There were a lot of things in his life that David didn’t like, but had learned to tolerate for the sake of his family’s happiness.
He didn’t like taking cold showers every morning. Regina had apparently cursed their home to have the oldest water heater she could imagine, and by the time Emma, Snow, and Henry had finished in the bathroom, there wasn’t even tepid water left for him. But he knew that his family loved to take hot, overly-long showers, so he tolerated the frigid water for the sake of their happiness.
He didn’t like forcing down Emma’s specialty eggs every Friday morning when the four of them gathered for a family breakfast. They were, by far, the vilest things he’d ever tasted. And he was pretty sure the others agreed with him on that. But, it made Emma happy to feel like she contributed to preparing the meals in their home, so he choked them down with a smile on his face and his most appreciative moans.
And David certainly didn’t like the pirate that had somehow become his daughter’s best friend since the two of them had returned from New York, with Henry asleep in the back of the bug.
Contrary to what Regina believed, David Nolan wasn’t stupid. Something had changed when Emma and Henry had returned to Storybrooke, with the pirate at their side. And that something had changed once more when his daughter and Captain Hook had returned from their little trip through time.
While most of his memories of his life before Snow had faded, he could vividly remember the foreign princess, in her brilliant red gown, who had attended his engagement ball with the handsome prince on her arm. He could recall the way they smiled at each other as they twirled elegantly around the dance floor, drawing every eye in the room, even if they hadn’t realized it. It was the same way they smiled at each other now, when they didn’t think the other was looking.
So David wasn’t overly surprised to see Hook’s appearance that evening at the town line, not long after he and Emma had arrived to investigate the blackout.
“In case you were wondering, it goes the whole way around.”
“Hook. I didn’t know you were joining us,” he sighed. The pirate was one aspect of his life that David stubbornly refused to tolerate.
“Well, I get a distress call from a fair maiden, and I’m on the spot,” he replied, sauntering his way over to where the two of them were standing. Or, more accurately, where Emma was standing.
“I was not distressed,” she protested. “And you’re saying this wall goes around, what, the whole town?
“Aye, that it does,” he confirmed.
David hated to admit that Hook had at least saved them one part of their investigation. They wouldn’t need to waste time driving and walking the entire border of the town to check for a way out if he had already done it for them.
Just when had Emma called him?
“So once again, we can’t leave Storybrooke,” he mused. While it wasn’t an unusual set of circumstances in the town, it was certainly a worrying one, given the snow monster that had suddenly appeared the day before.
“Doing more than keeping us inside, by the looks of that.” Hook nodded his head in the direction of the downed powerline. “Guess that’s what caused the loss of power?”
“Look at you becoming a twenty-first-century man,” Emma praised.
David absolutely refused to acknowledge that slightly flirtatious tone to his daughter’s words. If anyone did the flirting, it was Hook. Not his little girl. His daughter was a princess, and princesses absolutely did not flirt with pirates.
“It looks to me like whoever was putting up the wall wasn’t trying to take out the lights. They were just putting up the wall.”
“Yeah, to keep us in? But why?” David wondered.
Of course, it had to be the pirate who responded.
“Kill us all, one by one. It’s what I’d do,” he added, yet again proving why Captain Hook was a part of his life that David refused to tolerate. The pirate couldn’t and absolutely shouldn’t be trusted. Especially not when it came to matters involving his daughter’s heart.
The buzzing of the radio from the patrol car caught his attention, and David turned away to answer the call. With the power out, he knew that the likelihood of accidents occurring in town was greater. And with Hook’s words ringing in his ears, David also knew that it was best to stay on top of all the calls coming in.
Unfortunately, when he turned back to face Emma and Hook, it was to find the pirate once more invading his daughter’s personal space. But unlike before, Emma wasn’t backing away from him this time. In fact, she seemed to be smiling at whatever it was that Hook was saying to her.
Until something caught her eye by the wall of ice, and she started walking away. David watched as Hook’s face fell a little while he watched her go.
He finished dealing with the call quickly and placed the radio back into the cradle before he straightened up once more. David knew that he would eventually need to address what was happening, so he solidified his resolve and made his way back over to where Hook was standing.
“I think it’s time you and I have a little talk about your intentions with my daughter,” he sighed. Because although David was still refusing to accept the role that Hook suddenly seemed to be filling in Emma’s life, he wasn’t blind to it. He could see where things were headed between the two of them, even if he was trying desperately to convince himself that he was reading far more into their conversations and looks than there actually was.
“That’s a little old-fashioned even by my standards, and I still pay with doubloons,” the pirate retorted, as he turned to face the sheriff. There wasn’t an ounce of mocking in his features, however.
“Well remember, I know your reputation. Emma’s not some conquest.” Just thinking about it was making David’s hand twitch towards the gun on his belt. It wasn’t just the pillaging and plundering he’d heard about. It was all of the women who claimed to have been bedded by the legendary captain, in a variety of different ports and ways, that bugged him the most. David didn’t want his daughter to become another notch on an impossibly high bed-post.
Emma deserved better than that.
Hook’s tone caught the other man off guard slightly, as David wasn’t quite expecting the tinge of anger that colored his reply. “I wouldn’t risk my life for someone I see as loot. Whatever we become, it’s up to her as much as me.” The look on the pirate’s face was so open and earnest, that David actually found himself softening a little towards the guy.
But only a little.
When Emma had taken far too long investigating the wall, Hook started to move over to it, and David followed after him.
“Emma?” he called out as they approached, spotting her stood with an unknown woman.
“Stay back,” she warned, holding out a hand in caution.
The snow that was swirling around them began picking up, and David could spot the tension in the other woman’s shoulders as they approached. “Hey, hey, hey,” he soothed.
“No, no, no, stay back,” his daughter warned, even as David drew his gun. “It’s okay,” she tried to reassure him, but her father knew better. Something wasn’t right with all of this. “She’s just trying to find her -”
Emma was cut off before she could finish.
The snow falling around them grew in intensity, swirling unnaturally as large spikes of ice began to shoot up from the ground, separating David from his daughter. One particularly large spear sent his daughter flying back into the ice wall behind her, and David heard Hook let out a startled cry of, “Emma!”
A large sheet of ice came crashing down from above them, sending both men flying out of its way. They fell to the cold ground below them hard, as they used their arms to shield their heads.
When the snowstorm had finally cleared, Emma had disappeared from their view, blocked behind yet another wall of ice.
“Emma! The device. Call her,” Hook instructed, his eyes glued to the spot where she had been stood moments before. David had never before heard that hint of worry the pirate’s tone was now carrying.
He pulled his radio from his belt to ask, “Emma? Are you in there?”
Hook barely even waited for a response before he declared, “I’m getting her out,” and started running for the wall. David followed just behind him, watching as the pirate started to viciously attack the ice with the sharp point of his hook.
But it did absolutely no good.
“What if we lift?” he suggested.
The two men dropped to a crouch to try tugging the ice up and out of their way, grunting with the sheer effort that they were putting into their actions. But again, the wall didn’t budge.
The captain began hammering away with his hook once more, his desperation to get to Emma showing in his frenzied actions. For the first time since they had returned to Storybrooke, David was starting to realize that maybe Hook cared for Emma more than he had originally thought. He tugged gently on the arm closest to him, and the pirate spun around to face him.
Hook’s teeth were clenched as he snarled, “Don’t. We’re not giving up.”
“We won’t,” David assured him. “But this is not getting us anywhere.”
Even though his face was screaming his worry, Hook still managed to tap into the annoying sarcasm that the prince had always hated, as he snapped back, “Well, I’m open to suggestions.”
“Magic made this thing,” David reasoned. “I think we’re gonna need magic to unmake it. And I’m not gonna stop fighting until we do.”
If he hadn’t been so worried about his daughter’s safety, the look on Hook’s face at that moment would have floored him. Because David was certain that it was the mirror image of the one he was currently wearing.
He pulled out his radio to try and contact his daughter once more, pleading, “Emma, do you hear me? Emma, are you okay? Say something!”
There was a moment of tense silence as David looked at Hook, and Hook stared back at him, both waiting for the crackle of the radio to sound. When it didn’t, their minds began to race, each coming up with different ways in which they could get through the wall of ice, to the woman on the other side of it who owned a piece of their heart.
A soft crackling noise caught their attention, and it was quickly followed by Emma’s voice asking, “Dad, can you hear me?”
Hook snatched the radio away before David could reply. His, “Emma?” sounded both relieved and full of concern all at once. “Say again,” he begged of her.
There was yet more static before Emma’s voice sounded once more. “I’m in here with this woman. She is looking for her sister, Anna.”
David and Hook shared a look at the slight waver to Emma’s voice. They didn’t need to say anything in order to understand what the other was thinking.
Emma was cold.
“She thinks that Anna is in town because she found a necklace of hers in Gold’s shop.” The pirate’s face contorted with anger at the mention of his nemesis. “She wants us to try to find her before -”
Suddenly Emma’s voice was gone again, and the one that replaced it was unfamiliar to both men. “Before I freeze this town and everyone in it,” she threatened.
Hook and David shared another look. It wasn’t an empty threat, given what they were currently seeing, and they both knew that they needed to act fast if they had any hope of getting Emma back before she became the woman’s first victim.
Getting Hook to leave the prison that Emma was trapped inside of turned out to be more difficult than David had imagined it would be. The pirate was clearly torn between his desire to remain close to her, and the need to do whatever he could to free her.
In the end, it was the need to do anything it took to get her back that won out, and David was able to guide him over to the cruiser to head into town. But he wouldn’t deny that the moment he turned the car around to begin the drive, Hook looked like someone had just plunged their fist into his chest to pull out his heart.
David had expected the guy to spend the drive bugging him over the many different buttons inside of the vehicle, and what each of them did. But Hook was too lost in his own mind to make trivial conversation.
“She’ll be okay,” the prince found himself offering, although he realized that as Emma’s father, he should probably be the one getting the reassurances, not offering them out. “She’s tough.”
“I’m well aware of that, Mate.”
David left one of the most uncomfortable silences he’d ever been a partner to settle between them before he tried again.
“I’m sure whoever this woman is, Emma can handle her.”
“Oh, yeah. The giant wall of bloody ice is really reassuring me on that one,” Hook snapped back. “Why don’t you just focus on captaining this vessel instead of trying to make me feel better? We both know that you’re just as concerned for Emma as I am.”
David’s face darkened a little with the suppressed rage building inside of him, but he knew that deep down, Hook was right. He was just as worried about his daughter’s safety as the pirate was. And that was why he knew exactly where to take the two of them first. The woman had found the necklace in the pawnshop, and if anyone in town could help them deal with a giant wall of ice and a missing sister, it was Gold.
“The Crocodile?” Hook asked, as the patrol car pulled to a stop in front of the shop. “I should have bloody known he’d have something to do with this.”
“Hey,” David warned sternly, as he reached out to grab Hook’s left arm. “We don’t know for sure that he does. But as one of the most powerful magic users in this town, he’s a good place to start for getting some answers. If we want Emma back, then I’m gonna need you to follow my lead. If you can’t do that tell me now because I’ll lock you in this car if I have to.”
Hook’s hatred for Gold was written into every fiber of his being. But David watched him swallow it down, his concern for Emma his primary focus at that moment, as he shrugged off the sheriff’s hand. “As long as he behaves himself, I’m sure I can,” Hook snapped back, before pulling on the small handle in the car to release the door.
It struck David for a brief moment that before that night, he hadn’t even been sure that Hook knew how to open a car door. But he assumed that it was something Emma had taught him, during one of their bonding moments. David had chosen to think of the time the pirate spent with his daughter as friendly bonding moments, with Emma perhaps helping him adjust to modern life. Because those mental images were far better for his sanity than what he’d overheard some of the other people in town suggesting the couple’s time alone was spent doing.
“It appears our honeymoon is over,” Gold remarked, as David pushed into the small shop with the captain hot on his heels.
“Yeah, there’s an emergency,” he explained. “Emma’s trapped under ice by a woman with some kind of ice magic.”
Belle looked suitably concerned about the predicament, but Gold didn’t seem to care at all. “And this involves me because…?”
“You’re the bloody Dark One,” Hook threw in, his anger coloring his tone. “Do something.”
“Well, I could melt the ice and destroy it with a thought,” Gold suggested flippantly. “But that would also destroy your girlfriend.” He turned his eyes up to the pirate that had been his nemesis for longer than David had been alive, before he added, “Is that what you want?”
David pushed down the urge to argue that Emma was certainly not Hook’s girlfriend, as he watched the fear flash in the pirate’s eyes. No, Emma was not his girlfriend, but she was certainly something to Hook. David had never seen the man look so scared for a life that wasn’t his own before.
“No one’s destroying anyone,” he asserted, as he held out an arm to keep Hook restrained. With that look currently on his face, David wasn’t taking any chances that the pirate wouldn’t dive across the counter and force Gold to help them somehow. And by the way that Belle’s eyes flicked over to him, he was willing to bet that she could also sense the same tension building underneath all of that leather.
“Now, the woman who has Emma trapped is in there with her, and she’s looking for her sister,” he continued. “Name of Anna.” David turned back to Hook to confirm that he’d gotten the name right, and to make sure that the pirate was still standing where he had been seconds before. “She thinks she’s in town because of something of hers she found in your shop. A necklace.”
David watched as Gold’s façade slipped ever so slightly, while his new wife went to work rifling through the small cards she had been sorting when they had first entered the building.
“Is that it?” Belle asked, holding out one for the two of them to look over.
Hook took it before David could, but even from the odd angle, he knew he recognized the design of it. He pulled the card from the pirate’s hand none too gently, to get a better look.
“Wait. I know this,” he mumbled, more to himself than to the rest of the room. “I know exactly who Anna is,” he told them all.
“What the bloody hell is going on, Dave?” Hook demanded, the moment they left Gold’s shop. David wasn’t heading for the car. He knew exactly where to find the person they needed to speak with next.
“My name’s not ‘Dave.’”
“Oh, that’s what you wanna discuss right now?” the pirate scoffed. David could feel his anger building behind every word he spoke. “Yeah, let’s discuss your name and not your daughter, who’s currently trapped with some mad woman, looking for her sister. Who, it just so happens, you seem to know.”
David stamped down the rage building inside of him at Hook’s tone. He knew that the pirate was right. This was not the time for hostility. Peep was a dangerous woman, and David knew that he would need all of the help he could get to force her into cooperating with them.
“Joan,” he explained. “When I knew her, she was calling herself Joan. She was engaged to a friend of mine.”
“So, we find the friend?” Hook asked hopefully.
“No. Kristoff’s not here. I’d know if he was.”
The pirate’s face fell at David’s words and once again, he was a little shocked at that punch to his gut that told him Hook just might care for his daughter, more than he thought he did.
“But I know someone who can help.”
David turned back down Main Street to storm off in the direction of the butcher’s shop. He knew that she’d been brought over with the curse. But both he and Snow had made every effort they could, to stay as far away from her as they possibly could.
“Hey,” Hook called out. He jogged the few steps it took to catch up to the prince, before tugging on David’s arm to turn him around to face him. “I’m not going anywhere else until you tell me what’s going on. You might be Emma’s father, but that doesn’t mean that you’re the only one concerned about her right now. I have every right to know what’s happening, Mate.”
“You don’t deserve anything,” David snarled back at him. He was Emma’s father. There was nobody on Earth that cared about his daughter the way he did.
How could Hook not see that?
But the look on the pirate’s face told him that he was picking a fight at the wrong time, and with the wrong person.
“Bo Peep,” he eventually sighed, when he realized that the captain wasn’t backing down any time soon. Hook was clearly worried about Emma, and the two of them together could do far more to help her, than David could alone
“We’re going to see someone called Bo Peep,” David explained. “But if you wanna get Emma out of that ice cave she’s trapped in, we need to do more walking and less talking.”
“You can talk on the way there,” Hook argued.
“Oh, I intend to,” David assured him. “Because I have a plan. And I’ll need your help with it. Without your usual commentary.”
Hook looked like he wanted to make some kind of snarky comment, but he managed to hold himself back from doing so. He allowed David to turn and begin walking once more, while he followed just a step behind him.
“When I lived on my mother’s farm, back in the Enchanted Forest, there was this kind of mafia boss there. Bo Peep. She used to brand people as part of her flock if they didn’t pay the money they owed her on time. She said that once she’d branded someone, she could always find them again.”
“Let me guess,” Hook began scathingly. “She branded this Anna person.”
“Yes. Yes, she did.”
At the time, David had thought it to be something awful and had beaten himself up for placing Anna into such a terrible position. He’d blamed himself, as he often did, for putting her into Peep’s sights to begin with. But now, David had never been more grateful that the awful old woman had decided to take a special interest in Kristoff’s fiancée.
“So, what’s the plan, Mate?”
Of course she was a butcher.
David wasn’t sure if Regina and Peep had ever crossed paths before, but he was certain the former Evil Queen would have heard of Peep, and what she used to do. Cursing the woman to spend eternity as a butcher was the kind of ironic twist that Regina loved.
“Sorry, Lambkins,” she drawled, as he pushed through the unlocked door to her shop. “We’re closed.”
“I need your help,” he began carefully. David was almost certain the other woman wouldn’t want to give it to him. But there were still some people in the world who surprised him from time to time.
The pirate sneaking in through the back door being one of them.
“You and me, we ain’t friends. Not interested. Get out.” She waved the meat cleaver in her hand in the direction of the door. But for some reason, the action made her seem less scary than David’s memory of her.
“You don’t have your helpers here with you anymore, Peep,” he explained.
“Right,” she sighed, before that familiar manic gleam began lighting her eyes, as they fell to the cleaver in her right hand. “I just have one. Say hello,” she told him, pulling her arm back.
David ducked down to avoid the attack, but suddenly Hook was there, his namesake wrapping around her wrist as he attempted to pry the knife from her hand. “Don’t do it,” he warned.
The prince immediately sprang into action, helping Hook finally disarm her, before he tossed the knife onto the chopping block. As soon as it was safely out of her reach, he pushed the other woman in the direction of one of the large fridges behind her. David didn’t have time for pleasantries anymore. And he suspected that Hook would never protest over the way he was handling her.
“Now, my daughter’s in trouble, and I need to find the person that can help her,” he explained, getting into Peep’s personal space to convey the urgency of the matter. “Someone you branded.”
“I’ve branded a lot of people,” Peep threw back at him.
“Her name is Anna. She went by ‘Joan’ back then.”
“Do I look like I keep a record book?” Peep snarked. “’Cause I don’t.”
“Then you know what I need.”
David knew that even in a land without magic, there was no way Peep would risk leaving her crook too far from her person. It was still a powerful magical object, and it offered her far too much leverage.
“Hook, back room,” he called out to the other man. “She won’t keep it far from her. You’re looking for a shepherd’s crook.” Peep tried fighting against his hold, but David merely pressed her back harder into the glass door behind her.
While Hook was a pirate by trade, David assumed that the other man would know what he was looking for. He was starting to suspect that the pirate merely played dumb most of the time, to trick people into doing whatever it was that he wanted. Underneath all of that black leather and eyeliner, the prince was pretty sure there was actually someone incredibly intelligent hiding away.
Maybe that was why Emma enjoyed spending so much time with him?
“Hey, hey,” Peep protested, as Hook emerged with the crook in hand, looking as victorious as David imagined he would, after a successful pillage and plunder. “That’s my personal property. Give it up.”
“Sorry,” David apologized, not meaning it at all, as he pushed her off to one side.
“Ah, so in this world, you’re a hero?” Peep sneered at him.
“In this world, I don’t have to answer to you,” David countered. He turned back to face the man who held everything they would need to save Emma. “Let’s go find Anna,” he called out, just as the static of the radio crackled once more. David couldn’t hear what was being said, but he didn’t really have to. Everything that he needed to know was written plainly across the pirate’s face.
“It’s that woman, Elsa” he explained slowly, almost as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was saying. “She said Emma’s passed out. She’s freezing to death.”
A shared look between the two of them was all that was needed before they were moving.
Hook had the door to the cruiser open before David had pulled the car to a complete stop. The pirate was clearly wasting no time, as he climbed out of his seat and ran for the ice-wall, while David pulled out the crook to follow after him.
When they finally made it back to the spot where they had last seen Emma standing, David propped the large metal object against the wall, as he pulled out the radio to call through to the women trapped inside.
“Elsa? Elsa? How’s Emma?” he asked, with a look of desperation passing between himself and Hook.
“She’s freezing. Turning blue,” the other woman explained, clearly just as worried for his daughter’s safety as they were. While Elsa may have made the mess to begin with, it was becoming painfully obvious that she hadn’t intended to hurt anyone in the process.
“No!” Hook declared ferociously, upon hearing her assessment of the situation. “Emma!” He began using his hook to once more bash at the ice separating him from the woman he so clearly cared for.
David caught his arm to force him to stop, as he explained, “It’s not gonna help.” There was every chance that when they managed to get to Emma, Hook would need his full strength. David couldn’t risk allowing him to waste it on a useless task, even if he knew that doing something at that moment was more preferable than doing nothing.
“Elsa, listen to me,” he began, turning his attention to the radio once more. “I need you to find a way out.”
“I need Anna,” she countered.
“Well, we don’t have her right now. But we have a way to find her,” David rushed to assure her. “And we will. But right now, you’re gonna have to do this on your own.”
“I can’t control this,” she cried, her voice tinged with her worry for Emma’s safety. David knew what it was like to feel helpless. Anna had been the one to make him see that there was always another way, and in her absence, he was going to be the one to make Elsa see that too.
“I know how you feel. You’re trapped. It’s a battle you can’t win. But it’s exactly the kind of battle you have to fight. Or you’ll die,” he explained.
Hook was busy examining the wall around them, looking for something, anything, he could use to get to Emma.
“No, I won’t,” Elsa stated sadly. “I’ll survive. But Emma -”
“Survival isn’t enough,” David cut her off, knowing that neither he nor Hook would be able to stand to hear her say the next two words that were going to come from her mouth. “You have to live,” he pressed on, hoping that Elsa would recognize the words her sister had spoken to him, all those years ago.
There was a moment of silence over the radio, before she carefully asked, “Where did you hear that?”
“You know where.”
“Anna? You knew her?” The Ice Queen sounded so relieved to know that someone else had once known her beloved sister, and David’s heart ached for her. As soon as Emma was safe, he wouldn’t rest until the sisters had been reunited.
“Yeah, I did. She helped me once, a long time ago, become who I am. She saved my life. And yours. And now, I need you to save Emma’s,” he implored. “I don’t know much about Anna, but she wouldn’t want you to live alone in an ice cave. Which is where you’ll be if you don’t melt that ice. Now, do it!”
Hook was getting desperate behind him, painfully aware that time was running out for Emma. And David could feel that energy clawing at his back, looking for some kind of acknowledgment.
When nothing immediately happened, he turned back to look at the pirate. At that moment, David needed somebody to share his despair with. And he had a feeling that even if his wife had been by his side, there would have been nobody as scared for Emma as Hook was right then.
The more the seconds ticked by, the more despondent they grew.
Until suddenly, “It’s working,” Hook declared, as whips of blue magic began leaking through the wall. They continued to build in intensity until a swirling vortex opened in the center of it, growing steadily larger. “I can see her,” he sighed, the relief in his voice palpable.
The two men watched as Elsa helped Emma to her feet, and guided her over to the opening in the wall, while Hook ducked down to call out, “Emma!”
She looked pale and weak, but she was moving. And that was all that mattered to either of them at that moment.
Even as he reached to pull her through, David saw the way his daughter’s hand wrapped around the pirate’s arm, anchoring herself to him. Her body was already swaying in his direction, seeking some kind of warmth that, while David was reluctant to admit, he knew only Hook could provide at that moment. So as Emma fell to her knees, finally free from her icy prison and completely exhausted, her father helped to pull her to her feet, and into the arms of the man that had fought beside him all evening, so desperate to see her safe once more.
He tried not to be jealous that Emma quite obviously preferred to seek comfort from the pirate, instead of her own father. But as he watched the two unlikely friends embrace each other, his daughter’s grip unnaturally strong even as the energy she had remaining was rapidly draining from her body, David realized that Emma was exactly where she needed to be.
“Let’s get her home and warmed up,” Hook suggested softly, as he seemed to tighten his arms around Emma’s shivering form.
David finally tore his eyes away from them both when her fingers began running softly through Hook’s hair. It was a moment that seemed far too intimate for an audience, so he turned his attention to helping Elsa out of the cave.
“Are you okay?” he heard Hook whisper into Emma’s hair, as the pirate held her tightly.
Before she could utter a response, her legs gave out from underneath her, and Hook bent to scoop her up into his arms, already heading for the warmth he knew the car could offer.
“You did it,” David praised, turning his attention back to Elsa. It was easier to deal with the Ice Queen than it was to try and sift through his own feelings about whatever was happening between Hook and Emma. “You saved her.”
“Yes, I did. But I also endangered her,” Elsa whispered sadly. “You owe me nothing.”
“I owe your sister everything,” the prince countered. “What I said was true. She helped me. And now, I’m gonna help you. This isn’t over. We’re gonna find Anna.”
By the time he’d guided her back to the cruiser, Emma and Hook were already in the back of the car. The pirate had removed his heavy coat and laid it gently over Emma’s small form, which was curled into his own. David tried not to frown as he helped Elsa into the front seat. He knew that Emma was likely still freezing cold, and that the pirate’s body heat would help to warm her up. But he didn’t like how close his daughter’s head was to all of that bare skin that Hook insisted on showing.
Instead of dwelling on the situation, David turned his attention to the car, starting the engine and cranking up the heat for Emma, as he turned the vehicle around to head back towards the loft.
“What happened?” Henry asked, as he watched his mom stumble into the apartment with Hook’s coat still wrapped tightly around her shoulders, while she leaned on the pirate for support.
“Don’t ask,” David told him, in a tone that clearly stated that he’d fill the young lad in on everything a bit later. “Let’s just get your mom warmed up again. Can you run upstairs and grab me some blankets?”
As Henry took off running, Elsa swept into the master bedroom to scoop up all of the blankets inside of it, while Hook guided Emma down into a chair, before dropping to his knees beside it. There was absolutely no way that he could have been comfortable, but David noticed that the pirate’s entire being was far too focused on his daughter to care.
“Emma? Are you okay?” he asked, as he wrapped another blanket that Henry had passed to him tightly around her shoulders. He watched as his daughter focused on lacing her fingers with Hook’s, while she leaned into the warmth of his embrace.
“She’s so cold,” the pirate answered on her behalf.
And like magic, that was the exact moment the power decided to come back on.
David wanted to send up a small prayer of thanks to every god he knew of. He watched with a curious frown as Hook rose from his place by Emma’s chair, to return only a few seconds later with the electric heater switched on and aimed in her direction.
David hadn’t even known that the pirate was aware of what the strange little box did, let alone how to turn it on.
“Oh. Oh, that’s good,” Emma praised, as he settled himself back down beside her seat, to pull her into his arms once more.
“I’ll go make some hot cocoa,” Henry suggested, looking like he clearly wanted to help his mom, but also wanted to stay out of the way of the adults who were already doing that.
“Wait.” Emma’s voice was rather loud, given that it was trembling violently, like the rest of her body. She reached forward to pull her son into her arms, and the two of them held on to each other tightly.
“I know,” Henry chuckled fondly. “With cinnamon.”
“I’m sorry if I wasn’t much help earlier, kid,” she told him softly.
Regina’s rejection of her son’s affections had seemed like a lifetime ago, given what they’d been through that evening. And David found himself feeling bad for having forgotten that his grandson was going through his own tough spot.
“I’m just glad you’re okay,” Henry told her, pulling away to look at her properly. “I was already down to one mother, and I won’t go lower than that.” Emma smiled fondly at her son as she watched Henry slip away to begin preparing hot cocoa for everyone in the room, while Hook gently eased her back into his arms. It was an oddly intimate scene between the two of them, even though the loft was full of other people, and Emma was still shivering as she fought off the chills from the ice cave.
“Elsa? Are you okay?” she asked, her concern for the Ice Queen winning out over her desire to just curl up into a ball and seek her own comfort. It was the kind of action that proved why David was so proud of his daughter. Emma was forever putting others ahead of herself, even if her life was in mortal danger.
“Not only have I lost my sister, I’ve lost her necklace too. Now, I have nothing of hers,” Elsa replied sadly, her eyes filling with tears at the thought of being alone in the world once more.
“Then let’s find her,” David offered fiercely, as he reached for the crook that had been all-but-forgotten since Emma’s rescue. He handed the large object over, instructing Elsa to look at the curl of metal at the very top.
“I don’t see anything,” she mumbled solemnly, after a few minutes of silent staring.
“It should work,” David sighed, as Hook asked, “Is it broken?”
The pirate still had his good arm wrapped around Emma, holding her to him tightly as he ran a brisk hand up and down her arm to help warm her up. But like the rest of the people in the room, he now seemed truly vested in trying to help Elsa find her sister.
David hadn’t realized until that moment just how much the man had changed. None of his actions that evening had reminded him of the selfish pirate, hell-bent on revenge, that he’d first met. In fact, they reminded him more of himself, during a time when he’d been desperate to save his beloved Snow.
“Or does it mean something happened to her?” Elsa worried, as Hook’s gaze dropped, along with David’s own. Neither of them wanted that outcome for the Ice Queen. While Elsa may have been the reason Emma’s life had been in danger that evening, she deserved to find her sister.
“Wait,” Emma called out suddenly. “What’s that sound?”
The loft fell deadly silent as everyone stopped to listen to the dull thud, thud, thud, thud… that had suddenly filled the air.
“Is that a heartbeat?” Elsa asked on a hopeful whisper.
“It is,” David confirmed, as he watched everyone else breathe a sigh of relief.
“We might not know where your sister is, but we know the most important thing.”
“She’s alive,” Elsa declared excitedly, just as Snow pushed through the front door with baby Neal in her arms.
“I think it’s probably time Emma got to bed,” David declared suddenly, shattering the quiet whisperings in the loft. He’d watched as his daughter’s head had slowly drooped, while he and Elsa had explained to Snow and Henry what had happened that evening. And he’d watched as Hook had curled himself tighter around Emma with every move that she made. The two of them had been whispering about something that David couldn’t hear, no matter how hard he strained to catch it. Which had resulted in the pirate spending most of the evening pressing kisses to the golden strands of Emma’s hair.
“I think it’s a bit late for that,” Hook mumbled back quietly. “She’s been asleep for about an hour now.”
David huffed a little at that piece of information. If the pirate had told him that sooner, he would have insisted on driving Elsa and Hook back to Granny’s so that Emma could seek refuge in her warm bed. But knowing that she was already asleep, he was reluctant to disturb his daughter. David could imagine that Emma would be feeling the effects of her encounter with the ice cave for the next few days, and some uninterrupted rest would definitely help with that.
“David, why don’t you drive Elsa over to Granny’s?” Snow suggested quietly. “Henry can head up to bed while I get Neal sorted for the night.”
David’s eyes flicked over to the couple curled up in the chair together. Somehow, during the evening, Hook had managed to slide into the seat, and Emma had situated herself in his lap.
No matter how hard David had glared at the pirate, Hook hadn’t moved.
“Leave them,” his wife whispered, after Henry had pressed a kiss to his grandmother’s cheek, and slipped upstairs to head for the comfort of his own bed.
“He’s a pirate,” David whispered back.
It was the only argument he had left. Because quite honestly, David was starting to understand why his daughter had grown so close to Captain Hook. It was obvious that the other man had feelings for her. And after watching the way his daughter had clung to Hook when she’d finally escaped that ice cave, David knew that Emma had some kind of feelings for him too.
“And you were once a shepherd,” Snow countered. “True love doesn’t care for job titles or positions in life. You know that.”
“That is not true love,” David threw back fiercely. Because while he might be okay with accepting that his daughter had a… thing… going on with Captain Hook, he stubbornly refused to believe that it was the thing.
“You keep telling yourself that.” Snow clapped her husband on the shoulder as she stood to head into their own bedroom. “Goodnight, Elsa.”
“Goodnight,” the other woman called back softly. An amused smile was playing around her lips as she took in the conversation that had been happening around her.
David grumbled some more as he kissed his wife goodnight, and fished his keys out of his pocket, to drive Elsa back to Granny’s. He could only hope that when he returned, it would be to find Hook gone, and Emma tucked up in her bed, safe and secure for the night.
When he finally left Elsa that evening, with a brief explanation of how the modern amenities in her room worked, and where to find Granny should she need help, David was fighting his own battle with exhaustion. It had been a long day, and the prince couldn’t wait to curl up in bed with his wife and sleep until the middle of the morning.
Pushing through the front door once more, he was relieved to see that the chair Emma and Hook had been occupying all evening was finally vacant. He assumed that the pirate had gotten the message and gone back to his own room at the B&B for the night, while Emma had made her way up to the softness of her bed.
David hesitated briefly for a moment, before kicking off his boots to tip-toe up the stairs that led to the second floor. He wasn’t sure why, but something inside of himself was telling him to check on Emma. And he knew that he’d never be able to sleep that evening if he didn’t.
He shouldn’t have been surprised by the sight that greeted him.
But he was.
Hook was still there.
This time, the pirate was shirtless, with his body curled around Emma’s own as she slept, buried under a small mountain of blankets. David couldn’t be sure, but he thought that perhaps the guy was still awake. Hook had more than likely heard his footfalls on the steps, but he hadn’t turned to face the doorway.
David stood frozen for a moment as he watched his little girl sleep peacefully in the arms of a pirate. Captain Hook wasn’t the man he’d dreamed she’d end up with, but after spending the evening with him, trying to rescue a woman they both so clearly loved, the prince was beginning to realize that maybe Captain Hook wasn’t the worst that Emma could do.
David turned on his heels to head back downstairs, leaving the couple to their slumber.
He may not have liked the fact that Captain Hook was clearly an important part of his daughter’s life, but for the sake of Emma’s happiness, David could learn to tolerate him.