Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I don't own anything having to do with Once Upon A Time. If I did, Emma and Hook would already be together and Neal wouldn't even be in the picture.

Disclaimer: I also don't own one of Hook's little pickup lines – I actually swiped it from Captain Kirk in the Star Trek movie. It just seemed so Hook-like that I couldn't help it. Let me know if you can spot it!


Chapter One

A Proper Lady and A Charming Pirate

"She couldn't help but think there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all, it was a great big world with lots of places to run to."


"Sit up straight, head high, hands resting on your lap. No, don't grip your hands together; you're not in an arm wrestling match. Just lightly place one hand over the other – yes, like that. A princess should always look at ease."

To make a point, Emma slumped back into the chair.

"Emma Swan, what on earth are you doing?" Her mother's tone was shocked and exasperated.

"This is me at ease, Mom!"

"Well, you slouching like that is not lady-like in the least. Looking at ease and being at ease are two very different things. I can only imagine what the guests would say if they saw you like that; now, sit up!"

"I don't care what they'd say…"

"Well, I do!" Her mother took a deep breath before continuing in a calmer voice. "We are held to a higher standard, Emma. We have to look and behave like the royals we are."

"I though you said we're no different than everyone else in the kingdom." She hated that she sounded like a petulant child but she was purposely trying to get a rise out of her mother. They were both frustrated; they'd been at this all day. It was only a fortnight until her twelfth birthday and, to celebrate, her parents had planned an extravagant ball and invited, what seemed like, everyone in the kingdom. This would be the first time many of the other royals would meet her which, in turn, meant daily princess lessons for Emma so she could be presented as a proper young lady, the daughter of King Charming and Queen Snow.

She hated it.

"That is true; we are no different than anyone else, no better than anyone else. But that doesn't change the fact that we are their leaders. They look to us to govern them, rule them, and guide them. We set an example, Emma."

She'd entertained the thought of running away on more than one occasion. The only problem was that, as much as she hated the idea of her future as a royal – being married off to some prince, having to deal with the issues of the kingdom on a daily basis, never getting to go on any of the adventures she dreamed of – she hated the idea of leaving her parents. Even though they frustrated her, she loved them and hated the thought of disappointing them.

Emma quietly sighed and sat up, crossing her hands delicately on her lap and schooling what she hoped was a pleasant look on her face. She must have been successful as her mother's face broke out into a smile.

"There now, you look like a perfect young lady!"

But Emma didn't want to be a perfect young lady – she wanted to be free.


The noise in the room was cacophonous. The little bar of the inn was small enough as it was; with all of the men crowding the area, shouting and yelling, it made the place seem increasingly claustrophobic. Emma rushed to fill five tankards with ale for the group of men situated at the bar. They were young, probably the lowest of the low out of the men on their ship, but they were confident; each of them was shamelessly trying to flirt with her.

"Honey, you can't leave me hanging like that. Come on, tell me your name. I told you mine…" As if that made any difference.

"It's a madhouse this evening!" A tall, leggy brunette wearing figure-hugging and stare-inducing trousers and a breezy blouse strutted past her carrying a tray full of empty mugs. "Been a while since we've had a crowd this big."

The brunette's name was Ruby and she was Emma's most trusted friend.

A twelve year old Emma had first showed up in Tortuga, fresh off the face of a merchant trading ship, in the middle of torrential downpour with no plans and no idea where to go. Desperate and alone, she'd wandered through the town looking for a place to stay, but despite the fact that she was just a child, the citizens of the pirate-filled town were less than trusting and unwilling to house her. That was when she stumbled upon The Salty Dog Inn. Ruby and August, her older brother, were the first people she talked to and, luckily enough for her, happened to be the inn owner's children. With their help, which involved much pleading on the part of Ruby, she had secured not only extended lodging at the inn, but also a job working in the little pub downstairs.

"I know! I'm exhausted and it's not even late, yet. These guys are just getting started."

"And there's still more trying to come in, just in case you didn't notice."

Emma swung her eyes to the main door. It conveniently opened at that moment, giving her a glimpse out where she could just make out groups of sailors and pirates huddled amidst the swirling snow. Great… yeah, it was most definitely going to be a long night.

"Hey babe… babe!" Her young would-be lover was calling to her again. "When do you get a break? You can come outside with me; get some fresh air." Fresh air? This kid was an idiot. It was the middle of winter, not to mention it was snowing outside. Fresh air, her ass.

Now twenty-six, Emma considered the inn, its regular patrons, and the exciting Tortuga more of a home than the shining castle she was born and lived in for twelve years. Of course, that didn't mean she never missed her old life; it would've been easy to remain a princess. Everything handed to her on a silver platter, never wishing for anything, never having to struggle for something she want. Yes, it would have been very easy, but those easy outs had never been a part of her dreams for adventure and that was why she'd left. Well, maybe not the only reason, but most definitely a major part.

"Wow, Emma, he seems like such a winner; you should definitely take him up on his offer for some fresh air." She gave Ruby a look, clearly telling her not to encourage the boys, but they'd already heard her. Their little ringleader obviously missed the sarcasm laced through Ruby's statement.

"Yeah, honey, you should listen to your friend. I can show you a good time, if that's what you want."

Oh, for the love of… with the little encouragement he'd received, compliments of Ruby, there was going to be no way he'd leave her alone now. Instead, Emma did the only thing she could do – glare at her friend who was making an already annoying situation insufferable. But in the true fashion of a friend, Ruby just smiled sweetly back at her before loading up her tray with fresh drinks to take out and exiting the bar, leaving her to deal with the boys.

"Go get 'em, tiger." She whispered on her way out. Emma returned to her work filling drinks and taking orders.

"Come on, blondie – I've made many a girl scream; I could do the same for you."

That was wishful thinking on his part. She'd be surprised if he'd even bedded anyone before, much less become experienced enough to make her scream. Either way, she was tired of his nonsense; she had other things to be doing, other patrons to be serving.

"Listen up, boy." She put as much emphasis on his young age as possible. Nothing took the wind of a pirate's sails, no pun intended, more than a reference as to how young and inexperienced he was. "You're young and stupid and obviously plastered. Here's a drink on me; now go bother someone else." She shoved the mug at him and turned to another man ready to order.

"What can I get you?"

"Sweetheart, I'm still talking to you." She ground her teeth in frustration.

"And I am done talking to you."

"I think you'll be done when I say you're done!" His eyes were dark as he reached over the counter in an attempt to grab her; his mistake. She slid out of his reach, grabbed a pitcher of water, and promptly threw it in his face. He spluttered, wiping the water from his eyes. It was a shame he was preoccupied; he didn't even see the wooden club coming for him. Emma held the club above his head and let gravity pull it downward. There was really no point in putting any effort into it; gravity was more than enough for the solid piece of wood. It hit his head with a solid thunk and the regular patrons laughed uproariously; they knew that sound, some of them from experience.

"Son of a bitch!" His curse was loud and angry. Emma leaned forward, grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him toward her. His eyes were watering as he held one hand over the sore spot on his head.

"I'm not going to tell you again, kid – leave me alone."

Then she shoved him away and turned away from the bar, reaching for her drink and downing it in one long swig.

"Excellent, Emma! It's been forever since we've been able to use the club." At least Ruby was entertained by the spectacle. "But honestly, you didn't have to make him cry."

"Oh, tell me he didn't!" She laughed intensely when Ruby nodded.

"He pushed right through everyone and left, tears in his eyes the whole way!"

"Poor thing. And he was just a young one, too."

"You probably broke his heart. Now he'll never trust another woman again."

"Don't worry, Ruby. I'm sure if he ever needs reminding of how wonderful a woman can be, he can always turn to you." They both laughed again, Ruby picking up her tray.

"You know me – I would never turn away a poor, young soul looking for a romp in the bed. It's a shame, really; I probably could've taught him a few tricks."

"Ruby, the only you'd do is make his youthful ears burn with your dirty bedroom talk!" Emma had to yell to be heard over the patrons. Ruby threw a foxy grin over her shoulder and Emma couldn't help but laugh. Throwing the towel onto the bar, she turned to the next man waiting for a drink. "What can I get you?"

His eyes were so very blue.

That was her first thought.

Then she mentally slapped herself for sounding like such an idiot, even if it was just within the confines of her mind. Widening her view past his eyes, she took in the rest of him – dark and tousled hair, startlingly blue eyes, stubble running along a strong jaw, leather-clad attire, sword dangling from his hip.

Pirate.

"Hello, beautiful."

He flashed a confident smirk her direction and, although she hated to admit it, her breath hitched. He was gorgeous. Was it even appropriate to call a man gorgeous? Attractive? Striking? Good-looking? Handsome? Ruggedly handsome?

"Can I get some rum, milady?"

"Sure thing." Emma whirled around, spurred into action by the familiarity of an order to fulfill. The mug filled, she turned and slid it to his waiting hands – or hand, rather. Instead of a flesh and blood hand, his left arm ended in a wickedly sharp hook. Well that was interesting…

"You're working too hard. You should come sit with me; take it easy for a bit."

Tempting, but no.

"Sorry, I'm swamped. Girl's gotta make a livin', you know." While that was true, she also knew that no one would ever begrudge her for taking a break. But he didn't know that – or at least she didn't think he did. Judging by the smug look on his face, he might.

"What's ten minutes? These scallywags can take care of themselves for a bit."

"I'm too busy. Really." Emma set to work on another sailor's order.

"You hesitated."

She glanced at him briefly through her lashes as she poured some ale but refused to answer because, damn it, she had hesitated; he just wasn't supposed to have picked up on it.

"No need to be shy about it, love." He was leaning over the bar towards her, smirking again. She slid the drink to a tattooed and pierced sailor before turning to the pirate in front of her, arms crossed.

"What'll it take for you to leave me alone?"

"Just ten minutes over there." He gestured over his shoulder to an empty spot at a table in the back; the other men sitting at the table must have been saving the spot for him. "Just you and me."

"Doesn't look like it'll be just you and me. Looks like it'll be you and me and about fifteen of your crew."

"They won't bother us, love; won't even eavesdrop. I've taught 'em better than that." He winked at her and she smiled, a small laugh escaping her before she could stop it.

"Is this guy bothering you?"

Emma should have known August would notice the attention she was receiving and step in. Ever since she'd shown up on the doorstep of the inn looking like a drowned rat, he'd taken it upon himself to protect her, stepping into a self-appointed big brother role. She could sense him as he came to stand behind her, obviously trying to intimidate the pirate. August was roughly five years older than Emma and Ruby but his appearance would fool most people; he looked much older than he was. Unlike her, he had been born and raised in Tortuga, which meant he didn't look very different than the hordes of pirates that came through town – large build, bulging muscles, scruffy beard, tattoos covering most of his visible skin.

Between the ruckus caused with the kid and now this one chatting her up, he'd evidently felt the need to step in.

"Unbelievably so, but it's nothing I can't handle."

"You can handle me – that's an invitation."

Emma was no innocent maiden; growing up in a town like Tortuga meant that there were always drunken fights to break up, hands reaching for her backside to dodge, and cheesy pickup lines from guys trying to get into her pants. For the most part, she tried not to indulge the patrons in their attempts at flattery and flirting but she couldn't help the small smile that lifted the corners of her mouth so she took a drink in an attempt to hide it.

"Wow… does that kind of stuff really work on women?"

"You tell me, love."

He was good, she'd give him that.

He lifting his tankard of ale and took a drink, never looking away from her. All of a sudden the room seemed a little too warm, despite the frosty air coming through the doors. He lowered his drink, the smirk returning to his face.

"Emma, there's a lot of people here – let's get back to work." August was obviously tired of this pirate's pickup lines and probably worried by her lack of just brushing him off, but she couldn't bring herself to break the eye contact so she was thankful when his eyes slid up to a point above her head. The spell broken, Emma also turned to glance up to August's face; if looks could kill, this pirate would be dead. She needed to act quickly. Drunken fights between patrons was one thing; drunken fights between patrons and the inn owner's son was another.

"I'm going." Emma touched August's arm lightly, drawing his attention back to her. "Let it go, it's no big deal." And with that, she made her way down to the opposite end of the bar; she could feel the heat of the pirate's gaze on her back but when she glanced back he wasn't there anymore.

The night dragged on and Emma managed to stay plenty busy; there must have been a good number of ships come into port today as the inn was packed to the brim. The attractions of Tortuga always meant there were people visiting the town so they never really had a slow night, but the mass of people and activity this evening was beginning to give her a slight headache. Fortunately for Emma, she was behind the bar tonight which meant Ruby got the floor. She spotted her dark-haired and red-lipped friend swat away a hand attempting to grope her with practiced ease, not missing a beat as she served tankards of ale to the group before her.

"What'll you be havin'?" A new group of men had made their way to the bar.

"Eight tankards of rum." He paused to peruse her. "And maybe a little of you, sweetheart. How 'bout you keep me company later? It's gettin' chilly out and my bed gets a little cold at times."

"Not gonna happen, buddy." She rolled her eyes good-naturedly and set about filling the mugs.

"Good lord, Emma. I'm not going to have any ass left to grab by the end of tonight if they all keep this up!" Emma spared a glance for her friend as she rushed behind the bar, dumping empty glasses into the wash bin and filling new ones to take back out. "They're positively lecherous this evening and they're beginning to go for more than just my ass. You're lucky to be back here, that's for sure."

"True that. I'm getting enough of it with a block of wood separating us; I can't imagine how bad it is in the middle of them." Emma could imagine it, she'd been there plenty of times, but she knew Ruby wanted the pity so she indulged her and took pity on her situation.

"It's getting late, though; they'll start turning in soon." Ruby paused, leaning against the bar for a breather. Emma grunted her agreement and handed the rum-filled mugs to the group of guys, ignoring his last attempt to get her into his bed. "Oh, I've been meaning to tell you – you have an admirer."

Emma pushed the heels of her hands into her eyes as if to push away the aching in her head. "Really, in an inn filled with drunken pirates? Who would've thought?" She heard Ruby's soft laugh and smiled in response. The pressure of her hands against her eyes was beginning to cause colorful spots of light to appear in the darkness; she dropped her arms and blinked until her vision returned to normal.

"He's been staring at you for most of the evening."

"Most likely trying to stare down my blouse." Emma turned back to the bar. "What can I get you?"

"Really, though. He's not nearly as revolting as most of the guys here."

"Don't care. Here's your drink. What about you – what'll you be havin'?"

"He's actually very charming…"

"Then why don't you go after him?" Her attempts at blowing Ruby off were obviously not working so Emma made an attempt to appeal to her friend's sexuality. It was common knowledge that Ruby was a little more promiscuous than Emma – well, maybe more than a little. If she was interested in sleeping with someone, all she had to do was turn on the charm; the guys never knew what hit them. Emma had never been able to flaunt her sexuality the same way, despite Ruby's insistence that she had all the goods. She'd just never been as comfortable vamping it up just for some casual sex.

"I would have but he seems very insistent on you. I was serving their drinks and – I'll admit – I tried to flirt with him but all he asked about was you. Kept wanting to know your name; I didn't tell him, though." Emma sighed in relief; names were too personal a thing to just hand out to every guy that came through the inn. She was glad Ruby understood that. "See, look! He's still staring at you."

"I'm not looking."

"He's right over there." She ignored the hand pointing into the distance in front of her face, studiously washing the pile of mugs in the wash bin instead. "Emma…" Ruby was pouting, hands on her hips. "Emma, seriously. Emma, stop ignoring me and just look at him!"

"I don't need to see him; I'm not interested."

"You might be if you saw his pretty face."

"For god's sake, Rubes, don't you have drinks to get out or something." Emma threw the mug she'd been cleaning back into the suds and glared at her friend in mock frustration but Ruby just stared back with a Cheshire-like grin, resolute. It was a silent battle of wills that Emma knew she'd lose; she'd never been able to outlast Ruby. "Ugh, fine! Let's just get this over with so I can actually get some work done. Where is he?"

Emma didn't think it was possible but Ruby's grin grew even wider before she grabbed her shoulders, spinning her around and facing her towards the far corner of the bar. Emma had to search for a minute before her eyes met his; it was the same pirate that had done a better job than most at trying to woo her earlier. A roguishly charming smirk broke out on his face when he realized he had her attention. She tried to fight the grin she couldn't help and shook her head ever so slightly in exasperation; he was determined. A few hours of drinking with his men had not yet caused him to forget about her. Most men harassed her at the bar before giving up and moving on to easier women; apparently, he was different. He raised his hand and crooked his finger towards her; the message was clear – come here. She cocked an eyebrow at him. He winked at her in response.

"He's a pirate." The excuse was pathetic; as if being a pirate was the worst thing in the world.

"Oh, come on... like that's stopped you before. How long has it been since you've been laid?" She could hear the smirk in her friend's voice; Ruby very well knew how long it had been since the last time she'd slept with someone – too damn long. He moved his head slightly, motioning for her to come over.

"Oh, you should go talk to him!" Ruby obviously hadn't missed his gesture. "I'll take care of the bar for a while – you go talk to him. And then later you can visit his ship; rock it a bit, you know. Make sure it's steady."

"Ruby!" Emma felt her cheeks redden at the insinuation and turned to slap her playfully on the arm.

"Just go! I'm going to be too busy cleaning up tonight to have any fun myself so I have to live vicariously through you. Don't disappoint me!" And with a shove, Ruby pushed her from behind the bar. Emma stood there for a moment before wiping her hands on her trousers and making her way to the pirate in the corner. He grinned at her as she approached.

"Hello, beautiful. I saved you a spot." He shifted over, leaving an empty space between his body and the wall; when she didn't move, he patted it with his right hand, making fun of her hesitance. She threw a look over her shoulder to the bar where Ruby stood, still grinning at her, before turning back to the pirate and sitting in the empty space. Immediately, he slid a tankard of what she assumed to be rum in front of her.

"You've been running around all evening. You must be thirsty."

"And from what I've heard, you've apparently been staring at me all evening. Nothing better to do?" She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, taking a slow drink of the warm ale.

"Oh, there are plenty things to do; I just prefer to stare at a beautiful lady than these ugly scoundrels." He motioned to his crew members. "So tell me, love – do you have a name?"

She paused for a bit.

"Perhaps."

There was a coy little smile on her lips. She was flirting with him; damn it, she was willingly and consciously flirting with him. His smug little smirk, the way he spoke to her, his distinct accent. The pirate oozed charm and sex appeal, and she couldn't help but be drawn in by it. Or maybe Ruby was right; maybe it had just been too long since she'd slept with someone and so now she – and by she, Emma meant her body – was jumping at the chance for release. But no, it wasn't just that. It was also him.

"Ah, a mysterious lass. No bother, I like a challenge." She couldn't maintain the eye contact, her gaze dropping to her drink.

"So, pirate, where do you hail from?

"I was born in a town just north of here, but I joined a crew as soon as I could walk and have been sailing ever since. I've navigated through all of the waters around here; spent more of my life at sea than on land." He toyed with the tankard. "Although, for the past few years I've been traversing... well, I've been sailing a most treacherous sea. You wouldn't know of it, though; not many do." He added the last bit hastily at the question he probably knew was forming in her mind.

"What an adventure..." And, indeed, it did sound intriguing. "A pirate drifting from place to place; coming in to ports only for supplies and a drink."

"And for the ladies, love."

Emma chuckled. "Oh yes, of course; can't forget the ladies. They must be helpless to your charms, I'm sure."

"They can't resist." They were angled more towards each other now, although Emma couldn't remember ever moving. Their knees were close, almost touching, and his hand rested on the bench mere inches from her leg. She was leaning towards him, now. She shouldn't want him but she was fighting a losing battle with her hormones that demanded attention.

"So this fierce pirate that's sailed many fearsome waters and battled many foes and plundered many ports and probably ravaged many women..." A snicker slipped out at that point. "Does he have a name?"

He was grinning at her, dangerously attractive; he opened his mouth to answer - or quip some kind of retort - when he paused. Instead, his eyes lost their focus, his head tilted towards the front door. The table they were seated at was relatively close to the front door so they heard the commotion before many of the other patrons. Yelling, pounding, the clash of metal on metal – something was wrong. But before she could say anything, the front door burst open and the entire bar exploded into action. Startled, she stood up and began looking around the bar for Ruby.

"Get behind the bar." She didn't register the words at first, still concerned with trying to find her friend. "Now's not the time for daydreaming, love – get going!" The pirate was in her face now, almost yelling at her. Emma met his eyes briefly before nodding and climbing over the tables. She hugged the wall, trying to stay away from the action; men throughout the bar were fighting, despite the fact that they weren't part of the initial brawl from outside. But that's what happened when someone throws a punch in a bar, she knew that from experience. After scaling the bar and landing safely inside, Emma spotted Ruby crouched below the counter.

"I think we need a bigger club, Em." It was supposed to be a joke, but the frightened look in her eyes was contradictory. Out of nowhere, a sword sunk into the bar near Emma's hand and she jumped back, staring into the sea of madness in front of her.

A man grappled with the sword held in his opponent's hand. He managed to land a solid punch before he was fended off, and the other man's sword fell with a spray of blood. A large pirate grabbed the shoulder of his challenger, jabbing his cutlass into his gut and ripping it out again just as quickly. The mortally injured man fell to his knees clutching at his stomach. One of the young boys from earlier stumbled towards her, falling against the counter. His hand clutched a wicked gash across his throat as blood streamed from between his fingers, and when he emitted a distressed and wet-sounding gurgle, her stomach twisted.

"This isn't just a random drunken fight… there's something else going on here. Ruby, these guys are killing each other."

"What?!" The barmaid practically screamed. The situation was rapidly spiraling out of their league.

"Where's my bow?"

"Um… oh god, where was it… it was… in the corner of the kitchen – near the trash bin!"

"Come on." Emma gripped the brunette's hand and dragged her through the kitchen door, spotting the bow and arrows in the corner. Her father had attempted to teach her archery and swordplay at a young age, but archery was the only thing that it seemed she had a natural aptitude for. As it was her only real mode of self-defense, she always kept her bow and arrows close at hand.

"We can go out the back; try to make it to my dad's house?" It was a valid suggestion. They snuck out the back door of the kitchen into the alley behind the inn, crouching in the snowdrift. The winter wind stung Emma's exposed skin. She could see men running through the street at the end of the alley; it was the last place she wanted to go, but they had no choice seeing how it was their only exit. Emma pulled an arrow from her quiver and readied her bow.

"As soon as I say it, you run. Don't look back; just keep going until you're home."

"What about you?" Ruby's eyes were wide and her hands were clenched tightly around Emma's forearms.

"I'll be right behind you, but I have to make sure no one gets us." She spared a quick glance around the corner. It was now or never. "Ready? Alright – go!"

They burst out of the alley, sprinting down the street past the bar. A man turned towards them, their motion catching his eye, and Emma saw him yell for some of his cohorts. Within seconds, a group of men were rushing their way. Apparently, luck was not on their side. Planting her feet, Emma pulled back the bow. She took one steadying breath, then one more before letting her first arrow fly into the leading man's chest. He stumbled back and fell to the ground, but there was no time to pause – the rest of the men were still coming at her. She grabbed another arrow and let it fly, then another, and another until the group of men were all splayed out on the ground.

Despite the fact that her hands shook uncontrollably with the adrenaline pulsing through her body, Emma knew she had to get out of there. Suddenly, a man grabbed her arm hard, pulling her roughly towards him and causing her to drop the bow. His eyes glinted madly. Panicked, Emma pushed and hit and scratched at her attacker, gaining a few feet of distance between them, but the man had already raised his sword above his head. There was no way she could move fast enough – the strike would hit her, most likely kill her.

But the blow never fell.

She stared at the frozen man, eyes wide. His hands were still gripping the sword that was raised above his head, but the blade that was protruding from his abdomen stayed his hand. She watched in horror as the blade was pulled out of his stomach. The man's eyes were glazed over, and the sword dropped from his hands as blood began to bubble from between his lips. Then he fell.

"Watch it, love. I'd hate for something to happen to you before I even knew your name."

It was the pirate – the one that had been talking to her all evening.

He looked away from her, scanning the street, making sure it was secure. "Looks like they're retreating."

Emma studied him. He appeared to be uninjured, but there was a long gash through his leather coat that could have been bad had it landed a few inches closer to his body. Eyes drifting up to his face, she was surprised to find him staring at her.

"Emma! Emma, oh my god – are you ok?" Ruby was frantic with worry as she ran up, grabbing onto Emma's upper arms. "You're not hurt are you? Oh god, August is going to kill me if you're hurt… he'll never forgive me! You're not bleeding, are you? You weren't stabbed? What about those guys – did they touch you?"

"Ruby, I'm fine!" She cut off her panicked friend's rambling. "At the most, I'll have a bruise on my arm where one guy grabbed me. Other than that, I'm not hurt." Ruby's concern melted away into a relief.

"Oh, thank god! I was so worried… I was running just like you said but when I looked back you weren't there. I couldn't see you anywhere." Ruby released her bruising grip and pulled her into a hug. "I'm so glad you're ok."

"You too." Emma hugged her back, giving a little squeeze so she'd know that she'd been just as worried about her.

Ruby released her and stepped back as she noticed the dark-haired pirate. The three were silent for a moment before Ruby muttered something about checking on her brother and scampered away. He stared at her, his eyes betraying something deeper than the carefree and flirtatious spark from earlier in the evening. It was darker – angrier. It caused her to break out in goosebumps even though she knew the anger wasn't directed at her.

"You're not hurt." It wasn't phrased as a question but she saw the look in his eyes; something akin to concern.

"I'm not hurt."

And with that, the tension eased and he smiled at her; not a smirk, or a leer, or a grin – a genuine smile. It was infectious. To prevent a smile of her own, she stared down at the ground between them.

"I owe you thanks, pirate." She refused to meet his eyes. "You saved my life."

"Well, now – don't you sound like a proper lady." Her eyes shot up at his statement to see him grinning, teasing her. "Although, you certainly didn't look a proper lady while you were shooting arrows into those brigands' chests."

"Me? A proper lady? Ha!" She scoffed. "Fancy parties, sipping tea and making small talk, wearing a god-awful dress… where's the fun in that? I'd prefer a crazy bar – even on a night like this – over that any day."

"Too right, love. So…" He stepped closer to her, invading her personal space. There were only a few inches between them now, and his smile was making it hard for her to breathe. "Are you going to tell me your name now?" His hand stretched out, reaching for the ends of her hair; he twirled it around his finger waiting for her answer.

Why didn't she want to tell him her name, again? She couldn't seem to remember anymore.

Something about personal and… – why did he have to stare at her like that?

… and about not everyone needing… – why was he still touching her hair?!

… not everyone needing to know… something.

Obviously, she couldn't even think coherently anymore. Exasperated, she sighed. Oh, why the hell not.

"It's Emma. Emma Swan."

His eyes were such an astonishing shade of blue. She could feel herself sinking into them even as she absentmindedly thought how he would most likely be trouble.

"Nice to meet you, love. Killian Jones – but most people call me Hook."