This was written for the CS Secret Santa exchange over on Tumblr. My Secret Santa person is a fan of S3. So I took 3B and put my own little spin on it which ended up to be a walk down the CS memory lane (and since it's me there are some sexy times, too).


New York – Day 1

He'd been to New York before, in his pursuit of the Dark One. When his revenge had consumed him, body and soul. He'd almost killed the crocodile that day, if Emma hadn't stopped him. She'd invaded his life again back then. Though the blonde vixen had always lingered in the back of his mind, since their adventure up on the beanstalk. She'd told him he could be a part of something. Reminded him of the heart that was beating in his chest. Reminded him of the days when he did care about people. Loved people.

She'd barreled into him like a storm on sea, unexpected and a force to be reckoned with. She'd managed to knock him off his feet, pierced through all the walls he'd put around his heart as if they were nothing but smoke.

It wasn't as if he could hope that she would give him a chance. That he could show her how much she really meant to him. They'd said goodbye at the town line and he'd thought there was something more there. A genuine affection on her side while his heart was breaking right inside of his chest with the knowledge that he'd probably never see her again.

Though this small flicker of hope was all it took to convince him that leaving his old life behind wasn't total insanity. He was prepared to be refused by her once again, but he still hadn't hesitated even for one second when the letter had reached him, telling him Emma was needed to save everyone. He'd let his crew go without another thought and given the Jolly Roger to Blackbeard to get his hand on a magic bean to come here to New York.

To find Emma. To make her remember her past. To pull her out of the life she was living. The life she thought to be real. She didn't know that her memories had been altered, that her past was made up. She probably was happy with her current life, and he was about to crush that happiness.

If she wouldn't be needed to save her parents and the rest of Storybrooke he wouldn't even have tried to come back. He would have let her live in oblivion. Because the scars of her past didn't exist in the life she was currently living, and he would never made her remember the hurts of her past without a good reason.

But he knew her. She would want to know if her loved ones were in danger. She would want to help. Would want to be the savior she was born to be.

And a small part of him just wanted to see her again. He'd missed her this past year.

Fiercely.


New York – Day 2

He felt an uncomfortable tug in the pit of his stomach as he started to search through Bae's old apartment. He'd stumbled in here last night, his body weary from the travel through realms, his mind jumbled with the knowledge that he would see Emma very soon. He'd fallen on the bed, sleep coming over him almost instantly. Now he was awake but still felt weary down to his bones. Days like the last made him realize that he wasn't really only thirty years old. His body might be still this young, but his mind wasn't. His mind was over three hundred years old, and some days he felt every single one of those days.

He forced the fatigue away, opening cupboards until he found what he was looking for. A bottle of rum and a tin with the familiar word printed on it. He squeezed his eyes to decipher the small print on the side of the tin and after searching through a few more cupboards he found a mug and a pot to heat water in. After pouring the boiling water over the coffee powder, he inhaled the familiar scent before blowing on the content, eager to have his fill of caffeine. He might be over three hundred years old, but coffee had always been his weakness. Especially if he could liven it up with a shot of his beloved rum.

He was downing his second cup of coffee – this one without rum – as he started to rummage through the apartment. Neal had told him about the location of the spare key in his letter, and he'd felt a rush of warmth enveloping his heart when he read the other man's words. Neal was convinced that he was the only one who could outrun this curse and find Emma. Nonetheless, he couldn't shake off the unwelcoming feeling of invading the other man's privacy. He might have been a pirate for centuries, but even he shied away from a few things. Though he knew he couldn't just show up at Emma's door without any evidence of her old life in hand. He hoped he would find what he was looking for in here.

Suppressing the thoughts of just planting a kiss on Emma when he saw her, on the off-chance that she was feeling the same as he, he walked through the apartment, sweeping his eyes back and forth in search of something that might be convincing enough for the stubborn woman he'd crossed realms for to bring her back to her family.


New York – Day 3

He found her without much effort, but didn't approach her. He kept his distance, watching her and Henry from afar. He knew he had to be careful, knew that no matter what life she was living now she'd still have her skills. Even if they were buried deep inside of her. She would sense him if he got too suspicious in following her.

The glances he'd gotten from the people around him had told him that he was already drawing attention to himself. Looking around he'd noticed that his attire was what put him on display in this realm. But he couldn't part way with the clothes he'd worn for centuries. It wasn't as if people were pointing fingers at him, and after he'd walked through Times Square he'd realized that he wasn't the only one wearing conspicuous clothes. He just had to keep his distance to make sure Emma wasn't aware of him. His stiff hand and leather attire was causing a few murmurs wherever he went, but he still couldn't be convinced that donning different clothes would make his mission any easier. He felt comfortable in his own clothes and changing into modern clothes would just made him self-conscious, and he definitely needed all his wits to convince Emma that what he was about to tell her was true.

He'd contemplated talking to Henry first, hoping the lad would be more accepting to the wild tale he needed to tell him and his mother. But after thinking about it for quite some time, he'd opted on not approaching the lad first. He had only one vial of potion, and Emma wouldn't believe him without the potion restoring her memories. He had to convince her first. Henry believing him wouldn't help him regaining Emma's trust. She was fiercely protective of her son. A stranger appearing in her son's life out of nowhere and telling him a story that was kind of hard to believe would make his task just harder, not easier.

He needed to come up with a really good plan to make Emma drink the memory potion and remember who she really was.


New York – Day 7

He would have liked to have a few more days to find the perfect way to approach Emma, but when he saw Emma kissing another man the decision had been taken out of his hand. He had a bad feeling about the other man, and it was not only the jealous jab that seared through him when Emma smiled at the other man and let him hug her close to his side after the kiss. He'd been a pirate for a very long time. He just sensed that something was off. Discarding the feeling that raised the hair at the back of his neck would only lead to disaster. He trusted his sixth sense by now, never ignored it. And he would definitely not ignore it when Emma was near a man that raised all his hackles.

He'd followed the other man, watching him walk into a jewelry store. He'd stepped inside after him, looking at the displays and convincing the saleswoman with all the charm he could muster up that he was looking for an engagement ring for his girlfriend and that he wanted to surprise her with a proposal during the rehearsal of a play they were in. He kept the smile on his face while listening to the other man talking, gritting his jaw as he deduced from the conversation that the other man was about to propose to Emma.

Everything inside of him bristled. He'd been willing to step away to give Neal and Emma another chance. But he wouldn't stay in the background while a man that made all his pirate senses tingle, and not in a good way, was trying to seduce Emma into a marriage. He definitely had to stop Emma from making the biggest mistake of her life.

So he slipped into the seat opposite of her a few hours later when her current boyfriend had excused himself to the restrooms, his heart beating in his chest like crazy as her eyes met his for the very first time. A foolish part of him had hoped for some kind of recognition in her gaze, but of course there weren't any. She straightened in her seat, her fingers wandering to the knife beside her plate and a surge of pride coursed through him as he saw the movement. That was his girl. Always prepared.

"He's not who he seems to be, love," he said hastily before Emma could actually raise the knife and threaten him with bodily harm.

"Tell me who you are and what you want in the next five seconds or I'll put you in handcuffs before you can blink an eye."

Despite the dire situation they were in and the urgency of his mission he couldn't keep the smile back upon hearing her fierce words. "Killian Jones, ma'am," he replied, cocking an eyebrow at her as he leaned back into his seat. "At your service."

"You've only answered one question."

"I have to admit that the answer to your second question is a little bit more complicated, love." He pulled the envelope with the pictures he'd found in Bae's apartment out of his pocket, putting it on the table in front of her and tapping a finger against it. "Take a look at these, and I'll answer all your questions tomorrow. Nine o'clock. Central Park. By the entrance of the zoo."

He wanted to push her more, but knew pushing her was never a good idea. So he stood up without saying another word, hoping that her inquisitive nature would at least lead her to take a look at the pictures. If not, he had to try again tomorrow. And hope that her boyfriend wouldn't propose to her right this night.

- xxx -

Emma stared at the empty seat in front of her, wondering if she'd just had a hallucination or if a man dressed like a pirate, including the rings and eyeliner, had actually just sat opposite of her. The white envelope on the table was real enough, even though a little suspicious. But she doubted he was a terrorist who wanted to launch an Anthrax attack in the middle of New York.. Of course it wasn't completely insane to assume that, but her superpower told her that he wasn't out to harm her. So she reached for the envelope and opened the flap.

"What the fuck?" she murmured under her breath as she flipped through the contents of the envelope, her fingers starting to tremble as she looked at the pictures. Every picture showed her and Henry. But in locations they'd never been to. She'd definitely remember being in a town called Storybrooke. Because that was one ridiculous name.

"Emma, darling, everything all right?"

"Yeah, sure," she said, forcing a smile on her face as she looked up at Walsh while simultaneously shoving the envelope and pictures into her handbag before Walsh would see them and ask about it. "Everything is fine."

Of course nothing was fine. A stranger had just handed her pictures of her and Henry. She would definitely go to Central Park the next day. Probably with a few police officer as backup just to make sure that the crazy guy wouldn't do something stupid.


New York – Day 8

"What are you doing, Emma?" she mumbled to herself as she walked toward the entrance of the zoo the next morning.

That was really the big question here. Not only was she about to meet the stranger from last night, she also didn't call the police. And to put the cherry on top she'd refused Walsh's proposal yesterday. At first she'd thought it was just because he took her by surprise but when she'd lain in bed a few hours later she'd realized that the moment Walsh had asked the question the face of the stranger had popped into her brain and she couldn't say yes, even if the rational part of her wanted to say yes.

So now she was here. In Central Park. Walking up to a stranger she probably shouldn't face alone.

"Swan, I knew you'd come."

"I wasn't so sure."

"I'm glad you're here, love," the man said urgently, completely ignoring her comment. "Your family is in danger. They need you."

"My family?" she asked, wondering if she didn't make a big mistake by even coming here to talk to the crazy guy. She should have left it to the police to deal with him. "I don't have any family aside from my son."

"I know you don't remember, but I can make you."

Before she could make sense of that cryptic comment, the stranger had curled his hand around her cheek and pulled her forward, planting a hard kiss on her lips. She blamed the fact that he'd surprised her for not pushing him away immediately, not the weird feeling that rushed through her the moment his lips met hers. A strange sense of déjà vu washed over her, and for a few seconds she wanted to kiss him back, before her brain started functioning again. Pressing her hands against his chest, she pushed him away.

"I should have called the police and not come here without backup," she told him brusquely, suppressing the urge to lift her fingers to her lips which were still tingling from the kiss. "What the hell was that?"

"Apologies, lass. It was worth a try."

"Worth a try?" she asked him incredulously. "What did you think would happen? A complete stranger kisses me and alone the press of his lips on my mouth will make me wake up from a deep sleep?" She was not Snow White who needed to be kissed awake by her charming prince, for God's sake. And he was not charming at all. God damn it. She got angrier and angrier with each passing second and had to keep herself from jabbing a finger into his chest as she hissed, "This is not a fairy tale."

"Close enough," he replied, stepping away as if he sensed she needed some space. "But I can see why you might consider it strange."

"Strange?" Was this guy for real? He'd just kissed her out of nowhere. That was definitely more than strange. "That's not the word I'd have chosen to describe this situation. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't call the cops and let you get thrown in a cell."

"You've looked at the pictures?"

"I have," she admitted reluctantly, reaching into her bag to pull the pictures out. "I have no clue how you got your hands on pictures of me and Henry to photoshop them. But you having these pictures ... it's hells of creepy."

"Photoshop?" he asked, looking completely confused, as if he'd never heard the word before. "I don't know what you mean, love."

"You could have faked those," she said, waving the pictures through the air.

"If you don't believe me why did you come here?"

"I don't know," she gritted out through clenched teeth. She would not tell this stranger that she came here to meet him because her gut had told her she needed to see him. That something about him tugged at something deep inside of her. Something she didn't understand. Something she needed to investigate. "Lapse of judgment apparently."

"Would you at least listen to what I need to tell you?" he questioned, his voice tinged with desperation as he added, "I know it'll sound like a tale a madman might spin in his mind, but I need you to listen to the whole story. I need you to keep an open mind and not just dismiss everything I say. All right, love?"

"Fine," she grumbled, folding her arms over her chest and leaning back against the fountain. "I'll listen."

He started to talk. And talk. And talk. With each word out of his mouth she was more convinced that he was totally off his rocker. What he was telling her was ludicrous. Totally and completely ludicrous. According to his tale, her parents were Prince Charming and Snow White who'd been cursed back to a town called Storybrooke and now she needed to save them. Because apparently she was the savior, and had brought them back from a curse the Evil Queen had spun once before.

Right. That was totally believable. Totally.

"You're insane," she burst out after unsuccessfully trying to come up with something less offense. Shaking her head, she pushed herself away from the fountain wall. Clearly it had been a mistake to come here.

"I feared you would say that. But I need you to remember. Your family needs you. Your friends need you," he pleaded, reaching into the pocket of his jacket to pull out a small vial with a bright blue liquid inside. "This potion will help you regain your memories."

"You want me to drink something a complete stranger offers me on the street?" she asked incredulously, really regretting now that she didn't call the cops after this lunatic had shown up at the restaurant yesterday. "You're even more insane than I thought."

"Does your superpower tell you I'm lying?"

She managed to keep her surprise in check. She didn't even want to hear him spin another ludicrous tale to explain how he knew about her superpower. Everything he'd told her was utter nonsense. But something inside of her was still pushing her towards him, as if this man had some kind of strange power over her. Gulping hard, she tried to will her mind to just snap out of it, not that she was very successful. Since the next words out of her mouth were anything but rational. "But if what you're saying is true. I have to give up my life here."

"It's all based on lies."

"It's real. And it's pretty good. I have Henry. A job. A guy I love."

"Perhaps there's a man that you love in the life that you've lost," he said, his voice hoarse with emotions. Her heart skipped a beat as she looked into his eyes, wondering if he was talking about himself. Not that she believed what he was saying. It was a great story. But it was nothing but a story. It wasn't real. "Regardless, if you wanna find the truth … drink up." He looked at her with an intensity in his eyes that caused a shiver to run down her spine. "Do you really want to live a life of lies? You know this isn't right. Trust your gut, Swan. It will tell you what to do."

"Henry always says that," she whispered, her determination wavering with every passing moment she spent in the presence of this stranger. The sense of déjà vu was overwhelming now. So overwhelming that she couldn't ignore it any longer.

"Then if you won't listen to me, then listen to your boy."

She was apparently as insane as the man standing in front of her, because she was about to be swayed. She was really about to take the liquid the crazy guy was offering her and drink it. She was an idiot.

But nonetheless she reached for the vial and uncorked it. Lifting it to her lips, she swallowed the content down without giving herself more time to think about the insanity of that action.

At first nothing happened and she already wanted to laugh out loud as her brain suddenly seemed to explode as a flood of memories barreled through it. She gasped, her knees almost buckling out under her as her memories rushed back in the span of seconds.

When Henry appeared at her door. The moment her parents remembered her. Neal. Neverland. And then she remembered him. She remembered the kiss they'd shared, the conversations they had. Remembered the man standing in front of her right now.

Killian Jones. The infamous Captain Hook.

She remembered.

Opening her eyes, she met his gaze, struggling to stay upright as the life she believed she'd been living crumpled to a pile of ash at her feet.

"Hook," she breathed, still reeling from the onslaught of memories that threatened to blow her brains out.

And then the man had the audacity to curl his lips up into that cocky smirk she now remembered, too. And the cock of the eyebrow. And the taunting drawl of his voice as he said, "Did you miss me?"

- xxx -

She didn't have a lot of alcohol in the apartment, but she was glad about the bottle of rum her boss had given her a while back. She definitely needed some strong stuff right about now. Hook was sitting opposite of her, his fingers curled around his own glass of rum while she was still trying to wrap her mind around the fact that she was the child of Snow White and Prince Charming and that Captain Hook had come to New York to tell her that her family was in danger.

What was her life even?

She knew now that the life she'd lived over the past year was all based on lies. But a part of her wished that sitting across from Captain Hook was just a weird dream she would wake up from any second.

Not to mention that remembering Hook brought back a myriad of confusing feelings. Annoyance, anger, arousal and the weird urge to laugh. Not to mention the wish to hit him just to get rid of a part of the frustration. That wish almost as strong as the wish to curl her hands around the lapels of his coat and yank him towards her to press a kiss on his lips. Just to find out if the sexual tension she remembered was still as explosive. Instead she tightened her fingers around the glass in her hand and kept her gaze averted, fearing that meeting his eyes would lead to her acting on one of her desires. Instead she thought back over their conversation. What didn't really help either.

I came back to save you.

Save her.

But she didn't need to be saved. If he hadn't shown up she wouldn't even know she was the savior. And what did that actually mean? Save her? Wasn't she supposed to be the savior once again and save Storybrooke?

She ignored the voice in her head that was telling her that he'd been right. She didn't want to live a life of lies. The last year might have been real, but everything else were false memories. She also ignored the voice in her head that was reminding her that saying good bye to Hook at the town line had been hard. Because there had been something there. Something more. She just hadn't been ready to face that something yet. And then she and Henry had driven over the town line and she forgot everything about him.

But now he was here again. Once again by her side to help her with the next crisis.

Feeling his eyes bore into her, she suddenly didn't only remember the past with him but was reminded of the kiss he'd given her in Central Park. Her heart skipped a beat, her hand trembling around the glass. He'd said it was worth a try. He'd kissed her in the hopes it would jog her memory? But that meant he thought that they were ... no. She swallowed the hysterical laugh that bubbled up in her throat, pushing those thoughts in the darkest corner of her brain. No matter what he was feeling for her, or she for him, she still wasn't ready to face the emotions he elicited in her. Especially not now. When they had to battle another curse. Thinking about what the pirate really meant to her had to wait.

The ring of the bell saved her from going stir crazy in her own head, a groan almost slipping from her lips as she realized who was at the door.

"Who is that?" Hook asked, his whole body stiffing in alert.

"Walsh," she replied. "Henry invited him."

"I can get rid of him."

He was already half out of his chair before she could stop him with a raised hand.

"No," she told him, standing up quickly before Hook decided to ignore her wish. She had to talk to Walsh herself. That was just something she had to do. She'd been convinced she was in love with him, before a certain pirate had appeared back in her life and shaken up everything. "My memories might not be real, but he is. And so are the eight months we spent together. I owe him an explanation."

"What are you gonna say to him?" Hook questioned, the wary expression on his face, making her not feel any better about the task ahead of her.

"I don't know," she replied as she slipped into her jacket, her heart heavy in her chest. "But I care about him too much to drag him into all this."

- xxx -

He'd been nursing his third glass of rum as he'd heard the commotion. The glass had slipped out of his hand and shattered on the ground as he'd jumped off the chair and hurried out of the apartment. Bursting through the door to rush out on the roof, he chided himself for letting her deal with the man alone. He'd had a bad feeling about the guy, and apparently he'd been right. Thankfully, Emma seemed to be unharmed and he came to a stop a few feet away from her.

"Swan?" he asked, approaching her carefully. "What the blazes was that?"

"A reminder," she said quietly, a sadness in her eyes that shot a sharp pain through his heart. He'd caused part of that pain, a pain he would have liked to spare her from. But she wouldn't have wanted him to spare her, no matter how much it hurt right in that moment. Still, it didn't make it any easier for her to look at the shattered remnants of a life she'd thought she'd lived. He wanted to pull her into his arms. Wanted to soothe her sorrows. Wanted to tell her everything would be all right, eventually. But he did none of these things. Like always, she was an open book to him, her whole posture showing him clearly that she didn't want to have a shoulder to lean onto right now. She needed to fight. But his heart still broke as she told him with a defeated voice, "That I was never safe. That what I wanted … that what I thought I could have was not in the cards for the savior." She inhaled deeply and he saw the exact moment she pushed it all aside. Her shoulders straightened and the determined glint he knew so well appeared in her eyes. "We leave in the morning."