Chapter 8 - New York, New York
Killian felt the world rushing up to meet him as he was abruptly thrown from the time portal. His mind hardly registered the landing, as it was so caught up with the experience of interacting with the almost-seventeen year old Henry and then the beauty of Emma in her white gown. The maturity of Henry blew his mind; the lad was able to grow into a fine young man despite the various challenges of being caught of up with a variety of evil characters.
His Swan dressed in white. He briefly had to close his eyes to make sure he committed the picture to his memory; she was simply a sight to behold.
That could be my future if I can complete this mission, Killian mused as he picked himself up from the unforgiving ground and dusted off his jacket. Turning around, he looked at the strange new environment he was thrown into. He observed the tall grey concrete buildings and streets lined with motorized carriages thoughtfully. The sun shone down magnificently in the east, it was early morning. There was something about this town that felt oddly familiar. It was filled with people bustling around him, carriages honking and screeching around corners. The buildings were spread out in their enormity above and around him.
Suddenly, he was distracted from his observations as he felt the pendant looped around to his neck grow hot. Caressing the pendant with his hand, he was shocked to realize what color the pendant was glowing brightly.
The pendant was finally, blessedly green.
He had arrived in the present.
Killian could feel his face breaking out into a grin. You did it Killian, you old sea dog! He took a deep breath as he realized he didn't have to worry about changing the past, being seen or doing something that would strand him in the past and doom his friends in the Enchanted Forest. Now, the mission had evolved from getting to his Swan. He just had to find Emma. Find her and convince her of her past.
"Captain Jones," Regina commanded him as he was about to leave, "I still have one more item for you." Her dark brown eyes locked on to his blue ones. "I honestly do not expect to see you ever again. The time portal is tricky, untested magic. However, there is something to be said about hope." The Queen sighed as she looked off into the distance, thinking about what she had given up. Henry.
Killian looked over to Charming and Snow White standing off in the corner, their trust for the future placed firmly in him. "Aye," he murmured.
Regina followed his gaze to the couple and sighed quietly, "I made a mistake all those years ago. It only took me until recently to realize that revenge may not be the best option."
"I've found that when one acquiesces with their desire for revenge, things are altered. No one tells of what to do when you do not have the burning desire to follow it anymore," he replied quietly.
The two reformed villains looked at each for a long moment, lost in their own thoughts as Tinkerbell continued to make the final preparations on the time portal. Finally, Regina shook her head. "If you survive this journey and you actually find Emma… You must convince her to drink this potion, it will restore her memories." She held up a vial, the purple liquid shimmering brightly inside.
Killian took the vial gingerly into his hand, internally worried about shattering the delicate glass. Regina waved her hand over the vial, as if reading his mind. "That vial will not shatter," she told him quietly. "But treat it with care, because that potion cannot be replicated in the land without magic."
Killian pulled the vial out of his satchel and stared into its depths, the swirling colors renewing his strength and hope for this final stretch of the mission. No one thought he would make it this far, it was time to find Emma and prove everyone wrong yet again. He stashed the vial safely back into his bag and tentatively stepped out to flag down a woman walking past him.
"Excuse me, m'lady. May I ask a question of you?"
The woman stopped and stared at him, mouth agape. "Wow. Uh, is there a pirate show around here that I'm missing out on?"
Killian looked at her blankly, the foreign words making no sense in his mind. "This might sound odd, love, but what city are we in?"
Raising an eyebrow at the sudden term of endearment, but still secretly caught up in the sight of the dashingly handsome pirate talking to her, the woman took a moment to respond, "This is New York. No, seriously, where do you work? Did a pirate themed Chippendales show open nearby? Please tell me, I'll come back with some friends if all your co-workers look like you."
Still not understanding what she was speaking of, Killian instead gave her one of his most charming smiles and thanked her earnestly.
New York. The land where he had almost killed his crocodile and Emma chose to bash him over the head with a metal pail instead. His internal embarrassment of waking up handcuffed in a closet, then in the hold of his ship. His Swan besting him yet again, but the thought of her bright green eyes made the sting of that particular embarrassment fade, just a little.
He bowed lightly to the woman and repeated, "Thank you." As he walked away, he heard the woman sigh sadly behind him. Women in this realm are odd, he mused, as he pulled out the magical compass, which was pointing due East from his position. This New York was so vast, Emma could be anywhere; he knew he must make haste towards her.
Six frustrating hours later, Killian rubbed a weary hand to his throbbing temples. This strange land of New York was going to be the death of him if he did not find Emma soon. There were so many people, always rushing from one place to the next that he could not slow down to get his bearings without slamming into someone. He'd swear those motor carriages were obviously dark magic, as long as he lived and breathed. They would swoop past you at terrifying speeds, always screeching and wailing, not caring if you were crossing the street or not. It was only thanks to his wits that he avoided getting hit by one of them, again.
His problem in locating Emma with the help of the magical compass is that the needle kept jumping, north then east, then back to north. Repeatedly. As soon as he felt like he would be closing in on her, the needle would jump again.
Killian truly cursed those motorized carriages, she must be riding in them to move so quickly from place to place.
He realized after a few hours, that since it was daytime that Emma was most likely working. It was likely possibility that Swan's bounty-hunting was similar to his realm and it forced her to always be on the go. The downside of her tumultuous occupation was that it made it difficult for him to locate her.
Cursing himself for his obvious miscalculation, Killian had realized belatedly that he needed to track Emma during the night and find a place to bunker down to rest during the day. That realization had led him to this very address, the New York home of Baelfire.
He took short work in prying open the flimsy lock protecting Milah's lad's establishment and slipped inside quickly. Baelfire's home was small and decidedly not cozy, but Killian was just pleased that it would provide him shelter from the dropping temperatures he faced outside. He dropped onto the couch, pulled his suddenly aching feet up on the side table and promptly nodded off to sleep.
Killian opened one weary eye much later and noted the darkened sky outside the window of the shabby apartment. His pocket watch was useless after so many time portal jumps, but he stood and peered out the window. Thankfully, centuries of his sailing knowledge were always helpful to determine time by the placement of the moon in the sky. Based on its current position, he still had a good ten hours or so to track Emma. Hopefully, his luck would improve this time around.
He made his way back to the street and started to navigate along the unfamiliar roads. A bitterly cold wind stung his cheeks as he walked, but he paid the discomfort no mind. The needle of the compass was resolutely pointing northwest, maintaining that bearing as he crossed street after street.
As he followed the instructions of the compass, his mind drifted to Emma. Her eyes, her lips, the way her hair framed her face. The way her eyes would flash when she was rightfully pissed off. He had kept his solemn vow to her at the Storybrooke town line, he had thought of her everyday, almost every moment of their separation. She was so close, it had been so long, he had traveled this impossible journey… he felt the anticipation of seeing her, his Swan, deep down in his bones.
"Actually, I rather fancy you when you're not yelling at me."
"It was not the kiss itself, it was what the kiss revealed."
"There's not a day that will go by that I won't think of you."
"I was hoping it would be you."
Finally, he stopped in front of a tall building, its entrance protected by a large grey gate. The compass was pointing towards the building, and would start to swing back towards the building if he stepped in various directions. He could not enter the building, since it was blocked off. Holding the compass resolutely in front of him, Killian made a slow loop around the entire building, watching the needle. He needed to be absolutely sure that this building was his final desintation.
The needle steadfastly turned as he carefully moved around the building, keeping the needle pointed at the building and the person located inside.
Which only led to one possible result: this was Swan and her lad's new home with her memories Regina left her. Emma was inside this building, this very moment! He reigned in a very un-captain-like whoop of joy as he circled back to the front gate that was separating him from his unsuspecting Lady Swan.
Inspecting the gate closely, Killian noted that there was box with black numbers next to the door handle. He pressed a tentative finger against one of the numbers, the box emitted a loud honk as he drew back his hand sharply, startled at the sudden intrusion of sound on this quiet morning.
Damn. He cursed. Locked. He could not break down this gate, nor jump over it without being seen. He must be patient and wait to slip in.
Meanwhile, as he waited, his thoughts drifted back to Emma.
His opening moment came twenty minutes later, when he jumped up to help an elderly woman struggle out the gate, her troubles coming from holding a small, yet hideously foul, loud mongrel that bared its teeth at him as he approached.
"M'lady. Let me help you with that." Killian rushed over, jacket swirling, and grasped the grey frame of the door with his good hand. He smiled his most charming smile at the woman, the one that always made bar maidens swoon.
"Thank you, dear. Tell me are you an actor?" The elderly woman smiled back, then raised a curious eyebrow at him as she looked over his clothing, while her dog continued to snarl.
"Ah… no." Strange women in this land without magic, he thought. He continued to smile as she slowly shuffled through the walkway. When she was blessedly past him and off tottering down the pathway, he walked inside without being seen a triumphant grin on his lips.
He quickly located the informational directly, scanning it for the one name, the one person he had been searching for. His finger flew up and down, scanning the names impatiently.
Ah, there is was. Swan - Apartment 311.
For the first time in a year, Killian Jones smiled.
The sound of his boots clicked determinedly down the hallway as Killian neared apartment 311. He was about to knock when his hand stilled in front the door, his heart was pounding in his chest like it was trying to break free. All this time, all this searching was narrowed down to this moment in time. He thought of her, every spare moment, and now she was on the other side of this door. A part of him, still couldn't believe that he had made it here. The other part of him wondered what he was going to say to her when she answered the door.
Get on with it, Killian. He told himself. Haven't you been fighting for this moment?
He took a deep breath and knocked.
It was probably seconds later, when he couldn't help himself and knocked again, fist pounding on their door.
The footsteps on the other side of the door, alerted him to her upcoming presence.
Gods. He had been so concerned about getting here; to this moment of finding his Swan that he had not considered what he was going to say. What would he tell her to make her believe in fairy tales?
Hi, I'm Killian Jones. I'm here to rescue you?
Ugh. Retched, that.
Hi, I'm Killian Jones, you don't remember me, but your parents need you?
The door opened and all poetic thoughts flew out of his mind at the sight of her, hair gently curling down past her shoulders, longer than he remembered, eyes blinking curiously at him, waiting for him to speak. Emma was here, in the present with him. He could reach out and touch her, hold her.
He had found her.
"Swan," he breathed, not fighting the smile that came along with her name.
Her eyebrows quirked downward, she didn't answer him as her mouth dropped slightly open. He knew that she had no idea who he was and why he was lurking outside her door so early in the morning, interrupting time with her son. Good gods, even cursed, he could still read her like an open book. In his excitement to finally be in the same true moment with her, he anxiously stepped closer, almost crossing the threshold into her apartment.
"Whoa!" Emma exclaimed, holding a hand up as she stepped backwards cautiously. "Do I know you?"
"I need your help. Something's happened, something terrible. Your family is in trouble." He blurted.
Again, her eyebrows furrowed at his words. "My family is right here. Who are you?"
The moments the portal sent him to flashed in his mind's eye. David's sacrifice to place her in the wardrobe, her first moments battling against Regina in Storybrooke, carrying her to her bed in Tallahassee, seeing his brother on their beach, Emma clad in a pure white gown in the future swirled in his thoughts. His tongue wet his lips nervously, "An old friend."
His heartbeat rapidly increased in his chest, thundering in his ears. "I know you don't remember me, but I can help you remember." In retrospect, he knew better. David had warned him that True Love's Kiss did not work on someone with memory loss. He had no idea that Emma felt the same as him. There were so many things that were working against him.
However, all those things fell away when he looked at her. She stole his breath like she did his heart in Neverland and that realization of love propelled him into action.
Stepping forward, he swiftly cupped the back of her head with his good hand and lowered his lips to hers. Her eyes drifted shut for a moment as their lips met.
He reveled in the sensation of her soft lips pressed against his for the long second, before she swiftly brought her knee into his manly parts, almost dropping him to his knees. Emma gave him a rough shove out of the threshold of her apartment as she screamed at him, eyes wild. Killian groaned as he instinctively hunched over against the far wall, belatedly understanding what 'kneed in the junk' really meant. His desperate pleas to sway her fell on deaf ears as the door slammed closed.
Killian, you always loved a challenge. He reminded himself as he pushed himself upright and gritted his teeth. It was time to chart a new course of action.