A/N: And here we have the epic conclusion to this strange little story, which was, admittedly, a little rough around the edges, being the mostly 3am ramblings of an insomniac bartender, and a flimsy excuse to try out writing from Killian POV. I have a few more things in the pipeline, so if you like Killian Jones vs. The Modern World, or snarky crime capers, or snarkier bartenders, you should follow me maybe. And if you're lucky, they are actually going to be re-read during daylight hours prior to posting. For quality control, like.
I also accept prompts that appeal to me, if you send me nice PMs. Don't be shy.
If this was the life that Tinker Bell was so eager to return to, Killian was seriously reconsidering his opinion of the fairy's intelligence. That was Killian's first thought, as he considered the darkened atrium before him.
The convent building was imposing at the best of times, standing as it did on a hill above the rest of of Storybrooke, from where it could cast a shadow of moral indignation down on the townsfolk. But this evening, cloaked as it was in darkness in the wake of the Shadow's attack on the power supply, there was a definite pall of malice about the place.
Killian Jones did not scare easily.
But that did not mean he was one to foolishly ignore his own instincts either.
Far from it.
They'd served him quite well over the centuries. Whereas countless members of his crew had fallen victim to the sword, or poison, or Neverland's dark enchantments, he'd emerged virtually unscathed from every dangerous encounter, stubbornly refusing to die until he saw his vengeance through.
At that very moment, he heard distant screams echoing down a nearby corridor, and every instinct told him that no good would come from this place.
Despite the gloom, Emma must have caught the flash of hesitance on his face in the dull light of her torch, because she brushed past him, flicking her golden tresses back to look at him, quirking a single eyebrow in challenge. "Scared?"
"Because nothing eases the nerves so much as following a malevolent spirit into a darkened cloister with naught but a candle in a coconut..." he drawled, letting an eyebrow of his own rise to meet her challenge.
"If you want to wait outside, me and ..." She still seemed to be having trouble using the name, "... Tinker Bell can manage without you..." She dipped her head in the direction of the fairy, who came to stand by Killian's elbow, clutching said coconut tightly in her hands.
Tink cocked her head to the side, watching them both with a poorly disguised trace of amusement on her face. With a huff of annoyance, he drew his sword from its scabbard and struck the desired pose, squaring his chin defiantly.
"After you, Swan," he motioned forward with his sword, giving a small bow. He could have sworn he saw the hint of a victorious smile play across Emma's face, before she turned away from him, hitting her torch with the heel of her hand as it began flickering erratically. After a few moments, it blinked out entirely, Tink letting out a small moan, Emma an exasperated groan.
His reading had made mention of the concept of batteries, but had somehow neglected to mention how fitful they could be. After a few dire moments, where Killian reconsidered a retreat, columns of white light appeared from between Emma fingers, as she conjured an orb of light in the palm of her hand. When she opened her hand again, it rose steadily in front of them, bathing the room in light, illuminating the way. He heard Emma make a small hiss of triumph, before she waved a hand back urging them to follow, and ducking down the same passage from whence the screams had just come.
So Killian found himself doing something he'd found himself doing rather a lot since that fateful day he'd first been tied to a tree all those months ago in The Enchanted Forest. He squared his shoulders, raised his sword, and followed Emma Swan into certain danger.
How Emma came to be patrolling the darkened corridors of the fairy convent with Captain Hook and Tinker Bell in tow, searching for a demonic spirit under the sway of Rumpelstiltskin, was just another in a long list of things that made her think the universe really did have a sense of humor.
They had a plan. Or, the rough sketch of a plan, anyway. It was improvised, and sloppy, like all of their plans, and it was the best they were gonna get. But unfortunately, it had meant splitting up. If they were going to stop this, they were going to need to play to their strengths.
Regina was the shock and awe. Her job was to try to draw Gold out into the open, using her magic to pin him down and distract him. David and Mary Margaret were the hearts and minds. They would try to sway Neal and Belle into helping talk the Dark One down, if he hadn't already managed to section them off. If anyone stood a chance, it was surely his wife and son. And if they happened to glean the location of the dagger, that wouldn't be the most terrible thing... And Henry? Henry was safe.
Whereas Hook, Tinker Bell and Emma? They were the hunting party.
Not that it had been so hard to hunt the Shadow down, exactly. All you had to do was follow the screams. Which had led them right into the heart of the fairy convent, which was much creepier in the dark than Emma had ever given it credit for. She'd never really been a big fan of institutions, which probably wasn't a big shocker, considering her upbringing, but this place gave her the heebie jeebies, even if she did have her trusty ball of light leading the way.
That and the somewhat comforting presence of Captain Hook beside her, though she'd never tell him that.
She hadn't been super into the splitting up idea at first, especially not when she found out which team she would playing for. Her and Hook still hadn't cleared the air since Neal's revelations, and he was definitely acting cagey. A lingering awkwardness which only compounded when Tinker Bell joined the team.
Apparently she had been using the coconut as a night-light of sorts. Though she hadn't liked it there all that much, the familiar constellations of Neverland's skies seemed to be a consolation when projected against the ceiling of her strange room at Granny's. Emma could get that. Floral bedspreads and lemon-scented soap were certainly a far cry from her tree house.
How Hook had known about that was not something Emma wanted to examine too closely. Or at all. She was a strong believer in self-preservation. Which is also why, despite the awkward, there was something strangely calming about having a fairy tale villain with a hook for a hand standing beside you, ready to dole out punishment on your behalf.
"What makes you so certain the Crocodile is behind this, Swan?" Came the hushed voice of said fairy tale villain, as he leaned in close.
She slowed her pace a little, but didn't take her eyes off the corridor ahead. Whereas the others had taken her at her word, she supposed she should have expected that Hook wouldn't go along with the others just because. But he also knew better than anyone what Gold was capable of.
She folded her arms over her chest."You're the last person I would expect to give Gold the benefit of the doubt."
"Aye, and though I can't say I'm thrilled his turning over a new leaf didn't take, I'm not surprised. But what proof do you have that he is the one controlling the Shadow? The man's too cunning to be caught if he doesn't wish to be." Said by a man with no small amount of experience in the matter.
"That's just it," Emma found herself whispering back, "There is no concrete evidence. That's the point. But all of the weird crap that's been happening in town lately, I don't think it's just the normal Storybrooke chaos. It's too... neat."
She paused finally to face him directly, the both of them blocking the corridor. He was close, closer, than she thought, and she didn't find any of the doubt she expected to be sewn across his face. Instead, his look reminded her uncomfortably of Henry when she'd told him the lie about Neal being a firefighter, who'd died heroically in a building fire. His expression was neutral, his eyes fixed on hers expectantly. Ready to trust. And for a moment, it scared her, a lump building in her throat which she tried to swallow down.
"The... the attacks seem random, with no real connection between them. But that's the problem. That's not how problems work. They build. They spill over. They snowball into larger problems. They don't just appear like a flash in a pan for no reason."
"Granted. Things in Storybrooke have hardly been peaceful of late. But why is the Crocodile your chief suspect?"
"You mean beside the fact that he loves manipulating people for his own ends?" Emma let that one sink in for a moment, with an arched eyebrow for good measure. Who could forget that this was a man who spent decades nudging Regina into darkness, just so that she would cast a dark curse, just so that he could hitch a ride to the Land Without Magic?
"There is more," she continued. "You know that Bandersnatch we took down a couple weeks ago?"
He nodded. Tinker Bell, standing a little ways behind them, nodded too. Great. Why were they whispering again?
"It had come through a portal conjured by a magical amulet. An amulet bought from Gold's shop, which it turns out, requires a pretty skilled spell-caster to open. He pleaded ignorance, of course, but it got me thinking." She paused, waiting for the pair of them to give her the go-ahead to continue. A pair of nods.
"I went back through some old files. After the Lost Boys debacle I went to see Sidney, to chew him out over his stupid editorial. But when I confronted him, he barely remembered writing it. Like he'd been compelled or something. I began to wonder if he wasn't just another pawn in a greater game. And the thing with the Cyclops? He'd been roaming the woods for months, totally peaceful. Someone pissed him off and set him on Main Street, and they used just the right amount of leverage to do it."
"And what is the purpose of all this chaos?" Hook ventured, his brow furrowing as he absorbed Emma's theory.
Emma swallowed down another burst of fear. "Henry."
"Henry?" Tinker Bell replied sharply, all pretense at staying quiet completely shot.
"Do you remember the prophecy?" Emma asked. "The one Neal told us about in Neverland?"
"The boy will be his undoing..." Hook recalled, a dark realization creeping into his eyes.
"I thought that having Belle and Neal around would keep him on the straight and narrow. But what if it hasn't? What if it's just reminded him of everything he could stand to lose? So he's created a series of diversions, each bigger than the last. We go out and vanquish the beast, and we leave Henry with a sitter, supervised but virtually unprotected."
She paused again. "I know it's not a lot to go on. But I have to trust my gut. And my gut is telling me Gold is behind this."
"What kind of plan is that?" Tink asked pointedly. "Bae would never forgive the Dark One for killing his son!"
"Aye," agreed Hook. "He wouldn't. But if the lad were to fall victim to some random magical calamity..."
"You believe me?" Emma hated the way her voice had taken on a breathy quality.
"You haven't led me wrong yet, Swan." He gave her a soft smile, and she felt her heart come alive in her chest, at his belief in her. "I say trust your gut."
Encouraged, but eager to avoid those all-seeing eyes of his, Emma turned to resume the Shadow Hunt, but she stopped when she felt a hand suddenly grip her arm. She looked down to where Killian's hand now encircled her wrist.
He leaned in closer, properly whispering again so that she felt the warmth of his breath against her ear. "Please tell me there is more standing between Henry and the Crocodile than Granny and her crossbow."
The concern in his voice was obvious. As much as Hook had fought to save Henry in Neverland, no one had really been under the misapprehension he'd done it out of concern for Henry. Out of respect for Neal, maybe. But she knew there was more to it now. Sometime since Neverland, the two had formed some sort of bond. Now he cared.
She placed a reassuring hand on his own, and he felt his own grip loosen at her touch. "He's safe."
Before she could do something stupid, like link her hand with his, a bloodcurdling scream erupted nearby, making them all jump a little, as they switched back to fighting stance.
"It's coming from the Chapel," Tink said, stepping between them, coconut in hand. "This way."
The three of them burst into the chapel just in time to see the Shadow reach into the chest of a lone Lost Boy, who alternated screaming and weeping as his Shadow was being forcibly ripped from his body.
Killian felt a phantom burst of pain in his chest, remembering the feeling all too well, as he stepped forward to call out the creature, to give the boy an opportunity to escape. That was, after all, his role in this little pantomime. To be the diversion. But Emma beat him to it.
"Hey, Casper!" Emma shouted, letting her voice echo across the wooden walls and ceilings. "How about you pick on someone your own size?"
To his relief, the Shadow let go of the boy, who fell back to the floor in a heap, dazed, but alive. But rather than heading towards her, as she no doubt intended, the creature diverted course at the last moment, ducking the swing of Hook's sword as it slammed into him, sending him careening backwards onto the floor, his sword falling from his grip to clatter on the floorboards beside him.
"Emma!" Tink yelled somewhere out of sight. "The candle!"
But if Emma managed to light the candle, Hook wasn't sure. All he saw were a pair of malevolent eyes burning in front of him like amber coals, and all he felt was the icy grip of the Shadow as it reached into his chest.
And then he felt cold. So very, very cold.
The words were far away, garbled. Like the conversations he and Liam tried to have underwater when they were very young, reciting old rhymes back and forth until their breath ran out.
"You son of a bitch! Killian Jones!" He heard that. He knew it was his name. He knew he was supposed to answer, supposed to do something. But he was so cold. Everything was cold.
"Killian! C'mon! Come back to me!"
And then he felt a jolt of warmth in his breast, a warmth that began to spread through his fingers.
His eyes snapped open. The sight that greeted him was not something he could have prepared himself for.
He was where he expected to be, lying uncomfortably on the hard wooden floor of the chapel. But Emma Swan was crouched over him, clutching his hand tightly between both of her own, tear tracks evident on her face, as she let out a strangled gasp. And the ceiling. The ceiling was on fire.
"Swan?" he asked, a little groggily. He tried to sit up, but was knocked back by the force of Emma's weight. A hug. This was a hug.
"Miss me, darling?" He managed to choke out, even with Emma's arms tight around his neck.
The glimpse of the old pirate was apparently enough for Emma to remember herself, as she pulled back to slap him in the chest.
"Easy, love," he winced, sitting up a little before she could slap him again.
"Don't you ever do that again!" The look in her eyes was fierce, and needy, and everything he wanted to see in Emma Swan's eyes. He idly wondered if he was still dreaming. The second slap disabused him of that notion.
"Promise," her voice cracked, and with it, all of the Savior's carefully constructed walls fractured, and Killian saw the Lost Girl underneath. The little girl who didn't matter, and never thought she would.
He reached up to trace the outline of her cheek with his thumb, brushing away a strand of hair that had plastered itself to her forehead, still marveling at their proximity. At the way she was looking at him. As if he was important. As if she cared. "I promise, Swan."
And then Emma Swan's lips were on his, and she was kissing him, and he was kissing her, and he wanted nothing more in the world than to keep that promise. Because why die when there was this?
"I don't mean to interrupt..." Came the familiar voice of a blasted fairy who clearly meant to interrupt.
Reluctantly, eventually, the two broke apart, and Killian craned his neck up to look at Tinker Bell as she stood over them, soot staining her face, a mild look of panic in her eyes. His eyes narrowed.
Undeterred, the fairy simply pointed upwards, drawing their attention back to the flaming ceiling. Ah.
"Yeah. Let's go."
She hadn't meant to set the roof on fire.
She'd been trying to light the freaking candle. And then she'd seen the Shadow go after Hook, and ironically enough, Gold's own words popped into her head. About magic. "Why am I doing this? Who am I protecting?"
Hook. She was protecting Hook.
She lit the candle. But she also unleashed an accidental wave of fireballs. Maybe Tinker Bell would forgive her, in time. Once her eyebrows grew back.
The Shadow was a wily one though, and it did not go gently into that good night. It swept upwards, tearing away Hook's shadow as it went, holding onto the shadow like hostage as it circled the upper vestibule, out of range of the candle's sway.
Emma blinked away the tears that began as she looked back at Hook's form, still lying motionless on the floor. "We need to get closer!" She shouted at Tink, as the fairy held the candle with its flickering candle up to the roof.
It wasn't close enough. And she had no idea what would happen if they trapped Killian's shadow instead.
And then she noticed it. The vial of Pixie Dust still strung around the fairy's neck, glinting now in the firelight. All they needed was to believe.
"You can fly!" Emma yelled. "If you believe enough!" Tinker Bell seemed puzzled for a moment, and then a hand shot up to reach for the vial.
"I can't!" It was so not a time for performance anxiety.
"You can and you will!" Emma chanced another glance at Killian's prone body, an involuntary tear streaking down her face. "I believe in you! He believes in you! He needs you. I know he's important to you. So go save him!"
At last, the fairy's gaze turned determined, and she unscrewed the vial, showering herself in a cloud of Pixie Dust, which briefly sparkled purple against her skin as the magic took hold.
"I believe in myself. I believe in myself. I believe in myself," the fairy chanted to herself like a mantra.
Emma had no idea if it would help, but she clasped her hands together, adding a mantra of her own. "I believe in you. I believe in you. I believe in you."
And then Tinker Bell feet rose from the floor, and her grin turned wicked as she set the Shadow in her sights. It reacted instantly, darting away, only to find the way blocked by a wall of flame. Tink drew closer, candle held aloft, smiling wider still as the Shadow was inexplicably drawn to the tiny flame, still clutching Hook's shadow.
"No you don't," she said, grasping at the hostage shadow with her new-found magic, wrestling it from the Shadow as it weakened, before she pulled it entirely free, and shut the coconut, trapping the Shadow for good. Then without hesitation, she threw the coconut directly into the wall of flame, and the entire thing went up in smoke.
Emma was already by his side by the time Tink's boots were back on the ground, his hand trapped in between her own. His skin was icy cold to the touch, and it didn't inspire confidence.
"Can you even put shadows back once they get ripped out?" Emma asked, at last voicing the greatest fear she'd had since she'd seen him first go limp. "Can we fix it?"
"I don't know," the fairy admitted, still holding she shadow as it squirmed in her arms. "But we're going to try." She cut a glance back to Emma. "Ready?"
Emma felt the warm glow in her palms and she readied herself. "Ready."
On the count of three, Tink returned Hook's shadow to his body, holding it in place with a hand on his chest.
"Concentrate," she advised, her teeth gritted with the effort of keeping the shadow steady. So Emma did. She concentrated on Hook. On Killian. Whole. Alive. Healthy. Alive. Whole. Healthy. Whole. Alive. Healthy.
Whole. Alive. Healthy.
"You son of a bitch! Killian Jones!"
Whole. Alive. Healthy.
The tears were free-flowing now, cascading down her cheeks.
Whole. Alive. Healthy.
"Killian! C'mon! Come back to me!"
And then he opened his eyes.
If Killian had noticed that Emma hadn't let go of his hand since he'd woken up, then he was too polite to mention it. That left Tinkerbell to scoop up the stray Lost Boy as they headed out, before the ceiling could collapse on top of them.
The Blue Fairy was going to be pretty pissed about that.
Surely Emma could blame that one on the Shadow. Just a little white lie. Just this once.
Back on the streets of Storybrooke, everything looked almost ordinary, if you didn't count the lack of street lighting. Granny's back-up generator had kicked in though, with the neon lighting in the window acting as a beacon as they strolled down the middle of the darkened street. With her cell phone out of juice, Emma led their group in that direction, knowing that it would be a cold day in hell before Granny ever let the place remain undefended during a crisis.
Sure enough, when they stumbled inside, it was to find all of the usual suspects sprawled across Granny's vinyl seating, the woman herself sat by the door, crossbow in hand.
"Emma!" David stood up from his booth, rushing forward to envelop her in a hug. "We tried to call you-" Emma finally let go of Killian's hand to wrap her arms around her father. Her mother was right behind, pulling her into her arms.
When they broke apart, Emma pulled her phone from her pocket, to indicate the dead screen. "I think the Shadow has bad battery mojo. The torch died too." She looked around, taking in the battle weary faces around her. Her parents. Ruby. Regina. Neal.
When her eyes fell on Henry, she knew it was over.
There was no way Regina would have let him out if they hadn't won. She stumbled towards him, pulling him to her with a fierce hug.
"Gold's gone?" She asked to no one in particular, once her son had broken free to get another milkshake, even though she knew the answer.
"It was Belle." It was Neal, rising from a seat in the back, his eyes drifting, as if he wasn't sure he was allowed to look at her. "She got a hold of the dagger. And she... and she sent him across the town line." His eyes finally settled on Emma's own. "Without the scarf."
So he was gone. And he didn't have his memories.
"And Belle?" She wasn't part of the diner contingent.
It was Ruby who spoke next. "She's upstairs. I gave her some Ambien and she conked right out. She was kind of a wreck." Emma could imagine. Being betrayed hurts. But being betrayed by the person you love most in the world destroys you. But she still made the hard choice, and saved them all.
Her eyes flickered back to Neal. He looked sad, but certainly not inconsolable over the loss of his father. But perhaps he had already resigned himself to that loss a long time ago.
"And the Shadow?" Neal prompted, though that also seemed obvious, considering that they'd all come back a bit charred, but otherwise alive.
"Tinker Bell," Emma smiled back at the fairy, who had collapsed into one of the booths, and was trying to coax the Lost Boy to eat a sandwich. "She used the Pixie Dust and trapped the shadow. Threw the coconut in the fire. It's gone." The grin he shot her was weary, but pleased.
"Alas, so is the chapel roof. It seems someone may have been a little overzealous when it came to lighting the candle..." Killian appeared beside Emma, lifting his hand to gently trace against hers, as if she was going to pull away at any moment. Instead, she linked her hand with his, pulling him closer to her side.
It was not an action that went unnoticed. She heard her mother's sharp intake of breath, and she saw Ruby's sly smile across the room. But Neal's reaction was the one Killian had dreaded, so she kept her eyes on him. To his credit, his mouth dropped open a second, but he closed it again quickly.
"Well," he said, reaching forward to ruffle their son's hair. "I won't tell the Blue Fairy if you won't."
In the wake of the Shadow's attack and Gold's banishment, the town hall had been re-purposed into a evacuation center of sorts, once Regina had restored the town's power supply. It made an odd contrast, the white streamers and banners and fairy lights celebrating a new Royal Baby playing host to a contingent of displaced fairies and Lost Boys on standard issue sleeping cots. Not exactly the occasion Mary Margaret had dreamed of, though she seemed to be in her element now, doling out ladles of soup and offering small words of consolation.
Emma and Killian stood off to the side, watching Tinker Bell's last ditch effort to return to the Blue Fairy's good graces. She'd saved the day, and managed to make the Pixie Dust work, but they still stood by, just in case she needed a glowing reference or two. But if the delighted shrieking and hugging going down with the fairies was any indication, then Tink would have her wings back in no time.
"It's a damn shame," Killian sighed, pulling Emma to him, swaying on the spot to imaginary music. With the fairy lights twinkling above them, she could almost believe it.
"She could have been the Harbormaster's Assistant. And she threw it all away-" Emma swatted him on the shoulder.
"Speaking of Harbormasters, where have you been?"
"Been?" He shot her a puzzled glance.
"For the last two weeks?" She was surprised to find his ears turn pink in front of her very eyes.
"Well, lass, that is a very fascinating story." His hand came up to scratch behind his ear, betraying his nervousness.
"And I'd like to hear it," she teased, swaying into him.
"Well, the truth is, I..." He met her gaze finally. "I thought you'd reconciled with Neal and I drank every bottle of spirits in Granny's very poorly hidden stash."
"Oh." That made... some sense.
"I may be in the Widow Lucas's debt for quite some time. There were... a lot of bottles."
"You're an idiot."
"Aye," he smiled without really smiling. "That I am."
"I thought you knew how I felt about Neal. When we talked at the Sheriff's Station?"
"Aye, but part of you was still considering it." Only a very small part.
"He told me, you know." His face remained blank. "Neal. He told me that you'd decided to be stupidly noble. That you promised him you'd back off."
"Ahh." Another ear scratch. "You weren't supposed to hear about that."
Emma took a steadying breath, and posed the question she'd been waiting months to ask. "Did you stay in Storybrooke for me?"
When she pulls Killian's lips to hers that time, it isn't followed by his usual initial freeze of surprise. And it is definitely not a one-time thing.
"Speaking of staying in Storybrooke," she interrupted, breaking the kiss. "How about a promotion?"
"Love, has anyone ever told you that your timing is god awful?" She smiled, letting her head rest against his chest and they continued swaying on the spot.
"I don't know, I think you'd make a good Deputy." He swayed to a stop, and she felt his hook under her chin, forcing her to look in his eyes.
"Let me see if I have this right. You're offering me a career in... enforcing the law? Rather than... flouting it?" He looked genuinely confused.
"I once promised you a chance to be a part of something. That doesn't have to end. Storybrooke is always going to need some kind of saving. And I need help. David did a good job of stepping up while I was stuck in the Enchanted Forest, but he's got... other concerns right now."
"And by that you mean your future sibling." Emma frowned a little. Killian didn't press the matter.
"And you think a one-handed pirate with a drinking problem is the answer?"
"You're not..." She started again. "You're smart, you've got great instincts, and not afraid of a fight. Moreover, we work well together, and occasionally, you listen to me."
"And they are the only reasons you wish to keep me close by? Hmmm?"
Emma shrugged. "I've gotten used to having you around. And you're not the worst company in the world," she conceded, her voice growing smaller with each word.
"Don't strain yourself with the praise, Swan," he pretended at being wounded by her words, but the twitch of his lip gave him away.
"Are you asking me to stay, love?"
"Well then," he said, raising one arm to twirl her on the spot, before bowing deeply. "As you wish."