Look, look! I finally finished something! Be proud :)
Hope you lovelies enjoy this! I have enjoyed every second of writing it and am actually pretty proud of this little fic :) Thank you for sticking it out with me!
Even the wind is warm here, the uncomfortable lick of humidity seeping into every facet of the Neverland weather, but still he runs. He runs until his chest aches and his eyes sting. And then he runs some more.
It hadn't been a planned move, it had just sort of happened. Weeks after Pan had claimed his shadow and made him one of his own, Hook had been sent to collect the latest boy to arrive on the island and bring him back to the camp.
But halfway to the dock he saw the mast for a tall ship off in the distance. A ship which was docked only half a mile from where he was supposed to be headed. A tug at his heart made him frown as the feelings all came rushing back to him with an unexpected force.
He remembered finding Henry and returning him to his family, he remembered the portal swallowing his only chance at being a part of something good, he remembered the feeling of agony having his shadow ripped from him and he realised in a flash of pure pain how much he cares for Emma Swan and how that hadn't changed one bit even since having his shadow taken.
So he runs. Away from Peter Pan and his despair and pain and runs towards the Jolly Roger with its promise of hope.
The familiar sound of his boots touching the wooden deck nearly brings tears to his eyes and he can't remember why he thought this was never an option. Just running. The reality of the situation almost doesn't even hit him. But then he's a few hundred metres out in the ocean when he remembers that there is no way back to Storybrooke.
He throws his hook into the wooden steering wheel, wrenching it out moments later only to punch it in again, crying out in frustration and anger. He'll be stuck out here for the rest of his days, in this limbo between lands, never able to return to the island to collect fairy dust to travel with for the knowledge that he will be caught by the notorious Pan to live out the rest of his never ending life in slavery. With a defeated growl he sinks to the ground and lets his rediscovered emotions consume him.
It could be minutes that he wallows, or it could be days. He's not really in control of his body in that time and allows the images of Emma falling through that portal without him to overtake every part of his being. Her blonde hair flying through the air as she reaches out to him, trying to take him with her even when the moment couldn't be more impossible.
And when the sirens call to him, it's her voice he hears, those dastardly mermaids trying to drag him into their depths of taunting evil. He tries to block it out at first, resting his left side against the deck of his ship and covering his right ear with his hand. But the mermaids soon figure him out and use the ship to amplify their voices beneath him, calling out to him in Emma's voice, making him miss her even more.
When it gets to be too much and he finally glances over the edge of the ship he sees something both terrifying and beautiful. Hundreds of mermaids in the pale moonlight, their skin glowing in the water as they reach out to him. "No," he cries, squeezing his eyes shut, "Please just leave me."
The desperation in his voice must register with the water bound spirits because when he reopens his eyes he sees only one siren left behind, her hair a weird hybrid of silver and blonde as though she had tried to copy Emma's but couldn't quite get the shade right. No one could recreate her, not even these witches with their hallucinations.
"We can feel your magic, Killian. Dark magic all around you." Her voice still sounds like Emma and his heart aches for her, "For the price of information we can offer you passage to that which you seek most."
His eyes sharpen to focus on this solitary mermaid, "Why?"
"We wish to learn of the shadow stripping ways. Allow us to examine you."
She answers without hesitation, without any sense of deceit and Hook does very well to not simply agree straight away, "Explain to me my passage."
He blinks and the mermaid is closer to his ship, her head still just bobbing above the water, "You would be transported on the same route your love took. We could reunite you both. Just let us look." Her body moves swiftly again and this time her arm reaches out, a thin line of light seemingly pulling her from the water and allowing her to climb aboard, "I'll be fast."
Too exhausted to argue, he sits back and watches this mermaid who almost looks like Emma inspect his feet where his shadow had once been attached. A slow grin overtakes her face after a long while of looking and Hook knows in that moment that he has let something truly horrible happen in Neverland. But he can hardly begin to feel bad when he feels the rocking of his ship.
Looking over the edge again, Hook notices the glow of the hundreds of mermaids all swirling just below the surface of the water. The siren on board his ship jumps over the edge with her smile still in place as she begins to revert back to her true form, "Hold on, Killian Jones."
And he does as he's told.
It's not easy to adjust to life at home without Killian there. Yes she has her family, her son, her parents...but there's something missing from her life and she can feel it very prominently every time she takes a walk down by the docks and sees a small dingy in the rented space where the Jolly Roger had once resided, its tall masts creaking and groaning with the sway of the water.
The docks are quiet now and it makes her nervous and burdened with a strong sense of guilt.
He had done everything in his power to make her happy. Everything he could possibly do to save her family. And what had she given him in return? A one way ticket to the place his soul may never return from.
She feels her magic simmering beneath the surface of her skin, tingling and aching all at once, reminiscent of that Neverland humidity. It's completely unpleasant and keeps her up at night wondering how she can make it better. She knows it's the magic within her trying to reach out to Killian. She knows what it implies. And she isn't as surprised as she had thought she would have been.
Neal had returned to Storybrooke while they had been in Neverland, bringing with him Aurora. They had explained that they were the warriors for this end of the realm connection, while Phillip and Mulan had remained in the Enchanted Forest trying to establish a link between the two lands. The true love connection between Aurora and Phillip was going to be their pathway, their guide to transcend the lands.
Aurora had explained the feeling as an uncomfortable tickle beneath her skin. A feeling Emma was becoming very aware of.
Falling for a pirate had never been in her life plan. Hell, falling for anyone hadn't been a part of her life since before Henry had been born. She had raised herself to never trust, to never fall under that particular spell. However she's finding that it's not really a choice anymore. She just feels it.
Henry knows that there's something wrong with his mother and often curls up next to her when she finds rest at night on the couch. She hasn't slept in her bed for weeks, her heart aching for a man in Neverland.
"Mom, we can go back."
She loves Henry for suggesting it. It's crossed her mind at least once an hour since they've been home. Anton has been trying to grow more beans, but the earth beneath Storybrooke has been through an upheaval since the almost destruction of the town and because the magic was almost sapped from everything he's finding it hard to cultivate land.
"You can't. I won't risk losing you again."
"We have to get Hook back though. I like him."
She smiles against the crown of Henry's head, "Yeah kid, I like him too."
They sleep then, Emma's dreams swirling with dark shadows and causing her to wake up not two hours later feeling like she had just stepped into the Neverland heat. She rolls off the couch wanting to cool down and forget her nightmares, but her feet carry her from the apartment, out into the darkness of the night.
She can't seem to escape thoughts of Hook following her everywhere she goes and selfishly that's all she wants to do. Just for a moment, she wants to not feel guilty for leaving him, she wants to forget him.
But even as she thinks it, she finds she's made her way to the docks, the salty air drawing her in.
God she misses him.
The name is called to her on a breathy voice and she's certain the wind is merely carrying it by her as a figment of her imagination, but it comes again. Softly still, with a quiet disbelief mixed in, "Emma."
The tickling feeling beneath her skin feels becomes more prominent and she turns around, her mouth dropping open as the pirate steps towards her from across the docks where she can see the Jolly Roger anchored, "Hook?"
A smile of relief crosses his face, "Aye, lass."
And she doesn't even care for a moment. For all she knows she could still be asleep on the couch in her apartment and this all be a dream. But it doesn't matter, because whether this is a dream or real life her reaction was always going to be the same. A matching smile makes its way across her face and she lets her legs carry her towards him at a brisk pace, crashing into his waiting arms when she reaches him.
Her arms immediately wrap around his neck as his lips meet hers tenderly, kissing her like she's his lifeline. She clings to him tighter, letting her feet lift slightly, pushing into him as he tilts his head, pushing right back. There's not a skerrick of air between them, their bodies moulding perfectly to one another.
She mumbles against his lips as he tortures her sweetly with his kiss, "I missed you, I'm so sorry, I never thought I'd see you again."
And his answering words sound just as desperate for her, his voice carrying a broken croak to it as though he has screamed his throat raw. She worries what he has been through, but doesn't want to break away to ask for fear of waking up from what is potentially just a dream.
Her lips feel tingly and bruised when he finally does draw back and when he places his hand against her cheek and she feels the warmth radiating off him she is convinced for the first time that this might actually be real.
"How did you get back?"
He ducks his head and if she didn't know any better, she'd think he was ashamed, "I escaped."
She frowns, "But how?"
He glances back up at her, gaging her sincerity in wanting to know this story, because once she does, he doesn't know if she'll ever look at him the same way. Seeing genuine curiosity in her eyes and no looks of judgement he feels safe though, "The mermaids granted me passage between realms in exchange for information on a particular dark magic."
She pulls back slightly, already beginning to guess exactly what kind of knowledge Hook might be privy to after his time in Neverland, "What happened?"
He bows his head again, "Pan took my shadow, lass."
Her reaction shocks him somewhat, not used to feelings of sympathy directed towards him. But as Emma's hand touches his cheek he finds himself opening up to the idea of having someone care. Because this can't all be him, he can't be the only one feeling this way. Losing your shadow makes you hard and cold, he's seen the effects of it on the band of Lost Boys who roam Neverland after Pan's orders, but all he feels is warm and loved and that gives him this little bubble of hope within himself.
"Hook," her whisper greets him and when his eyes fall upon her he sees the tears, "I'm so sorry. We have to go get it."
His hand squeezes into her almost painfully, "No. I created something horrible there, Emma. The mermaids will tear you apart before Pan gets a chance. We must never return."
"But, your shadow is…"
"It's okay." He's beginning to feel strength within himself and when he cuts her off, he's not lying. "I promised to always return for you. My shadow was but a small cost for that fate."
She smiles through her tears then, leaning into his lips once more, kissing him with a respect he has never had bestowed upon him, "And I promise I won't leave."