you will find him
"You will find him."
She doesn't seem to flinch at his voice, even though he has been standing in the shadows for the past few minutes. He knows this ship like the back of his hand; he knows where to go to be unseen. The prince and his wife had retired to bed, as had the grim-faced queen. He wasn't sure what the Dark One was doing, and he tried to block it out. The very fact that the Crocodile was on his ship, heading to the land he himself hated the most - as the guest of honour - didn't sit well with him. He wanted nothing more than to make him walk the plank and pray to the gods that he'd be done with it, but it wasn't that simple. Besides, he was keeping the peace, for one reason. One person.
She's tense, her hunched shoulders and white hands gripping the railing tell as much. He cannot tell what ails her this time –
– that is until he hears it.
A loud, piercing cry cuts through the silence, anguished and pained. Another follows, and another. The Lost Boys, crying for families gone and lives lost. He can almost see the weight pounding down on her shoulders as each one echoes across the sea. He can feel it too, their pain hitting a hidden, vulnerable place in his battered heart.
Once an orphan, always an orphan.
"Swan," he tries again, tries to break through to her. He walks closer, the heels of his boots tapping on the worn wood of the deck. He touches her arm gently, not thinking.
She stiffens, her jaw clenching. Slowly, she turns to look at him, her walls rising tall and fast between them.
(She's hiding again.)
(He knows not to push her.)
Drawing his arm away, he reaches into a pocket of his heavy leather coat, pulling out a small black flask. He gives her a sly smile and hands it to her.
Emma snorts, lips twitching, and he almost grins in victory - he got a smile.
"Is rum your solution to everything?" She asks in weary disbelief.
"It can't hurt," he replies simply, smirking a bit.
She takes it, twisting the cork out of place and taking a long swig. Then she wipes her mouth and passes the flask back to him, nodding her thanks. It's hard to believe she could have been - that she is - royal, a princess. She's so much more than a princess.
"I can't help thinking..." Emma begins, picking absently at a splinter of wood on the railing. She frowns, her green eyes dull with exhaustion and worry. "...Henry's out there somewhere, alone, and probably scared out of his mind." She stares out to sea, voicing fears that he knows she wouldn't usually share. "What if he gives up on us? What if something happens to him? What if-"
"Emma," he says quietly, her name slipping off his tongue as if he's used it all his life. "You will find Henry, and he'll be fine." He smiles, a genuine smile that probably hadn't been seen since before Liam died. It was then that it all started, that he began a journey into darkness.
(Maybe he has found the light that could save him.)
His words have the desired effect. She manages a tight smile, nodding at him. "Thank you, Ho- Killian. For bringing us here. For helping."
Killian feels a shy smile creeping into his face and he scratches behind his ear. His own reaction startles him – he thinks that reaction would be more suited to his younger self, to a bashful navy lieutenant that he scarcely knows now. She used his real name. "It was nothing, love. Couldn't let you lose your boy."
She tilts her head slightly, a small, knowing smile curling her lips. He knows she can tell it's not just nothing. How uncomfortable he is with a demon on his ship, destined for Neverland.
"You're quite perceptive, aren't you?"
"You and I, we understand each other."
It’s not long before Emma breaks her gaze from his, and the walls are coming between them again. The moment is lost. Strangely, Killian accepts this. He knows this will happen until she learns to trust him, until she realises that there is an honourable man under the leather and the eyeliner.
He once let his revenge define him, let reputation precede him. He let the pirate and the hook become him, let the real Killian Jones be buried under years of rage and heartbreak and a thirst for vengeance. Not anymore. It’s time for a shot at redemption.
(Maybe he can be the hero Liam always said he would be.)
“You should get some sleep,” Killian murmurs to her, after a long silence. “We’ll be in Neverland soon, you won’t be able to rest much once we arrive there.”
Emma nods slowly, chewing her lip. He knows that she won’t be able to rest until her son is with her again. But her eyes are drooping slowly, her legs swaying slightly. Eventually, she seems to give in. She bids him a soft goodnight and slowly makes her way below the deck.
It’s a few more moments before he makes his way back to the wheel, fingers and hook gently tracing the worn wood. It’s an absent movement. His mind is somewhere else – it’s with the blonde saviour in the crew’s cabin.
Slowly, a soft smile curls his lips. Emma Swan had his heart.
Now he had to hope he’d win hers.