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I'm Sorry

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Gold gave Tom Clark a dead look over the check-out counter in the pharmacy. Daring him to judge. In another town, swallowed by the anonymity of a larger population, perhaps the cashier would give him an odd look. A very rude individual might make a smart ass comment.

Here that would be a death sentence, particularly as Clark lived in an apartment building owned by Mr. Gold.

The items went into the bag and were paid for, and Gold limped out quickly to his Cadillac

On a good period, Belle could predict the day she'd start bleeding and start taking a mild painkiller beforehand. Sometimes she ran a few days late, (and hadn't that scared her the first time it happened when she was dating Greg Aston in high school before she started insisting he wear a condom?) and if the universe really, really hated her, then Belle actually got an early period.

Today she had woken up at a quarter to seven. Her period had started two days ahead of schedule, but at first Belle thought the dull ache in her lower belly was just a full bladder. Only then when she wriggled out from under her boyfriend's arm, (Gold was over fifty, "boyfriend" was a bit juvenile a term for him, but it was better than the swoony sounding "lover",) and went to the bathroom, the cramps tightened painfully and she found her favorite pair of blue cotton panties soaked in her blood right through her most comfortable pair of pajama pants.

She snapped the F-word out in a way that would have a child's mouth washed out with soap.

She stripped off her clothes and dug through the medicine cabinet. She needed a Midol, and cursed again when she found the empty little cardboard box, which she couldn't exactly blame Gold for, his being a non-menstruating man and all, but she did curse him a little when the Advil was missing. Oh, right. He'd had to get Tylenol because the store had been out of Advil when he went shopping. Tylenol didn't do jack against cramps. Damn.

Belle decided, then, that the only thing to do was take a hot bath to try and relax before her muscles knotted up on her and all she could do was lay there like a bloated slug.

And then came a jarring knock on the door that made her hand-still in the medicine cabinet,-bump a bottle and knock over an entire shelf of items in a plastic avalanche.

"Belle? Are you okay in there?" Gold's voice asked.

"I'm fine!" she snapped.

There was a long pause before he said, "Are you sure?"

"I'm on my period, alright?"

"Oh," she thought she heard a sigh. "Is that all?"

Belle loved him very much. She did. He was sweet and kind and smart. But his brain had apparently left his skull and Belle flung the door open to tell him as much.

In hindsight, she was not up for an adult conversation at that time. Especially when Gold was also tended to be rather defensive when threatened. Logically Belle was alware that he'd had a bad first marriage, and that there was another woman before her that hadn't been very good for his emotional health either. Emotionally, Belle sometimes forgot that because she was every bit as stubborn as he could be. And while she couldn't quite recall what started their fight, it ended with her slamming the bathroom door shut.

It had been something like her saying "All?  You don't know what all of it is! I'm bleeding my shredded uterus out!" and he replied something like, "Just calm down, I didn't mean anything bad out of it! Don't get all hormonal with me!"

Men should never say the H-word when trying to brush off a situation with a woman.

That was definitely what started a fight between a naked, crabby Belle and a shirtless, uncaffinated Gold at seven in the morning that ended with Belle slamming the door shut between them and Gold stomping back to their bedroom. She sulked in the hot, soapy tub, trying to be soothed by the lavender bath oil scent, but at the moment she was too mad for lavender. The heat did ease her cramps, but once the pain faded...guilt began setting in.

Had she really blown her stack over a stupid mistake on Gold's part?

He tended to be somewhat protective of loved ones. The sort of person who wouldn't want you to lift a finger while stricken with a cold, for example. Likely his brain went to all sort of anxious places when she'd spent so long in the bathroom. And maybe he saw blood on their bedsheets, too. Blood tended to put people in a panic no matter what circumstances.

Belle groaned, sinking up to her nose in bubbles. She had a mess to clean up, and spending another twenty minutes in the bathroom in a rapidly cooling bathtub wasn't going to fix things.

Only...Gold was not in their room when Belle went back in, wrapped up in a towel. His pajama pants were tossed on the mattress, the sheets stripped off. Putting on her pad-lined underwear and tugging on a cozy nightgown so she felt less like a fat whale waddling down the stairs, (god she hated that bloated feeling most of all!) Belle felt concerned when she didn't find Gold in the kitchen. He wasn't much of a breakfast person, a slice of toast and a cup of coffee, but on occassion did make eggs or pancakes because she ate breakfast in the morning.


The washing machine, she found, was running. That was probably the bedding.

Where had he gone?

Belle bit her lip, fidgeting in the middle of the house where she'd come to stand. Had she run him off in her hormonal rage? Had she upset him? She knew his first wife was something like a raging lunatic, (that wasn't an ex-wife joke, she'd heard the woman on the phone once, wringing Gold a new one for their collegiate son switching majors from art to accounting,) maybe she scared him off? All she knew was that it was coming up on seven-thirty in the morning and she had never spent a morning alone in this house before.

Oh god. Her father used to joke that her and her mother had turned into angry forces of nature once a month, which Belle never found funny, but maybe he was right?

Then the front door opened and Gold stepped in.

Gold had made what one could generously call a "tactical error" this morning in making some little comment about Belle's period that started this morning. More honestly, and Gold was usually very honest with himself when he screwed up, he'd, well, screwed up.

Belle rolled out from under his arm and went to the bathroom. She was gone for far longer than expected and Gold shuffled down the hall to see if she were throwing up or passed out or slipped in the shower or something. He heard a muffled few curses and thought it prudent to knock and ask if she was okay. There was a clattering noise then and that was when the trouble began.

He would have been wiser to just say "oh" and walk away to go prep a cup of that lemon tea Belle liked. He had to go and say, then: "Is that all?"

For a former lawyer, that was a pretty poor choice of words.

Gold admired Belle's determination, but he would admit that they were both stubborn people and that had the potential for some arguments. Very stubborn arguments. He considered it a miracle every single time Belle forgave him for his tendency to make mistakes rather than persecute him like Milah. But when the door slammed shut and as soon he made it back to their room he felt cold.

What the hell was he doing?

Belle had mentioned once that she had bad cramps if she didn't take something called Midol Gold vaguely knew was a medication specifically for menstruation. Or an Advil. Did they have any Advil in the, no he'd bought Tylenol. Tylenol had different ingredients than Advil, maybe that wouldn't work. Huh...

Gold threw on his pants and shirt, forgoing a vest and jacket in favor of expediency.

He had meant to make the bed but was startled to find a spot of blood on the blankets. He decided to throw the bedding in the washer, then grabbed his overcoat and keys and went out.

Digging through his brain, Gold tried to recall what Belle usually did when she had, er, lady troubles. She said she felt fat and usually curled up on the couch to watch some TV with a heating pad on her belly. So in addition to the blue box of Midol and microwaveable heating pad similar to what he used on his ankle, Gold procured a package of Chips Ahoy cookies and-deciding to air on the side of caution,-a bottle of Advil. And after a moments hesitation, one of the less wilting bouquets of mixed flowers Tom Clarke sold. He was likely the very first customer of the day, judging from the hot coffee cup on the counter where Clark was standing staring at him with wide eyes.

Likely he hadn't had enough coffee to face the Beast of Storybrooke.

Well the Beast could not go home to an angry Beauty without some form of an olive branch, thank you, so hurry it up there if you'd please.

The early morning drive was on a Saturday, pleasingly free of traffic as it was just creeping up on seven-thirty. Hopefully Belle would appreciate his wanting to apologize quickly rather than the awkward dancing-around they tended to do before she'd moved in, when they thought everything was okay. Logically Gold knew couples fought. No one was happy all the time...although the Nolans sure made a case for themselves.

Still, he didn't want this to grow out of hand. Belle deserved an apology for his male stupidity, and if that wasn't enough, the least he could do was provide means to comfort her pains and chocolate chip cookies.

And if she wanted him the hell out the house he could always go down to the shop for a few hours...

Belle was standing there when he opened the door. He kicked the door shut and blinked, unsure what to say right now-

And then he dropped the shopping bag in order to catch the armful of Belle hurtling towards him. Her arms flung around his neck and she buried her face against the skin there. He hadn't shaved yet. He hoped he wasn't too scratchy on her fair smooth skin.

"Oh I'm so sorry, I am so sorry for snapping at you, I didn't mean it-"

"Sweetheart?" he blinked. "What are you talking about?"

Belle stole a kiss when she pulled back, a quick peck on the lips. He hadn't brushed his teeth, either. Hopeful his breath wasn't too bad...

"I just-I didn't feel good and you were sweet to worry but-"

"No, no, you were right to be upset, I shouldn't have said anything," he shook his head. "I don't know what...that, is like, you were right. I'm sorry. How do you feel now?"

"I had a hot bath, I feel better," Belle said slowly, pressing her full lips together. She looked down at the dropped bag. The Advil had rolled out and half the Chips Ahoys were sticking out the plastic bag. "What's this?"

"I made a supply run of sorts," he shrugged. "Advil, right?"

The only thing that kept Gold from bending down to pick up the bag was his bad ankle, and the fact that Belle was much faster in getting up and down. She picked up the bag in one hand and the pill bottle in the other, looking it all over.

"What...what is all this?"

"I..." god, suddenly he felt absolutely terrified that he was being an idiot. "I, uh, th-thought you...there's a heating pad, Chips Ahoy, Advil, there's a Midol in there too-"

There was another kiss pressed against his mouth, more insistent this time, and Belle was snuggled up under his chin in that soft flannel nightgown he couldn't keep his hands off when she wore it. Gold wasn't entirely sure what he'd done to deserve this, but he wasn't quite willing to complain, either.

"Is it all right?" he asked, gently rubbing her back through her gown. "I got the right stuff?"

Belle giggled underneath him.

"It's perfect, darling, you are perfect."

Gold could argue, but, that's what got him into trouble earlier. So he just let Belle tug him into the kitchen where she microwaved the heating pad and he got her a glass of water to take (she decided,) the Advil pills with. He also started a pot of tea, and eventually they moved into the living room. Belle curled up under his arm with her heating pad and a cup of tea, and it was only then that Gold started to feel like he'd done a good thing and was forgiven.

He'd hesitantly asked if he was an hour or so later, when Belle felt well enough to set the heating pad aside. She gave him an odd look but shrugged.

"We're okay," she promised, smiling. "It could happen to anyone. I'm sorry I yelled at you though."

"I believe we're even," he smiled back, giving her a kiss. "I love you, Belle."

Belle crinkled her nose even as she grinned. "I love you too, but I'll only call it even if you brush your teeth."