?" Bae asked. "I've used my cash on the gas."

"Use the thread," Maria said. "Just say it's a temporary change, and that we'll pay with cash next time. Bae sighed, hoping this town would accept such a thing. The city obviously didn't, though they both knew they could afford a castle right now.

Bae saw the sign that evening that welcomed them into the town. But, there was something different...

"Bae," Maria said, thrashing back on the seat. "Where are we?"

"Storybrooke," Bae said plainly. "Why?"

"Something's different," Maria said. Then she tried something she was somehow vaguely familiar with.

A flash of water appeared outside and spilt onto the car. Bae flinched and hit the break, turning to his mother, who stared at her hands to see the shinning aurora.

"I can use magic..."

The boy's eyes widened. Then he stepped on the gas, thrashing Maria back again.

"What are you doing?" she gasped.

"Finding Papa! He must be this Mr. Gold that's advertised. Think about it. He could spin straw into gold. It's not that difficult to grasp!"

Maria realized he was right, but that meant Rumpelstiltskin was alive and well all these years. Somehow, he managed to get everyone here with the two of them, and somehow, Bae still was driven to find him.

"There look!" Maria shouted. "Mr. Gold's Pawnshop, right there on the sign."

Bae stopped the car and the two of them dashed out of the vehicle. Bae forgot to lock the door, he was that excited.

The little bell sounded inside the shop as Bae ran inside. There was a girl dressed in blue who turned around abruptly, gasping. No one had come in so eagerly before.

"Where is Rumpelstiltskin?" Bae demanded as Maria had just caught up with him.

"I-I-he-who are you?" the girl said. Clearly she was in some sort of shock.

"I'm sorry to barge in like this," Maria said, catching her breath. "We are looking to rent an apartment here in town and we need to see him to get something sorted out."

"Oh you're staying," the girl said, sighing. "I'm sorry. Y-you scared me. No one ever come in so quickly. If anything would have broken, I'd have been in for it..." The girl stopped for a minute and straightened her clothing before looking back up. "Mr. Gold... or Rumpelstiltskin as you know him it seems, he's out for today. I'm maintaining the shop today."

"Where can we find him?" Maria asked. "Do you have any idea?"

"No, but I can call him," the girl told them. "Is there anything in here he has on hold for you or have you come to make a deal?"

The two exchanged a glance. Bae's eyes reflected sorrow and hurt while Maria was at least telling him that it was for sure Rumpelstiltskin.

"Actually..." Maria said, looking down for a moment. "We have some personal business with him as well."

"But no deals!" Bae added, walking around the shop, calming himself a little. "Who are you?"

"Oh, me? My name is Belle," she introduced herself. "If I may ask the same of you?"

"My name is Baelfire," the boy said, walking up to the counter and taking an old kickball. "And this belongs to me."

"Oh," Belle said. "I should probably call him. Give me a moment."

"And I'm Maria," Bae's mother said. "I'm his mother...tell Mr. Gold I wish to speak with him."

Belle nodded, dialing the number she had and immediately, the other line was open. Maria and Bae listened to Belle as she reassured the person on the other line she was perfectly fine, more than once she had to repeat herself. She explained that there were two people here who wished to speak with him.

Bae went up to where Belle was, hearing a little of what Mr. Gold was saying. He knew that was his father in an instant. He couldn't help himself anymore.

"Oh...okay, well they sound like it's-"

"It's me Papa!" Bae exclaimed into the phone.

"What was that?" Mr. Gold asked Belle.

"A boy...his name is Bael-"

"Papa! It's me. Mom's here too. Please come find us, wherever you are!" Bae exclaimed, then stepping back.

Belle didn't know what to do, so she asked if Mr. Gold wanted to speak with them. She gave Maria the phone.

"You're his son?" Belle asked hesistantly.

"I'm sorry," Baelfire apologized. "I couldn't help it. It's been so long, I thought he'd forgotten me..."

"He told me he lost you..." Belle replied.

"He did..." Bae replied, but he didn't want to say anything more about the subject.

Maria and Rumpelstiltskin talked a long while on the phone. Mostly, Rumpelstiltskin was in shock that they were okay and in his shop. Maria explained a lot of things to him, and there was so much to tell. It'd been 28 years. Since magic was an option here, Maria thought to bring up the age differences and how little they were impacted by change. Belle and Bae talked a little while longer, and Belle learned so much about Rumpelstiltskin she'd have never thought possible. Of course, Bae didn't reveal too many secrets about their past, but Belle knew the boy missed his father and how his magic was his son's major disapproval.

As Bae wandered the shop for a little while with his kickball, Belle took a good look at Maria. So, that is his wife, she thought to herself. She noticed the necklace around Maria's neck and that it wasn't even a chain. It was a piece of gold thread. Belle knew this was a potential problem and she felt threatened. She loved Rumpelstiltskin, and he'd given them up himself. The boy seemed good-hearted enough, and Maria looked strong. Armed in a leather jacket and her jeans, Maria walked around, still talking with Rumpelstiltskin.

"I'm on my way," Rumpel said. "I've missed you both so much. I'll meet you tomorrow morning if it's the last thing I do. I sense you are confused about this modern world. Around here, things are a little different. How is Bae?"

"It took adjusting, but he just misses you," Maria said, watching Belle go into the back room. "Belle seems nice."

"Yes, there will have to be some discussion about that as well," Rumpel cleared his throat. "I have to go. Let me speak with Bae quickly."

Maria handed Bae the phone.

"Son, I have a lot to tell you, but now is not the time okay? I'll be back tomorrow, I promise you Bae," Rumpelstiltskin said.

"Okay Papa, I miss you," the boy said.

"I miss you too, Son. I have so much. I have to go now."

"Bye Papa."

The phone was hung up, and Bae explored the shop.

"My my, what has he been up to without us?" Maria asked Bae as she too, began to look. Belle reappeared.

"Did he say anything I should know?" Belle asked.

"He'll be back tomorrow morning," Maria said. "We have a lot to discuss."

"So...you were his...wife?" Belle asked.

"Yes," Maria replied, looking around. "I was...Honey, don't get any ideas. I don't intend to pursue any further relationship with that man. I see that look in your eyes, and as much as I've missed him, I don't think we could make it anymore."

"Mother, you can't be saying-" Bae started to say.

"You can choose Bae. I'll understand if you want to stay with your father. I'll stick around, don't worry. I haven't seen your father in 28 years, Baelfire. I've moved on from that point in my life. Perhaps if he would rather engage in magic practices with me, but I want you to know," Maria was addressing Belle now. "That I am in no way taking him from you. I am merely a figure of his past, and I am forever upset with him for what he's done. You're his chance to make things right, because I wouldn't let him."

Belle felt a little better about things, but also a little violated. How did this woman know about her relationship with Rumpel? Just by her expression? Belle was having a hard time grasping that evidence.

She directed them to Granny's Bed and Breakfast for the night, and she let Bae take the kickball for free because she didn't know what to do about the situation exactly. Watching the two of them drive away brought a sense of relief inside of her, but she wanted Rumpelstiltskin to explain everything to her as well.

Chapter Four

Bae and Maria waited in the room at Granny's until there was a knock at the door. The two stared at each other for a moment.

"Why don't you do the honors?" Maria said. Bae stood cautiously and turned the doorknob.

"Papa!" he exclaimed, running into his father to give him a huge hug. They'd recognized each other instantly. Rumpelstiltskin stared down at his child for a long time until his gaze set upon Maria, who seemed to have completely transformed.

"Rumpelstiltskin," Maria said, standing so he could get a better look at her. Her hair was still long, her cloak remained unchanged, and there was still a thread on her neck.

"Maria," he faltered a little as he said it. Bae released his father as he watched him sink a little lower, as if his knee were to give out any moment. Maria grasped him in a hug and Rumpel held her tight. She didn't feel like Belle, but he did miss her a great deal.

"How have you been?" he asked. Maria scoffed.

"Pfft. Awful let's face it, Bae's learned about this world far better than I ever will," she confessed.

"Then you'd best stay here," Gold told her. "Things here a little different."

"I see magic hasn't left," Maria said, throwing a bit of fire in her hands.

"It's supposed to be different," Rumpel said. "Even I couldn't just conjure whatever I wanted...well, that's a lie I suppose, just a little one."

Maria and Rumpelstiltskin spent a long time talking, Bae a few times also interfering in the conversation. There was much to talk about: magic, love, wraiths, coins, and a little secret only Rumpel knew he couldn't keep from her.

"There's a part that's been...preserved?" Maria asked, eyes wide. Rumpel nodded calmly and solemnly. "Which part?"

"Sleeping Beauty's kingdom. It's the only place where true love hadn't been found yet, at least, when the curse struck. It's probably desert by now, but it was another safety lock. There is a way to get you back, if you wish to go..."

"No," Bae interjected. "We can't go back."

"I'm not saying now, but it's an option. Everything's changed, and I can't just send you back with what I have...not yet at least," Rumpel said, turning to Maria and then the clock. It was eight pm.

Rumpelstiltskin asked Bae to give him and Maria a moment. Gladly he obliged, leaving to go downstairs for some food.

"You must understand..." Rumpel said.

"I get it, I don't want to go back to that anyway. You have Belle now," Maria said, looking down. Rumpel sat silent for a few moments.

"Are you sure?" Rumpelstiltskin asked, weakening voice. He was vulnerable with her right now, but she knew what to say.

"All I may ask of you is to teach me about this world, how it works. I might stay. Someone's got to help your magic...I mean come on, we both know Regina won't last long. Not to mention you won't train with her," Maria told him.

"Is that a reason to stay?" Rumpel asked. "I belong to Belle, I just need you to understand that."

"Rumpelstiltskin," Maria said. "It's all right. Belle seems like a lovely girl. Besides, I have a feeling we'd get into a lot of arguments now anyhow."

"Oh really?"

"Over the fact that my magic was always better than yours."

"All right, that's it!"

The two raced outside the room, Maria locking it behind her and tossing a key to Bae on the way out as Rumpelstiltskin rushed after her. She flew past the diner where Bae caught the key and she raced out the door, Rumpel close behind. Though Bae questioned that leg. There was a purple aurora around it, that's all he could see.

"Maria! Get back here!" he yelled, trying to sound serious. He used his magic, showing her he was ready to begin. They both were a little tired, but that wasn't going to stop their magic.

Maria broke out of his bonds, too easily for Rumpel's liking. She skidded on the gravel and smirked at him, sending ice from her hands straight for his chest. He casted them aside and she ran into the forest.

Thank the Gods I don't where leather pants anymore, I'd never catch her! he thought to himself as they chased each other through the trees. He was wearing casual clothing for their visit, for a suit didn't seem to be required, especially not now. Belle would nearly kill him if she saw the damage a suit would sustain after something like this.

There was a lot Maria had to learn, but a lot she already knew about her magic. When Rumpelstiltskin chased her up the tree and snapped branches, she knew she could mend nature later. Her magic was that powerful, it was natural inside of her. However, she knew Rumpel would never admit that if they had the same experience, hers would outmatch his any day.

His power was thrust upon him by choice, hers had always been there, but she never took her own seriously enough to become something like Rumpelstiltskin had. Cunning as always, he snapped the branch she was jumping to, but she rolled on the ground instead, a 20 foot drop and was off again. Rumpel jumped down, seeing her walking on the rive water.

"Where did you learn to do that?" Rumpelstiltskin asked. Never before had he seen her do that!

"Here and there," she yelled in reply as he faded away, reappearing right in front of her.

"Ha!" he exclaimed, causing her to flinch so he could grab her. "Gotcha."

Then she disappeared, putting a knife to his throat and whispering.

"No you don't." Rumpel turned again sharply.

"My my, new tricks I see," he called into the forest. "And just when I thought I knew you." He looked cautiously for her. She reappeared in front of him and smirked before turning him around and fleeing the other way.

Rumpelstiltskin had barely registered she'd been right in front of him, and then he ran after her again. Maria led him back to the inn, where both of them walked in together, panting.

"You have some work to do," Maria commented. "Just let me know when you feel like being beaten a few times." She winked at him, making him smile.

"Oh I don't know about that. A lot has changed, Dearie," he replied before biding her and Bae good night.

Chapter Five

Rumpel's magic was just as Maria had said: out of practice. Everything was different now, and if he was to win the battle with Regina, his power would have to be more up to speed than hers. Maria came around the next day, greeting Belle and bringing Baelfire. Rumpelstiltskin knew Bae didn't like magic, and he wasn't sure what to do. He could either spend time with his only son or he could work on the magic he needed to win this fight and save his own family.

"We have 24 hours, Rumpel," Maria said. "How about Bae and Belle become acquainted. You and I have some work to do. Unless you'd like time with Bae first, in which case I'll talk to Belle."

Rumpelstiltskin chose his son this time. He needed have a nice chat with him. Maria and Belle sat on the porch of Mr. Gold's house, when Belle offered her some tea.

"I'm fine, thank you," Maria had to refuse this, for she hadn't had a decent cup of tea in years. Only coffee ever since she'd heard that it would keep her awake.

The two women talked for a while, trying to find common ground. Some of it came in books, others with Rumpelstiltskin. For a time, Maria talked about her magic and how Rumpel used to be. Belle was interested to hear about Rumpel's past, and there were just some things she just could not keep secret.

"What are you two laughing about?" Rumpelstiltskin asked as he and Bae came up to the porch. Belle and Maria glanced at each other.

"Oh, just some odd things you used to do," Maria replied.

"Why do I feel like whenever you two are together there's going to be a plot against me?" he asked, narrowing his eyes.

"There is no plot, I assure you," Belle replied. "Just talk."

To be honest, Rumpelstiltskin was rather glad they got along. He thought there would have been two problems against him: Regina and Maria. However, Maria didn't seem to be a problem. She had magic and just seemed like a wanderer of sorts.

Maria announced she was going to visit with Snow and Red, curious to see what had become of them in this world. Rumpel protested about the magic, but Maria waved him off.

"We'll have our time," she told him, not seemingly too worried about it. She wanted to give him more time with Bae. Though Rumpelstiltskin was still attractive to her, she knew the relationship was gone. There was no way they could be together.

When she hit Granny's Bed and Breakfast, Red freaked out.

"Maria!" she exclaimed, and Snow's head turned. The two girls ran to her.

"Hello ladies," Maria greeted. "What's become of you two nowadays?"

"Well, Snow's no fun anymore," Red sighed.

"Hey!" Snow she turned back to Maria. "Did you see Rumpel?"

"Yes," Maria sighed. "He seems happy enough with his mess."

After they talked awhile, Rumpelstiltskin actually came into the diner, asking for Maria for something very special. Snow and Red laughed in the corner. Maria quietly informed him that they remembered her magic.

His eyebrows rose and then the two headed out of the diner together.

"Anyone but me still sense the chemistry?" Red asked. Snow nodded.

"Oh yeah."

"All right, so it's rusty, I need you to help me improve it," Rumpel begged her. "I know you don't like Regina as much as I do."

"Uh huh, despite the fact that you taught her everything she knows," Maria shot back. Rumpel gave her an annoyed glance.

"What do you want from me? Name it, and as long as you help me, it's done," Rumpel told her.

"Me? Oh, I can make you do whatever I want now...huh, this is new," Maria pondered.

"Don't enjoy it too much dearie."

Maria smiled, looking at him with her head tilted to one side.

"What I want is something you won't tell me," she said. "So...I'll just have to dig it out of you."

"Oh really? And what's-"

Maria shoved him against a tree with magic, pinned him to it and kissed him unexpected right on the lips. As she suspected, he abided with this completely, and right when she came up against him, there was proof everywhere, especially in one place no man, magic or not, could ever control.

She came off of him.

"Ha!" she exclaimed. "You still don't fool me!"

"What did you need to know?" he asked wearily.

"You still like me...perhaps even..." Maria gasped. Rumpelstiltskin stopped her and checked his power.

"Your magic still prevents me from losing my power," he said. "It's still...true...but how? Belle almost broke the curse."

"Belle has no magic, and you have two loves," Maria called him out. "You know Belle is what's best, and that we can't be together."

"Oh I'm aware, but that doesn't mean I can't sneak some on you," he replied.

"Then your love isn't true to her."

"It is if I have two true loves, one just happens to have magic."

"No, one will emerge and eventually, one will win over the other. It has to be Belle, it cannot be me."

"And why is that?"

"Because...Because!" Maria exclaimed. "As much as what we had was wonderful, it just can't be."

"Are you saying you don't love me?"

"Never said that," Maria replied, brushing back her hair. "I'm just saying that one day...I won't be around, and you'll have to be all right with that."

"You'll be here. There's no where else you could settle. You belong here, Maria. You and I will forever have something Belle will never understand. That could outweigh even her love."

"Doubt it. Rumpel, you love her, you have an attraction to me, there's a difference," Maria told him.

"Good, so now we've established what was already obvious. Now, what I want to know is if you're out of practice elsewhere..."

"Rumpelstiltskin!" Maria exclaimed, hitting him the old fashioned way as he gave her his sheepish look.

"Come on, you have to admit you're curious too," Rumpel said. "You cannot deny that. Oh, come on now. I'm rich, you seem to find me somewhat attractive, I have a large bed, and Belle is taking up the library position and refusing to live with me."

Maria thought about that for a moment, scolding herself for thinking so, but the possibility was just...so right in front of her.

"This is what you want. Thus, you owe me twice," Maria shot back.

"Sure, why not?" Rumpel complied. "So...how's tomorrow night, say...seven?"

"I cannot believe I am agreeing to this," she sighed, looking at Rumpelstiltskin. "But...it has been a good 30 years..."

His eyebrows rose.

"You were in the big city and yet you didn't have sex once?" he inquired.

"How could I? Bae lived with me and I didn't want him thinking I was some tramp flaunting around with other men. He missed you every moment, Rumpel."

"And I've missed him. Is he living with you or can I maybe...take him a weekend?" he asked.

"Go ahead. He can manage himself really. So long as I know where he is, go ahead. He'd be excited to stay with you," Maria replied.

"But not tomorrow," Rumpel told her, and she shook her head. Oh good God, what in hell's name were they doing?

Chapter Six

"You are Satan," Maria sighed the next day. She'd brought Bae over that morning and while he was establishing in the guest room, Rumpel couldn't help but smirk at Maria and their little agreement.

"Yet you accepted," he replied.

"Oh? And you wouldn't have?" Maria asked, raising her eyebrows. His eyes narrowed.

"Touche."

"Just remember...you owe me, twice," she said. Rumpel couldn't possibly understand what she'd ever want of him in this land, even with magic around. It wasn't the same even, so Rumpel wasn't too worried over what her price would be.

Rumpelstiltskin told Bae that tonight he would have to sleep at the apartment but that the boy was welcome tomorrow afternoon. Maria told Bae she'd be a while yet, and so the boy left for the apartment feeling full of life and hope as he walked along the streets of Storybrooke.

Maria turned back to Rumpelstiltskin, smirking as he led her upstairs. When she entered his room, she couldn't help but notice the large bed.

"Must've been lonely," she said as she sat on the edge.

"It was," he replied, taking off his jacket and boots. "But it won't be tonight."

A laugh escaped her lips as he pursued her and began to kiss her lips. That old serge came back over her, and Maria just couldn't help it. No matter how many times she looked at him, there was something that tugged at her. Her arms came around his neck.

"I'll never understand this," Rumpel said honestly. Maria didn't question it, she just threw him down under her and returned his kiss. Once more, the purple auroras came around them, a little orange making its way into the mix.

"The magic says we're meant to be," he whispered.

"Oh come now," Maria scolded him. "We both know that in a few moments, my orange will turn red and yours won't change a bit."

Sure enough, her colors did change. Rumpel merely smirked and continued to explore her.

"Well, we're still highly intoxicating together, my dear," he whispered as he wrapped an arm around her waist. Maria's eyes glared back and she brought one of hers behind his neck as he bent down to kiss her neck.

There was a moan from the back of her throat.

"That I cannot deny," she mumbled as he lay her down onto the bed.

"A strange thing, love is," Rumpelstiltskin sighed as he lay next to Maria.

"I cannot believe we just did that," Maria said, looking up at the ceiling. Rumpel turned onto his side, one arm propping up his head as he smiled at her.

"Remember when I proposed to you?" he asked.

"How could I forget?" Maria replied, looking back to him. "And that necklace you didn't have a clasp for..."

"That's still around your neck," Rumpel noted. She knew he wasn't going to take it off any time soon, but that was all right with her. Maria liked it there.

She sighed again. "I hope you know this can never work...ever. We can never truly be together."

Rumpel didn't reply. Truth is, he'd like to be with her, but his feelings for Belle were stronger, he thought, than what he felt for Maria. Maria's magic was something he admired, and though they could never be, he still wanted her close.

"Maria, we've been through too much," he said. "There is no way...if Regina, hypothetically speaking, took both of you from me. I'd find a way to get you both out of there."

"You know I can take care of myself," Maria said. Rumpel's eyes closed and his head cocked slowly to the side.

"I know..." he left his thought dangling on air. "I remember a time when you could not do such a thing."

"You opened my magic...and I hope you keep Bae close," Maria said. "I know he wants to spend time with you."

"As I said, I can bond with him as Belle is...thinking," he said. Maria snuck in close to him, and as she felt his arm wrap around her, her head leaned against his chest.

"How do you fit so, so perfectly?" Rumpel pondered in a whisper. "Almost makes me want to be back in the past. Before Bae, that night..."

Maria knew there were multiple nights, but she thought he was referencing to the first night Rumpel returned her to her village. The night her mother stood frozen in the kitchen because no one trusted Rumpelstiltskin. Well, no one except for herself of course.

"I don't know..." Maria said quietly, for she was drifting slowly to sleep. "Hey...what would you do if Bae came in right now?"

"Throw a rock at the door."

Chapter Seven

The morning sun lifted, illuminating the dawn's red treads into Rumpelstiltskin's room. Maria's senses came alive, as if there was a tremendous burden lifted from her chest. She knew what happened last night, but she didn't care. He belonged to Belle, but she had magic on him. They were forever connected, and that made her very happy.

As he was still adrift in sleep, Maria woke up ever vigilant. She headed downstairs in full dress that morning, and as she opened the door to go for a walk after putting a pot of tea on the stove, Bae surprised her.

"Mom," he said, eyes widening.

"Bae," she replied, smiling, and Bae's head tilted.

"You...and Papa..." Bae's eyebrows rose.

"No comment," Maria replied as she walked with him into the forest. A smile jerked across his face as he climbed the first tale tree in the forest he found worthy enough.

Maria looked back up at her son; he knew what had happened. Well, not the real details, but the jest of it was well grasped. They took to their morning hunt of animals, thought they never killed anything that morning. Simple stalking was all that was needed. There was too much to be said otherwise.

"That Belle, we talked some," Bae mentioned. "She's a very nice lady."

"Yeah, she's not bad," Maria replied.

"But you have magic," Bae said, looking to his mother and she nodded. Bae smiled and shook his head. Unlike Rumpelstiltskin, Maria's magic was natural and she used it for the most extraordinary purposes.

As they walked into Granny's that morning for a hot cocoa, Red smiled at them.

"No Gold?" she asked curiously. Maria shook her head, saying he was never up so early ever. Bae left for the restroom before their order was brought out.

"You are creating the drama around here," Red said. "I love it!"

"I don't mean to create anything," Maria said with a sly smirk as she looked the other way for a moment then back to Red. "I just...Rumpel and I have known each other a long time. Bae should be with his father. At least know him and see him bettering himself."

"You have magic. Rumpel can never give it up," Red said. "You two are the perfect couple!"

"No no, we had our go at each other. He belongs with Belle," Maria said.

"Spoken like a Mary Margaret," Red said as she set the hot cocoa down. "Does he still like you?"

"We're...bonded through magic," Maria replied. "It's complicated."

"No, it's really not."

Bae came back from the restroom and as they enjoyed their morning, Emma came into the diner, noticing the two.

"Ah, Maria," Emma said, and as they shook hands, Emma introduced herself, then looking to Bae.

"Rumpel's son?" Emma gasped. Bae nodded.

"Yep," Bae said. "Don't have magic though." He lifted up his arms in a shrug. Maria stood, sensing something around Emma that spelled trouble for her.

"What's with you?" Red asked.

"Snow's child?" Maria asked, circling Emma. "You know Regina too well." Bae instantly stood up and drew his dagger to point it at Emma.

"Whoa Whoa! Calm down kid," Emma said, reaching for a gun, but Maria was too quick for that. Emma's pocket became cement stuck and her gun was unreachable.

"There will be no weapons in the diner!" Granny exclaimed. "What the hell is going on here?"

"The Dark Sorcerous. Regina...her scent reeks on Emma."

"Yeah, believe me, I know," Red said.

"Hey!" Emma exclaimed. Red went back to work, avoiding the subject altogether.

"The magic...yours is...it's just, so, so...moderate," Maria said. "Strange."

"I don't have any magic," Emma said. "And if I did, I wouldn't know how to use it."

Bae put the knife down, and Maria glared at her.

"Guess I can't judge you just yet," she said. "Come on Bae." The kid and Maria left the diner, paying Granny an apology.

"You know them?" Emma asked.

"I know her, can't say the same for the child. Poor thing if it's Rumpelstiltskin's," Granny said, getting back to work.

"Who is she?"

"Maria is her name, and she's no one to cross with. Even Rumpel knows that. Her magic is probably more powerful than anyone's around here," Granny said.

"Wouldn't surprise me," Red said. "She has quite the story."

"Tell me," Emma urged.

"All right, since there's no one else around, I suppose you could know a thing or two. Well, I knew Maria since she was a girl. She always had magic but she didn't want to use it because she didn't want to be disappointed in its ability for her. Her family was quite a mix and she wasn't sure her power would be much at all.

"Anyway, that's not the interesting part. When we were teenagers, meaning me and her, even Snow back then, we all tried to get guys by going to some of the... raves I guess you could call them, back in our village. Well, Maria didn't even want to be involved, but apparently one day, she'd met this guy. She wouldn't tell us who, and later, we all found out why...

"Well, Regina came around one day and took her. She went missing for months, and we all thought she was dead. Months later, Rumpelstiltskin shows up with her, and the whole village freaks out! That's how we learned they were much more than acquaintances. If you ask her yourself, she might tell you the story. It's better when she tells it. Apparently, Rumpel was a better man."

"Huh," Emma sighed. "So, her magic?"

"Oh, Rumpel must've shown her a thing or two and then she realized her power was the greatest of all. In a duel, she would win," Red said.

"So, you and Papa, last night..." Bae was urging.

"It doesn't mean we're getting back together," Maria said.

"Still," Bae smirked again, looking at her with his head tilted. "Why are we walking back home then?"

Maria saw Rumpel standing on the porch, an arm above his head leaning his whole body against the pole on the porch. His left leg crossed in front of his right, Maria couldn't help but notice the leather pants and crocodile skin jacket. Bae's eyebrows rose.

"He looks like a motorcycle gang member," Bae whispered.

"Put him back in the other world, plop a spinning wheel in front of him with a touch of magic, and he's your father," Maria replied. Bae didn't know what to say to that.

"Baelfire," Rumpel addressed. "Thought you'd be at school for sure by now." Bae looked at the clock and bid Maria goodbye. It was later than he expected, but school was a dash away; he'd make it.

Maria smirked and walked up toward him.

"You weren't there when I woke up," Rumpel said. "I was slightly disappointed."

"Well, you shouldn't be," Maria replied. "I figured your beauty would have been coming around."

Rumpelstiltskin's eyes narrow as he stands straight up.

"Oh come now," he said, stroking her face. "Don't be like that."

"I'll be how I want to be," Maria replied, taking his hand and putting it down. "Magic today or no?"

Rumpel sighed.

"I suppose so."

"Don't act so mad."

"What? We had a nice night together. I figured I was at least worth seeing in the morning."

"You are, but Bae showed up not long after I woke up. He assumed..."

"Ah."

"Well, let us begin."

Chapter Eight

"So, Emma is her name I've gathered," Maria said as her and Rumpelstiltskin took a break from the magic in the forest for a while. She'd worn out his powers for the time being. "Do you know anything about her...and magic?"

"Well, from what little I can gather from her, it seems she possess a power even she knows nothing of. I told you about Emma's little journey with Cora right?"

"Cora?" Maria asked. "Thought you won that."

"Me too, but I guess not, and apparently she can't take Emma's heart. That's how strong she is," Rumpelstiltskin said.

"Hm, strange," Maria said, though Cora didn't surprise her at all. She was good as what she did and now that they were all back in Storybrooke, well things were about to get crazy. For now though, things seemed simple enough. No havoc yet and that's all that mattered.

"But you," Rumpel said. "You could take Cora right now and probably win."

"I have no quarrel with the woman honestly," Maria said. "I know you do, but you have to ask for my help if you want it. I'm not just going to fight your dirty work for you, Rumpelstiltskin."

"Oooooo," he said with a shiver. "It still sends a shiver when you call me by my full name." Maria smiled.

"Good, it should. Your magic is weak, but you already know you won't die by Cora's hand, what are you afraid of?"

"Not afraid, dearie, curious."