"Swan, I'm not asking you to forgive my actions," he growled, slashing through an unfortunately situated branch as he passed. This was how it'd been with her, since the witch had nearly killed her boy. Constant bickering.
It was better than not speaking to her at all. Gods was it better. But it didn't make his heart ache and his mind spin any less.
"Good," she answered bluntly, not looking at him. Another staple since she found out, one that stabbed like an icy dagger with every blow, "Because I'm not planning on forgiving you."
An unwarranted growl rose in his throat at her bloody stubborn ass, and he swung out at another branch as they passed what felt like the millionth gravestone of the day. The (third? fourth? fiftieth?) search for the Dark One's dagger was as futile as ever, but as Emma put it, they couldn't count on her magic (or whatever spell she and Regina had placed) to protect her newly-born brother forever. They needed a course of action, or at least she needed a course of action, and he'd never quite mastered the art of telling her no. But her cold shoulder and icy glances were rendering him something like seasick, a cold sweat sheeting him and an angry ache in his stomach, and he just didn't have the bloody patience for her antics.
"No, you're just going to run off to New bloody York and never look back," he accused, glancing up as they approached the Mills vault.
"New York is my home now, and no one is making a very strong case to stay!" the tone of her voice very clearly told him the conversation was through. He let out an angry spurt of breath.
"I shouldn't have tried to take your boy, Emma," he conceded bitterly, refusing to look at her behind him, incapable of stomaching the cool green disposition in her narrowed eyes. "But I couldn't very well tell you!"
"Yes," she hissed, and the rawness of her tone stopped him dead in his tracks, "You could have."
So that's what it was.
He slowly turned to face her, a sickening wave of dizziness crossing over him as he met her eyes, wide and open and wet at the edges and now his heart was throbbing.
"Killian, I trusted you," she said, and her voice cracked despite the softness of her words, "I trusted you to tell me things and be open with me and you took that away. You of all damn people should have... I thought..."
Her voice trailed off and his head spun.
"I kept it a secret to protect you, to protect your family!" He reminded her, jerking his arm out angrily. They were wasting time and he knew it but he wasn't about to back down, not now, "Would you rather I told you and let the sorceress kill Henry? Or, perhaps, should I have just gone on with it and kissed you? Heaven knows you would have bloody well let me," he hissed, and it was a low blow but it did the trick, sparking the rage that was so much easier to take than the betrayal.
"And you wonder why I can't trust you, you ass!" she stumbled slightly over her words and she was livid, fire raging within her narrowed eyes.
"Gods, Swan, have I not done enough to prove to you my intentions are only your wellbeing!?"
"Your fricking intentions are to get into my pants!"
The words were a blow to his gut, and the flicker of triumph that flashed momentarily behind her eyes told him they'd had exactly the effect she'd intended.
Shoving her walls painfully into his face.
Pushing him as far away as she could manage.
He wished her eyes weren't so wide and moist and he wished he couldn't see the pain on her face as clear as writing on the wall. Again, nausea bit at the corners of his stomach.
"Emma..." he began, but his voice cracked and trailed and the way her lips twitched back to swallow what had to be a sob sent one of his own rising in his throat.
"Just take your goddamn ship and leave, Killian," she said gently, and now her words were genuine and crisp, her eyes tearful (despite her frantic blinking attempts to hide it), "I don't know why you haven't already."
The mention of the Roger was the breaking point, and he tried to duck his head away to hide his tears, his emotions, the whole bloody book he was to Swan. He felt fevered and his muscles were tense and something wasn't right but all he could think about was her and her eyes and her brokenness. How he wanted (needed, perhaps) to be the one to help her put herself back together.
And when she saw his tears, immediately her walls dipped slightly down, allowing her the teensiest hint of curiosity. And perhaps even a touch of concern.
"When you were with Henry..." she began, voice trailing slightly as her eyes bore into him, trying still so fervently to add him up, "You... Stole a ship?" For the first time since the incident her eyes met his without that terrible distrust. She was clever, and he could see her adding it all up as her eyes softened all the way. "You... gave up the Jolly Roger?"
He didn't want to tell her, not ever. But his head spun and her eyes were pleading and it was all bloody useless.
"Aye," he nodded once, ever so slightly, and watched her brow furrow and her entire expression mix to awe and confusion and her shoulders slump forward, minutely, towards him. "I had to trade something to escape the curse," he added as what he hoped was a gentle explanation, "To save your family... To return to you."
The way her eyes met his, open and disbelieving, her head tilted just a hair, lips parted, sent his heart thudding into his chest. There was something hovering on the tip of her tongue but she held it there, taking an ever-so-hesitant step towards him.
It felt like his heart seized within him and he nearly toppled forward, stopped only by Emma's gentle hand clutching his shoulder, then another to his shirt where his heart raced frantically behind his chest.
"Killian?" the tone of her voice was more even more desperate than panicked as her nails dug into his chest, above his heart, then pressed cautiously to his forehead, his cheek. Under any other circumstances he'd be enjoying the scenario immensely, but he could hardly bloody breath. "Oh God, you're burning up..."
"I'm fine-" he began to lie through clenched teeth, but another jolt of pain shook him and she practically held him upright.
"You are not fine!" she shot back, nose flaring and eyes flashing, "How long have you been sick? We have medicine, you idiot!"
"I'm perfectly aware of medications, love," he snarked half-heartedly, unable to force the joke to his eyes as the inevitable truth pressed in on him.
And he truly did know better than to hide anything from her now.
"It began when she cursed me."
Her bright eyes darkened, and fluttered softly closed, and his stomach twisted anxiously.
"So..." she said carefully, voice only just reaching his ears, more to herself than him, "Double edged sword."
"I did say I'd kill people she loved, didn't I, pirate?" the witch's sudden voice drifted from behind Emma, and she whirled to face the green nightmare, planting herself firmly in front of him.
If he had enough strength he would've stepped in front of her-he wanted to step in front of her- but he could hardly hold his own weight.
"I'm rather curious where you've gathered your intel from, lass, as I'm quite certain the last person in this bloody town she'd give up her magic for is me," he spat it through a tight lipped smile, the only thing he could manage, and tried to ignore the way Emma tensed and his brain fogged over.
The witch only smirked, eyes glistening.
"We'll have to see then, won't we?" she trained her gaze on Emma, "What do you value more, dear?" she asked with faux innocence, "Your magic?" she raised a single eyebrow, "Or... your pirate?"
He hardly had time to even evaluate her words before a final, raging jolt of pain raced through him and set him off balance, mind swimming... and everything went black.
Emma felt Killian going down behind her and turned on instinct, falling to her knees and reaching to catch his head as he collapsed. Her cold knees stung on contact with the hard ground but she captured his dark tresses just in time, inadvertently cradling him near to her. His breathing was heavy and bated and slow, and he was out cold and her own head was beginning to spin.
He was so pale and his dark hair stuck to his sweaty forehead, and how had he been this way all week and how had she not even noticed?
"Well, savior?" the witch prodded with a self-satisfied smirk. She hadn't made a single move since appearing. She didn't have to. She set up all her damn chess pieces to fall perfectly in place.
Emma looked back to Killian. His face seemed to have paled even further in the few seconds she'd looked away, and his breathing was painstaking, chest heaving softly.
He'd given up everything for her.
He was prepared even to give up his life.
"Do you know what it's like to be home, Zelena?" she finally asked gently, not taking her eyes off of the man whose head she cradled ever so cautiously in her hands. She didn't wait for an answer to follow the witch's indignant stuttering, "Because... I didn't."
She thought of Tallahassee, and how desperately her heart had ached to make a home with Neal, to create something artificial that never, never would fill the hole in her heart. She thought of Killian, sacrificing his damn home entirely.
She finally looked up at the witch, not even attempting to mask the tears in her eyes.
"I found my home, Zelena," she shuffled her knees slightly and tangled her fingers further into Killian's hair, struggling to anchor herself. "I found my parents. Friends. My son," her voice caught at the image of Henry's bright eyes and laughing face, and her stomach flipped, "Real, true people who love me and care about me. People who I love and care about," a semi-deranged laugh choked out of her, "I don't care what you do to us- as long as we're alive we will find each other. You can't destroy love, you can't exploit love as weakness because love is the strongest thing out there. And I sound like a goddamn lunatic, God, if I could hear myself," another teary-eyed laugh, and Killian's breath was getting shallower and her heart was racing harder and it was now or never.
She leaned down towards Killian and tried to ignore the frantic fluttering of her heart, the hardly contained gleeful giggles of the witch, the way the breath hardly escaped between his just-parted lips.
"I don't need New York," she told him softly as she met his chapped lips cautiously, not allowing herself to think, struggling to contain her racing heart and mind. At first her insides thudded into her chest, sure it hadn't worked. There was a moment of fevered panic where she kissed him harder, more frantically.
Not a moment later he gasped into her mouth, and a white hot breeze lifted her hair gently. The witch screamed as it hit her, and Emma heard a faint pop that had to be her retreat. But she was too busy staring into terrified blue eyes (living, blinking, sparkling, blue eyes) to give the witch even the faintest attention.
"Emma," he squinted at her, brow furrowing, putting everything together, "Emma!" he repeated with more fervor, when he assuredly realized exactly what had gone down while he was out. He sat abruptly back upright, and Emma reluctantly released his silky tresses. They stuck up every which way and she found herself reveling in their messy perfection, in the age old creases in his weathered forehead, in his spiced scent and in everything else that was just him.
"I still have my magic," she assured him as a slight side thought, flicking a playful breath of air through his hair with a twitch of her finger, knowing she should probably be more worried, more serious, but she felt as if every weight in the world had been simultaneously lifted off of her.
His eyes finally softened, as he studied her own cautious but loose demeanor, and the corner of his lip twitched ever so slightly as he reached out to cradle her jaw gently, thumb caressing her cheek lightly. She felt herself lean into him gently, and his eyes glistened.
"About New York, love...?" he allowed his voice to pointedly trail off.
"I'm home," she assured him, and then leaned in, brushing noses and tasting his breath (that kept coming and coming, alive alive alive); to kiss his away his ridiculous grin.