A/N: I'm very grateful to the four reviewers I had for my last chapter! Though this isn't a popular story, I keep getting a lot of watches, so...I guess that's a good sign? XD lol Anyway, this drabble is how I fear the show may end up. I'm not sure if Hook will fall for Belle or not, but that would just make the circumstances all the more tragic. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

"A Hollow Victory"

"I have to kill you, you realize."

"I know," Belle whispered, giving Hook a tearful smile as she nodded. "I suppose I've known all along…"

The pirate eyed her queerly, the grip on his blade loosening as he appraised the woman before him. Finally regaining his wits, he peevishly demanded, "Then why the bloody hell have you been with me all these months? If you'd already guessed my intentions, why did you choose to stay?"

Though Hook's aura was incredulous, on the inside he was quivering.

Taking him by the arm, Belle traced her fingers along his jacket and ignored the tears streaming down her cheeks. "I don't know… At first I thought you were lonely, so I befriended you out of pity. But then…something happened along the way."

"You don't know me," Hook feebly pointed out. "You don't know what's happened to turn me this way… I've never told you a damned thing about my past."

"Perhaps not," Belle agreed, "but I recognized the loss in your eyes and knew you'd been grievously wronged." Now tracing her fingers along his wrist, she gave a sad smile and added, "I also knew I could never compete with the woman you've marred your skin with... Because of that, I truly fear you've killed me, already."

Reaching out and cupping his stubbled cheeks between her hands, Belle closed her eyes and pressed her forehead to his. "I don't see why you could never let me in, Killian… I could've saved you."

Hook trembled, though it was barely noticeable. "You're a fool if you believe such a thing, darling – I am incapable of loving anyone at this point in my life."

"You're wrong! Everyone has a second chance at love!"

"You shut the hell up!" he growled, gruffly ripping her hands away from his face. Now squeezing her left wrist to the point of pain, the torn look in his eyes spoke volumes as he gave her a teeth-rattling shake. "I'd rather die than let you touch me ever again!"

Bursting into tears, Belle sobbed, "Then kill me – please, you cruel, vile man, kill me!"

But she fell into his arms before he could even think to speak, her tears seeping into the collar of his shirt as her soft, pitiful choking noises reached his ears. If he wasn't so damned immovable, her devotion might have actually touched him.

"Let go," he commanded, his voice deceptively calm.

"B-but Killian…"

"I bloody mean it, Belle – let go!"

Breaking away from him with hurt in her eyes, her bottom lip quivered as she miserably shook her head. "You're a coward," she hissed. "Do you hear me? You're a coward! You're no better than Rumpelstiltskin!"

That did it. Rearing back, Hook struck Belle soundly across the face with a loud, and resounding smack, her body now falling to the ground in a graceless pirouette.

Shuddering as she touched her stinging cheek, the princess moved to get away from him, but Hook was much faster. "Let go!" she sobbed, thrashing wildly about as he managed to grab hold of her arm. "Oh please, leave me be!"

But he did not release her, and Belle's sobs were muffled by Hook's lips as he forced his mouth over hers. Their bodies became desperately entwined – a mixture of passion, rage, and sorrow suffused with guilt rained down upon them, and with each cruel, vile thrust of his hips against her clothed womanhood, both found themselves crying out amidst their lusty torment.

Hook's lips burned along Belle's neck, and as he groaned against the soft expanse of flesh, she weaved her fingers through his hair and arched her hips into the hardness that beckoned to her.

What were they doing? Why did they always insist on dancing around the inevitable? She loved him and he loved Milah…it was always Milah. Hook had left Belle bread crumbs toward what had truly happened, and she'd come to the horrifying conclusion that her own ex-lover had been the cause.

Though Belle had tried her best to appease him, she knew Hook would never look at her the way he did Milah – when he spoke of her ghost, his eyes always appeared so soft…so warm…so human.

"Killian," she weakly began, her lips hovering by his ear, "surely you know by now that I love-? Oh!"

With a gasp, she grimaced and choked on her own blood as a sharp, agonizing stab of pain radiated from her midriff to her toes. Now glancing down toward her torso in shock, she gave a panicked hiccup when a deep, scarlet bloom formed around Hook's blade.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered, and as she gazed up into his eyes, she realized there were tears lingering amidst their hazel depths.

Placing a bloodied hand against his cheek, she feebly slumped against him as he assisted her in lying back down. With his lips at her temple, he cradled her against his chest and whispered several soft, meaningless apologies as she felt the very life drain from her veins. Although Belle had accepted that Hook would use her as a pawn someday, there had been a part of her – a very large part – that had hoped she could change him… That she could help him realize that there was love beyond tragedy and loss.

"I'm sorry," Hook whispered again, his voice catching as he pressed his forehead to Belle's. "Bloody hell, darling, you should've run from me…"

And why didn't she? Why did she always insist on staying by his side?

Belle limply wilted against him in response, and he shivered once he realized she was gone. The deed was done…the woman Rumpelstiltskin loved was dead.

And yet, did he feel any differently? Did he actually feel as though he'd avenged Milah's memory?

No, he realized. He didn't feel the sense of completion he'd assumed would follow, but rather a deep, hollow emptiness that resounded within his very soul. And in that tragic moment of reckoning, the great Captain Hook bent over the woman he'd grown to love and released his long-suppressed, excruciating sorrow.

A/N: I have one more drabble idea in mind before I'm dry/have to rack my brain for other ideas, so if ANY of you guys have ANY SUGGESTIONS, please pass them on to me! I'll certainly be willing to give them a try! As always, feedback is love/fuel for my inspiration! :)