Summary: Emma needs to move, move, move.
a/n: I needed to write - I’ve been in such a rut, and my fingers were demanding it. Then, my beautiful sunflower bemusedbicycle left on her cross country roadtrip, and well…this happened.
cs fic: my heart unfolding my home
She thought she’d tamed this part of her, filled this particular void, when she’d claimed Storybrooke as hers, accepted home and all that encompasses (people, objects, earth).
It’s not an itch, so much as a rattle that keeps her tracing the lines of the ceiling, the corners where the room meets and parts; a vibration in her bones that is saying move move move, and drowning her on dry land.
“You all right there, Swan?” his murmuring question stumbles across the pillow. She doesn’t turn, and he’s still, too.
“What if I’m wrong?”
“No,” she shakes her head. It’s an acute, barbed fear she’s never voiced (words made flesh and all that). “What if I’m missing something? What if, after all of this - saving my family, finding Henry, finding a home - what if I’m just… broken?”
He seems to measure her words against his sleep-addled mind, a silence just this side of gnawing.
“I spent three centuries in Neverland,” she feels the shadow of his mouth and how it craves contact with the curve of her shoulder, “And I never once grew tired of the sea.”
When the softness of his mouth meets her skin she exhales, shaky and bowed with the weight of her small shard of emptiness.
“Come on, then,” breath and scrape and warmth, and he rolls from the bed in a languid motion, shuffling in tired movements across the floor.
“Where are you going?” his fingers skim the top of her dresser, and she’s sitting up now, watching the night bend about his back, the angles and lines of his neck and jaw.
There’s a metallic clatter to the right of her feet and it takes a moment for the action to register - car keys.
“I don’t know, love,” he steps into a pair of jeans left vacant on the floor, “where are we going?”
Just above the place where the Green Mountains crest and fracture the sky, the sun is burning the morning red.
It’s goddamn early, and she’s been driving nothing but winding roads all night. Killian fell asleep at least one state back, and he’s slumped in his wrinkled henley, chin to chest - deep, tidal draws of air in and out the only sound from his cramped side of the Volkswagen.
She hadn’t meant to get to this place - to the long stretches of pavement that roll and the crushing waves of endless sky - but the cadent thrum of tires is rocking gently the manic hum in her marrow. And with Killian to her right, hook and hand, she feels more potent that any supernatural force.
Whatever uncharted ocean she’s about to fall off the edge of is nothing compared to the way his whole being falls about her.
“Hey,” she whispers, grabs gently at his hook, thumb arching its curve. “Sunrise.”
He’s wearing the same jeans from the day before (the only pants he has with him), but the shirt is a worn heather gray tee with the outline of Ohio on it - a gas station find. And it shouldn’t be jarring how untroubled by his new attire (their lack of clothing, preparation) he is - pirate, trapped at sea for months on end - but his hair is soft and flipping over his forehead and he looks so young.
She palms a flat stone in her hand, studies its edges, and takes aim. Once, twice, three times, followed by a series of jolting hops, the rock ends its path across the top of the slateblue waters with a plunk.
“Impressive,” Killian laughs, takes a bite of the sandwich clutched in his grip.
This is lunch: the two of them cross-legged on the shore of Erie and the freedom of no map and no direction; sandwiches and quiet stories and passing barges.
“Liam and I used to do that,” he’s tracing the far horizon behind squinted eyes - she needs to get him sunglasses. “When we were lads,” he adds, and brings his sight to the vacant brace at the end of his arm.
She doesn’t know what to do with these moments, the weighty segments of time when he isn’t a pirate at all, but something unbearably human and equally lost. They are crystalline, objects that can crack (and she’s always been so careless).
“I had assumed you were lads,” she smiles, steals his sandwich and takes a sizeable bite. “Can’t imagine His Majesty’s Navy would sanction bouts of rock skipping,” she mouths around turkey and lettuce.
Too cavalier, maybe, but the way his entire being lights from within tells her that maybe she’s not a lost cause.
“Too right, lass.” He wipes mustard from the corner of her mouth.
They’d seen the dark clouds crawl in from the western counties as they’d traced their route back from the bakery, hurried walk, hand in hand; St. Louis cradled in a sky bleeding an eerie orange from beneath the slate gray.
Her fingers are sticky sweet as she contemplates Killian, back resting on the headboard, intently studying the fleeting movements of the lightening beyond their window. He’s stoic and beautiful in this half light.
She pulls her thumb between her teeth, looks at the piece of gooey butter cake in her hand she’d been pulling apart so studiously in the silent, thunderous moments before.
The cottoned calm of the late summer storm is making her head fuzzy, her crossed legs going numb at the knees on the hotel bed. And she’s peaceful.
Springs creak and groan as she rises, the last remnants of the confection dusting her lips in white sugar, and she presses forward to touch her mouth to his own in the echo of a tremendous rumble. The flutter of his eyelashes is loud against the dull hum of the air conditioning.
He’s warm and rich, his body stockstill at her insistent kisses, his breath a tempest, and she adores this; the give of his bottom lip, the tone of his exhale, the radiating fervency of his heart.
“I want to kiss you,” she confides against the place where his lips part.
His chuckle shakes like the earth, like the windows of their hotel, “Yes, I can see that, Swan.”
“No. You’re…” She pushes her fingers, coated and tacky, against his (pink) cheeks. “When I kissed you in Neverland, I wanted to kiss you.”
There are sirens in the distance, rain whipping against the glass, and all she can comprehend is the quirk of his brow. “And after that,” she swallows, counts the space between flash and thunder, “I told myself I didn’t.”
The kiss she sets then is aching and soothing all at once, and he groans at her slow urgency, the way her tongue and teeth and nose brush against him. “I was lying.”
He’s not cursed (not by Zelena’s hand), but she buzzes nonetheless, and his hand traces her jaw; an acquiescence, a benediction, lust and worship.
And when they rise from the starchy sheets and dress and kiss beneath the Gateway Arch the next day, it is because she pulls him against her and begs her apology be felt.
In San Antonio, the lanterns of the Riverwalk are fireflies against the starless night. They walk and walk and walk and her feet ache and her soul aches and her being is impossibly light.
The Bug breaks down just outside of Albuquerque.
She’s lingering, tense and tired, in the garage.
She watches him ruffle his hair through the glass of the waiting room - elbows on knees, shoulders slumped in the heat of the early evening - while the mechanic assesses the gasping hiss from under the hood.
Eventually the man stands and sighs, wiping his hands on a rag and shakes his head. (Common problem with the ‘71 Beetle. Air-cooled engine - gone. Clutch - nearly gone.) And it’s immediately obvious she is never going to drive this car again, and she nods and pretends she understands.
When she rejoins Killian, he looks up and his eyes are guarded, but he doesn’t say anything, just follows her out the door and onto the sidewalk. She sets off at a near run along the dusty Santa Rosa highway, but she can hear his measured steps at a close distance behind. He’s been so patient through all of this (across every state line, with every tick of the odometer), and a mile down the road as her pace slows and her breathing grows thick and loud with sun and trapped tears, his fingers moor in and around her own and she cries.
They’re standing on the side of Route 66 between a Family Dollar and a shitty Super 8 hotel and she is sobbing and its goddamn stupid because it’s just a car.
When he places his lips against her forehead, she can feel them move up and down and he’s murmuring to her over the din of passing trucks, “That’s it, Swan. It’ll hurt less tomorrow, and less the day after that.”
A semi honks suggestively at their embrace, and he doesn’t remove his hand from hers as he guides her down the desolate stretch of concrete and tar.
(They sink onto the top of the comforter at the shitty Super 8, and facing her, his hushed tones gild sails and rails and rigging about her cheeks, her nose. His mouth adorns her chin with the memories, the people he keeps of the piece of himself he lost.)
“Are you sure we’re headed in the right direction, love?”
They’ve been staring at nothing but dirt dusted brush and growth for the past hour, the rumble of the ancient pick-up steady beneath them.
“Mmhmm,” she hums, tapping fingers on the stick shift, wind and arid heat rushing through the truck cabin.
His feet are bare, pressed against the glass of the windshield, and it’s shockingly normal, the marks his toes leave smudged below eyelevel.
From his reclined position (white undershirt and dark jeans and chains and bare wrist all there, touching the New Mexico air) he cants his head, “And to where are we going?”
She pulls her sunglasses down her nose, an exaggerated movement – silly in a way she can only recently spare, “To magic.”
His teeth are white, his lips are pink, and together when they form that lopsided grin, they become something different altogether. “Magic, eh?”
“Just trust me.”
Killian gives a lazy nod, dipping his head down, “Always, Swan.”
When he turns his gaze out the window at the blur of tan and sage and orange, the back of his neck is red from the Southwest sun. And as she looks at the back of his head, the tumble of dark hair and angered skin, she knows she loves him.
Their tires kick up loose stone as she downshifts and slows to a stop at the end of an empty stretch of desert road. When she climbs out of her seat, he is already waiting for her, hand waiting and open, and she takes it against the heat of the afternoon, late and lazy.
“Come on,” she tugs, and he’s tripping after her, along a pathway to a small, bronze medallion.
But as she collapses to her back on the ground in an excited exhale, she tows him along, meeting her on the radiating surface of red granite.
Everything is blue and infinite above her, and to her side he is infinite, too. She clasps his hand and smiles a sunsoaked smile. “Tada,” she mouths around a whisper of sound – she can already feel the way the backs of her legs have melded to the stone.
He’s still staring deeply at the azure of the atmosphere, but he hasn’t moved from his place on this back beside her, sweat-beaded brow furrowed. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“We,” her thumb traces his knuckles and she buzzes with life, “are in four states – four lands – at once.”
His shoulder brushes hers in a laugh that echoes through him, “I thought you didn’t need magic, Swan.” His chide is gentle, but it’s the first they’ve touched the subject, really, since she opened that portal and pulled them home (their home).
“I don’t,” she tells the cloudless expanse above her. “But it’s kind of great, isn’t it?” she tells the man beside her.
There’s that crooked, boundless motion of his mouth again, and this time she touches it gently. “Aye,” he agrees, kisses her fingertips.
“I’m sorry,” she finally says after days and days getting further from home.
“What do you have to apologize for, Swan?” he grants her a quick glance, but his concentration is almost entirely focused on the tree tops throwing arabesqued shadows on their faces.
“This whole…thing.” She can’t define what this episode has been, but he doesn’t deserve whatever she’s burdened him with. He loves her and she loves him, but he can’t need this particular defect of hers.
“The trees?” he teases (the Redwoods had left him without words for several moments, and she’d pocketed each silent second to hold out and consider later), but he’s stopped, pulling her to face him with their entwined hands.
“Emma?” he implores; and he’s next to her in the car in his henley and he’s damp with the thunderstorm and he’s saved her again.
“My restlessness,” she can feel the scratch at her throat, “I don’t-”
She swallows, he waits. (He waits, he waits, he waits.)
“I don’t want you to think you’re not enough,” and she can feel how shiny her eyes have grown, how the brightness is spilling over. “It’s me, okay?”
And what if she can’t ever be happy.
“Emma,” rough palm and warm fingers at the place where her ear and jaw create a hollow, “You are more than I could ever need.”
He presses a kiss to the corner of her mouth, “You’re not empty, love. You’re boundless.”
The sun is dropping into the ocean, and he’s perched next to her on the rocky cliff.
“In Neverland,” his words seem to be soft and strong, withstanding the crashes and white foamed cacaphony of the Oregon shoreline, “in those three hundred years, Emma, there were mornings when I would wake and curse the sea for all that she had taken from me. There were times when I hated her, times when I feared her - as any good sailor should.”
His eyes (blue like the forget-me-nots, blue like the sky, blue unlike anything) meet hers, and her being stops. “But never did my soul have its fill of her.“
There’s a newfound quietude about her that seems to have enfolded him, too, and he leans into it now. Restless souls not so restless - if only for a breath.
She tilts her head. “You ready to head home?”