A/n: Written as a pre-finale prompt on tumblr for "birdwithfrenchfry". It is also posted there under my name "lovingcaptainswan". Enjoy!
"You know, Swan, in Storybrooke you may have been sheriff, but aboard my ship you are a member of my crew."
Emma looked up from the book that she had been reading, her back firmly pressed again her bunk from where she sat on the floor of the gently rocking ship. She raised an eyebrow, unfazed by the hint of an edge in his tone. "Well, captain, this member of your crew is taking a break," she commented dryly, her eyes going back to the novel in her hands.
"You're new to this, Emma, so I'll let that little insubordination slip, but from here on out, this is how it works on my ship. I make the demands, you follow them," he continued on in an authoritative tone of voice. Her jaw dropped slightly, and she looked as if she was preparing a retort, but he didn't give her the chance. "Without Cora's magic – strong as Regina may be – this ship still needs a crew. Will I see you above deck?"
"Are you asking me or telling me?" she laughed sarcastically.
"I'm trying to be nice about this, darling…"
"Well, here's me trying to be nice. I just lost my son and I haven't slept for 3 days," she snapped, shutting the book with a light 'thud'. She paused for a moment and took a deep, shaky breath with a vulnerability that caught Hook off-guard. "Gimme a break, ok? I need to get my mind off of things."
Hook's expression softened and he took her by surprise when he slowly lowered himself to the wooden floorboards, sitting next to her. Their shoulders were nearly touching. "We're going to find your boy, Emma. In the mean time, you need to sleep, love…"
"Are you saying that as my captain, or because you really believe it?"
"We're going to find him," he repeated firmly, letting his gaze flit over the book in her hands. He reached over without waiting for permission and took it from her grasp gently.
"What? We're going to Neverland. I thought it could… I dunno, come in handy," she shrugged, embarrassed.
"You mean to tell me that you have a man who spent three centuries in Neverland at your disposal, and you're getting your information from a book written by someone who presumably didn't even know that it was a real place?"
Emma snatched the paperback from him. "Leave me alone, ok?"
"I think the crew will be fine without us for a few minutes … tell me about it?"
"The book. What does it say about me?"
The teasing smile on his face reminded her of the Hook she knew from the beanstalk. Carefree. Lighthearted.
"It says you're much uglier and that you have long, black, curly hair, so maybe it isn't so accurate."
"Are you saying that you think me handsome?"
"I'm pretty sure I said uglier," she replied wryly, allowing the rare semblance of a smile to cross her face. "One thing is true - it says that you treat your crew like dogs."
Offense was written all over the pirate captain's face. "I'll have you know, my crew loved me. I am firm but fair."
Emma rolled her eyes and opened the book again, allowing their conversation to trail off into silence.
"…and what does it say about Pan?" The curiosity in his voice intrigued Emma.
"Well, he's the hero of the story. Fearless. Cocky as hell. He seems to think he's the greatest thing to have been given to the world, but he has this crazy sense of justice," she went on, looking up to glance into the pirate's eyes that were clear as the calm, sparkling sea, as she spoke. "Actually, he sounds a lot like you," she snorted, rolling her eyes at the idea.
"And what's so funny about that?" he tipped his head with a playful glint in his eyes that Emma couldn't interpret.
"Because you're Captain Hook?"
He shrugged noncommittally and chuckled to himself. "That I may be, but I wouldn't believe everything you read, love. It also says that a physical crocodile ate my hand."
"You read it?"
"I may have skimmed it earlier when I saw it lying about," he smirked, and began to stand. "Like I said, you can't trust all you read in books. I lived the real story, and … they are way off, Lass."
Emma cast him a suspicious look. "What else are they off about?"
"Let's just say that in the real story Pan and Hook may not have been as different as this author seems to portray them."
"What is that supposed to mean?" She scoffed, "You were friends or something?"
"Not exactly," he answered, flashing her a cryptic smile as he turned away from her with a dramatic 'swish' of his trenchcoat and he made his way to the cabin door.
"So you're not gonna tell me?"
"What makes you think there is something to tell?"
"Maybe because you've been hinting at it?"
"I wouldn't have any idea what you're talking about, Emma. I simply said not to trust everything you read in stories," he mused innocently, leaning back against the doorway with a casual air about him. "So should I expect you above deck, or will you continue your… research below?"
Emma rolled her eyes and held up the book, ignoring his question. "So is any of this stuff true?"
"I believe the bit about the killer mermaids was fairly accurate. Then again, most things in Neverland can and will try to kill you. Arrogant as I may be, I'm honestly a bit surprised I haven't succumbed to Neverland's terrors myself yet."
"Well, that's reassuring. The only person who knows where we're going thinks he's going to die before he can get us home. Wonderful."
Hook grinned widely, his blue eyes positively dancing with mischief as he prepared to dip past the door and go back above deck. He reveled in the half annoyed, half confused expression on the blonde who was still clutching the book on the floor.
"What do you mean, love? As I've always said... To die would be an awfully big adventure."