Killian set the flask down, giving his eyes a tired rub with his hand. It was very late in the evening, and he felt wearier than he'd felt in a lifetime, beaten down and depleted in a way that left him foundering.
She'd asked him if he loved her. And in that moment, that awful, lingering moment, he knew the answer.
If she had been Emma, truly his Emma, she wouldn't have had to ask.
Emma was one of the rare few he'd never misrepresented his feelings to. She knew where his interest, then his allegiance, and later his heart firmly rested. Only the Dark One would question him, and with good cause.
He let out a swear word, and threw the flask as hard as he could into the cabin wall. He'd been hoping to find sleep in the bottom of a bottle, but it wasn't going to happen, not tonight.
"That's quite a temper you have there."
Her voice robbed him of his peace, tenuous though it was. He slowly opened his eyes and looked at her, sitting quietly at the table across from him.
"What do you want?" he asked flatly.
She stood up with a little laugh, leaning back against the table next to him. "Well, I didn't come to talk," she said with a tiny smile. She folded her arms and studied him for a moment.
"You know, I think I've gone about this all wrong."
"You," she said. "And me. And talking."
He pushed back from the table and got to his feet. "I'm in no mood for riddles. Say what you mean to say and be done with it."
Emma stepped in until she was pressed right up against him. "And what sort of mood are you in?" she asked, in a voice laden with possibility. Killian's brows raised, but he remained unmoving. She brought up one hand, tracing the line of his shirt where it opened at his chest.
"I've been thinking that the way to a man's heart may not be through his stomach. Dinner was a bad idea." She stretched up, kissing his lips lightly. "I think we should skip straight to dessert."
He grabbed her hand, arresting its motion, and deliberately stepped back.
"Don't." His voice was quiet, nearly a whisper.
She couldn't help but smirk. "You're going to tell me that you don't want this now? After the way you've pursued me?" She slid her hand free of his grasp, trailing it up his arm and over his shoulders as she moved around behind him, circling.
"All this time, I've kept you at arm's length, and not because I didn't want you," she cooed. "Oh, I wanted you. I wanted every bit of you." Her fingers moved to his hair, letting the silky strands pull through her fingers. "Some nights, I'd lay there awake for hours thinking about how good we'd feel together. Which is funny, if you think about it. I mean, I never had a problem sleeping with a man on a first date before - but I think what held me back was the fact that I knew you'd be more."
She moved around in front of him now, clearly able to see what her words were doing to him. His face was tight, but his eyes were burning, just as his body was burning with the force of what he was feeling.
"And I'm not afraid anymore," she said, sliding her hand along his lapel and leaning in, until he could feel the heat of her and her breath against his lips.
"I want you, Killian. And there's nothing stopping you from having every inch of me."
She put her lips on his, but before she could deepen the kiss, he pushed her away, and his voice bit out like the snap of a lash.
"Killian." She gave him a knowing smile that said she wasn't fooled. She'd felt him against her. He did want her. Damn her, he did.
"Just go. I'm not playing your games." His fist was clenched and he stood there, rigid and furious.
Emma narrowed her eyes. "Such simmering rage," she purred. "Hate to see all that fire go to waste. And there's a lesson to be learned."
She waved her hand, and a moment later, they were reclining on the bed, naked, and in each other's arms. Killian gave a violent start, and tried to pull away, but she stroked his face soothingly.
"Another gift from being the Dark One," she murmured. "I can see everything you want. All of it. And I can make you want it right now."
The last two words were delivered on another wave of her hand as he growled and flipped her onto her back, forcing his body down onto hers. His mouth came down to pull and suck at her neck, her lips, her throat and breasts. Emma smiled with satisfaction. She spread for him, welcoming the feel of him hard against her, pressing her down as he pinned one of her wrists over her head, holding it there.
"That's right," she encouraged breathlessly. "Take it. Take what you want. I want you to."
She arched her hips up into him and he yanked her head back, fisting his hand in her hair as he prepared to enter her, enslaved by what she'd unleashed inside him. His breathing became more labored as she began circling her hips to rub herself against him, pressing her breasts up into his chest as she moved.
His eyes were searing hot and he shook with the force of what he was feeling.
"Go on," she goaded, "Go on and take it. You know you want it."
He took in a deep draught of air, and then another, and a moment later he rolled off of her with a groan.
"Don't stop now," Emma chided. "Things were just getting good. I can climb on top if you want." She started to slide a leg over his, but he stopped her, moving further away on the bed and grabbing the blanket to cover himself.
"Killian, you want this."
He rolled to face her, and against his better judgement, his hand came up, as if unable to stop itself from tracing her beloved face.
"I don't want this. I want you. You, Emma. You're in there, somewhere, Swan. I know you are."
Emma's eyes widened at the use of his usual nickname, and a moment later, she was gone.
Killian rolled on his back, throwing his arm over his eyes, and he stayed that way for a good, long while until the rum finally took over, and he slept, dreaming of her.