If there was one thing that Emma was familiar with, it was self-sacrifice.
Ever since she could remember, she had been part of a system where love was in a deficit - all demand and rarely a supply. The love she had experienced in the foster system was far closer to care, a poor substitute for love, not specific to her or any other child but better than nothing at all. Another thing about love in the foster system was that it was never hers, it was shared between all of the children there. There was no room for being selfish, even though it felt programmed into the small children to be greedy when it came to an adult who was willing to care for them, even in the smallest of ways.
Before Henry had found her, she would have attributed this to bad luck (now all this fairy-tale stuff made her think it was more fate, not that she would ever admit to it). It was just unlucky that the first home she'd ever been placed in had to be shut down after all of its charges had run off (bar Emma of course, who was a baby at the time), and then more bad luck when no other home had enough hands to care for a baby in the long term, meaning that she was bounced around too quickly for a family to even consider her.
There had been some good in her past of course, she had been taken in by a couple - Emma still remembered the love she'd gotten from them even if it was only for a little while. Okay, the fact that they'd given her up as soon as they fell pregnant with their own child still stung, because it meant that everything they had said about her being their real child was not something they really believed in.
Growing up like this only meant that she was forced to become self-reliant and it stood her in good stead to try and learn, but she couldn't resist the temptation of love once she got the chance. It had started with Neal which, admittedly, didn't go perfectly but Henry had been a happy result of that. Then there was the kid himself and her parents... Okay, she was a bit slow to let people in, but that was understandable after the way her and Neal had ended up.
Now though, Emma found herself floundering in a life where she suddenly had an abundance of love coming from all directions in such vast amounts that she didn’t know where she put it all. What was more confusing is she found herself longing for more; she had everything she had ever dreamed for and more with Henry but she found herself wanting more. Somehow, amongst all of the drama with evil great grandfathers, wicked witches, snow monsters and unhappy queens Hook had scaled every wall she presented him with rapier wit, acts of heroism and ocean-blue looks of understanding. And even now, after their trail on the ice monster conjurer had run cold and Emma's plans for Regina's happy ending were going nowhere and her family surrounding her, she felt that tug she had felt as a child when a couple drove away with a child they had picked which wasn’t her.
The feeling was ridiculous, because Hook had made it pretty clear to her that he had picked her.
But she was the saviour, her job was to run after every person that needed saving and get them their happy ending, to still talk to her parents after she had found them, to give Henry his best shot by giving him up for adoption and to help him when he found her again. These things, had given her something but not until after she’d given in a little, sacrificed something.
With Hook, she felt like he was giving her all he could, free of charge so she didn’t even have the obligation to owe him anything. Emma knew what she had to do in order to give Hook his happy ending but it required very little sacrifice on her part, no dangerous quest or potential death. In fact, giving him what he wanted was awfully close to getting what she wanted and it felt more than a little selfish.
But selfless at the same time.
Okay, she was really confused.
“Emma, would you like some cocoa too?” Mary-Margaret called over to her from the kitchen area, obviously as part of some conversation that had happened while she had zoned out.
“Um, sure that would be great, thanks.”
Mary-Margaret frowned at her and Emma resisted the urge to squirm under her mother’s all-knowing appraisal.
Just as her mother’s mouth opened to ask something Emma undoubtedly didn’t want to discuss, a knock at the door distracted her.
Henry bounced up from the couch with a, “I’ll get it.” Emma turned away from her mother when her son spoke again. “Oh, hey Captain. Wanna come in?”
“Thanks lad.” The Irish lilt coupled with the smile and pat on the shoulder Hook gave Henry made her beam at them. The pirate entered and quickly took a news clipping of some kind out of his coat. “I think I’ve found something which mi-.” He paused. “Is everything okay love?”
Emma realised that she was smiling at him, her teeth no longer showing but her eyes still sparkling. For once, she didn’t want to stop under the new scrutiny, the people here loved her. She didn’t have to hide here.
“Yeah, everything’s fine Killian.” Her smile widened when he reacted to her use of his first name. “What’ve you found?”
A few hours and a wild goose chase later, Emma, Hook and Mary-Margaret returned to the apartment after the trail the ex-bandit had been tracking had once again become cold (or rather, warm as it had melted and soaked into the ground). Emma ushered her mother to bed quickly and checked on Henry, it had been a busy couple of days and it was easy to forget that her parents had a newborn child so couldn’t abandon ship and save the world in the same way that they used to.
“Sorry that the newspaper didn’t lead anywhere love.” Hook spoke softly, mindful of the others in the apartment.
Emma moved closer to him, her thoughts earlier resurfacing. “It’s okay. There’s always tomorrow.”
Hook nodded and there was a pause where he seemed to debate with himself before speaking. “Emma, love, I have to admit to being a bit… confused by the information you are giving me. Earlier you seemed to want me to give you space and now you are very much within my space, not that I am complaining love I just…” His sentence teetered out, the implication of his confusion there.
“Yeah, I just- I was thinking earlier and I um-” Once again, she got stuck. She looked at him apologetically and thought back to earlier in the woods where she had opened up to him and acknowledged that she was avoiding him.
Oh screw it.
“I guess I’m just not very patient.”
It wasn’t the most open of statements, but he had a way of reading between the lines when she spoke.
He responded slowly. “You regret the outcome of our conversation earlier.” He looked at her to check that he was on the right lines. Emma smiled sheepishly – he was and so he continued. “And you wish for us to have a conversation?” Once again, Emma nodded. “In the early hours of the morning in the middle of an apartment containing your sleeping parents, son and baby brother.” She winced a bit at that.
Hook reached out and took her hand in his own. “Love, I don’t wish to make you uncomfortable, just to remind you of the flaw in your plan.” He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. “Why don’t we, instead, walk over to Granny’s get some sleep and have breakfast in the morning? I’m sure your parents won’t mind watching your lad.”
Emma found, as she wrote a note to her parents and Henry to explain her absence the following morning, that the strangest thing about this whole situation was that she didn’t have the urge to retreat from the pirate who was waiting for her (as he usually was) by the door.
Later, as she shrugged into one of his knee-length night shirts (he pouted when she’d called them a nightdress) her back to Hook as he did the same, she spoke. “So, breakfast?”
She heard him almost turn around but then stop as he remembered her potential lack of decency. “For now, sleep. But then breakfast.” He took a breath. “But after that lass, well, we’ll decide tomorrow.”
Emma smiled at the wall and knew that the pirate would be doing the same. “Killian, are you dressed?” She heard his intake of breath and then the smile in his voice as he replied.
They both turned and smiled nervously at each other before getting into their sides of the double bed which separated them. Emma noticed how quickly Hook put his left arm under the duvet and leaned over him to take it from under the covers. He looked at her curiously as she held his elbow and gently guided his arm to her. She kneeled and took her other hand to pull back the sleeve and revealed the hook-less forearm which stopped just before the wrist.
Emma glanced at him quickly before running her fingers lightly over the end of his arm and pressing a soft kiss to its end. She placed his arm back onto his stomach and pulled the blanket back up over him before looking at his face again. Hook looked at her in awe, eyes glassy and mouth slightly agape. Leaning over him once more, Emma placed a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth, which swiftly shut.
“Goodnight Killian.” She interrupted then moved back over to her side of the bed, lying to face him.
He turned his head to face her, his face still reflecting child-like awe. “Goodnight love.”
Emma let her eyes close, the look on Killian’s face making her feel like this choice could be worth a little selfishness after all.