A/N: SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 FINALE!
*waves shyly* Long-time lurker here; my first foray into the OUAT fandom. I hope you enjoy!
I think it's quite tenable that by the end of this dramatic second season Emma and Hook would both be pretty drained - Emma emotionally (D: *cries*) and Hook physically, with the amount of falling over he does xD
There is something about Neverland, something nameless yet disconcerting that stirs Emma awake whenever she feels she is about to finally drift off into sleep.
When she was in the Enchanted Forest there was an odd tingle in the air, a thrum in her veins that made her feel somehow energised, as though a light current of electricity was running through her blood. The feeling lingered, only vanishing when she left Storybrooke with Gold and Henry, and she realises now that it was magic, saturating the land of Fairy Tales, fainter but still present in Storybrooke, and here, here in Neverland the feeling is stronger than ever. It makes her clench her fists, dig her nails into the skin of her palms, press her face hard against the uncomfortable mattress of the cot she is not-sleeping on.
With a frustrated groan she finally gives up and sits upright, pulling the blanket up around her shoulders - the night is cold.
The Jolly Roger is silent but for the faint slap-slap of waves against the hull; they are drifting slowly towards the shore but there is little wind and thus little headway. Apparently it's dangerous to travel too quickly at night here anyway - she doesn't quite know why, but trusts Gold and Hook's judgement enough to comply with the decision to slow down and get some rest. It's still frustrating, though, and that's keeping her awake as well as the magic in the air - she wants to move, needs them to be making active progress, she can't stop thinking about Henry, alone and scared out there with Tamara and Greg - the waiting is torture but there's nothing they can do until day comes and the wind and the current pick up.
She should be sleeping.
The jump from Storybrooke to here landed them not just in the middle of the ocean but in the middle of the night, and the jet-lag (portal-lag?) will kick in horribly if she doesn't rest now. But she can't sleep, she is buzzing with frustration and the constant swaying motion of the ship is making her queasy, and the Roger might be fast and impressive and magical but the accommodation is crap - with his customary chivalry Hook moved his stuff out of the Captain's cabin and announced that the ladies could fight out who got the bed in there, and Snow and Emma unanimously agreed that Regina needed the rest the most. The Queen was exhausted after the amount of energy expended on that stupid diamond, not to mention her recent ordeal at the hands of pasty-face and fiancee-the-terrible.
Which leaves Emma with a hard cot in a room that she is pretty sure used to belong to Smee - not that she begrudges Regina the comfort, in fact, she'd rather sleep in one of the hammocks below deck that the men have so gallantly taken, mostly because she's never used one before and wants to try, and also the thought of Mr Gold in a hammock is priceless.
Go to sleep.
She can't stop thinking about how the last time she was on this ship Neal was there, and Henry, and she can remember the sound of their laughter as Henry learned how to steer and she had been in this crappy room with the hard bed then as well, trying not to feel bitter about it, trying to be happy for Henry's sake-
She is not going to cry.
She hasn't cried yet and she's not about to start now, and okay, she needs some fresh air.
The lack of electricity has never been so apparent as when Emma attempts to get up onto the deck; candles are great and all but they don't actually provide that much light, and there are lanterns but she doesn't know how to work them and she doesn't want to accidentally set everything on fire.
She is brought back, abruptly, to all those times as a kid when she'd sneak out to the kitchens of unfamiliar foster homes, groping about in the dark as she attempted to get a drink of water, trying so hard to stay quiet, to not wake up the strangers she was living with. Once she'd broken a glass and been so scared she just froze, unable to move, trying not to cry as all the lights in the house switched on and she tried desperately to think up some excuse as her tongue refused to form words.
She finally manages to find her way up onto the deck and there's moonlight here, at least. Out in the open the feel of magic intensifies, tingling against her skin like she's just had an electric shock. She wonders how Regina and Gold feel, if they're used to it by now.
Hook's voice makes her jump; she whips around to see him leaning against the ship's rail a little way behind her. Her heart pounds - from the shock, she tells herself - and she moves over towards him. He straightens at her approach, one hand moving to press against his ribs.
"Can't sleep?" he asks, a touch of amusement in his tone, and she shakes her head as she moves to stand beside him, leaning to look down into the water. In the moonlight she can see the faint shapes of jellyfish bobbing past. There's still no sign of land, but Hook claims that they're going - extremely slowly - in the correct direction, and she finds herself trusting him.
Hook is looking at her and she feels like she should say something but can't quite think what, and the coil of worry in her stomach twists harder, choking her.
He puts a hand on her shoulder and she jumps, abruptly, turning to look up at him. Concern is etched on his features, and she realises that she's so tense her muscles are trembling, her face pinched with stress.
"We're going to find him," Hook says, more gentle than she's ever heard him. "We'll find him, I promise you."
"How can you promise something like that?" she blurts out, but she doesn't pull away, and his hand is very warm through the fabric of her shirt. "There's no sign of them, you said yourself this land is dangerous - we don't even know what they want with him-"
"Four days," he cuts in, and she breaks off.
"If the wind picks up and they're going where the crocodile says they're going, we'll reach it in four days. If not, we'll decide where to go from there. We're not without a plan, love," he pulls his hand away, rests it against his ribs again. "Much as it might feel like it."
Emma finds herself relaxing slightly at his words, suddenly feeling embarrassed for how hysterical she must have sounded.
"He's a lucky lad," Hook continues, not looking at her now but gazing out over the water, "With so many powerful people searching for him. The royal family. The Queen..." His mouth twists a little. "The Dark One."
"The great Captain Hook," she adds, a grin teasing at her lips for the first time since this all started, and he turns to her with a little smirk.
"Great and Captain in one sentence, now we're getting somewhere."
She starts to smile back but is wracked by a sudden shiver as a particularly cold breeze wafts over them, realising that she left her jacket down in the cabin. Before she can even move Hook is shrugging off his own coat and holding it out to her with an amused look. Her first instinct is to decline because this whole situation is already a bit too feudal-lord and damsel-in-distress for her liking, but she recalls how David held Snow's arm the whole time they boarded the ship and then steadied her for the first twenty minutes when the woman failed to acquire automatic sea legs, and decides that a bit of chivalry need not go amiss.
"Thanks," she says slightly awkwardly, pulling it on - it's heavier than she expected, and warm from where he was wearing it, and suddenly she feels like blushing and doesn't even know why.
He just nods a bit and she feels like something's missing - she's expecting some sort of comment about her wearing his clothes, or the two of them being alone at night like this (anything could happen, an inner-voice that sounds suspiciously like Ruby whispers) - but he remains silent, and when she looks closer she notices dark shadows under his eyes and a weary, sunken look that fit him when he was in hospital but looks out of place here on the ship.
"Shouldn't you be in bed as well?" she asks, and grimaces a little when he lets out a chuckle.
"I would love to be in bed," he replies, and she rolls her eyes - at least his sense of humour hasn't completely withered up then - "alas, I am too tired."
"Too tired? How does that even work?"
"There gets to a point where you are so fatigued that you don't have the energy to relax enough," he attempts to explain, and she just stares at him, uncomprehending.
"You mean you're too wired?"
"I have no idea what that means, but if it means what I am trying to say, then yes, I'm too wired."
She can't help but laugh at that. "You're making no sense. I think you definitely need to sleep."
His eyes crease a little at the corners. "At least I've accomplished one noble deed tonight."
"And what's that?"
"Put a smile on your face again." He tries to play it off like a joke but somehow it falls flat and comes out a bit too tender, a bit too sincere, and Emma's smile fades away and she feels her face heating up; they end up staring at each other awkwardly for a few moments before Hook looks away and clears his throat, and she jerks her gaze back down to the jellyfish.
"Thanks," she says after a few moments of strained silence.
"For what?" he asks, and she can see him looking at her again but can't quite bring herself to turn around and meet his gaze.
"For - this." She waves a hand vaguely, trying to encompass the ship. "For letting us use the Jolly Roger, for letting Gold come too…" she hesitates, unsure, then adds, "For coming back."
When she does turn to look at him, he jerks his head around quickly and stares at the rail, his hook scratching at a knothole on the wood, his lips pressed tightly together.
"It's…" he begins, then pauses, it's the first time she's seen him lost for words and she can tell there's something he's not saying. "I want you to find your son," he says finally, and he's not lying unless lying by omission counts. "And until then I will be glad to help in any way."
"I'm grateful for that," she says levelly. She tilts her head, trying to read him, trying to work out why he's with them, why he is so eager to help - and can't quite find the answers.
Hook coughs, a deliberate break-the-awkward-silence-cough. "You should try get some rest," he starts to say, but Emma didn't miss the way he winced. She reaches forward to move his hand away from his chest, trying to ignore how the tingling feeling intensifies where her skin brushes his.
"What's wrong with your ribs?"
"I got hit by a car, remember?" he says the word like he's imitating the way someone else said it - like Whale sat him down and announced you were struck by a car, that is a motorised vehicle - like a carriage but without horses and runs on something like magic but not, and the mental image is a little more amusing than it should be.
"That was weeks ago," or was it? it feels like everything has happened so quickly, she can't even tell anymore, "shouldn't they be starting to heal up?"
"Maybe, if I could only stop falling on them," he mutters with a grimace. "As many laws as I break, I have yet to defy that of gravity. It's not exactly conducive to the healing process."
"Do you need…" she trails off, unsure what exactly she's offering, realises there's nothing she can do to help. It's not as though they have first-aid kits in this world (or if they do, they're probably filled with herbs and articles of medieval medicine) and what's she gonna do, anyway? Change his bandages for him? There's a thought to fill her father with affronted dismay.
"Touched as I am by your concern," he replies, looking far too amused and a touch smug, "I assure you I am perfectly fine."
She narrows her eyes at him and he raises his hands - well, hand.
"I promise I will not keel over and die in the night. Does that satisfy you, your highness?"
"At least that's one promise I can trust you will keep," she nods with a smirk. "And don't call me…" she breaks off as a yawn spills out of her, and the chain-reaction has Hook yawning as well.
"Looks like the portal-lag has caught up with us," she murmurs, and Hook glances at her, uncomprehending, but winds up just nodding with a smile that is almost fond. She realises, suddenly, that all the tension has bled from her shoulders in the course of their conversation - and Hook himself looks much less stressed and more like he's about to drop unconscious any second.
They make their way back towards the cabin together, Hook steadying her when the ship sways over a particularly vigorous wave. She can't help but hesitate when they reach the staircase - suddenly terrified to be back alone in the dark, the thoughts and loneliness and despair washing over her again - when suddenly Hook's hand is on her arm, squeezing reassuringly.
"We'll find him," he repeats softly. "Goodnight, Swan."
"'night Hook," she replies, and thinks she sees him smile, but it's so dark she can't tell.
It's not until she gets back into bed that she realises he forgot to take his coat back, but it's cold enough that she leaves it draped over her as a second blanket, and suddenly the pillow seems less lumpy, the mattress less hard.
Reviews and con-crit are greatly appreciated! I haven't written these characters much before and the fact that they're both drop-dead exhausted subdued the personalities a bit here, but I'm trying to gear up to write a longer captainswan fic so any advice will be cherished! ^^
any requests for OUAT fics to practice on would be great too, if you feel like dropping me one either here or on tumblr :)
Thanks for reading! :)