I love this show so much. And I love these two so much. Honestly, this might be the first time I've really ever had an OTP for a fandom. I could rant but I won't.
Anyway, this is set after the end of season two. I don't know how long this will be, but it's not going to follow their adventures in Neverland (the next chapter jumps right back into life in Storybrooke afterwards, actually). You can expect this format to continue (nightmares - scene with Hook) and maybe it'll turn into a five-and-one of sorts, but maybe not. Basically, we'll see where it goes.
Emma has this recurring nightmare. In fact, it's her first memory, but she prefers to think of it as a nightmare. She prefers not to think of it at all.
She's three, and she's happy. She wears little bows in her hair because Mommy likes them, and every night Daddy reads to her from his favorite book, though she doesn't understand many of the words or even the story – she's happy just to listen to him. She's a good little girl. She eats whatever's been put in front of her and she's always got a smile for anyone because her life is simple and sweet and she is happy.
And then one day Mommy comes home from the doctor's with a look of absolute joy on her face, happier than Emma's ever seen her. And they paint Emma's white walls a bright blue, and Daddy is so excited when Mommy's tummy starts to grow, and they both start to look at Emma a little strangely. She can hear them arguing late into the night, because their home is tiny and the walls are thin, but it's all the home she's ever had or wanted. She still wants it. She wants it more than anything; she doesn't understand when Daddy sits her on his knee and has a talk with her about there being only so much space, only so much money. She has to go, he says. She has to go so they can keep the baby.
Who cares about the stupid baby? Emma asks, but he doesn't answer, just sets her down and looks at her sadly. She tries again: Get rid of the baby. Keep me.
Five days later, she watches him drive away. She's wearing a bow in her hair, and she has a book in her hand, but he's leaving and Mommy wouldn't even look at her this morning.
(Fifteen years later, she gets rid of her baby, and tells herself it's in his best interests.)
Neverland is quiet at night.
At the risk of sounding cliché, it's too quiet. Something about the stillness in the air makes Emma shiver despite the balmy weather. She can feel the lack of change and it feels very wrong. Perhaps she is just imagining things, she is worried for Henry after all, but the last time Emma doubted her instincts Tamara killed Neil and kidnapped her son. She has to trust in herself. She can't afford not to. And Neverland feels wrong.
"You don't like it, darling?"
She glances over her shoulder to see Hook approaching her position at the rail. They've dropped anchor for the night, supposedly so that everyone could get a good night's rest while they're still in relatively safe waters, but somehow it's not a surprise to see the Captain still up and about at this late hour.
"Don't like what?" she asks, turning back to stare out at the dark sky. There's very little moon, but the stars shine impossibly bright, lighting up the night more than she'd ever have believed possible.
Hook sidles up next to her, a little too close, and gestures grandly out at the water before them. "Neverland, of course. Usually visitors find it quite the beautiful land."
"Don't see any land," Emma quips. She considers moving away, but Hook's shoulder isn't quite touching hers yet, so she ignores it for now. The warmth is welcome, despite the summery weather. Something about Neverland makes her want to hoard everything even slightly good close to her, or else it will be snatched away forever.
Henry's absence aches.
"It is beautiful," Emma admits, after several minutes of silence. "And I'm sure the island will be even more so. But it's just so – something about this place seems… very wrong. Especially now that it's night."
Hook shifts a little, and now their shoulders are touching. But just barely. He holds onto the rail with both hook and hand, and doesn't look her way. Emma doesn't look at him either, instead staring down at the intricate pinpricks of reflected stars in the ocean.
It seems like minutes before he speaks, though she knows it's only been a handful of seconds. Time seems fluid, here. Emma can understand how hundreds of years could pass by without notice. The thought terrifies her.
"You're quite astute," he says, a smirk in his voice. "It takes most much longer to see past Neverland's beauty, no matter how they've been warned. But then, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. You're a regular Lost Girl, love."
Emma snorts. "If I'm a Lost Girl, then you're a Lost Boy."
Hook's answer is far too blunt – it catches her off-guard, and she actually turns to face him. He's closer than she thought. "What, really?"
"I've never worked for Pan, no, but in the same way you're a Lost Girl… yes. I suppose I am." Hook's face is solemn. He glances from her, to the dark water, and back. "We're too far from the island to hear it, but their cries for home fill the night."
Emma stares at him, their shoulders pressed together and heads close. She swallows – at his words or his proximity, she can't say.
But still, she doesn't move away.
And for reasons she doesn't quite understand herself, Emma speaks. "There's a book, in my world," she says. "You're in it. Actually – everyone's in these stories, Snow White and Prince Charming and the Evil Queen and – and Cinderella and the Mad Hatter and… Anyway, this book, Peter Pan, it's about here. Neverland. You're the villain actually, Peter is the good guy."
"He – sort of anyway, more in the movie than the book, but – all the stories are wrong, in my world." Emma defends. "Or, not wrong necessarily, just… twisted. But this book, it has you and your pirates, and the Indians and mermaids, and Tinker Bell and Peter Pan and his Lost Boys, and – it was always my favorite story. I kept getting passed around different homes, I never had a family, and that book was one of two things I kept the whole time. My – it was a gift."
Hook's tilting his head down towards hers, leaning closer, and he's turning her to face him now, her hip resting against the rails. Emma doesn't know why she hasn't stepped back yet. She doesn't know why she can't stop talking.
"I always wanted to go to Neverland," she admits. "It's what I'd daydream about when things were bad, when – I just loved the idea. No one there had any parents, so I wouldn't be missing out. They – they didn't need them, I thought, and they just had fun and never grew up. And I didn't want to grow up, I hadn't ever met an adult who made me want to be like them some day, I just wanted to stay a kid forever."
Hook's eyes are dark and understanding. He doesn't interrupt her, just listens, even as he wraps his left arm around her back and drags her closer. His right hand smoothes back her hair and his fingers are very warm. For a moment, Emma can't breathe. He bends his head until their foreheads touch and she can taste his breathing.
"I was wrong," Emma says, lips almost brushing against his as she speaks. "I wasn't even a kid, not really. I haven't ever really been one. I grew up too fast, and that was the opposite of the book's message anyway, but this place – this is worse than that. I can… I can just tell."
"Emma..." Hook says. His voice is low and a little raspy. She thinks this is the first time he's called her that since she left him at the top of the beanstalk.
"We have to save Henry," she whispers, throat aching. "We have to get him out of here as soon as possible. I can't leave him in this place."
Hook's hand twitches against her cheek. He closes his eyes, and leans his forehead into hers a little harder. Emma becomes aware for the first time that she's holding onto his shirt. All this time he's been leaning in, has she been pulling him?
"I swore my services to you, Swan," he says now, eyes still closed, arms still wrapped around her. He pulls back, and she has to make herself let go. If she were thinking straight at all, that would surely terrify her, but her nightmare has driven all such logic out of her. Or… maybe it's the magic in the air.
The hook under her chin startles her, and Emma blinks to see the man himself peering down at her. Their gazes lock. "I'll swear again now if you like," he promises. "We will save your son."
And in that moment, Emma believes him completely.
"We should get some sleep," she says, glancing away. "We'll need our strength tomorrow."
A slow, oddly sad smirk crooks Hook's lips. "Aye, that we will."
They separate without any further words, and head off to their respective beds. For the first time in as long as she can remember, Emma is able to sleep soundly after her most regular nightmare.
Hook's eyes have bags under them the next morning, but she pretends not to notice.