In Pandora’s Pain, my most recent Fanfic for Once Upon A Time, we see a visitor arrive in Storybrooke, and she’s plagued by a terrible curse that sends everyone in town back to a dark time in their lives. In this scene, Hook, Emma and Henry are out for a sunset cruise when they realize something has gone very, very wrong:
Killian was right, Emma thought to herself. Henry handled the wheel like he was born with one in his hand.
She reached up to pull a piece of flyaway hair out of her eyes, but Killian beat her to it, curling the strand around his finger and tucking it gently behind her ear. She smiled up at him, leaning back into him slightly as she looked out at the water from her place at the bow. He slid his arm around her middle, and she tried very hard to ignore the casual way his thumb was stroking her belly through the cotton of her tee shirt.
“Better zip that jacket up,” he murmured low in her ear. “Once the sun is all the way down, it gets chilly on the water.”
She looked over her shoulder at him. “What? You’re not going to offer to keep me warm? You’re slipping.”
“I’d be happy to keep you warm love,” he grinned. “I’m still remarkably hot-blooded. But there is a child aboard so I’ve chosen to remain more…circumspect.”
“Is that so?”
He kissed her forehead, and she could feel his smile against her as he did.
They stood in silence for several minutes, just watching the sun sink into the sea. Killian had been right about that, too – it was incredibly romantic. She sighed, lifting her head from where she’d leaned it back against his chest.
“Why the long sigh, Swan?” he asked. “You’re not turning pensive on me, are you?”
“Maybe a little bit,” she confessed. “Just thinking about what life must be like – looking at this every day.”
“And now you know why the sea is any sailor’s first love,” he replied. “I suppose his ship is his second.”
And you gave up your ship for me, she thought. A glance over her shoulder at his face said he was probably thinking the same thing.
“It’s all right, Swan,” he said with a half-smile. “I don’t regret that trade.”
The brightness in his eyes was making her stomach tense, and his hand slowed on her stomach. She drew in a long, somewhat shaky breath and looked away, pulling out of his arms to face him, with her back against the rail.
“You know all about my life before,” she said. “I only know bits and pieces about you.”
He raised his brows. “Maybe it’s better that way.”
“Maybe I want to know more.”
Her eyes held his and this time, he was the one feeling it in his gut. He had a sixth sense about women, and when a woman said she wanted to talk, it usually meant trouble. But this was Emma. It was only natural that they learn more about each other, as they spent more time together. He wanted to know everything about her.
He just wasn’t so sure she wanted to hear everything about him. He swallowed hard.
“What do you want to know?” He tried to keep his tone light, in the hope that she would follow suit and ask him something of little import. He should have known better with the likes of Emma Swan.
“Can you tell me about Milah?” she asked. At the obvious discomfort on his face, she added. “You know all about Neal – even more than I knew. I just…feel like it’ll help me. Know you better, I mean.”
He nodded reluctantly, setting his forearms down on the rail and leaning into them as he turned the question over in his mind.
“There’s not much to tell, really. You know she was once married to Rumplestiltskin -”
“Yeah, I know all that,” she said, gesturing him to move along. “Neal told me all the dirt.”
Killian raised a brow. “Really?”
She gave him an apologetic grimace. “He was warning me away from you,” she explained. “That was early on. He didn’t feel that way at…the end,” she finished uncomfortably.
“Nevermind,” she said suddenly. “You don’t need to tell me anything. I’m sorry.”
He reached out, touching her arm. “No, it’s all right.” His eyes softened. “It’s hard to talk about because I lost her. Just as you lost Neal.”
She looked over at him. “So, what was she like?”
He shook his head. “She wasn’t you, Swan. That’s all you really need to know.”
“I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” she answered. “You loved her for centuries.”
Killian’s hand slid up, and his thumb brushed her chin, tracing the line of her jaw.
“And you think that’s it for me?” he asked huskily. “You underestimate me, love.”
Emma looked up at him, spellbound by the way he’d said those words, and the moonlight reflecting off the lines of that perfect face. The breeze ruffled his hair just so, making him nearly impossibly handsome.
“You really are right out of a fairy tale, you know that?” she murmured. “I have a hard time believing you’re real sometimes.”
“I’m more than happy to prove that once we make land,” he offered, stepping closer into her with a devilish grin.
“There it is,” she smirked.
“There it is,” he repeated. “I’ll keep making the offer until it’s accepted. And it will be, eventually. I’m bloody irresistible you know.”
She gave him a look that said she wasn’t going there, and turned back to look out over the water.
“So, I’ve been thinking…” she said, deliberately changing the subject. “How about a job?”
He looked taken aback. “A job?”
“Well you can’t just be the town rogue, you know.”
“And why not?” he pulled out his flask. “It’s not like anyone else can handle the job.”
She took the flask out of his hand. “I was thinking that if you had a job that paid a wage, you could afford to buy another ship.”
“A wage?” He made a face. “Work for a wage?”
“I’m not going to let you pillage and plunder the town,” she deadpanned. “Or steal a boat. So you’ll have to do it the honest way. With a job.” She took a drink from the flask, then handed it back to him.
“What did you have in mind?” he asked warily.
Emma leaned back with her elbows on the rail. “I could use a deputy.”
“Isn’t that your father’s job?”
“No. He’s sort of…co-sheriff. I think. We never really gave him a title.”
Killian’s eyes narrowed. “And who do I work for? Him or you?”
“Does it really matter? You’d be a public servant,” she said, turning back to look out over the water. “It’s just a title -” Emma broke off suddenly, and Killian turned to look at what had arrested her.
“What the…?” she mumbled.
She leaned out, squinting her eyes as she stared back toward the coast. The sky over Storybrooke was glowing a strange orange-red, forming a perfect dome over the town.
“Mom!” Henry called out from the wheel.
“We see it!” She called back. “Killian?”
Killian shook his head. “I’ve no idea what it means, Swan, but strange phenomena rarely mean good news in Storybrooke.”
What has Pandora done? And how can they undo it? This time, it’s going to take all of Killian’s cunning and all of Emma’s street smarts to set things straight – with a whole lot of steam along the way. Check out Pandora’s Pain on Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own.