She watches as the thick, grey smoke slowly crawls towards her across the forest floor and she is transfixed. It ebbs and flows and twists in the moonlight and she tilts her head to the side, blinking slowly. The back of her mind is screaming at her to move, run, avoid, but she takes a step closer to it.
The smoke touches the tips of her boots and it pulsates, light flashing like lightning in the coils. Her mind goes peacefully quiet and she sighs in relief.
"Emma?" David is looking at her with apprehension at the edge of the clearing. Everyone else has disappeared into the dark forest; her and David were at the back of the line. She shakes her head and tries to take a step towards him, but she doesn't budge. She looks down at her legs and panic hits her hard and fast, the silence in her mind interrupted as her conscious comes roaring back.
Move. Run. Avoid.
"Emma!" She looks up and David is striding towards her. She can dimly hear crashing in the underbrush but her mind is becoming hazy and its hard to focus. Dread settles like a lead weight in her stomach and she blinks sleepily.
The smoke is curling around her legs, slipping up and around her. She can feel it through the fabric of her jeans and its so cold but there is something else, something that is pulling at her and –
She blinks back up to see everyone gathered around her. They're talking, arguing really, and she wants to tell them to stop, for God's sake stop already, but she can't get her voice to work. She closes her eyes and hums to herself, feeling the smoke climb higher and higher. She shivers and this isn't so bad, its kind of nice actually, the quiet, not having to listen to –
The smoke pulsates and pushes around her and she stumbles backwards. The voices in the clearing stop abruptly and she opens her eyes to see the smoke has formed a sort of halo around the group. Its rising, higher and higher, completely closing them off from the forest around them. The smoke folds itself and then becomes flat. Her mouth twists in confusion and then quite suddenly, shapes begin to take form in the reflective surface.
"Oh God." Her breath hitches and her hands clench as Graham's face, clear as day, drifts across the smoke. A sharp pinprick of pain slices through her chest and she blinks rapidly as she recognizes the look on his face. The smoke shifts and moves and suddenly shes in the image too. He's holding her face and she can feel it, feel his thumbs brushing against her cheekbones and she wants to die because this is too much, too too much, and everyone can see, damnit. The smoke is playing the scene like a movie for everyone to just sit back and watch and she knows what's coming and it's too much.
"Thank you." He whispers and its so loud in her head, echoing through her and the pain in her chest amplifies because she hasn't thought about this in so long and it hurts just as bad. She watches in the smoke reflection as he seizes and stumbles and she is holding him, shaking him, screaming for him to come back.
And then the figures shift and morph and she is looking at a five year-old version of herself, small and scared, huddled under a bed. She hears Mary Margaret gasp but she can't focus on anything but the pain twisting her gut. She watches as the small version of herself is pulled abruptly and she can feel a hand on her ankle, tugging, scratching. She slams her eyes shut as screaming echoes around her but the images continue behind her eyelids, bright and vivid and real.
"Tallahassee, baby. We're almost home." Neal's voice echoes through the clearing and in her head and she groans as white hot pain rockets through her. She pants, hands on her knees as the images flash through her mind rapidly - Neal kissing her goodbye, waiting in the alley way, the cop with his gun, cold metal sliding around her wrists.
She's older and she is running down the street, her bounty having slipped her somewhere in this maze of a city. She turns and she is suddenly decked, pain blossoming across her cheekbone.
She's small again and she is in her bedroom, her first real bedroom, and her foster parents are watching as she packs up her little suitcase, tucking crayons and a stuffed bear into it. Her foster father reaches into the suitcase and removes the bear, placing it back on the bed. "But why do I have to go?"
The images speed up as she falls to her knees and she can't see anything but the smoke and the things it reveals. Her hands grip the sides of her head as she struggles to breathe through it but she can't, its too much, it hurts so bad and it just keeps coming.
Alone in her jail cell, holding the pregnancy test, feeling like the world is closing in around her.
Sitting by herself in a crowded cafeteria, teenage girls making whispered jokes and laughing loudly.
A dislocated shoulder as she lies on her back in a parking lot, teeth grit against the pain.
Henry looking pale and small in a hospital bed.
She whimpers and rocks, folds in on herself as the assault continues. She can hear screaming, but it sounds far away. Coldness rises within her and she struggles to push it back. She wants to open her eyes, to see anything but her nightmares projected in her mind, but she can't. The smoke is too strong, feeding off of her, getting stronger.
She feels something shift and the images falter slightly. A warmth settles itself against her back and she shivers. She is panting as she struggles to breathe and she is just so tired. She groans as the images push in again harder, faster, the screaming louder.
"Bloody hell lass, fight back." It's a rough growl in her ear and she starts. The images falter and she gets a glimpse of the forest floor before grey smoke wraps itself over her eyes and she is tugged under again.
Giving birth to Henry, a police officer standing stoically behind her, her legs struggling against the cuff restraints.
Something snakes around her and pulls her tight and she gasps as warmth starts deep in her chest. It pushes back against the cold and she clenches her hands. She can feel leather beneath her fingertips and she clenches harder, anchoring herself, clawing back to the light.
"That's it." His lilting voice is soothing and she clings to it desperately, blinking her eyes rapidly as the smoke starts to pull back. The images are fading, the coldness seeping out of her, leaving behind hollowness.
She comes back to the clearing with a startled gasp, blinking her eyes open. It's eerily silent, the smoke twisting around itself and retreating rapidly back to the undergrowth. But she hardly notices it because she is half seated, half straddled against Hook's lap and his arms are wrapped tight around her, his legs splayed out awkwardly beneath them. She looks at him with wide eyes, her fingers releasing their death grip on the sleeves of his coat, but he doesn't relax his grip on her. He peers at her carefully, his blue eyes dark and concerned.
She blinks and takes a shaky breath as she stares at him and the concern in his eyes fades into understanding.
"I-" She starts, but a choked sob cuts her off and she can't stop it. She can't stop the pain that is crashing over her in waves and she tries to push it back but its too much. Another sob sputters out of her and then she is completely breaking down, her tears hot and fast, her body shaking uncontrollably.
Hook carefully places his hand on the back of her head and guides her face to his neck and she doesn't even care if this makes her weak, doesn't even worry about what this might mean, because she feels like her chest is splitting open and he smells like the sea and the feel of leather under her fingers is calming, so she lets herself be guided closer to him, lets herself be adjusted in his lap, lets herself be comforted.
She tucks her face against his skin and sobs. His hand runs through her hair and across her back, whispers murmured soft and sure. He shifts and she grips him tighter, her sobs becoming more hysterical, her voice sounding foreign to her own ears. Years and years of abandonment and pain are washing over her and she can't stop.
He jostles her in his arms and she is vaguely aware that they are moving, that he is carrying her, but she doesn't care. She can hear whispered conversations around her, but her sobs drown everything out.
They eventually slow to a stop and she feels him sit and tug her close. Her sobs have ceased and she quietly breathes him in, her hands unclenching from his coat and instead slipping under it to wrap around his waist. He tenses and then relaxes, his hand massaging the back of her head. She doesn't move her face from his neck.
"You alright?" His voice is quiet and rough and she sighs against his skin, a shaky exhale as her eyes drift closed.
"No." She says simply and his hooked arm pulls her closer, if possible.
"Aye." He says, understanding floating over her with a sigh. "But you will be."
And much, much later, after she jolts awake under his sleeping form, she pretends not to notice as her father cracks Neal across the jaw with a swift and unrelenting punch.