Companion piece to So Cold. Killian tries to bring Emma back from the darkness, getting a little reminder of his own pain in the process. Captain Swan angst and comfort.
When he hears David's panicked shout, he knows something is wrong. He turns immediately in the forest and charges back to the clearing they just walked through, stomach churning, hand going to his sword out of reflex. When he bursts through the trees, Snow and Neal quick at his heels, Regina following somewhat reluctantly behind, his blood runs cold.
He can see the thick grey smoke slowly wrapping itself around Emma's legs and he knows exactly what it is. His gaze snaps to her face as he steps closer and he knows it's already setting in. Her bright eyes are clouded and unfocused and she doesn't even seem to notice their approach. David is chanting her name in a steady beat but she pays him no mind, her blonde hair swinging in her face as she watches the smoke wrap around her.
There's confusion as the group begins to bicker about what is happening - Neal muttering something about dark magic and Regina finding offense and David just wanting to snap Emma out of it - but he pays it no mind because his eyes are fixed solely on her and he knows it's only a matter of time before-
She looks up briefly and the smoke pushes and pulsates - like a living, breathing thing - spreading out and surrounding them in a solid circle. The bickering stops and he watches as blurred images slowly come into clarity on the shimmering surface.
He tries to look away, not wanting to invade on her privacy like this. He knows she has no control over it, knows she would never choose to reveal these things like this (or at all, his mind reminds him). But when the images become clearer and when she whispers a desperate and broken "Oh God.", he can't help but watch.
His stomach drops when a man appears across the smoke and it drops even further when her face becomes visible – so open and honest and happy – it's distressing to him that it looks so foreign on her face. And then the man is crumbling to the floor in a hauntingly familiar way and she is sobbing, broken and ugly and he never knew, he never knew-
The image wipes and then reasserts itself, a small blonde girl that can only be her trapped under something, green eyes wild with fear. He feels a growl rip through his throat when she screams, desperate and anguished. She is so small. How could anyone hurt something so small?
The images change again and he is looking at a much younger Baelfi – Neal – and they are sitting in a car together. He strokes her face and kisses her and says something about Tallahassee and then the images shoot forward- Emma alone in an alley, her hands being cuffed behind her back by a man in a uniform.
Hook's eyes widen and he shoots his gaze to Neal and the man's face is all the confirmation he needs.
But he is distracted from his rage when Emma falls forward, her knees landing in the dirt, hands braced on either side of her head. She rocks back and forth and the smoke twists around her, pulsating and moving faster. Panic seizes his chest as he realizes the smoke is consuming her- feeding off her pain and growing stronger.
Ignoring the images flashing against the smoke, he steps forward. David's gaze snaps to him, eyes red rimmed and glassy. He nods in encouragement and Hook looks back down to Emma just as she lets out an agonized scream. He winces as the sound goes straight through him and drops to his knees behind her.
His hand and hook hover over her back uncertainly as she groans, hands clawing at the sides of her face. Red, raw scratch marks mar her delicate skin and his hand lands on her back soundly as he leans forward, chin against her shoulder.
"Bloody hell lass, fight back." He can't help the gruffness of his voice, the anger laced beneath his words because he knows she can do this. He knows she's a fighter- has seen it, felt it- on numerous occasions.
Her breathing becomes higher, tighter and his arms snake around her waist, acting on instinct. Her shirt rides up against her hip and as soon as his skin comes in contact with hers, coldness shoots through his limbs. He gasps as the forest disappears around him and he's on his ship, Milah lying motionless in his arms.
He shakes his head hard, eyes closing. Emma. He needs to be strong for Emma.
He opens his eyes and pulls her against him, fighting the coldness in his veins. She shuffles, pushing him, then bracing herself on his arms. He sees clarity in her eyes for a brief moment and then she's tugged under again, the bright green turning to a dark grey.
Her hands fist and clench and he can feel the strain in her limbs. He strokes the exposed skin at her hip and she shudders in his arms just as he is tugged under again. He is small and alone, shivering under the docks. His father told him to meet him here. Where is he?
Where is he?
Emma screams again and he snaps back to the present. She is clawing at his arms, shifting restlessly in his lap. She is fighting it, he can feel it. He holds her tighter and leans in close.
She lets out a shuddering breath and jolts, frantic eyes meeting his. He relaxes fractionally as he feels the ice cold leave his body but then she is breaking in his arms and he tenses. His hand comes to the back of her head, guiding her closer.
She gasps and heaves and breaks as he does his best to just hold her together. He can feel the wetness of her tears on his neck and his heart breaks just a little bit more because she's held this in for far too long.
David leans down to him and Hook should be embarrassed about showing this level of intimacy and vulnerability around so many people, but he can't bring himself to care, because she needs him, needs him, and that trumps everything else.
"We need to move." He whispers, but makes no move to take Emma from his arms. Hook nods and shifts, trying to get in a better position to leverage both himself and Emma up, but she lets out a panicked noise, clinging to him harder.
He soothes her quiety, fingers tangling in her long hair. She relaxes and he stands, jostling her in his arms. She continues to sob brokenly as David clears a way in front of them. Mary Margaret grips his hand tight and Hook can see the tears falling down her cheeks.
Somewhere along the way her sobs quiet, but her grip doesn't lessen. They make camp and Hook slips down against a tree, the burning in his muscles terrible, but unwilling to let her go. She sighs against his neck and her hands release from him. He takes a deep breath and prepares to for her to pull away, but her hands merely twist and slip under his coat, bringing her body closer to his. He tenses at the rush of warmth, but then relaxes, heart hammering in his chest.
"You alright?" He whispers.
"No." She responds and it might be the first time she's ever been so honest with him. He smiles tight and lets his hand dance along her hair. It's a start.
"Aye." And he sighs, letting his head drop back and eyes drift closed. "But you will be."
And later, much later, he blinks awake, face buried in her neck, arm slung loosely around her waist. He tenses at the intimate position and makes to pull away but her hand scratching through his hair stops him.
"Stay." She whispers and she doesn't sound so broken anymore. "Just stay."