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The Long Road Home

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There’s not a day that’ll go by I won’t think of you.


-- Killian --

One word. One word is all she gave him, but it’s enough. It’ll have to be enough. Because there’s no time now. There’s never enough time. Her friends and family surround her. Then she’s disappearing into that bizarre yellow carriage of hers, and then even that disappears from his view in a wash of purple smoke. But he meant it, what he said to her. He hopes she meant it, too.

-- Emma --

One word. One word is all she could offer. Because there wasn’t enough time. There’s never enough time. And everyone else is around her, hugging her, and when the hell did she become a hugger? Anyway, it’s not the time for heart-to-heart confessions. She and Henry have to run. She always runs. At least she has her son with her this time. At least she’s not alone. But, Hook… he meant it, what he said to her. Her inner lie detector was absolutely silent. She meant it, too, her one word. And she hopes he can hear in that word what she didn’t say.  

Don’t forget me. Don’t give up. You have to remember for the both of us.

But most of all, Bring me home again.

-- Killian --

Will mermaids ever cease to be the bane of his existence? Bloody hell. The Crocodile and Pan are finally dead - rather considerate of the Croc to have taken himself and his accursed father out in one blow - and he would’ve thought all the tribulations he encountered from his centuries in Neverland were behind him. But no. Bloody mermaids. Can’t a man pay off a harlot in peace?

Still, if the lass is telling the truth about Blackbeard and his beloved Jolly Roger, all the sins of her piscine race shall be forgiven, at least as far as he’s concerned. From where he sits, or rather crouches, behind assorted cargo crates with this Ariel person and Smee, it would appear her information is accurate.

By the gods, it's been so long since he’s seen her, the first love of his life. Before Milah, before… that lass whose name he refuses to speak aloud, though it certainly echoes through his thoughts constantly. Before any fair maid had tempted him, there was her. The Jewel of the Realm. The Jolly Roger. His constant companion. His confidant. His home.

Even as he thinks the words, he feels a tug behind his breastbone, a fisherman’s hook (the irony is not lost on him) buried deep in his chest that pulls him in a very different direction from the gangplank before him. He ignores it. He forces the emptiness in his breast into the shape of a gracefully curving hull and towering sails, instead of the softer lines, painted in shades of red and gold and green, that have haunted him of late.

“You know you’re talking about a boat, right?”

Bloody mermaids. “You have your love and I have mine.”

And he does love her, his Jolly. He needs her. Needs to feel like himself again. He feels like he’s losing himself. Losing everything. He lost his revenge, the one thing keeping him alive over the centuries. The Croc now dead by his own hand. He’d lost his ship to Pan’s curse. He’d lost…

But now here the Jolly sits, ready to welcome him back with open yardarms. What is he without her? Without his identity as Captain Hook? He’s a pirate. He’s always been a pirate, just as he told the Prince those months back. He needs to get back to that, back to himself, back home to his beloved ship. It’s all he has left.

And Blackbeard is daft if he thinks he can stand in the way.

-- Emma --

He spilled his coffee on her. Ran smack-dab into her on the street, his latte splattered all over her bright red wool coat. It’s the most cliched of meet-cutes - actually, it reminds her of some story she heard a while back. Maybe an old friend met their fiancee that way? Whatever. But still… since her place in Boston burned down, she really does need new furniture for her new home, and the insurance money was surprisingly generous. He seems nice enough. Mostly harmless, anyway. So, when he gives her his business card and an apparently sincere offer to pay for her dry cleaning, she accepts it.

Walsh Ozman, Antiques and Fine Furniture.

But, here’s the thing… The wood puns may be too much for her to handle.

“Wizard of Oak. Really? Was ‘Shiver Me Timbers’ already taken?”

His smile at seeing her in his shop flickers for a moment, and she senses she’s said something wrong, but she can’t imagine what. Perhaps he’s the one who can’t handle it? His grin is right back in place before she can figure it out. He does, in fact, pay for her dry cleaning, and she buys an end table.

He calls her a few days later to ask if she’s satisfied with her purchase. She is, of course. Something about the scrollwork beneath the table top reminds her of ocean waves, and she finds it strangely calming. She’s caught herself more than once tracing her fingers across it absently as she reads a book on her couch. He asks her to dinner, and she says she’ll think about it.

She does. Think about it, that is. Henry is, first and foremost, the love her life. She thanks whatever deity is listening every day that she decided not to give him up all those years ago. Can’t imagine what kind of a person she’d be without her son. She’d probably be a lot more guarded, more jaded, without seeing every day all the light and hope in his sweet, brown eyes.

Still, it’s been just the two of them for years. She didn’t have time for anything resembling a love life when Henry was little, to say nothing of the lingering wounds Neal had left on her heart. Henry’s not a little kid anymore, though, and she’s in a really solid place in her life. Good apartment. Good job. Maybe a nice guy is the logical next step?

She can admit that she’s been lonely. Every once in a blue moon, when the loneliness got too much for her to bear, she’d been known to send Henry off to sleep over with a friend, while she ‘slept over’ with a stranger. Not that she ever spent the night.

It feels like ages since she’s even had that level of adult contact, though. She literally can’t remember the last time that someone made her feel, well, anything really. Not even base lust, and certainly not anything resembling an actual emotion.

Even as she thinks the words, something pricks at the back of her mind. It’s not a memory exactly. Or really, it’s more like a memory of a memory? Is that even a thing? Like a Xerox of a photograph. Faded, corrupted, colorless, but still there. Pieces of a dream, maybe. Has to be. Who the hell would wear black leather in a jungle in real life? As if she’s ever even seen a jungle.

Emma Swan is far too pragmatic to let herself get bogged down in fantasy. So yeah, after getting the official go-ahead from Henry, she agrees to go to dinner with Walsh. And he’s kind, and he likes Henry, and there’s something familiar and appealing about his dark eyebrows and messy hair.

So, she tells herself to hope that this, this is what’s been missing. This is the thing that’s finally going to make her feel like she’s found a home.

And she’s not about to let some stupid dream stand in her way.

-- Blackbeard --

By Neptune’s left testicle, look what the tide’s washed in! That bloody ponce has some gall to show his face in here. He knows full well this is the regular gaming establishment patronized by Blackbeard’s crew. Wonder how he feels seeing the Captain himself in residence this evening?

Perhaps he thought his old nemesis had been swept up in this latest curse, but even a scurvy git like Hook should know better. He’s not the only sailor on these waters with the sense to steer clear of an onslaught of purple smoke. If he only knew how easily Blackbeard could extract himself from any… unfortunate situation.

He’d have used a bean when Hook made him walk the plank if that little mermaid hadn’t saved him the trouble. He’s always got a handful on him at any given time, and when he runs low, he simply uses one to transport himself to the uncharted island where he grows the blasted things. Oh, everyone believed that all the beans had been destroyed when Prince James (the original, not his insipid twin) and his little strumpet Jack defeated the Giants of the Beanstalk. Certainly, Blackbeard’s taken great pains (and inflicted great pains - ha!) to ensure that is the only story being told.

In truth, the Prince had managed to steal a small cache of the beans before the last giant set the fields ablaze, then paid Blackbeard a ludicrous sum of gold to hide them from King George. Probably planning a patricidal coup or some such thing. Blackbeard swears the Prince would’ve made an excellent pirate, not that it matters anymore. The Prince went and got himself killed, and there was no other living soul to know Blackbeard still had possession of the beans.

So, he’d made a little investment of them. He’d located a tiny island not found on any map, gathered up a crew of… shall we say, 'indentured workers' to plow and plant for him, and now he’s got a field full of lovely little stalks growing as many beans as he could possibly need. Even used one to pay off a former fairy for a bit of cloaking magic, to ensure his plantation is never discovered.

Honestly, you’d think someone would’ve noticed by now. How he can be in Arendelle in the morning and the farthest reaches of the Maritime Kingdom by tea time. Bloody idiots, the whole lot. Heads firmly up their own arses.

Ha! Oh, but this is too delicious. Hook absolutely reeks of desperation, and apparently, one such bean is the object of his desire. No. Check that. It’s a woman. Captain-bloody-Hook has been bested by a woman!

This is rich. Simply glorious! He swears by all the gods, this is the best day of his life. He shall not take a single coin of Hook’s gold. No, no. The son of a codfish tried to kill him. His utter humiliation is a far better price. Blackbeard wants Hook’s ship - the very ship they dueled over before - and he’ll accept nothing less. Far be it for him to tell Hook he’s got hundreds of the damn beans at his disposal.

Let the fool trade away his pride. His ship. His home. And all for some damned wench! Ha!

-- Henry --

He knows. She hasn’t said anything, but he knows. Henry’s a pretty smart kid, after all. And it’s been just the two of them - he and his mom against the world - for too long for him not to notice.

Walsh really seems like a good guy. He’s got terrible taste in music and his store has, like, the lamest name ever, but Henry can tell the guy actually likes his mom. Like… like , likes her.

It just... Doesn’t seem like enough? He can’t explain it. His mom still seems like something is holding her back. Like her brain and heart aren’t talking to each other. She loves Walsh - says she does anyway - but Henry is grown up enough now to know there’s a difference between love and Capital-L Love .

Henry knows his mom loves him , though. Capital L truly loves him. No question. That doesn’t mean she isn’t still lonely. For, you know, the other kind of love. He worries about her. He’s the kid and she’s the parent - she likes to remind him of that when he’s acting ‘too grown up’ - but he still does.  And she’s definitely, totally, lonely.

He just… he wishes they could find that missing piece, you know? So, he asks her to go with him to his usual thinking spot. That big fountain right beside the library. The books kind of help him focus, and the water… well, that’s what fountains are for. Wishing.

He feels - he’s always felt - like there’s something about this place. Something special. Magical.  That’s stupid, he guesses, but he can’t think of a better word for it. So, he tosses his coin and makes a wish.

He knows his mom thinks he’s upset about something from school, and he should tell her he’s worried about her. He should. But there’s something holding him back, too. Something he can’t quite remember. He doesn’t know how to tell her what he thinks is missing because he really doesn’t know. There’s just this empty space, you know?

So, he tosses a coin and he wishes - more than he’s ever wished for anything - for their little family to be complete. He isn’t even sure what he means by that. He just feels like they’re waiting for something. That something is out there waiting for them. An adventure, a future, a home.

-- Emma --

What. The hell. Just happened. Emma blinks once, twice, and again, licking her lips before she can think better of it. She can’t really think of anything. Her brain feels like a cat in a YouTube video frantically scrambling on a freshly waxed floor, but never actually getting anywhere.

“Mom? Who was that?”

“No idea. Someone must’ve left the door open downstairs.”

Because no. She had no idea who he was. Just some crazy person. He had to be, but she…

Sh- she…

She froze . Emma Swan absolutely vapor locked. It was weird enough that she opened the door without looking out the peephole first - especially since the way he’d pounded on the door already had her on high alert, but even so. A strange guy dressed like a freaking pirate is standing in her hallway sighing her name as if she’s an oasis in the desert and she just, what? Stands there with her mouth hanging open, squinting at him, listening to his voice, trying to place him.

Why would she do that? Why not just slam her door in the face of the weirdo in his elaborate costume? Nope. She asked him if she knew him. As if she’d forget that face. Or that outfit.

What the hell is wrong with her? Why did he seem so familiar?

And, and, and -

God, he telegraphed that kiss. Like, every nerve ending in her body could sense it coming from the way he was looking at her alone, not to mention the awkward full body twitch before he leaned in. Even if she wasn’t a pro at reading body language, the guy practically had a neon sign over his head that said, ‘I’m about to reach for you.’

And she stood there. And let him. She didn’t step back. She didn’t grab his wrist and twist it behind him and shove his pretty face into the wall and shout for Henry to bring her handcuffs.

She stood there and closed her eyes and… time stopped. She was in a jungle, the one from her dream. Everything smelled leafy and sweaty and a mosquito was biting the back of her neck, but she didn’t give a single fuck because his lips were touching hers, and it felt like - it felt like…

Funny thing about time stopping. When it starts back up again, it zooms ahead even faster to catch up to where it should have been. It also makes a noise that sounds very much like your own voice screaming in your ear, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”

The kick to his balls was a (literal) knee-jerk reaction. But even then - even then - she still stood there talking to him. A random stranger kisses her on the mouth and she gives him the chance to explain himself. Like he’d tell her the truth.

He was telling her the truth.

Just because he believes it, that doesn’t make it true.

Oh, sure, she threatened to call the cops and finally managed to remember that her door does, in fact, close. But god, the whole interaction…

There shouldn’t have been a whole interaction. Who even is she today?

Maybe she’s overly tired. She’s been working a lot of late nights recently. Maybe tonight she’ll take a sleeping pill so she’ll get a good night’s rest. No...unwanted dreams. Unwanted in the sense that she doesn’t want confirmation of exactly where she’s seen his face before.

Maybe her blood sugar is out of whack and she just needs some pancakes and hot cocoa.

“Come on. Let’s eat.”

-- Henry --

What. Was. That. Let’s eat? That’s all she’s gonna say? Henry’s twelve, he’s not deaf and blind. Fine. If that’s how she wants to be, Henry can play it cool, too.   And he’ll do it better than her, without all the out-of-breath huffing. He can keep a secret after all. He hasn’t told her that Walsh is about to propose, even though it’s been a week since he asked for Henry’s blessing. So, fine. He won’t talk to her about this either.

But like… really? He knows what he heard. There was some guy at the door - he definitely heard a guy’s voice - and that guy was talking about  Cs mom having a family and that her family was in trouble and, well… Henry’s also about 99% sure his mom punched the guy or something. But then she kept talking to him? What even is that?

It was kind of like she knew the guy, but she didn’t at the same time, if that makes any sense. She never opens the door for people she doesn’t know or isn’t expecting. She says it's because of all the skips she’s put in jail. Never know when one might try to come after her. Or him. She’s really protective of him. She wouldn’t even let Walsh come over until they’d been dating for months .

Really, his mom is being super weird, even now that the guy is gone. She never acts like this. Her face is flushed, she keeps licking her lips and it’s not because of the pancake syrup. She hasn’t even touched her food which is also very un-momlike behavior. She loves food. About the only time Henry ever sees her this way is when she’s really close to solving a big case, like right on the edge of figuring it out.

Maybe that’s all this is. Maybe that guy is part of some big case she’s trying to crack.

Or… maybe she’s just being weird because she’s got a date with Walsh at some fancy restaurant tonight and she’s figured out what he’s going to do. That’s probably it. He really wants his mom to be happy, and if marrying Walsh will do that, then he’s cool with it. But, he’s not sure. It could be Walsh is the missing piece for their family like Henry had wished, but it doesn’t seem to fit somehow. He’s not sure why.

Speaking of that wish, Henry can’t stop thinking about what the strange guy yelled right before his mom slammed the door. “You have to remember, ” he’d said. Like it was the most important thing ever.

Family. They have to remember. It’s all so… Henry’s not sure, but it sends a shiver down his spine. It was seriously just a couple of days ago that he’d made that wish. That their family would be complete. Because it felt like there was something out there that he couldn’t quite remember. It’s spooky and way too much of a coincidence to let slide.

So, maybe magic isn’t so stupid after all? Maybe some strange guy showing up is somehow connected to his wish? And his mom just slammed the door in the guy’s face!

-- Killian --

That went… about as poorly as he should have expected. Nothing is ever easy with that lass. Crumpled on the floor outside her door, Killian isn’t sure which hurts more, his manhood or his heart. She did a rather stunning job of crushing both.

He’s a bloody idiot. He should have known, should have realized that she didn’t… that she wasn’t…

Gods above and below, he actually attempted to give her True Love’s Kiss. They’d only ever shared one kiss of any kind. One soul-shattering, life-altering kiss, to be sure but…

A one-time thing. Don’t follow me.

It was just a kiss. How is that your darkest secret?

He should have known, but he had hoped. He’d hoped in a way that he didn’t think he would ever be capable of doing again. She’s given him that, and even as he sloshes through a mire of self-loathing disappointment, he’s grateful to her.

I never thought I’d be capable of letting go of my first love, of my Milah… that is, until I met you.

She is his new dream, his beacon guiding him out of the storm into a fair harbor. It matters not that she doesn’t return his feelings. He came here to save her, not to make love to her. He will find a way. He will bring her back to the people who love her. All the people who love her. He shall bring her home and she’ll save the day once more, not because she’s ‘The Savior’, but because she’s Emma-bloody-Swan and he’s yet to see her fail.

He must not give up. He must encourage her to remember who she is, her true self, not whomever Regina’s blasted false memories have conjured her into thinking she is. Emma is a smart woman, practical, but with a keen intuition. He’ll need hard evidence to get her to listen to him. Once she does, he hopes (there’s that word again) that her innate ability for detecting lies will convince her he’s speaking the truth.

But what evidence can he possibly offer? He racks his brain as he drags his sorry carcass off the floor and stumbles down the hallway. Gods, but this is a strange land. All these people living in what amounts to nothing more than little crates all stacked on top of each other into towering monstrosities. He’s seen tenement buildings in his travels, of course, but nothing like…

Wait. He’s seen exactly this kind of tenement before. It was here, in this very land. Baelfire’s - that is to say, Neal’s - place. He found it once. Perhaps he can locate it again? He’s grasping at straws, he knows, but this may very well be his only chance. The only place he can find something to make Emma believe again.

And when she believes, when she remembers… No. He tries once more to snuff out the tiny spark inside him that should have been fully doused when her knee connected with his groin, and yet it persists.

When I win your heart, Emma, and I will win it, it will not be because of any trickery. It will be because you want me.

There’s not a day that’ll go by I won’t think of you.


Perhaps she did want him. Perhaps she does… No. No, no, no. No. At the very least, he cannot waste time thinking on it now.

For now, he must focus on the task of getting her to believe. To remember. Once she does, he will bring her home.

Whatever happens after that, well… That’s up to her. As for him, he’s made his decision. Even before he made the deal with Blackbeard. Home is where the heart is, after all, and his heart is with Emma Swan.