The characters (and a few snippets of dialogue) aren't mine, but I thought 4.12 was missing a whole lot of resolution between Emma and Killian. This is my version of what happened after the clock tower.
"Swan, a little help here?" Killian looked from her to his heart, still cradled in his hand.
"Not here. I can't… not here." Emma looked at the spot where Killian had been kneeling a bit ago, minutes away from having his heart crushed, and blanched. All she could see was the image of him there and the hopelessness she had felt, unable to do anything to save him. What kind of savior was she if she couldn't even save the people she cared about the most? "God, not here."
Killian cocked his eyebrow at the flash of terror he saw pass her eyes and the paler than normal cast of her skin. He realized what she was seeing and remembered how many years it took for him to even be able to look at the spot on the Jolly Rodger where Milah had been taken from him. His eyes softened.
"OK, love. Not here."
They walked back to Granny's, side by side, Hook cradling his heart in his hand, his other arm across Emma's shoulders. Emma's arms were folded across her chest and she looked at the ground the whole way, lost in her thoughts, seemingly unaware that he was watching her. He noticed that she was folding in on herself, almost shying from his touch, and he was worried about what was going through her mind. It was moments like this where he missed his hand the most. He wanted nothing more than to tilt her chin up so he could look in her eyes and find out what she was thinking, or hold her hand and rub his thumb across her knuckles in comfort.
"Love, are you –"
"Not now," she hissed, tilting her head towards Mary Margaret who was following close behind them.
"As you wish, love. We'll talk once we're alone then."
"I don't… I can't talk, Killian. Please don't make me talk about this yet," she pleaded, sounding almost panicked.
She shrugged off his arm and walked ahead, trying to get a handle on everything she was feeling, trying to make sense of the whirl of emotions going through her. She was on the edge of losing it completely and it was taking everything in her just to hold it together. Time… she needed time and space and just a few fucking minutes to think, a few minutes to not be the savior, to not be the calm, rational one, a few minutes to be alone. But she didn't want to hurt him, and if she said anything right then, she was going to say things she'd regret. She was scared, yes, but most of all in that moment, she was angry. So angry. She was angry at Gold, sure, but rightfully or wrongfully, she was furious at Killian too. And the more she thought about it, the angrier she got. How could he have gotten himself into that situation? She knew in her gut that it had everything to do with his fucking hand and its sudden appearance and equally as sudden disappearance. The hand that didn't matter one whit to her, but somehow made him think he was less than. How could he be so stupid? How?
She tried to breathe and refocus her thoughts, reminding herself that she should be grateful she still had him with her. He was there, he was alive - it wasn't fair to take all of her anger out on him. She couldn't think about what could have happened. As she walked, a mental cadence of he's here; he's okay matched her steps, calming her slightly.
She marched through Granny's diner without stopping to speak with anyone, intent on finding a private spot to take care of Killian's heart. She was in the back hallway, on her way to the B&B, when his hook gently circled her wrist, stopping her in her tracks.
"Emma?" He looked at her quizzically and she could see him trying to read her as he always did. She looked away quickly before he could see too much.
"You want to do this here? I can't say it's the most sanitary, but it's your heart-"
"And I'd like it back where it should be, love." He smiled at her gently, still trying to get a read on what was going on.
She silently held out her hands to take his heart. As she cradled it in front of her, she realized she was holding what was most important to her in the world other than Henry. She gazed down at it, taking in how it was mostly red and pure. Even the small black spots didn't bother her as they made Killian the man he was, made him the man she loved. And although that thought scared her – and it absolutely terrified her – she knew deep in her soul how true it was. She loved him and she almost lost him and… no. She wasn't going to think about that right now. She wasn't going to breakdown. She took a deep breath. He's here; he's okay.
"Just be gent-… ohh!"
Emma meant to put his heart back gently, but as she started to push it in, the anger she had been tamping down flared up, and she ended up being a little more forceful than she had originally intended. She frowned, partly because she hurt him, and partly because the anger was still there. What was wrong with her that it wasn't enough that he was okay? She scrambled to come up with something, anything to explain what she'd done.
"Sorry. I just thought if I did it quickly, it'd be like ripping off a - "
As soon as his heart was back in his chest, all of Killian's love for Emma, everything that had been missing since Gold yanked it from his chest, came flooding back. He grabbed her and put all of that love into a kiss, hoping to make her see exactly how he felt. He rested his forehead against hers.
"I told you, Swan. I'm a survivor."
He leaned in to kiss her again, this time more gently. It quickly grew into something more urgent and desperate. As the feelings behind the kiss intensified, so did all of the other emotions Emma had been feeling since finding him with Gold. The last thing Killian said echoed in her ear and her anger and fear came rushing back. I'm a survivor. But he almost wasn't. She almost lost him like she did everyone in her life and she just couldn't… couldn't lose him, couldn't face it, couldn't do anything right then but run.
"I can't… I can't do this right now. I can't be with you right now. I need time… please, just give me time. I can't… It's too much…" She held in a sob as she backed away and stalked back into the diner, swallowing down her tears and putting the mask of calm back on her face.
"Swan! SWAN! Emma… please…" he called after her. He was hurt, confused, and didn't understand why she was running from him again. He couldn't believe that he had his heart back for mere minutes before she was breaking it yet again.
Emma spotted Regina at the counter and changed course, no longer intent on leaving. She knew Killian wouldn't come over if he saw her with Regina, but he would certainly follow her outside if she tried to escape. Regina was one of maybe two other people in town at that moment who was in as much pain as she, so Emma sat down on the stool next to her, intent on drinking away all of the emotions she had swirling inside. She knew she hurt Killian by running… again… but she needed to think. Or, actually, not to think… or feel or anything tonight so she could calm down and think rationally tomorrow.
Of course, because she was the savior, she couldn't even have that. Henry rushed in and led her and Regina to the library of blank storybooks that he had found. After sending Henry home with Regina, she headed back to the loft and tried to sleep even though it was still early. Every time she closed her eyes, however, she was back in the clock tower, watching Gold crush Killian's heart. Every time, no matter what happened, no matter how early they got there, she had to watch Killian die, watch his heart turn to dust. Every time she was jerked awake with her heart pounding and tears streaming down her face. And every time it happened, she longed for his arms to be around her, to comfort her, to remind her that he was there and fine. But of course he wasn't there and she was the only one to blame. She had run just like she always did. He just got his heart back, and she had immediately trampled all over it as she had so many times before. The guilt effortlessly joined the tangle of emotions that had been gnawing at her, and she knew she wasn't going to sleep any time soon.
She looked at the clock and realized the diner was just about to close. Maybe her original plan for the night was the way to go. She texted Ruby and asked her to keep the door open until she got there. Being sheriff had its privileges – there had been other nights where Ruby had let her escape to the diner, trusting her to lock up once she was done. She just wanted some peace and quiet and a drink or two without any questions from her parents or anyone else. And she assured herself that her choice of Granny's had absolutely nothing to do with the pirate currently sleeping at the adjoining B&B. It wasn't so that she could feel close to him without actually talking to him or dealing with everything that had happened and all she was feeling. No, the pirate had nothing to do with this.
"Hey girl. Want company?" Ruby asked as Emma slid onto a stool.
"No, I'm good. Just need some quiet time away from the folks." Emma plastered on a smile, hoping it would fool the wolf.
Ruby placed the bottle of rum on the counter.
"Um, no, actually… could I have whiskey tonight?" Emma couldn't do rum tonight. Rum was Killian and pirate kisses and being at the top of a beanstalk and adventures at sea. Rum was cocked eyebrows and innuendo and bright, blue eyes that softened when they read her like an open book. Rum was everything she almost lost and everything she never knew she needed. She couldn't deal with all of the thoughts and memories rum brought. Not that night.
Ruby tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at her friend who was looking down at the counter. She could smell the tears threatening to escape Emma's eyes but knew there was nothing she could do for her. She did know who could, however.
"OK, well lock up when you're done. Call me and we can have a night out – we haven't done that in forever."
"'Night, Ruby. And thanks." Emma hated how weak her voice sounded, hated that her friend could hear the tremor in her voice.
"Anytime, girl. If you can't trust the sheriff to lock up, who can you trust?" With that, Ruby headed through the door to the B&B and quietly went up the stairs. She gently tapped on a door at the top, which quickly flew open.
"Swan? I… oh. Hello, lass. What can I do for you this fine evening?" Killian waggled his eyebrows at Ruby, but his attempt at bravado did nothing to mask the sadness she saw in his eyes.
"You can go downstairs and take care of your girl, Hook. She acts like she wants to be alone, but I don't think she should be."
"Emma is… downstairs?" The hurt and disappointment he felt was overwhelming. He wasn't sure what to do, whether he should go downstairs or leave her be. Obviously, she hadn't come up to his room, so maybe she didn't want to see him. She had run from him, after all. But the lass was here when she could have gone elsewhere and that was something, aye?
Ruby rolled her eyes at the pirate standing there, obviously lost in his thoughts. "Well? What are you waiting for?" With that, she turned around and headed back down the stairs, mumbling about idiots as she went.
After he went down to the diner, he stood in the doorway and watched Emma for a few minutes. Her shoulders were hunched in again, and she was staring into an empty glass. He could tell the moment she realized she wasn't alone – her entire body tensed.
"Ruby, really. I want to be alone right now. Please."
"Oh it's not Ruby, love."
Emma spun around on her stool to face him, first shock and then a multitude of other emotions flitted past her eyes, too fast for even him to get a read before the mask came back. He hated that mask, hated when she blocked him out, hated when she ran from him, whether it was physically or emotionally. And here she was doing it for the third time that night. He started walking slowly towards her.
"What I don't understand, Swan, is why you even bothered to put my heart back if you were just going to stomp on it moments later? One minute you're kissing me and the next you're running away again. It would have been easier if you had just put my heart on a shelf somewhere while you worked through whatever it is that's bothering you this time than to put me through this."
She stood and he could see the cold fury in her eyes. "Your heart? Your heart?! What about my heart, Killian? Huh? What about mine? How do you think it felt to watch you almost die, to be frozen in place and not able to do anything? How much do you think that hurt? Don't talk to me about your heart hurting right now. I just wanted to calm down, wanted to think, wanted to fucking breathe for just one night. One night! Why couldn't you have given me time to just fucking be, to not say something to you that I would regret? You have no idea how much my heart hurt tonight, so don't you dare. DON'T YOU DARE try to come in here talking to me about hurting your heart.
"I'm so angry with you right now! You promised me! You said you were good at surviving; you said I didn't have to worry. I trusted you not to leave me, and you almost did, Killian! You. Almost. Left. Me. And the idea of you not here with me hurts so much I can't stand it. I'm so angry and I don't know whether to kiss you or punch you or what I'm supposed to do right now." She started shoving him as she started to cry. "I hate you, Killian Jones. I hate you. I hate that you made me think I might not be alone anymore. I hate that you made me believe you. I hate that you made me fall in love with you. I almost watched you die, Killian. I hate you so much for that right now."
With her next attempt at shoving him, he grabbed her and held her close. She struggled for a moment before collapsing against him, sobs wracking her body, her tears dampening his shirt.
"Shhhhh, Emma. I've got you. I'm right here, love. I'm right here." He held her tight and kept whispering reassurances and apologies in her ear as she broke down in his arms. She was right, he hadn't thought about how she must have been feeling. He was so used to his brave Swan that he didn't think about what all of this had done to her. Eventually, he felt her sobs quiet and her body started to relax against him, her total exhaustion taking over. He moved slightly to lean back and look in her eyes, but she clung tightly to his shirt and whimpered at the minute distance he had started to put between them.
"OK, love. OK. I won't let go." He quickly thought about his options, knowing how desperately she needed to rest but that she also still needed to be reassured that he wasn't going anywhere. He kept one arm behind her back and placed the other behind her knees, lifting her until she was cradled against his chest. She gazed at him with watery eyes and tear stained cheeks, before resting her head on his shoulder.
Killian's heart ached at the amount of pain he saw in Emma's eyes. Not only did he see his broken Swan when she looked at him, but also the three year old Emma who was sent back to foster care after she thought she found a home; the child and teenager who had bounced around group homes, never landing anywhere permanent, never feeling loved; the young woman who was deserted by the man she thought she could trust; the unselfish new mother who gave up her child so he could have the best chance no matter how much it hurt her; and the savior who watched another man she cared about die in the way he almost had. His Swan, who still carried all of that past hurt and fear with her every day, masking it from everyone as much as she could. Somehow she had survived it all and continued to live with the lingering weight it placed on her.
Even with all of that awful history that had built a fortress around her heart, she had found it in her to love and trust him and that simple fact took his breath away. It would take time, but he would prove to her that he wasn't going to leave and hopefully that would help heal all of the past Emmas and their old, still raw wounds. But that night, the only thing he could think to do was stay with her and hold her while she slept.
He carried her up the stairs to his room and placed her on his bed. He started to move away slightly in order to try to make her more comfortable, but the moment he did, Emma looked at him with pure panic in her eyes.
"No. No! Don't leave me!"
He held her to him once more. "Shhhhh, Emma. I'm not leaving you. I'm just going to make you more comfortable so we can get some rest, love. Can I do that? I'll be right here the whole time, I swear to you, lass. I'm not going anywhere."
She hesitated for a moment before he felt her nod slightly.
He took off her jacket and then quickly unzipped and removed her boots, murmuring reassurances to her the whole time. She watched him silently, her eyes slightly fearful but mostly shining with spent tears and pure exhaustion. After asking if she wanted to take her jeans off to be more comfortable, she nodded, still not speaking. She undid the button and zipper, and he gently lowered them until he could peel them off of her legs. It was almost as if he was undressing a small, sleepy child, all loose limbs and sluggish movements. Then he gently guided her under the covers before quickly stripping down to his boxer briefs, removing his hook, and then sliding in on the other side. As soon as he did, she molded her body to his, wanting to be as close to him as possible. Her head was on his shoulder, tucked into his neck, her body half on top of his with her hand on his chest, directly over his heart. He held her close while he stroked her hair and continued to murmur reassurances as he felt her breathing slow.
As she drifted off to sleep, feeling truly safe and protected for the first time in her life, she heard him whisper quietly, "I love you too, Swan."
So much thanks and love to Jo, Deb, Linz, and Kitty who preread. And Carrie ZM has my complete adoration because, first of all, she's all things awesome about finding friends through fandoms, but also manages to beta this stuff after I write her crazypants explanations. And she does it with kindness and without flat out laughing at me. I never wrote creatively before dipping my toe in the fic waters a few years ago, and I couldn't do it without the love and support of these ladies as well as all of my "pocket" friends (to shamelessly steal Dolly's term). I'm a lucky, lucky girl.