The travel bag on the full sized bed laid wipe open and unattended. Emma was deep in the closet slowly rummaging through the clothes lining the railing. She chewed her bottom lip as she tried hard to rein in her wandering thoughts. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, Emma's mind refused to cease turning over the recent events of her life and the town of Storybrooke in general. Everything had dominated her mind for an entire week since it all had begun.
Gold being able to leave Storybrooke was a shocking new development and one of his own making. He managed to break the curse that had kept the denizens of the town imprisoned within its borders. One person in particular paid the majority of the price for that accomplishment in magic.
Dr. Whale had to patch up Captain Killian "Hook" Jones after the whole ordeal. What both Emma and David could piece together was Gold found out that Hook had came to Storybrooke. Gold then proceeded to manage to take Hook to the border of the town and use him as the guinea pig for the spell Gold used to break the curse. Hook, being Hook, of course hadn't taken it lying down. Despite Hook's efforts to the contrary, Gold succeeded at his objective in the end. Hook wound up being thrown over the border just as the new stranger in town crashed his car, catching Hook in the accident.
Hook, thankfully, hadn't been injured too badly but the same couldn't be said for the new stranger. Dr. Whale had to perform extensive, emergency surgery on him over the objections and fears of the rest of the townspeople. The townspeople wanted to let the stranger die in order to keep the secret of magic from the rest of this world.
Hook just needed relatively minor medical care in comparison. Hook would just have to take it easy for a while so he could heal properly. It had been one of the many things that had put the pirate in a particularly foul mood. He had been understandably angry over the incident despite his lack of physical ability to do anything about it.
The lack of physical ability to respond hadn't been what bother Hook the most. Emma knew beyond any doubt what had bothered him; not being able to take his revenge. The recent developments proved to Hook that his revenge wouldn't be so easy to take and was in serious danger of being derailed permanently altogether. It certainly had been put on hold indefinitely until Hook could figure out a way to win against Gold while Gold possessed the ability to use magic. Emma got the distinct feeling that Hook came to Storybrooke thinking that there wasn't any magic; that Hook sincerely thought Gold was powerless therefore easier to kill. Hook found out the hard way that his chances of killing Gold were drastically low with magic there.
Hook also had been far from receptive upon learning that Emma owed Gold a favor. Mr. Gold, or Rumpelstiltskin, had called in the favor she owed him just three days prior. She was to accompany him out of Storybrooke and help him find his son. Emma was suspicious that Gold informed her about discussing their deal in front of Hook at the hospital. Something was telling her it had been done deliberately; that Gold saw and knew something she didn't. Normally, that wouldn't have been anything new. But, that had been different somehow. It had been the way Gold glanced over to Hook after requesting the private discussion that triggered Emma's suspicions. Emma had followed Gold's look over to Hook at the time. She wished she hadn't. The look on Hook's face reminded her too much of the look he gave her after chaining him up with the giant atop the beanstalk. It was that look of pure hurt, anger and betrayal that made her look away from Hook and go with Gold to have their discussion.
Emma sighed deeply and shook her head slightly in order to clear it from the thoughts running through her mind. She had begun pushing clothes to one side of the closet once again. She stopped when she came upon her red dress she had worn when Henry came back into her life. She slowly pulled it out and backed away from the closet. She walked up to the full length mirror Mary Margaret had gotten her as a late birthday gift and put the dress up against her as if to see how it would look on her; remembering.
She had worn this dress a little over a year prior on the night love came back into her life and a wish on a birthday cupcake she had bought herself was granted. That night had changed her life forever and she had begun down the path she found herself on. She stared into the mirror for a long moment before she decided what she was going to do.
Emma quickly changed into the dress and walked back over to the mirror. She became lost in her thoughts as she studied her reflection in the mirror until a knock on the door broke her out of her reverie. The knock was unexpected since everyone had already been informed of what was going on. Emma gave the door a questioning look then padded over barefoot to answer as a second knock sounded.
The person who greeted Emma on the other side took her aback. As soon as she opened the door, she found Hook standing there silently looking her over from head to toe with wide eyes. Emma quickly noticed something extraordinary. Hook was actually speechless from the sight of her; something that rarely happened for the arrogant and talkative pirate.
"Hook," Emma said forcing her voice to be even if not somewhat hard in tone. "What are you doing here? Actually, how did you know I even live here?"
Hook shook his head slightly after a few second of her greeting.
"I always get the lay of the land anywhere I am. That includes knowing the primary locations of important people. Turns out you're the law here, love. That would make you an important person," Hook replied smoothly.
"Oh, really? Not dried up, dead and useless? I remember that's how you described me before I kicked your ass," Emma retorted.
"Come on, love. I'm over three hundred years old and have been using a sword for most of those years. You've used one how many times? Three? Four at most? I know you're Prince Charming's daughter and have natural talent, which you clearly demonstrated I might add, but do you really think that rough, raw talent will beat that kind of experience in the end?"
"You let me win? You threw that sword fight?" Emma asked, getting a shrug and a half-hearted cocky smirk from Hook as a reply. "I got you medical attention after that debacle at the town border."
"Point taken. The first two times you bested me were all you though, love."
"What do you want?"
"How about we take this inside?"
"Tell me why you're here first."
"You know why I'm here."
Emma stared into Hook's eyes for a long minute before stepping aside and allowing him in. Hook walked through the threshold and made his way into the living room area of the small apartment as Emma closed the door. She leaned against the door and crossed her arms over her chest; waiting as Hook took in his surroundings. There were several minutes of silence before Hook turned back towards her but oddly didn't make eye contact.
"How did that demon get his claws into you?" Hook asked softly.
"Gold? Rumpelstiltskin?" Emma asked in return as she pushed off the door and took a few steps towards him. "He's been far too involved in my life for my liking even before I was born but he doesn't have his claws in me."
"I'm the 'Savior,' remember? The curse Regina cast. I was the one who broke it making me the 'Savior.' She may have cast it but she wasn't the one who created it."
"The crocodile did," Hook stated in understanding.
"Yeah," Emma softly replied. "He managed to create a true love potion from my parents some how. He put a drop of it on the parchment when he created the curse. Then my parents had me."
"That would make you the same as that potion."
"The flesh and blood equivalent, yeah."
"And why you were, are, the savior."
"Yeah," Emma said. "He wanted to be here of all places for a reason. A specific reason. He just decided to make me involved in the whole thing before I was even born. Are you going to hold me responsible for that? Has your desire for revenge pushed you that far to blame someone for something like that which was out of their control?"
"You still think so little of me to not only think that but ask it?" Hook angrily asked as he finally turned fully towards her.
"You really haven't given me much incentive not to think that way."
"You were the one who betrayed me. Left me chained on the beanstalk."
"After you turned on Cora when I caught you in your lie! You admitted she asked you to get in with us and spy on us to find out about here! You turned on her to save your own skin and further your goal of getting revenge on Gold! Not the most trust instilling of circumstances!"
"I didn't lie to you after that! Not once!"
"Actions speak louder than words, Hook. I was going off what your actions said, not your words. I've been down that road before. Believing words over actions. Didn't turn out well for me. I'm not stupid or foolish enough to let it happen again."
They stared at each other for several minutes in silence; both assessing the other and neither willing to back down to the other. The stand off ended when Hook had begun looking at Emma oddly, his head cocking to the side slightly as understanding dawned across his face. He raised his head as he continued to study at her. He had called her an open book while they had climbed the beanstalk. She was certainly one then. Emma realized that this was the most honest and candid conversation they've ever had with one another. Instantly, Emma took a couple of steps backwards, crossing her arms over her chest again and averting her eyes.
The realization of what had been happening made her almost unbearably uncomfortable. It was too open, too honest, too candid. She had become far too exposed to him. He had the ability to read her unlike any other person she had ever met. It allowed her to confess things and speak freely as she never had before in her life. She found herself telling him things she had not once told another soul. She knew she had to stand her ground. She refused to show exactly how much it affected her in front of him. She steeled herself and looked back at him.
The crossing of her arms over her chest had drawn Hook's gaze to her dress once more. His eyes widened fractionally again and he swallowed hard before quickly looking away. Almost immediately, he had begun to fiddle with his hook. All of it increased Emma's discomfort and she wished she had been wearing something else. It wasn't a conversation she had wanted to have wearing that article of clothing.
"You owe him a favor," Hook thickly said. "How? You knew who and what he is."
"Not at the time it happened," Emma had found herself too easily admitting.
"It was shortly after I came here. Before the curse was broken. I didn't believe then. Not in the curse. Not any of it. I grew up in this world. All of this, everyone here, aren't considered real in this world. Just stories you hear as a child. Fairy tales. You would be thought of as insane for believing any of it much less saying it was all real. They would lock you up in a mental hospital and throw away the key. If someone had told me he was Rumpelstiltskin at that time, I would've laughed them out of town."
"So he tricked you."
"I don't know about purposely tricking me but he certainly took advantage of the situation," Emma sighed in reply. "There was this young girl who was having a baby at the time. She got into a deal with Gold to give the baby up once it was born. She changed her mind and wanted to keep it. Gold wouldn't let her out of it. I thought he was just some creepy, shady jerk involved in the adoption black market. I knew the contract he had her sign wouldn't hold up in court and called him on it. He still wouldn't let it go except for a trade in deals. He would let the girl keep her baby if I agreed to owe him a favor. I made the deal. It wasn't until just before the curse was broken I found out who he really was. Months after I made the deal with him."
Hook stood staring out the window. He was still, quiet and, for lack of a better way to describe it, sad. It put Emma on edge. She had only seen him like that once before. It had been while she had been trapped in Rumpelstiltskin's cell by him and Cora.
"What did he ask of you?" Hook quietly asked.
"To go with him out of town to help him find his son," Emma answered.
Hook looked sharply at her. The expression of his face was one of recognition. He had known Gold had a son.
"You knew he had a son," Emma stated matter of factually.
"Don't go," came the only answer from Hook.
"I have to. If I don't, he won't take it well, probably try to get even with me and I'll still owe him the favor. It's best to just get it done and over with so he can't use it against me later."
"Don't go," Hook said again softly as he came over to her stopping mere inches, if not centimeters, away.
The temperature in the room seemed to sky rocket as they stared at one another. Hook's gaze roamed over her body from head to toe making a slow path that landed first on her mouth for a long moment before returning to her eyes. Emma swallowed hard as she held his gaze once it had returned her eyes. He slowly began to close the distance between them as his hand found its way to her cheek, cupping it gently. The touch made a shiver go down her spine. His eyes became heavy lidded yet they remained locked with hers through his lashes as he lent forward.
"I have to finish packing," Emma whispered just as his lips were a hair's width away from her own.
Hook reluctantly pulled back and took a small step away. Emma then noticed her breathing had sped up during their brief moment to a soft, quiet pant; her heartbeat racing. Hook had also appeared to be having difficulty breathing and an odd look in his eyes.
"I don't like this," Hook finally declared after a few moments of calming himself.
"I know. But, why don't you try something new," Emma retorted with an uneven voice.
"It's called trust."
Hook gave the first laugh since he arrived. The throwing back of his own words in his face had done its job. The jovial, charming Hook she had known on the beanstalk had finally made his appearance.
"All right, Emma. You bested me yet again. But know this. I don't normally give second chances. Don't waste it. And don't expect me to give the crocodile the same or even trust him. He's already a dead man. It'll be far worse for him if he hurts you."
"Thank you. I won't waste it."
"Good," Hook said. "Since I'm going against what experience has taught me, you should do the same. It's only fair, love."
Hook grabbed her hand and raised it to his lips placing a gentle, lingering kiss on the knuckles while maintaining eye contact. Emma's breath hitched just a tiny bit at the unexpected gesture. She could only stand cemented where she stood.
"Nice dress, by the way. You look beautiful. Like the princess you were born to be. Don't take it with you. The crocodile doesn't get the pleasure of seeing you in it. He's not worthy of such a gift," Hook said softly as he slowly released her hand from his grasp.
He gave her one more glance over before abruptly turning on his heel and left. Emma stood rooted in place for several minutes trying to wrap her head around what had just taken place. She finally gave up with a shake of her head. The only thing she had begun to believe from it all was maybe the dress was magical itself. It was two to zero in score on attracting and forming unexpected connections.