“And in everything that came afterwards, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much… She became one.” ~John Green (Looking For Alaska).
“To me, grief is a devastating numbness, every sensation dulled.” ~Veronica Roth (Allegiant).
He’s watching Henry sleep, when he hears the voice. “Captain.” Hook turns, his expression one of knowledge; for lately he’s been the one who’s been reading everyone’s mind. Neel stands before him, and Hook can’t help but look at him again because he’s no longer a boy. No. He’s the man who stands between he and Emma. But, nevertheless, Hook pushes his hurt aside and says, “Yes, Baelfi-I mean, Neal. Excuse me.” Hook glances at Henry again. They saved him not to long ago, now they’re heading back twards the ship. But the atmosphere isn’t all-too friendly. “It’s fine.” Neal says. He’s inches taller than Killian, now. “I… Need to ask you something.”
Hook stands straighter. “Okay. What is it?” He has to restrain himself from adding the word boy to the sentence, because, to Killian, that’s what Baelfire is. He’s a boy trapped inside a man’s body, trying to grow up but ever-failing. Perhaps he’ll always fail, Hook thinks, and once glance at Baelfire gives him that concern. “Well,” Neal says, tredding carefully. Hook sighs.
“Out with it, mate. I don’t have all afternoon. The fire needs tending and the Charming’s aren’t much better.” The pirate states. “I wanted to ask about Emma.” Killian bristles. Emma. The girl who will never love him back. “What of Emma?” He asks, and he can feel himself becoming secretive again. Apparently, Neal can see it. “I just want you to know, she’s mine. I’m going to fight for her. Even if that means I have to fight you.”
“I hope you don’t mean with swords, lad. Because if you do, you’re a fish out of water.” Neal throws his hands, exasperated.
“Hook!” Killian’s easygoing smile melts. His shoulders slump. And for just a split second, Neal can see it. Everyone can. They can all see the grief, the pain, the hurt, all that’s collected onto Killian’s shoulders in thousands of millions of years. It’s more than one man could bare, and, really, it’s astounding that Hook is still sane.
But maybe he’s not. Maybe he left them a while ago. “Oh, Baelfire.” Hook walks into the camp (which is deserted except for Charming, who’s been sharpening his sword and listening to the two men’s conversation in quiet observation), and sits on a log, the one by Henry. “I know, boy. I know. It’s as clear as day you love her and that you’ll fight for the lass. It’s clear I love her dearly… But I won’t fight.” Henry gives out a light snore, and Hook gently takes off her coat and lays it on the boy. Neal’s expression changes from determination to confusion.
Across the clearing, Charming looks up, also confused. To clarify, Killian states, “It’s not my choice, see. It’s Swan’s. To be honest, I’ll be hurt. I’ll be extremely hurt. But I’m used to it, the dullness of every sensation. But there’s things you don’t realize of her, Bae.” Neal raises an eyebrow. Charming stands, unseen by the two men, and walks over to them. “Oh yeah?” Asks Neal.
“Yeah?” Repeats Charming. Hook glances at the prince, and nods ever-so-slightly, before locking eyes once again with Neal. He looks sort-of broken when he says, “Yes. She’s her own person. You believe you can win her over, by heroic feets, and you bloody might, but, in the name of the Seven Seas, she’s got her secrets, mate. She’s got her reasons. She’s not stupid. She’s a soldier, her own person, as I’ve said before. I can’t change that. I just want her to be happy. Real love isn’t selfish, mate. And maybe she doesn’t love me back, but I’m not going to hold her to me. That would be selfish.” Hook takes a breath, and looks down at his shoes. “That’s why I told Emma you were alive, Bae. Because I knew she loved you. I just want her to smile. I’m not selfish on love.”
A thoughtful silence follows, then, Neal says, “I’m not selfish. I just think she belongs with me, and that we’re better together.” Hook lifts a brow. Charming chuckles. “That’s selfish love, Neal.” He says. Then he turns to Hook, “I was wrong about you, pirate. You’re good for her.”
Hook shakes his head, but says nothing. Just then, the voice of three women and one man fill the air. “Emma!”
“I… I dropped the firewood!”
“Really, Mary? What the hell is up with you today? First the food, now the wood?”
“I think she’s just gone butterfingers,” mutters Regina.
“You’re not the only one,” Gold agrees. Snow glares. The three men step away from each other, and Hook takes the wood from Snow. “I’ve got it, ma’am.”
“Thank you, Hook.” She says, glancing at Emma. The air becomes awkward, full of words that no one wants to say. But, as it’s been lately, Hook’s the one to say what’s important, to keep the moment alive, keep the atmosphere friendly. “So, ladies, I heard that the people in Storybrooke haven’t had a ball in decades. Why not one now?” The people in the clearing look to one another.
“Now?” Asks Emma.
“Why not?” Retorts Hook. The two stand there, and that’s when Charming makes a decision.
“M’lady,” he bows to Snow, and the woman giggles, “may I have this dance?”
“You may.” She responds, and, despite the fact that David won’t be coming back with them (at least not yet, they haven’t figured out how to break the, magick), she smiles. And they dance. Gold waves his hand, and, music begins. He stands next to Regina. The two aren’t much for balls.
Henry wakes up groggily, and Emma rushes to his side. “Hey, kid.” She says. But Neal’s sticking his hand out, face turned away from hers. “Wanna dance?” Emma glances at Henry. “But…” Hook puts a hand on her shoulder. “That’s why I’m here.” He says quietly. Emma smiles, taking Neal’s hand. The two walk awkwardly towards Charming and Snow.
Hook sits next to Henry. “My parents.” Henry whispers. Hook glances at him, and Henry catches his eye. “You love my mother.”
“I do.” Killian responds. It’s no use hiding it.
“Neal loves my mom.”
“Who does my mom love?” Henry wonders.
Charming prefers Hook.
Hook wants what’s best for his Emma, knows that a Princess and a Pirate is a scandal, and so he prefers Neal.
Neal wants himself. But it’s really all up to Emma. And what does Emma want?
They must simply wait and see. And so, despite the pain in his chest and the lump in his throat, Killian says to Henry, “She’ll love whoever she wishes.” But then the song ends and she leaves Neal, and she sticks her hand out to Hook.
“C’mon, Pirate.” She smirks. And Killian smiles. He takes her hand, despite the knowledge not to because he’ll just get hurt. But despite that, when an old seaman’s song plays, Killian and Emma take to the floor, Henry and Charming smiling, Regina, Gold, and Snow observing, and Neal frowning.
Killian knows he’s going to get hurt, knows that numb feeling won’t go away.
But he also knows Emma Swan loves mysteries. And maybe that’s what happened to her; she loved mysteries so much, she became one. But mysteries have good surprises. They spin on the floor, and Emma says, “I don’t want to love you. Or anyone. I just want my son.”
Killian cocks his head. “Okay.”
“So, I need you to tell me you don’t love me.”
“I can’t do that.” Emma sighs, “Then… Tell me you’ll get over me.”
It took him three hundred years to get over goddamned Milah.
But still, Killian says three words that he’ll say over and over again, the one lie he tells Emma to make her happy.
“As you wish.”
“Yes, I can see her perfectly in this cracked Darkness.” ~John Green (Paper Town).
“But now, I am also learning this: we can be mended. We can mend each other.” ~Veronica Roth (Allegiant).