With her eyes set squarely on the shore ahead, Regina twitched in her seat, tugging the thick fur hide around her shoulders tighter. A cool breeze had set in, ruffling her hair and raising a pink to her cheeks. She sniffled, unsure if it was from the chill or the silent tears trickling down her face.
They'd taken Henry. And all she could do was watch from the deck of the Jolly Roger as the moonlight reflected off gentle waves and the sun fought valiantly against her iron will, refusing to rise. Hook knew Neverland and he knew what dangers lurked beyond that dark tree line; he'd warned them all from leaving the ship until the day dawned but a part of Regina didn't particularly care. She wanted to go after her son and she'd have taken the rowboat and gone ashore herself, if the damned Charming family hadn't used Henry against her.
She was no good to him dead; she would wait.
It had only been a few hours since he'd told her that he loved her, that he truly truly loved her and he was out there, alone - when she'd promised him she'd never let that happen - she was willing to do everything in her power to find him. She only wished she knew where to start.
"Swan is pretty, I'll give her that, but all charm eludes the woman when she sleeps."
Regina flinched, edging away from the pirate as he appeared beside her wearing a lop-sided smirk. He gestured behind him to the door below decks and Regina blinked, following the line of his hook as he pointed before looking back up at his face. She thought that perhaps if she ignored the tears in her eyes; if she didn't attempt to wipe them away, perhaps he wouldn't notice them. She was deluding herself, she knew that, and so did he.
"The sounds coming out of that woman are not human."
She allowed herself a small chuckle and a smile that didn't touch her eyes, hugging the blanket tighter as he silently requested to take a seat beside her. Everyone had taken a bunk below decks; Snow and David curled together on a perch barely large enough for one. Emma had spread herself out with one arm dangling off the higher bunk and her face pressed firmly into a feather-down pillow whilst even the Dark One, resting with his back pressed firmly against the paneled wall, had drifted off to sleep.
Regina had thought she was the only one awake, sitting along above decks, unable to sleep whilst her son was out there, lost in the dark of an island she'd heard stories about since she was a girl. It wasn't the magical haven she'd read about in Storybrooke; the wistful tale of a boy who never grew up. It was a dark place; with a dark past and her heart raced knowing Henry was out there without her.
The trunk she was sitting on was not particularly wide, so when she gently inclined her head, not thinking of the consequences, the warmth of Hook's side pressed firmly against her own startled her back into the world.
She tried to shuffle away, catching herself on the edge of the trunk and sighed, letting out a puff of warm air in irritation. Hook just smirked at her side, watching her face as she kept her eyes set ahead of her. He could see the tear tracks down her face, feeling his throat constrict at the thought of what could be going through her head. He knew what it was like to want to change for your child, to have that love for another living being - not of your blood but of your heart - and to have it ripped away.
He had an idea of what she was going through, but his pain was far different, he knew. He'd only known Bae through Milah's stories. He'd only understood his character through her smiles and her distant eyes as she talked of his most innocent moments, lying on her back against the cool wooden deck, watching the stars as she talked. He'd only known Bae, the real Bae, for less than a night; but he'd felt in his heart that he'd truly wanted to change for him; and for Milah.
Regina had spent ten years raising her son. The boy was hers by rights; regardless of the rest of the boy's family following along for the ride. He knew in his heart, that the headstrong woman beside him was a lioness when it came to her child.
"I'm sorry, Regina." He spoke softly; his voice far gentler than she was used to and she twitched. Her eyes drifted down; she refused to look him in the eye, but her vision changed direction so that she could see his face in her peripheral vision, blinking back tears. "I'm sorry I let them hurt you."
"Stopping them was not of benefit to you." It was Regina's way of telling him she understood. And if there really was anyone that really could understand, he knew it was her. They'd never felt any malice toward one another. He'd never had reason to hate or fear her and she'd always been too powerful to fear or waste her time with him, unless she had need of him. They were on incredibly even footing and he found that wonderful. He respected her and somehow, she respected him.
"Nor would it have hurt me if I'd tried."
She did look at him then, her eyes studying his face in the moonlight as she blinked. "Yes it would have. You'd have been risking your life, for what?"
"For you." His lips quirked at the corners, not quite smiling and he could see a faint blush creep up her neck.
"I've tried to kill you before." She countered and he really did smile then.
"And I've always evened the score."
"Where do we stand now?" She questioned, pressing her shoulder into his, almost imperceptibly.
"Right here," He smiled. "On the deck of my ship, with Neverland before us and the ocean around us." He reached over, gently wrapping the fingers of his good hand around hers and letting her reaction be the definition of where they really were.
She didn't fight him, she didn't pull away. He released a breath in relief.
They'd never been able to trust, purely because the pair of them didn't understand how. But they were on the same side now and for a change, they had reason to believe they were safe from each other. In this new world, with new dangers, they would need to depend on each other. Regina had to accept that those she'd spent her life trying to kill were indeed her family; they were Henry's family and she would do whatever was necessary to ensure all of their survival.
Hook too, it seemed, had come to the same conclusion. "Do you believe in second chances?" She questioned and they both paid no mind to how his fingers absently caressed her knuckles.
"I believe in third and fourth chances, love."
Regina's lashes fluttered as she looked down at their hands, smiling as she watched the motion of his thumb over a small scar on her middle finger. She remembered the scar from getting her finger caught in Rocinante's bridle, the day her father had gifted her the horse. She'd run into the stables, cradling her bleeding hand wrapped in her scarf. Daniel had gently cleaned the wound, touching her as gently as Hook touched her, wrapping a bandage around her fingers before pressing a kiss to her knuckles.
So much about Hook was so different to Daniel, but the touch was the same. Warm and comforting and his rich blue eyes bore into her in such a way that Daniel's never had. Daniel was before; he was innocence and youth and pure love. But Hook was hard leather, stubble and coarse twine ropes. He was rum and sea-salt; he was callouses and a pain in his eyes that matched hers.
"You alright, love?" He whispered with his lips just a breath away from her temple. Regina stiffened at his side, suddenly feeling his proximity and pressing her eyes closed to fight the overwhelming desire to run.
"I just wish I could save him." She breathed, letting her forehead tilt forward just enough that his chin touched her temple. She was pressing herself forward as her mind fought with her to pull back. Hook wrapped his arm around her, being careful not to scratch her with his hook as he pulled her against his side. She let out a long breath, keeping her eyes closed tightly as he kissed her brow.
It was so tender Regina's heart stopped short; she froze against his side and wished for time to stop so that she wouldn't have to face the feelings that one touch of his soft lips to her skin, brought up. "You will, darling." She could feel his smile against her brow and she found herself savoring the warmth of his embrace.
"We don't know that." She whimpered and he held her tighter, letting go of her hand in favor of wrapping both arms around her. She buried her face in his neck, pressing her nose right behind his ear as his fingers wove through her hair, gripping the back of her head and holding her securely in his arms.
"You love your son," He breathed as she shivered in his arms, breathing in the smell of rum and sea water against his neck. "You will find him."
"You can't know that."
"I don't need to, love." He smirked as she lifted her head; sitting up so that she could look into his eyes. She was so close he feared that she would be able to hear his heart beating against his chest. Her breaths came out in short, warm puffs of air, carried between them in delicate clouds that dissipated as quickly as they'd come.
"Why?" Her eyes fell to his lips and Hook swallowed; watching her as she looked from his eyes to his mouth and back again. His tongue darted out, wetting his lips nervously as he felt the warmth of her hand - previously in her own lap - permeating the thick leather against his knee.
"Because I believe you will."
"You're beginning to sound like Snow," She chuckled. "Or David."
"Don't insult me." He laughed, feeling his heart jump into his throat as she muffled the sound with her full, burgundy lips against his own.
Hook shuffled back with his good arm wrapped securely around her waist. To his surprise, Regina obediently followed, refusing to break the kiss as she crawled across their makeshift seat onto a pile of rolled up sails. He rested his back against their trunk-come-seat, grateful for the softness of the sails beneath him as Regina straddled his lap, her knees pressed into the thick, old canvas. She breathed heavily through her nose, scratching her nails around his throat as she arched above him. Her teeth grazed along his lower lip and he grinned as she sucked it into her mouth before releasing it with a pop.
"This is probably one of your worst ideas, love."
"Shut up." Regina growled before pressing her swollen lips to his once more, reaching between them with a deft hand as he opened his mouth for the tongue that carried that razor sharp wit. He chuckled into her mouth as he realized she tasted just like apples and cinnamon and burnt roses and sounded much more delicate, with her soft whimpers, than he knew she was.
She ran her fingertips so briefly over his abdomen that he barely felt it, like a whisper of a breeze against the waist of his pants before her small hand disappeared beneath his thick, leather belt. She smirked at him, tilting her head back and for a second he wondered what had amused her so, before her hand gripped his length tightly and his eyes widened in surprise.
He gasped as she stroked him, gripping her elbow with his good hand and digging his hook into the lid of the trunk behind him. She edged forward, grinding her hips into his as she continued to stroke him; her smirk growing wider in spite of the sheen that still lingered in her eyes.
"Tell me this isn't just a game." Her voice was small and a little broken; clear only because the night around them was silent and bright with stars. He could see her lips quivering and his eyes softened when her hand stilled but she didn't remove it. He looked right into her eyes, brushing his hand along the fabric of her coat as he trailed a line up her arm, across her neck and buried his fingers in her hair, letting his palm cup her cheek as she looked down at him.
"No, love." He sighed; his eyes flitting between hers. "We can be done with all games, if that's what you wish."
Regina let out a long breath, pressing her eyes closed and lowering herself down until she rested on his knees. He felt the absence of her hand more keenly than he was willing to admit, but when she pressed her cheek to his bare chest, just close enough for him to kiss the crown of her head and her arms wrapped around his waist tightly, he felt his heart beat all the faster.
Hook set his eyes ahead of him, pressing the palm of his hand to the back of her head as he focused on her small hands at his sides. He brushed his fingers against her brow, pushing her hair out of her face as he felt her warm breath against the hairs on his bare chest. She dipped her hand into his open shirt, pressing a small kiss just over his heart as she ran her nails down his sides. She sat up suddenly, looking down into his eyes and he fought the urge to reach up and wipe the tear that had broken free against her will away.
He lost the battle; the pad of his thumb falling against her cheek to brush the traitorous moisture away. "We'll find him, love."
Regina shook her head, breathing in deeply as she dove forward, taking his lips in a fervent kiss, grinding her hips down and clinging to him as he gasped into her mouth. Hook's eyes squeezed shut, the fingers of his good hand gripping her jacket tightly as she twisted his hook and removed it from the latch that held it in place.
His hand ran down her back, pulling her closer now with the aid of his other wrist; assured as his hook lay on the sail beside them, that he couldn't hurt her any more than the pain that already consumed her.
Gingerly, he removed the scarf from her throat; pulling it away slowly, watching it weave around her neck until it slid down her front and landed between them. She just blinked in the moonlight, watching him as he expertly flicked his thumb over the buttons of her coat until it fell open. He didn't move his eyes from hers, studying every shadow and curve of her face as he pushed her black coat from her shoulders, dipping his hand and his hook-less wrist under the shoulders of her smaller red jacket until she was left - slightly shivering - in nothing but her black tank-top with her jackets pooled at her waist.
He didn't waste any time; leaning forward he pulled her close with his fingers splayed out and his palm pressed firmly between her shoulder blades, sucking at her neck as she threw her head back.
Regina moaned, gripping his shoulders tightly, digging into the pitch black leather with her nails as he kissed along her clavicle. Her breaths shortened into throaty gasps that he could feel against his cheek and see in the air. Her lips pressed to his ear as he dipped his head down, kissing a line down her chest. He pulled her tank-top aside with his fingertips, kissing and biting at the flesh down the side of her breast. Regina gasped, shuddering against him as he reached a particularly ticklish spot. She gripped his head, brushing her nails over his scalp; his thick hair bristling over her fingers as she raised herself up on her knees, pressing her body closer into his, sucking in her bottom lip when his good hand moved down between their bodies.
Regina's head fell over his shoulder; she bit down hard on her bottom lip as she felt his fingers fiddling with her belt. "Your pants are way too tight, love."
"You're a fearless pirate," He could hear the laughter in her breathless voice and he smiled into her temple as she wrapped her arm around his neck. "Deal with it." Just as the words left her mouth, his fingers worked out the zip on her pants, pushing her underwear aside so that he could press a strong, calloused finger to her centre.
Regina let out a strangled cry, doing her best to silence herself as she bit down on his jacket; her knees shook slightly but he held her firm with his other arm around her waist as he slipped two fingers inside.
"Oh my god."
The pair flew apart. Regina quickly pulled her jacket and coat back over her shoulders, wrapping her scarf loosely around her neck as she scrambled from the pirates lap. He almost growled when she left him exposed, rolling onto his side to hide his obvious erection from their intruder.
"You have the worst timing of any living being, Swan." Hook grumbled, dragging himself to his feet, watching Regina as she turned her back to them both. He told himself she was merely checking her appearance, but somehow he knew different.
"Sorry," Emma said quietly, her eyes still wide. "I didn't realize anyone was awake."
"On the contrary," Hook reached down for his hook, making sure to stand behind the nearest barrel as he clipped it back in place, still watching Regina out of the corner of his eye. She'd turned back around, but her arms were folded over her chest - her shoulders hunched - and her eyes were firmly set on the ground. "We were very much so."
"I noticed that."
Emma's eyes bore into Regina and for the first time, Hook felt an overwhelming desire that he hadn't felt for many years. He took one step towards the dark-haired beauty, making good on the surprising desire he had to defend her from the wrath of her son's mother, when Regina's head shot up, meeting his eye for a moment before glancing toward Emma.
Regina cut her off. "Forget it," She said quietly and Hook felt something inside of him sink at the sound of her broken voice. "Maybe we should all just go to sleep."
She didn't wait for a response, making her way toward the cabin as Hook opened his mouth to speak. She was gone before he could come up with something to say and he turned to Emma. Her mouth was still hanging slightly open, her shoulders pulled up in surprise and her hands hanging in mid air as though she didn't quite know what to do with them.
"What was that?" She questioned and Hook suddenly felt a defensiveness that startled him.
"None of your business." He grumbled, storming past her, bumping her shoulder as he headed in the direction Regina had gone, staggering down the steps with his still healing leg. He knew Emma wasn't far behind, clearly having forgotten what it was she'd gone above decks to do to begin with and it infuriated him all the more that he didn't have the chance to speak to the Queen before the blonde interruption was stumbling down the steps beside him and noisily climbing back to her bunk.
He stood in the centre of the room, watching Regina out of the corner of his eye as she quietly removed her boots, setting them on the floor beside her bunk before laying her coat over herself as a blanket and lying down to face the wall.
Snow and her prince were fast asleep, curled into each other in the bunk beneath their daughter and across the room, far closer to Regina than Hook would have liked, the Dark One was quietly snoring with his hands placed peacefully on his chest and his cane resting on the bed at his side, no doubt ready to clobber Hook in the night, should the need arise.
Hook hesitated, watching Regina desperately clutching at her coat to keep warm but refusing to turn over. He wanted to go to her, not to finish what they'd started, but in the hope that perhaps he could help heal some of the damage she'd been open enough to show him.
He opened his mouth to say something, anything, to get her attention but nothing adequate found him and he hung his head, setting his eyes in the cracks in the old wooden floor.
"Goodnight, Regina." He whispered, just loud enough for her to hear before making his way through the cabin to the other end, where the door to his quarters sat ajar, and the lamplight flickered beyond.
Regina waited until she heard the faint creaking of the door, before she rolled onto her back, turning her head to the side so that she could watch his movements in the shadows creeping out through the crack he'd left in the door. His silhouette stretched across the room in the lamplight and Regina listened, blinking in the darkness, to the sound of his uneven steps against the floor.
She didn't regret what she'd done or what she'd felt; only, perhaps, that it was Emma that had found them, but she didn't want to dwell on how far they'd have taken things had they not been interrupted.
She still quivered at the faint memory of his skilled fingers and lips, working at her neglected body. She pressed her eyes closed, savoring the memory of his rich blue eyes in the moonlight. But then Henry's dark, troubled eyes were there too and she felt a chill down to her bones. He was out there in the dark; he was lost and frightened and she could imagine him looking up at the skies, cursing her for breaking her promise.
She felt tears sting at her eyes; quickly she wiped them away, shuffling onto her side as she saw Hook's lantern go out. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dark, but she could see Emma in the higher bunk across the room. She was certain the woman was awake; she could feel her eyes on her even if neither of them could quite see each other in the dark.
Regina hugged her jacket close to her chin, feeling the chill in the air more significantly, now that Hook's arms weren't around her. She hated to admit it, when her son was out there all alone; she hated to accept that Hook had helped her forget, for that one brief moment, that she was crumbling.
She couldn't fight like she'd wanted. She couldn't set the land on fire and she couldn't threaten to destroy the world if they didn't return her son to her. She had to wait, patiently; she had to rest. But for the life of her, she couldn't fathom how the rest of them could sleep knowing Henry was lost.
Throwing her legs over the side of the bunk, Regina sat up. She took long, calming breaths, attempting to slow her thumping heart. She could still feel Emma's eyes and she was grateful - as she padded across the cold wooden floor, her feet bare and her shoulders rife with goosebumps - that she'd never felt any great desire to justify herself to these people. She may need to keep them alive to ensure Henry's happiness, she may have even awarded them a small modicum of respect, but that hadn't changed who they were. And it hadn't changed the bitterness she felt at having to listen to the sound of them sleeping.
"Regina," A small voice called to her; whispering in the darkness. Regina pretended that she didn't hear it. She pretended, with shoulders scrunched and her jaw clenched, that she didn't hear the concern.
"Captain," She breathed, crawling up onto the end of the bed, noticing in the moonlight from the one lonely window, that he'd lifted his head off the pillow to watch her. She ran her hand along his foot, grasping his ankle to guide her in the dark as she followed the line of his leg until her small hand gripped his thigh and she knelt on the bed beside him.
"What's wrong, love?"
Regina shuddered over a breath, hugging her arms around her before he reached up, grasping her forearm and pulling her towards him. His quiet "Come'ere." and the arm wrapped tightly around her was enough to scare away the chill for a moment before he pulled a blanket around her and let her tuck her small body snuggly against his.
"I couldn't," She choked, grateful that he couldn't see her expression in the dark. She hated that she couldn't control herself. She was so used to being so strong and she knew sheer stubbornness would prevent her from ever sharing this kind of vulnerability with anyone else on the ship, but she couldn't breathe for the weight of fear on her chest. She needed to let it out.
Hook in the darkness, was as honest as she was willing to get.
"What is it, darling?" He trailed his fingers across her shoulder, drawing small symbols with the tip of his finger.
Regina shuffled closer, burying her face in his neck. For a moment he would have sworn he felt tears against his collarbone, but he didn't mention it. He didn't know her as well as he'd always believed, but he knew her well enough to know any admittance that he could feel her shoulders shaking would be akin to signing away all rights to this side of her.
"I couldn't sleep in that room. Not with them."
There was silence between them for a long time; Hook continued to caress her side, half expecting her to either stop him violently or straddle his lap, but she just lay there with her eyelashes every now and then, brushing against his ear.
"I'm afraid." She admitted so quietly he barely heard her. When she shivered at her own admission, he pulled the blanket tighter around her bare shoulders and smiled against her hair.
"Don't be." She could hear the smirk on his voice as his fingers dipped down to her side, brushing along the side of her breast much the way his lips had before they were interrupted. "There's not a thing in these parts more powerful than you."
"I'm frightened that we won't make it in time to save him."
"Rest, love." He pressed a kiss to her brow, stilling his fingers because he knew there wasn't any chance they were going to continue what they'd started above decks. Not tonight. She needed comfort and there wasn't a single person on his ship qualified to give it to her, save him. The cynic in him would have called it a lack of options, were it not for his understanding of the dear Queen.
She was strong and she was determined and he knew, from experience, that she wouldn't have come to him if she didn't feel that she needed to. She didn't need his protection - she was more powerful than them all, even the Crocodile, of that he was silently certain - but she was asking him for it. She was asking him to guard her dreams and so suddenly, he felt like it was time to cast the vengeful pirate aside and be the man she needed. She was on a headlong path to redemption, crashing and stumbling along the way and in her haste, she was asking him to take her hand and run with her.
It had started with the bean, with her declaration of love for her son. Her willingness to sacrifice herself and Emma's passionate plea for him to accept when enough was enough. She was right. Being alone was only so good until the moment that it's not. He knew that crawling into his bed in the dead of night was no declaration of love, but for Regina, it was a sizable step toward letting someone in.
Letting her stay was his step. Holding her tight and sharing his warmth with her was his first move and as she pressed her nose to his throat, burying half her face in his pillow and the other in his neck, he felt that maybe his time of being alone was over.
To Be Continued.