A/N: I cannot jump this ship. So many delicious ideas of our favorite pirate and his swan. This story takes place after "Tallahassee" but partly into "Queen of Hearts". It is a bit based on my other short story, "What's Mine is Yours". As a slight warning, this prologue is meant to be a tad confusing, and you will see why by the end. It's following a bit of stream-of-consciousness. So hang onto your hooks, and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
"Don't be upset now
You know that I get angry too
Don't make me hurt you
No one hears you in this room"
It was raining.
Of course it was raining.
Emma's shoulders sagged beneath the weight of the torrential downpour, glancing to her left, then her right, as she took in the sight of her companions. Mary Mar—Mom, Emma corrected herself mentally—tilted her face up to the sky, spreading her arms out and letting her pursed lips melt into a sobbing smile. Emma breathed a sigh of relief before allowing Mary Margaret to not-so-gently tug her into a tight embrace. "We're home, Emma, we made it!"
But it only took one name for Emma to breathe for Mary Margaret to understand. Henry. She pulled back, allowing her mother to hold her at arm's length, Mary Margaret nodding eagerly in the rain before turning her attention to their guests.
"This," Mulan blinked piteously through the rain, "is the infamous Story Book?"
"Storybrooke," Emma corrected, shielding her face with her forearm. She wasn't sure why they were just standing in the rain. They should have run for Mary Margaret's apartment, or Granny's Bed and Breakfast—anywhere to get out of this. Yes, Emma thought, let's just pow-wow in the middle of a storm. Weather's perfect for hair and nails.
She glanced at Aurora, soaked in her gown, whose emotions looked as though they were melting with the rain. Tears? Really? Emma sighed, trying to shove back her biting sarcasm for the shivering princess. "You're safe now. Here, in Storybrooke. There's nothing to be af—"
"No, you're afraid."
Emma's head jerked up sharply. "Afraid to talk." Her entire being, inside and out—"To reveal yourself"—was balking at the impossibility of that voice. "To trust me." Ten hours. "Things will be a lot smoother if you do." They'd had ten hours, how the hell—
"—quite perceptive, aren't you?"
Emma's face contorted in an unreadable expression for just a moment before she slammed those impassible walls back up before Mary Margaret and their crew. Her fists clenched and she whirled around on the heels of her boots. The rain, however, was making visibility near impossible. She thought she saw – no.
Mary Margaret was at her back, a hand on her shoulder. "What's wrong?" There was an edge to her voice that grated against Emma's stringy nerves. She rolled her shoulder back and moved away from the touch, further into the rain and the darkness that was threatening to envelop her. Her head tilted to the side, like his had, her ears at full attention and eyes narrowed, just as his had been, trying to grasp some straw of sanity that might explain what she was doing, why—
"—do this to me now?"
"Do you hear that?" Her voice came out hollow, a deadpan of emotionless nothing. But she was shaking, she could feel it—chills pulsing all the way to the tips of her toes. Emma blinked. "Look," she huffed, flustered as Mary Margaret placed her hand on Emma's forehead. Checking for a bloody fever. "I'm not sick, if you could just give me—"
"—a boost, would you, love?"
Oh, I'll give you more than a boost, Hook. Emma's face flushed with barely contained rage. I don't know what's going on, but get the hell out of my head!
"Are you…Emma, are you alright?"
Emma shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. "Right as rain. Let's go."
Mary Margaret eyed her for a moment longer before sliding her hand to Emma's shoulder and giving it a squeeze. "Honey, you—"
"—are bloody brilliant. Amazing."
Emma could feel her heart quiver at that one. Her fists tightened even more, knuckles turning white. What the hell was going on? She could hear him clearly, as if he were right inside her head. Like some stupid parasite that had crawled its way inside her ear and was determined to drive her mad. Emma glanced at Mary Margaret, mildly wondering if she was mad. Maybe that portal had screwed up her brain somehow. Too much magic dust or whatever had to be bad for you. Especially if she wasn't used to it. She frowned. What if something's wrong with me?
"Are there, by any chance, side effects from magic?" Emma turned from the forest and looked her mother square in the eye, impatiently pursing her lips.
Mary Margaret's own lips twisted to the side, her eyes flashing with the memory of the fiery room. "Yes. But," she breathed, examining the concern falling on Emma's face, "Side effects are more along the lines of curses. Not a portal."
"What about for someone—"
"—who's never been in love, you're quite perceptive, aren't you?"
"—like me?" Her hard tone fell to a quiver.
"Someone like you? Emma, I don't…oh, honey. No. You were born in our world, not this realm. It would react the same to you as me or the others," she gestured behind her to a rather impatient-looking Mulan. Aurora clung to her in the rain, eyes as bright as a cow facing an oncoming train.
Emma sighed, running shaky fingers hastily through her damp hair. "Right. Okay." She glanced back at the darkening forest. "I just…I think I need to see Henry."
Mary Margaret smiled. It was hesitant. "Of course you do."
"And we need to get them," Emma nodded towards Mulan and Aurora, "someplace dry."
"I'm sure Granny would be willing to accommodate." Mary Margaret led the way towards Granny's diner, the two women in hot pursuit while Emma lagged behind. She folded her arms, bending her head against the downpour. She could see her breath. It came out in short, white puffs, reminding her how cold she should feel. But she couldn't feel a thing. Listen, Hook. If you're in my head…kindly remove yourself before I—
"—was hoping it would be you."
Emma's steady footfalls paused for a moment, before picking up speed. Quit it. Are you bloody two years old? Grow a pair and have a conversation, will you? Don't repeat the past.
"Oooohh, you're a tough lass."
Silence. Emma sighed, running the back of her hand across her eyes, dissembling the streaks of rain trespassing into her eyes. She let out a short laugh as the silence continued. The laugh turned into a fit of giggles. Great, she shook her head, grinning to herself. I am going mad. Yelling at myself in my head. Look out, Storybrooke, you'd—
"—make a hell of a pirate."
God, she was even beginning to sound like him.
"Emma, hurry up! You're soaked, honey!" Emma brushed off Mary Margaret's concern, shrugging past her and into the crowded diner, suddenly remembering why she was here. Her eyes tore anxiously through the restaurant before settling on a pair in the back booth. David and Henry. Mary Margaret was, of course, way ahead of her as she trotted past the tables filled with townspeople whom, if Emma hadn't known better, were unhinging their jaws for Granny's food rather than the sight of Snow White and Prince Charming being reunited. Applause rang through the air. Emma found herself fighting past a rather enthusiastic Grumpy who was handing out rather uncharacteristic hugs. When she'd freed herself from his arms, she ducked Red's attack, which closely resembled that of the left tackle in football. "Sorry, Ruby!" she shouted over her shoulder, sidestepping a blushing Archie who offered her one of his psychologist-of-the-year nods followed by a hesitant wave.
"Kid!" Emma yelled over the uproar. She was restless to escape the sudden onslaught of claustrophobia, but she knew she had to find Henry first. Find son. Exit quickly. Minus the mob. Run. Good plan.
And then she heard him. "Emma! Mom! Over here!" A hand shot out and took hold of her jacket collar, tugging her none-too-gently past a Happy-on-steroids who was high-fiving every being in sight. Emma felt dazed as she allowed the disembodied arm to tow her through the crowd, a crowd that seemed to relax into slow motion. As if time were being tampered with. And that's when she saw it. Out of the corner of her eye. A hook, tearing through the air, threatening to slice apart everything she loved. Everything she'd come to know in the past few months.
"Let GO of me!" she screamed, gripping the arm and pulling herself free. "Let—"
"—me help you."
"Goddamn you!" Emma snapped, shoving off her toes as she launched herself at the wielder of the hook. The crowd seemed to vanish as Emma barreled into him, shouldering all of her weight into his stomach.
"What the…?!" His voice was silenced with a quick elbow to the jaw. Emma's hand reached for her belt, but remembered her cuffs had vanished between this world and the next. She'd have to improvise. She felt bad Henry had to see her like this, but she couldn't chance Hook seeing him. The last thing she needed was her son's life in danger, in threat of a one-armed pirate whose main weapons were his vulgar antics and those smoldering, cerulean eyes. Wait. What? Where had that come from? Emma gritted her teeth, shaking her hair back from her eyes as she shifted her weight.
Before she could confidently tell him where he could shove his Miranda rights, a voice stopped her cold. "Miss Swan, do you, er, mind telling me what my umbrella has done to deserve this?"
Emma froze, jerking her head up and eyes widening in horror. Archie was sprawled beneath her. She had tackled Archie Hopper in the middle of Granny's. And her hands were clutching his umbrella in a vice-like grip. In two pieces. Emma's jaw dropped. "Oh my God, Archie I'm so—"
"—sorry? You're sorry?! I got you here! I got you the compass…"
Emma gritted her teeth as she rolled off Archie, dropping his broken umbrella and helping him to his feet. Her hand went to her head, bracing herself against Hook's words. "I swear I'll buy you a new one, Archie. I don't…I don't know what came over me. I—shit!" Emma doubled over, cradling her right wrist. It was as if she'd been burned. She glanced down at the leather brace Hook had given her. She righted herself quickly, turning her back on Archie and Mary Margaret. The diner, oddly, had completely cleared out. David must have sent them all home, Emma thought, wincing as the brace's grip dulled to a numb ache.
"Emma, are you alright?" Mary Margaret trotted up to her, placing her hand on Emma's back in comfort. "What's going on? You've been acting really strange ever since we've gotten back."
"It's nothing, I'm fine."
"You're lying to me. Emma, look at me. Tell me the truth, have—"
"—I told you a lie? I brought you here. I risked my own safety to help you."
Emma's brows furrowed, debating on the likelihood her mother would ship her off with Archie to have a mental evaluation if she told her the truth. She glanced over Mary Margaret at him; he was dusting himself off and collecting the torn fabric and wood chips that were left of his umbrella. Her gaze met her mother's, making up her mind. "I think Hook's in my head."
Mary Margaret narrowed her eyes sharply. "What do you mean?"
"When we got here. I heard his voice. None of you seem to be hearing it, but I swear, it's like he's inside my head, and he won't bugger off. I've tried…think talking to him, you know, but he won't get the picture. He just repeats all his dumbass comments from the beanstalk, and I," she sighed shakily, folding her arms. "I don't know how to get rid of it. Him, I mean."
Mary Margaret glanced over her shoulder at Archie, who was now smiling awkwardly at them, as if on standby for precaution. She turned back and steered Emma to a booth far out of Archie's hearing, sitting her down. "Honey, who is Hook?"
Emma raised her brows. "You're kidding, right? That infamous pirate from all those Peter Pan stories. The one who's apparently real, though far be it from me to disbelieve any sort of fairytale character now. Led me up a beanstalk to get the compass that took us home." Mary Margaret frowned, cocking her head to the side. Emma sighed exasperatedly. "You know, pompous asshole, yea high," she lifted her hand in the air. She crooked her left finger, "Giant hook for a left hand. Really, can't miss it." She let out a hesitant laugh before squinting one eye at her mother. "Oh. My. God. You don't believe me."
Mary Margaret's face instantly lit up in a grin. She reached across the table to pat Emma's hands consolingly. "Of course I do, dear. Now, if you don't mind, Regina and I are having a girls' night out. So, I know you're having a tough time readjusting, but my cell phone's only for emergencies, like if Red accidentally eats Henry or something," she giggled, scooting out of the booth.
Emma's jaw dropped.
The only two words that could so eloquently come to mind? The. Fuck.
"This isn't a joke, Mary Margaret!" Her voice was rising, but she couldn't help yelling at Snow White—her mother. Her entire body was quivering with some deluded combination of fear and barely contained rage. Hook. Somehow, this is your fault. That's great. Just great. I can't even blame you because no one seems to know who the hell you are. Goddamn pirate.
"I know it isn't!" Mary Margaret was making her way cheerily to the front door when it was pulled open. There stood Regina Mills. In pajamas. Complete with bunny slippers. She flashed an apologetic smile at Emma.
"Sorry to steal your mother like this, but in this world we are slaves to time. And ours is running out. In other words, tick tock."
Emma froze. Her entire body felt like lead as she watched Regina steer her waving mother out of Granny's and into the rain. They were gone in an instant. And Emma was confident she had gone insane.
"Hey, Archie, I think I may take you up on one of your," Emma turned around to face an empty diner, "sessions…" A crack of lightning slashed through the sky, lighting up the now-dark restaurant. "What. Is going. On?" The resounding thunder seemed to shake the entire building. She was surely losing her mind. God, she had to be. People were disappearing. She'd tackled Archie. Her mom was going out for a girls' night with Regina of all unholy people. And the voices. His voice. Emma shook her head, agitated as she pulled herself out of the booth. "I need—"
"—to get back to a child…you don't want to abandon him the way you were abandoned."
Emma's fist slammed down on the table. "Hook! Get the hell out of my head! Or, I swear to God, I'll shove your open book so far up your ass you'll wish you'd never left Never Land." She shouldered her way out of the diner's door, letting the freezing rain bite at her face. Her car was nowhere to be seen—not like she had any keys to drive it with. The streets were completely deserted, and at every flash of lightning Emma saw—felt—something sinister watching her from the shadows. Her boots clicked impatiently on the hard concrete as she jogged down the road to Mary Margaret's apartment. She could feel something, maybe him, following her. His silent pursuit did nothing for her nerves. Henry. She couldn't lead him to Henry. Then where? Think, Emma. Her eyes raked across the town's buildings. Where wouldn't he want to go? It suddenly struck her. Rumpelsiltskin's.
She was at his house in a matter of minutes. Her fist connected with the door frame, banging loudly as she anxiously glanced over her shoulder. She could feel him closing in. Her heart was in her throat. Still looking behind her, the door swung open.
"Oh, Gold, thank God, I—"
Emma's heart stopped.
It wasn't Gold at all. Instead, leaning casually against the door frame, arms folded and one brow raised arrogantly, stood Killian Jones. He was grinning like a Cheshire cat, but somehow his bared teeth seemed more sinister than playful like in the children's story. Something glinted in another flash of lightning. Crimson. Dripping from where his left hand should be. From his hook. He followed her gaze then resettled his calculating look on Emma.
"You killed him? You killed Rumpelstiltskin?"
"Whatever story you think you know, my dear, is most certainly wrong."
Emma sucked in a sharp breath, feeling a surge of courage course through her veins, taking control. She owed it to the sheriff inside her. She took a step towards him, pulling herself to her full height and narrowing her eyes at him coldly. "Oh, shut the hell up and give it a Goddamn rest, will you? Try new words. Starting with a confession. Did you, or didn't you, kill Rumpelstiltskin? Whose blood is on your han—hook?"
"The truth's a little bit more gruesome…very bad form."
Emma couldn't ignore the ice that seemed to pump rapidly through her heart. "Who did you kill, you fuc—"
"I was hoping it would be you."
"Yes, you've already said that—three Goddamn times now," Emma huffed. She was angry, her cheeks flushing and rage flaring. Her entire body was shaking, and she blamed it on the cold rain. But then a wave of dizziness overcame her. Emma shifted her weight, leaning towards him as she reached out a hand to brace herself against the frame. She opened her mouth, but the words seemed to dissolve in her throat. She coughed, a bitter pain exploding in her chest.
"Put your hand right here," Hook ordered calmly. She watched him place his own hand over his upper left chest, silently instructing her to repeat his actions on herself. Emma frowned stupidly. Her eyes weren't focusing. Her hand, as if of its own accord, lifted and delicately rested over her heart. She pulled it away. Even with her blurred vision, there was no mistake. Emma's breath hitched. Her hand was soaked in dark, red blood.
"Let me help you." His eyes darkened, brows knitting together as his mouth cocked up into a sideways grin. He reached out to grab hold of her arm. A surge of electricity jolted Emma. His touch. It was like fire. But, she sighed, suddenly finding it difficult to breathe, not the good kind of fire. The kind that engulfed you whole. Seared every bit of you until you were entirely unrecognizable. Until you were no longer you. But someone else.
She took a step forward and collapsed. He caught her easily, his hooked arm wrapping around her back while his good arm slid beneath her knees. Emma felt as if she were flying when he hauled her up and against his chest softly. The touch. His touch. It was so…different from his eyes. They were cruel. Cold, calculating. Unforgiving. Pools of death, she decided as she tried to blink away the haze. And she couldn't help it. Bitterly, unwillingly, her head fell to his shoulder to silence the swimming world around her. "It's about bloody time." Emma felt herself jostled by his rumbling laughter, no doubt laughing at the irony of his statement, concerning her suddenly fatal predicament.
"Henry. I have to get to Henry…"
Hook turned in the doorway, kicking the door shut behind him. He strolled into the dimly lit room. Emma glanced around. The room was rocking. Wooden panels were covering what used to be wallpaper. Instead of hundreds of Gold's trinkets, there were barrels and netting. Against the far wall, where Hook was carrying her, rested a small cot. Emma swore she could hear the waves of the ocean. Her body melted at the feel of the mattress beneath her back when Hook lowered her to the bed. She was wheezing now, her lungs aching with every breath's effort. Her chest was on fire, but oddly, the rest of her body was freezing. A shiver racked her frame as she allowed, laughing slightly under her breath, Captain Hook to tuck her in.
"That's a good girl." His hand met her forehead, frowning slightly at her temperature. Emma could feel it. That pinprick sensation in her right wrist had returned with vengeance. Where the bracer was. It tugged and pulled, digging into her skin. As if it was trying to become her skin. Emma's fingers flew to the leather. Hook let loose an indiscernible curse beneath his breath, stilling Emma's efforts to pull it off. He shook his head, his eyes crisp and threatening. They seemed too real, Emma realized, allowing Hook to draw her hand into his. I should be kicking his ass right now, she mentally huffed. But she felt so tired. Sleep. She just needed to sleep. Then she could get to the bottom of this. And find Henry. She had to warn Snow White. She had to…
If she could just close her eyes, the pain would recede, she was sure.
The voices were louder, but they weren't his. It was—
Emma's half-lidded eyes flew to Hook's. He was watching her calmly, gripping her hand in his. Her gaze slid down to his bloodied hook. Her blood. She was the one he had killed. Rumpelstiltskin was nowhere to be seen. But when she had asked about a murder, he had coolly redirected her focus to her bleeding chest. An answer. An act of revenge. For deserting him.
Emma, open your eyes. You've got to—
She shuddered, eyes slipping closed. Hook's hand left hers to grip her chin firmly, shaking it side to side. Trying to keep her there with him. She eyed him beneath hooded lids. He was shouting something, hovering over her as desperation drenched his face. Regret. Emma would recognize that look on anyone's face. Because she'd seen it on her own too many times in the mirror.
Wake the hell up!
She turned her face away from Hook. Out of his commanding reach.
Her eyes slipped closed.
Then flew open.
"Emma, sweetie, oh my God, are you okay?"
"Is she alright?"
"She's fine, just a bad dream, right honey?"
"She was acting just like Aurora…she hasn't been under a sleeping curse, has she?"
"No. Emma? Emma?"
Emma blinked against the harsh sunlight. Her heart sunk. The nightmare, she realized sadly, was not in her head but reality. They were still in the Enchanted Forest. They hadn't made it back yet after all. But, Emma grimaced, despite her bitter reality, she knew one thing.
"I love a challenge."
Captain-fucking-Hook was still inside her head.
A/N: Like it? Hate it? Let me know! I know it was a bit confusing at parts, but this was a dream, that will set Emma up for a series of physical and mental spirals involving our lovely captain. Dreams are never quite certain, and always loaded with mysteries accompanied with broken plot strings. The point was, in Emma's mind, she can't escape Hook, and trust will be a hard thing to come by as she believes she now knows the one thing he will only ever pursue: revenge. I hope you were able to follow Hook's interjections inside Emma's mind (italicized quotes).
As a side note, I am looking for a beta, someone to help edit and bounce ideas with, so if anyone is interested, please feel free to send me a PM or comment in a review. I plan on continuing this story if it is approved by an audience. Keep in mind, this was a prologue—merely something to get our feet wet in the ever-delicious Captain Swan universe. Merry Christmas, everyone!