...

Emma sat on a bolder just beyond the tree's of the forest - a wide buffer between town and the savagery of the dark forest. She waited patiently for Killian and his men to arrive as the first rays of light began to climb over the edge of the earth. It was always quiet and peaceful at this time and Emma liked that. The stillness before the world woke up and began. She was mulling over the conversation she'd had with Graham before she'd come to wait.


"I don't like this Emma - you didn't even like this before he made you" he said, sounding agitated.

"I'm not allowed to change my mind?"

"Depends on why you're changing your mind" He answered "I know how you are when someone goads you right." of course he did, he was her oldest and pretty much only friend.

"I don't like him, I don't trust him, I'm going to be very careful" she said calmly "I'm just guiding him through, he has no reason I can see to try to screw me"

"I'm sure he'll find one - he's a pirate" he argued

"I'm not dumb - I can handle this"

"Emma-" he began

"Graham" she'd said. She'd agreed, it was too late to back out now - she saw that he saw that on her face. He sighed again, getting up from his table in his little house to grab something out of a drawer.

"If there is one predictable thing about pirates it's that they feel at home on the sea" he said, approaching her with his closed fist outstretched towards her, offering her something.

She held out her hand and he dropped a small round violet pearl attached to a black cord into her hand.

"If something should happen and you need help use this" he said, watching her examine it.

"What is it?" she asked

"It's a siren's pearl" he told her as he closed her hand around it.

"I'm probably not going to get that close to the ocean" she laughed

"In the forest no one could hold their own against you - this is for if you're on unfamiliar turf" he explained.

"… Thank you" she said, giving him a grateful smile. He told her how it worked before looking her in the eyes.

"You sure about this?"

"You need to stop worrying Graham" she deflected, "I'm a big girl now"


She turned the violet pearl over in her hand, admiring how the light brought out all the complex deep shades that ribboned through it to life before she slipped the cord around her neck for safe keeping, hearing the sound of multiple footsteps long before she saw the band of pirates making for her position. Killian was wearing the black pirate shirt that looked far to good on him and what looked like leather pants with high boots. He was going to regret the choice of footwear later.

"I do hope you don't intend to trample that loudly through the forest" Emma said as she saw Killian's eyes land on her.

"Afraid we'll bring down the wrath of the tree's?" he asked like a true blue smartass.

"No - it's just annoying" she retorted, sliding off the rock and landing soundlessly at it's base like a gazelle.

"This everybody?" she said, eyeing up the other four men with swords on one hip and canteens on the other. The plump one with the red hat on his head gave a bit of a wave while the others gawked. Why did men always do this when they met her?

"It is" Killian said coming to stand by her side. He admired the worn green cloak and the soft leather boots she wore, stiff black fingerless gloves on her hands (looked to be dragon hide actually), long blond hair flowing down her back. She truly was a fine sight.

"Prepared to lead us into the unknown?" he asked, taking a step closer into her personal space than was necessary, wearing his "make them melt" smile she'd seen him flash in the tavern. He certainly liked to push his luck.

"Prepared to follow?" she challenged, not stepping back.

"I'd follow you anywhere lass - it's not a bad view" he told her with a wink.

"You know my name - try using it" she said looking away from him to examined his band of fellow pirates.

"As you wish love" he replied.

She was about to answer the obvious taunt until her eyes stopped on one particular crew member. Short messy brown hair, tall with soft brown eyes and a sharp chin - very handsome. And young.

"You said no children" she said instead, turning her head to look at Killian. He returned her look confused, glancing at his men before looking back at her

"There aren't" he answered.

She stalked up to the boy who watched her somewhat warily as she approached.

"How old are you - and don't lie"

His eyes looked to his Captain who nodded at him before he answered

"Twenty three ma'am"

"Your real age" she said rolling her eyes

"… Nineteen" he told her after a minute, clearly surprised at being called on it.

It was almost believable with his build - almost.

"Right. What part of 'don't lie' was unclear?" she asked with feigned confusion.

He shifted uncomfortably after being called out twice, she could see Killian crossing his arms in her peripherals, looking interested by the scene unfolding before him.

"Times a wasting kid" she said when he'd been quiet for another minute. He said something to softly to hear.

"Sorry, what?" Emma said, eyes widening slightly.

"Sixteen" he said louder, not making eye contact.

"Hook, what the hell?" Emma snapped, hard blue eyes still spearing the boy.

"I'm as surprised as you" he told her, he'd known the boy had lied about his age but not so drastically. "But sixteen was manhood last I checked love" he shrugged.

Emma grit her teeth together as she looked back at the boy.

"What's your name kid?" she asked

"Peter" he answered, holding his head higher and giving her his best stare of defiance.

Sixteen was not a child she knew - but damnit it was still young. She pointed a finger at him not saying anything for a few moments as she made her decision.

"… walk near the front" she ordered, turning to return where Killian stood. She held out her hand.

"You have it I trust?"

Killian looped his hook through a draw string at his side and dropped a pouch in her outstretched palm. She in turn walked back to the rock and dropped it in a pack that was at the base of the rock and hefted it on her shoulders.

"Not going to count it?" he asked

"I count at the end of the day - if you're short I go home and you walk yourself out" she told him.

She looked over her shoulder and smiled sweetly.

"Sorry, if you can walk yourself out" she corrected.

That threat had made a great deal of people fess up to cheating, she hadn't had to leave a single person in the forest and she'd prefer to keep that streak going, it was after all a bit cold even for her - but if they believed she'd leave them she had to worry less about being cheated. She watched him process that before his grin turned a shade darker then she'd seen it before.

"Of course I could"

Vindictive. Strongly at that, she filed that under the many qualities of Killian Jones and addressed the rag tag group.

"Ok the rules are simple - do as I say and you'll survive this venture. If it's pretty stay the hell away from it, cause it will try to kill you. If anything nicks you let me know no matter how small, depending on what nicked you it could be mild to serious"

She reached into her pack and pulled out two similar looking headless snakes, holding them both up so everyone could see them.

"These babies are dangerous, in their mating season and particularly aggressive right now-" she began

"So if attacked fake orgasm?" a pirate with a scruffy beard and a squint eye asked, earning him a chuckle from his peers.

"Carver" Killian said, his name a warning, however Emma didn't miss a beat

"Go for it - I'm sure you've hear enough faked ones to do the imitation justice"

This earned her a sour look from him and a laugh at his expense from his crewmates.

Killian looked surprised at first before joining with the laughter - quick as a whip this girl. Emma continued on as un-moved as she'd been before

"They look similar but only one of them will kill you"

She held the right one out, it's scales luminescent in an eerily beautiful way.

"Both are blue green and black so remember this - black touches green thank the queen, the venom causes some terrible pain but you'll live" she dropped the snake and held out the left one "black touches blue… you have three minutes before you go into shock and die"

"…That doesn't rhyme" the pirate with the red hat observed out loud.

His mate with a clean shaven face and signature pirate hat looked at him and rolled his eyes.

"Very much hope you remember it anyway Mr. …?"

"Smee" he offered with a smile. Hmm, friendly for a pirate.

"Mr. Smee" she said returning a thin smile of her own. She dropped the dead animal, continuing, "there are a host of other critters that will try to kill you but I won't go through them all, we'll deal with them when and if they come at us. Last but not least, keep up" she said "any questions?"

Killian watched her surveying his men. When no one asked anything she nodded

"We have a long day ahead of us - lets get started" she made as if she was about to leave but turned her head and stopped on the spot, like she'd heard something.

Everyone looked where Emma did just in time to see a white wolf emerge from the bush, one amber eye and one red eye watching them all. Killian's eyes widened as his hand gripped the hilt of his sword.

"Easy" Emma said, holding up a placating hand and smiling fondly at the wolf.

"She's with me" she said as the wolf trotted towards her and came to nuzzle her hand.

"Graham send you Kaleese?" Killian heard her asked, scratching under the beasts chin.

"You're getting a little old for this trek" she told the wolf.

"Bringing your pets, excellent" Killian sighed impatiently "We've appointments to keep love, in other words - tick tock"

She rolled her eyes before whistling, sending the white wolf running into the forest ahead of them.

"She's not a pet" Emma sneered as she passed him.

"Course not" Hook replied, falling in step behind her.


For a place called the dark forest, Killian thought as he looked around, it wasn't very dark.

In fact it was bright - beautiful actually.

There was no path really, merely places with less underbrush than others that Emma carefully navigated with six stomping boots following her every step, the wolf always either a head of them or following from a distance to either side, never to close and never to far. The tree's towered above them so the sunlight streamlined through their leaves and pooled all over the place like spotlights. Every now and then something would stir but by the time you looked whatever had caused the disturbance was gone. Vines hung from the long branches of the tree's so they dangled down like curtains, some adorned with exquisitely beautiful yellow flowers. He looked at Emma who was walking in front of him and smiled a little, their color reminded him a bit of her hair. He was about to tell her as much - restart the game they were playing if you will - when Emma hesitated, stopping and forcing him and everyone behind her to come to a halt as well.

"Problems Swan?" Hook inquired, looking ahead to see the reason for her abrupt stop.

"Spitters" she said as if that were explanation enough, taking off her pack.

Hook tried to see exactly what it was she was looking at. All he saw was a curtain of vines, all sporting a host of the yellow flowers like a curtain of gold, but no animals or danger that he could see.

"Spitters?" he repeated, still looking as Emma pulled out a tin of matches and a round little ball of what looked like a tightly packed cotton.

"Yeah, nasty little blooms - they love to hang about head height" she explained.

It was then he realized she was talking about the beautiful little flowers.

In fact, now that he looked at them more closely he noticed there was something a bit off about them - mainly that all the blooms seemed to move when Emma moved. Emma struck the match and the blooms seemed to focus more on her, a sweet scent filling the air as their petals quivered. The men where watching curiously now as was Killian, a tad unnerved by the flowers but not overly worried by them. Emma lit the little cotton ball and tossed it in the air towards them, causing all the blooms to turn their petals in it's direction. From the heart of the each flower shot tiny black spur like darts, nailing the flaming cotton ball in mid air. It hit the ground smoking, impaled by a hundred sliver fine black spurs.

"Whoa" Peter said "Clark you see that?" he asked, looking to the clean shaven man with the hat behind him, he nodded in response.

"They react to heat," she told Killian over her shoulder "their poison will make you hallucinate something fierce for about twelve hours, if you live that long stumbling around in here. To many hit you and you'll just die from toxic shock" she said, heaving her pack back onto her shoulders.

"Takes a few minutes for them to spit again, lets go"

she looked back when she didn't immediately hear hook following. He was looking at the beautiful flowers, now seeing them in a new harsher light.

"The more beautiful, the more deadly" she reminded him

"Then you must be the most dangerous thing in this forest" he told her, recovering smoothly.

He expected her to be dismissive and roll her eyes, and was suprised when she wasn't.

"Don't cut yourself short Killian" she returned with an insincere smile "I'm sure you're all kinds of dangerous as you're certainly all kinds of pretty."

Translation - I'm on to you, its not going to work.

She made to continue forward but Hook quickly stepped in front of her and pulled the vines from the path, gesturing with his hand.

"Ladies first" he said with a slight bow, watching her reaction carefully.

"For a pirate you sure love the gentlemen's act" she observed snarkily, walking through the opening while Hook followed on her heel. He leaned in close behind her

"I'm always a gentlemen love"

The words were said so close to her ear that she felt his hot breath on her neck and all the hair stood up at her nape.

"Names not love Killian" she told him, trying to sound unaffected by his nearness

"Yes, you do so like using names" he remarked pointedly, referring her use of his.

"Would you prefer your moniker?" she asked with a shrug, like it didn't matter to her

"No, I like the way you say my name" he said, waving the offer away "in fact I'd love to hear you scream it"

She narrowed her eyes at him but he only turned his charming smile into a more seductive suggestive one, did he ever stop?

"I'll make you walk at the back Hook - don't push me" she told him, continuing forward at a faster pace so he was walking behind her. His laugher at her retreat irked her to no end - fucking pirates.

...

ATTENTION! PLEASE READ!

Alrighty! It's happening guys, this and it's sequel have offically developed into their own original story of which shall be published! So as I've warned, I have taken most of the first and all of the second one down while I finish smoothing out, refining, and changing this story for publication - if you want to be notified of when it becomes available just favourite this story or my profile and you'll be notified!