Every night, he dreams of Milah.
At first, he dreams about her, about the moments they shared, about kissing her, about holding her, about making love.
When these dreams slowly fade into nothingness, they are replaced with dreams of her death, dreams of taking revenge, dreams of vengeance.
He wakes up in the morning and the dreams give him the strength to last another day in Neverland, to spend another day plotting his escape and the crocodile's death.
After decades, even the dream of her death loses it's terror. Reliving the loss of his hand does not terrify him anymore. The sharp pain has dulled to a numb ache. He feels hollow inside. He still goes through the motions every day, fights the Lost Boys, looks for an escape, thinks about ways to take the Dark One's magic. But his heart is no longer in it. He accepts that there may be no escape from Neverland.
After that, he dreams of nothing. His nights are just filled with a bottomless darkness, much like his days.
One day he has a terrifying thought. Every day on the Jolly Roger in Neverland is the same. What if the crocodile not only took his hand, but also his mind? What if he is relieving the same day over and over again, without escape, without a chance to find what he is looking for?
That night he lies awake in his cabin, alone and afraid. He closes his eyes and prays. Not to any deity, he has given up hope of a benevolent deity centuries ago. If he ever had it to begin with. No, he prays to all the realms, to anyone who might hear him. He prays for an end to the never-ending nightmare. He prays for hope.
That night, for the first time, he dreams of green eyes the shade of emeralds. He dreams of blonde hair, which looks almost silver in the moon light. He dreams of a beautiful princess, in a gown of white swan feathers.
There's a blinding flash of white light and Hook sits up in his bunk with a start. A strange woman is standing in his quarters, looking around with a frown on her face. She wears some form of red leather garment, the style of which he has never seen before. When she spots him, a genuine smile spreads on her features, transforming her. It's so open and happy that his breathing stops for a moment.
"Well this is new", the woman says in a strange accent and her smile turns wicked. "I've never dreamed about you on your ship before."
He is still too stunned to reply when she suddenly walks over to him, sits down in his lap and puts her hand on his face. Her smile is radiant and Hook still cannot breath. She closes her eyes and kisses him. Hook remains frozen in place, shocked. Her kiss is familiar, somehow. She kisses him like she has done it before, like she is kissing a lover and it awakens such a deep longing in his heart that he pushes back from her with a gasp.
She frowns and looks at him. Takes in his drawn face, the black circles under his eyes, his weary expression.
Hook cannot speak. Where did this strange woman come from? What does she want? And why does she talk to him like she knows him?
She puts her hand back on his face and he flinches slightly.
"Killian, what's wrong?"
He hasn't heard that name in so long it takes him a moment to recognise it as his own. Her voice is etched with worry now and there is suddenly a tight feeling in his gut as he realizes that she is worried about him.
Finally, he finds his voice. "Who are you?", he whispers, like he's scared that if he speaks any louder, she will disappear again.
"I have to say this feels less and less like a dream." She pinches herself in the arm. "Ouch."
"I do not think we are dreaming, lass." His voice is rough and still very quiet.
The woman slowly stands up from his bunk and looks around again. "How can we be on your ship? Where are we?"
"Neverland." His voice is resigned.
Her head snaps around at that and she looks at him again. Looks at him like she is searching his soul. He can feel the longing surface again. He aches for her and he doesn't even know who she is. After a moment a strange expression crosses her face, full of sadness and sorrow, and he wonders what caused it.
"Oh, Killian", she whispers, her voice echoing the same sadness.
She sits down close to him again and he realizes with horror that she is beginning to fade, white light sparkling on her skin.
She touches his face again and this time, he does not flinch.
"Listen to me, Killian." Her fingers have faded and her body is only a vague shape of light, but her eyes are still the same strong green as before, piercing into him. "I know you cannot believe in it right now, but trust me that your life will be better one day. There is more than blood lust for you. There is hope." She takes a breath and her last words ring loud and clear in his ears before she vanishes. "You will have a happy ending."
When he awakes, he remembers nothing of the night, yet he begins to fervently search for an escape from Neverland again. He knows in his heart that it exists. He will escape and take his revenge. And he will live through it. He does not know what it is, but for the first time in 200 years he believes there might be a life for him after the crocodile's death. He does not know where this conviction comes from, but he does not question it.
Every remaining night in Neverland, he dreams of piercing green eyes. He dreams of life instead of death, of hope instead of vengeance, and it terrifies him.