A/N: This is a two-part short story I've been working on for a few weeks. It turned out quite differently than I imagined, but I'm happy with the outcome regardless. It focuses on the last night before the ship ports and the group begins its search for Henry on the island, and delves into what my vision of Hook and Emma's relationship would be if in fact they both feel this "connection" as strongly as I hope they do. Part one is rated "T" and part two will be rated "M." Hope you guys enjoy!

The characters aren't mine sadly, but the story is.

Oh, and please let me know what you think! This thing is the reason I've gotten behind on DTM, and I just hope it was worth it :)

Fall and Rise

Part 1


The whispered voice was barely audible over the sound of the ocean, and none of the others in the cabin stirred but her. Emma's already open eyes flicked to the doorway.

"What?" she whispered back, catching sight of Hook's unmistakable silhouette. She couldn't deny that part of her welcomed the intrusion, but only because she was sick and tired of lying awake in that damned bunk while the others slept around her. Emma had already spent too much time alone with her thoughts, her frazzled brain blasting images of Henry and Neal's face in numerous, all equally disturbing scenarios. As if the reality of the situation wasn't already unbearable, her mind seemed intent on torturing her just that much more as she wondered whether Neal had suffered long after passing through the portal, or if Henry was even still alive.

"Come out here a moment," she heard his whisper. David's snores abruptly stopped, but after a moment he turned over on the floor and flung a heavy arm over her mother. Something in Emma's gut clenched at the sight, wishing for even the briefest moment that someone could hold her like that. Maybe then she'd sleep. She exhaled the breath she'd been holding slowly, her shoulders still tense as she sat up.

"Fine," she whispered back, carefully and quietly swinging her legs over the side and standing up. She slowly picked her way over her parents, noting the way Mary Margaret had automatically hugged David's arm against her. When she reached the door and the cool air of the corridor, it was like stepping out into fresh air. Hook was leaning against the door jam, his hand resting on his belt buckle.

"Move," she whispered, shooing him off the wood panel so she could close the door behind her. She pulled it to with a click, and the quiet sound seemed to echo louder than it actually did. She didn't miss the way he raised his brow, or the smirk that briefly lit up his face, but she decided to ignore it. "Now what is it?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest. The goose bumps on her arms suddenly made her wish that she'd brought her sweater with her.

"I have something for you," he replied, brow lifting. "Something that might help you during the nights."

"Jesus Christ." She rolled her eyes, two seconds away from turning back around to stew in the dark again, when his hand lightly touched her elbow.

"I don't mean that," he said, holding her gaze. The sincerity she found there held her, and she didn't shrug off his hand. She noticed for the first time that he looked as tired as she felt, his eyes rimmed with red and his beard longer and scruffier than usual. His hair was mussed and stuck up in the back, as if he'd been lying in his bunk just as she had, tossing and turning. She found herself wondering for a moment just what ghosts and demons had been haunting his dreams.

"What, then?" she asked, softening her voice.

His hand left her arm, and he withdrew something from his back pocket. When he held the object between them, Emma immediately recognized it as a flask. She uncrossed her arms, but paused before taking it.

"Go on, it's yours," he pressed. "I promise it's not poisoned." The grin on his face was infectious, but she just stopped herself from reciprocating by sighing and pressing her lips tightly together.

"What is this, rum?" she asked, wrapping her fingers around it. The black container was heavier than it looked, the liquid sloshing around inside and she examined it. The front was an intricately engraved iron casing, its sides stiff leather, and the smooth iron cap was connected by a leather cord. It looked like a piece that should have been on display in some kind of museum, beautiful and aged and unique.

"From my own personal stash," he answered her. "And the point is to drink it, darling, not stare at it."

Her eyes flashed up at that. She met his gaze, searching for any sign or inkling of what his actual intentions might be. She knew from experience that he could push her buttons in all the wrong places when he tried, and make her squirm and feel uneasy and nervous. Emma had quickly learned to watch out for those moments, to avoid him and push him away when that side of him reared its head. But now, even as she searched for some vestige of the Hook who liked to get under her skin, she couldn't find him. Even as he stood so close to her, shirt open and sans any kind of coat or vest, more…exposed and open than usual, she didn't feel uncomfortable. She didn't feel the need to hightail it outta there, or chain him down somewhere so he couldn't get to her. The thought of going back into that dark room and drinking herself to sleep bothered her more than the man standing in front of her now.

"Do you have some cups or something?" she finally asked, turning her eyes back down to the flask. "Somewhere we could – "

At that moment the ship chose to lurch unexpectedly to the side, and Emma felt that familiar gut wrenching sensation in her stomach as her balance waivered. Hook's warm, steady hand was suddenly on her shoulder and stopping her from falling against the wall.

"Damnit," she huffed, her hand automatically reaching out and gripping his arm. She laughed once, straightening herself when the rocking ceased. "I'm never going to get used to that."

"It takes a bit of experience, but you'll get your sea-legs yet," he said, patting her arm before dropping his hand back.

"I'd rather not be on here long enough to," she answered, the honest words coming out before she could think about them. As soon as she caught the way his jaw tightened, though, Emma realized with a strange anxiety that her words had bothered him. He immediately looked away from her.

"Of course, that's only natural," he said, voice clipped. "You need to find your son and get back to your home. The sooner he's found the sooner we can all go about our separate ways, and I can get back to doing what I came to do in the first place."

She realized at once that she didn't like the way his tone, his look, his entire freaking aura seemed to change instantly. He was putting on that "Hook" face again, the tight set of his shoulders and neck making him seem taller, more imposing than he had only moments ago.

"Hook, I didn't mean it like – "

"Good night, Swan," he interrupted her, abruptly turning and striding back towards his cabin. "I hope that helps," he said, turning to eye the flask as she gripped it tighter. His door was closed before she could even gather what she was supposed to say. Was she sorry? Had she done or said something that required an apology? It wasn't wrong that she wanted to get to Henry as soon as possible. Surely he realized that? This wasn't her life. She didn't sail on pirate ships and freaking fight dragons and evil witches and fucking Peter Pan. She was just a bail bondsman from Boston, a sheriff in Storybrooke. She just wanted to learn how to be a mother and a daughter again. She didn't need to add the responsibilities of a "savior" on top of all that. She didn't need to worry about what Captain Hook thought or wanted.

Emma knew that he wasn't just a fictional character in a children's fairytale, though. She couldn't use his name and the stories written about him to decide whether or not he was worth caring about. Hook was a man, despite the things he might have done before, and she didn't really believe that he was evil. He was a human being. He'd loved before, and had that person taken from him just as Neal and Graham had been taken from her.

Emma's feet were carrying her down the corridor before she let herself consider what she was doing. Her hand was soon on the knob, twisting without hesitation. The door swung open noiselessly, and she found herself gazing into his room. She noted the singular bunk and the small desk shoved up along the wall, and then her eyes landed on the Captain himself. His back was to her as he slipped his shirt over his head. Her face flushed even as she watched the fabric catch something on his arm, before nimble fingers carefully picked the sleeve away from what looked like leather straps criss-crossing his forearm. After carefully sliding the wide sleeve over his hook, he tossed the shirt over a chair, his now bare back still facing her. It seemed he hadn't noticed or heard her at all.

His fingers were working at a buckle that connected a band around his bicep, just above his elbow, and she realized very quickly that it was part of what kept the hook over his…on his arm, and she suddenly felt an unexplainable twinge of panic tighten her chest. She cleared her throat loudly before he could remove it, so he would notice her.

"What is it, Swan?" he asked, glancing once at her over his shoulder. His lack of surprise startled her.

"You knew– "

"That you were here? Yes. I was wondering when you'd say something. I take it this bothers you?" He turned so that he faced her, motioning towards his left arm, but she felt her mind go blank as she stared, and for a moment she was quite lost in the sight of him. Despite everything, despite the still acute ache in her chest for Neal and the worry that encompassed her whole mind for Henry, something about the way he stood there, not the least perturbed by her presence despite his vulnerable state – he exuded a confidence that she'd never seen before in anyone.

"Swan," he said, his voice teetering on the edge of annoyance. "What are you doing here?" She whipped her eyes back to his, and then at a point just over his shoulder.

"I wanted to thank you for the alcohol," she said, the words automatically tumbling out. "And to yell at you for being so sensitive." Both his eyebrows shot into his hairline at that, but she trudged on. "Mostly though, I just want to have a drink. I don't drink hard stuff alone. It's a rule of mine ever since...well, since Henry found me."

"I do it all the time," he said, a bite to his voice. She caught his gaze again.

"Not tonight," she shrugged, all the implications of his words buzzing in her head. She wondered just how long he'd really been by himself. "Unless you plan on kicking me out, that is."

"I'm considering it," he answered quickly, stepping towards her. "You didn't even knock, you know. That was quite rude of you, especially since I'm the captain. I've punished many for much less than that."

He stopped just inches away, the dark look in his eyes beginning to make her skin crawl. Instead of shrinking back, however, she made the move to step even closer, meeting his eyes blink for blink.

"Cut the crap, Hook. If you ask me to leave, I will. It's as simple as that. Otherwise…" she shook the flask in front of his face, "break out the shot glasses."

The hard set of his eyes relaxed in an instant. He almost looked baffled. She felt her shoulders relax again as he considered her, his teeth catching his tongue as his eyes flicked from the flask in her hand to her face.

"I was about to go to sleep," he said, slipping his gaze down her front. There was a hint of suggestion in his eyes, but only a veil.

"I can see that," she said, rocking her weight back on her heels as she averted her gaze. Her eyes were automatically drawn to the straps on his arm again, and she remembered his first question. "You know, I suppose that doesn't so much bother me as make me wonder."

"What?" he asked, sounding genuinely confused. The abrupt change in conversation seemed to throw him off. She smiled to herself at the minor victory.

"I'm talking about that," she said, nodding towards his hook. "You asked if it bothered me."

"Oh," he answered, glancing at it himself. His forehead creased. "What is it you wonder about, exactly?"

Damnit. He would ask a hard question like that. Unwilling to show that he'd thrown her off as well, she walked around him and pretended to examine the cabin. "I don't know," she shrugged, struggling for the right words. "You just seem very attached to it. No pun intended," she quickly added, skimming her hand over the top of his desk. The wood was incredibly smooth, the rich mahogany color faded with wear and time. She heard him actually laugh.

"It would be difficult to argue otherwise," he said. His boots clumped the floor behind her, the sound drawing nearer. She focused on a short row of books along a wooden shelf, reading the names. None of them rang a bell.

"I don't have any...shot glasses," he eventually said, "but I wouldn't be much of a gentleman if I refused a lady company. I'll share a drink with you, if you like." She noted the deeper, sincere tone in his voice. Time to change the subject.

"Are these written in English?" she asked, the strange lettering that decorated the spines of two books catching her eye. She felt him walk up behind her, his heat warming her back as he peered over her shoulder.

Yeah, that had worked out great.

"Does it look like English?" he asked, lips close at her ear. Even as the muscles in her abdomen tightened, Emma felt like screaming at herself. Why the hell did she feel like this, even now with her son's life at stake? Why didn't she leave?

"What is it then?" she asked, pushing the thoughts away. "Can you read it?"

"Wouldn't be on my shelf if I couldn't," he answered. "It's Mermish."

Real shock grounded her. "Wait, as in mermaid language? Seriously?"

"Indeed. It was taught to me long ago. I know it well."

She turned to face him, gauging his expression for any sign that he was kidding, stringing her along, but he looked absolutely serious.

"Can you speak it?" she asked, crossing her arms in front of her.

"Perhaps," he smiled, eyes momentarily flicking downward. She thought at first that it was maybe just a sign that he was lying, but when his eyes met hers again there was a brief flash of something else, something she only ever saw from him. She uncrossed her arms.

"Say something, then," she said, unscrewing the cap of her flask as she did. The sharp, acrid scent of alcohol drifted up, and she quickly tipped a swig back. The alcohol scorched her mouth and throat, warming her stomach as it slid down. The familiar, comforting sensation immediately relaxed her.

"I would if I could," he answered, reaching for the container once she finished. She let him take it, his hand covering hers more than necessary as he did. She could feel the dry roughness of multiple calluses, the warmness of his skin. "However, it is a language that can only be spoken when one is underwater. Perhaps we could go for a swim one day, and I'll show you."

"How can someone speak underwater?" she asked, even as her eyes automatically focused on either side of his neck in turn. "Don't you need air for that?"

"Not necessarily in the way you think." He winked at her, pressing the flask against a smile as he took a substantially longer drink than she.

"Hey, easy buddy. I thought it was supposed to be mine," she grumbled, watching his throat work as he swallowed. He pulled it away and slid a tongue over his lips in a move that was too deliberate and slow to be natural.

"I have more," he assured her. "So there's no need to fear. You can come for a refill any time."

"Yeah, sure," she answered, the sarcasm only half-hearted. She looked down where his hand held the flask between them, but her eyes automatically focused on the way his chest rose and fell with breath. All thoughts of mermaids and strange languages fled her mind. She considered that she might have been standing too close, especially since he was still only half-dressed, but she didn't have it in her to fight against the obvious fact that she wanted to be there, that she even enjoyed talking to him. She liked that she could feel another human being so close to her, a presence that didn't threaten, demand answers, or make her feel like some fragile, cracked piece of porcelain.

Part by part, inch by inch, she allowed her eyes wander over him. She noted the scars that littered his torso, lingering a moment on one that cut below his ribs and disappeared around his back. She took in the way his skin lightened away from the v on his chest where his shirt usually dipped, and how the black hair there made his skin seem darker than it really was. His stomach muscles clenched under her gaze, defining the lines of his hips that disappeared under black leather. A gleam of silver and metal drew her eyes to his left arm. She followed the straps and buckles up to where they connected around the band above his elbow. Before she even cared to think about what she was doing, Emma raised her hand tentatively, touching her fingertips to the brace.

His arm twitched once under her, as if he intended to pull away, and she looked at him again. He was barely blinking, the color of his eyes nearly transparent as the lantern light shone in them. She was surprised when he finally lowered them, looking away from her.

"What are you getting at, Swan?" he asked, his voice low. There was no lightness in his tone, the teasing lilt gone.

"Why do you do this to yourself?"

She'd asked him the question that had been plaguing her since that night at the town line when he, already beaten and bloodied, had goaded Gold into trying to kill him again. The sheer hopelessness she'd seen in his furious eyes bothered her then, bothered her now.

He continued to stare at the floor, his jaw clenching and unclenching as the question hung unanswered in the air. She wrapped her palm around the place on his arm where the leather holster ended, fingers reaching his skin through the lattice of straps. It was colder than the rest of him.

"Why do I do what?" he finally asked, his eyes meeting hers again. They were tight, mocking. A farce.

"Hurt yourself. Try to kill yourself. Wear this." She pulled at his left arm gently, her eyes going back to see the scars and marks and discoloration under the brace.

His eyes flicked once from his hook and back to her face. "You answered that question for yourself before, if I recall correctly. What happened to that strikingly perceptive nature of yours?" The words were meant to be condescending, but they came out more like a plea. He didn't want to voice it aloud.

She sighed. "Milah, then? The woman Rumplestiltskin killed?"

"There it is," he whispered, eyes flashing. The man was receding again, back into his name.

"I can't believe she would have wanted you to live like this," Emma said, staring back just as fiercely. "I know what it's like to lose someone you care about. Spending your entire live as a slave to...to whatever hell you're stuck in, it's not the way to deal with it."

She was startled when he suddenly bent down, abruptly closing the small distance between them. She refused to yield when his lips ended up a hairbreadth away from her own, the smell of alcohol on his breath mixing with sweat. His face filled her gaze, and his eyes were hard, set, cold as he stared at her. "You have no idea what hells I've been a slave in, Swan."

Her lips parted, even as words failed her. Hook abruptly pulled his arm out from under her touch, and walked back across the length of his room. He left a void of cold air in his wake.

"You should head back to your cabin," he said, the words more a command than a request. He set the flask down on his desk before reaching for a bottle. "You wouldn't want your parents to wake and miss you."

She felt a flash of anger, a pang of frustration so intense that she could have stomped her foot through the floorboards. "You don't get to dismiss me like that, Hook."

"Oh don't I?" He finished with the bottle and screwed the cap back on the flask. He turned and stalked back towards her, holding the container out in front of him. "Well, as Captain I'm ordering you to leave. Just take it and go get some sleep. There are long days ahead."

"No." She snatched the flask from him and placed it on one of the shelves beside her. "I'm not leaving until I know that you're not going to let Milah or some misplaced death wish get in the way of us finding Henry. I don't need to worry about you getting yourself killed on top of everything else."

"Oh really?" He suddenly smiled, flashing his teeth at her. Emma's hand involuntarily clenched itself. "So that was the whole point of..." he waved he hand towards her, "this. You're here to ensure that the bad pirate isn't going to leave you stranded, high and dry while he goes gallivanting off after the Crocodile. That's what you're really concerned about, isn't it darling?"

No, that wasn't all of it. She hadn't come into his cabin in the middle of the Goddamned night to "ensure" that he was really there to help. What else was she supposed to say, though? Surely not that she was lonely and hated the dark.

"Of course I'm worried about that," she finally answered, her voice louder and breathier than she'd intended. "You think that wasn't the first thing on my mind when I saw the way you looked at Gold when he walked on your ship? I know you want to kill him, and I knew what it meant for both of you to be stuck here together. I'm not here to judge that, though. I just want to know that you won't leave us, that I can trust you to really help - "

"Have you even stopped to consider why I was doing this in the first place?" he asked, cutting her off. "Did you think it was all because of you?"

"What – no," she answered quickly, his question sending her mind reeling. No, she wasn't that conceited. She didn't…

"You did," he said, a dark amusement narrowed his eyes. "How interesting."

"No, I fucking didn't," she insisted. "But it was what I wanted so I didn't question it."

"Oh. Of course," he answered, his tone derisive.

"Tell me why the hell you're doing this, then?" she asked, her own voice carrying loudly. "Why are you willing to put up with Gold, Regina, and us for a kid you don't even know? What's in it for you?"

"Nothing," he hissed, the simple word hanging heavy in the air. "Neverland holds nothing for me but pain and suffering, and I was a fool to come back. If I had half a bloody brain I'd be in the Enchanted Forest now, gathering a new crew for my ship. I could be plundering what's left, picking up the pieces of the life I abandoned. There could be a harem of whores in my cabin now, instead of an angry girl who doesn't know how to take a single damned order. And while the thought of helping a damsel in distress might be enough for some to willingly sail into the worst hell imaginable, it isn't for me. I'm not delusional. I'm the one with a ship, I can guide you, but that's all. I don't have magic, I don't have any real ties to any of you. It's laughable that you would even pretend to give a damn."

"But I do give a damn you fucking idiot!" she shouted. "Why else do you think I'm here, in your room, letting you give me the perve-eye all night long? Would someone who didn't give a damn put up with your freaking mood swings or try to understand what's motivating you? Are you that stupid, really?"

"You want to hear about stupid, love?" he asked, real anger sharpening his voice. She almost stepped back from it, but the fury she felt herself made her stance solid. In two quick strides he was back to being just inches from her, his face flushed and eyes livid. "I'll tell you about stupid," he practically whispered. "Consider, for a moment, the absolute idiocy of allowing yourself to care about someone, to offer them a home, to swear to protect them, and then let yourself believe that they could love you back. Imagine what it would be like then, when they throw it all back in your face and out of anger, you hand them over to a rabid pack of murderous wildlings. Therein lies my stupidity, Swan, and yours as well. You don't know a damn thing about me."

"I might if you would stop with the vague monologues," she said back. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Milah, darling," he answered, as if that one word was supposed to make any sense. "The reason for all of this. Do you know who she was? Do you know why Rumplestiltskin killed her?"

"I don't see - "

"Because she loved me, and not him," he said, the words falling out thick and slow. "Because she was his wife, the mother of his child. He tore her heart from her chest and ground it to dust while I watched, because she saw him for the coward he was. Because I dared to fight for her when he wouldn't."

All the breath seemed to leave his body as the tension suddenly eased from his face. The anger in his eyes faded to a practiced apathy, a tiredness beyond what she even felt. But his words...the mother of Rumplestiltskin child...

"Neal," she said, her eyes briefly catching on his necklace as she looked down. "Neal was Milah's..."

"Son," he finished.

"And you - you knew him when he - "

"Was a boy. When he was taken here by the shadow. I rescued him from the sea. Took care of him. Until he found out who I was."

"And...you gave him to those lost boys?"

"Yes, I did," he answered, stepping back. "I gave him over so that my crew and I would be spared Pan's wrath. Take it as you will."

"But they could have kill him," she said, the realization striking hard. How could he have given a child over to them? How could he give his true love's son...her mind was suddenly ringing with a thousand questions and what if scenarios. It took a moment before she finally realized the reason why he was telling her this now. "And Henry...Henry is Neal's son," she practically whispered. This was unbelievable. He'd left Neal in Neverland. He'd left him behind. And now they were here with him, his ship the only way to get back home.

"So what, do you think you can make up for that by saving Henry? You think you can make yourself feel better by using my son to ease your guilt?" She was incredulous. She was confused. It could only help her find Henry if that was the case, but still...

"As I said, take it as you will. I've answered your question. You know why I'm here and why I won't stop until he's found and safe. I'm done explaining myself."

"Like hell you are," she said, reaching out and grasping his good arm before he could turn away from her. Her hand couldn't fit around the width of his wrist, so she slid it down and around his palm, cinching it. The gesture had been meant as rough, forceful, but Emma suddenly realized that she was holding his freaking hand.

She hadn't really meant anything by it. She just wanted him to answer the questions burning holes in her head, itching her tongue. As she gauged the startled expression on his face, however, and realized that his fingers had automatically closed around her hand, she couldn't remember a damned one of them. It was a moment before she even gave notice to the fact that she was gripping his upper arm too, the pulse in the crook of his arm beating against her thumb.

He pulled his arm towards his body, as if to detach her, but she refused to let go. Henry...Henry and Neal. He'd left Neal...

The hand that she'd wrapped around his bicep was now squeezed between his arm and his side. His skin radiated heat, instantaneously warming her chilled fingers. It felt like miniature lightning bolts were arcing from her hands to the pit of her stomach. She saw that his initial surprise had since faded into a blazing intensity. Emma felt her toes curling, like smoldering foliage beside a flame.


Comfort. Human touch.

He wasn't a ghost. He wouldn't hurt her. She knew he wouldn't hurt her.

"What in the seven hells are you thinking, lass?" he breathed, his tone deep but quiet. It was soft. His forehead pinched together, his mouth open as if he wanted to say something else. The way his eyes searched her face so thoroughly, the way he stood so still, it was almost like he was preparing himself for something, dreading something. He looked confused, lost, as if he had no clue as to what to do.

"I'm not," she finally answered, the words barely audible. "I'm tired of thinking."

And she was.

He left Neal, and Neal had left her.

She was here for Henry, he was here for Henry.

Neal was gone. Milah was gone.

She was chilled to the bone, and he was warm.

The night held nothing else for her but solitude and quiet. Plain truths, laid bare and open.

Emma released his hand, slowly tugging herself away. His eyes watched the motion, and he closed them once she'd pulled away entirely.

"Look at me, Jones," she said, demand making her voice harsher than she'd intended. His eyes shot open, startled.

She put her palm against the pressed muscles of his chest, burying her fingers under the hair. It was soft, warm like the rest of him. She felt his breath catch.

"Swan - "

"Don't say anything," she stopped him. "Listen first. I'm tired, you're tired. I want to sleep, but I don't want to go back in that room. I don't want to do anything else but sleep. I...I can't..."

"Swan - "

"I'm not done," she cut him off again. "I can't...give anything more than that. I just...I'm sick of being alone."

His head tilted to the side, watching her. "But you're not. You're here with your mother and father looking for your son."

"Yeah, I am. But I've been alone for a long time, longer than I've known them. The fact that biology says they're my parents doesn't mean I feel everything I should. Not yet, at least. And with Henry and Neal - " she stopped herself when she heard the crack in her voice. She felt the wetness flood her eyes, closing them tight against it. She didn't cry. She wasn't going to.

When his hand came around the back of her head though, gently urging it towards his shoulder, she didn't try to stop him. Emma held the tears back, but she let him pull her forward, until she felt his chest and collar bone under her cheek, and two thick arms circle around her back.

"We'll find your son, love. And I'm sure Baelfire cared very much for you. He had a great capacity to care for others, even if what I did was unforgivable. The dead never truly leave us, much as we may want them to, sometimes."

She removed her scrunched arms from between them and wrapped them around his back, breathing in scent, warming herself against him. Here, in the quiet, she felt that emptiness in her fill, at least temporarily. She could feel it in him, as well, in the way his arms tightened, the way he moved his cheek against the top of her head. He was there for Neal and Henry, but regardless of what he said she could never believe that he wasn't there for her too.

"It sucks, you know?" she said, the sentence crass compared to his eloquence, but nonetheless accurate. She felt him chuckle lightly.

"Can't say I'm too familiar with that phrase, but judging by your tone I'm inclined to agree."

"It means something is bad, painful, and overall a shitty situation," she explained, though she was unsure as to why she needed him to understand it. His hand moved from her head to the bared skin on her back.

"Well then, I do agree. Except, I wouldn't go so far as to say this situation 'sucks' at the moment. Though, I have to wonder…" he trailed off.


"What exactly are you asking of me, Emma?" he said, the words vibrating under her ear. She stiffened automatically. Had he meant the question a certain way? Did he think she was asking him to –

"Nothing," she said against him, her lips momentarily catching his skin. She felt his back tense, and she immediately pulled away. "Nothing at all."

"Is that so?" He slid his hand down across her shoulder, her arm. "Are you quite sure?"

"Yes. I just...it's like I said, I don't want to be alone."

"So, you are asking to stay with me tonight?" he questioned, fingers catching her hand and lifting it to his lips. He pressed them lightly against the back of her hand. "Or at least, for what few hours are left of the darkness?"