stefanie_bean: (anton smiling)
[personal profile] stefanie_bean
Chapter 7: Hot Chocolate in Town
Pairing: Anton/Original Female Character
Characters: Anton the Giant, Leroy/Grumpy, Astrid/Nova, Original Male & Female Characters, Regina Mills
Rating: T
Length: 2963 words
Notes: Set in Season 2, in Storybrooke, Complete

Summary: Anton the Giant is growing a new crop of magic beans, but what he really needs is a happy ending.


Chapter 7: Hot Chocolate in Town

At the end of the next work-day, the dwarves stared at Brigid as she pulled up next to the bean field and honked her horn. As Anton climbed in, Happy waved and gave them the thumbs-up, which made Bridget chuckle.

Granny's was crowded, so Anton and Brigid ordered their extra-large hot chocolates to go, as well as three double-decker egg salad sandwiches for Anton and a cheeseburger for Brigid. Granny looked them up and down as she prepared their order, but not in an unfriendly way, just curious. By the end of the evening everyone in town would hear about it, of course, but Brigid didn't care.

They took their food to Bloom Park in the Storybrooke town square, snagging one of the picnic tables under the bandshell. The street lamps hadn't yet come on, and the entire park was covered with dusky twilight. A few other couples sat in the park, or strolled down streets lined with mostly-shuttered shops.

The hot drink warmed Brigid's hands, and she snuggled down into her puffy nylon jacket. When Anton got whipped cream on his moustache, Brigid licked it off, which led to a short round of nuzzles and kisses.

As they ate, Brigid said, “You know, Cora's got to know you're here. After all, you're all everyone's talked about recently. Why did she bring you here in the first place?” She reached over and patted Anton's thigh. “Not that I'm complaining.”

Anton flushed. “She wants the beans.”

“But why grow them for her?”

“I figured if I grew them, I might have some say in how they're used."

She scrutinized him hard. "It was obvious the sprout we planted was magic, Anton. What's your crop going to do, exactly?"

“It's supposed to be a secret,” Anton said, looking down into what was left of the whipped cream swirling around in his hot chocolate.

“Oh, great, more secrets.”

“Okay, you helped get them going, so you have a right to know. Out of that whole field, we'll get two, maybe three beans that'll let everybody go back home.”

Brigid sat, stunned. “You mean, they open doors between worlds?”

“Just long enough for a couple people to jump through.”

“So that's what Amanda meant, with her remark about Regina and the Charmings leaving 'like summer people.' Regina, Cora, and a few might get out. But there's no way a handful of beans opening windows for a few seconds are going to work for the rest of the town.”

“I dunno,” Anton said. “Maybe if a bunch of people got inside a cart, or on-board a ship, they could all go at once.”

“Not hundreds, though.”

“No, I guess not.”

Twilight deepened around the strolling couples. Dr. Hopper walked his Dalmation, Pongo, while a few younger guys laughed and chatted in front of a beaten-up old truck. Brigid gave Anton that scrying look again. “I guess you want to go back home, too. That makes sense.”

“No, Brigid, I don't.” Then, soft and hushed, he said, “You know I lost my whole family.”

“Oh, no. I'm so sorry.”

“It's worse than that. We were the last.”

“The last?”

“Of the giants. Of all our people.”

“Are you sure? It's hard to believe there are no more of you.”

“Why not?” Anton said, gloomy. “Everything dies. Why not us?”

Out came the answer she always had for Alex when the questions got too hard. Not that this nostrum would work forever. “I don't know.”

“Cora tricked me, Brigid. I'd never seen a giantess, other than my mothers, I mean. But my mothers were old. Since they died when I was really young, I'd never seen a young giantess. I knew about them, though.

“When me and my twin brother got our first growth of beard, Arlo told us about courting, how the giantesses would want to meet your mothers and brothers, see your castle, how it looked, how comfortable it was, if it was set up well for giant-lings. But then the wars came. No one was courting, because travel was too dangerous. It was hardest on Arlo and Aaron, as the oldest. They remembered more of what it was like before our mothers died.”

“Anton, I'm so sorry.” She rested her hand on his wide curved shoulder, but he went on as if the tale pained him, and he had to disgorge it.

“So after I buried all my brothers, I went back to the castle for the last time and just sat. Too tired to eat anything, too tired even to cry. I sat like that all night. I did some exploring around Giant-Land, but couldn't find anybody. Days went by, then months, years even, I don't know how many. All I knew was, they were gone, and they weren't coming back. I would have given anything to hear Abraham yell out, 'Hey, Tiny, I almost didn't see you, just like that mouse in the corner over there.' Anything.”

Brigid shuddered at the thought of giant-sized mice, but only said, “Abraham must have been your twin.”

“How'd you guess?”

“Ask Mary Margaret, she'll back me up. Kids fight with the ones they play with.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Anton had obviously never considered that before. “So one day, this giantess came out of the forest, or what I thought was a giantess, even though she looked a lot more like the women in the human village. The one I visited in the Enchanted Forest. That's what got my brothers killed. Jack - this woman who was one of the ones who killed my brothers - Jack gave me a charm to make me man-sized. There was this girl at the pub, too. A musician. She was nice to me, if you know what I mean.”

Brigid did, indeed.

Sadness seemed to wash over him again. “She was sweet, that one. So I, uh, knew a little about Human women. But not enough, I guess.”

“You couldn't have known, Anton.”

“I should have, though. So anyway, this so-called giantess was kind of thin and stick-like except for, well, up here,” and he grabbed his own soft chest. “I thought maybe she had been sick, 'cause a lot of us got sick during the wars. But I'm so stupid, it never even occurred to me to ask why she came alone. No mothers, not even a twin sister. No coat-of-arms on her cloak, to show what castle she came from. Just a blouse open down to here. Yeah, I looked.”

“Most men and giants would have.”

“Cora told me the one lie I wanted to believe more than anything else, that her sister had died, and that mine was the one castle left. She would live with me in my castle, and we could raise a new crop of brothers. When our sons were old enough, they could scour the land to look for giantesses.” Anton sighed again, with the force of a mighty wind.

Brigid took his hand. “You were desperate. You didn't know what to do.” Inwardly she thought, That bitch. That devious bitch from the pit of hell.

Anton went on. “So I invited her into the castle. Got wine from the cellar and poured her some. She didn't say anything about the mess. There were ceremonies, things you were supposed to say in the right order, songs you were supposed to sing. Arlo and Aaron knew them, but I didn't. I guess they figured there would be plenty of time to teach the rest of us. But then they died, and I never learned them.

“She kept fidgeting, too, like she had somewhere to go. Finally she said, 'I'm hungry. Aren't you going to make something for me to eat?' Then I remembered Argyle saying how the sisters would want to look over your pantries and your root cellars, to make sure you kept everything in order. So I wanted to take her downstairs, to get some potatoes for soup.

“But she wouldn't follow me, said she wasn't going down into any cold, damp cellar. That hurt, because even though the castle was a mess, my cellars were never nasty. When I came back with the potatoes, she had poured me more wine. I was starting to get sad and angry all over again, so I drank it down fast as I could. If this was courting, you could keep it. Then everything went black."

Good grief, date-rape drugs in that world, too. A cold anger flickered through Brigid.

“When Mary Margaret woke me up, I had a splitting headache. I was stuck in that wooden cage. And was, uh, well, shrunk.” His shamefaced grin looked too small for his broad face. “I wasn't very nice to Mary Margaret, I'm afraid.”

“You're a way better person than me. I'd have been plotting revenge against Cora from the get-go.”

“Revenge for what? I always wanted to come to the Human world, even before the last war. Before everything fell apart.” He waved his hand at the tiny green park, the tidy brick and frame buildings with their neatly-painted trim, the evening walkers like dark wind-up toys in the lamplight. “Now, here I am.”

“Well, not quite. The human world you wanted to see was over in the Enchanted Land, not here. I've lived over the Line for a very long time, and it can be a cruel place.”

“It can't be worse than what I'd be going back to. All my people are gone. What's out there that's worse than what I came from? Anyway, the dwarves said that this is supposed to be the land without magic. So you don't have sorceresses or witches or dragons, right?”

“That's hogwash. There was magic in this world long before Regina brought those people here to Storybrooke. How do you think I do what I do? I was touched by the fae a century and a half ago, and it's only now starting to wear off. My guess is that this place here in Maine has been special from the beginning. Maybe even since the beginning of the world.

“Regina didn't make this place, no matter how much she thinks she did. I know, Anton. I've been to other places like this. There aren't many of them left in this world anymore. You plant beans, Anton. That's what you do. I used to lie in the fields, but I also went from town to town across this gods-abandoned land, looking for the special places which remain. And when I found them, I didn't do much of anything. Just raised some goats or bought a cow, made some cheese, grew some herbs, fed a few people. Then I'd move on to the next place, hoping my identification papers would hold up under scrutiny, hoping I didn't wind up in one of their prisons or jails or madhouses. And then I had Alex to worry about, which upped the ante considerably.”

She saw the question in his eyes, and answered it before he could get it out. “Seventeen years ago I stayed for awhile someplace very much like this one, only in Southern California. I know you don't know where that is. Here, in Storybrooke, we sit on the shores of one big ocean, the Atlantic. But on the other side of this land there's another one twice as big called the Pacific.”

“That's a beautiful name, the Pacific.” He said it as if he savored it in his mouth.

“I rested in this place by the Pacific Ocean for a little while, taking care of the chickens and the goats, answering the phone every few days. Then, one evening, I camped on the side of the mountain near a spring with the purest, clearest water you've ever had, water like liquid starlight. The night breezes blew in from the sea, then turned into a wind. Two months later I was throwing up, and that was the first sign in this world of my daughter Alex.”

“You weren't kidding about the wind, then.”

“Giants have their ways, and we who serve the Green Lady have ours.”

“Had our ways,” he said, a little morose.

“Well, maybe you can learn some new ones. OK, listen. I have these friends, three sisters, who live on a farm up on Grey Hill, right on the outskirts of town. They're having a dance this Saturday night. Kind of like a spring party.”

Before she could go on, he said at once, “Can I go?”

“You beat me to it. That's why I'm asking.”

“I want to. The first time I ever saw dancing was in the Human inn, in the village. They'd drunk a lot of ale, though, and knocked a bunch of stuff over.”

Brigid could imagine. “Well, this will probably be a bit more orderly. There'll be some fiddlers, and maybe somebody will roll the old piano out to the barn. And a caller, to tell you what steps to do next. Everybody dances in a big circle, or in lines.” Seeing his baffled expression, she finished with, “You'll like it. It'll be fun.”

The evening sun had gone down behind the gazebo, leaving the small park in shadows. Anton leaned his head back, as if drinking in the night air and Brigid snuggled under his warm arm. As if they both thought of it at the same time, they said, “Well, got an early morning—” and “Tomorrow's another day, isn't it?”

One by one, the street-lamps began to wink on. As they walked down Broad Street to Brigid's truck, he engulfed her hand in his own big paw, and her heart began to trill like the redpolls which fluttered above them, looking for spots to roost for the night.

“You know, that party, um, what about the dwarves? Are they invited?”

“I don't know.” Brigid stood under a streetlamp, retrieved her cellphone and flipped it open. “Here, let me call Amanda and find out.”

“Nah, it's OK,” Anton said. “I work with these guys, eat with them, sleep with them. I think I can go to a party on my own.”

“There's also a bit of a complication,” Brigid said as she put her phone away. “The Grey Sisters' property straddles the Line. It goes right down the center, I believe, with the yard on the outside and the barn in Storybrooke proper. And you know how the Enchanted Land people avoid the Line.”

“Yeah, if they cross it, they wind up like Mr. Clark, who doesn't remember that he's a dwarf. He thinks he's a, what do you call it? Pharmakosist?”

“Pharmacist. A kind of sorcerer, when you come down to it.”

“Is crossing the Line really so bad?”

Brigid answered carefully. “I guess it depends on who you were back there, what happened to you. Take Alex's friend Carl. He was a slave, and was starved and beaten. He's not shy about telling anyone, either. So the Storybrooke people who don't want to risk going over the Line avoid Grey Hill Farm. Even Regina won't go there.” She squeezed his hand. “I don't think anything will happen to you, though.”

“I know it won't,” Anton said.

She looked over quickly, surprised and full of concern. “And why is that?”

“Because early this morning I walked out to the town Line, crossed over it, and crossed back. Nothing happened.”

“Anton,” she said, real anguish in her voice now, “I wish you hadn't done that alone. I could have gone with you. What if you'd lost your memories?”

“But I didn't. And I didn't go back to my original size, either.”

Brigid didn't answer at first, just drove in silence for awhile through town, to the dwarves' ranch house. When she pulled up to the driveway, she rested her head on the steering wheel for a few seconds, as if all the steam had been let out of her. “Anton, there are some bad things happening here. There's a time-bomb ticking in this town, and you had the bad luck to land here right in the middle of it.”

“Brigid,” he said in a soft voice, “It wasn't bad luck at all.”

She slid across the bench seat and into his arms, stroking his long loose hair, his face sweetly close. “I don't know if I want Alex or I to be on top of it when it goes off. And not Carl either, or you. So while on one hand I've gotten comfortable here, on the other hand, it's getting kind of crazy. Leaving's crossed my mind, even if Alex is supposed to be in school till May.”

“School,” he mused. “I've heard of school."

“It's over-rated. But even in Storybrooke, there are laws. Expectations.”

“Like washing your hands in a restaurant.”

“Yeah, just like that.”

A light went on up at the dwarves' house. Leroy leaned his head out the front door, then yelled something about a strange truck down in the driveway.

Brigid said, “OK, you better go now, before I have a bunch of dwarves charging down here wondering what's going on.” Still she clung to him, not wanting to let go. Finally she said, “Pick you up at eight on Saturday?” Her mind raced over what Anton had said. He didn't want to go back to the Enchanted Land. And how long would they be able to stay here, with Cora and Regina on the rampage?

Anton nodded, leaning over close. Heart pounding with exhilaration, she kissed him good-night over and over, until his face grew dusky-red in the twilight, and her whole body ached with wanting him.

Even after he got out of the truck, he didn't climb the driveway, though, but just stood there and watched her until she pulled away. It wasn't until he heard the rough call of, “Tiny, that you?” that he trudged up to the small brick house deeply shadowed by the thick gathered pines.

(continued)


(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-31 02:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inlaterdays.livejournal.com
Ooh, so angry at Cora right now.

Another lovely chapter. I really enjoyed the Anton/Brigid interaction, and I'm loving this story.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-31 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefanie-bean.livejournal.com
Yay, glad you like!

I'm always kind of torn about writing fanfic about the bad things that characters do, because we as viewers get a "big picture" of the character's story, all the problems they have, the mitigating circumstances etc. However, other characters "on the ground" so to speak don't have that big picture, and so they're going to react more immediately to their experiences.

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