This is for the lovely seastarved, who just needed Emma and Hook to talk.
cs fic: help me not to shake
She’s started in on her second cup of coffee and he still hasn’t walked through the front door of the diner.
The formica and chrome are dull on a rainy spring morning, and she’s feeling somewhat muted herself. He’s usually here by now to comment on the bitterness of Granny’s brew, to rest his elbows and hang his head over his mug.
“I had to take Henry’s videogame away from him twice last night,” she would tell him.
“Let the lad have his fun,” he’d say and absently flip through the pages of the newspaper with creased brows and a hum of feigned understanding.
She’d snort and look at the last dregs at the bottom of her cup, waiting to swallow them at the same moment he finishes his own. “You don’t even know what a videogame is.”
“I don’t need to know what a viniogame is to know that the boy needs space to be a boy,” he would intone with a raised eyebrow. He’d complete the scene with a staged swig of his drink, and she would sigh but it would be a sound of happiness not aggravation.
But he’s not here, and he didn’t join her yesterday, so she tries not to think too much about it as she signals Ruby for a third cup.
Her fingers are pruny, her toes are warm, and she finally feels pleasantly numb. It’s silent here, a stunning sort of quiet she hasn’t felt in weeks.
She’s managed to lock herself in the bathroom at the inn, and she wants to wash the curves and corners of her mind - the ones that won’t stop whispering and rattling. For now, she’ll have to settle for washing the curve of her calves and the corners at the bend in her knees.
He’s avoiding her.
She knows because he’s not there anymore. He’s just beyond her fingertips, and he won’t even look at her.
She’s lost again and he’s not there to join her in the wilderness.
“Would you talk to her?”
He seems stunned when he stares somewhere to the left of her nose. “What?”
“Your – to Milah. Would you talk to her if we had another candle?” She indicates to the stump of wax – burned at both ends – a carcass on the table in front of them.
It’s been a week now since he helped Ariel, and he has folded in on himself (and away from her). She doesn’t know what she’s done.
“Does it matter, Swan?” He sighs, and his voice is worn through, threads barely holding it together.
She twists the ring on her right hand, rubs under her nose, and pretends that it doesn’t dig deep and tender beneath her ribs. “No,” she shakes her head, “No it doesn’t matter.”
The space between them seems to multiply in the ensuing quiet. She follows the splotched pattern of wax on the cloth, picks at a place where it has melted into the linen, and wishes she wasn’t always so lost. A séance for a soul wandering – she wonders if this candle can summon whatever is in her that is constantly adrift and wrong.
“I wouldn’t,” his words are low, like the far-off spirits that rattled the house moments before – echoing and haunted.
“What?” she doesn’t look at him, because maybe all of this is a mirage – maybe they’re all ghosts (she certainly felt like a walking shadow this past week).
“I wouldn’t talk to Milah,” he breathes, and when he looks at her through furrowed brows, she sees the lost boy that knows the lost little girl in her.
She clasps her hands together to keep them from reaching out to touch his hand, his hook (which he had flinched as she held minutes earlier). “Why not?”
His turns his lips up, and it’s an expression she knows well – a smile of acknowledgement, the grimace of a painful truth.
“We’ve nothing to say to one another, not any more,” he confesses, and she thinks she feels hope again (maybe, somewhere). “And what would it change, talking to a lie?”
He stands from the chair with a clatter and scrape. She feels like she’s been talking to his ghost.
She’s washing Henry’s jeans, when she finds them in his pocket – two dice.
Cupping them in her palms, she throws them against the top of the dryer. They clang to seven. She scoops them up and tries again: seven. Seven again and again and again and she knows they are his.
She hasn’t spoken with Hook directly since the séance, has only addressed him by proxy through David or Regina at frantic meetings called in the loft or the diner after Zelena’s ruffled feathers (or knocked down another public structure).
But these pants were washed only a few days before and she wonders when Henry last saw the pirate, last spoke to him. She wonders what they talked about (if he asked about her), and if her son helps to ease the void in him that she is having trouble filling of late.
She knows that she’s asked the question because she can hear it ricochet off the walls of his room, but she doesn’t feel it slip past her lips.
“Cursed,” he bites out around wet swallows, and his blue eyes – which have been so vacant – are murky with contempt (for himself, always for himself).
“But how?” None of this is making sense to her. He steps back every time she draws forward, and this isn’t the way this was supposed to happen.
“Guilt,” he shoots her a wry smile that she wishes he would take back – she doesn’t want it. “Stupid, stupid, self-interest and guilt.”
Outside the window, she watches the wind twitch through branches because if she looks at him her body might finally give. “You’re not making any sense.”
“I swore on your name, Swan,” he chokes. “I ruined us. I corrupted the one pure thing I had left.”
Tousled hair, drawn features, pallid and thin and lifeless, he is as much a specter as Cora was only days ago. He is slipping from her; the one person that knew her is adrift and she did this.
“I’m sorry,” her voice splits down the center, jagged and splintered. “I am so sorry, Killian. I –“
“Emma,” he reaches for her, but draws back before his fingers can graze her own. “No, love, this is not your fault.”
She crosses her arms to keep herself in one piece. “She can have it.”
His eyes are on her again immediately, and she considers what else she could say that would shock him into seeing her again. “No. Emma,” his jaw is set fierce. “You will not.”
She closes her eyes and thinks of the way that the rain would hit the city sidewalks in fat drops when she and Henry would run out to the subway with The New York Times stretched above their heads and their boots would make sloppy splashes at the corners of the crosswalks where the runoff gathered.
“If she wants my magic and the price is my happiness? Let her have it.”
He jerks his head in a movement of tentative control. “A life without magic is not your happiness, Emma,” she winces at his rasp. “Without your magic we cannot defeat Zelena.”
“No,” she wishes she would stop shaking right the hell now, but not even her own body will listen to her. “Without the savior we cannot defeat her. I still intend to be there to finish this thing - magic or no.”
This is all deja vu and these past two weeks have been exhausting without him.
“I am goddamn tired of everything. Curses that take memories, curses that give memories, witches, villains, just -” she licks her lips, drops her arms. “I need you by my side in this fight. And if my magic is what’s keeping that from happening, Killian, none of this is going to work anyway.”
The shock in his eyes is bright. She watches as he brings his fingers to his lips. He is stunned and he is looking at her with such compassion and tenderness that she chokes back errant emotion.
He is so broken. She knows that she is too fractured and ill-repaired to fix him, but she can’t be the one to shatter him.
“We’ll figure this out, okay?”
He doesn’t move, so she reaches out (he’s finally close enough to touch) and rubs her thumb along his knuckles. Forward. Back.
“Okay?” She’s firm.
When he meets her eyes they are burning and glossy. “All right, Swan.”
“I thought,” he breathes into the darkness, “that I could replace you.”
She’s been replaced, she’s moved and readjusted her life to make the gaps in herself smaller and easier to ignore. She knows this pain.
He’s on his back on top of the awful mauve comforter, and she can just make out the slope of his nose in the inky blackness. It’s definitely her imagination, but she can see a faint, green glow rising off his lips.
She’s on her stomach, her head pillowed in her arms. “Did you?”
He drops his head to meet his eyes in the laziest move of sarcasm she’s ever seen him display. “What do you think, Swan?”
The throaty chuckle is all contentment, and it’s a strange moment where everything is okay, even though it is definitely not.
“Do you think we’ll ever get it? Happiness?”
He looks to the ceiling again in thought. “I’m not sure,” he sighs. “But I’m willing to fight for it if you are?”
She rubs her nose at the bend in her elbow and thinks of the way the sun reflects off the Atlantic when she and Henry and Killian sit on a bench and watch the ships sway and bob under the churn of the waves.
“Yeah. Yeah, I am.”