As always, thanks for all the feedback, and I hope you enjoy the fluff and the feels of this chapter.
Emma is ordering coffee to go for Killian and hot chocolate for herself when a cop walks into the coffee shop, gives her a long hard look and walks right out. She doesn't waste time waiting for the drinks, just goes out and makes a circle around the block to make sure he's not following her.
"Where's the coffee?" Killian asks when she slides into the driver's seat and starts the car, trying to drive carefully and not too fast, her hands shaking on the wheel. "Lass?"
"I think a cop recognized me", she says and heads toward the interstate, glancing at the map spread on Killian's lap. "Find me a small town away from any major highways; we need to lay low."
"But-", Killian tries to argue and she shoots him a warning look because now is not the time for him to tell her that they would be safe in a town that doesn't exist.
"It won't be permanent", she says and watches the road ahead and behind her for any sign of a police car, sweat running down her spine despite the fact that it's cold and wet outside and she was freezing just a few minutes ago.
Killian is watching her closely and she must be looking pretty spooked because he doesn't make her think it through, just focuses his attention on the map and does as she had told him.
It's one of the many things she likes about him, because he's there when she needs him and always supports her because he trusts her and believes that she can make a good decision even under pressure.
Six hours later they roll into a town in Pennsylvania, population four hundred ninety; there isn't a motel as such, just some old granny lending out her spare room to those rare people passing through it because they've gotten lost on their way to somewhere else.
"You two married?" Mrs. Walker asks, squinting at them and it's pretty clear that she'd prefer it if they were.
"Betrothed", Killian supplies quickly and lazily wraps his arm around Emma's waist, and she wonders if he can feel how perfectly she fits against him because it's painfully obvious to her; it feels like they are two puzzle pieces finally coming together.
"I suppose you can have the room, then", Mrs. Walker says and when she leads them down the hallway Emma hides a smile against Killian's shoulder, feeling ten times better than she did this morning.
There's only one bed in the room.
"Which side do you want?" She asks Killian an hour later, turning from the window and trying to keep a straight face because she's equal amounts giddy and apprehensive.
"Maybe I should sleep in the armchair."
"You were the one who said we're betrothed", she reminds him gently and slips under the covers without waiting for his answer.
"The old bat wouldn't let us take the room otherwise, and it's too cold to sleep in the car", he says and glances at the armchair, then at Emma, then at the armchair again.
"I promise I won't steal all the covers", she says and uncovers his side of the bed.
He gives her a smile that makes her think that if she was cold, he'd give them to her, just like he'd given her his jacket.
She wishes he wouldn't smile at her like that, give her so much false hope because in a few hours he's going to wake her up calling somebody else's name.
Killian looks at the ceiling as if praying for guidance and then finally gets into bed, careful to stay on his side of it as he settles in. Emma does the same, laying on her side and looking at his profile until he turns his head to her and raises an eyebrow in question.
"I think this town is just the place for us", she tells him and closes her eyes before he can respond, but she would swear he mumbles: "me too."
The most amazing thing is, Killian doesn't wake her up because he's yelling Milah's name; he wakes her up because his arm had fallen asleep under the pressure of Emma's head, his voice soft, as if he'd rather bear the pain than wake her up. Emma opens her eyes and realizes that somehow she had ended up with her hand on his chest and her head on his shoulder, his arm around her and his hand resting on top of hers.
"I'm sorry", Emma says in a small voice when he slides his arm from under her gently and stretches it to the side.
"Nothing to be sorry for", he says and massages his shoulder with his hand, giving her an apologetic look. "This never used to happen to me."
Emma bites her lip and looks at him despite the fact that Milah is the last person she wants to discuss right now because it seems that Killian had enjoyed being that close to her as much as she did being close to him.
"I'm still sorry."
"Lass, it's not your fault. It's just this stupid arm", he says and glances at his stump before pulling Emma close again. "The arm still thinks there's a hand at the end of it."
"We call it phantom pain in this world", Emma says softly, lying perfectly still because she doesn't want him to wake up fully and stop holding her; it barely registers that it's the first time she had treated his delusion as something real.
"Accurate. I hope it goes away eventually, because I'd rather not spend the rest of my life with a ghost of a hand", he says and she turns her back on him, slowly rolling the sleeve of his henley up. "What are you doing?"
Emma doesn't say anything, just caresses his skin, trying to distract him from pain, her fingers wrapping around his forearm to keep him in place; he could easily twist away, but he doesn't.
"Emma", he says her name softly, and his tone is pleading, but she can't tell if he wants her to stop or keep doing what she's doing.
She doesn't stop.
His skin is smooth and warm, and she had never felt like this, never been so focused on another person, never cared enough to want to take somebody's pain away even if she gets nothing in return, or worse, even if she gets her heart broken for her efforts.
"Emma", he whispers again, rolling on his side so that his chest is pressed against her back, his nose in her hair when he tells her that she shouldn't touch him like this.
She leans down and presses her lips against the edge of the bandage, wishing she could heal him, wishing she could give him back his hand more than she had ever wanted anything else because she feels it might help him rest and stop thinking that revenging Milah is something he absolutely has to do.
The lights flicker and he jerks his arm away, making her apologize and attempt to crawl out of bed.
"Emma, don't… you helped!" He says quickly and she looks at him over her shoulder, frowning in confusion.
"It doesn't hurt anymore", he says, and he's looking at her with such awe she actually blushes. "In fact, it doesn't feel like my hand is there anymore."
"And that's a good thing?" She asks him hesitantly and sits cross-legged next to him, carefully wrapping her fingers around his stump, looking at him to gouge his reaction.
"It is", he tells her and doesn't try to pull away. "I think you're more than just a lost princess and pirate extraordinaire."
"I'm also a pretty good medic", she says and he chuckles, sits up and brushes her hair behind her shoulder.
"That too. But I was thinking about magic", he says and Emma scrunches her face because he's being ridiculous.
"Magic doesn't exist."
"Then how do you explain the fact that you kissed my arm and made my pain go away?" He asks and gives her a look that makes her duck her head and let her hair fall over her eyes because she's afraid he's going to see all her feelings written on her face. "What did you think about when you kissed my arm, lass?"
She can't speak, too stunned to move.
It's a coincidence, but it's a pretty freaky one.
"You're magical, darling", he tells her and for a brief moment she believes it too.
In the next, she convinces herself that it's just the power of suggestion, and that there's absolutely nothing special about her.
"Emma, look outside", Killian says and she'd find it a pretty lame way to change the subject if it wasn't for the fact that the world beyond the window is perfectly white.
They get out of bed and she pushes the curtain aside, unable to keep a grin pulling at her lips when she sees that there's at least 3 feet of snow covering the ground, and it's still falling, coming down in big white tufts that look like cotton candy.
Snow in Portland is rare, and she had never seen anything like this before; judging by Killian's face he hadn't either.
"So it doesn't snow in the Enchanted Forest?" She asks him and he gives her a curious look, as if he doesn't want to get his hopes up that she suddenly believes his story.
"It does, but I make it a point to not be there during winter; I prefer a storm out on the sea then a blizzard on land", he answers and she doesn't have the heart to call him delusional again; after all, he's not hurting anybody with his beliefs. "Can you drive in that?"
"No, you can't. We're going to have to wait for them to clear the road."
It turns out that in this town, there is no "them", no official snow removal service at all, and once the snow falls, the people who happen to be here just wait it out unless they want to leave their car behind and trek to the next town over to take a ride in the mail truck back to civilization.
"And how long might that be, pray tell?" Killian asks a member of the town council who had overheard them talking about leaving over breakfast in the only diner in town and invited himself to join them.
"Oh it could be months", Mr. Harris says, sipping his coffee and giving Emma a reassuring smile.
"Months?!" Killian exclaims and Emma nudges him with her shoulder to stop him from saying something that could get them in trouble; she's infinitely glad that they hadn't stolen a single thing since they've been here and even though she'd never admit it to Killian, she likes the idea of staying here.
"But don't worry, we can find both of you something to do in the meantime; you're not the first people who were forced to spend the winter, and most of the folks who had that happen to them actually enjoyed it."
"We can't stay here", Killian says as soon as Mr. Harris is out of earshot and Emma leans closer, making sure that nobody but him can hear her when she speaks.
"If we leave the car, we won't be able to get to Storybrooke without getting caught."
"We can steal another car."
"The cops would be all over us in less than a day; the Golf has all the necessary papers and nobody's looking for it."
"Bloody Hell", Killian mutters and taps his fingers on the table impatiently. "So we stay here and take up housekeeping."
"Storybrooke will still be there, if it's there at all", Emma tells him and ignores his comment because she's afraid he's going to realize that she's looking forward to staying if she says anything.
If they stay here, and keep sleeping in the same bed pretending to be "betrothed", then maybe by the time snow melts Killian is going to stop holding onto a ghost and acknowledge that he feels something for Emma too.
Maybe, if they stay here, she manages to convince him that it doesn't matter to her what he'd done, and that he could only ruin her if he refuses to at least try being with her.
"It's there, lass", Killian says, and they finish their breakfast in comfortable silence, each of them lost in their own thoughts.