The Journey Back Home
Summary: Following the suggested events of 2x15, Hook deals with another defeat in his quest for vengeance while Emma and Henry struggle with their newly challenged trust issues.
A/N: This was originally going to be my entry for CS Saturday this week, with the theme of Daddy!Hook but I don't think I'm quite ready to venture too deeply into the land of AU. There are some Hook/Henry scenes that help the early development of their relationship, so maybe that kind of counts? It gets kind of dark towards the end, but I wanted to stay true to Hook's character at this point in the show. This is my first fanfic that's ever managed to reach the light of day, so please be kind to me :S Hope you enjoy! Many thanks to my wonderful beta reader Gabe (spooloflies) for her help :D 3
Both the dark night sky and the brisk Atlantic tides cooled the decks of the infamous Jolly Roger as Hook sailed it away from its inconspicuous location amongst several vessels in the crowded shipyard. It wasn't just the strong winds that were cold either, but it was the atmosphere on board that felt icy. The lack of magic forced a still injured Hook to man the wheel up on the top deck as Emma stayed as far away from him as possible, leaning against a sturdy mast by the bow of the ship. Her eyes were forward, dead set on getting back to Storybrooke without any more serious confrontations breaking out. She hoped Neal and Henry would stay below where they were nursing a distressed Rumplestilskin.
If Emma had thought that the journey into Manhattan had been stressful, she was extremely ill prepared for the long sail home. Hook's actions had caught her off guard today. She expected to have to deal with his violent mood swings in Storybrooke, but she never thought he'd make it all the way to New York City on his own. After attacking Gold, Emma seemed to calm his murderous intentions and snap him back to reality.
"Let me finish this!" Hook screamed as he saw Emma come running down the apartment staircase out of the corner of his eye.
Emma paused for a second, her mind trying to process what she saw before her: Hook, in full pirate garb standing in the entryway to Neal's complex with his hook embedded in Mr. Gold's chest.
"What the hell?!" Emma yelled as she finally ran up to them both and tried to pull Hook away. "Hook! Get off of him!"
"No! Three hundred years and I finally get to end this, Emma. I get to be done," he choked out, with what looked almost like tears in his tightly drawn eyes. His voice was so strained, so full of sadness that Emma could tell his strength was diminishing.
With all her strength, Emma managed to rip his arm away and push him up against the mailboxes with a loud bang. The jolt of force though seemed to reinvigorate Hook's willpower.
"This is why I came here, Emma! I've been waiting for this moment for so long and he deserves it. He deserves to die," he said menacingly still looking over at the crumpled Rumplestilskin, blood beginning to make its way onto the white linoleum tiles beneath him. As he continued to fight Emma's restraints he looked her straight in the eyes and pleaded, "You said you would help me once. Are you going to betray me again?"
They stared at each other for a long moment, tension heavy between their bodies and their blue eyes. Killian's were full of resentment and hatred, Emma's were hurt and desperate. It was only when Neal and Henry came rushing down the stairs to Mr. Gold's aid that their connection was broken.
"Hook?" questioned a confused Neal who, rather apprehensively knelt down beside his estranged father.
Henry looked equally as shook up as he turned to Emma and frantically asked, "Mom, what's going on? What happened?"
At a loss for words, Emma turned back to Hook and looked him dead in the eyes. "Listen," she begged, uncomfortable having to ask a favour of him in his currently crazed state, "I understand what you want. I've felt it. The sadness, the loneliness - all of it! It can make you want to do terrible things, and you've already shown what you're capable of, but please. For me, for my son, let it go."
He scoffed at her words. "Why should I do anything for you?"
"You've put us all in danger by coming here, Hook. This land, it's different. And you better hope no one saw you stab Gold or there will be people here to take you away any second, people a lot less merciful than me. You'll be stuck here forever, and by the looks of it," she glanced over to a gasping Mr. Gold, Neal's hands on his chest putting pressure on the wound, "you won't have succeeded."
Hook's resolve seemed to wane.
"And they won't just take you away," Emma continued, "It'll be Henry and I as well. After I fought so hard to get back to my family." Her voice cracked, "Stop this. We still have time to get away. Please, Killian."
After a short moment, his arms dropped then and there was silence in the small foyer, minus the shallow breaths still coming from Mr. Gold's injured chest. He looked around the room, to Henry, and saw the same willful expression he loved so much about Emma, which made him turn back to her. She had a softness to her face just then that seemed to calm his disappointment and internal rage. He knew she was playing him, with her mercy and her desperate pleading but he just couldn't seem to say no to her.
He regained his steely demeanor, stepped over Mr. Gold's legs and headed for the door.
Emma started, "Wait – "
"I'll be at the shipyard in thirty minutes. Meet me there if you want a ride back to Storybrooke," he glared at them as he exited, looking first at Gold's crippled body and then to Emma for a lingering moment before slamming the door behind him.
Hook watched Emma's hair as it was whipped around her face by the wind from dark waters below them. The blonde strands were illuminated by the almost full moon that hung low in the evening sky and served to distract him from what was going on in the belly of the ship. He couldn't believe what he was doing. He had thought that the next time he would be sailing his ship it would be away from this wretched, grey, loud world and now he found himself transporting his arch nemesis back home to safety.
He cursed Emma for always managing to change his plans. He shouldn't care about her, or her family. He was Captain bloody Hook for God's sake! He was used to being dangerous, and unforgiving. He didn't like this new side of him that she evoked. She brought out a vulnerability inside him that he hadn't felt in a very long time. They were alike in so many ways that it scared him and as he looked at her all he saw was weakness.
Weakness in her fierce wit and endearing sarcasm.
Weakness in her strong willpower and love for her son.
But most of all, he saw weakness in her face – her eyes, like the sea in their ever changing moods and colours that reminded him so much of home, and her soft smile which held so much tenderness and compassion.
He felt this weakness in the pit of his stomach and the swell of his still beating heart. His mask remained in place however, as his hard expression retrained itself on the dark horizon ahead.
Emma had never been on a ship like this before. While she was shaken from the day's unexpected events, she couldn't help but feel calmed by the cool wind in her hair and the sound of the water rushing by beneath her. She was staying away from the others, alone by the ship's bow, and she told herself it was only to ensure nothing would happen that might jeopardize their ride back. But she knew that it was something else that sent her off on her own.
Hook's comment from earlier had hurt her. "Are you going to betray me again?"
Emma wasn't a betrayer, she was the betrayed. She was the one who didn't trust, who didn't let people close enough to hurt her. And now it seemed as though she had become her worst fear. Perhaps Hook was just baiting her, trying to get her to break, but there was a part of her that regretted chaining him up at the top of that beanstalk and a part of her that wished they had worked together. Then Cora wouldn't be in Storybrooke and everything would be different.
Why did she feel so tied to him, anyways? She didn't owe him anything, and yet she did, because despite how much she hated to admit it, they were the same. Lost, and sad, and broken. Their only difference was that Emma's future looked bright, with her newly found family, while Hook's remained dark and unsatisfying.
She had abandoned him because of her own fears, when she could have helped him avoid this villainous path.
His jab had also struck her because of what Henry had said to her earlier. "You're just like her."
She had betrayed Henry too, the one person she loved more than anything, with her fear-driven lies. Was this the person she was becoming? Her own worst enemy?
She was startled out of her reverie by the creak of the hatch door that led to the hull over by one of the staircases. She saw Henry emerge, his face still distressed from their earlier conversation. This saddened Emma even more, for had it been a normal day she would have seen the look of delight and awe on his face, considering how much sailing on a true pirate ship would have excited him.
He looked at her for a brief second, caught momentarily in deciding how to proceed, before climbing the stairs to his right, further away from her.
Emma, apprehensive about leaving Henry and Hook alone but knowing not to follow her son, moved closer to the stairs while hiding herself from the top deck's view. She turned again to watch the black waves crash against the side of the ship as she listened intently through the sounds of the cool night air.
Hook's concentration was broken suddenly when he heard quick steps up the ancient wooden staircase. At first he thought that Emma had come to yell at him some more, which was something he really wasn't in the mood for, but he was caught off guard when he saw a bouncing mop of brown hair approaching him.
In an attempt to shoo the boy away, Hook looked at him and said, "Hey kid, crew members only up here. I don't want you getting in my way." This didn't seem to faze the boy.
"My mom used to call me that."
He was confused, "What?"
"'Kid.' She used to call me that when we first met. Didn't want to get too close or anything, I guess," he said wistfully as he came to lean against the railing in front of the rough looking Captain. The juxtaposition of the two figures was laughable. Henry, a vision of innocence and modernity, versus Hook whose aged face held the image of sadness and sin.
This still didn't make much sense to Hook, but he kept his wits about him, "Maybe so, but my rules still stand. If you're up here then you have to be a member of the crew," he repeated hastily.
"Can I help then? I may seem young, but I'm a fast learner," he replied with a smile.
Hook tried to think of a way out but couldn't find one, and it wasn't like he could leave the wheel and drag the boy back below deck. He looked around for something for the young lad to do.
"Here," he said as he turned around and tightened some ropes and passed them over to Henry quickly, "take these. When I tell you to 'pull', tighten them as hard as you can, and when I say 'release', give them some slack until I say 'when,' you got it?" Hook noticed his harshness when speaking to the boy, a bad habit from years ago when he was in high command of his sailors, and he regretted it.
Henry didn't seem to mind though, as his face took on a look of excitement, "Great! Sounds easy enough," he chimed, and Hook turned back to the wheel.
He searched for the flash of blond that was now missing from the decks below him, and wondered where Emma had gotten to. Perhaps she went down to visit 'Gold,' as she called him, and the lad's father. Were they still together? Had the attraction he felt towards her back in the Enchanted Forest been for nothing? He reminded himself quickly that it didn't matter. This wasn't his life and he'd be out of this world as soon as possible.
"Why aren't you down with your parents, kid?" Hook asked, uncomfortable with the silence that fell between them. He was never good with children and it had been a long while since he'd shared space with anyone who didn't wield some sort of power over him. The fact that Henry just wanted company from him was unusual.
"My mom and I fought earlier," answered Henry, "and my dad? Well, I just met him today. So we're taking things kind of slow."
Hook seemed a little taken aback. Realizing things weren't as simple in Storybrooke, or in Emma's life, as he had assumed. He wasn't sure of what to say to the boy.
"Well, uh, I'm sure everything will be fine," his attempted advice came across awkward and without sentiment, but Henry understood what he meant.
"I know," Henry agreed, "she's just scared. She spent her whole life being hurt by other people that she thinks she can protect me from it. But, getting hurt is just a part of life. I know that, and I'm only eleven," he finished, almost smugly.
Surprised by the boy's insight and maturity, Hook again didn't know what to say and both went quiet for a long moment. They were jolted into action however, by a loud flap in the ship's main sail and Hook had to grab on to the wheel tighter to keep it from spinning.
"Pull!" he called, and Henry quickly gripped the ropes and pulled them taught, forcing the main sail back into its position, as he attempted to steer them away from the large patch of bumpy waves.
"Hit a strong wind there, kid. You okay?" Hook asked hastily after the rough weather seemed to be behind them. If the boy was hurt in any way, Emma was sure to kill him once they came ashore.
There was a long moment of dead silence that made Hook's stomach drop, and he was not expecting what came out of the boy's mouth next.
"That was so awesome!" Henry screamed, the biggest smile Hook had ever seen plastered to his small, round face. "Can we do it again?" He pleaded his eyes full of wonder and awe.
Hook was definitely relieved at the boy's safety, but shocked again at his excitement and enthusiasm. Part of him wanted to show the boy more but he reminded himself again that he was leaving once they docked.
"That's enough excitement for one night I think, lad," answered Hook, hoping not to upset the boy.
Henry looked down to the ropes he held in his hand, and tied them tightly back into their original position on a hook that jutted out from the side of the ship. Hook didn't fail to notice the precision with which he completed the complicated knot. Emma's boy was a fast learner.
"That's okay!" Henry resolved, "Once we're back in Storybrooke you can teach me all kinds of stuff about sailing! My grandpa is already showing me sword fighting and horseback riding. This is going to be great!" Henry finished as he gave a still astonished Hook one more smile and a wave before heading back down the stairs and out of sight.
Emma was still gripping the wooden ledge of the ship, shook up by the sudden power of the once calm waves, when Henry came back down and saw her there. As she turned to him he wrapped his arms around her middle and hugged her tight. Emma, one hand still on the side of the boat to steady herself, hugged him back, surprised by their sudden reconciliation.
"I'm not upset anymore," Henry said into her chest, "I know why you lied. I just wish you hadn't."
"I'm so sorry Henry. I'm different now. Back then we had just met and I was still so afraid. I'm not anymore though, okay," she knelt down to look him right in the eyes. "It's you and me Henry, fearless, from now on."
He smiled and started to back away from her. "Psh. Come on Mom, I've always been fearless. I mean did you see me up there?" He motioned with his head up to Hook on the top deck, "I was a natural!"
Henry turned and opened the deck's hatch, climbing down and disappearing as he shut the large door behind him.
Emma breathed a sigh of relief as she smiled to herself. Henry always had a way of surprising her.
She looked back up to where Henry had been moments earlier, and could no longer see Hook standing by the ship's wheel.
Curiosity getting the better of her, she started up the creaky wooden steps as quietly as she could manage.
"What are you doing?" Her soft words startled him and he whipped around. She had caught him away from the wheel for a moment, as he attempted to gather his things into a large trunk in the corner of the deck.
"Just organizing my things," he replied, "I've got a long journey ahead of me."
She let out a shallow laugh, "Storybrooke isn't that far. We'll be home before morning."
Emma could tell by his hard expression that she was wrong though, and he refused to look her in the eyes. He brushed past her to retrieve something from behind her and she stilled him with a hand on his arm.
"Hook. Tell me you're not leaving."
He remained silent still.
"You can't," she pleaded. "Where will you go?!"
"Anywhere!" He ripped his arm away from her and finally looked at her, "I can't stay in your tiny little town with him," he spat, "safe and alive right in front of me. I won't!"
Emma gave it right back to him. "What do you think is going to happen? You'll kill Gold and then you'll be happy again?! Because let me tell you, it doesn't work like that."
Hook, frustrated with her and angry that she was trying to help him, grabbed her arms and pushed her up against the railing of the deck. "No!" He screamed, "I kill him and then I can finally let go. I can finally be done!"
"Done with what?" She asked, her chest heaving from the sudden contact, but her expression remained indignant.
"Life. This has been my goal for so long. I don't know how to do anything else. I don't know how to be anything else." His face was still a mask of control but the strain she heard in his voice gave him away.
With her upper arms still in his tight grasp, she slowly moved her right hand to brush against his chest, sliding up towards his heart. "People can always change. I did."
Her soft touch caused his anger to subside but his frustration continued to overwhelm him. "You're different," he countered, "Emma Swan, daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, the saviour of the entire realm. You've got goodness in you," he motioned to her chest with his eyes. "There's none of that stuff in me."
He let her go and took a few steps back, still looking at her.
This angered her, and their roles were reversed. "You know that's not true," she glared, "and self-pity doesn't look good on you."
His empty laugh sliced through the open air around them. "What? Are we flirting now, Emma? I thought that was my job." His sly smile only made her angrier. He was trying to change the subject.
"Hook, I'm serious. This is serious!" She approached him again, and he looked annoyed that his plan to deter her didn't work.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to go and off myself while you're not looking, love," he chided, "but I'm not staying. With all your compassion and goodness you should understand why, and you shouldn't want me there anyway."
She struggled with what to say next and this quiet instance allowed him a chance to really look at her. Emma's face was pale against the chilly fall winds, but the red scarf she wore complimented her rosy cheeks. She was beautiful, he couldn't deny it, but he had to look away.
He moved back to the wheel of the ship, his eyes forward as if the conversation was over.
"One week," she finally said, still not looking at him.
"What –," he started, confused again by her choice of words.
"Give me one week in Storybrooke," she rushed, moving once more to stand in front of him, this time the wheel separating them. "If by the end of one week you still want to go, I won't stop you. But just give me a chance," she pleaded, finally looking into his eyes.
"Why should I?" Hook countered, "What if by the end of a week you still won't let me leave? As much as you love tying me up, darling, I can't say the same. And how do I know you won't chain my handsome self up to the town flag pole and never let me go?" He deflected his growing affection for her with silly jokes, hoping to make her upset again.
He wasn't expecting this and it made him pause. It was usually him begging for trust. He still wasn't convinced.
"You have to give trust to get it, my dear," he replied. "Last time I checked, you weren't the trusting type," again trying to get her to back off.
He watched her as she turned around to look towards the horizon, her fingers coming up to feel an empty spot in the middle of her chest. They lingered there for a long while as Hook watched her.
Finally, she let out a little laugh and looked back to him. Smiling, she walked around the large wheel that separated them, and stood at his side.
"Well, it looks as if my ways are changing…Killian," Emma said confidently, remembering the word that broke him during their last conversation.
His eyes stayed trained on the waves that spread out before them, but the use of his true name and the soft kiss she leaned up and pressed on the side of his face broke his concentration.
Stunned, he didn't say anything. Emma took this as her queue to leave, and she made her way down the steps still smiling, knowing she had won. She would get him to stay with her. She would change his life with the same deal Henry used to change hers. She returned to her spot at the bow of the ship, this time going to the over edge of the ship, looking down at the cool waves below. She could feel his eyes still on her (as she had for most of the night), only this time it made her smile, her fingers still resting idly on the newly opened spot on her chest. She felt hopeful and free, and wasn't so scared anymore.
Should I continue? Send me your critiques, comments and suggestions :)