"Scorched by Truth"


"Captain's quarters!" David shouted as he and Neal hauled an unconscious Hook on board the Jolly.

"Henry?" Emma shouted frantically for her newly rescued son.

"Yes, mom?"

"Round up everybody's water and search the ship for more," Emma instructed, quickly brushing a kiss on her son's forehead.

"I'll go with him," Neal volunteered, passing Hook's feet to her.

The fucking pirate was an idiot and if he lived, Emma swore she'd kill him. The final battle for Henry was fierce indeed and everybody risked themselves, but Hook had to go and take on Pan. He had to go and put himself in the biggest danger fighting the ancient and immortal boy from hell, his only excuse being that they needed him down in order to have enough time to escape. That information came while he was still awake and it had been a few hours since he passed out from the blood loss. That knife wound in his side was bleeding heavily, free from dreamshade since Pan stuck him with a borrowed weapon, thank God for small miracles, but Emma noticed as she and David lifted him into the tiny bunk, that the bleeding was slowing down and a new stroke of terror hit her.

"Get his shirt off," Mary Margaret ordered, violently searching the cabin and finally producing a needle and a spool of thread.

David and Emma both attacked the pirate, stripping him of the heavy leather coat, the vest, and the blood soaked shirt. Emma bit her lip. He was beautiful, even wounded, but she turned her attention to her son who entered with the water.

"Neal's getting the ship ready to go," Henry explained with a worried glance to Hook. "Is he going to be okay?"

"I hope so," Emma said shaking her head, refusing to contemplate the idea that he might die. "Go back up and help your dad get us out of here, okay?"

"Okay."

"Emma, rum!" Snow hollered, and it was definitely Snow. Emma had never seen this side of her mother, of Mary Margaret, so collected and cool and absolutely knowing exactly what needed to be done.

Fishing the flask from Hook's discarded clothes, she poured it over the needle and thread that her mother had prepared before passing it to David who poured some down the pirate's throat and then, unceremoniously, over the wound. Hook didn't even flinch. That couldn't be good.

"Can you tell if it hit anything important?" Emma asked, still holding a firm hand over her panic.

Snow shook her head quickly as she began to sew. "No, but it's not too deep and it's far enough to the side. He might be lucky. Rum, David," she ordered again, and her husband obeyed, pouring more of the alcohol over the wound to clear away the blood so Snow could see what she was doing.

"We'll just have to hope he hasn't lost too much blood," David said evenly.

Emma swallowed hard. He couldn't die on her, not after everything he did for them, for her. They never would've got Henry back without Hook and now he was just lying there, far too lifeless for Emma's taste. She already knew she cared about the pirate. How could she not after all he'd done and after he revealed his feelings for her that day in the Echo Caves? Emma wasn't cold, wasn't heartless. That all meant something to her; he meant something to her. She just didn't realize how much until she saw him go down as they ran from the Lost Boy camp, until she saw his hand covered in blood and his face growing paler as they hauled him through the trees. And now, watching him spread out, blood covering his side, with only shallow breaths and no mocking comment leaving his lips at his half-undressed state, Emma knew she cared far too much for Captain Hook.

Without a shadow of a doubt.

"Water," David called for and Emma passed him one of the canteens so he could pour some more liquid past Hook's lips, lips she thought about way too many times.

After a few tensely silent minutes, Snow tied an expert knot to finish off her work and immediately applied more rum to the area to disinfect and to examine her stitches.

"Well?" Emma asked, feeling useless.

Her mother met her eyes seriously, but there was an understanding and strength there that Emma clung to desperately. "Nothing's sure, but he's a big strong man, healthy, and a fighter. All we can do is wait and hope now."

Emma nodded gravely, looking back to Hook still lying motionless on his bed, no expression on his face, not even pain. Snow moved away to wash the blood from her hands and David moved closer to Emma.

"We need to figure out what plan Gold has up his sleeve for getting out of here now," he said calmly. "In the meantime, we'll just put as much distance between us and Pan that we can."

Emma nodded, eyes still locked on the pirate. "Can you take care of it? I want to stay with him."

And she did. What if he died and no one was there? If no one knew until they got to Storybrooke? The thought of him going out alone like a burnt out candle, hit her hard and Emma knew there was no way in hell she'd leave him until he opened his blue eyes again.

David nodded in response, seeming totally okay with that idea and completely unsurprised and waving to his wife, they both climbed their way out of the cabin, leaving Emma alone with Hook.

As the door clicked softly behind them, Emma swallowed again as she continued to stare at the unconscious man before her. She never thought she'd see him so helpless, and yet here they were. He was out, on the brink of death, and completely at the mercy of the people around him.

Please don't die.

Shaking herself from that train of thought, Emma picked up the leather coat and vest from the floor, carefully draping them over one of the chairs in the room. The shirt was worthless now, and after a brief search of the cabin, she reassured herself that he had more before she ripped some rags from the ruined garment. As she worked, she quietly took in the details of the room, noting the cleanliness and orderliness of everything and wondering at the books on the shelf and what might be in the cabinets she hadn't opened yet. Emma didn't pry, however, and instead, soaked some of her new rags with water from the canteen and began to wash away the rest of the blood on his stomach, hesitating before touching his bare skin. Some of the blood was already beginning to dry and she tried to scrub as gently as possible without pulling too much at his stitches. She had to kick herself back into focus every time her mind wandered and her eyes flitted appreciatively over his furred chest, broad and littered with scars, and his stomach, flat and solid underneath her fingers.

Emma finished with his torso and moved on to his hand, gently easing the heavy rings from him before soaking another rag with water and proceeding to wash the blood from his palm and fingers. It was somehow a far more intimate task that his body and Emma squelched back the fear of what her emotions were doing. After all he'd done, it was the least she could do for him. Besides, no one else would do it for him, and the thought of anyone else doing it for him made her sick to her stomach. No, this was right. For some reason she wasn't ready to contemplate yet, she knew she'd never done anything so right or so important in her life. Finished, she let her fingers trace his before cleaning his rings and placing them back where they belonged.

There was nothing else to do. It was a waiting game now, so Emma pulled up a chair, sat, and waited, taking in the lines of his profile, the way his jaw was still clenched in defiance even when passed out, the way her heart beat a little harder when she looked as his lips, and tried to figure out what the hell was going on inside her.

The day went on like that and night came, no change. David came down long enough to tell her that Gold had a plan that involved a way to get him off the island safely and that they were sailing to get as far away from the island as possible for some reason. Henry came down and Emma hugged him and filled him in on the pirate's condition, but Henry was a kid and couldn't sit still for long. He soon returned to the deck. Neal came down after night settled in, but one look at her with her eyes locked on Hook, and he turned around and left without a word.

A mumble snapped Emma into attention. It was sometime in the early, early morning hours and she was flipping through a book trying to stay awake. The book was pushed quickly aside and Emma sat up straighter, unsure if she was hearing things or not. She wasn't. A whimper hit her ears and stabbed her in the heart for the hurt man. She peered at him closely, trying to make out whether or not he was awake with only the light from a small lamp in the room.

"Liam."

Emma was on her feet at the word, the name, a name she didn't know but Hook was talking and she grabbed the lamp and moved closer to see his face better. With the orange light she could see that sweat was coating his entire body and Emma placed her hand on his forehead only to jerk back at the heat. He was burning up. Fever. And given the unconscious mumbling, it was a dangerous one.

"Shit," Emma breathed.

Hurriedly, she set the lamp down and went for the canteens and the remaining good rags, soaking them and immediately working on Hook, focusing on hitting the important areas in an attempt to cool him down, his forehead and temples, his neck, behind his ears, his wrist and inside of his elbows. Emma wasted no time in unclicking his hook. If he was going to hallucinate, she'd prefer him without the weapon.

"Liam, no," Hook mumbled, the sound so sad it went straight to Emma's chest. "Don't leave me, Liam."

Emma stopped what she was doing and looked at the man. His brow was creased with whatever memory was choosing to reassert itself and he was beginning to toss his head ever so slightly against his pillow. Who was Liam? Whoever he was, he left, and Emma knew that all too well.

"Milah," he whispered softly.

Emma knew that one. Shaking herself, she went back to trying to cool him down. He was quiet and still after Milah and Emma smiled a small smile. It was obvious how much he loved that woman and it was strange to think about Captain Hook being in love.

No stranger than him moving past her memory because of you.

She inhaled sharply as the remembrance of his secret echoed in her brain. It was true. The cave wouldn't let him lie and he had to hand over his feelings for the sake of Neal, but Emma wouldn't let her examine his words too closely. It was too scary to try and face the unspoken undertone of that confession, the natural conclusion of just what that kiss exposed for him beyond the fact that he had moved on from his love. His first love.

Exhaling shakily, Emma moved away to soak some more rags and try unsuccessfully to think of something else.

"Emma," Hook whispered and she froze and looked over her shoulder at him. "Emma!"

He kept saying her name, the volume rising with every repetition until he was yelling for her, crying out, his face contorted with pain and his head thrashing on the pillow.

"Emma!"

Emma quickly returned to his side and ran the cool cloth over his forehead. "Shh, hey, I'm right here."

"Emma!"

"I'm here," she repeated. "Shh. It's okay."

He couldn't hear her, of course, so her attempts to quiet him were for nothing as he continued to cry out for her and she continued to shush and wash his pulse points. A broken sob burst from his lips and he whimpered again as he tried to hide in his pillow.

"Dammit Jones," he growled, still steeped in his fever rambling. "Just had to, didn't you?"

"Shh, Hook. Come on, now," she cajoled gently.

"You stupid bastard," he continued, his words only slightly mumbled but nonetheless, angry. "You're just a pirate. What the hell were you thinking? Stupid, stupid bastard."

"Hey, you're not stupid," Emma said softly, feeling like she might as well have a conversation with a fever sick Captain Hook just for the hell of it, but his next words ruined it and shattered her.

"Just had to love her, Jones."

Surely, he didn't mean-

"Emma, Emma, Emma," he rambled loudly. "I love you, dammit!"

She felt her jaw drop and her body freeze. That was what was hidden and carefully unsaid that day in the Echo Caves, the thing she'd been terrified to think about, to consider, but there it was. Hook, Killian Jones, loved her. He loved her, and though Emma knew she should have been running away by now, the warmth that crept through her heart at the words being voiced was too damn nice. His face, however, twisted and unresting, let her know just how much loving her hurt him, and that little fact made her rebellious and fluttering heart ache. And he wasn't done.

"Aye, I love her," he growled, clearly unhappy about it. "Dammit, Jones. You fool! Emma lass, I'm sorry."

Her eyes were suddenly filled with tears and she blinked hard to clear her vision. She couldn't take this. She had front row seats to the depths of his heart, a heart that was in pain, full of self-loathing, full of love, because of her. The sadness and hurt sat on his face like it would never go away and he still thrashed about on his pillow, mumbling her name and declaring his love, and she had no idea how to soothe him. She needed to know how to soothe him! Wanted that knowledge more than anything in the world!

"Killian," she whispered, placing her hands on the side of his face, but she didn't know what to say, didn't know what to do.

"Lass," he pleaded through closed eyes, his voice lowering to a whisper, broken and full of longing. "Let me love you, sweetheart. Let me in. Come here and rest, darling."

"Killian," she repeated, shocked when her voice cracked and a tear slipped down her cheek. His words hit her like running into the broadside of a building, knocking her on her ass and making her reevaluate everything. This man loved her. He handed her his heart that day in the cave but she never realized just how deep he was in. And to think! He had to sit there and watch Neal return to her, 'fight for her', while she pushed both away, focusing on Henry. And now that she had him, now that they were on their way home, she didn't have an excuse unless she made one up, deflected and hid from what was right before her.

Two choices, two men, before her. Both loved her, both wanted her, but what did she want? Emma, no matter how much she loved him, couldn't consider Neal without bitterness and pain, without wondering about all the secrets there, the history, the explanations, a love overshadowed by heartbreak and lost hope, the summary of her past. But Killian, he scared her. He scared her with his totally out of nowhere love, his steadiness and solid presence, the way she felt like he'd love her even if she told him to take a hike, but fear aside, did she love him? He was a good man. He was handsome, brave, he made her smile when it was the last thing she felt like doing. What else? Emma breathed deep as she let her heart open up and feel, to get a good look at the thing, and amidst all the suffering and scars, the loneliness and hardness, she found him.

It shouldn't have been so shocking but Emma trembled with the realization. Seemed like all his silent, seemingly unnoticed, actions found their way inside of her. The supportive voice backing her constantly, the immediate offer of assistance and follow through to get Henry, his selfless sacrificing of himself, of the secrets of his heart, for her.

Emma's crying intensified as the truth made itself known. Killian Jones loved her and somewhere along the lines, completely unbeknownst to her, her heart had made a place for him. And here he was, unconscious, teetering on the edge of not coming back to her, and she could do nothing but keep stroking his face and neck with cool water and beg him to open his pretty eyes.

She still dodged the words, but where Neal was her past, she couldn't help but think and hope that the man in front of her was her future.

"Killian," she said, trying to call him back. "Killian, wake up, please."

"Emma," he mumbled, his words becoming faint. "I'm sorry, lass."

"You don't have to be sorry, you stupid man," she laughed once through her tears.

"Let me, Emma," he whimpered through the fire in his brain. "Let me love you, Emma."

She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the scar on his cheek, her breathing unsteady. "Okay."