She opens her eyes to see him, staring at her from across the room. He's sitting in a chair, body sprawled out like he always is, a relaxed façade always facing outwards, but he's watching her closely, all the rage and anger and possessive lust let out of his eyes, leaving behind something she's never seen before.
He doesn't say anything, just watches her. She doesn't know if she should cry, pound her fists against him, get up, walk out, try and talk to him, roll over and try to not think about it, what happens now. He'd crossed a line. Lots of fucking lines. Pretty much every single one of them. Every single deep instinct she'd developed over the years is screaming at her to run, to throw herself overboard before spending another second with him. Every single instinct as a woman is telling her to get out of his bed and never look back. She fucking knew better than to think she owed him a goddamn thing.
But he was looking at her. Scared and freaked out and she knew that a hell of a lot was riding on what happened next.
“Emma,” he says her name softly, like she’s some kind of wounded animal. (She is.)
”Emma,” his voice is a warning growl against her ears, too much and not enough. His hand is heavy on her hip, gripping her skin far too tightly as he turns her towards the desk.
She slams her eyes shut at the reminder, the rush of emotion and sensation. She takes a deep breath, trying to steady herself, brace up her walls. When she opens her eyes again, he seems to have realized his mistake, because his eyes have widened incrementally and his mouth is set in a tight line.
Sighing, she scrubs a hand over her face. She doesn’t know what to do. So she sets to doing something she does know how to do. When she sits up she registers that she’s still wearing his shredded shirt, it somehow having remained on her shoulders even through it all.
The fabric tears easily under his fingers, baring skin as it slides open. Panic shoots through Emma’s mind as he yanks again, a chunk from around the side coming off in his fingers. The ripping sounds far too loud and she squeezes her eyes closed.
Fuck. She’s got to stop thinking about it. Anything to distract her. He’s still watching her and the silence is heavy; she knows he wants to say something but he’s scared of hurting her, of saying the wrong thing.
Good. She doesn’t want to listen to him right now, can’t listen to that damned accent because all she can hear now is gravel and knives.
Easing her legs over the edge of the bed, she winces, cataloging the aches that go from her calves to her shoulders. She slides out of the bed and almost lets out a groan. If it was a dull ache this morning when she got up, it’s risen to a tangible throbbing pain between her legs, making walking less than comfortable. Hook’s eyes are on her, and she doesn’t miss how they narrow at her stilted walk. Doing her best to ignore him, she opens his wardrobe and goes for her bag at the bottom, pulling out the spares she kept here just in case.
She doesn’t look at the jeans and underwear from earlier, tossed in the corner next to the door.
Pulling her shirt over her head is hard, harder than she’d anticipated, but she stubbornly perseveres through it. When she pulls it down over her head she feels the bruise against her jaw and panic shoots through her. Oh god. What is she going to tell her parents?
She casts a glance over her shoulder at Hook; his gaze is fixed on the wall across from him, above his bed. His hook is resting at his side but she knows resting is never the right word to use with him. His knuckles are white against the dark wood, fingers gripping the chair tight enough to snap bones. She knows because that hand was just on her. She squeezes her eyes shut tight and tries not to think about those same fingers pressing indelible marks into her own skin.
This is going to be a lot harder than she hoped.
Making up her mind, she shimmies into her jeans, distracting herself with the zipper and button, firmly not thinking about the action, letting muscle memory take over. She’s not going to have it out with him. Not here. Not now. Not ever a small voice whispers to her. Emma has always been good at ignoring the problem.
His eyes follow her when she crosses his field of vision, and he opens his mouth to say something. She narrows her eyes at him and he snaps it shut again.
She walks out his door without a second glance.
The deck is bright in the afternoon sun when she stumbles up on it. Gold and Regina are nowhere to be found, but she spots her parents at the bow of the ship in hushed conversation. Beyond them, she can see the island. Neverland. Her heart picks up speed.
Mary-Margaret must catch sight of her, because in no time at all she’s stepped out of David’s embrace and is hurrying across the deck. Emma tenses, bracing herself for the barrage of judgment and questions that she knows are coming. But nothing comes. Instead, Mary-Margaret walks right into her arms and squeezes her tight.
Whatever happened to Hook (fuck, she’s not supposed to be thinking about him) must have affected the rest of them too.
“What happened?” Emma asks, and her mother pulls away from her, eyes falling to the forming bruise on the side of her neck.
“He didn’t tell you?” Her voice is suspicious and Emma scrambles to try and cover. What she comes up with is beyond lame.
“Uh, no.” Mary-Margaret narrows her eyes and Emma shakes her head, hoping for once that she takes the hint and backs off. A first time for everything.
And surprisingly enough, she does. Instead, she answers Emma’s question.
“It was Gold,” she says, and Emma is already dreading where this is headed. “He and Regina went ashore, right after we first laid anchor.” Mary-Margaret takes a deep breath. “Someone came out of the trees, we don’t know who it was, but…” She trails off and Emma has a sinking suspicion she knows where this is going.
“Where’s the body?” she asks, but her mother shakes her head.
“He didn’t kill him.” Emma quirks an eyebrow, urging her to continue. But she seems frozen, like she can’t push the words past her lips.
That’s when David decides to lend a voice to the conversation.
“He took his heart.”
The instant Emma’s head hits the pillow, she knows she’s not going to be getting any sleep tonight. Too much has happened, and her routine is already thrown. If this were any other day, she’d already be in Hook’s cabin. Maybe already in his bed. But now the thought of it makes her shudder.
She’s still trying to register what her parents told her. Gold had taken someone’s heart, brought it back to the ship, and then claimed that he had done it to have a spy, a person on the inside. It made sense, but Emma wasn’t a fool. She knew Gold was just trying to drive his own point home.
After her visit with Hook in the hospital that seemed like ages ago, she had tried to put it together, and had come up with only one solution, one that explained his tattoo, his aversion to letting hearts be lost, his explanation that he had hurt Gold’s heart, of all things.
She knows now, as sure as she can without either of them telling her, that Gold had taken Milah’s heart. Just like Regina had taken Graham’s. Her own heart stutters at the memory, the way he felt in her arms, falling against her, his eyes fading and everything crashing down around her.
Stealing a heart, bringing it onboard the Jolly Rodger, holding it hostage, manipulating someone, the ever-present threat of a crushed heart hanging over their head…she understands a little better. It doesn’t ease the pain or the anger, just multiplies it enough for the two of them.
She thinks of how her parents told her it was getting too late to head ashore, that horrible things lurked in the dark (her mind flashed to Hook), how they would have to wait to collect supplies until the sun rose the next day. More anger rises at that. It’s been so long already; one more day seems so impossible.
The feeling in the pit of her stomach makes her sick; she is sure that they will try and pair her with Hook, and there’s no way to get out of it without bringing the whole thing down around all of them.
So she sits, stewing in her own dread and anger and pain.
It’s gonna be a long fucking night.
They have two skins full of fresh water from streams they’d come across, and another small bag full of some kind of berries that Hook had assured her were safe to eat. She hadn’t tried them yet, too much simmering inside her to trust him, even on something like this, though she knows there’s no rational reason he would try to fool her.
Things are going great. Swimmingly, in fact, considering their circumstances. Right up until he grabs her arm, pulling her away from the shoreline that she’s drifted far too close to.
But that’s not what she feels.
His fingers dig into her arm, jerking painfully as he slams her against the door. It rattles beneath the combined force of both their weights and- she’s spinning against him, his hand and body pressing her against the wood uncomfortably, too close, too much, she can’t breathe-
She rips her arm out of his, teetering in the sand, two steps away from where the water is nipping at the wet sand of the beach.
“Emma,” he warns.
His voice is purring, growling, she can’t tell, it’s too much, her skin tingles where he touched her, said she tasted like his first love, sunshine and salt and wooden decks; she wants to cry, to come, anything but this, her breathing is too tight, it feels like she’s in a pressure cooker and it’s all she can do to hang on and-
Somehow she manages to stumble farther up the beach, giving him a wide berth. The memories are still surging under the surface, threatening to overwhelm her and crash down, more dangerous than the surf she just avoided.
“Emma,” he’s approaching her, coming up the beach towards her, getting closer and closer and she can’t help herself, he’s a threat and she reacts instinctively. “We need to talk,” he says, and whatever else he may have planned on adding is silenced when her fist connects with the side of his face.
He reels back, clearly not expecting that, and Emma stands her ground, feeling the panic slowly transforming itself into anger. White-hot, raging anger. At him, at herself, at the whole fucking thing.
“Why!?” she yells at him, and he looks up, brushing the cold steel of his hook against his cheek. Fuck. That does things to her that she can’t be feeling now, only pouring more gas on the flames that are ravaging her. Its anger, this time, but it’s such a fine line with him and she hates it so much. She tries not to think of what else is the opposite of hatred.
He doesn’t say anything for a long while, but when he does, he’s angry, defensive. She’s blind with her own anger, but she can see enough to know this isn’t going to be easy. She doesn’t dare show him her back.
“I’m a pirate, Emma! You knew that when you crawled into my bed.” His voice is dropping octaves and Emma’s fight or flight response flutters in her chest, beating flightflightflightflight against her ribcage. She grits her teeth and rounds on him, channeling the adrenaline into more anger, stoking the flames.
“That doesn’t give you the right to act like a fucking barbarian!” She stalks over to him, the anger drowning out all common sense that might suggest it’s a bad idea to engage him again. “I. Am. Not. Yours.” She punctuates the words with a hard shove. His eyes narrow and she’s suddenly very aware of her proximity to him, the fact that her hand is still on his chest.
Quickly, she yanks it away and turns, carefully putting some distance between them. Her heart is racing and she hates that she can’t pinpoint why, the anger mixing with other things she refuses to identify, to give name to. That she still feels like this around him, even after everything. She hates it, hates him.
“I don’t know what you want from me, love-“
“Don’t you fucking dare call me that,” she turns on him, cutting him off. It’s only through sheer willpower and the adrenaline racing through her that she manages to stomp out the memories threatening her. She takes a deep breath, and glares at him. For once, he has the decency to look chastised.
She takes another deep breath, trying to calm her nerves. She never wanted to have this conversation in the first place, but she’s running on fumes; she hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep last night, and holding herself together around everyone while staying on edge around him all day today has been one of the hardest things she’s had to do in a long time.
It feels like her jaw’s gonna snap if she doesn’t stop clenching it. She doesn’t want to talk about it, she doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t even know what she really thinks or feels. But at the same time, she can’t keep carrying on like this. She’ll burn herself to ashes before they get anywhere near Henry at this rate.
Her life has been full of hard choices, and she’s just going to have to chalk this one up there with the rest of them.
Sighing, she lets herself fall to the sand, patting a spot next to her. “Sit,” she says, and looks pointedly at Hook.
He doesn’t say anything, probably too worried about what she might do if he does, and she lets the silence stretch until it feels like it’s going to snap. Her anger is burning down, a flash fire that’s just embers now.
“What I want, Hook, is to stop feeling like this.” It doesn’t escape her notice that he looks down when she uses his moniker instead of his name. “I want us to have never happened.” He turns to her at that, but she’s not finished. “I don’t want to look at you and think about the fact that you fucked me like…” She trails off when she realizes she doesn’t know how to phrase it. She doesn’t know how to explain just how badly he’s screwed her up. That all she can feel is the bruised skin on her neck, the fingerprints blossoming on her hip, the throbbing ache between her legs, even a day later.
She never does finish her sentence, but she thinks he gets it. He doesn’t say anything.
Everything had been so perfect, as perfect as it could have been. And then Neverland had come and fucked them all over. She knows now that what they had been doing, what she’d denied, had only led to this. The only reason she’s sitting here talking to him about this instead of running back to the ship is because some small part of her feels something. For him. Even now.
And she’s pretty sure he feels something too, or he wouldn’t be sitting next to her in the sand, trying to listen even though she just punched him in the face and he’s probably gonna have a shiner in the morning and she’s going to have bruised knuckles. He’s always been able to see through her, but ever since they plunged through that portal, she’s been picking up more and more on him, flipping through the pages of the book labeled Killian Jones.
“I don’t know what you want,” he says, breaking the silence. “Do you want an apology? Because gods, Emma, I’m sorry.” She looks at him. His eyes are bright in the sunlight, and she can see straight to his soul. He’s telling the truth, of course. He can’t lie to her.
“I know,” she says softly, all the fight gone out of her. She doesn’t want to keep pushing against a wall. “But that doesn’t change anything.”
“I don’t know what to do.” It’s strangely comforting to know that he’s as lost as she is. “I don’t want to hurt you, Emma. I don’t want us to be like this.”
You should have thought of that before you fucked me, she thinks, the retort rising in her throat before she pushes it back down. There’s nothing that can be done about the past.
“I know,” she says again. There really isn’t anything else she can say.
The silence isn’t exactly comfortable, but the tension has gone out of it. This is what their relationship is now. A gaping abyss between them that swallows everything near it.
“I should have stopped.” She looks at him, but he’s not looking at her, his gaze turned back down the beach towards his ship. No shit, Sherlock she stops herself from saying. She doesn’t owe him anything, but she still feels like she should listen.
“Yeah,” she breathes. “You probably should have.” He turns back to her. The fact that if she had tried to stop him herself, he probably wouldn’t have hangs in the air. The abyss sucks it down.
"I made a promise to you, Emma, and I broke it. And about a dozen others that I made to myself," he says, like he's trying to lay his soul out for her. Her mind flashes back to their first night together, after the fighting and the fucking and the anger; her whispered proposal, the way his arm had tightened around her waist when he swore to her that he'd never hurt her, that he would find her son, her grandson. He hadn’t been lying. It was the closest they'd come to emotional bonding in the entire time they'd been on the ship.
And then, well...yesterday had happened.
For the first time, she thinks maybe her thoughts are starting to settle, to reorient themselves. For the first time, she knows what she’s thinking.
He did something wrong.
But she had so many chances, so many little moments to slip away. She’s not sure if they were intentional, but she knows she could have at least put distance between them, even if that might not have stopped him. Who knows? She’ll never know.
She didn’t take a single one of them. She didn’t know what she was getting into, maybe, yes, but that flicker inside her had grown fast, consuming every rational thought in its path. She’d wanted to know what the abyss looked like, and it had stared back at her, snapping its teeth, and she hadn’t backed down.
She still doesn’t know what to say.
And so they sit there until the tide lifts the water closer and closer and they realize that everyone is probably wondering what happened to them. He rises first, hesitates for a moment, and then offers her his hand.
She pauses, watching him carefully. The moment stretches but he doesn’t take it back. He’s waiting for her. Waiting for her to be okay.
She’s never going to be okay. She’s in Neverland with Captain Hook searching for her son who had been kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend’s fiancée and her secret partner.
But them? They might be getting there.
She reaches up and takes his hand, letting him tug her up. He’s careful to keep her from overcorrecting and falling against him, and as soon as she’s steady on her feet, he lets her go.
They’ve already started down the beach when she realizes that nothing had happened; no flashes, no horrible memories. Just his fingers wrapped around her hand, gently helping her up.
Helping her be okay.
Maybe that’s all they can ask for right now.