Author's note: This story grew out of an extremely complex AU for OUaT I am writing, but I'm not sure when I will start posting it. For the purposes of this fic, all you need to know is that:
1) This takes place in July 2015 or 2016, so Carlos is out of the desert otherworld.
2) Bae was taken by the first curse from Neverland - he was never Neal, and is now the equivalent of 18 or 19.
Disclaimer: There characters are not mine, now or ever.
True Love's Kiss
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more; because, dammit, Greg, I told you not to leave your coffee on the sound system's control panel!
"Welcome to Night Vale.
"Exciting news, listeners! Intern Susannah has just informed me that we have visitors to our quiet, desert town! They pulled up to the Moonlite All-Nite Diner in a black Cadillac at approximately noon today, and they appear totally harmless!
"There are three of them. The driver of the black Cadillac appears to be a middle-aged man of Scottish origin who is not tall, is wearing a three-piece suit, and walks with a cane. Although, Intern Susannah noted, when he stepped out of the black Cadillac, he looked at his right leg - the one he appears to use the cane for - in confusion, as if questioning the need for such a device. Or, perhaps, wondering if the vague yet menacing government agency had replaced his limb with a bionic substitute while he slept - as we all sometimes do.
"He is accompanied by a woman - also not tall - who is wearing a yellow sundress and speaks with an Australian accent, and by a young man with an American accent wearing shirt with a picture of a red and gold robot and the words 'Iron Man', and who is - according to Intern Susannah - really, really cute.
"They entered the diner and ordered three burgers on wheat-free buns and iced tea. Intern Susannah knows this because she followed them in a 'totally not stalkery-way. I just, you know, wanted to welcome them to town and make sure, you know, they feel welcome and stuff'.
"Now you may be wondering listeners, why I am reporting that these visitors - these strangers - appear totally harmless as, in general, visitors are frightening and not to be trusted. I say this because - as Intern Susannah has related to me - the driver of the black Cadillac is wearing a 'really nice suit', and if I have learned anything from our town's greatest citizen, Marcus Vanston (now going by the name Erica, and most definitely not an angel) - and I have; so, so much - you can always trust a man in a well-tailored suit.
"Intern Susannah reports that, upon being noticed by the woman in the yellow dress, she had no choice but to introduce herself, and thus learned their names in exchange for her own - as is common with introductions. The driver of the black Cadillac was introduced by the woman in the yellow dress as Mr. Gold, and the woman in the yellow dress introduced herself as Mrs. Gold 'but you can call me Belle'. The 'really, really cute' young man introduced himself as Baeden Gold, or 'Bae' - 'isn't that the cutest name?' Intern Susannah interjected - and he is Mr. Gold's son. Mr. and Mrs. Gold, it seems, have just gotten married.
"Well, from everyone at Night Vale community radio, I would like to offer a hearty congratulations to our visiting newlyweds - Night Vale welcomes you!
"And now for the Children's Fun Fact Science Corner!
"Children, did you know that there are over 50 species of cockroach indigenous to the greater Night Vale area? Actually, no - that's not true. I just made it up. I lied to you. All adults lie to you. In fact, an adult is lying to you right now. In addition to me, I mean. You cannot trust adults; but also, you cannot question them. Simply carry on as you always would, knowing that the people who control your life are always lying to you. It's great practice for when you're older! And when that day comes, you, in turn, will get lie to small children. And your spouses, your friends, your bosses, and yes, yourselves.
"This has been the Children's Fun Fact Science Corner.
"Oh, I've just received a text from Intern Susannah regarding Night Vale's most recent visitors. It appears they are on their way to someplace called… San-dee-a-go for something known as Com-i-con. Bea 'so cute' is something of an artist 'isn't that amazing!', and is interested in comic books. Mr. Gold is a dealer of antiques - well that's impressive! He must be courageous indeed, as well as impeccably dressed!
"Belle Gold is - oh, this can't be right; this can't be right at all. According to Intern Susannah's text, dear listeners, Belle Gold is a librarian. But that can't be true, as she has not -
"I'm getting a second report in. Listeners, attention! The City Council has verified that Belle Gold is indeed a librarian - do not approach her! Indeed, an Official Warning has been issued by the City Council to avoid all three of our visitors as well as all black Cadillacs, yellow sundresses, and Scottish accents as the Sherriff's Secret Police have been advised to shoot on sight. And yes, the City Council has assured me that they will be aiming this time - just as soon as they get back from picking up some doughnuts from the Ralphs.
"More on this story as it develops.
"I take you now to Traffic.
"Traffic today is… good! Not too fast, you know, not too slow. It's somewhere in that zone where you probably could go a little faster, but you really don't want a ticket, and it's not like you're in any great rush to get anywhere - so why risk it? I mean, is there anything really so urgent that it can't wait a few minutes? No, nothing is worth risking your own safety and the safety of those around you.
"Nothing is worth anything, really. We go though life, rushing from place to place, and in the end, does any of it really matter? No, no, of course not. Nothing matters. Life… is… meaningless.
"This has been Traffic.
"This just in, listeners, Intern Susannah reports that the Golds are approaching the library. The public one. Not the private one that, of course, exists solely for the personal use of our town's greatest citizen, Erica, for the sole purpose of providing him with a comfortable, publicly viewable - but inaccessible by the public - space to get nude in. Although he seems to not be using it for that purpose lately, as, with the exception of an exquisitely tailored jacket, he has been appearing nude regardless of location. But who am I to question it? No one; I am no one. I must not question it. I will not.
"Intern Susannah has been following our visitors - not too closely, mind - 'just to make sure that Bae is OK'. She is now texting me frantically, reporting that they have entered the library and - oh, it is as we feared - Belle Gold, having been introduced to her natural environment has revealed her true, monstrous, librarian form. 'Oh, my God! Oh, my God! She's going after Bae!' Intern Susannah reports - wait, it appears Mr. Gold has generated some sort of force field and is somehow holding his wife at bay, but the other librarians have taken notice of the intrusion and are now swarming them.
"Beaden Gold has armed himself with a bow and quiver full of golden arrows that Mr. Gold reportedly plucked out of thin air, and Mr. Gold himself is now throwing fireballs with one hand as he maintains the force field with the other.
"Well, that can't be very good for the books. You would think being married to a librarian he would have more respect for these highly flammable - and highly dangerous - vessels of the written word.
"Anyway, they seem to be holding their own for now, so we will be bringing you more on this pitched battle between magic-wielding tourists and flesh-eating information specialists after a word from our sponsors.
"Do you feel lonely? Depressed?
"No? Are you sure? Are you sure you don't feel lonely? Really? I don't believe you. Everyone feels lonely sometimes. Come on - work with me here! Really think about it. Think about all the people you have lost. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, the dead twin you had surgically removed when you were six…
"What do you mean you haven't lost anyone? How about a pet - you have lost a pet before, right? And I don't even mean they have to have died - it could have run away or been kidnapped by a jealous neighbor…
"Oh, come on! You have to have lost something! How about a favorite toy? A pen? A sock? You had to have lost socks before! What do you mean this is none of my business? Of course it is! I am being paid to ask this - it is literally my business!
"Don't you ignore me! I'm trying to help you! Fine, be that way. I was only trying to help; trying to offer you something amazing that could possibly bring the barest moment of joy into the crushing, soulless darkness that is your life, but I guess…
"No, no, it's all right, you have made your feelings on this quite clear…
"Well, OK, are you sure? Really, really sure?
"All right, then.
"Burger King - eat enough of our burgers, and you won't feel lonely anymore!
"Because you will be dead.
"From a massive coronary.
"Or possibly choking.
"Update on the battle at the library. Baeden and Mr. Gold - who by this point is clearly some kind of all-powerful wizard - have driven back all of the librarians except for Mrs. Gold. Mr. Gold is pleading with her while Baeden holds the others at bay with his golden arrows - which he is most certainly not licensed to use, but as the Sherriff's Secret Police are currently taking bets on how long the standoff will last, he has not yet been issued a ticket.
"'Sweetheart, I know you are in there,' Mr. Gold says to his wife, 'This is some kind of curse; we can break it!'
"Mrs. Gold is currently pacing back and forth in front of the circulation desk, snarling and drooling, eyes fixed on her husband as if she cannot decide whether to flee or devour him. He is approaching her, walking slowly towards her with his hands spread in the gesture that all Night Vale citizens know to make when they need to wordlessly convey the message 'Don't hurt me, please God don't hurt me! I didn't see anything! I won't tell anyone! Don't hurt me!'
"It appears to be working, as Belle Gold has not attacked, merely stopped pacing - although she continues to drool. Mr. Gold is within arm's distance now, and - oh, no! Another librarian has charged them, and while it has been driven back by a golden arrow, the noise has agitated Mrs. Gold. She is lunging at her husband - he has wrapped his hands around her jaws, and -
"…I… that was…
"Listeners… a wave of golden light - which Intern Susannah has told me originated with Mr. and Mrs. Gold - has just passed though the studio - indeed all of Night Vale - and for the briefest of moments, I felt such a profound sense of euphoria and… belonging… of love… that I hardly know how to describe it.
"It's gone now, but still I feel… I don't know. I have only felt anything like this before when… I need to speak to Carlos. I'm going to call Carlos. While I do that, I recommend that those of you with loved ones call your loved ones. Or go speak to them in person. Or simply hold them without speaking, comforting yourselves with the knowledge that - if only for a moment - you are not, in the strictest sense of the word, alone.
"And those of you without loved ones, at least you have the weather."
Radios, TV shows
Fill my holes with your goodies
I sold my privacy
So that I would always be pretty
And I can tell you that
The best things are free
With proof of purchase
Pay no more attention to the things that you stand for
Sit back, relax, enjoy the war
From your living room
Holocaust and cable at a fraction of the cost, and
Just to make sure that you don't
Get lost, here's the media, media, media, media, media
I embrace your legacy
The models and the apathy
I know the late night network
Commonwealth, is there
To help me, help myself
All I know, is my lonely soul
The remote control
"We're back, listeners, and I did get through to Carlos. Say 'hi', Carlos!"
"It's so good to hear you voice, Carlos."
"It's good to hear yours, Cecil."
"Aw. Did you experience the wave of golden light that swept though town a few minutes ago?"
"I did, Cecil, although none of my scientific instruments registered anything; no energy spike or unusual activity of any kind. I'm walking towards the library now. Have you heard anything from Susannah?"
"Yes, Intern Susannah has texted me that Belle Gold - indeed all of the librarians - have… assumed human form. She has entered the library 'just to see if Bae is OK' and he is.
"She asked him if he could explain what happened, and he replied, 'They were under some sort of curse. Papa broke it.'
"'How?' she asked.
"True Love's kiss," Belle Gold answered, tearfully embracing her husband.
"'Can break any curse,' Mr. Gold added, kissing his wife once again. And he is a dealer of antiques - and very well dressed - so you know we can trust him."
"If you say so, Cecil."
"Well, I guess I learned something today! True Love's kiss can break any curse. That should prove useful, considering how common curses are these days. Don't you think so, Carlos?"
"Well, first we need to define 'curse'… I'm at the library now; I've got to hang up so I can take readings and interview the witnesses. After that, I'll need to perform some experiments."
"Oh. Can I help?"
"Sure! Head on over once you're finished with your show."
"Should I pick up some curses on my way there? You know, just to test this kiss thing."
"Absolutely. Talk to you soon, Cecil - love you."
"Aw. I love you too, Carlos."
"Well, listeners, it does appear that we are just about out of time, and I have some curses to shop for, so…
"Stay tuned next for the Gettysburg Address recited by random people on the street, backwards and at half speed.
"And as always - goodnight, Night Vale, goodnight.
"Land Without Magic my ass," Bae grumbled as they drove past the last Night Vale storefront.
"Still no reception?" Rumplestiltskin asked.
"No. Do you think it's interference from the magic?"
"Well, it's definitely connected to the the town, although whether it is science or magic I could not say. This place is a dangerous mix of both."
"Like Greg and Tamara's stuff?"
"But man, if they thought Storybrooke was bad, this place… and at least Regina didn't have black helicopters."
"Don't suggest that to her," Rumple deadpanned.
Belle laughed. Rumple and Bae didn't.
As they passed the last house, there was a brief flash of light.
After a moment, Rumplestiltskin asked, "Are you two hungry? We should probably stop for lunch at the next town."
"Sure," Bae answered.
"I'd love a burger," Belle added.
Rumple smiled, "Of course, sweetheart."
* Today's weather was "America" by Bree Sharp