While daytime could fool you about Neverland's true nature by the beauty of its green landscapes and the sapphire blue of the sea, nighttime reminded one's mind about the dangers that prowled around. The moon was high in the dark blue sky, reflecting on the ocean, and the stars shined bright in the vast nothing. The Neverland forest looked ominous and frightful, a somber mass so still it looked eerie. When she thought it through, nothing about this place made Emma feel comfortable. So imagining her own little boy somewhere in there, surrounded by people that could harm him, rocked her to the core and brought an angst-filled grimace to her face.
She was currently sitting on the ledge of the Jolly Roger, her legs swinging above the calm water. Just as the forest, everything was silent and unmoving. Neverland was much warmer than Storybrooke, so she hadn't bothered putting on her coat when getting out of the bunk she had chosen to sleep in, clad in a tank top and her jeans.
Everyone was sleeping, except her it seemed. She had tried, really, but the image of Tamara, Greg and Henry jumping through the portal kept flashing through her mind. What ifs and I should haves, added to a lot of guilt and self-depreciation, burned inside her head. Her parents may tell her that it wasn't her fault, but she wasn't going to stop blaming herself for losing Henry once again. And while it was very different from last time when Henry fell into a sleeping curse because she hadn't believed him, she still felt as though she had failed him and failed her motherly role. When Emma had realized she'd never get an ounce of sleep, she had decided to get up, feeling too restless and fidgety to stay lying.
Were she in Storybrooke, Emma would have picked a bottle of whiskey and something to smash in pieces to try easing her mind. Here, nothing was available, and she didn't think Hook would like her breaking his boat - ship, a voice sounding like Hook's berated. She had, however, found the captain's rum stash, and though the taste burned her tastebuds to nothing, she welcomed the warmth and the buzz it gave her.
Just as she was wondering about a strategy to rake the land in search of Henry, a voice rung behind her back.
"I'm not sure drinking and staying balanced on a ship's ledge are wise combined activities, lass."
Emma recognized the voice's owner the moment he started talking. The accent and the teasing tilt in it were so unmistakable, and now that she was less focused on the drink in her hand, she also felt a certain chill at his presense. Plus, only Hook adds his stupid pet names when talking to her.
"Having sex with someone when you have a hook for a hand isn't either, yet I don't think that ever stopped you", she replied without glancing his way, taking a swig of her bottle.
He chuckled behind her, and moved closer to where she was.
"It's all a question of practice, sweetheart. With years, I've become excellent at handling this attachment...just as I am with another one", Hook said - she could mentally picture him wiggling his eyebrows. "But if you're so worried about the safety of my conquests, feel free to try it yourself. You never did get to enjoy the full experience back at the lake an-"
"Okay, Captain Innuendo, I'm stopping you right now. Quit it, or your jaw will meet the floor again.", Emma interrupted him. Making innuendos seemed too tempting for him to pass up, but she wasn't drunk enough to stand them.
"That would be rude, love, considering I offered you my ship and you stole my alcohol."
Emma didn't reply to that. She had actually been thinking of ways to thank him for what he was doing. She may act rude and uncaring towards him, but she did realize the huge sacrifice he was making for her. He was an open book to her just as she was to him. She knew the lenghts he went to in order to get revenge on Rumpelstiltskin, knew he'd have died to avenge Milah. She didn't know the details of what had happened between the three of them, but she saw the hatred in Hook's voice and eyes when Gold was there. So yes, she wasn't very good with thanks and gratitude, she felt shy and awkward, but she knew what it cost him.
They had been silent for the last few minutes. She turned her head and finally looked at him. He was leaning against the ledge, facing the opposite way from her, staring straight ahead without blinking. Part of his face was immerged in the shadows, but she could see the lines under his eyes and the weary look he wore. He looked older than usual, looked as though he was bearing a weight heavy as the world on his shoulders.
"Couldn't sleep ?", Emma asked.
"No", was his one-word, 'don't-ask-anymore-questions' reply. Emma, stubborn as always, prompted him with an encouraging raise of her eyebrows. He sighed.
"If you wish for me to talk about this, love, I'll need that bottle of rum".
Emma looked at said bottle, only to find it empty. She cringed, and Hook, who had turned his head to look at her, raised his own eyebrows. They fell silent again. Emma knew he couldn't sleep, but she wanted to know why. He had known saving Regina wasn't why she went along with Snow's plan - her instincts had told her to run away and save her loved ones. But he hadn't known the why. You need all the details of someone's life to be able to tell why they do this and that. For each of them, the reasons were unclear because they hadn't revealed anything about their pasts. Walls up. No trust. But this had started to change. With Hook's return to save them had been opened a new door, and Emma could see herself trusting the pirate. She wasn't completely there yet, but maybe that'd come, one day. She then thought that opening up went both ways. You had to open up for the other to do so. It was about building something together.
"I can't sleep because I blame myself for Henry. For what happened to him. I should have watched more over him, should have been able to stop Greg and Tamara.", she admitted, quietly.
Hook's head turned towards her, his blue eyes piercing into hers.
"You couldn't have done anything, love. From what I gathered, the lad was taken while you were all down, blasted away by the trigger."
"No, you don't understand. I should have been able to do something.", Emma took a deep breath, "Henry saved me. He saved me the day he showed up at my door in Boston to drag me to Storybrooke, he saved me everytime he trusted me even though I wasn't sure I was worthy of such trust. I didn't have anything before, and then I had him. But children are not supposed to save their parents. They're supposed to be carefree and enjoy life because they're young and they don't have any responsabilities. They're supposed to be taken care of and loved and cherished. Parents bear the weight of hard decisions. But I didn't do any of that. God, I knew I wasn't parent material, but I wanted to try for my son and be what he deserves. And here I go, completely failing him", she laughed bitterly, covering her face with her hands, "I'm just a huge disappointment."
She felt Hook shift beside her, and nothing except the sounds of Neverland could be heard for a few moments. The pirate then spoke up.
"You saved him, Emma. You saved him from the fate of being alone. Twice, actually. I very clearly remember a mother ready to do anything to get back to her son, fighting crazy witches and taking down giants. I journeyed with this woman, who posessed a fire and a determination in her that were breathtaking. You'd do anything for your son, my love. I might not be the best at families, but I know a devoted parent when I see one. And that's all a child needs. That's all we'd have needed."
The blonde sheriff looked up, her green eyes meeting his blue orbs. His face was serious, lacking the mischevious smirk he usually wore.
"We ?', she asked, her mind catching on that little bit of phrase.
"Aye, lass.", he smirked bitterly, "I told you I recognized that look on your face. I saw it in the mirror too many times."
"What happened ?"
The pirate sighed, looking up at the Neverland stars. "My mother died when I was no more than 5, from sickness. I was a young lad, and my father and I were on a ship that travelled between realms. We had dropped anchor at a port for a night, and when I woke up the next morning, my father had disappeared. I searched for him everywhere. Turns out he was a fugitive, had done something and fled to avoid getting caught, leaving his own son alone."
Emma shifted her body on the ledge, facing the man in front of her. That he had been abandonned was no surprise, only confirmation. They did understand each other, and she had guessed such thing had happened to him. There'd been clues in his behaviour, things she did herself. The way he had reacted to her abandonning him on the beanstalk, for instance. His 'I wouldn't have done the same' hadn't been a lie. Her face twisted in a sad grimace. Growing up with no parents was something she wouldn't wish on anyone. Something she'd do everything to avoid Henry enduring.
"What did you do from there ?", she prompted him, curious about his past.
Hook cast his eyes downwards. "I managed on my own. When the ship arrived in the realm, in a small port, I stayed on land and stole, surviving the best I could. Found a small and dirty shack where I tried making some sort of home, where I could at least sleep protected from the dangers of outside. However, I was getting restless. See, I always had this passion for the ocean, for as far as I can remember. So I observed, during the long days, the sailors working on the ships anchored. One day, I left it all, and signed up to be in a crew.", he reminisced, smiling slightly.
"So you started as a sailor. How did you become a pirate ? How did you become Captain ?", Emma asked, tilting her head.
Hook looked at her, and smiled. He seemed to like the interest she showed in this part of his past. His eyes looked lighter and his face younger, suddenly.
"Aye, lass, I was at first an honest sailor. But I kept hearing stories about pirates, those sailors roaming the seven seas in search of treasures they could keep for themselves, who lived adventures and never endured a boring day or an empty stomach. I was fascinated, I wanted to discover the worlds I heard of. Even if my father was gone, I would do that on my own. I ended up leaving the crew as we had dropped anchor somewhere, and enrolled on a pirate's ship. Aye, t'was rough at the beginning, but I lived a life I liked. Pirates, my love, all seek what will benefit them. Everyone on that ship were out for gold and jewels, and they didn't stop at anything to get it. They killed their way towards opulence. Or at least, towards the egregious barrels of rum they could buy with that money. "
Hook turned his body to face hers. The mischevious smirk and the bright eyes were back. His good hand rested near her thighs, on the wooden ship's ledge.
"I, my love, outsmarted my way towards being a captain. I trained to fight with a sword every day, relentlessly. Tricked the pirates around me to steal the treasures they had stolen themselves. Eventually, I had enough golden coins to buy my first ship. It was an old and rusty thing, but it could be sailed and it helped me win a few conquests. I recruited my crew in taverns."
"Lovely. I guess they were too intoxicated to be aware of what they were getting into ?", she rolled her eyes.
"Pirates", he grinned, white teeth showing.
The question "But how did you get this boat ?" was quickly followed by an offensed "Bloody hell love, it's a ship. Don't insult her" ; "You're ridiculous.".
"This ship", Hook glared at her, "was my very first own ship. I wanted the best ship that had ever sailed the seas, one that could travel anywhere. When I heard of the magical properties of the enchanted trees that grew in the Enchanted forest, I commissioned someone to build one for me, entirely out of enchanted wood. She cost me a good penny, but Gods I never regretted that beauty", he patted his ship pridefully.
She chuckled at how fondly he spoke of his Jolly Roger. He was like a kid on Christmas, except Emma was sure he'd never get tired of that toy. Hook did look different on the sea. He looked at ease, looked as though he belonged here. She continued staring at him while he enthusiastically told her of a time when a merchant from an underwater city ("called Atlantis, if I recall") tried to forcefully take the Jolly, trapping Hook in his cabin with a group of "buggering idiots who couldn't even hold a sword properly". She wished she had found a home like Hook did. Some sort of place where she'd have felt right, at peace. She remembered old childish fantasies, during nights where she'd dream of falling, like Alice, down a rabbit's hole that would led her to a new world. Dreams of sailing away of a ship, living on the sea forever and going on adventures whenever she felt like it. Anything that had her escaping the hell she lived in.
"-lass ?". Hook's voice brought her back to reality. She sighed. Dreaming was useless, and losing herself to her childhood fantasies would do no good. Fantasies should be forgotten. She focused her sight back on the pirate, who was now standing with what seemed to be a concerned look on his face and his warm hand resting on her thigh.
Emma smiled softly, and jumped off the ledge. Coming closer to Hook, she tilted her face towards his, whispered "Thanks. For everything." and lightly kissed his cheek. Casting a last look to his surprised face, she walked away back to her cabin, to try and get some sleep at last.
Fantasies would be forgotten.
But what Killian did for her would not.
A/N: Hello ! Here's my first try at writing a fanfic, or rather the first time I dare publish it. Don't hesitate telling me whether it was good or not in comments please !