a place among the stars [captain swan interstellar au]
I. The dust has been constant since Elsa was born, eight years ago. Emma’s grown used to brushing it off the table, feeling it grit between her teeth, combing it from her daughter’s fine blonde hair, keeping masks and goggles in the truck that crunches it in its transmission, to touching Killian’s face when he comes home at night, to rub away the shell and find her husband beneath. She’s long since worn through anything that’s not denim and leather, iron and steel: hardness, armor, what little can survive in the aftermath. Elsa still doesn’t understand, she knows. Liam does a bit better, but then again, he’s older, her blue-eyed boy trying to be a man at ten. He’s the one who works in the fields; does most of the picking, since Killian lost his hand. How their lives here are tenuous, fragile as quicksilver, a flash like a leaping fish. How she and Killian lie awake at night, the dust sweated out in streaks on the sheets, and fear that their children will never grow up.
It used to be different. Then again, it all was. Killian was a crackerjack pilot in the Air Force, back when there was one. Refused to drop the nukes on civilians in the last days of the war, and had already turned against the American military machine, an empire in its death throes, when his brother Liam was killed. That’s why they’ve fled up here, to the wilds of Montana, where the long arm of the law is unlikely to look for them. She used to be a sheriff too, whatever little of it you could do in small-town Maine. But now that the coast is gone, now that Storybrooke is underwater as the glaciers keep melting, that doesn’t do her a whole lot of good.
She thinks she might like to kiss Killian just once without it tasting like dust, but she’s none so sure she remembers what it would even be like.