What Could Have Been
'Emma, love? Is everything all right?'
There was silence, then a shuffling sound. Killian rested his head on the bathroom door, his hand hovering over the door knob. She'd been in there for quite a long time now, and he hadn't missed it when Mary Margaret had disappeared inside as well. He'd learnt not to push between them when she and her mother were having a moment, but they were running out of time.
'Emma?' he asked again, closing his hand over the handle.
Before he could turn it there was a light click that told him it had been locked anyway, then the knob turned under his hand. The door opened quickly, but it was Mary Margaret who he saw first, standing in the doorway and blocking his view from most of the room. She looked at him, her expression oddly appraising.
He hadn't seen that look on her face since she'd realized that he was genuine in his courtship of her daughter, or perhaps when he'd told David and herself of his intention to make her his wife. He didn't have time to worry about what that meant now, however. He was sure that there was a reason why the two of them had been closeted away, and the fact that Emma was still hidden by the door was making him anxious.
'We don't have much time left, ladies,' he said slowly, frowning at Mary Margaret.
'I know. I can feel it.' Emma's voice came from further inside the bathroom, and he started to move forward before he restrained himself, knowing that bowling over his mother-in-law probably wasn't a good idea. Mary Margaret hesitated a moment before giving his arm a quick squeeze and stepping aside. He couldn't see Emma's face, only the reflection of her back in the bathroom mirror. He watched as her shoulders lifted and fell as she took a deep breath, then brought her hands to her face for a moment before she stepped out of sight of the mirror.
She stepped into the hallway and smiled up at him, but it was her blotched cheeks and red eyes that he noticed first. She had been crying? Feeling a heaviness in his chest that seemed to be reserved for when she was upset, Killian stepped up to her, catching her upper arm with his hook and cupping her cheek with his hand. 'Emma,' he breathed, torn between wanting to watch her to make sure she was all right and wanting to kiss her face all over to make her feel better. All right, and to make him feel better from seeing her like this. He settled with a quick kiss to her forehead before he drew back to look at her. 'What is it? What's wrong?'
'Everything's fine,' she told him, covering his hand with hers. 'Everything's great,' she added with a small laugh, and he raised his eyebrow at her - if everything was so great, why was she crying? She must have assumed his unasked question. 'I'm just nervous,' she conceded, shrugging slightly. 'More than I thought I'd be. It's all going to be so different.'
He'd been expecting this. Emma had been working with Regina and Rumpelstiltskin to completely reverse the curse, and a few days ago they had finalized their plans. They were going home. Rumpelstiltskin had made the spell as he had the first one, but Regina and Emma were to cast it since they were the caster and breaker of the original curse.
Everyone had been at varying stages of stress, worry and excitement, including Emma, but he'd wondered when she'd realize just how much she was leaving behind.
'Aye.' Moving his hand from her face, he twisted it to hold hers and then twined their fingers together. Bending his head without taking his eyes from hers, he pressed his lips to the palm of her hand, the soft skin on the back of it, the ring that he'd given her. 'It will be different, but no matter what world we end up in we'll have each other, and Henry. You've helped to accustom me to your world, and now it's time for me to return the favour.'
Her eyes began to well up again and he started to wonder what part of that had been the wrong thing to say. But she was still smiling, that beautiful true smile that he had made his life's mission to keep on her face. 'I love you,' she told him warmly.
His lips twitched as he tried to suppress the grin that took him whenever she said those words to him. After a moment he gave up and let the smile spread across his face. Wrapping her arms around his neck, Emma pulled him down to her, pressing her lips softly against his.
He still couldn't quite believe how... easy the last few years had been for them. Since returning from Neverland, it hadn't taken him long at all to convince her that he was worthy of her time - his help in Neverland had told her that, or so she said. He'd lived on his ship for a few months, until Emma's parents had moved into a new place and he'd moved in with her. He'd never played house with a woman before, not like this, but he wasn't surprised at how much he really enjoyed it, even - or especially - when Henry stayed with them. The boy, now fifteen, spent his time equally with them, Regina and Neal, and he'd never met a lad who was happier with his lot in life than Henry.
When he'd sought David and Mary Margaret's permission to ask for Emma's hand, it had been purely as a courtesy. He'd also asked Henry, and it was his approval which he had truly needed. He'd told him that nothing would make him happier than having Captain Hook as a stepfather, and when Henry had stood beside him a few months ago on his wedding day, the two of them watching his Swan walk towards them with the biggest smile on her face, it had been the happiest day of his long, long life.
Smiling fondly at the memory, Killian returned Emma's kiss, parting her lips with his and deepening the kiss, settling his hand and hook on her waist.
When Emma broke the kiss it was with a sigh of contentment, but Killian was enjoying their closeness. He knew she was as well, and he also knew that if she was worrying so badly about their relocation that she was crying to Mary Margaret then she needed a minute or two of comfort. Not that she would admit that too freely. Wrapping his arms fully around her, he held her body against his, pecking a kiss to her neck before he tucked his chin over her shoulder. 'I love you too, darling,' he told her, happy to be able to take some of her tension away.
She did relax, her whole body loosening against his. They stood like that for a few minutes, the simpleness of the action giving him joy even after the years that they'd spent together. How was it possible for two people to fit together so perfectly?
And for someone to fit this well with him. He'd thought that there was no coming back from the kind of life that he'd led, but Emma and her family had proved him wrong. This was family. This was all he'd ever wanted, once he realised that it was what was missing.
A part of him was still worried, so he pulled back enough to see her. She definitely looked calmer, and the redness had faded from her cheeks, if not quite from her eyes. 'Are you sure that's all that's wrong?' he asked imploringly.
She tried to hide her face against him but he held her still. It looked like she was trying to scowl, but she couldn't quite cover the smile that was slipping out. 'Can you please take one day off from being able to read me so well?' she asked. He just raised an eyebrow at her, knowing how much that frustrated her. Eventually she huffed out a sigh. 'Why aren't you nervous about today? You've told me that this place is the closest you've ever felt to home.'
He chose not to press her since she was quite obviously changing the subject, and he knew that she'd tell him when she was ready. Chuckling lightly, he used his hook to brush her hair away from her face. She still didn't understand. 'Emma. Darling. Storybrooke isn't where my home is. You are.'
She just looked up at him, and he could read everything he needed to in her eyes. She did understand. It had taken her just as long as it had taken him to accept the fact that they could have happiness with another, that they deserved it just as much as anybody else.
All of a sudden she seemed nervous, but she didn't pull away. 'There is actually something -'
'Mom!' Emma pulled back slightly as Henry popped his head in from the living room. 'Dad's back,' he said, giving them a loaded look.
Killian let her pull out of his embrace but kept her hand in his. She looked between him and Henry, biting her lip hesitantly. 'It can wait,' she said to him after a moment. 'We can talk later.'
Nodding, he followed her into the living room. She'd at least had a chance to talk to Mary Margaret about whatever was bothering her, and they'd have more time later. Neal's arrival was more important at the present.
Neal was talking with David and Tinkerbell by the front door, but turned to include them as they approached him. His face looked ashen, and Killian knew before he shook his head that he hadn't had any success.
Things hadn't been that perfect for everybody else recently.
Since last week, anyway. It had been better for Rumpelstiltskin and Belle than almost anybody else: they were happily married and expecting their first child in a few months time. Killian had been having lunch with Belle and Neal when the pains had started, and no one had been able to get in contact with Gold. Neal had gone to find him while Killian took Belle to the hospital, but by the time they had turned up, it had been too late. The baby had come quickly and Belle's body had hemorrhaged - the doctors hadn't been able to control it in time. By the time Neal and Gold had arrived at the hospital, it had been too late.
The baby, a little boy, had been so tiny. Too tiny, too young, too weak. He hadn't made it past his second day.
Gold hadn't been seen since then, over a week ago.
'Neither Blue or I have had any luck tracking him,' Tink said. She'd been helping Neal search since Regina and Emma were stockpiling their magic. 'He must know that we're trying to find him with magic, so he's being careful. He just doesn't want to be found.'
Emma put her hand on Neal's shoulder comfortingly. 'We'll find him in the Enchanted Forest. The spell will take everybody in Storybrooke, so he doesn't have to be here with us. Regina has his spell, so we don't need him to cast it. He might be able to cope better when he gets there.'
Neal's frown only deepened. 'What if he's not in Storybrooke anymore? What if he wanted to forget, so he crossed the town line?'
'The dwarves are watching the town line,' Killian reminded him. He'd thought it through enough to know that it could be an option for Gold to cross the town line willingly, to forget. If Killian had had that option all those years ago, he honestly couldn't say what his decision would have been.
Neal's eyes met his and he nodded in acknowledgement, then slowly started to relax. Huffing out a sigh, he ran his hand through his hair. 'You're right. There's nothing more we can do, not until we get home.'
'Speaking of, we're out of time.' Regina stood up from the couch and went to stand by the breakfast bar, gesturing for them to follow.
He heard Emma's breath catch slightly from beside him and he drew her aside for a moment, pressing his lips to her forehead. 'Have faith in yourself, love,' he told her, keeping his voice low for a measure of privacy. 'I do.'
She straightened her shoulders, and rolled her eyes at him. 'Thanks for the pep talk,' she said dryly, but he could see the thank you in her eyes. Squeezing her arm, he pushed her gently toward Regina before moving to stand next to David and Mary Margaret.
'Excited, mate?' David asked him, wrapping his arm around his wife. For all of the barb in the word, there was warmth there too. He'd found a good friend in the prince since their return from Neverland.
'Yes, well.' Rubbing the back of his neck, he kept a close eye on Emma as she stood by Regina, the two of them placing their hands on the parchment that bore the spell to send them home, directing their magic into the ink and paper. 'I don't really have that many very fond memories of that place.'
'You didn't have fond memories of this world, either, until you and Emma were together,' Mary Margaret reminded him. 'You just knew the wrong people. This time will be better.'
He hadn't forgotten that strange look in her eye earlier, but now was not the time to pursue it. 'I hope so.'
He hadn't taken his eyes from Emma, so he noticed when the set of her shoulders started to tighten. He couldn't see her face clearly, but she looked like she was frowning. After a few seconds her hands started to shake. 'Regina?' she asked hesitantly.
'Something's wrong,' Regina confirmed. As she spoke, the ground beneath them started to tremble, and Killian had to grab onto the bench to keep himself upright. The empty fruit bowl on the counter fell to the ground and he heard a crash as that and other unseen objects fell and broke. As quickly as it started it stopped again, and he glanced around to check on Henry - he stood beside Neal, his father's hand on his shoulder - before he approached Emma. She was still focusing on the parchment and he was hesitant to touch her and break her concentration, but he needed to be close to her just in case. Her cheeks were red again and her brow was furrowed, and she looked equal parts confused and scared.
'What's happening?' he asked loudly, directing his question at Regina since Emma's focus on the spell was required more than the queen's. Regina looked up from the parchment, and the expression on her face chilled him to the bone.
'The spell isn't working like it should,' she said, looking around to make sure everybody heard her. 'Something's not right, but it's too late to fix it. It's still going to take us there, but I can't say what we'll find when we get there. It's not just a spell anymore... It's another curse.'
The silence that filled the room was broken when the ground started to move again. Killian felt a hand grabbing him and wrapped an arm around Tink to help her steady herself. 'How could it have changed?' she yelled over the sound of things crashing around the room.
'It's never happened before,' Regina yelled back.
The room stopped moving, but Killian didn't feel any more settled. Out of the corner of his eye he saw David helping Mary Margaret up from the ground, and Neal and Henry moving closer to them, but he couldn't take his eyes from Emma. She'd barely moved her attention from the spell - curse - but he knew that she was listening to them. 'Can we stop it?' he asked.
Regina looked quickly between him and the parchment, trying to focus on the curse and the conversation at the same time. 'The magic is flowing too strongly in me, and even more so through Emma. If we stop it now, it will kill us both.'
Henry started to jump forward, the look on his face so utterly painful but Neal tightened his grip on him and held him back. 'That's not going to happen,' he said. 'What can we do?'
The silence was deafening as they each held their breath, waiting and hoping for some way out. Killian knew better than to hope too strongly for a solution that wouldn't have consequences when it came to magic, and this magic was about the strongest that had been attempted since the original curse.
'We need a way to break the curse,' Regina said finally.
'A saviour. I'll do it,' Mary Margaret said with conviction.
It couldn't be that easy. 'It has to be one who wasn't cursed originally,' Regina said, proving his thought correct. 'I can build the power to break the curse into the spell for only one, and I have enough magic to spare another, so they needn't be alone this time.' Like Emma had been.
A heaviness settled over Killian as he understood Regina's words. Looking around, he found Neal and Tink staring back at him and at each other, their eyes wide. It would have to be one of them. It didn't even occur to him to consider Henry, and he knew that it wouldn't be an option for anybody else either.
'I'll do it,' Neal said, stepping forward.
Regina turned to face them fully but kept one hand reaching back to the parchment. Every few seconds her face distorted and a shudder passed through her, and he hated to think of what the magic was doing to her and Emma. 'It won't be enough,' Regina told Neal, her expression reluctant but sure. 'You don't have what is needed.' Her eyes moved to look at Killian, and he knew what needed to be done.
'No.' Emma spoke for the first time since she'd discovered the fault in the curse, and with her distraction the earth started to move again. 'You can't.'
But he could, and he had to. There was only one sure way to break any curse, and neither Neal nor Tinkerbell had the type of connection with the product of true love that he did. Hopefully their love was true enough to break this curse, whatever it was. 'I love you, Emma,' he said simply, knowing that she'd understand just why he had to do this, why it had to be him.
There was silence again for a few seconds. Killian nodded to Regina, who tilted her head in acknowledgement.
'I'll do it with you,' David said, stepping forward. Mary Margaret clutched at his arm, a look of horror passing across her face.
'No you won't,' Killian said, reluctantly stepped away from Emma to approach her parents. 'You can't leave her alone again,' he said quietly. 'Not if this is anything like the last curse. She will need you.'
'She'll need you,' David whispered harshly.
'Then you'll just have to look after her for me until I can break this damned thing,' he replied, trying and failing to make himself sound cheerful. After a moment David's hand clapped on his shoulder and Killian turned back to the rest of the group.
'We don't have much time,' Regina said.
It was true. The last time that the ground had started trembling it hadn't entirely stopped, and it looked like a hurricane was tearing through the town from what he could see through the window. He moved to stand beside Regina and Emma, wanting nothing more than to reach out and touch her, but afraid of what could happen. If he broke her concentration too much and the spell failed... He restrained himself but it was so difficult, with tears pouring unchecked down her cheeks.
There was someone else standing beside him and he turned partially to find Tink looking over his shoulder. 'I'll go with you,' she said quietly, and he just nodded, taking her hand.
Regina put hers on his shoulder, leaving the other on the parchment. Emma's hand curled over Regina's other hand tightly, and he was jealous of that small measure of comfort that somebody else could give her. He couldn't tell anymore whether they were shaking because of the ground moving, or whether it was the fear or the magic affecting them.
'Find us, Captain,' Regina said softly, before both of her hands started to glow as she poured all of her magic both into the spell and into him.
And he was falling, falling, crumpling to the ground in a heap as pain spilled through his body. He felt a hand clutching his tightly as his head hit the ground hard, making it spin. He heard cries from above him, around him, but couldn't place any of the voices. A shout of his name that sounded awfully like Emma, but it sounded muffled, gurgled, like she was speaking from underwater. Or maybe that was caused by the cloudiness in his head.
He tried to move but couldn't. He couldn't really feel much at all anymore. Just the hand in his, and the ground beneath him, which suddenly felt more like grass than floorboards...
AN: A new story! This has more of a plot than any of the CS fics I've written yet. The first few chapters will be from Killian's point of view, but from then it'll be from both Emma's and Killian's. We won't find out exactly what the curse entails until we see Emma's POV.
The idea is partially inspired by some of the spoilers for the second half of S3, but I'm only using the idea of one thing (which will become apparent in a few chapters.)
This also mostly came from the idea of "What if the epilogue for All Over You had ended differently?" Basically, my mind went "well it's all well and good to have a happy ending for this story", but I did kinda start thinking of what could have happened if things had not turned out quite so well... Having said that, this is in no way connected to All Over You. I may have stolen a few ideas from myself for this first chapter, but that's as far as the similarities will go.