Rumple was surprised by the hug at first but then right away returned the hug to his son and squeezed just as tightly as he was, he dreamed for so long of this moment and here it was. He cherished it so deeply. After a few moments they both pulled away from the embrace and Gold looked into his son’s eyes for a moment before looking back and marveling at the cane on the table, “Its funny that you say that, Belle and me were looking at canes the other day for me.” he said with a chuckle and a smile, he was getting a little tired of his cane that he had now and wanted to change things up a little bit. Now he didn’t have to look anymore, he now a new beautiful cane to use.
Rumple stiffed when Neal mentioned Neverland, ever since they had retired from there it was for anyone to not have PTSD from their time there, “This came all the way from there?” he asked curiously, he watched him almost as if nonverbally asking for more of the story behind the cane. Gold listened to what his son had to say and his expression fell a bit, he put his hand on his son’s shoulder, “Bae…We all make mistakes, I know I have, but what is important is that we come back from those mistakes and try not to make them again.” he spoke softly as he was sure his son was feeling very exposed and alone. “Whatever mistake you have made son, I’m still proud to call you my son.” he finished as he mustered a smile and gazed into his son’s eyes tying to convey the undying love he held for him. He nodded his head when he spoke of what he thought was the only he could be proud of, “They are a big plus but theyre not THE only thing you’ve done right son.” he said trying to reassure him that there was still plenty he had done right in his life.
He couldn’t help but smile at the thought of his son getting married, “I can’t answer that for you, Bae, only you can make this choice. Whatever you decide on son, I’m always going to be here for you.” he said with a smile as he genuinely hoped that his son would be happy with whatever the outcome would be. He smiled at his son’s request, it was something so small and humble. Just like the way things were before everything got so crazy, “Sure I can do it, and for you I’ll do it from scratch. No magic.” he said with a smile as he took his cane and started to hobble to the kitchen to start getting everything together for their meal.
Neal chuckled. “I guess I’m guessing what people need,” the man replied, chewing on his lip a bit. “I kinda noticed your old one was looking a bit too used. I never thought it was the most stately of pieces. It was too understated for you…at least the you I remember when I was a kid.”
Whether or not that was true, Neal didn’t know. His childhood was over a century ago and time could have easily muddled Neal’s memories. It would have been easy to embellish his youth especially if dream and reality meshed together in a sort of fragmented truth. ”At least I’d consider it too understated for the you as the Dark One of my teen years,” Neal added after a few moments of consideration.
At the question, Neal cocked his head and wrinkled his nose. “Kind off?” Neal replied. His voice rose a bit in an almost question. “It’s a little more complicated than just coming from Neverland.” Complicated could be used to describe his whole life.
"When I fell through the portal, when I was Baelfire that is, I landed in Victorian England. I lived as a pickpocket for 6 months until I snuck into a wealthy family’s home. They were the Darlings and this family took me in as their own. They insisted I be a proper lad. For some reason that included me choosing a cane,” he explained.
Neal cleared his throat as a lump formed. “It’s there I first met the Shadow. It took Wendy, but it allowed her to return. However, the Shadow came back. I tried to protect the family, however the youngest…Michael was nearly captured. Armed with nothing but the cane, I got the boy to safety and allowed the Shadow to take me,” he continued.
Before his father could interrupt, Neal furthered his story. He wanted to tell the whole thing at once. “I somehow got away from the Shadow and Captain Hook…of all people rescued me. He brought me aboard the Jolly Roger. I learned how to sail that ship and to make star maps in those 6 months. But, I found out that the pirate and my mother had been…together. And, then the Lost Boys showed up. The Shadow had been looking for me. I went with them. I couldn’t stay with Hook after finding out what he did,” Neal said. His voice turned grave as he spoke. “For a little while I enjoyed the place. Then, I saw the Shadow kill an older Lost Boy and I ran away. I hid for 150 years as I tried to find a way off the island in hopes that you would somehow find me or even Hook would come back for me,” he finished. “And I kept that cane with me the whole time.”
With the touch, Neal shook off his father’s hand. The man backed up and shook his head. “No. You don’t understand! Emma ended up in jail because of me. She broke into the yellow bug I stole. We ended up robbing any and every place we stopped at. Then, when it was time to settle down…I abandoned her. She went and stole the watches I stole in the first place. She wanted to. We were gonna take the 20 grand and move to Tallahassee….never look back. But, this man…August…he knew who I was and convinced me I had to leave her. So I did and…and she ended up in jail.”
His arms wrapped around himself and he bent over. It was a habit; growing up it had been a way to comfort himself. “She was my family and my home. I destroyed that. I never forgave myself for that. I’ve lived the last 10 years trying to make up for it,” Neal mumbled.
"I do everything for them. I want Henry and Emma happy. I left because i thought it would get her home…get her to her family. I’m not gonna force her to marry me, but I’m thinking of asking her. I’ll understand if she says no," the man whispered.
Neal followed his father into the kitchen. A weary smile crinkled up his eyes. “Can I help?” he asked. He hated being idle.
Gold chuckled at his son’s comment, “Well I have been using it for twenty-eight years before I was able to go search for you.” he said explaining why it was so worn, even though people didn’t age during the curse things like cars and clothes and everything in between would wear and get old. “Thank you, I do love it. And I love that it came from you.” he said with a smile as he looked back at the new cane and admired it, “Well even though I’m still the Dark One, I’m a much better man than the man you knew when you were a lad.” he admitted when he thought back to what a horrible father he was and what an honorable, courageous man he was now. “You’ve made me better son, even when you weren’t around you’ve pushed me to be a better man than the one that abandoned you.” he admitted, though he was sad that it took his mistake of abandoning his son to make him a better man.
Rumple’s brow furrowed when he heard Neal’s explanation, “how so?” he asked curiously, “I know it wasn’t the best time for you and if you don’t want to talk about it, I won’t push you.” he said trying to put Neal at ease if he didn’t feel lil stalking about it. Gold weakly smiled when he heard the recounting of his brief stay in this world, he was glad there was a kind hearted family that was willing to take him and raise him the way he would have hoped for. Gold stayed quiet as he hung on Neal’s every word as he recounted how he bravely sacrificed himself to keep the people he loved safe, he proud yet sad, it was a good trait that seemed to run in the family at least in this half of the family. Before Gold’s jaw would have clenched and blood would boil at the mention of the pirate’s name but things have changed they were now on the same side, but he was impressed that he was able to escape the shadow, “So wait, you were on board his ship for 6 months?” he asked not sure if he heard him right, six months is a long time to evade the lost boys, the shadow, and pan.
Gold continued to listen, he had tried so hard for all that time to get to him, to find him and be reunited with him, but it had taken him so much time just to even get to this world. Finally his son’s story came to an end, it was quite an adventure he was on but he wished it was one that his son had never gone on. It was his fault that all happened to him, it was his fault that his childhood was essentially prolonged and robbed from him, “My word, that cane has seen a lot, like you.” he said at Neal’s last comment, it was amazing all he had been though. Hearing the origins of the cane made him love it all the much more because of all the history it had seen and contained.
Gold surprised when Neal shrugged off his touch, he could only look down as his son aired out his misdeeds in this land and to Emma, all of it was he knew for the curse; to break the curse. He knew that he regretted what he did to Emma and by proximity Henry, “Son…No one is infallible, we all have done or will do things that we regret. I know I have, but I know and I know that Miss Swann and your son know that you’re sorry and regret what you did and don’t hold it against you.” he said trying to sooth his son’s guilty conscience, as much as he was talking about Neal’s past he was also talking about his own past and mistakes. The past and mistakes he had made with the man who stood with him right now. He could see that his words had little to no effect on him as he saw him become a little more distant, “Bae, they still are. You know that Miss Swanna and your son love you very much, you haven’t destroyed anything. You’ve build something with them son. You have to forgive yourself, no matter how much you feel like you can’t you have to. Because if you don’t then its harder for others to look past any misdeeds you’ve committed.” he continued as he tried to sooth his son, “I know that, and I know that it doesn’t go unnoticed with them, I’m sure she appreciate everything you do, son. I know what its like first hand to be married to someone who doesn’t love you, but I don’t see what the problem would if you just asked her. You never know unless you try son.” he said trying to guide his son the best he could. As he started to make his way to the kitchen to make his son his requested dish he turned back at the question, “Of course, come along. I can’t do this all on my own you know.” he said with a smile as he waited for his son to come join him in the kitchen.