“As far as he’s concerned, I haven’t seen Neal since he left me in jail, so anything I tell him about his dad being a hero sounds like I’m making it up to get him to feel better.”
Killian felt a red-hot wave of anger rush through him at Emma’s casual statement, identical to the one he felt the night they returned to Storybrooke, when Emma had told him what had happened between her and Baelfire.
“Wait- Neal, is he here?” she had asked, and her parents had shaken their heads no.
“So he might have been taken too.”
“He’ll turn up soon, Swan, he always does,” and she doesn’t miss the slightly reproachful tone that accompanies his statement.
Her parents had supplied hopeful statements as well, saying he could be camping outside of town, or how he may not have been swept up in the curse at all, and he pointedly looked anywhere but Emma to avoid seeing what he assumed would be a look of distress at Baelfire’s absence.
He’d pulled her aside after her parents had left, and wordlessly offered her his flask, which she took. They sat, side by side, on the couch in Granny’s sitting room, and he decided to try again.
“Are you alright, love?” he’d asked gently. In the last few days, her life had been turned upside down once again, and seeing her mother must have been a shock (it certainly had been for him).
“I’m fine, Hook,” she had said, curtly and quietly, in a way that implied she didn’t want to talk, at all, but he read her and pushed on.
“Swan, I’m sure we’ll find Baelfire. Just because he hasn’t been found yet doesn’t mean he isn’t here.”
He felt Emma stiffen beside him, and wondered if he’d said the wrong thing- maybe she wished for him to leave? She had decided on Baelfire and didn’t want him around, but hadn’t found the time to tell him?
“Why does everyone think I want to get back with Neal?” she asked, almost angrily.
“Well, I just assumed- Henry- I mean-“ he stammered out, admittedly taken aback.
“The only reason I am interested in finding Neal is for Henry. He deserves to see his father, even if he doesn’t remember him.” She pauses, and takes another drink, seemingly thinking about what to say next.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust Neal again, that way, after everything that happened between us,” she said softly.
He was flabbergasted. He never imagined that she would discuss this with him, certainly not tonight, if ever. He pushed his luck.
“What happened between you, Swan?” he murmurs, quietly. He aches to touch her- pull her into his arms, even simply take her hand, but he’s afraid it will shatter the moment, and he wants to know what happened to Emma Swan to make her so guarded. So he sits, looking at her as she sits next to him, staring forward at the dying fire, and she begins to speak.
“I was 17, and I had just run away from foster care. I was living on the streets, stealing food, bouncing around. You know my Bug?” she asks, and he has no idea what she means. He’s about to ask, when she turns to him. “Sorry- my car.” He nods, relieved she understood, and she continued.
“I saw it, and I decided to steal it. I’m not sure what I would have done with it honestly, but I broke in, and I started to drive away, when someone pops up in the backseat.”
“Baelfire?” he asks, and she nods.
“I thought it was his car, until the cops pulled me over after I ran through a stop sign, and he lied, and said he was teaching me to drive.”
“He’d stolen the car first,” Killian breathes out, stunned at the intricacies of the universe. Emma simply nods, gives him a look that seems to say, “I know, right?” and takes another drink.
“We started running scams, and for the first time I really felt like I had someone who cared about me, you know? Like I had someone who chose me. We started planning out where we were going to go, to start over,” he notices her reach up and grab the pendant hanging around her neck. “We were in love,” she says, with an almost sarcastic air, and she sounds so bitter that it makes him hurt, for her now, and for that young girl.
“One day he said that he had stolen these watches, and that the cops had caught up to him, that he had to go somewhere they couldn’t find him, and that I couldn’t come because he didn’t want me to get dragged down with him. But I came up with a plan where I’d get the watches from where he’d hidden them, and we’d sell them and run together.
“So I got the watches, and when I got to where we were going to meet, Neal never showed. Instead, I was arrested and sentenced to eleven months in a low security facility…when I found out I was pregnant.
“It wasn’t until recently that I found out that Neal abandoned me because Pinocchio told him to,” she spits out, and he notices her eyes are full of angry tears. “August said that he knew Neal was Rumplestiltskin’s son, and that was it- Neal just left. It turns out he didn’t choose me, after all,” she finishes sadly, and Killian realizes his fist is curled tightly, his jaw clenched.
White hot rage spikes through him- Baelfire may have looked young, but he was almost 200 years old- and to have taken advantage of a young girl the way he had, and then abandoned her, sent her to jail for his crime, was despicable.
“I looked for him, after I got out of prison, for a little while. I don’t know what I was going to do when I found him,” she pauses and lets out a small laugh, “I still don’t know what I would have done.”
He reached over and put his hand on her wrist; he couldn’t stop himself any longer.
“Emma-“ he starts, but what before he can decide what to say next, because he’s still reeling from how much she’s just shared with him, she puts her hand over his and squeezes gently.
“Thank you, Killian,” she says, turning to look at him with a small smile. She shakes her head and blinks several times, and stands. After handing his flask back to him, she asks, “See you tomorrow?”
She sounds almost tentative, and now knowing what’s caused her walls to be so high, for her to not trust easily and for her to expect everyone to let her down, he feels another flash of anger towards Baelfire.
“Aye, Swan. I’ll see you tomorrow,” and the relieved look that briefly crosses her face makes the entire past year worth it.
“Goodnight, Killian,” she had said, just before she went up the stairs, and his heart soared at her use of his given name, twice in one night.
“Goodnight,” he murmured, although he had stayed up many more hours ruminating about what Emma had told him, before falling into a rum-and-exhaustion-induced sleep.
He thought he would have time, to speak with Bae about what had happened between he and Emma, but now they were here, at his wake, and the time for talking had run out, had come and gone. He’s glad that he and Bae at least began to make amends, grateful for their last conversation, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling angry at what Emma had experienced.
Again, he longs to take Emma into his arms, but he knows that this will only make her run faster, so he does the next thing he thinks of to prove to her he isn’t going anywhere. The words he and Bae exchanged on their return from Neverland rattle around in his brain (I’m in this for the long haul. You’ve already walked out on Emma once. Not so sure she’ll let you back in. Are you?) and he feels their weight. She hadn’t chosen Bae, and he had been, in fact, correct, but he didn’t take any pleasure in that. A son had lost his father, and he had lost a friend.
“Perhaps I can talk to him,” he offers.
“About what, leather conditioner and eyeliner?” Emma retorts sarcastically, and he tries to ignore her barb, reminding himself that she lost someone too.
“I knew Bae as a boy. Perhaps Henry’d like to hear what his father was like when he was his age.”
She looks at him as though she’s seeing him in a new light, and asks incredulously, “You’d really do that?”
“Aye. Could help the boy make peace with his father’s passing. And me.”
Emma softens, and he wonders what she’s thinking. Then she shocks him again.
“Be careful. Zelena’s still out there.”
“I assure you, nothing will happen to the boy while he’s in my charge.” And he means it- Milah’s grandson, Emma and Baelfire’s son- he would do anything to protect the boy.
Emma searches his face before turning and leading him over to where Henry sits with his grandparents.
“Henry, you remember Killian?” Emma says, and Henry looks up at him and in that moment he sees Baelfire looking back at him, however briefly.