The chill of the night breeze rustled over the grayish white sails nearby as Emma leaned against the starboard side and looked out over the waters of the bay. She carefully looked over the side to study the murky water below. Her long, blonde hair blew back over her shoulder in the breeze to reveal her face to me as I quietly observed her from the prime vantage point I had acquired several minutes earlier without any detection.
The day had been long and trying for all on board but none more so than her. We had been searching for her boy for more than a month with no success. Neverland hadn't been what she had heard as a child growing up in her realm. It wasn't as bright and fun as I had gathered she had heard. She seemed to have only heard the lovely versions of many tales. I should have known that from her telling of Jack and the Beanstalk she regaled to me so endearingly.
Neverland clearly had been no exception. The fairies weren't friendly and good. The mermaids were murderous. Peter Pan wasn't some nice little boy who only didn't want to grow up and the Lost Boys his brave and friendly band of heroes. I knew she had heard of it from how she referred to the Lost Boys during our climb up that blasted beanstalk. Alas, it still had been hard for her to come to grasps with the reality of the ever treacherous place.
It wasn't long before she noticed me leaning up against the side a few feet away. She never looked away from the calm water of the bay. She hadn't even tensed as she became aware of my presence. That had surprised me a little given our history with one another. Yet, it had became something of a constant thing to be surprised by her over the time we had been in Neverland. She had treated me differently since I had came back and given her that magic bean. I knew I had thrown her for a loop as they say but I hadn't realized how much until we arrived and began our little adventure.
"How long have you been there, Hook?" she inquired with a sardonic turn of the corner of her mouth.
"Long enough," I replied with a smile. She finally turned to look at me. The softness in her blue-green eyes held me spellbound. It had been too long since anyone had looked upon me with such a gaze that it was as if a lightning bolt from a heavy out at sea storm struck me where I had stood.
"You're wanting to talk to me about something. What is it?"
"Always straight to the point, aren't you, Swan?"
"Well, I've always been a 'go over there and give someone a piece of my mind' type of girl."
"But not on some things."
"Your breathtakingly severe trust issues."
"And there's the pot calling the kettle black."
"Too right, love. What did you say in that tavern? 'We understand each another,'" I replied with a laugh.
"You called me an open book once. Well, it goes both ways. You're an open book to me as well," she countered. She let out a deep sigh then looked me in the eye. "It's how I know you want to ask me something. Ask it."
I closed some of the distance between us coming to a stop beside her mere inches away. Even from that distance I could feel the warmth radiating from her body and found it difficult to resist finishing closing the gap that kept us apart. I managed to do so and turned to face the murky green water. Soft waves rolled against the hull causing the ship to gently rock. It put a soul in mind of an infant's cradle moving to and fro in the rhythm of a lullaby.
"Have you always known? About the curse, your parents, the Crocodile...about Baelfire?"
"What?" I asked as I sharply turned my head to study her.
"No, I didn't always know. I found out almost a year ago. Henry. Henry came and found me almost a year ago and told me. I found out that I was pregnant while I was in jail when I was eighteen. I had given him up for adoption because I knew I couldn't take care of him properly considering how I had been at the time."
"Why were you in jail?"
"Neal. Baelfire. He had stolen some expensive watches, clocks, and was wanted for them. I helped him get them out of the place he stashed them. He gave me one of them and went to sell the rest so we could start over fresh some place else that wasn't where we had been at the time," she explained with surprising calmness. "He told me to meet him at a certain place but he never showed up. A cop did. He had called the police and tipped them off to the security footage of the place he had hid them and about me. With me wearing one of the watches...well, I was considered an accessory to the crime. I got eleven months while Neal left town and most likely the country. He had said something about going to Canada. I also knew he wouldn't be there by the time I got out so I never went there looking for him. But, I found out I was pregnant with Henry and I knew I had to give him a better chance than I had so I gave him up. Closed adoption where he shouldn't have been able to find out who I was or contact me. He did anyway, stole his teacher's credit card and came to me in a place called Boston where I was living at the time working as a bails bond...person."
"Yeah," she replied with a laugh. "Being in jail made me switch sides. That tends to do that if you're smart."
"Why didn't you know about any of it?"
"Remember the wardrobe ashes?" she asked. I nodded my head. She shrugged her slender shoulders slightly. "That was how I wound up in the world that Storybrooke is in. I was sent through when I was only a few minutes old apparently, just as the curse was taking effect. I barely made it through in enough time. I grew up from the crib until I was sixteen in the foster system in that world knowing nothing about it. If anyone would have told me, especially after I got out of the foster system, I would've thought they were crazy. I did think it was crazy when Henry told me," she continued. She gave me a knowing look then. "If someone would have told me Gold was actually Rumpelstiltskin when I first met him, I would have thought they were completely crazy. That world doesn't believe in fairy tales and you grow up believing them to be just stories, not real. You're wondering if I had been with Neal and had his son knowing that he was Gold's son," she suddenly declared without any doubt in her voice.
"Yes, " I softly said.
"He knew who he really was and not once told me. He didn't know who I really was until someone else came to him and told him. While he was going to sell the watches. I didn't go through the wardrobe alone. Someone else went before me. They were suppose to look after me but didn't. They left me shortly after we went through. He showed back up years later and told Neal about everything but not me. That was when Neal left me and sent me to jail. Before you ask, it was Pinocchio of all people. Yes, he listened to Pinocchio. The wooden boy whose nose grew when he lied and he had a bad habit of lying a lot. But, he hadn't been wood or a boy at that time but still. Neal was told who he was, heard about his story and still listened to him. Why did you want to know all that? There's more to this than a 'just get to know you since we're working together' kinda thing. Tell me the real reason you wanted this little honesty hour."
Her words echoed through my mind bringing the memory of when I had asked her something very similar. "Why are you really doing this?" She had an ulterior motive and I had known it. It shouldn't have surprised me that she could see that I had one as well then. I suddenly felt the heat rise up my neck from the collar of my leather jacket. I turned back to the water as I found myself unable to look at her in that moment. I remained quiet for several minutes as the memory in that odd, bright tavern kept playing repeatedly in my mind.
"You and I. We understand each other. Look out for yourself, you never get hurt, right?" Emma stated as she stared hard and earnestly at me.
"Worked quite well for me," I answered refusing to back down and give in to the insanity.
"Yeah, until the day it doesn't. We're doing this. It might be stupid. It might be crazy. But, we're doing it. So, you can join us and be a part of something or you can do what you do best and be alone."
I looked up to the horizon in front of us. The sun began to make it's ascent towards the heavens. My mind instantly moved fast forward in my memory to the docks.
I gazed over my shoulder as I walked down the ramp and saw Emma walking briskly towards me. She was in a mood and she made no effort to hide that fact.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded as she closed the remaining distance towards me.
"Helping," I responded as I finished the walk down the ramp..
"Well, you're too late," she said matter of factually as she met me at the ramp's end. What? How in the bloody hell am I late when I have the bloody bean?
"Am I?" I countered as I began to reach for the satchel inside my belt.
"I thought you didn't care about anyone but yourself," she stated as she stopped in front of me and I finished taking out the satchel. I held and looked at it for a brief moment before I handed it to her.
"Maybe I just needed reminding that I could," I told her as I looked deeply into her eyes.
She stared at me in shock then dumped the bean into the palm of her hand. She gazed at it for only a split second before her head snapped back up and she stared at me, mouth hanging open and speechless.
I took in a deep breath and felt my mouth had went dry. She had been honest with me. It was only fair to be honest with her.
"Trying to be a part of something. Something that was worth lying down my revenge for. The day came looking out for myself stopped working so well for me. So, I'm trying something new. Or something that seems new since it's been centuries since I allowed myself to be opened to it," I murmured as I kept my eyes on the rising sun off on the horizon.
I couldn't bare to look at her in that moment from being so afraid of what I might find staring back at me in those eyes the color of the sea I so loved. I swallowed trying to ease the parchness in my throat as I waited for her reaction. Once before I had tried to do what I had been doing only to be spurned by the one who sparked the motivation to attempt it.
I felt rather than see the gentle hand on my right arm bringing my attention to the beautiful blonde next to me. She had slid closer and turned to face me. I slowly cast my eyes first to her hand that slowly ghosted down my forearm to cover my hand then up to look into her eyes. They had softened and she tilted her head to the side as she studied me. How much time past as our eyes remained locked, I didn't know.
"Why were you so open with me?' I asked hoarsely.
"Because, for once, I didn't have to go find you. You willingly wanted to be a part of something," she answered softly. "Because you chose to come back."
She gently squeezed my hand before stepping away from me. Her hand fell softly away as she moved away from my form. She turned and began making her way below deck. Before she disappeared from sight, she looked over her shoulder giving me one last gentle, closed mouthed smile.