“Emma, please, darling, wake up…for me, please,” Killian begged softly, holding her hand. “Or if not for me, then for Henry. Or your parents. Please, love, you have to wake up. I can’t lose you too. I can’t.”
His eyes skimmed over the bruises on her arms before he couldn’t look any longer and brought her hand to his lips. It’d been worse a few days ago, when they’d first found her. He shuddered as he remembered stumbling upon her, unconscious and tied up on the floor of a cabin on the far edge of town. She’d been missing for the two weeks before that, and Killian had been out of his mind with worry. But nothing had been worse than that first moment of thinking he was too late, and that she was already dead.
He didn’t remember much after finding her, only that David had to pry him away from Emma so that the paramedics could take her away. He’d raged like a wounded animal when they wouldn’t let him ride with her. He’d burned with fury and he longed to take it out on whatever monsters had done this to her. David had tried to calm him down and it was only under the threat of not being allowed to see Emma at all that Killian fell silent, and attempted to calm himself down.
They had no idea who took Emma and tortured her, though Killian had a few ideas, since Regina’s locator potion hadn’t been able to find her. There had been a moment, if Killian was honest with himself, that he was willing to act on his suspicions without proof. He and Henry had snuck up to where they could watch Emma’s surgery. Rage consumed him as they watched doctors flit about Emma. She looked so small then, amidst all the medical equipment. He’d almost left, if it weren’t for Henry’s broken sob. It reminded him that he was no longer alone. He had people to take care of.
Watching Emma’s pulse read out on the monitor was starting to get to him. He had to leave. He had to find the Crocodile and rip him to shreds. He wasn’t sure how the Crocodile had come back to Storybrooke, and used magic to hurt Emma this badly. But he was sure as hell going to find him and rip him to shreds. He started to turn away and head out of the hospital in a blind rage, revenge the only thing on his mind.
"Mom…” Henry sniffled. He was all but pressed up against the glass, tears silently streaking down his cheeks. He looked up at Killian. “Why did this have to happen to her? Why?”
Killian stopped and turned around, unclenching his fists. He looked down at the boy and tried to offer him a brave, but sad smile. He didn’t think he’d ever seen Henry cry. At least, not like this. “She’ll be okay,” he murmured, hardly trusting his voice to speak louder than that. “She’s strong, your mother. She’ll come back from this.”
The boy wrapped his arms around himself, tears running down his cheeks. “She can’t die. Not like Dad. I can’t lose her too. He’s only been dead a few months…I need my mom.”
Killian pulled the boy close to him in a tight hug. “I know. I know. And she knows that too. She’ll fight, just so she can come home to you. You know she will.”
“To us,” Henry croaked out in a small voice, curling in closer to Killian.
“Aye,” Killian whispered. “To us.” For the first time since finding Emma, he cried, clutching Henry tightly to his chest.
Whale had done a nice job of treating her. Killian’s fingers skimmed along some stitches in her arm, which were already looking less angry. Now she just needed to wake up. He looked over at the boy on Emma’s other side, asleep with his forehead pressed to his mother’s hip. He got up and draped his coat over Henry’s shoulders before going to get something to eat from the galley.
When he came back, Henry was still sleeping. He placed the bagel on Emma’s bedside table and leaned over to kiss her bandaged forehead.
“Why won’t True Love’s Kiss work?” Henry demanded, all tears as he looked up furiously at Whale.
“Because these aren’t injuries caused by magic,” Whale said quietly. “Whoever did this to Emma did this all without magic. It was all brute force.”
Fury rose up in Killian again and he longed to exact revenge on Emma’s behalf, but Henry’s tearful gaze kept him in check. “So what do we do now?” he asked Whale. He was sure he knew the answer, and he wasn’t even sure he wanted to hear it, but if it helped Henry, then he was going to do whatever it took.
“Still no change, huh?” Henry asked softly, picking his head up. The boy looked exhausted. While he, Mary Margaret, and David had all cycled in and out of the room, Henry refused to leave Emma’s side. Even when Regina insisted that he come home and he sleep in his bed, Henry insisted that there was no way that he was leaving his mother’s side until she woke up.
Killian shook his head. “I’m afraid not,” he said softly. “I brought you a bagel.”
“I’m not hungry,” Henry said with a shrug.
“Aye, because you haven’t eaten more than a piece of toast every day for three days,” Killian said, keeping his voice as gentle as he could manage. He was starting to become incredibly worried for Henry’s well-being. “You need to keep up your strength. Your mother is going to need you when she wakes up.” That much was true. They had no idea what sort of mental or emotional state Emma was going to be in when she awoke.
“Henry?” Dr. Hopper stood in the doorway, causing both Killian and Henry to look up. “Dr. Whale mentioned to me that you might need someone to talk to. Everyone’s really worried about you.”
Killian took a step away from the cricket, feeling completely and utterly out of his element. Sometimes, he’d forgotten that there were parts of Henry and Emma’s lives that he hadn’t been around for. Bonds they’d formed without him. Besides, he had a feeling that the cricket didn’t trust him and he didn’t exactly blame Dr. Hopper for not trusting him.
“Why don’t you join me down in the cafeteria for something to eat?” Dr. Hopper asked, in a kind voice. “It might be good to stretch your legs for a little bit.”
Henry shook his head. “I’m not leaving her,” he said, turning his gaze back to Emma. “I’m not leaving her until she wakes up.”
“Dr. Hopper, perhaps you could go get Henry a bagel from the cafeteria and you two could chat when you come back?” Killian offered, standing in front of the bagel he’d already tried to bring up for the lad.
“Sure,” Dr. Hopper agreed. “I think you’ll feel much better with some food in your stomach.” He smiled kindly down at Henry before he went to the cafeteria. Henry didn’t acknowledge the man or say anything.
“Henry, please…you need to eat something,” Killian begged softly. “Your mother wouldn’t want this for you.” Henry didn’t respond initially, just stared blankly at Killian as if he wasn’t even there. Then he looked down and away from Killian, trying to hide his face.
It was silent for a few moments before Henry spoke again. “I don’t wanna eat,” Henry mumbled, looking down. Killian recognized the look of despair on the boy’s face. He’d seen it on his own face in the first few days after Liam’s death. “I just want her to wake up. I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with ways to get her to wake up that don’t have to do magic since True Love’s Kiss can’t make this better. Since magic was brought back to the town, I guess I got used to the idea of magic being able to fix everything. And it hurts that it can’t fix her, that there isn’t even a chance. I feel useless.”
“I know the feeling,” Killian told him, placing his hand on his shoulder. He knelt down so he was more at Henry’s eye level. “Every moment your mother was missing, I felt so powerless because I didn’t know where she was, if she was all right…I feel powerless now, watching her fight for her life. Believe me, Henry. I know how you feel.” He bit his lip. “I can call Dr. Hooper back, if you’d like?” he offered. Henry shook his head. “Will you…” he started hesitantly. “Will you talk to me?”
Henry was quiet, picking at a loose thread on the cuff of his shirt. He picked his head up when he felt like talking. “Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t have the Heart of the Truest Believer,” he admitted softly, looking at Killian. “Like right now. I want so badly to believe that she’s gonna be okay, but I just…don’t. And my Mom and Grandma keep telling me that I just need to keep believing that she’s gonna be okay, but…sometimes it’s hard to go on faith.”
“You sound like your mother,” Killian said with a sad little smile. Henry gave him a surprised little look. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed this about Emma, but she hardly ever goes on faith alone. She likes seeing the solid, physical proof in things. Leaps of faith are extraordinarily hard to take for someone like her.”
He squeezed Henry’s shoulder. “You may be the strongest one of us all, lad. Your power alone means you have to take leaps of faith whenever you use it. Like in Neverland.” Henry nodded, looking down. “But that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to doubt in things. It doesn’t mean that you need to be fearless, lad,” Killian explained. “You’re allowed to worry that things are not going to work out in the end.”
“So then how do you know that she’s gonna be okay?” Henry asked in a small voice. “How do you know that she’s going to wake up?”
Killian allowed himself a real, but small smile. “Because I believe in your mother,” he told Henry. Henry, who was so like Emma in so many ways. Even now, he could see it in the way that Henry held his shoulders. “I believe in her stubbornness, and I believe in her perseverance. I believe in all the best things about her and even some of the worst because…”
“Because you love her,” Henry finished, giving Killian a tiny smile. Killian opened his mouth to apologize, deny, do something that would make the boy feel better about everything. He knew it hadn’t been long since Neal died, and he remembered what Henry said when he was cursed. “Don’t try to hide it. It’s pretty obvious to everyone at his point. And if it wasn’t before she went missing, it definitely was when you wouldn’t let Grandpa send you home to sleep.”
“Killian, go home,” David said sternly. “You weren’t sleeping well before this and you being like this isn’t helping anyone right now. Especially Henry.”
“I apologized to the paramedics for threatening to gully them,” Killian replied with a scowl. Though he knew David was right. He hadn’t slept in a few days and his hand was shaking as they spoke. “Please, please, I can’t leave her.” He was starting to get agitated again, his breath coming out in little pants. “I need to know she’s okay.”
“Killian,” Mary Margaret said gently, laying her hand on Killian’s shoulder. “Killian, breathe. She’s alive for now, and that’s all we can ask for.” She cast a glance back into Emma’s hospital room to make sure Henry wasn’t paying attention to the conversation.
“It was my fault for not finding her sooner,” Killian said, unable to look her parents in the eye. “For not realizing that something was wrong, for letting her slip out of my fingers…please. Please let me stay here and protect her.”
“You can’t protect her if you’re not feeling your best,” David said. “Don’t make me have them sedate you.”
“I’ll sleep in a chair then,” Killian said, looking up wildly. “Right in her room. Please. Let me stay.”
David sighed, “Fine. But I you actually have to sleep or I’m taking you out of the room and standing in front of the door until you do.”
Killian raced back into the room to be closer to Emma as Mary Margaret rest her hand on David’s shoulder. Playfully, but with a touch of sadness, she asked, “Honestly, David. Did you even try at all?”
He hadn’t cared about being subtle then. All that mattered was Emma. “Does that bother you?” he finally asked. “I know it hasn’t been long since your father passed.”
“You make her happy,” Henry said honestly. “And not for nothing, but when I first found her and brought her here she was so…unhappy. We both were.” He was quiet for a moment, grimacing as he remembered the first moment he connected with his mother. He hadn’t appreciated just how young his mother was then, but he was starting to understand. Just looking at her in the hospital bed made her look young. “She brought back the happy endings. Now she needs to get her own. And if you’re her happy ending then…great.”
“But how do you feel about your mother and I being together?” Killian prompted gently. “I know you were cursed, but I still haven’t forgotten what you said under the Spell of Shattered Sight. If something’s bothering you, I want to know how to fix it.”
Henry regarded him for a moment. “I think you guys are good together,” he finally said, shrugging. “It’s just…weird for me, I guess. Ever since she got here, she’s been…it’s always been the two of us. Like I was her best friend, the most important person in her life, and the person who understood her better than anyone. And even though she didn’t exactly know how to be a Mom, she filled in all those missing pieces for me. And now I’ve got to share her attentions with you. And you guys get each other and do that thing when you have a conversation without talking and I don’t know what she’s saying…and it’s weird.” He grimaced, the corner of his mouth twisting. “Sorry, I guess I’m not making much sense.”
“I think I get it,” Killian said quietly. He thought for a moment before saying, “Well, I’d say it’s true: your mother and I are quite similar, and we understand each other very well. But you definitely understand her better than I do.” When Henry looked unconvinced, he continued, “Remember when your mother lost control of her powers? You found her before any of us did, and I bet if she hadn’t been so terrified of hurting you, you would’ve been able to calm her down.”
Henry didn’t say anything at that, so Killian continued, “And you are still the most important thing in your mother’s world. She’d move heaven and earth to make sure you were safe and happy.” Henry opened his mouth, either to object or apologize, but Killian shook his head. “And I would never blame her for that. In fact, I’d be right there beside her, if she wasn’t feeling so stubborn that she had to do it alone. You should’ve seen her in Neverland, when we were trying to find you. Nothing would ever stop your mother from loving and caring for you, lad, I can promise you that. And Gods above help the person that would ever want to try. If she thought someone was trying to keep her apart from you, she’d tear them apart.”
He chuckled a little bit to himself and Henry gave him a small smile. The two had started to strike up a tenuous friendship at best, but it wasn’t lost on Killian just how profound it was that Henry trusted him with something like this. “As for the last thing you mentioned, about sharing your mother,” he said sympathetically. “I’m sorry if you feel I’ve been hogging up her time. It wasn’t my intention, and if we’ve hurt you in some way, I apologize.”
“You don’t have to be sorry for trying to get to know my Mom,” Henry told him. “She is pretty great.” He sighed and took Emma’s hand in his own. “I just…feel like we’ve been growing apart since you two started dating and I know it’s not anyone’s fault. I just miss her. I need my Mom. And I know she doesn’t think so sometimes, but I do…”
“I can’t imagine what it must be like, being able to spend time with your mother and only having her focused on you and then…having that taken away from you. Especially since you lost your father,” Killian murmured in reply. He shifted a little bit more comfortably, but so he was still looking Henry in the eyes. “I’m not here to replace anyone. I want you to know that I’m not here to replace your father in your mother’s memories or you in your mother’s life. I love her very much. And I want to make her happy.”
“Yeah, I know,” Henry muttered, but the boy wasn’t angry. He still looked somewhat defeated and Killian’s heart ached. “And you do make her happy. She smiles so much more now than she ever did. I just don’t know where I fit in with that.”
“Right where you’ve always been, at your mother’s side,” Killian said gently. “Trust me when I say that I thoroughly enjoy the time we spend together when it’s not in this room.” He gave the boy a smile. “I want you to be happy too, but not because you’re Emma’s son, but because your happiness matters to me too. I understand if that seems odd, but it’s the truth, lad. You have so many people who care for you, Henry, but if you’d be willing to take on one more, I’d be more than honored to join that circle.”
Henry was quiet, and Killian moved back slightly to let the boy process everything he’d just said. He was taken by surprise, however, when Henry launched himself forward and wrapped his arms around Killian’s neck for a tight hug. Killian fiercely returned the hug and pulled the boy in close to him. “Thank you, Killian,” he told the pirate, his voice muffled against Killian’s jacket.
“I’m thinking you don’t need to talk to me anymore, huh, Henry?” Dr. Hopper replied gently, who had been standing in the doorway. Killian stepped away from Henry to allow Henry his own space. “Will you at least eat the bagel I gave you?” He offered Henry the bagel and the boy got up to get it.
“Thanks, Dr. Hopper, for getting the bagel and for coming to check in on me,” Henry said sincerely. He took the bagel as his stomach let out a little growl. Killian’s shoulders couldn’t help but slump with relief. “But I think I’ll be just fine with Killian.” He threw a wide smile over his shoulder at the pirate, and Killian returned it. Dr. Hopper left and Henry sat back in his chair, tearing into the bagel with fervor.
Killian closed his eyes and allowed himself to enjoy the quiet moment. He was glad that Henry was starting to trust him, and even now that he’d spoken to Henry, he felt better. He let the quiet of the room settle him, listening to Henry’s methodical chewing.
“Ow,” Emma murmured softly, breaking the quiet of the room. Her eyes fluttered open and she turned her head to look at them. Killian’s eyes shot open, looking down at Emma in shock as if he couldn’t believe what was happening. “What…where am I?” she asked softly.
“Mom!” Henry shouted, getting up and hugging her tightly. "You're okay!"
She sat up, despite every hurt in her body that told her not to, and held him close to her. There were already tears in her eyes as she held him, her knuckles already turning white from how ferociously she was holding him. “You’re okay,” Emma whispered, trembling as she held him. “They threatened to hurt you if I fought back and when I did…I thought…oh, God, Henry, I thought I’d never see you again. Her hand cupped the back of his head. “I love you, kid. I love you so much.”
“Love you too, Mom,” Henry replied, clutching at her tightly. “You’re okay now. Me and Killian are gonna keep you safe.” He tried to make himself smaller so that he could curl in closer to Emma. “You’re okay…we were so worried…but you’re safe now. Killian found you and brought you to the hospital.”
“I’m here,” Emma promised lowly, but fiercely. “It’s gonna take a lot more than that for you to lose me.” She pressed a kiss to the side of his head. “I’m not going anywhere, kid. I promise you that.”
There was going to be all the time in the world to ask Emma what exactly had happened to her and who the ‘they’ was that had hurt her. Killian came to the other side of the bed and stroked her hair while she clung to Henry. He felt sick to his stomach that whoever it was that hurt her was able to because Henry’s safety hung in the balance. But Emma was all right. She was alive and awake.
Henry clambered into the bed beside her so Emma could lie back down and not rip any of her stitches. It wasn’t long before he fell back asleep, curled up by his mother’s side. Emma’s right hand stroked the back of Henry’s head, hoping to keep him asleep.
Killian reached out to stroke her hair back, and she flinched initially before she realized it was just Killian’s hand reaching out for her. Emma gladly pressed into the touch as Killian soothingly stroked the top of her head. “It’s good to see those green eyes open,” he whispered in a thick voice. “Gods, love, you had me frightened to death…”
“I’m sorry,” Emma murmured, her left hand trailing down to stroke the inside of Killian’s wrist. He leaned in to gently press her forehead to hers, just to get the closeness that he’d been missing for the last two and a half weeks. Her hand came to curve around the back of his neck to hold him there.
“How are you?” Killian murmured softly. “Honestly, love.” His eyes roamed over her face, trying to take in every last feature. His hand came down to stroke the side of her face, reverently treasuring it and taking care to aggravate any of her injuries.
“Afraid,” Emma admitted, nudging her nose against his softly. “I don’t…I don’t know if any of this is real. I don’t trust my lie detector. I can’t. But also…I feel safe. Just knowing you and Henry are here. It's the best I've felt in two weeks, that's for sure.” He couldn’t help but admire how she sought out the comfort of him and her son, despite all her fear. It wasn’t lost on him how strong his Swan was. He could her already trying to push past what had happened to her, in spite of her fear. And it wasn't because of him or for him, it was just the kind of person she was.
Still, he wanted to soothe her fears. “How can I prove to you that it is? That you don’t have to worry about anyone coming after you ever again?” Killian prompted gently. Emma just shrugged hopelessly and he pulled his chair in closer to her. “I’m not going anywhere, especially now that you’ve woken up. I will be here to remind you that this is real and you are safe as many times as I need to, my love.”
Emma stayed quiet for a few moments before asking, “How bad was I? When you found me?”
He didn’t want to answer that for her. And yet, he couldn’t turn away from her, not when he thought he’d lost her for good. “I thought you were dead. When I first found you,” Killian murmured, trying to keep the catch in his voice inaudible. “They took you away…you needed surgery.” He felt like breaking and he couldn’t begin to fathom how Emma was feeling.
Emma leaned in to kiss him and a gentle, warm light surrounded them and Henry. Killian let the light soothe him, and he felt whole for the first time since Emma had first gone missing. Emma looked better, her bruises even more faded. There was an alert look in Emma’s eyes that hadn’t been there when she first woke up. He realized it was Emma’s magic trying to heal her now that she was awake.
“See that?” Killian prompted gently, when Emma looked around the room in confusion after they broke apart. “That was your magic, trying to let you know that this is real and that you’re home safe now.”
“I’m not coming away from this unscarred,” Emma said, grimacing a little bit. “I just…I’m preparing you. For what comes next.” Her eyes were filled with fear and he realized that she was giving him an out. To leave if he wanted to. The accusation would’ve stung if he didn’t know her as well as he did.
“It’s a good thing that I told your son that I love you then,” Killian responded softly. “And all I want is your happiness.” She gave him another shy smile and he gently pressed his thumb against her chin, just as he had when they’d kissed at Granny’s. “So I’m not going anywhere.”
“Then get up here and prove it,” Emma responded, moving over in her bed to make space for him. He climbed in beside her, navigating around the wires attached to her body as he curled up beside her in bed. She started to doze off against him.
He thought she was asleep until he felt her whisper against his collarbone, “Love you too. Just so you know.”