In the past week or whatever, family time in the Enchanted Forest had increased quite a bit and Emma looked forward to everyone heading home in the morning.
Today’s meeting surprised everyone by being quick and staying on point. She was pretty sure it had to do with a serious decrease in the number of separate and hidden agendas being pursued. Emma smiled. The Enchanted Forest was going to get interesting with this family all pointed in the same direction.
Closing the storybook in front of her, she considered if anyone who read it could or would predict all this.
The research assignments would take more time but Gold had been right days ago. A different piece of the puzzle for each of them had got a lot done and other than a few additional questions, today had been about planning the Storybrooke mission.
Emma pushed away from her desk and picked up the large box Gold had given her before retiring to his corner this evening. She wasn’t sure she wanted to open it as annoyed as she was with him, with everyone really.
She wasn’t going on the mission to Storybrooke. Even after being declared a marvel at portal and dimensional space magic by the Dark One, he had added his voice to all the others opposed to having her along. Not even Henry had taken her side.
Everyone had been so bloody logical. She rubbed her small belly.
“You two are lucky I suppose.” She twisted the string tied around the box. “Your father isn’t here to remind me not to do the heavy lifting so everyone else is doing it for him. I’m not a total fool. I know portal travel isn’t easy.” She shook the box and listen to sound of fabric sliding around then placed it on the table. “Maybe I just need some distance from your father. Or not really.”
The wooden Jolly Roger moved again. Emma frowned without turning to look at it. Something about it bothered her but she chose to ignore it. For now.
She pulled on the end of the string wrapped around her gift and the brown wrapping fell away. A note was on top.
“Miss Swan,” she read aloud trying to imitate the rolling cadence of the Dark One. “Per your request, I kept my eye out for the items you expressed an interest in recovering. The enclosed piece had found its way to the Dark Castle and one of the items you’re looking for is in the pocket. I sincerely hope this helps you during this unusually trying time.”
Her fingers brushed over the box to find the edge of the top but she hesitated. The small ship scrapped across the table and drew her eye again. “One thing at a time.” Lifting the top off, she pushed tissue paper protecting the contents to the side. “I haven’t needed you for a long while.”
Emma lifted her red leather jacket, her armor, out of the box and hugged it to her chest. Her hand sought out each pocket, finally finding something in the inside pocket.
She held it up to the light and smiled slowly. The sound of the wooden ship sailing across the map echoed in her head and she tilted her head to stare at it. The flash of the ring made her blink as she put it all together.
“My true love,” she whispered. “Death cannot separate us.” She closed the ring in her fist and placed her other hand on the table, pushing her magic into it and completed her map. “Life might try to separate us but not for long and never forever.”
Emma raced up to the balcony while an outline of her island burned itself into position on the map with the home scribbled next to it and a pirate ship within range.
The star-dotted sky stretched all the way to the horizon and past it, reflecting in the mirror of a calm sea. Killian listened to the Jolly Roger creaking its way through the water and tried to enjoy it.
The calm surface of the sea did not help. A good tussle between him and the waves would do much to take his mind away from where it could not go. Not yet.
Still it was a perfect night. He set a line to hold the wheel on course and climbed up to the yard arm, hoping to be soothed by a calm sail through the sea of stars.
“Beautiful.” The word left him in a sigh.
“It’s funny how the sea turns into a mirror some nights.”
Killian choked on his sigh.
He grabbed a line and swung down to the deck, turning to find her. She sat on the rail on the quarter deck, her hair falling free down her back and swinging her feet as if she had been sailing with him this whole time. His Emma. He closed his eyes briefly to find his sea legs again before he turned to the sky. The stars blinked and their new position revealing he was at the edge of the bottomless sea.
“It’s part of the island’s defenses.” He could hear her boots hit the deck and footsteps walking away from him. “You never really know how close you are to it unless you’re trying to find it and then only if I want you to.”
When Killian turned back to Emma she was making her way down the steps to the main deck. He rocked in place, clenching his hands into fists to contain the need to reach out to her but even as she came closer she slid away from him. He licked his lips and tried to think, tried to do more than stare at his beautiful and impossible wife.
“And you.” The first words out of his mouth were hoarse and too intense. He took a breath to rein in his heart and swallowed the saliva pooling in his mouth. “You just happened to see the Jolly Roger out your window and thought, what a lovely night for a visit?”
Killian stared helplessly, entranced by her, all kitted out in her Storybrooke gear. The jeans, the boots, the red leather and if he wasn’t mistaken one of his shirts on underneath it. Her hands twisted and fiddled with a necklace, the only sign that her serene demeanor was a facade.
She shrugged in response without meeting his eyes. It made him take a step closer.
Emma took one step back.
He slouched back against the mast crossing his arms and legs, feigning his own nonchalance. “I’ve met some friends of yours.” He offered the information and waited to see her reaction.
She hmmmm’ed and stepped closer.
One corner of his mouth kicked up. “Mermaid named Ariel with a husband, Eric something or other.” He stroked his chin with one hand, keeping his eyes down and posture relaxed, listening to her take another step closer. He tapped his forefinger against his lips, humming a bit. “I’m trying to remember how she put it.”
“Put what?” Emma asked, her voice sounding breathless.
Killian flashed a quick glance up at her and bit his lower lip as she drew another step closer. “She had some very precise and peculiar phrase.”
Emma mumbled in response and a broad grin stretched across his face.
“Something or other about trusting me immediately.”
Emma snorted, swaying toward him now.
“I agree,” he replied, holding himself still. “Who goes about trusting pirates? I mean if she had said I had charmed her, well, I wouldn’t deny that. I can be quite charming when I want to be.”
Killian batted his eyes at her and when she rolled her own, his lit with glee.
“I remember now. Can you believe she felt sure I deserved a sharp slap across the face?” He couldn’t stop the joy stretching across his face as he got Emma to laugh.
“I imagine at some point in your life,” Emma said, her eyes shining. “You deserved that and more.”
Killian held her gaze and lifted a hand to push her hair over her shoulder.
Emma disappeared in a puff of white smoke.
“So, do you have any news?” Her voice called to him from the stern of the Jolly Roger. “I mean it’s been two weeks, surely you must have something.”
He stood below her and glared. “Is that why you’re here? To get an update about your missing husband.”
She gave a little smile and twisted her necklace. “Something like that.”
“I have no news for you.” He stalked up the stairs to stand across from her. “There are rumors and more but I have nothing tangible to give you.”
“Really?” Emma pulled a hand from behind her back and tapped his hook against her chin.
He forgot the game to be played. “Bad form, messing with a man’s hook.”
Emma froze, her eyes gone wide as she stared up at him. Killian took advantage of her confusion and lifted a hand to her cheek. He felt her lean into it and watched as her eyes fluttered closed. It was all too much. His hand slid to the back of her neck tilting her head as he rocked closer.
His hook clanked as it dropped on the deck and Emma disappeared, again.
“Don’t you remember,” she spoke from behind him now. “You’re married, Captain Jones.”
Killian picked up the hook from where she dropped it and frowned at her from under lowered brows. “I am married.” His agreement surprised her and he used it to close the distance between them and gazed into her eyes. “Would you like to speak about my wife and what she’s up to?”
Emma’s facade crumbled and her eyes pleaded with him.
“Fine.” He replied curtly and put the hook into his pocket. “Then I guess it’s time to say good night.” He managed to turn away from her but couldn’t ignore the painful sound of her shuddering breath. “Maybe…”
“A story first,” he said and thought fast and hard. “But there are rules if you wish to hear it.”
Emma shrugged as if she didn’t care to hear it but she also stepped toward him and waited. He let the silence stretch as far as he could stand before stating his conditions.
“First, we will sit next to each other on the yard arm.”
Emma rolled her eyes.
“Bad form, lass. Also, you have to stay till I tell you goodnight.”
“Really love, is that a necessary condition?”
“Well, you are a devilishly handsome pirate,” Emma replied mischievously. “Swooning from the yard arm isn’t good for the pregnant princess.”
He sputtered at the reminder, his heart cut in two. Once recovered, Killian offered his hand and they shook on it. With a wave of her hand they found themselves sitting side by side, studying the calm sea of stars as white smoke dissipated around them.
“Once upon a time…” Killian angled toward her so he could make eyes at his wife.
“Seriously, you can’t think of a better beginning?” Emma shifted as well and looked up at him.
“Shhhhh, love. It’s my story.” He placed a finger to her lips to keep her silent. “Once upon a time. A dastardly no good but incredibly charming and, shall we dare say it, devilishly handsome pirate fell in love.”
Behind his finger Emma’s lips quirked up a little.
“And he fought for his love and became a better man.” He watched Emma frown, all solemn and thoughtful. “For her, some, but mostly for himself. Because while every bad deed he’d done had tried to drown the man he truly wished to be in darkness, his love could still see that man inside the dashing scoundrel. And soon, he saw it as well and remember what kind of man he wanted to be.” Killian watched her blush bloom across her cheeks and her eyes fluttered. “No one, however, is perfect. Not him.”
“Not her.” His Emma looked up at him so fiercely.
“Aye, love. Not her. But they made promises to each other, to keep their promises and to try to be the good that the other saw in them. To see the best in each other.” He bit his lip as a wide smile spread across her face. “They had beaten all the odds and fought hard against monsters and their own demons and pasts. Their love was true and no matter what happened, they swore…”
“To always find each other. To fight for each other.”
“Yes,” he whispered. “No matter how long it takes.”
Emma reached out a hand to stroke his cheek. “And they always had faith that no matter how far apart…”
“…And no matter what separated them.” He leaned into her hand.
“They would to fight to get back home.”
“To be together, always.” He leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers.
“Always.” She didn’t pull away from him this time and they sat still for a moment, a really good moment, letting their breaths mingle and sinking into the feel of being together.
Emma pulled away with a trembling smile. She tapped the hook against his chin.
“Really love, you have no need to steal from me.” He brushed a tear away from her cheek. “You could simply ask. I doubt I could deny you anything.”
Emma pocketed the hook and took off the chain around her neck. “I would like you to hold on to this please.”
“As you wish.” Killian didn’t look at what she placed around his neck, he just kept his eyes on hers.
Emma scooted farther away from him and she shook her head. “I’m afraid some issues have arisen and the search for my dearly missed husband will have to be put on hold.”
“I’m yours to command, princess.” When he caught Emma’s raised eyebrow, he shrugged. “For the most part.”
“I get it.”
“It’s always complicated.” Killian’s reply dripped with sarcasm.
Emma shrugged and waited but he couldn’t stop staring and didn’t even try to wipe away his silly smile.
“I’m waiting,” she prodded him.
“Do I have to?”
Her hand slipped over her belly. “We need some sleep.”
He exhaled all the air out his body and placed his hand over hers. “Aye, love,” Killian conceded shakily then leaned close to whisper in her ear. “Good night, Swan.”
Emma pulled back a little and smiled before leaning in to whisper in his ear.
“Good night, Hook.”
Killian closed his eyes so he wouldn’t see her wrap herself in white smoke and disappear.