a/n: So excited to share this story with you all! I hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think :)
It's way past when he should've been home that Killian Jones finds himself dragging his tired body in through his front door. Work hasn't kept him this late in a long time and, to put it simply, he is exhausted. Even just slipping off his shoes and tossing his keys to the table is almost too much effort, his limbs heavy and awkward.
He doesn't even bother to turn on the light—choosing to stumble through the front room by memory—before he groans and collapses onto the couch in a sprawled out heap.
He should just take the extra steps down the hall to his room and go to bed, knows he'll probably regret staying up even later come morning. But as tired as he is, he knows how impossible it will be for him to fall asleep. Not with the way his mind is racing right now. It would keep him up for hours, running circles around things he would rather not think about this late at night.
So instead he stretches out his arm and blindly searches for the remote. The fluorescent glow of the television slices through the darkness as he skims through the channels with little interest. Nothing good is ever on at this time of night anyways. Eventually he settles on a rerun marathon of Friends and tosses the remote to the other end of the couch. Ignoring the way it bounces off the arm of the chair and clatters onto the floor.
He burrows a little deeper into the leather cushions, sighing at the relief it brings his aching muscles, and falls asleep sometime in the middle of the second episode.
The loud, familiar melody of his ring tone startles Killian awake. He squints his eyes against the light of the flashing television and fumbles for his phone. Disoriented and half asleep he knocks it from the coffee table and curses as it slides away from him, still shrilling.
"Hello?" he answers, his voice thick with sleep. Who the bloody hell is calling him at two in the morning?
"Hello, is this Killian Jones?" The voice on the other end is calm and methodic, strangely soothing in its clarity.
"Aye, this is him."
"Mr. Jones, this is Massachusetts General Hospital—"
He almost misses what is said next, his heart drops and he sits up a little straighter all drowsiness forgotten. Calls from hospitals in the middle of the night are never a good thing, and in that instant he's slammed with the possibilities of what it could be, fear ripping at his chest. Is it Liam? It has to be Liam—he can't think of anyone else they would call him for.
"—we have you on record as being the emergency contact for Emma Swan."
"E-Emma?" It wasn't the name he was expecting. But it's a name that only causes the vice-like grip around his heart to squeeze harder and he struggles for a moment to breathe.
He hasn't seen her in months, not since he woke one morning to find her gone. Her side of the bed long gone cold—and any traces that she'd once lived there erased from every room of his apartment. It had felt like a nightmare, memories of the way she'd murmured I love you into his skin only the night before haunting the now hollow walls of his apartment. He'd tried to contact her, tried to find her, because he knew that she was as much in love with him as he was with her. However, she'd all but vanished, and it had been months since he'd seen or spoken with her.
"What happened? Is she all right?" His questions are an anxious rush, panic quickening both his heart and his speech as he scrambles for his shoes and keys.
"She was in a car accident and is currently in surgery, but if you could get down here as soon as possible we'll be able to inform you more on the situation."
Surgery. Killian closes his eyes and sucks in a trembling breath.
"Alright, I'm on my way." And he's out the door before the kind woman on the other end has a chance to hang up.
The bright lights and strict, sterile smell immediately assaults his senses as he enters the hospital through the sliding double doors.
It takes him only a few large strides to reach the woman at the front desk. She offers him a kind smile and blinks her lashes at him a few times before asking what she can do to help him.
"I just got a c-call…" he stammers as he runs a shaking hand through his hair. "Emma Swan. Can you tell me where she is?"
"Of course. Just one second, please."
It seems to take her an eternity to turn to the computer and filter through whatever information it is that she has in order to pull up Emma's whereabouts. He has to clench his fists in order to keep himself from strumming his fingers against the woman's desk, and he's positive that someone who works at the front desk of a hospital should do things with a little more urgency.
But she takes her sweet time and each second that passes only succeeds in intensifying the dreadful sensation of his heart being ripped from his chest.
"She's on the sixth floor," she finally says, turning her attention back to him. "She's still in surgery, but there is a waiting room up there. I'll let them know you're here and they'll come find you as soon as they have any news."
"Thank you." He gives her a quick nod, already backing away from her desk, and then practically runs down the hall, only skidding to a stop when he comes across an elevator.
He gives the button on the wall a good hard push and stands back to wait for the doors to open. It doesn't come right away, and he bounces on his heels a bit before agitatedly, pressing the button a few more times for good measure.
A part of him knows that getting up there a few seconds sooner isn't going to do anything—that she'll probably be in surgery for a while longer. But a louder part of him feels like if he can even just be near her sooner, then maybe he can see her sooner, and that if he's quick enough maybe she'll be okay.
Because she has to be okay.
And as ridiculous as that sounds even to his own ears, he can't help the way his fingers drum against his leg with nervous energy as he waits for the elevator.
The soft ring of a bell announces the opening of the doors and he pushes his way inside before the people on the other side even have a chance to completely step out. Ignoring the glares that are sent his way, Killian pushes the six and leans back against the cold wall, sighing as the doors close.
He shuts his eyes and counts each high-pitched ding as the elevator ascends, only opening his eyes upon reaching the number six.
It doesn't take him long to find the waiting room, but despite what the lady at the lobby desk told him to do he doesn't just sit down and wait to be found. Locating the nearest nurse he jogs up to her, but manages to stutter out little more than Emma's name.
He's told the exact same thing.
She's still in surgery. It will be a while. Please sit down they'll come find him as soon as anything changes.
He collapses hard into the nearest chair and buries his head in his hands. The tears he's been keeping locked away since he first got the call finally slip free. Sliding down his cheeks until they fall and shatter against his shoes.
He gives himself a few minutes to break down—to let the fear swallow him and rip a hole through his chest. It's been months since he's seen her, but even then, he's not sure he'd survive it if he lost her.
Wiping at his eyes he straightens his back and stares at the television in the corner. The volume is so low he can't decipher what the sitcom, which seems to mock him with its cheerfulness, is saying. But he tries to let the unintelligible muttering numb the worry eating away at his insides.
It doesn't work.
He's always hated hospitals. Hates the thick eerie silence. Hates that the air is heavy with what can only be grief and anxiety. He hates the way the sporadic sob, cough, and whirl of the coffee machine creates a haunting orchestra woven together by people with nothing better to do but wait.
And waiting here, on a stiff chair that does nothing to ease the knots twisting in his stomach, is what he hates the most.
The hours drag on, minutes feel like hours, and time refuses to move faster no matter how many times he looks at his phone. But despite the lateness of the hour he can't sleep—not that he even tries.
It's near four in the morning when an older doctor with graying hair and kind eyes finally approaches him.
He jumps out of his chair the second he hears his name. "Yes, that's me," he breathes. "How is she? Is she alright? What hap—"
The doctor raises his hand, effectively quieting Killian's stream of questions. "She's steady. Her car hydroplaned into oncoming traffic which caused it to roll several times before landing in a roadside ditch. She has a couple of broken ribs and suffered massive internal bleeding. We were able to find the source and stop the bleeding but it took a while. She'll need time to heal but I'm happy to say she should have a complete recovery."
Relief washes over him strong and swift at the doctors words, soothing the torment that had been burning his soul.
"A concussion is also likely," the doctor continues, "but we won't know for sure until she wakes."
"Can I see her?"
"Of course, I'll take you to her. Are you her boyfriend? Relative?"
"Boyfriend," Killian answers a little too quickly. Well he was, at least at one point. But he's nervous that they won't let him see her otherwise. And knowing Emma, if he's still her emergency contact then there isn't anyone else to come for her, and it pains him to imagine her waking up and dealing with this on her own.
He wants to be here for her as long as she needs him. Even if it's just as a friend.
The doctor smiles at him, not even a little suspicious, and leads him down the hall to Emma's room.
"She probably won't regain consciousness for a few hours, and there's a call button if she needs attention for any reason." He clasps Killian's shoulder and gives it a slight squeeze before leaving him alone at the entrance of her hospital room.
He hesitates, his hand frozen to the door's handle and it's like his fingers have suddenly forgotten how to work, unable to complete the simple task of turning the handle and pushing the door open. Glued in place by the realization that he's really about to see her. After months of silence, and nights where the longing often became so intense it seared with an ache that lingered well into the daylight hours, he was really going to see her.
He takes a shuddering breath and pushes the door open, his eyes searching for the familiar lines of her face the instant he steps into the room. The feelings that rush through him at the sight of her are a tumultuous mix that leaves him both unsteady and breathless.
Tubes and wires trail from her hand to various fluids and machines that keep track of her vitals with a steady beep, while an oxygen tube runs just beneath her nose. She looks as though the entire hospital room has swallowed her. Just a tiny, frail, and broken thing whose only protection is the thin blanket covering her.
As Killian walks closer his heart breaks at all the bruises and cuts that decorate her pale skin. He has to bite his lip against the burning sensation behind his eyes, but she's breathing, and her heart is beating, and he's never felt more relief for these two simple facts in his entire life.
In the silence, Killian drags one of the chairs to her bed side and slowly lowers himself into it. He aches to touch her, to let his fingers trail along the softness of her skin, but instead he laces his fingers together and rests them in his lap. Letting his eyes trace the path his fingers long to take.
He finds that in spite of the time apart, he still has every dip, every curve, every freckle of her face memorized. It's not something he could ever forget. And as small and as fragile as she looks right now, she's still just as beautiful as she's ever been. With her golden hair fanning out against the stark white of her pillow, a splash of sunshine in the otherwise dull room, and the delicate softness of her lashes brushing against her cheekbones.
She still manages to steal his breath.
Leaning back against his chair Killian watches the gentle rise and fall of her chest, and it's not long before the anxiety and lack of sleep catches up to him. It had been a long day and even longer night, but adrenaline and fear had kept him wide awake. But now that he's here with her, now that he knows she's safe, everything around him finally calms and he lets the easy rhythm of her breathing lull him into a restless sleep.
Killian jerks awake with a start, his mind disoriented and his body stiff and sore. He rubs at his eyes and takes in the lines of light that peek through the closed blinds and guesses that it's at least late morning.
Pulling his phone out of his pocket he groans at the string of text messages from Will, there has to be at least ten. Typing in his passcode he opens his messages and reads the most recent one.
Will: Where are you eejit? It's past ten.
He's not in the mood or the mindset to deal with Will's sarcastic attitude, and so the response he types out is quick and to the point, even if a bit vague.
Killian: I'm not coming into work today, and might not be able to tomorrow. I'll let you know though.
The three little dots blink across the bottom of the screen for a second before Will's response pops up.
Will: Are you okay?
The corner of Killian's mouth quirks up in a half smile. As irritating as the man can sometimes be, he has a good heart.
Killian: Yeah, I'm fine. I'll tell you later.
He doesn't wait for a reply, turning his phone on silent and slipping it back into the pocket of his jeans.
He considers going out to find the cafeteria, or at the very least coffee because heaven knows he needs it, but he's worried that Emma will wake while he's gone, so he convinces himself that he can go a couple more hours without anything.
And despite his resolve to stay in her hospital room, what he can't stand another minute of is sitting in this unforgivable chair, his spine is already protesting the hours he spent sleeping in it. So he stands and arches his back, stretching his arms above his head and takes to pacing the room instead.
He tries to remind himself that the doctor said she would wake in a few hours only six hours ago. And that it is still well within the prescribed time frame. That her body is healing, that it needs the rest, and that she will wake soon enough.
But he wears a worried path into the cold, tile floor just the same.
It's a little over an hour later, just before he's about to give in and make a quick trip to the cafeteria, when Emma finally begins to stir. Killian freezes mid step when she moans quietly and turns her head to the side, squeezing her eyes shut tighter as she does so.
He's back in the seat beside her in an instant, placing her small hand in both of his as he finally gives in to the desire to touch her. He's not sure he even breathes as he waits those few seconds it takes for her to blink her eyes open.
Emma squints as she adjusts to the light of the room, her brow furrowing as her eyes scan her surroundings in confusion.
"Am I…" she rasps, reaching up with her free hand to feel the tube running across her cheeks. "I'm…I'm in a hospital?"
"What happened?" she asks, voice barely above a whisper.
"Your car hydroplaned into another car, which sent you rolling into a ditch. You're lucky you're alive. You broke a few ribs, and along with all your bruises and possible concussion, you suffered major internal bleeding that took hours in surgery to get under control." Killian has to stop his explanation to take a deep breath and swallow the lump stuck in his throat. "You scared me. Bloody hell, you scared me. I told you that bug was a metal deathtrap"
Emma tilts her head curiously at his last sentence, remaining silent as she soaks everything in.
Finally she tears her gaze from his and looks down at herself. Killian watches as she lifts her hand from his and raises it to eye level, examining the thin tubes connected to her veins.
His focus is completely zeroed in on her, trying to decipher what she needs. Is she in pain? Does she need more medicine? Does she need a doctor to give a better explanation?
Does she need him to leave?
Because though he still loves her, she left him. And though he knows enough of her past and her fears to understand her desire to run, he'd hoped he'd proved to her that he wasn't the same, that he wasn't going to leave her.
But it hadn't been enough. He hadn't been enough.
And he's not going to force his company on her if she doesn't want it.
Emma finally flicks her eyes back to his, but she only keeps eye contact for a brief moment before her eyes do a quick scan up and down the rest of his body, appraising him.
"I see…" she says, the green of her eyes meeting his again. "And are you my doctor?"
It's immediate, the way that one sentence makes his stomach drop and his mouth fall open as he gapes at her.
He shakes his head, not sure he heard correctly. "Your doctor? Swan, it's me…Killian." He's rambling just a bit and his stomach sinks impossibly closer to the floor when he realizes her eyes hold no recognition. "You…you don't know me?"
Emma shakes her head. "I don't. I'm sorry." She gives him a small, apologetic smile, but all it does is make his world shatter a little more. "But I…I take it I should?"
Killian drags a hand down his face and releases a heavy sigh. "Aye, Swan. You should."
She's watching him with careful, guarded eyes, and the slight hint of skepticism in them reminds him of those first few months after he met her. And this more than anything stamps in stone the reality that she has no idea who he is.
And heaven knows what else she's forgotten.
Killian stands, pushing his chair out behind him with more force than he intended, the legs of it scraping against the tile with a loud grating noise. He runs his hands through his hair and walks to the door, only pausing when his hand is on the handle.
Turning his head to look at her, he finds that Emma is still watching him. And he didn't think his heart could be wrenched any further, but the complete lack of familiarity in her eyes certainly does just that. "I'll be back, Swan. I…I need to go find your doctor."
And with that he pulls the door open and disappears into the hall.
Killian sits cross-legged on the floor of the hallway right outside Emma's room, his head thrown back against the wall and his eyes closed. The doctor had given him a knowing look when Killian gave him a frantic explanation of Emma's state and then told him to wait outside while he spoke with her.
And now he's waiting as the good doctor has a moment alone with Emma. But Killian doesn't need a medical professional to tell him what's wrong with her. He's figured that out well enough on his own.
He'd been imagining a myriad of reactions from her once she woke. Ready for anything—he'd even been preparing himself in case she asked him to leave. But this…this was not something he'd been expecting.
And he doesn't know what's worse. Her telling him she doesn't want to see him, or her not knowing him at all.
The sound of the door opening startles Killian from his thoughts, and he's quick to pull himself to his feet.
The doctor gives him a sad smile as he closes the door. "Mr. Jones, if we could talk a moment." He gestures down the hall with a tilt of his head and Killian follows him until they are a few feet away from Emma's door.
The doctor sighs. "It appears Miss Swan does indeed have a concussion but that is only the beginning of her head injuries. She has retrograde amnesia, meaning she can't remember the accident or a significant period beforehand. It's hard to tell just how far back the memory loss goes. She knows who she is, but she's forgotten you obviously, and she doesn't remember ever living in Boston. That little piece of information is a good indicator for how severe the memory loss is. How long has she lived here?"
Killian swallows. "Just a little over a year."
"I see. Well, good news, though it's hard to tell exactly, the memory loss might not go back much further than that. In the majority of cases like this the amnesia is temporary, but it's hard to say specifically how long it will last. The best thing for her right now will be to go home and rest, and as she heals surround her with familiar people, places, and things—though I'd take it slow at first so as not to overwhelm her, but that should help her regain the memories she's lost. I can also suggest a cognitive therapist if you feel this is not enough, or if after a while she doesn't show signs of improvement."
Killian nods, overwhelmed. "Thank you, Doctor." He's not sure exactly how he's going to manage all of this, considering he has no idea where her current home even is.
"Of course. I'd like to keep her here for a couple more days to monitor her. Make sure no complications arise from her surgery. After that you can take her home." For the second time in twenty four hours he gives his shoulder a reassuring squeeze, much like a father comforting his son. "She'll heal Mr. Jones. It just may take some time."
And with that the doctor leaves him alone with his thoughts.
Killian looks down at his shoes and blows out a heavy breath, weighed down by everything that's happened in the last twelve hours.
He doesn't know how long he stays there, staring at the tiled floor as if somewhere in the repetitive pattern is the solution to all of this. But it's long enough that a couple of nurses come up and ask if he needs anything, always leaving with sympathetic smiles when he tells them he's fine.
Finally he digs his phone out of his pocket and dials the number of the one person who always knows what to do, especially when he doesn't.
Liam answers after the third ring. "Hello?"
Killian takes a couple of steps backwards until his back hits the wall, he leans his head back against it and closes his eyes. Just hearing his brother's voice is already enough to calm him. "Liam. I…I need…" He has to swallow and clear his throat. "I need your help with something."
"Killian what is it?" An undercurrent of alarm colors Liam's question. "Where are you?"
"I'm at the hospital. I'm fine though." Killian is quick to reassure him. "It's Emma." His voice breaks on her name and he has to slide down the wall and sit on the floor, suddenly exhausted.
Liam is silent for a moment, his voice much quieter when he responds. "What happened?"
"A car accident. And Liam she was in surgery for hours. I…I was so bloody worried, and then they said she would be okay and I just needed to wait for her to wake up." He pauses, dragging his hand down his face.
"Has she woken?"
"Aye, she did a half hour or so ago."
"Okay…" Killian can hear Liam's slight confusion, and he knows his brother is trying to piece together what exactly is distressing him. "Is she alright? Does she need anything?" Liam pauses and his next questions are full of nothing but brotherly concern. "Are you okay? How did she react when she saw you?"
"That's just it, Liam. She doesn't remember me."
"Remember me." Killian finishes for him. "She doesn't remember anything that's happened in the last year at least. She doesn't remember moving to Boston. And I don't know what to do because the doctor said to take her home so she can be around familiar things to regain her memory, but I don't even know where the bloody hell she lives."
"Killian," Liam sighs. "There's really only one thing you can do…take her home with you."
Killian doesn't respond right away. He knows the only real option is to take her to his place and he wouldn't hesitate for a second doing it, but he's always wanted to do what's best for her and he's struggling with the idea that it might not be what Emma would want if she still had her memories.
"She left me, Liam."
Silence greets him from the other end of the line. But it's not long before he hears his brother sigh. "And right now she needs you. You know as well as I do that she doesn't have anyone else. And besides, your home is familiar to her, you are familiar to her. She needs to heal, Killian, and you can help her do that."
As always his brother's voice of reason helps him find his own sense of stability. Not that he really needed any convincing; he'd been planning on taking her in the second he realized what was happening. But having his brother think along the same lines is the comforting reassurance that he needed.
He'd do anything for Emma Swan and he'd do it in a heartbeat, even if the rhythm of that heart is a broken one. And therein lays the true problem and he's quiet as he admits it to his brother.
"I'm still in love with her."
"I know," Liam's response is soft. "But what she needs right now is a friend. Get some rest and then when she's released you can take her home. Just take it a day at a time, help her get adjusted and back on her feet. Be the friend she needs."
He could do that couldn't he?
"Thanks, brother. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"You'd manage. Call if you need anything and I'll swing by in a few days to see how things are going."
They say goodbye and Killian immediately pulls himself up off the floor. He's had a lot to soak in and it hasn't even been twenty four hours, but Emma is his priority right now and he can push aside his own feelings for however long he needs to.
Even if at the end of all of this he has to watch her walk away from him again.