A/n: Sorry for the break again, but I'm back! :D
When the hour is nigh
And hopelessness is sinking in
And the wolves all cry
To fill the night with horror and
When your eyes are red
And emptiness is all you know
With the darkness fed
I will be your scarecrow
Bleeding Out – Imagine Dragons
Emma's hands tightened around the steering wheel and she struggled to keep her eyes forward on the road rather than where they kept drifting to the relaxed, sleepy figure of her ex-husband in the passenger seat. His legs were stretched out as much as possible in the tiny, old bug (that she never could bring herself to get rid of), knees high and his bare, smoothed over stump resting loosely over his left thigh, inches from where her hand was on the stick. His head was lolled lazily to the right, staring out the window, a soft, barely-there smile on his lips.
She'd missed that, the idea of looking over and seeing him there. She'd missed him.
"What are you smiling about?"
Killian glanced over, his smile broadening as soon as their eyes met, making her stomach do a little flip flop as doubt slowly settled heavy on her chest.
"Nothing, love." He reached across his lap to brush her knuckles with the fingers of his good hand and then moved his arm back so it rest against the door. "Just enjoying the drive."
Emma's heart clenched at how peaceful he looked, how trusting.
Maybe this was a bad idea.
She hadn't known what to do. She'd woken up wrapped up in his arms and she felt so loved and so needed; it was terrifying and overwhelming and she needed a minute, she just needed to breathe.
It had been over a year now and she'd always come here to clear her head. That's exactly what she had been planning on doing until he had woken up and she'd seen the hurt on his face when he thought that she was leaving him and she couldn't just leave him there alone…
Emma's heart beat out a staccato rhythm as the miles passed them by. She shouldn't be doing this, she should have just gone by herself. She should have been quieter and left before he woke up, she should have, she should have, she should have- but she didn't, and here they were, driving down that bittersweet, pain-tinged road that was so familiar to Emma and so foreign to Killian. She had visited so many times, grieving, wondering if she'd see Killian, hoping that she would, wondering if he ever came here on his own - from the clueless, lazy smile on his face, he hadn't.
Emma didn't know what she had expected, but then, in her heart, she had always known.
She had said it herself. Killian had never accepted what had happened to Henry. While she lived in a constant state of mourning, scratching and clawing at anything that could help her move on, to deal with the pain, she knew that he had focused on her and them as if they were the only thing that needed fixing.
It was why she'd needed him with her today.
It hurt. She almost wanted to turn around, find a hole in the wall breakfast place like they used to and order them some bacon and eggs and French toast and pretend to have taken the scenic route.
She didn't need him for this, he didn't need this…
But he did. They did.
Everything had changed in the last 24 hours. She couldn't keep pretending that she didn't want him, that she didn't need him, with her, around her, inside of her. That she didn't need him whispering sweet nothings into her ear as she drifted off to sleep, that she didn't need to wake up to him everyday, that she didn't need to love him (and for him to love her).
Emma turned the final corner and the catch in his breath practically thundered in her ears as the green, rolling hills and winding paths full of foliage lined headstones came into view.
(She wondered every time she visited how many of them were children until the tears burned her eyes and she had to pull over, but she couldn't think of that now.)
"I thought we should visit."
She kept a hand firm on the steering wheel as she calmly pulled the parking pass from the machine and placed the ticket in her window, staring straight out ahead of her as her foot slowly pressed back down on the gas pedal and she drove down the curving road to Henry's plot.
She finally glanced over at Killian again – she had been too scared to look before, terrified of what she'd see – and his body was tensed like a coil, his right hand digging crescents into the interior of the door and it made her heart ache. Emma swallowed past the tightness in her throat. He looked like a caged animal who had been backed into a corner, petrified and poising to attack. She knew that feeling, she knew the fear, and the feeling like you couldn't breathe and you just might be able to if you were allowed to pretend for a few more minutes that he wasn't dead.
But they were supposed to be in this together, right?
"I thought it would be good for us to- to do this together, you know?"
His silence was deafening.
"Killian, you said it yourself," she began again slowly, swallowing thickly and gripping onto the wheel even tighter. "You never accepted it and for the longest time I didn't either, so I think it's time that we both-"
"Wh-why would you do that?" he gasped out, broken and breathy and lost.
Emma took a deep breath. Her heart hammered against her chest, beating out an accusatory rhythm.
"I- If this is going to work between us-"
She could almost feel her heart breaking for him, an icy knife plunging into her gut and twisting. She didn't know how to do this anymore than he did, she didn't know how to help him when it'd taken her over a year and a divorce and an affair with her ex-husband to begin to heal.
"Why didn't you tell me we were coming here?"
"I'm sorry," she whispered, her threat tightening with the choked back urge to cry. "I'm sorry, I panicked. And I know I'm the last person who should push someone into-"
"You panicked," he interrupted, his tone suddenly dry, emotionless.
"I was going to go by myself, I needed to think, Killian, and when you woke up, I- I didn't know how."
"Didn't know how?" he repeated coldly. "Let's think, how about – Killian, instead of breakfast let's go visit our dead child's grave? Yes, perhaps that," he snapped, fist tightening in his lap. "It would be a touch less shocking."
Emma flinched when she heard Killian's fist connect with the car door.
"Bloody hell, Emma!"
"What? Is it really that bad?" She retorted, cutting him off, anger and indignation replacing the guilt just as quickly as it had come. "The idea of just seeing the place where he-"
"Don't. Just bloody don't, Emma."
"I'm sorry. I should have told you first, but you can't just keep shutting me out! I am trying here. I was just so god damned scared, and overwhelmed after this weekend-"
Killian chuckled humorlessly and shook his head with a self-deprecating grin. "Well. I apologize for overwhelming you, love."
Emma's mouth snapped shut and she set her jaw before speaking. "That's not fair. You know that's not fair."
The tension is so thick it could be cut with a knife. She wanted to break it, to snap it in two, shatter the heated tension that was building by the second. Anger welled up hot, frustration, hurt – this was hard for her too, she couldn't be the only one making difficult decisions. Why did it always have to be her? She's decided on the divorce, she'd found lawyers, she took care of most of the work when Killian shut down entirely.
(But you shut down on your marriage, a nagging voice reminded her.)
"Fine." She reached for the door. "I'll just- give me a few minutes and I'll be right back," she whispered and turned the handle.
The door clicked and she slipped outside.
"Love, don't," he groaned. "Emma, wait," the door shut behind her and he hastily unclicked his seatbelt and swung open the door, stepping onto the cushiony, thick green of the hillside. "Love, don't do that."
"No," she whirled around on her heel. "You don't. Listen, I'm scared too. You hear me? I am… terrified of this," she gasped out through tear-filled eyes; her throat felt thick and her chest wouldn't stop tightening until she was sure it would burst and she couldn't breathe, couldn't breathe. She ran a hand through her hair, letting her arm fall limply to her side, turning towards him helplessly. "And I don't know how to make this work, or if it can, I don't know. But I know that if we're going to try we have to do what neither of us did right last time and this is the only way I knew how."
His shoulders slumped in a quiet defeat, all indignation gone from his expression. "And what's that, love?"
"I don't know. But we can't keep holding onto him like this because he's gone, Killian."
Everything was silent for one minute, two.
"I-" Emma hadn't expected that, her posture still tense and ready for a fight in the otherwise empty plot.
He leaned back against the hood of the bug, the old car creaking and groaning from his weight. "I don't know how either, Emma." He sighed out the words as he dropped his forehead into his hand; his fingers thrust into his hair in a weak show of frustration. "I pushed it away like it was all some terrible nightmare that I could end by mending things between us, but it'snot a dream," his voice stuttered and broke, his head still bowed, his eyes closing again with emotion. "Fuck."
Emma wordlessly leaned against the hood beside him, reaching for his right hand and tangling fingers with his. No words came with the simple act of comfort. Nothing healed this hurt. No words truly soothed the agonizing wounding pain of part of your heart being ripped out of your chest. It was debilitating and traumatizing and she'd been so preoccupied with her own grief that she'd allowed herself to believe that maybe he just didn't feel it.
"Sometimes I still see him," he said finally, his voice walking the razor edge between wavering and shattering entirely.
He bit his lip, chewing and releasing, his eyes reddening with held back, brimming tears as he stared out at Henry's grave and she wanted to touch him more, comfort him more, anything. She wanted to tell him that it would be okay but it wasn't okay.
None of this had ever been okay.
They'd lost a child. They'd lost each other.
She had already done her falling apart over a year ago, rinsing and repeating over the months just to prolong her own torture, only barely able to break through the surface for air - but he hadn't. He'd just held his breath and convinced himself that he wasn't drowning.
"I see him asking me to play one of his games with him every time I look at the television. I hear him ask my advice about a girl he fancied in his class and how he begged me not to tell you because he was embarrassed," he finally broke, his pitch high and squeaking, shuddering and strained, like a rubber band pulled too tight and just an inch from snapping. "Even after, I couldn't- I couldn't bring myself to- he made me promise it, but what does it bloody matter anymore?"
He flinched when she touched his shoulder, needing to soothe, to ease the irreparable burn, the endless ache that she could still feel in her own chest every minute of the day.
"I know. I'm here."
"Did you know… sometimes he called me 'dad'?"
"What?" She felt like the wind had been knocked out of her, the word falling from her lips, nothing left in her chest leaving her feeling empty and suffocating.
"A slip of the tongue," he shrugged. "And then we would… look at each other, as if he were asking me if it was alright and I was wondering, I wondered bloody hell does he see me as a father? I could never replace his true father, but gods, love, I'm a selfish man and I had hoped one day-"
"He loved you, Killian," she whispered numbly, fingers still tangled with his good hand. "I love you too."
They sat in a peaceful, poignant quietness for a few more minutes until Emma calmly untangled their hands and opened the car door, stepping back in from the crisp air that smelt of cut grass and freshly excavated dirt and into the familiar smell of worn leather. The passenger door opened and then shut after Killian slid inside, slumping into the seat and staring out of the windshield blankly. Emma stuck the key into the ignition and placed her hands back to the wheel, but made no other move to leave.
After a moment, Killian cleared his throat and he shifted awkwardly in his seat. "I don't know how to be alright with this, Emma."
"Neither do I."
The drive back into the city to their apartment was near silent. The tension had eased. The fight was over. They just had nothing to say. (What if they never had anything to say again?) Emma ran her hand up and down his stump, occasionally cracking a smile in his direction, not sure if she was attempting to comfort him or herself.
There was always something so moving about visiting Henry's grave, but this time was different. She couldn't tell if she had screwed up. It had been rough. Yeah, that was the word for it. Killian remained mute, his posture still vaguely tense. He needed time. They both did.
The walk up the two stories to their apartment was as quiet as their drive, but somehow less awkward than the idea of sharing an elevator together or with other random residents (especially not their friendly, coffee-borrowing neighbor, Emma thought sardonically). They arrived to their door and Killian pushed past her lightly. Their shoulders brushed in the narrow hallway as he thrust his hand into his pocket, pulling the keys out with a muted jingle. A moment later, the door opened with a soft click and a quiet creak. Killian shrugged out of his jacket hanging it up on the coat rack by the door as soon as he stepped inside, a sigh shuddering through his body.
She paused next to him, watching him warily as he moved about the apartment, his movements akin to robotic. "Are you okay?"
Killian nodded, heaving a sigh as he flopped onto the sofa and stared ahead with the same blank stare he had worn in the car. She sat down next to him timidly, gently lifting his right arm and tucking herself into his side. She rubbed her cheek against the soft fabric of his t-shirt and breathed in that familiar, spicy scent of the cologne he always wore (another thing about him that hadn't changed). Their breathing matched, even, slow, and after a few seconds, Emma slid her hand tentatively up his chest, splaying her fingers out as she explored every firm contour, using just enough pressure to be soothing but not quite enough and too little to be seductive. She watched him for a reaction; he didn't move, so she slid her arm around his waist, snuggling a bit closer.
"Thanks for talking with me. At the cemetery," she whispered, drawing his hand up and brushing his fingers with her lips gently.
She looked up into his eyes, still focused straight ahead of them. "What's strange?"
"I've been living the past year and a half knowing that he was gone…" he said faintly. He didn't go on, he didn't need to, he just squeezed back when Emma's grip tightened in his hand.
"Back there. What you said about Henry," she began slowly, realizing all at once that it hurt just a little bit less to say his name out loud than the last time, nestling her face deeper into his chest. "You were a good dad to him. You know that, right?"
He let out a short, breathy, humorless chuckle.
"It does matter," she assured him firmly and planted a tender kiss on his shoulder. "We couldn't have prepared for this, Killian, no one can."
She didn't know if she was talking about Henry's death anymore or their failed marriage or some twisted mix of the two. The lines were beginning to blur between them anyway, both of them just another trauma they were attempting to heal, both equally unsure how.
"You never can, Swan."
His arm tightened around her and she felt his lips brush the top of her head.