It is the anniversary of Liam’s death and Killian is locked away to brood alone. But a certain saviour is not willing to let him do that.
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It was a Sunday. Usually this meant taking out the Jolly for a trip along the coastline - stretching out her sails and breathing in he familiar aroma of the sea.
But not this Sunday.
Instead he found himself barricaded inside his quarters, shutters drawn, the only light provided by a withered candle that flickered on the table to his left. Lying with his legs crossed at the ankle, he stared blankly at the ceiling above him. Counting each painful second. Willing this day to be over.
Her soft voice bled through the wooden walls of the room. He stayed silent.
It was louder now. He heard footsteps echo through the ship. But still he didn’t move.
Then the door to the small room swung open.
“Hook - oh, there you are-”
There was a pause for a few seconds as he heard her make her way down the wooden steps - one, two, three-
“Are you sleeping?” she asked as she approached. He didn’t stir, instead he kept his gaze affixed to the same spot above him. She seemed to ignore his silence, continuing, “I thought you always took the boat out on Sundays? I actually didn’t expect you to be back yet-”
“We have remained in port today Swan.”
“Oh,’ she sighed softly, sensing the tension in his voice.
Hesitantly she inched closer, though the room was dark she was illuminated by the flickering flame of the candle, her hair shining like spun gold as it swung around her shoulders.
"And I’m not really in the mood for visitors today Emma, perhaps whatever has drawn you here could be discussed tomorrow.” He briefly caught her eye; something unspoken passing between the two.
She licked her lips as she made to step backwards, “Um, alright-” She started to turn but then stopped, “Are you okay?” she asked, the words tumbling out of her mouth, almost tripping on each other.
“Aye lass,” he replied, almost in a whisper.
“It’s just, I mean, I’ve never seen you like this before. It worries me.” Her words were etched with concern. He turned his head to the wall.
“I said I am fine,” he snapped, her sharp intake of breath caused a little ripple of pain to flood through him. “I-I’m sorry,” he whispered, “I didn’t mean to talk to you in that manner.”
Then she was beside him, her hand was on his arm - fingers gently clasping his brace.
“Talk to me,” she said, her voice radiating a gentle melodically timbre that filled the room.
He sighed again, biting his lip.
“You can trust me.”
And he knew he could. He could tell this woman anything. He could share his heart and body and mind with her, and he would in an instant. But this…
“Today is a day I would rather forget. Or at least, it was many years ago.” He finally turned to look at her: her brow was creased in concern.
“Milah?” she asked, turning so her hip rested on the wooden edge of the bed.
Recognition flashed over her features.
“Today was the day he…”
Killian nodded, pursing his lips as he pushed himself up against the pillows at the end of the bed.
“Aye,” was his solitary reply.
A few bare seconds passed by, the only sound the gently creaking of the ships timbers as the boat rocked in the light winds that were focused on Storybrooke that day.
“Tell me about him,” she asked, her thumb began to rub against the inch of bare skin that bridged the gap between his brace and his shirt.
“He was brave. And honourable. Far more honourable that I could ever hope to be.” He folded his legs at the knee, laying his head back against the wooden hull. She watched him quietly, shuffling a little closer. “He raised me - after our parents were gone it was just him and I.” A flicker of a smile crossed his lips as memories of his brother flooded his mind, “He was so good and strong - he fought for me to be educated, helped me get my commission. Without him I would have ended up as some gutter rat and probably would have rotted away my life in a stinking jail cell.”
“You don’t have much confidence in your own abilities.”
“I am what I am love,” he retorted, giving her a long look before he picked up the frayed piece of leather that lay on the bed beside him.
“What’s that?” she asked, nodding towards the item. He held it out to her.
“Military insignia - it was his. It hung on his satchel. It’s all I have left of him now. I keep it with me at all times. In a way it makes me feel less alone.”
Instantly he regretted the last statement. He was being far too open - too trusting. Letting her in more than he ever intended to.
“It must have been a lonely life at sea,” she nodded as she fingered the lettering punched onto the leather.
Did she understand? Did it resonate with her? Surely - she had been alone too most of her life. Perhaps she understood the pain - the aching pain of having no family of your own. The overiding sensation one of darkness and anger and pain.
“You and I are more alike than you care to admit Swan.” This made her smile, but she ignored the implication.
“He would have been proud of you,” she said as she handed back the insignia. His brow raised as he took it; fingers brushing briefly against hers - a little spark leaping between them.
“I hardly think so Swan.”
“No, he would have. You are a good man Hook. You have shown that many times.”
He bristled at the compliment. He was never any good at accepting them. Never thinking anything he did could be considered good or worthy or brave. Beneath the bravado was still the young man seeking his brother’s acceptance in some way.
“And you are brave, and strong and kind too. And you don’t need to be alone anymore.”
He felt her fingers wrap around his hand - itself balled around the leather piece. Her hand was warm and soft, his eyes rolled shut at her touch.
“The lot of a villain is one of vengeance and toil and most often ends in pain.”
“You’re not a villain.”
“Oh?” he asked, hooking his thumb over her hand as she looked down at him. Her hair was pooled around her shoulders. She looked almost unearthly in the scant light. Like some kind of dream creature who would be gone when this moment ended.
“No,” she shook her head, “You are whoever you want to be. We are all part hero, part villain, part brave - part coward,” she shrugged one shoulder, tilting her head to meet it, “But most of all we are people who make mistakes and get to also make our own choices. And you have chosen to be alone. Perhaps it is time to try something new.”
She gave him a small, but warm smile, tightening her grasp for a second until he nodded a small reply. Pushing off the bed, she turned to leave before saying - “Dinner at the loft, seven pm. We’ll be waiting.”
Not pausing for a reply she was suddenly gone and once again he was alone with his thoughts.
Slowly he slipped down from the bed, the insignia in his hand as he stepped over to his desk. Carefully he slid open one of the ancient wooden draws, depositing the scrap of leather inside before sealing it away.
Perhaps she was right.
Maybe it was time he let the hurt go.
And perhaps she was the one to help.