A Touch of Grace (1/1)
Characters: Killian, Belle, Emma
Rating: A for rumbelle angst, F for brotp feels and a dash of CS fluff.
For carmi-believes-in-love who’s a wonderful person and so fun to fangirl with. She requested some Captain Librarian BROTP conversation and development set sometime in early 4B and this is what I came up with but I had to put just a dash of CS in as always. As always all grammar and spelling mistakes are my own.
Killian walked briskly down the street from the Sheriff’s station. Emma was busy filling out paper work in triplicate, groaning with a sore wrist at how she needed a digital system in her budget. He’d smiled at her and kissed her temple before politely excusing himself for he had some business to attend to. His eyes were trained firmly on the road ahead, and the clock tower up above the building tops. He’d waited to do this until the opportune moment. He may have had one serious relationship aside from Emma in his lifetime but he certainly knew when a person, particularly a woman needed her space. He’d had half a mind to just seek her out after Emma had returned his heart to his chest but one look at the despondent woman walking down the street, dagger clutched in her hand and tears streaming down her face he knew it was best to not serve as a further memory of just how low her beloved had fell from what small modicum of grace he’d earned in defeating Pan. He shared in her pain. Known the loss of love as acutely as she did, yet her love lived in exile. A time like this was no time at all to further pain the woman anymore so he hung back, let her be and come to terms with it all on her own.
He may be a patient man but the guilt that weighed on his shoulders was almost too much. Worse than when he’d betrayed the mermaid. So he’d waited all of two days before the waiting felt unbearable. And it wasn’t just because he felt guilty for willfully helping the crocodile keep her unaware, but that she’d done something he’d never fathomed she’d do for him. She’d saved his life. She’d swung in and done the heroic thing and he needed her to know just how much he appreciated it. He had to get what he was feeling off his chest. He stepped into the library seeing her stacking books in a near by corner.
“Belle?” He announced, not wanting to startle her. Truth be told everyone had been walking around eggshells her and rightly so. She’d just lost the one person she thought loved her so much that he’d turned away from his own selfish desires. Instead she’d been rather abruptly shown just how much she wasn’t enough for Gold. Seeing her, a person so kind and forgiving, so broken up over the imp made his hatred of the crocodile all the more acute.
Belle turned and grimaced at his presence. Under any other circumstances he would have felt cross, but he understood. She didn’t want to see him. She didn’t really want to see anyone. He could see the tissues tucked into her watch around her wrist, her fingers noticeably bare and her eyes still red-rimmed and puffy from too much crying. “Hook.” He stood there a moment letting the silence drag. She shifted on her feet. “Is there something wrong? Does Emma need something?” she asked.
His face softened a bit at her questioning. Of course she would think he’s on official business when this was entirely personal. “No, nothing wrong at all.”
“Oh, well good, then you’ll excuse me I have quite a bit of tidying up to do. Some of the Lost Boys ransacked my carefully constructed organizational system during the curse. “
“In my experience it doesn’t take a curse to bring out the worst in those boys,” he remarked. “Even still, would you like some help?” he asked as he took half the stack of books from her hands.
Belle stopped with the book she was placing back on the shelf and turned her gaze upon him as he settled the large books under his arm. “You’re serious? Since when would you want to help me?”
He shuffled towards her and looked at his feet a moment, flashing a short grin. “Well it’s the least I can do to thank the woman who saved my life.”
She set down her last three books on the cart with a clang, and leveled a steely but broken gaze on him. “If you’re here out of some misplaced sense of honor or need to assuage your guilt I’m not here for that and I certainly don’t have time for it least of all from you.”
“Belle,” he started and she rounded a stack to avoid him, the tissues at her wrist falling limply to the ground. He wasn’t having any of it so he followed after her. “Belle. Stop. Wait,” He called out jogging ahead of her and stopping her in her tracks. “You’re right I do feel guilty. I should have told you the moment I suspected that the dagger he gave you wasn’t real. I was selfish and I wanted to use the information for my own gains and I’m sorry I was as a result and unwitting accomplice to his scheme. I tried to stop it Belle. And I should have when I had the chance early on. For that I am sorry. I didn’t think you’d exactly believe me either.”
“Why?” she asked, truly curious.
“Given our history, could you blame me for being hesitant?” He offered, trying to make her understand that he knew that she didn’t exactly count him as entirely trust worthy.
She glared up at him, suddenly, rage bubbling to the surface. “I’m just so angry.”
He took a step back. He knew better than to be within slapping distance when a woman was cross with him. “I know and you have every right to be. Again if I could go back I would change it I would tell you.”
She reached out then and grabbed his hook, stopping his retreat. “I’m not angry at you, Killian,” she said slowly, annunciating the words clear as day but they befuddled him. How could she not be riotously cross with him? He’d helped her husband manipulate her even though his intent had been to exact what small amount of revenge he could on the man, Belle had become collateral damage in his quest, again.
“You’re not?” Color him surprised. Then again she had forgiven Gold of far greater slights.
Her face softened and she smiled gently. “I appreciate you trying to make amends and apologize for not telling me. But I had my doubts, my suspicions and hearing them from you wouldn’t have made me fight any less harder against the seed of doubt. I’m mad at myself for not seeing it sooner. For pushing aside the lie he clearly told the day Elsa, you and Emma came into the shop.”
“The lie? About Anna?” Killian asked, surmising correctly that Belle had begun to suspect her husband’s folly the same day that he began to blackmail him. If only they’d spoken in private. Had shared their mutual suspicion Gold might have been cast out of the town all the sooner and maybe he wouldn’t have had to endure being his puppet and harming all those people in the process.
Belle nodded. “A long time ago, after my mother died I journeyed to Arendelle and met Anna. She had a cylindrical box tucked away in her knapsack and she told me she’d stolen it from a dark and powerful wizard from my land, the Enchanted Forest. She didn’t tell me his name but when I got home I did research on this wizard because my family was losing the war against the Ogres. My family’s village and kingdom was going to be destroyed unless I did something. I told my father of the wizard and he told me his name.”
“Rumplestiltskin,” Killian uttered immediately regretting it based on the fresh tears that gleamed in the woman’s eyes and the wince that shuddered through her shoulders.
“So I knew that he knew Anna. And I knew Anna too but I let his lie cover my own. I lost myself because I was so wrapped up in being the perfect wife. I thought that if I was good enough that I would be enough.”
He took a step back and he looked at Belle’s face. For a moment he was taken back to a time long ago where the words she uttered weren’t hers. So long ago that he could barely even remember her voice as she’d said them, broken and bitter, drowning her sorrows in alcohol and dice. A brazen woman in a tavern. The broken and emotionally wrecked woman he’d fallen in love with centuries ago. “I’ve heard those words before,” he said when Belle’s face turned puzzled at his expression. “From someone long ago.”
Belle’s eyes widened and she looked down at her hands and then back at Killian. “It would seem I understand a woman I never met more than I thought possible,” she said sitting down on a nearby chair. “Did he really kill her?”
Killian nodded darkly. It was a time in his life he would never forget but one he did much to never recall.
A silence encompassed them as the dark truth hung overhead and settled into their bones. Belle had rejected him just as Milah had centuries before. There would be a considerable target on her back if he couldn’t convince or magically coerce her back into his arms. She knew that now and a shudder of fear licked down her spine. And even just two months before she’d thought him incapable of ever hurting her because she was his true love. How wrong she’d been! How naïve! How callow she was to think that true love could be so powerful as to coax the Dark One to give up his quest for power for her, for them.
Killian leaned against one of the stacks as she sat at one of the tables, staring at her now bare left hand. It broke her to see the ring there gone. The vows they’d made to one another really did mean nothing. The man she loved died the day he sacrificed himself to save the town from Pan. He had not returned with the beast Neal had sacrificed his life to reanimate.
A few minutes into the silence Belle broke it with near hysterical laughter. Killian looked at her like she’d just lost her mind. Had she suffered a psychotic break? He raised an eyebrow at her wondering exactly where this was going. Her laughter soon shattered into a fresh round of sobs. “I’m sorry,” she cried.
He moved towards the far end of the table, grabbing the box of tissues and handed them to her. She smiled softly through tears. “Don’t apologize, Belle. We both know the monster we were dealing with.”
She nods, balling up the tissue. “You must think I’m insane. Laughing and crying fits. I’m beginning to think twenty-eight years in a padded room wasn’t nearly long enough.”
“You’re grieving. It makes mad fools of us all even in the best of times,” he comforted. It was a small comfort at best but she appreciated it all the same.
“It’s just. I’m struck by how wrong I was. Do you remember the night I snuck onto your ship?”
“Aye, I’m pretty sure my forehead does as well,” he joked, reminding her of her harrowing escape.
“Do you remember what I said? That your heart was rotten and his was true. How more backwards could I have been? I’ve seen your heart, though it is a bit battered and bruised it’s more pure than his ever was. To ever think that he was good, true or capable of loving anyone.”
Killian took his flask out of his back pocket, sitting down and flicking his feet up onto the table much to the librarian’s dismay across from him. He shrugged and took a swig from his flask and offered it to her. “You need a drink.”
She took the flask from him and tipped it back, making a face as the rum burned down her throat. She shook her head and exhaled loudly. “How on earth do you drink that all the time?”
He chuckled, as she took another swig. “It does have an acquired taste to it.”
“I’ll say,” she said letting out another breath before handing back the flask to the pirate. She stood then, smoothing her dress and went back to work, Killian following lock step behind her, aiding where he could.
This same arrangement continued on for a solid three days before Emma noticed. She walked with him, arm secured around his waist, his arm around her shoulders as they walked from getting coffee at the only early morning coffee shop in Storybrooke after an all night stake out to find the new hide out Rumplestiltskin and his dark and twisted version of Charlie’s Angels were holed up in plotting whatever terrible idea they had to exact on the heroes that resided within the town. They happened upon Belle opening up the library for the morning.
She turned greeting them both with a genuine smile. “Killian, are you still available to come help index the non-fiction section? I’d really like to get started on that today.”
Emma looked at him with a curious glance. She wasn’t one to really question what he did in the time they did not spend in each other’s company, but helping his mortal enemy’s estranged second wife pick up the pieces and throw herself into her passion for books was certainly not one of them.
Killian glanced at Emma, uncertain he was ready to discuss the matter in front of her. He hadn’t exactly been forthright with how he’d been spending his mornings. They usually got started around nine after Emma got settled at the station strategizing and planning looking for any way to defeat the darkness that was coming. They’d break for lunch and he’d pick up Granny’s and join her at the station and nary a word was uttered to how he’d spent his mornings knee deep in Belle’s convoluted organizational system. It’s like the woman had never heard of the Dewey Decimal system in her life. Turning his eyes back to the expectant woman in front of them he grinned. “Aye, I’m just walking Emma to the station, and I’ll be right over. Any particular section you’d like me to get started with?”
“Naval history precisely. I figured it would be right up your alley,” she grinned as she finished unlocking the door.
The couple bid her farewell for the morning and continued on their walk down main street to the station. “I didn’t know you were helping her,” Emma said tugging on his lapel.
He met her eyes for a moment. “I owe her a great deal, it’s the very least I could do.”
“Organizing books for hours on end? I mean buy the woman a gift card or send her ‘Thank you for saving my sorry ass flowers’…” Emma offered, her face full of jest.
He cut his eyes over at her, seeing the smile playing on her lips as she sipped at her takeaway coffee cup. “I don’t think her father’s floral shop quite carries that arrangement. Perhaps I shall suggest it?”
Emma rolled her eyes, scoffing as she nodded, walking them up the walkway to the station entrance. “Mmhmm, you should right along with the ‘I’m sorry I almost died on you just like I promised I wouldn’t’ bouquet of roses,” she added, earning a chortle from her boyfriend.
He squeezed her shoulders in tighter, tucking her small frame into his side. “You’re never going to let me live that one down are you, Swan?”
“Not any time soon, no. I’m just glad you’re here that I can remind you so often,” she retorted as she separated from him to set her coffee down and remove her gloves. He tilted his head at her and leaned against the doorframe to her office. She leaned forward, grabbing his jacket and pulled him flush against her, leaning up on her toes to kiss him. Both of them tasting of coffee and a sleepless night cramped in her father’s truck trying to catch a glimpse of Cruella’s Rolls Royce or Gold’s Cadillac yet no dice.
Killian wrapped his arms around her, letting the moment drag on for a bit with their foreheads pressed and bodies swayed side-to-side until Emma pushed back taking a breath and distancing herself. He smirked a bit, knowing the feeling all too acutely. It was hard to pull away from her. Especially after almost losing her forever. The little moments were never enough, though in summation they were more than he ever deserved. “Okay, work time. You go have fun with Belle,” she said waving a hand at him before continuing, “and I will be here trying to figure out exactly what Gold’s play is.”
“Isn’t it obvious, love?” He remarked drawing Emma’s gaze to meet his. “Belle. His plan from day one was always to have her and the power. That’s the happy ending he believes he deserves.”
Emma nodded in turn. “That’s definitely not happening if Belle has anything to say about it.”
“Last woman who told him to bugger off – he crushed her heart, so there’s that,” he added.
Emma’s face sobered a bit more and she grabbed his wrist as he moved to leave, anchoring him just for a few moments longer. “Just be careful, okay?”
He smiled softly, closing the distance between them, kissing her forehead. “Wouldn’t dream of anything less, love. See you at lunch,” he answered before leaving the station.
He made his way back to the library, finishing his coffee and tossing it in the trash just behind the circulation desk. “Belle?” he called out.
“Back here!” she hollered buried beneath stacks of Naval war histories from around this world. He looked at the impressive stacks and his fingers itched to thumb through the pages. He almost started to when she stood up and swatted his brace. “No reading! You’re here to work. Once it’s all organized you can check out as many as you like.”
“Say no more,” he answered, getting to work. They worked in amiable silence for a time but soon the casual conversation broke through as he found a title particularly interesting, regaling her of a tale of adventure he’d had as a young lieutenant.
A lull in their conversation prompted Belle to mention what she’d wanted to for most of the morning. “I’m surprised you hadn’t told Emma that you’ve been helping here.”
He shrugged in reply. “Not much to tell. Just making use of myself where I can.”
Belle looked at him with a sideways glance. She’d noticed how often he deflected any sort of opportunity for praise. He may had all the swagger and confidence of a successful pirate captain but underneath he was just about as humble and self deprecating as he was outwardly the opposite. “You don’t have to do that you know,” she remarked. He shot her a questioning glance and she rolled her eyes. “That deflection thing you do. You’re so convinced that no one could actually like the real you so you’ve concocted this persona for yourself to shield people from seeing the real man underneath.”
“Why Lady Belle, I didn’t think you thought so highly of dashing man such as meself?” he shot back, grinning from ear to ear. He didn’t like to admit it, but the woman was right. He often didn’t like his deeds being praised because he didn’t feel they should be. Always stuck in the notion of being the selfish, ruthless pirate and not the hero that Emma so ardently argued that he was. But oh he wanted to believe her.
She smacked his shoulder. “See, that. That is your mask.”
His once snarky grin faded as he took in the rather perceptive librarian. Very few people had ever seen behind the mask. One of which was busying herself at the Sheriff’s station, the other, dead for centuries yet neither were no less loved by him enough for him to let them see the man of honor, the good and decent man behind the swagger and charm.
Belle smiled and handed him three volumes on the Battle of Midway. “You should know you’re entirely transparent. Especially around Emma.”
“Duly noted,” he said adjusting the volumes in his arms as he took them to the appropriate shelf. He didn’t quite understand it but he realized that Belle’s perception of the many facets of those around her was the exact reason she’d fallen in love with the crocodile all those many years ago. He’d thought it nigh impossible for them ever to reach that level of understanding given their tumultuous history with one another. Yet as he continued to stack books she piled up in his arms he more than anything understood that there was quite more than met the eye when it came to Belle. Surprisingly he found comfort in the friendship they’d forged. She seemed to have quite moved on from their shared past however violent or dark it was. Maybe there was hope indeed for him yet.