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Pandora's Pain

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"You really think you're ready to sail on your own?" Emma asked, cutting into her lasagna.

"I'm not so sure this is a good idea," Regina agreed. "How many sailing lessons have you had?"

"Enough," Henry said, rolling his eyes. "And it's not like I'll be alone," he grumbled. "Killian's going to be there. We've borrowed this boat lots of times."

"But you're sailing at night!" Regina pointed out.

"The lad knows what he's doing," Killian reassured them both. "I'd hardly let him have control of the wheel if he didn't." He shared a look with Henry, who nodded gratefully. "And we're sailing at sunset," he added. "I think it'll be quite romantic." His gaze shifted to Emma, and she bit back a smile as he lifted a brow.

"Sailing with a kid, here," Emma cautioned, taking a sip of her wine.

"I'm referring to the general romance of the open sea at sunset, love," he replied. "What were you thinking?" His face was the picture of innocence.

Henry rolled his eyes again, but wisely said nothing because he didn't want to jeopardize his outing.

Emma pushed her plate away. "Well, I can't eat another bite without capsizing the boat, so I guess we'd better get going." She looked over at Regina. "Sure you don't want to come along?"

"No," Regina shook her head. "Your mother has asked for my help in reviewing some infrastructure projects this evening."

"Let me guess...with a baby under one arm?" Emma asked.

Regina waved a hand. "We're dealing in dwarf management. If you can deal with that, you can deal with anything. We'll get it done."

"Maybe I could take you out sailing tomorrow," Henry said to Regina, as they rose from the table.

"Maybe," she agreed, putting her hand on his shoulder. "I'm free most of the day, if we can get the dwarves on board tonight. Shall we try for tomorrow afternoon?"

"I'd like that."

"Me, too," Regina smiled, hugging Henry tightly. She glanced over his head at Killian. "Keep him safe."

"You've nothing to worry about," Killian reassured. "Henry's a dab hand at all of it. He was born with the sea in his blood."

###

Killian was right, Emma thought to herself. Henry handled the wheel like he was born with one in his hand.

She reached up to pull a piece of flyaway hair out of her eyes, but Killian beat her to it, curling the strand around his finger and tucking it gently behind her ear. She smiled up at him, leaning back into him slightly as she looked out at the water from her place at the bow. He slid his arm around her middle, and she tried very hard to ignore the casual way his thumb was stroking her belly through the cotton of her tee shirt.

"Better zip that jacket up," he murmured low in her ear. "Once the sun is all the way down, it gets chilly on the water."

She looked over her shoulder at him. "What? You're not going to offer to keep me warm? You're slipping."

"I'd be happy to keep you warm love," he grinned. "I'm still remarkably hot-blooded. But there is a child aboard so I've chosen to remain more...circumspect."

"Is that so?"

He kissed her forehead, and she could feel his smile against her as he did.

They stood in silence for several minutes, just watching the sun sink into the sea. Killian had been right about that, too - it was incredibly romantic. She sighed, lifting her head from where she'd leaned it back against his chest.

"Why the long sigh, Swan?" he asked. "You're not turning pensive on me, are you?"

"Maybe a little bit," she confessed. "Just thinking about what life must be like - looking at this every day."

"And now you know why the sea is any sailor's first love," he replied. "I suppose his ship is his second."

And you gave up your ship for me, she thought. A glance over her shoulder at his face said he was probably thinking the same thing.

"It's all right, Swan," he said with a half-smile. "I don't regret that trade."

The brightness in his eyes was making her stomach tense, and his hand slowed on her stomach. She drew in a long, somewhat shaky breath and looked away, pulling out of his arms to face him, with her back against the rail.

"You know all about my life before," she said. "I only know bits and pieces about you."

He raised his brows. "Maybe it's better that way."

"Maybe I want to know more."

Her eyes held his and this time, he was the one feeling it in his gut. He had a sixth sense about women, and when a woman said she wanted to talk, it usually meant trouble. But this was Emma. It was only natural that they learn more about each other, as they spent more time together. He wanted to know everything about her.

He just wasn't so sure she wanted to hear everything about him. He swallowed hard.

"What do you want to know?" He tried to keep his tone light, in the hope that she would follow suit and ask him something of little import. He should have known better with the likes of Emma Swan.

"Can you tell me about Milah?" she asked. At the obvious discomfort on his face, she added. "You know all about Neal - even more than I knew. I just...feel like it'll help me. Know you better, I mean."

He nodded reluctantly, setting his forearms down on the rail and leaning into them as he turned the question over in his mind.

"There's not much to tell, really. You know she was once married to Rumplestiltskin -"

"Yeah, I know all that," she said, gesturing him to move along. "Neal told me all the dirt."

Killian raised a brow. "Really?"

She gave him an apologetic grimace. "He was warning me away from you," she explained. "That was early on. He didn't feel that way at...the end," she finished uncomfortably.

"Nevermind," she said suddenly. "You don't need to tell me anything. I'm sorry."

He reached out, touching her arm. "No, it's all right." His eyes softened. "It's hard to talk about because I lost her. Just as you lost Neal."

She looked over at him. "So, what was she like?"

He shook his head. "She wasn't you, Swan. That's all you really need to know."

"I don't know if that's good or bad," she answered. "You loved her for centuries."

Killian's hand slid up, and his thumb brushed her chin, tracing the line of her jaw.

"And you think that's it for me?" he asked huskily. "You underestimate me, love."

Emma looked up at him, spellbound by the way he'd said those words, and the moonlight reflecting off the lines of that perfect face. The breeze ruffled his hair just so, making him nearly impossibly handsome.

"You really are right out of a fairy tale, you know that?" she murmured. "I have a hard time believing you're real sometimes."

"I'm more than happy to prove that once we make land," he offered, stepping closer into her with a devilish grin.

"There it is," she smirked.

"There it is," he repeated. "I'll keep making the offer until it's accepted. And it will be, eventually. I'm bloody irresistible you know."

She gave him a look that said she wasn't going there, and turned back to look out over the water.

"So, I've been thinking..." she said, deliberately changing the subject. "How about a job?"

He looked taken aback. "A job?"

"Well you can't just be the town rogue, you know."

"And why not?" he pulled out his flask. "It's not like anyone else can handle the job."

She took the flask out of his hand. "I was thinking that if you had a job that paid a wage, you could afford to buy another ship."

"A wage?" He made a face. "Work for a wage?"

"I'm not going to let you pillage and plunder the town," she deadpanned. "Or steal a boat. So you'll have to do it the honest way. With a job." She took a drink from the flask, then handed it back to him.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked warily.

Emma leaned back with her elbows on the rail. "I could use a deputy."

"Isn't that your father's job?"

"No. He's sort of...co-sheriff. I think. We never really gave him a title."

Killian's eyes narrowed. "And who do I work for? Him or you?"

"Does it really matter? You'd be a public servant," she said, turning back to look out over the water. "It's just a title -" Emma broke off suddenly, and Killian turned to look at what had arrested her.

"What the...?" she mumbled.

She leaned out, squinting her eyes as she stared back toward the coast. The sky over Storybrooke was glowing a strange orange-red, forming a perfect dome over the town.

"Mom!" Henry called out from the wheel.

"We see it!" She called back. "Killian?"

Killian shook his head. "I've no idea what it means, Swan, but strange phenomena rarely mean good news in Storybrooke."

###

"What's going on?" Snow asked, standing in front of the mayor's office with Regina.

Regina stared at the sky with growing alarm. "Whatever it is," she said, "It's magic. I can feel it. And it's not...good."

"Dark magic?" Snow pulled Neal in closer.

"I think so."

David's truck pulled up a moment later. "Get in," he said, climbing out and then holding the door for Snow.

"You want me to drive?" she asked.

"I want you to take the baby and go home." David said. "Regina and I will take her car to the town line and try to figure out what this is."

"We will?" Regina raised her brows.

"You want to wait till whatever it is comes to us?" he asked.

"No. Of course not." Regina dug her car keys out of her coat pocket, and walked toward her car. She stopped, turning back to David. "Is Emma back yet? With Henry?"

"I haven't heard from her," David said. "I just tried her a moment ago but whatever this is, it's blocking all cell reception. I couldn't even get a signal."

He reached out, pulling Snow and Neal into his arms.

"Get out of here," he said. "Take Neal somewhere safe. I'll call you when we know what's going on."

"Be careful," Snow said, kissing him quickly, her worried eyes glancing up at the sky once again as she snapped Neal into his car seat.

"David!" Regina called out, gunning the engine. He ran for the car, sliding in and closing the door. His face turned toward the window as he watched his wife and baby drive away.

###

The woman stood at the edge of town, her fingertips touching the barrier.

At last. It was here. She knew it was. The barrier could not conceal it from her. Nothing could conceal it from her.

She closed her eyes, listening.

She could hear them, of course. All their troubles. All their pain. All the sacrifices and unrequited loves, all the tears and the sadness and the anger that defined them. Their echoes rang like a deafening cacophony, surrounding her, whirling about her as she raised her arms, pulling it all into her and sending it out, flinging it against the barrier, battering it until it ate its way through.

A swirling hole appeared in the barrier, and the woman stepped through, as the pain and misery engulfed her, streaming through the hole and fanning out, lighting up the sky a vivid, burning orange-red, raining anguish and suffering down upon them all.

Emma, Killian and Henry stepped off the gangplank and onto the dock just as the world went black.