The six of them stood in the middle of main street, staring at each other.
"I think that has to be the fastest resolution to a crisis in the history of Storybrooke," Regina remarked dryly.
"It's definitely a record of some kind," Snow agreed. "One minute we're holding a dagger and calling The Dark One, and then poof! Killian kisses her and the curse is broken."
"True love with a pirate," David said with a sigh. "Never saw that coming."
Regina and Snow gave him an incredulous look while Killian looked affronted.
"Did you miss the part where I broke the bloody curse?"
"Calm down," Emma said, putting her head on his shoulder. "He's just mad there wasn't anyone to rescue. He's got a hero complex."
"Well, I think we've had enough turmoil for one night," Robin said. "And Regina and I have plans for the evening."
"We do?" She arched a brow.
"Little John is watching Roland for the evening," he said.
Regina looked over her shoulder as he pulled her along toward her car. "We have plans," she said. Her lips twitched as she realized she was moments away from giggling like a schoolgirl.
Snow smiled as she watched them go. "We need to get back to Henry and Neal," she said, slipping an arm around David.
"What would you like to do with this?" David asked, holding up the dagger and looking at Emma.
"Give it to Henry," Emma suggested. "It's just an old dagger now. He keeps talking about making a museum with some of the cooler stuff in Gold's shop."
David nodded. "Would you like us to take Henry home?'
Emma looked up at Killian, then back to David. "Please," she said. "And don't wait up."
David heaved another sigh as Snow pulled him along, with a murmured, "David...now is not the time..."
Killian turned Emma in his arms, putting his forehead down to hers.
"Promise me you'll never frighten me like that again," he begged. "Ever."
She closed her eyes, feeling a shiver pass down her spine as she remembered the pull of the darkness, the vortex sucking her in, the complete alien-ness of being in her own skin when they summoned her.
But it had only taken a moment for her to see Killian. To see him, and to love him, and to feel his love in return.
He kissed her lingeringly, cradling her face in his hand. Emma slid her arms up around his neck as the kiss lengthened, growing in intensity until it was soon to become out-of-hand.
Killian pulled away, breathing harshly. "Perhaps we should find a little more privacy," he suggested.
"That's the second-best idea you've had tonight," she said.
Snow settled her head into the crook of David's neck with a sigh and pulled the bedcovers up around them.
"What a day," she said.
"One for the record books," David agreed. "My wife and daughter both went dark, and my grandson and a pirate saved the day."
"Even when everything was wrong around us, we still managed to stay together," Snow pointed out.
"I didn't have much choice," David reminded her. "You had me enslaved, remember?'
"And what woman wouldn't?" she asked. "You were so...dark and brooding."
"And you were so...wicked," he answered. "I kind of liked it."
She raised her head to look at him. "Really?"
"I wouldn't want you that way all the time," he qualified. "But it was kind of fun."
"And I liked you in tight black leather," she said, narrowing her eyes. "I'd be happy to order you around anytime."
David sucked in a breath. "Snow..."
He broke into a surprised grin as she pushed him on his back.
"Ow! That stings!" Robin winced as Regina slid her hand off his shoulder.
"Let me see," Regina said, pushing herself up on one elbow to look. "Did I do that?" she asked, raising a brow.
He pulled her back down to face him, smiling warmly. "I bear the mark of your claws with pride, my lady," he said. "But you really did dig in there at the end."
"It kept me from using my magic," she said, a bit sheepishly. "I can't help it - strong emotion sort of brings it bubbling to the surface."
"I'm sure I'll recover," Robin said with a somewhat smug look.
Regina reached up again, passing her hand over the area. A warm, purple glow radiated out from her fingertips, healing the wound.
"There," she said, kissing him lightly. "All better."
"It's good to know that if you ever do truly make my heart burst, I'm not likely to perish from it," he pointed out. "And for a few moments there, it was a distinct possibility."
Regina laughed at that, and then she shook her head.
"It's silly," she responded.
"I like you silly," Robin encouraged. "Tell me."
"Well," Regina began, carefully choosing her words. "That's just it. I've never been silly. And I've certainly never laughed in bed with someone."
His hand came up, and his fingers smoothed back her hair. "Well, I'm sorry to hear that. For my part - I haven't felt this kind of joy in a very long time."
"Joy..." Regina tried the word out. She nodded slowly. "Yes, that's it, exactly. I mean, it's not that I haven't ever enjoyed myself - it's just that this comes from a very different place. A place of light. A place of love."
"It does," Robin agreed, leaning in to kiss her. He slid his arm around her, pulling her in close, then trailed his fingers down her leg, urging it up and over his hip before sliding his hand up, resting it lightly on her side.
And then he attacked, tickling her ribs mercilessly as she laughed uncontrollably, gasping his name and retaliating in kind until they were rolling about the bed, laughing hard.
Henry checked on Neal one more time. His grandparents had gone to bed hours ago, and he'd stayed up, staring at the book and the broken pen in his hand. He'd heard the baby stirring and padded silently down the stairs to the bassinet since it was on the way to the kitchen. Ever since he'd hit puberty he'd been starving more often than not - late night kitchen raids were a regular part of life now.
Once he'd been assured that Neal was fine, he helped himself to a Tuna sandwich and sat cross-legged on his bed, studying the book with a feeling that was nearly overwhelming.
He was the next author.
He could hardly believe it, but he would never forget the feeling of that pen in his hand, the magic flowing through him. He'd been secretly hoping he'd have powers someday, but he never anticipated this.
Powers were one thing. Omnipotence was another. He wasn't so sure about having that kind of power over other people's lives.
He wasn't sure what was going to happen next. He'd snapped the pen, but the apprentice assured him another pen would present itself. He wouldn't be able to run from destiny for long. In the meantime, he'd keep a watchful eye and let everyone have a hand in making their own stories.
He leaned back, sliding down the headboard and resting his head on the pillow, his mind whirling with all the possibilities.
The first time had been slow, with a near-reverence in every movement. Once the clothing was gone, he'd pulled her close and simply held her for the longest time, saying the words once more, telling her every little thing he treasured about her, and when she'd kissed him and pressed herself into him, he'd stroked and touched her with hands that weren't quite steady, in the wake of the evening's events.
They'd moved together instinctively, two kindred souls coming home as their bodies found what they needed in each other, and when the force of it broke over them, he'd said the words again, just as she did, feeling as though they were etched into their bones.
Now they laid, replete, her foot lazily stroking along his leg as her fingers toyed with his chest hair. He had one hand on her shapely backside, more than content to have it right there - and to have her exactly where she was.
"Do you think we'll dream together tonight?" she asked.
"It seems like we do more often than not," he murmured. "Face it, Swan, you'll never be rid of me."
"I'm okay with that," she smiled. "Dad's just going to need some time."
"I expect he'll come 'round. I did save his life, after all." Killian stretched. "And rescued his daughter from the dreamscape and the curse of The Dark One. I'm becoming quite the hero."
She lifted her head. "You always were. You just...lost your way for awhile. It happens to all of us."
She shuddered again, remembering the feel of all the darkness pressing down on her, seeping into her...
Killian moved his arm up, stroking her back soothingly. "Are you all right, love? No lingering effects?'
"I feel great," she reassured him. "Especially at the moment."
"What was it like?" he asked, hesitantly. "The darkness?"
"Dark," she smirked. "And so...alone. Even though I knew I had a family who loved me, the darkness makes you question all of it. You can't believe anyone could love a thing like you."
"Yet you believed in me," Killian said softly.
"I saw your face, and the look in your eyes, and when you told me you loved me - I remembered. I remembered it all. I couldn't doubt in the face of all of that."
"And I'll see to it that you never do," he promised solemnly, kissing her forehead and squeezing her tight. He rubbed his jaw along the top of her head, feeling the softness of her hair, and of her body, warm against his.
Her hand trailed downward, and he felt the muscles of his stomach pull in as her hand kept on moving. She wasn't terribly surprised to find him ready for her again. And this time - it was rough and it was raw and left them spent and exhausted, safe in each other's arms.
The hooded figure stood watching as her companion walked ahead. The sounds of the forest were all around them, amplified somehow by the night.
"You're sure you'll recognize it in the dark?" she asked, turning her head at the sound of something scrambling in the nearby brush.
"Yes. The tree has a distinctive smell. Once we get closer, the leaves will confirm it."
Her companion paused, then turned left, sniffing the air. "Here!" A branch was pulled down, and a handful of leaves snapped off for inspection. "This is the one! Bring the bag!"
"You're sure this will work?"
"Inanna was an incredibly powerful witch. Some even considered her a deity. She was as twisted and warped an individual as you would have ever met - but she knew how to craft a curse. And this one? This one is something to behold."
"We'll get them all in one shot?"
"One shot," her companion assured her. "And after the night they've had...they'll never see it coming."
"And they'll never break free?"
"My darling," her companion smiled. "They'll never know what hit them."