He sighs and shifts, crossing his legs at the ankle and tilting his head back against the wood.
The deck of the Jolly is not the most comfortable place to sleep.
He exhales heavily and tilts his head, regarding the wheel of the ship and making sure she's still on course. The ship groans beneath him and he chuckles, rubbing his fingers over the wood softly.
"I know, old girl. Can't blame a man for checking."
"Are you talking to the ship?" He jumps at her voice, soft and sudden from beneath the wheel and he thanks his bloody stars that she can't see him, tucked away in the shadows. It would not do for her to think she can sneak up on him.
He hears the thud of her boots as she mounts the stairs and then she is in front of him, smiling wryly, arms crossed, looking absolutely exhausted but still utterly perfect. Her hair shines in the too bright stars of Neverland and he clenches his hand against the desire to reach out to her.
She quirks an eyebrow delicately and he remembers she asked a question.
"Aye, the old girl and I are known to have discussions."
She scoffs, but slides down across from him, feet coming to rest next to his. His eyes follow her movement with gentle amusement.
"You do realize it's just a ship right, that it can't hear you?"
His lips twitch up into a smile and he tilts his head back, watching as the full sails billow in the wind. His hand soothingly slides over the wood in an effort to calm her. No doubt she doesn't enjoy being called just a ship.
"It is a she, love, and she is more alive than you know." His eyes flit back down to meet hers and he's pleased to see a small smile on her face. Its so rare, but oh so rewarding when he manages to wrangle one of those free. He finds himself grinning in response, but frowns slightly when he realizes she is above deck, when her boy is down below in his quarters.
"Is your boy-"
She waves a hand. "He's fine. Regina is staying with him tonight. I thought she deserved a little alone time with him, after all she did to bring him back to us." She tilts her head and he feels like she is looking right through him. Always right through him. "What are you doing up here?"
His back slides down against the wood fractionally, trying and failing to find a more comfortable position. "I'm trying to get some sleep, but its been quite some time since I've slept on the deck of the Jolly."
He remembers the last time he slept on deck- a particularly ridiculous argument with Milah about some barmaid in a port. His chest gives an uncomfortable pang.
Her brows knit in confusion. "You're sleeping-" And then realization dawns on her face and he watches as a slow blush creeps across her cheekbones. He follows the movement with fascinated eyes, idly wondering how far that blush creeps-
He abruptly ends that thought.
"You know, there are cots available in the crew's quarters."
"Is the lady inviting me to her bed?" He lets his eyebrows fold into something vulgar and she rolls her eyes, falling into their easy banter without losing step.
"You wish, buddy." She stands, foot knocking against his on her ascent. She gestures towards the lower deck. "Come on, you shouldn't have to sleep out here."
The alone is implied and he is thrown at just how well he reads her- certainly better at it than she gives herself credit for. He dimly considers attempting to rebuild his walls, rebuke her with a thinly veiled insult or suggestive innuendo, but he is tired, and uncomfortable, and falling asleep to the rhythmic breathing of Emma Swan does not sound half bad.
"As you wish." He mutters, somewhat petulantly, as he stands. She freezes as he twists his neck from side to side, giving him a peculiar look. His eyebrows shoot up in question and she smiles slightly to herself, shaking her head.
"Care to share, love?"
She steps closer to him and his breath hitches, her scent washing over him, mixing with the salty sea air. Her fingers come up hesitantly to grip the lapels of his jacket and he gazes down at her, eyes wide with surprise.
She looks up at him as his fingers find her elbow. "Thank you, for everything. You don't know-" She pauses, swallows, and his fingers grip her arm. "You don't know how much you've done for me."
The blush is back, hot and red, burning across her skin. She releases her grip from his coat and steps back. "For us, I mean for us. Thank you."
She spins a abruptly and hops down the stairs that lead to the main deck, turning and disappearing in the doorway that leads below. He blinks at the spot where she was, chest beating hard, smile tugging at his lips.
Her face appears at the bottom of the steps, eyebrows cast in a stern expression. "Are you coming or not?"
He grins. "Aye, lass, right behind you."
When a pale hand appears from the bunk above him, fingers flexing in silent demand, he chuckles quietly to himself and pulls the flask from his pocket. He slips it into her hand silently, fingers sliding against hers in a gentle caress. He listens as she takes a long draw of the rum and then her hand appears again, finger tapping out a silent thank you against his.
He takes a sip and tries not to taste her on his lips.