"Land!" A man screamed from atop one of the masses. Killian's eyes shot open after having slept for a mere hour. He groaned from the striking rays of bright yellow light, which engulfed his sleepy dilated pupils. As he sat up he felt his left hand throb. He had hoped it would stop over the course of the night. If anything, the pain had picked up since it started yesterday.
Loud scampering of footsteps erupted beneath him from the crew mates that had just been awoken by the announcement. He felt his limbs ache with exhaustion as he ungracefully stumbled towards the doorway. Men from underneath were sprouting out from the bunker stairs onto the deck to catch a glimpse of land in their immediate horizon.
"Move! Get the hell out of the way!" Mr. Smee furiously pushed aside the men who were obstructing the tired Captain. When he finally was able to lean against the rail, Killian sighed at the glorious sight before him. They had made it back. He was home.
"Daddy!" screamed the little girl running down the dock towards the ship. Crew members stopped their hastened duties of unloading cargo to move out of her way. Her golden brown locks bounced against the back of her white cotton dress as she ran. It had been a long time since the men have seen any bright faces of youth, let alone this beautiful child. They gladly removed their dark soggy caps in respect to her as she ran by them towards the Captain, who was stepping off from the ship. Killian grinned excitedly as he took the little girl in his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he lifted her off of the ground.
"Elizabeth," he sighed happily as he pulled away to look at the face of his spirited daughter. "How is my little princess?"
"Good," she giggled. "I missed you, Daddy."
"I missed you too, angel," he kissed her forehead as he made his way up the docks. She nuzzled her face into his shoulder, infatuating him with her lovely clean scent of lilac blossoms and fresh linen. Having spent many lonely months at sea, holding his precious five-year-old daughter was satisfying enough. He was surprised to see her tidy appearance; she was notorious for ruining her best dresses and for tracking dirt into the foyer of the castle. Regardless of whether she was wearing her tiara or if she was covered in mud, Elizabeth was the most precious and beloved child Killian had ever beheld.
"How on earth did your mother keep you so orderly?" He gasped childishly, catching the sight of Elizabeth's mother walking toward him. The deep red dress fit her just as beautifully as he remembered. It was simple but it draped over her features perfectly. There was, however, a slight paleness to her ordinarily flushed cheeks which immediately caused him concern. As she came closer, he picked up on other physical details such as subtle shadows under her eyes and lack of color from her lips. Snow, Elizabeth's grandmother and the Queen, followed closely behind her with her own young son, Prince James, trailing her heels. The little prince was formally dressed like Elizabeth; his bushy black hair was actually brushed and he was wearing his formal gray uniform of royalty.
"Welcome home," Snow smiled warmly to him. Killian slowly lowered his daughter to the ground for him to properly acknowledge her.
"The last stretch was painstaking," he nodded to his battered ship, "it will take weeks to repair the damages from that bloody storm." Snow's eyes flickered a hint of pain, which Killian understood to be a subtle red flag regarding Emma. He looked at Emma, whose eyes stared back blankly at him. His eyes shuffled between the two women with a slight bit of confusion.
"Have the men of the house not returned from their expedition?"
Snow shook her head glumly, "David and Henry thought it would be best to wait until the storm has passed to ride back. They should be here sometime late tonight, hopefully in one piece."
James's eyebrow furrowed frustratingly. Stomping one of his feet angrily, his clear blue eyes squinted up at his mother, "I want to go with Daddy next time," he grumbled. Snow sighed and shot Killian a look of amusement before kneeling down to her son, "You will do no such thing. Until you turn eighteen I will not have you riding anywhere unless it's with me in the royal carriage." Though dejected by her response, James knew better than to argue with his mother.
Without as much as a word, Emma took quick strides towards him. He gratefully closed his eyes as he felt her arms wrap around his neck. Emma buried her face into his chest, pressing her body against his. He sighed with relief having her back, safe in his arms. After a moment passed, he tried pulling back but she did not budge. Her arms were locked. "It's good to see you too, love," he grinned. Her face did not budge and she did not acknowledge him through words or motion. It seemed as if she was oblivious to the world around her.
Killian looked up to Snow with worry. Picking up on his queue, Snow turned to the two little children and eagerly raised an eyebrow, "Race ya guys back to the carriage." James and Elizabeth's eyes lit up from the challenge and bolted towards the road. Letting the children take off on their own, Snow leisurely walked behind them with the two royal guards that had accompanied the family.
"Emma," Killian finally sighed. Her breathing hitched at the sound of his soothing voice. He slowly led his fingers down her long blonde curls as his other hand kept a tight grip around her waist.
"Now that I've returned after such a long journey, you refuse to speak?"
She hastily shook her head. Her fingers twisted in his disheveled hair. As desperate as he was to hear her voice after so long, he could not bring himself to unweave himself from her grasp. "Love," he whispered, "talk to me."
She relaxed her arms around him before finally raising her eyes up to face him. Their faces were so close he could feel her warm breaths flutter against his unshaven cheek. Pigments of her green eyes sparkled from the sun, though they were still welled with pent up tears.
"You're late," she mumbled.
Killian chuckled lightly, "I've never been one for punctuality, love. You know that-"
"My parents sent out a ship," she continued. Killian gently brushed his thumb along the side of her cheek as she kept her gaze interlocked with his. "Mhmm?" His eyebrows rose encouragingly.
"And they found remnants of a ship a few miles from shore... floating broken boards, ripped fragments of fabric littering the water..."
"Yes I saw it," he nodded gravely, "it was taken by the storm no doubt."
A teardrop finally leaked down from the corner of Emma's eye until it was caught by Killian's thumb. She bit her lip and dropped her gaze. Killian took a few seconds to think before he could understand what she was trying to say.
"Oh," he sighed discouragingly. "Emma look at me." Taking ahold of her trembling hand, he brought it to his lips. "I've lived aboard my ship for many years. I have endured many storms and as Captain, I've learned how to manage. Why, after all this time, did you doubt my return?"
Her eyelids fluttered a few watery drops out from her sight. He slowly brushed his thumb across her wet cheek to catch the falling strands as he leaned closer to her. Emma longingly stared into his bright blue eyes as her body relaxed towards him. Their foreheads met first; their breaths were now steady and deep against each other's face. She rested her hand along his whiskered face as her soft lips molded against his perfectly.
It took him a moment to gather himself. At first, he kissed her back gently. With every passing second, Killian felt more and more invigorated by her touch. After months of separation from her, he was being brought back to life through the heat radiating between them: the spark that he was only able to visit in nostalgic dreams. He felt her body press against him, confirming that she had missed this as much as he did.
"Captain!" An old scurvy voice bellowed from the docks behind them. Killian growled as he reluctantly pulled away from Emma. "Mr. Smee."
"Are we to unload the entire shipment Captain?" He asked, oblivious to Killian's impatience.
"No that'll do for now. Get your affairs in order today and return for the rest tomorrow," Killian answered loud enough for all the shipmates to hear. "I'd say you all could use the day off, lads."
Emma smiled as the ship mates cheered amongst each other. Before she could comment on Killian's strange sense of generosity, he whipped his body back around and pulled her back into him.
His hands wrapped around her waist and pressed her frame firmly against his as their mouths continued to recapture their rhythm. At that moment Killian felt like an addict heavily relapsing on a beautifully overwhelming drug. He was once again infatuated by her touch, smell, and taste. After a few hastened moments of building intensity, he felt her lips slow down. She pulled her face a few inches away to look up at him. "They're waiting." She muttered half out of breath.
Despite her still exhausted features, Killian could finally see the spirit return to her eyes. She smiled weakly, "I might need to sleep to the way back."
"That's quite alright love. I could use some rest as well." Taking her hand, he led her away from the docks toward the carriage.
"And a bath," Emma muttered. He couldn't help but grin back at her. He dearly missed the way she challenged him with her banter. Turning his attention ahead to the carriage waiting down the road, he could see Elizabeth bouncing on the balls of her feet beside James. The two children were reaching up as high as they could to stroke one of the white horses chained to the front.
Snow stuck her head out of the carriage and beckoned for Elizabeth and James to board. Killian watched as the two children ahead of him chased each other up the steps. He turned to look at Emma, who was smiling brightly at the kids. Killian knew that he was ready to go home with his family.