prompt: hook realizes he may care for Emma more than he wants to admit when she’s put in danger
http://onceuponamirror.tumblr.com/post/50533830438/they-grow-up-so-fast (part 1; for some reason it won’t let me hyperlink, ugh)
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"You know, maybe you can clarify something for me," Emma says, slashing her knife indiscriminately at the shrubbery ahead of her.
Hook watches her arm rise and fall with every cut, looking as though he wants to interrupt, but Emma doesn’t let him, “Why is it that you can be civil to Gold but you can’t go two minutes without picking a fight with my father?”
"Why, does it bother you?" He laughs somewhat nervously, still eying her movements with the knife carefully. "Swan, you may want to not—"
"It doesn’t bother me,” Emma snaps, swiveling around to face him. “I just…I’m saying that it’s hard enough with Regina and my mom, and Regina and Gold, and Regina and my father, four people who all hate each other, all fighting and arguing amongst themselves. I don’t need this from you, too.”
He’s silent for a beat, scanning his eyes over her face. “Noted, Emma,” he says finally. They lock eyes for a moment before Emma turns on her heel and resumes her method of cutting through the brush. “Fathers…tend not to like me,” Hook adds as an afterthought. “I learned that long ago.”
He phrases it like it’s intended to be a joke, but his tone implies its anything but. Emma stops, glancing at him over her shoulder, wondering if she should pry. He glances off, knowing he can’t hide a lie if she asks. “What’s that supposed to me—ah!”
His eyes flick back to the spot where Emma is—or, rather, was. His heart slams against his chest and he pivots, hand already on the top of his blade. “Swan?” He calls, surprised at the feverish pitch his voice has taken, “Emma? Emma!”
After what feels like far too long for the pirate’s liking, Emma’s muffled call sounds back. Her voice sounds like it’s coming from—Hook glances up to see Emma thrashing wildly in a tangle of vines, her blade between her teeth as she beats at the plant holding her captive. It’s a plump yellowish-green succulent the size of a baby elephant, covered in large pink blooms and writhing dark green vines, currently encircled around Emma’s waist.
"Bloody bludgering hell," he hisses, wasting no time in hoisting himself up the base of the tree from which she dangles, for once thankful for the hook as it helps him climb faster. "Keep moving, Emma!" He calls, nearly to her height, "don’t let the vipers touch you!"
Once he reaches her level, he swings himself onto the branch and immediately scampers across it, deftly dodging a thrashing vine while still somehow maintaining his balance. If she wasn’t so preoccupied, she might’ve been amazed; for someone who spends so much of his time on a ship, he certainly knows how to climb a tree.
Hook unsheathes his blade, locking eyes with Emma. “When I say so, take your knife and plunge it into the center of the plant,” he murmurs steadily. Her eyes widen, but she nods, removing the dagger from between her teeth and struggling to position it.
He raises the sword high above his head, bellowing, “Now!” as he swings it down, slicing the plant from the branch as Emma sinks her blade into it. The plant lets out a high-pitched screech from a mouth that had been disguised by the bright pink flowers and releases Emma, plummeting down.
She too begins to feel herself fall, already screaming, when abruptly she stops, her legs dangling below her. She glances up to see his hook snagged on her coat collar, staring down at her with a smile that’s equal parts adrenaline and fear.
With a grunt, he hoists her up, his torso against the branch, his limbs splayed over. The moment Emma is up on the branch, straddling it, he envelops her in a deep, sudden hug, his breathing ragged.
Emma freezes, her eyes threatening to flutter closed at the feeling of his arms encircled around her. She’s about to lean into the hug out of instinct, the desire to be closer, warmer—when he pushes her back, turning her shoulders from side to side as he inspects her.
"What—what are you doing?" Emma breathes, trying to catch his eyes, which are wide with fear as he scans them over her body.
"Checking for scratches," he mumbles, relief flooding back into his voice, "but I don’t see any, thank the stars. if you’d been nicked we’d have a real problem on our hands."
She tries to laugh, but it just comes out sounding like a choked cough. “But I’m good, right?” She asks nervously.
He smiles, nodding and hopping up to a standing position with a strange amount of ease. He offers her his hand, and after a moment of staring at it, she takes it, letting him hoist her up. They climb down the tree in silence, and it isn’t until Emma digs her her knife out of the dead plant that either of them speak, both opening their mouths at the same time.
"You first, lass," he says, an unreadable look on his face.
"No, you, it’s fine," Emma tries, but he merely shakes his head. She moves to wipe the plant’s remains off her dagger on a leaf. "Well…I just wanted to…I mean, on that note, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about."
His ears twitch, catching her eye. Were they always so pointed? “Go on, then,” he says with a strange eagerness.
"If I die," she starts, and Hook instantly lets out an audible groan, to which she silences with a sharp glare, "If I die, I need you to promise me you’ll make sure Henry gets back the others."
"Did I not already promise that?"
"You only promised to take us to Neverland, technically," Emma says quietly, eyes on the jungle floor. Her voice drops to a whisper. "I just need to hear you say it."
"I swear it, Emma," he replies lowly, taking a tentative step towards her. After a moment’s hesitation, he runs his hand up her arm, willing her to look at him. "But you’re not going to die, not on my watch. Or was that not obvious yet?"
Emma scans his face, her eyes wide and breathing loudly. “Thanks for that, by the way,” she adds, almost begrudgingly.
"Did I not tell you long ago that you had me to protect you?" He quips, a soft smile breaking across his face.
She glances down at his hand, still running up and down her arm, but doesn’t protest. After a moment, she steps back, instantly missing the warmth. “I don’t need protecting,” she snaps, suddenly feeling very self-conscious. That was too close for comfort, she thinks, and suddenly wonders if she’s referring to Hook or the demon plant.
"No, just rescuing," Hook throws after her, anger teetering into his tone.
"You didn’t rescue me!"
"I’m sorry Swan, I must’ve blanked on the moment where I bloody saved your life twice in one minute,” he growls, and Emma whirls around, her hair flying madly.
She opens her mouth with a retort, but closes it a moment later, her eyes softening. “You’re right. Sorry. Fighting doesn’t help anything.”
"You’re right too," he says, after a beat. "We can take equal credit. I…told you before we made quite the team, did I not?"
A nervous smile crosses Emma’s face, nodding silently. The air suddenly feels hotter, and she wonders if its just her. “Well…let’s keep moving. I don’t wanna stick around to meet whatever friends that thing’s got.”
"Aye," Hook agrees, glancing at the plant’s corpse. Emma nods once more before spinning around and continuing forward. He watches her retreating form, biting his lip. He hadn’t known such a mix of a emotions—fear, worry, anger, relief, happiness—in centuries, and here he was, feeling it all in the span of five minutes.
His heart hadn’t yet returned to a normal pace, still slamming against his chest as if planning an escape. The way he’d felt, seeing Emma in the clutches of that monster plant…he hadn’t felt that way since the day he lost his hand.
Emma’s cough brings him back to his senses, and he realizes he’s been staring at his hook. He shakes his head to clear his thoughts, bringing his gaze to the blonde woman before him.
"Can you keep up?" She asks, not unkindly, glancing at his injured leg, and he wonders if she knows how strong, how amazing she is.
"Yes, love," he says after a moment, stepping forward, "always."