Traces of Patterns
Captain Hook—famed and feared pirate of the seven realms—lay upon his bed, wide awake. While it wasn't uncommon for him to be conscious at unholy hours of the night, the fact that he was just lying there instead of doing something (or someone) rankled him.
But that was hardly the reason why he was awake.
The fact of the (frankly terrifying) matter was that he was afraid. Not outright, face-paling, trouser-wetting fear, but the kind that festered in a man—made his soul burn, made his bones rattle. It was something that had bloomed a long time ago, when a fantasy of a happy future had sparked for the first time. He'd since suppressed both of those feelings, of course, but now…
Now the spark had caught fire, and the blossom was overdue.
He sat up carefully, his tiredness and the late hour innately necessitating slow, gentle shifts as he crawled down the soft, cotton sheets.
"This is going to be a mess," Killian Jones rasped quietly. "I'm going to lose night upon night of sleep—more so than now. There'll be endless screams, tears, blood, pain, vomit, and just…shit. Lots and lots of shit."
He bent his legs and rested his elbows on his knees. He ran a hand through his hair, staring at the shadows on the moonlit wall in front of him.
"I'm over three hundred years old. I've fought in battles, raids, and even a war, but this is…terrifying," he continued, his gaze becoming unfocused as he remembered the distant and not-so-distant past. "It's like I'm back to being a lad of nine and wanting to be a dashing swordsman, hacking my way through mobs of villains. I lived for the excitement and the anticipation, but when I was finally there, standing in the midst of it all for the first time… It was a nightmare."
He turned, tucking one leg underneath himself and lifting his bedmate's legs to prop hers on top of his. He rested his elbow on his knee and began to trace a series of small swirls on her cloth-covered stomach, neither light enough to tickle nor hard enough to disturb.
"The stark contrast and the striking similarities of being nine and three-hundred and fifty-eight is disturbing and slightly reassuring, though."
His swirls straightened into a five-point star.
"I was excited and then afraid of battle, but look at me now, hm? I'm one of the best swordsmen these realms have ever seen. Let's not even forget that I've only one hand and no magic whatsoever, unlike your twisted, secretly-deformed excuse of a great-uncle—if we're going to try and classify him as part of the family. Honestly, he's comparable to a swamp creature, but we're going to try and be civil about this."
He scowled, pausing in his idle ministrations to remember what he'd been trying to say. Trust the Crocodile to derail him from his true goals even from a distance.
"Right. Well, if the past is anything to go by and excitement for this situation has transitioned well into fear, that's got to mean I'll be a bloody expert by the end of all this, eh?"
He sighed tiredly.
"It's easy to fantasize…play the role. Not so hard to have just those moments and think you'd be damn good at it. It's vastly different being there right from the start, having that fear mixed in with the anticipation from the beginning. You're…responsible for so much more now—for being there during the storms and doldrums, for knowing your place. It's an all-or-nothing job; have to have the full spectrum or be damned. Honestly, I don't know how I'll get through this without egregious amounts of rum."
He chuckled quietly, splaying his fingers out across the warm, smooth expanse and shifting closer so he was bowed over, shielding and protecting. He smiled, but the expression wasn't as light as it had been before. A man doesn't live three hundred years without any regrets after all.
"I won't make the same mistakes, though, I can promise you that, love," he murmured. "I've got my priorities sorted, I swear. The treasure goes in the bank, not in pubs. The rum goes in grandmum's cakes, not my dinner cup. The sword goes in the sheath, not in hearts—provided that those hearts aren't inside bodies threatening good people. I've been a pirate for more than three centuries, but I'm still just a bloke in here."
He swallowed and pushed himself to keep going. He needed to practice for when his addressee could actually listen.
"I've done things that I will probably never tell you, if only because I don't think you'll ever be ready to hear it. I've lied, cheated, stolen, murdered… I became a monster, and while the blame of that process lies partly on outside forces, I've only myself to blame for fostering that side of myself. That's a lesson you'll learn when you're old enough so you don't follow in those particular footsteps. I'm not a role model or anyone to look up to, but I'm going to do my damnedest to make you proud of me, to make myself proud of who I am."
He traceda J, a fancy one that always made his wife roll her eyes and grumble about girly handwriting. It wasn't his fault she had such atrocious script.
"Even pirates have a code—though they're more guidelines than actual rules. It's enough for a man to live buy, but it's not enough for a father."
His wife shifted slightly, and Killian bent and dropped a kiss on the top of her swollen stomach. He smiled at his beautiful, sassy, lie-detector of a wife, who'd begun to sleep like the dead as soon as the morning sickness had passed. He pulled up the oversized shirt, revealing the smooth expanse of her soft skin. She wouldn't wake up even if he decided to start painting all over her.
"But I've learned my lesson," he continued, lifting his other arm to caress her stomach with the curve of his hook and smiling when the little being inside began to move, stirred by the cool metal. "Your mum's a good teacher, but ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether you're really going to take those things to heart."
"She's got a right hook that'll really help drill in those lessons, though," he added. "Though I still stand by my protests that her constant abuse of me will ultimately lead to the deterioration of my brain, thereby undoing all the hard work we've done these last couple of years. Your half-brother agrees with me."
Killian grinned widely.
"You'd like him, that Henry. He's a good kid. Mind you, he's just entered his teenage years, but we're not too worried about him. Shenanigans aside, he's probably the most level-headed in this family." He paused and grimaced. "Which really doesn't say much for the monarchy."
He chuckled again, shaking his head and feeling the small movements of his child with one hand while continuing to tease him with the hook.
"You're going to have fun in this family. Never a minute's peace, but never a boring moment either. Lots of history to dig through; lots of stories to hear. Not all of them will be good, of course, because once again, love, we're a hell of an interesting family. But you will be loved, count on that."
He frowned slightly, anticipating the questions that would arise, the pedestaled ideas that would be taken down, the disappointments. The realization of exactly how broken and piecemeal the family really was…
"Whatever happens, though, sweetheart," he muttered seriously, "we love you—me, your mum, your brother, your grandparents, your wolfish aunt, and every other relative we're somehow related to, even the insect and the taciturn troglodyte who calls every female in the vicinity his sister. If we've anything to expect due to all our pasts, there will be instances in which…"
He sighed again, heavier and deeper than the last ones, fear making him tense. He glanced back at his wife's face and reached to brush her cheek with the backs of his fingers. He turned back to his son and began to trace the outline of a very familiar ship.
"Our track records are in our favor," he said reassuringly. "If anything happens, we'll get through it. You won't be alone, love. We will be there. If there'll ever come a time that we leave you, know that we will find you again. Even if we have to tear through another world. Your mum's already solidified a reputation of doing exactly that—in four worlds no less."
He shook his head and chuckled affectionately.
"This family's ripe with abandonment issues, so you can be damn sure we're not going to let the same thing happen to you."
Then he leaned down and pressed his lips against Emma's skin, kissing both his wife and unborn son. And then he felt it: a tiny appendage poking him right on the corner of his mouth. He sat up and stared down at the seven-month bulge, eyes wide as his fingertips reached up to his mouth.
"Buggering… You're not part of the family 'til you've punched Captain Hook, are you?" he asked incredulously. "Your mum's hit me, your grandfather's hit me, your grandmum hits me with cooking utensils on a regular basis, your brother nearly carved my skull in with an encyclopedia. Bloody hell, even Belle's gotten in a swing."
He laughed and settled down next to Emma, curling an arm around her and letting his bicep pillow her head as his hand rested on the top of her stomach.
"You're just like your mum, you know that? Terrifying, exciting…and I'm going to love you with all my heart."
He yawned and kissed Emma's temple, smiling when he felt her fingers tangle with his, both of them cradling their baby. Oh, yes, he was still scared shitless, but like mother, like son: the young baby Jones managed to knock some sense in to him. The future was going to be a hell of an adventure.