Disclaimer: I don't own Once Upon a Time or Captain Hook.
"A survivor?" Hook asked skeptically.
"Yes. I don't want any surprises when we reach Storybrooke. We need to learn as much as we can."
Cora was right. The more they could find out, the better prepared they would be. Rumplestiltskin had lived in this new land for many years now; he would have the advantage.
Hook removed his hook and tucked it in his satchel. "I told them I was a blacksmith – lost my hand in an ogre attack. I never gave them cause to doubt it, but this…" He looked around. "This isn't the sort of thing a blacksmith would walk away from, unharmed. How should I say I survived?"
Cora smiled. "You're clever, Captain. You'll figure something out." Then she was gone.
Hook shook his head. No one had stood a chance of survival. Some had fought. Some had tried to flee. Some had tried to protect others, buy time for them to escape. All in vain. What sort of man could have survived this? What strength or cleverness would have allowed him to defeat Cora?
No. No, he needed to stop thinking so honorably. Stop approaching this like a fighter. He didn't need to defeat Cora. He merely needed to survive her.
And he knew exactly what sort of man could have done that, because he had met him. Long ago, long before Captain Hook and the Dark One. Back when he was simply Killian Jones, and Rumplestiltskin had hobbled onto his ship, a trembling, whimpering wretch too cowardly to lift a sword to fight for his own wife.
Hook looked around at the carnage once more. If that coward were here now, where would he be? What dark corner would he be hiding in?
Hook approached a pile of dead bodies and nudged one with his boot. He could almost see a man there, wide-eyed and shaking, pleading, begging silently not to be discovered. Hook smiled, satisfied. "I found you, Crocodile."
He rolled the body aside and took its place, then pulled another over himself. Quietly, he lay there, thinking his story through. He'd seen Cora ripping out hearts. Bodies falling all around him. Seeing that running would do him no good, he'd hidden beneath the bodies, pretending to be dead himself.
The thought sickened him. But they would believe it, if he acted the part. Frightened. Desperate. Weak. Everything he despised in the man he hunted. Hook fought back a sudden disgust for the character he had to portray. But that would help, for surely such a man must, at heart, despise himself.
The light of dawn crept through the gaps in the bodies. He could hear voices approaching. Closer. Hook took a breath of foul air, lay as limp as he could, and waited for them to find their survivor.