A/n: Hi everyone! Thank you SO much for sticking with me through this long fic hiatus. I'm so sorry about the wait, after I had my baby in August and went back to work full time a few weeks later my muse has just been SHOT. I've been posting a bunch of little ficlets on tumblr (lovingcaptainswan there as well, you can find them under 'my drabbles') but my chapter fics have greatly suffered, so I apologize for that.

Also, because it was taking so long to get this chapter out, I decided cut this chapter in half like I did with Jealousy in hopes to kickstart my muse to finish the rest of it. I'll try my best to update this much much sooner this time, but for now, I hope you enjoy part one of "Love". :D


Love

Content.

That was one word for Killian Jones' mood as Emma Swan's fingers scraped through his hair with a gentle desperation, her mouth molding with his as she crawled over his body, clambering into his bed without waiting for permission, all the while kissing, holding, touching, everywhere and all at once, sighing a "hey, sailor" into his mouth when he finally pulled away for air.

"Not that I'm objecting, love, but what is this?" he teased, brushing his lips against her chin. "Have I died and gone to some sort of heaven?"

"Shh."

"I thought you liked it when I talked?"

"I just-" she took a breath herself, running her hand through his hair again and kissing at the corner of his mouth with a grin. "-was wondering if you could handle a little more?"

He chuckled low in his throat, mouth parting to bite at her lip, teasing it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. "Insatiable today, are we?" he murmured into her kiss, smirking as he sat up to meet her caresses more fully, hand curving around her waist and pulling her closer into him from where she straddled him with her thighs.

Maybe it was the sleepy haze that still blurred his consciousness, but he couldn't find it in himself to question it. This nonchalant, happy sort of Emma crawling into his bed wasn't something that he intended on ever questioning – what she said without words seemed answer enough.

Innocence. Honesty. Passion.

Maybe that week he had finally gotten to her and he'd broken through those walls, all of it culminating here and now.

He felt months of stress melt away when he read those feelings into her touch, neither of them pushing the other away for some childish reason that never stuck, fighting and fucking and leaving and trying to pretend that it never happened, no longer hiding behind sorrow or anger or jealousy. She wanted him – for the second time that day, he might add - so she simply walked into his cabin, dragging nails through his hair and pulling him into her lips, inviting herself under his covers - taking him. There was something remarkably adult-like about it, something thrillingly reminiscent of an actual relationship, and he could catch himself getting used to this, touching without ulterior motive or promise that it wouldn't happen again.

Maybe the charade was over.

"What?" she nipped at his lower lip, tugging briefly, then sweeping her tongue into his mouth, letting out a breathy sigh as she did so, kissing him long and slow and deep before pulling back, taking his lip with her once again before releasing it. "Are you saying you can't handle it again, old man?"

Playful? Emma Swan was being playful?

Gods, I love you.

The words played in his mind, but he kept them there and instead, growled in response, bucking his hips upwards and rocking his whole body into the kiss as he took the lead from her. He might not be able to say it yet, for fear of scaring her away, but he could sure as hell show her. His fingers pressed hard into her hip, holding her tight to him to make sure she felt just how wrong her little quip was, earning a moan and another impatient jolt of her hips against him.

"So, so beautiful." He moved to kiss down the side of her mouth. He prodded at her chin with his nose, encouraging her to lift it so he could have access to her neck, attacking it with small bites and flicks of his tongue as his good hand began to draw small circles on her lower back, admiring the softness of her skin there. "Do you have any idea what you do to me, Emma?"

"Starting to," she gasped, catching his lips in another hasty, sloppy kiss. "I've just- I've just been thinking."

"About what, love?"

"Maybe I-I'm just tired of fighting what this is."

He stilled for a second, then forced himself to continue kissing trails down her neck, taking his time, urging her on. "And what is it?"

His breath caught when she ground down against him, her only answer other than a short, musical laugh. He'd never grow tired of hearing that sound, he was sure of it. He'd never get used to how perfect she felt in his arms or how much he loved feeling the weight of her on his lap. He'd only just had her that day, in the forest. He still felt like he'd never have enough, and he couldn't say that it didn't affect him in terrible ways that she seemed to feel the same.

She gasped quietly when he sucked at her pulse point, tipping her head back and closing her eyes, her fingers pressing into his shoulders, urging him to do it again. He obliged, sucking then kissing at the spot once more, lazily inching his hand up beneath the soft material of her shirt. So soft. So perfect. So-

He stopped abruptly when he felt the rough patches of scraped, scratched skin, and stiffened when his fingers brushed over a spot that had been rubbed completely raw by the bark of the tree, all too aware of her flinching under his touch. Hook drew back a few inches so he could look into her eyes, startled that he hadn't noticed it before.

"Your back-"

"It's fine, it was just the tree," she assured him, clearly not as affected as he was about the injury as she leaned in to kiss him again, but he pulled back.

"Was I too rough?"

"Please," she scoffed teasingly, but she couldn't hide the look of surprise that played in her eyes when she saw that he was genuinely upset at the idea of having hurt her, even in such a small way. "It's not the worst you've done, Killian," she reminded him in a no-nonsense sort of tone, rocking against him impatiently, but his arm only tightened around her waist, stilling her, his expression darkening when he caught her meaning. "Come on, if I knew you were gonna be this sappy, I would have let that spider bite you earlier," she warned, trying to joke off the seriousness in his expression. "I promise, I'm fine, just-"

His fingers gently brushed against the red, raw skin again as he looked into her face. "I don't like hurting you."

Frustrated, Emma grabbed his chin roughly, cupping it in her hand and pulling him close enough to kiss. "Hey, stop. Maybe I kinda like remembering what we did, feeling the sting and remembering why it's there…" she let her words trail off suggestively, leaving only a small smirk that grew when she saw the lust in his eyes. "So don't start treating me like I'll break now. I won't."

Hook groaned softly at her words, once again amazed by this beautiful, brave, outstanding woman in front of him. "Don't say things like that, Sweetheart. I just might take you up on it," he murmured, dark yet playful, leaning in to nip at her ear.

"Killian."

"Mmm, yes, love?" he mumbled against her neck, going back to his work of planting kisses on every exposed inch of it.

"Wait- wait, before we… about today. What I almost said-"

He could have sworn his heart had faltered a beat in his chest. "Tell me." Gods help him, the words came out like a moan. "Tell me what you wanted to say to me, Emma."

Suddenly, a deafening crack followed by a long scraping sound echoed through the air as the room shook. Emma's nails dug into his back and her knees tightened around his waist for support.

"What was that?"

"Bloody hell."

"What?"

"Skull Rock. We're approaching a bit sooner than expected."

The ship lurched and he could hear the wood of the hull wail as it bowed and scraped hard against the rocks that surrounded the small island. The jarring movement caused Emma to nearly topple off of him, and he scrambled to grasp her, yanking her back into his chest, pushing her off to the side of the bed and leaping out of bed.

"Killian!"

"I've got to get to the helm!"

"I'm coming with you!"

"No, get to the crew quarters. Wake everyone. Just go!"

"Just stop thinking about it, mate," Hook muttered to himself, shaking his head as he forced himself back to the business of walking along to the length of the dock, studying the Jolly, taking careful note of every mark, every nick into the once smooth, perfect siding and committing it to memory. "Just stop thinking about it."

As if he could.

As if he could will himself to stop thinking about the last truly peaceful moment between them before it had been interrupted by cruel, harsh reality once again. The moment where she had chosen him, much like that first night when she had kissed down his chest and begged him to make her feel something different. As if he could force himself not to remember waking up to her lips on his, her hair falling over her shoulders and tickling his neck as she climbed into his bed. As if he could forget the short moment that he let himself consider that she might actually love him back.

She'd almost said it. He knew she had. If only they hadn't been interrupted, if only she had said it before they had returned, maybe things would be different.

Hook cursed under his breath, both at his own thoughts and at the ugly sight of the jagged gashes that had been stabbed into the Jolly Roger's hull. Between their rocky arrival at Skull Rock and their final jump from Neverland back to Storybrooke, his poor vessel had taken a considerable beating. It physically pained him to look too long at the splintered wood that had been caved in just shy of taking on water. Maybe he could convince Regina to work some of that magic she had been talking about before he set off.

"Think you'll be able to make another jump, love?" he whispered, reaching out to pat the side of the ship. "You'll be fine. We'll find you the greatest shipwright in the Enchanted Forest, won't we, sweetheart?" he continued to murmur to the Jolly in a hushed, gentle tone that one would use when speaking to an injured animal.

He gave the siding a final brush of his hand, glancing back at the town behind him on a whim.

"Don't even think about it, Jones," he told himself warningly, as if he needed to hear it outloud. "She's made her choice, now go on your merry way."

A man not willing to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets.

"Oh piss off," he muttered back to the voice in his head.

He wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. He pretended that he would, told himself repeatedly, painfully that he would, working at the docks every day to get the Jolly Roger back into sailing condition. But he couldn't leave. Not yet. Not without hearing it from her own mouth that she wanted it, but she hadn't even given him that.

He wished it were as easy as just leaving.

~ASMG~

"Hey mom, is it okay if we get this?"

Even after more than two weeks back in Storybrooke, Emma heart still fluttered whenever she saw her son's face. There was a small, lingering bruise that refused to heal just below his right cheekbone that had faded from a dark purple to a sickly yellowish green, and a deep scrape on his chin that had scabbed over, each imperfection telling the story of their last days in Neverland - but to Emma, he couldn't have looked more perfect and whole and beautiful.

She hadn't ever pictured herself as one of those overprotective, sappy mother types – she hadn't really pictured herself as a mother at all before Storybrooke. She'd always been too afraid to delve into her past and potential future that she had lost in that jail cell so long ago - but ever since their return, she found herself constantly fawning over him like he could disappear at any given moment. She would repetitively run her hand through his soft, brown hair just because he was standing next to her, or place an extra kiss on his forehead as he slept just to prove to herself that he was really there. She often noticed Regina and Mary Margaret behaving in a similar, doting fashion. David and Gold generally tried to remain stoic, but the looks they cast him and the constant promises of fishing trips or magic lessons – Gold and Henry were the only ones keen on this particular idea - did nothing to hide their feelings for the boy that they had all but given their lives for.

She had had 22 days now of looking at that face since they had rescued him from Skull Rock, hardly wanting to stop to blink. After what they had gone through in Neverland, she didn't think she'd ever get enough of seeing him safe.

He was home. He was hers. Theirs. The little town's beacon of hope after the horrors it had faced in the last months because of Tamara and Greg's and the Home Office's near destruction of Storybrooke.

Just the thought of the pair sent the most uncomfortable of shivers down her spine. The image of their still, dead bodies, eyes staring back at her lifelessly continually flashed in her mind's eye. Normally, she would expect the sight to turn her stomach – Emma had a lot of shitty pictures permanently stuck into her head, but she wasn't quite immune to death – but the fear for her son and anger she had felt all those months was still too fresh, too raw, and burning. Instead, the memory of discovering Tamara and Greg's corpses, bloodied by Pan and the Lost Boys, sent a small, vengeful thrill of victory through her veins, knowing that they would never be able to touch a hair on Henry's head or hurt anyone in the name of their bullshit beliefs again.

"Fuck 'em," Emma thought bitterly to herself. "They deserved what they got."

The thought came with a small pin-prick of guilt when she remembered voicing to Hook, somewhat savagely, nearly those thoughts exactly.

"Well, that's one problem taken care of."

"I only wish I could have killed those sons of bitches myself." Harsh words spoken in haste and the heat of the moment flowed from her lips as she paced his cabin, the adrenaline from their discovery still pumping through her veins.

Hook merely raised a skeptical eyebrow, allowing her livid pacing of his quarters to continue as he casually leaned against the wall, but his expression was soft with tragic understanding. "It would not have changed our circumstances, nor would it have served to ease your pain, my love. It's better this way."

Emma clenched her fist into a tight ball at her side and the hardened, knowing edge to his tone of voice immediately made her want to rebel. Old habits die hard, after all, and she had to swallow the urge to snip that maybe Neverland had changed her like he had always warned them about, but she was all too aware that this in particular wasn't just flippant advice from a pirate. He was right. It wouldn't have changed a thing, except served to replace the anxiety and adrenaline she felt now with confusion and guilt. Besides, her mind had immediately focused on two particular words he had inadvertently placed side by side.

"Try to relax, Emma. Storming around, clenching your fists will only succeed in-"

"Your love?"

He stood, momentarily dumbfounded, before answering quietly. "What else should I call you?"

"I- I don't know," she swallowed hard, the word 'coward' ringing loudly in her ears.

"Emma, before we hit the rocks last night," he paused, biting his lip and working up the courage to press on. "-what is it that you wanted to say to me?"

"What?"

"You had something to tell me."

"I just," she began slowly, meeting his eyes, and the hope that sparkled in them nearly did her in, the voices in her head warring amongst each other.

Just say it, Emma. No. It hurts. It's too dangerous. I have to focus on Henry. But would it really be so bad?

"I just wanted to tell you thank you. For everything."

Coward. There was that word again. Harsh, accusing, squeezing her heart like a vice.

"Thank you?"

"I can't say it enough after all this, and we don't know what could happen tomorrow, so… thank you."

Emma watched as a harsh change came over his face and his eyes burned into hers for a moment, debating how to reply, finally shrugging and taking a long swig from the flask, his face wearing the mask of utter indifference. "You're welcome."

Dammit. Great job, Emma. Great fucking job. "Killian, I-"

"You should sleep. We've got a long day ahead of us if we're to play into Pan's game for your son."

"Is that what you really want to say to me right now?"

His steady, piercing gaze never left hers as he swallowed another sip of alcohol. "Aye. It is."

"I don't think it is." She didn't even know why she bothered pushing him like this. She knew exactly what was wrong, but some sick, twisted part of her wanted to make him say it – then maybe it'd be easier to say what she needed to say. "If you have something to say to me, Hook, then just say it."

"I'm merely suggesting that you are exhausted and this frenetic pacing of my cabin is only succeeding in tiring you further and wearing a hole into my floorboards."

"What's with the rum?"

"I'm a pirate, love. The rum goes where I go. Or have you not noticed?"

"You really think that's a good idea?"

He sighed, long and heavy. "The day has been long, you'll pardon me for allowing myself this," he retorted with a roll of his eyes. "I assure you, you haven't come close to seeing me intoxicated, Swan."

The use of her last name hit her hard and she set her jaw because of course he was changing the subject. "I get it. We've had a long fucking day, okay? No one is more on edge than I am right now, but I'm pretty sure those weren't your first dead bodies out there today, and I'm pretty sure that's not what you're upset about anyway, so tell me what's wrong. If this is just about us then-" It was almost cruel of her to continue to feign innocence, but her walls were up higher than ever, and it was started to bother her that his hadn't followed suit in the way that she had

"It's clearly not of your concern. Leave it be."

"No! Tamara and Greg are dead and that letter we found with them was practically an invitation to fight Pan for Henry."

"And your point is?"

"We're going after my son tomorrow, Hook, and you're leading the way. I'm pretty sure your behavior is my damned concern." He only grunted in response. "Listen, I don't know why you're nursing that flask, but-"

"Don't you, Emma? There's only so many bloody times I can handle getting my hopes up, you know."

"Maybe you shouldn't be getting your hopes up about anything except finding Henry."

He stilled, looking as if he'd been slapped. "Well, I'm sorry, Emma. I apologize," he went on sarcastically, with a mock bow, "for presuming to think that perhaps after all this time, after all that we've been through, I might mean more to you than simply being your tour guide through bloody Neverland as you so sweetly referred to me once," he finished sharply through grit teeth, slamming the flask onto the nightstand beside him. "I apologize for hoping for more to come out of Neverland than simply rescuing your son, but perhaps that's just the selfish pirate in me."

"Hook, we're so close. Please, let's just… talk about this after-"

"Yes, let's. Because we always do things on Emma's time."

"Now you're just being an ass."

"And now I'm a selfish pirate arse. Of course!" He shook his head, picking up his flask and draining it in a long swallow, pulling it away from his lips with a dark, mocking smile.

Emma sighed, softening her tone and expression. "Killian… Can't we just go to bed?"

"No one's stopping you, love," he said, with a dramatic, noncommittal wave towards his cabin door, turning away from her to toss the flask haphazardly into the half-open, nightstand drawer.

"I meant with-" she hugged her arms to her chest, looking anywhere but into his eyes. "Forget it. Just- just forget it."

"No," he caught her wrist when she turned away from him, his eyes shimmering with sincerity and pain. "Tell me now, Emma. Before we step into the mouth of the bloody beast, tell me what this is to you. Last week I thought…does this mean what it felt like it meant to you because I can't take much more of this. I've been trying to push away how I feel about you since that first night and it's bloody fucking torture, Emma."

Emma pursed her lips, keeping her jaw clenched stubbornly, her pulse beginning to quicken when she considered his words, taking just a moment too long to answer.

"Ah. I see. Your silence is remarkably enlightening, sweetheart," he scoffed. "I was merely a distraction, I was your bloody rum to dull the pain of losing your boy, a romp for the savior in Neverland."

Emma's hand flew up before she realized what she was doing, slapping him across the cheek hard enough to make her palm sting, her eyes flashing with a controlled sort of rage. "Fuck you, Hook."

Killian'ss stormy blue eyes cleared, a confusion, a hurt, an innocence appearing in them as his fingers reached up to brush the reddening skin. "Emma, perhaps I -"

"Forget it."

"I can't! I can't forget you, is that so bloody hard to understand? And this childish game of back and forth between us makes me sick. Friends then strangers, lovers then enemies, going weeks between touching you… I'm not that strong, love. So tell me – what are doing?"

Remembering the conversation made her feel sick. There were feelings there, bubbling at the surface, threatening to boil over the edges and it had scared the shit out of her. She loved him. She had been going to say that she loved him and as soon as they had been interrupted, she couldn't. The moment was gone, the momentary bravery that had overtaken her shattered and the fear was crippling.

And he was right.

As much as she had hated hearing him say the bitter words, he was right.

What they had was in Neverland.

It was before they had returned. It was before she realized that the trauma of being kidnapped had affected Henry enough for him to resume therapy sessions with Archie. Before she knew that Henry still thought of Hook as a storybook villain and was hesitant to trust him the way that she did. It was before she realized that the town was in shambles and they were expected to put it back together because they were the sheriff and the mayor and Snow White and Prince Charming. It was just… before, and honestly, it was no longer just about her. Maybe she had just reverted to that stupid 17 year old girl with a crush, maybe she had allowed herself to care for him as a way to cope like he said. Maybe he would hurt her like everyone else had and she couldn't handle that possibility right now – not with how fragile Henry was. It was like the beanstalk all over again and she was so, so very afraid that she was wrong about him.

They'd been gone around four months in Neverland time, but it had been about a year in Storybrooke, and when they had made their triumphant return, it hadn't looked like the peaceful, quaint, little town that she had stumbled upon what felt like so long ago. The damage from its near destruction before they left had been mostly fixed bit by bit, but there was still an air of desolation, brokenness and damage to the place. There was a chilling emptiness to the town, as if it were under some new curse altogether. It had only been weeks since they had returned, but it felt like so much longer. Henry was already seeing Archie again, she and Regina were working out a sort of joint-custody schedule, and she and David were talking about going back to work at the station full time. Life was beginning to be put back together, but only on the outside. On the inside everything still felt broken.

And then there was Neal.

God, Neal.

Her jaw had felt like it dropped to the ground when she had seen him slowly walking towards the Jolly Roger as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing, a wide, relieved smile on his face as his eyes flitted from her and Henry. He had looked so happy. His arms had wrapped around her so tightly that she couldn't breathe, and when he finally released her, the look of hope and longing in his eyes made her feeling like he was squeezing the air out of her lungs all over again.

He was alive. He'd been alive the whole time. She hadn't dared imagine it in Neverland, hadn't wanted to talk about it, but here he was – alive and back in Storybrooke. It was so much to process, too much to process, as he whispered words of relief and promises of devotion, his hands refusing to stop touching her – not entirely unpleasant, but strange. Being held and caressed by a dead man that before then, she had been hesitant to get closer to than a few feet. She let herself melt into the final hug for a moment, closing her eyes momentarily and breathing in his scent – he even smelled like she remembered.

Then he had released her and was gathering Henry into his arms, lifting him into the air and swinging him around in a full circle and she didn't know what to feel anymore.

That night he had asked her out for drinks after Henry went to bed. An innocent gesture. He had been hoping to talk, to really talk, about them, about Neverland, he wanted to know everything (that would have been a story to tell). She had taken a moment to answer, still finding it confusing to even be looking at him, the request sending awkward shivers down her spine because he was dead.

Neal, if we go out for drinks, you have to know that it's just drinks – Neal, I want you to be in Henry's life, but I love someone else - Neal, we have to talk about what happened in Neverland.

Any of the options would have been valid (albeit awkward) conversation starters, but instead she'd given him a stiff nod, biting her trembling lip, still in a state of shock that he was actually standing in front of her. "Ok," she had whispered instead.

"Uh, mom?" Henry looked at her quizzically, cocking his head to the side. "You ok?"

Emma blinked and shook her head slightly, snapping out of her daydream (something she'd been too far too often lately) and focusing back on her son and the box of chocolate chip cookies in his hands.

"So…can we get them?"

He shot her a bright smile as he held up the treat, and for a split second, he looked like the old, happy-go-lucky kid that had come to her door and told her that he was her son. The kid with the book of fairytales who had so much hope. He didn't look like the scarred kid that they had rescued from Neverland, and all because of a silly box of cookies.

And how could she resist those big, brown, puppy-dog eyes?

"Sure, kid," she smiled, taking the box from him and placing it into the cart along with the other assorted groceries. "Hey, can you go grab the milk for me?" She froze as soon as the sentence left her mouth. "Wait. Never mind. I'll go with you."

"Mom, it's just right over there. I can get it, it'll be fine."

Emma hesitated, not wanting to wipe the confident smile off of his face, but truly struggling with the idea of letting him leave her sight in a public place. He had been so close when they had taken, almost too close for no one to have noticed - but they hadn't – and though she had personally seen Greg and Tamara's bodies, she wasn't ready to trust that this was completely over, not with her son's life she wasn't.

"Sure. Go ahead, kid. I have to grab something over here, ok?"

She walked into the next aisle over, a bit closer to the milk section, where she could keep an eye on him while still giving him her trust and allowing him to feel normal again. Archie had said that was important.

She watched him until he reached his destination before reluctantly turning her back to him, her chest aching slightly when she lost sight of him. Calm down, Emma. He's safe. She took a deep breath and finally glanced around in the aisle that she was in for anything she might need, not wanting Henry to turn around to see her watching him. She wanted him to know that she trusted him. And she did trust him. She just didn't trust the rest of the world.

Finally, she allowed her mind to go back to the task of shopping and focus on the aisle that she was in as she gazed from item to item. Tampons? Do I have any at the apartment? She couldn't remember. In fact, she hadn't had to remember since before Neverland. Thank god for small favors. A period in Neverland would have been a nightm-

Fuck.

Her heart started racing. No, no, no, calm down, Emma. You've thought about this before. Time stops there, right? No time means no period which means no – it was why she hadn't been worried about protected sex. Hook certainly hadn't seem worried either and since no one aged, there couldn't be pregnancy, could there? Her eyes fell heavily on the row of pregnancy tests. It'd been over two weeks and she still hadn't started. It didn't mean anything. It hadn't even been a month yet and her body had definitely gone through its fair share of stress. Stop scaring yourself, Emma. You don't need that kind of stress.

"Mom, I got the milk! Hey… what're you looking at?"

Emma jumped, startled and spinning around at the sound of Henry's voice. "N-nothing, just waiting for you," she flashed him a forced smile past her newly turning stomach. "Ready?"

"Yeah. Hey, you think we could get some icrecream so we can make homemade milkshakes?"

She was shaking as she nodded and smiled again, hoping that she didn't look as pale as she felt. "Sure, kid. Get whatever you want."

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