Killian watched as Emma retreated from the room. This was starting to become all too commonplace, her detaining him. He listened to the heels of her boots click as she walked down the hall and the sound of the door's latch catching alerted him that she'd really left. He blew out a breath. Now that she was gone he had no interesting way to pass the time. Sure his purpose here was to kill the crocodile, but until he formulated his plan she made the interim much more enjoyable.
He wondered about that for several minutes. She'd proven herself more than his equal, besting him repeatedly, and retained a certain amount of mystery which couldn't help but pique his interest.
The sound of the door opening disturbed his thoughts and he smiled in anticipation. Perhaps this chapter of their verbal dance was not yet finished.
"Miss me already, Swan?" he called out. But it was not Emma whose head popped into the room.
"Aye, Captain," Smee grinned cheekily. "But I'm no swan."
Killian smiled, surprised and happy to see his boatswain. "More like an old dog, you bloody brigand."
"You'll want to hold off such high praises until you see the gift I've brought." Smee reached into his pocket and pulled out a skeleton key.
Killian's eyes widened. "How did you…?"
"Oh, Captain, it's been too long. You forget. I am a procurer of…"
"…rare and valuable objects." Killian finished with him, nodding in recollection. "Well hurry up, Mr. Smee," He gestured towards the cell. "The lovely sheriff might return at any moment."
Smee jiggled the key in the lock a few times. "Not much chance of that."
Killian's stomach turned at the ominous nature of those words and Smee gave him a peculiar frown. He must have let too much show on his face. Before he could demand clarification, the lock popped open.
"Don't worry, Captain, I didn't hurt Sheriff Swan. She's a good ally to have in this town and I wouldn't want to jeopardize that."
Killian assured himself his relief was natural and no more than he'd feel towards anyone else escaping the fate of being collateral damage of his vengeance. He hastily turned his thoughts elsewhere.
"How'd you know I'd arrived? Where I'd be?"
Smee simpered. "It's big news when a pirate ship sails into town." Killian sighed, any hope of going undiscovered evaporating as Smee continued. "I was coming to the harbor to see if you were really here and saw the prince and the sheriff taking you away." He shrugged.
Killian clapped Smee on the back, liking him far more than he had a moment before. "Very good, Mr. Smee. Let me retrieve my hook and we shall find a less conspicuous place to make our berth."
He walked to the desk and pulled open the drawer into which the prince had thrown his hook. He picked it up, clicked it into place, and started to close the drawer when something else inside it caught his attention. He stared in disbelief.
His scarf; she had kept it.
"Is something wrong, Captain?"
Killian reached into the drawer and ran his fingers over the material. Surely it meant nothing. This must have been the most convenient place for her to stash it.
"No, Smee," Killian said, letting the scarf slip through his fingers and pushing the drawer shut. "Come. Let's go."
He turned and strode from the room, knowing Smee would follow. The matter of the scarf intrigued him, as did the notion that Emma would return to the cell and find it empty.
Well, let her pursue him; he did enjoy a good chase.
Emma ran into the station, not at all surprised to find the cell empty, the door hanging wide open. She huffed in frustration and threw her keys onto the desk.
She should have spotted the ruse as soon as she got to the house located at the address this 'William' gave her. A bunch of kids ran around on the front lawn, no broken down car in sight, no stranded and fearful man waiting for her help. And yet she still didn't guess at the ploy when she rang the doorbell and a little old lady answered, telling her she'd seen nobody today except Emma, and if a man had been having car trouble in the past half hour, one of the kidswould have seen it. Not until she questioned some of the older children – all of whom assured her nothing out of the ordinary had happened there since they'd gotten home from school – did she begin to suspect the truth of the situation.
Almost knowing what she'd find missing, she opened her desk drawer. Sure enough, the hook was gone. She swore and slammed the drawer shut. Now, not only did she have to worry about Cora and her plans, but also a vengeful, armed pirate who apparently had an accomplice in town. Not to mention, she was supposed to leave with Gold this evening.
Suddenly eating Chimera in the Enchanted Forest didn't seem like such a horrible prospect.
She heard the door open and called out. "David?"
"Yeah," he answered and in a moment came into the office. He frowned at the open cell and then at her. "Where's Hook?"
She groaned and fell back into her chair. "Not here."
"You let him go?" David's face was a mixture of confusion and disbelief.
"No!" Emma opened the bottommost drawer of her desk. She sighed in relief when she saw her holster and gun still there. Thank goodness for small favors. She took them out, stood up and strapped on the belt. "Come on. I'll explain on the way."
"Where are we going?"
Emma gave him a tight smile. "To find a pirate and a witch by sundown."
By the time they reached the harbor, Emma had explained to David how she'd been tricked, called Mary Margaret to make sure Henry remained safe with her, and come up with several creative ways to injure Hook when she found him. She stalked down the docks after David, so involved in her thoughts that she nearly bumped into him when he stopped. She looked up and saw what caused his pause.
The Jolly Roger was gone.
"Well there goes that," David said as she came to stand next to him, both staring into the empty space where the ship had been that morning. "He wasted no time getting the hell out of here."
Emma sighed and shook her head, not being able to put her finger on what didn't sit right with her about Hook being gone. "He was our only link to Cora."
They stood silently for a moment.
"What about Regina?" David asked, eyebrows raised, face hopeful. "Maybe she's with her?"
"No." Emma shook her head. "Regina was ready to hide out from her mother at the loft."
"Hmm," David said.
"It doesn't make sense," she said, frowning at David as she realized what bothered her about his leaving. "He wanted to kill Rumplestiltskin. Why would he leave?"
Before David could answer, a voice from behind her, raw in its anger, startled her.
"What did you do with my ship?"
She spun around as David did the same. She nearly stepped back when she saw Hook's face, his dark scowl and clenched jaw making him look every bit the fearsome pirate of the stories. Her eyes flicked to the man with him – heavy-set with a scraggly beard and ridiculous red wool hat – and realization clicked.
"William Smee…" Emma exhaled a short bark of laughter. Of course. Who else would spring Captain Hook from jail?
"You know him?" David asked.
"It is of no import," Hook said, his voice dangerously low. Emma noticed his fist clench and he raised his hook ever so slightly in an almost threatening gesture. "My ship… what have you done with her?"
"He's his first mate," she said offhanded to David, inclining her head towards Hook. Then, before she could tell Hook she had no idea what happened to his ship, Smee corrected her.
"Actually, I'm the bosun..."
"What have you done with my bloody ship?"
Emma's eyes grew wide. Hook was livid and if she didn't believe he wouldn't actually kill her – after all, he could easily have run her through when he had her on her back at Lake Nostos instead of just jabbering on about his sword – she would fear for her life. As it was, she needed to calm him down because she wasn't sure if the same held true when it came to sparing David.
"Easy, Hook," she said, holding her palms up in front of her, walking towards him like she'd approach a wild animal. "It was gone when we got here. We figured you'd skipped town after your little prison break."
Hook searched her face. She recognized his expression; looking for the lie. After a minute she saw some of the tension leave his body but the fury remained in his eyes. Still angry, she realized, but no longer at her. Another moment and he stepped towards her, closing the distance. David took a step forward as well, almost protectively, and she held her hand out towards him to prevent the situation from escalating. Again.
"Well, then. As sheriff in this town, I expect you'll be helping me find her."
Emma scoffed. "Actually, as sheriff in this town, I'm going to bring you right back to jail."
Hook smirked. "I find that highly unlikely, darling."
"Try me." Emma raised an eyebrow. Hook regarded her for a moment before exhaling a contemplative "Hmmph."
"I'll tell you what, love." He leaned forward, tilting his head down and grinning at her. "You find my ship and you can lock me and Mr. Smee up in your quaint little brig for as long as it pleases you."
"Captain?" Smee's nervous question struck Emma as humorous, but she didn't dare spare him any of her focus. Hook ignored Smee as well, keeping his eyes trained on Emma.
"Is that right?" She glanced at David who shrugged his acceptance of the arrangement. However, she didn't trust the offer in the slightest. "You'll come willingly back to jail?"
"Aye." He brushed a lock of her hair over her shoulder with his hook, reminding her that she should probably confiscate it again. "Willingly. Gladly. Enthusiastically."
She rolled her eyes at his suggestive tone. "Unfortunately, right now stolen property is low on my list of priorities, with Cora on the loose." She smiled sweetly at Hook. "Unless you want to tell me where she is, in which case I can help you sooner."
"She's not here." Emma raised an eyebrow and he mirrored the move. "She abandoned me at Lake Nostos; I left her in the Enchanted Forest."
"She's not here?" Could it be true? She saw it in his eyes; he wasn't lying. Could they actually have caught a break?
"Aye." His mouth curled up suggestively.. "Now, about my ship…"
Although the reason for her impromptu trip with Gold was no longer valid, she had to operate under the assumption they were still going, at least until he told her otherwise. She looked at David and hoped he read the warning in her eyes that she was about to volunteer him for something she knew he would loathe.
"David will help you." She turned back to Hook after David gave her a quick nod of assent. Neither man looked pleased with the arrangement but it would have to do.
Hook narrowed his eyes briefly at David before focusing on her again, wetting his now parted lips with his tongue. She rolled her eyes before he even spoke.
"I'd much rather you assist me, Swan."
She saw David's body tense out of the corner of her eye and silently willed him not to react. She smirked at Hook, not backing away from his close proximity, but before she could respond Smee called out to him.
All eyes were on him as he motioned for Hook to follow him a few steps away. Hook's eyes flashed back to Emma quickly before he followed Smee. Turned in and bent towards each other, Emma could hear their hushed voices but could not make out any words. She exchanged a look with David, who shrugged.
Hook's outraged exclamation drew her attention back to the two pirates. He strode to her, wrath in his eyes, but she saw something else as well, something she couldn't place.
"Is it true? You're leaving town with the crocodile?"
Emma closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. It was apparently all the confirmation he needed.
"Are you daft, Swan? The man's a bloody demon." She met his gaze and her eyes widened in surprise at what she saw; anger, sure, but also something behind it. If she didn't know better, she would have thought he worried for her safety.
"Hey, enough!" David closed the distance to them, extending his arm in front of Emma, blocking her as much as he could.
"Back off, Dave," Hook said, his voice low and menacing. "Unless, perhaps, you endorse your daughter going on a voyage with the bloody devil."
Emma put her hands on David's arm, trying to diffuse the situation as she pushed it down.
"I can take care of myself, Hook."
"Captain..." Smee interrupted, his voice sounding hesitant and almost frightened. Again, they all looked to him to see him pointing up into the air over the harbor. As one they turned to see what he was gesturing at. In midair a bird sat, perched on absolutely nothing.
"What the hell?" Emma said.
"Bloody hell," Hook said at the same time, walking towards the edge of the dock. He swung his hook out over the water and with a dull thunk it collided with something invisible.
"I think we found the ship, Captain." Smee's excitement lasted only until David spoke.
"Alright then, pirate. Back to jail with you."
I am still here, still working on this story, and there is more written for the next chapter, but there are so many other talented writers in the fandom, I get sidetracked reading their stuff instead of writing my own half the time. But I've renewed interest in this story now, and direction, so hopefully there will be updates more often.
Thanks to my beta AtOnceUponSomeChaos. Go give her cookies! She keeps my honest and believable when I devolve into tropes and cliche.