title: black, black is love’s potion

summary: hook gets himself stabbed and emma plays nurse, slaps a mermaid, undresses a pirate and this is really not as funny as it sounds. (spiritual sequel to neck deep. or not. your choice)


"Just go on without me, love," Hook says, gritting his teeth and what even is her life.

"Oh my god, you are such a drama queen.”

Hook glares at her with unfocused eyes from the spot where he’s lying on the floor. She has his hands on him, pressing her jacket against the gaping wound on his shoulder. He raises his hand, blindly, and ends up gripping the sleeve of her torn shirt. He frowns. “You are soaked. Did you fall in the water?”

"No, this is blood."

Hook goes still and tense and growly all of a sudden, which works for Emma just fine because troglodyte protective crew instinct is preferable to woe is me I’m lying on the cold hard ground.

"It’s cool, it’s not mine," and she should redefine her definition of cool because this is disgusting.

Hook remains silent for a moment, and then scoffs, seemingly torn between amusement and unbearable agony. He seems slightly less dramatic, which Emma counts as a win.

"Emma, I am serious. Return to the ship," he says, solemn all of a sudden. Or as solemn as you can be while pale, sweaty and trying not to pass out. "Just leave me be."

"You said the blade was poisoned. We have to treat this right now."

Hook shakes his head. “It can wait. Don’t worry about an old sea dog like me. Nothing can kill me.”

"Yeah, I know. You’re just like a cockroach."

as always, thanks to dark-siren for the beta. you are a star.

After fighting ogres, crossing worlds, getting her bug fixed in the garage owned by Hansel and Gretel’s father and taking part in the world’s most awkward family road trip, Emma had thought she could safely say she had seen it all.

Well, Emma should stop putting limits to her imagination and think again because how many more are you for real moments must she have until she understands that things can indeed get weirder, grosser and generally pretty fucking worse without her consent?

Motherfucking Neverland is a prime example of that. Does it look like a wild, dangerous island? It’s actually just plain deadly. Do the carnivore plants seem like a bit overkill? Well here is an immortal, flying, creepy as shit shadow with a poisoned blade made entirely of darkness. Good luck with that.

She had just fenced with a shadow.

Deeply seated, ever burning rage for Henry’s kidnapping aside, she swears she is finding what passes for Peter Pan in this godforsaken world and she’s choking the bastard with his own stupid tights.

A pained moan pulls her out of her reverie.

"Just go on without me, love," Hook says, gritting his teeth and what even is her life.

"Oh my god, you are such a drama queen.”

Hook glares at her with unfocused eyes from the spot where he’s lying on the floor. She has his hands on him, pressing her jacket against the gaping wound in his shoulder, where the shadow had plunged the knife through flesh and bone (Hook had screamed, screamed, screamed so damned hard her blood is still cold in her veins). He raises his hand, blindly, and ends up gripping the sleeve of her torn shirt, to ground himself. Or to make sure she’s really there. Or to push her off him because she is hurting him, one never knows with Hook.

He frowns and speaks with some difficulty, like he’s swallowing against the bile raising in his throat “You are soaked. Did you fall in the water?”

"No, this is blood."

Hook goes still and tense and growly all of a sudden, which works for Emma just fine because troglodyte protective crew instinct is preferable to woe is me I’m lying on the cold hard ground.

"It’s cool, it’s not mine," Emma says, and she should redefine her definition of cool because this is disgusting.

Shadow blood. What the actual hell.

Hook remains silent for a moment, and then scoffs, seemingly torn between amusement and unbearable agony. He seems slightly less dramatic, which Emma counts as a win.

"Emma, I am serious. Return to the ship and tell your parents about the ambush," he says, solemn all of a sudden. Or as solemn as you can be while pale, sweaty and trying not to pass out. "Just leave me be."

Emma presses her jacket harder against the wound and Hook whines.

"You said the blade was poisoned. We have to treat this right now."

Hook shakes his head. “It can wait. The shadow may come back and you’re risking everyone’s safety by remaining here. Don’t worry about an old sea dog like me,” he says, and his smile is shaky and so very fake. “Nothing can kill me.”

"Yeah, I know. You’re just like a cockroach."

Hook barks out a surprised laugh, then winces. “Do not make me laugh or I might come apart at the seams.”

"It’s not my fault your sense of humor is fucked up," she says. "Now stop whining and stay awake until the potion is ready. You’re leaving this cave on your own two feet or not at all."

"Yes, that seems to be the plan."

Now’s Emma the one that winces, because she’s trying to take her mind off of the fact that Killian Jones is slowly but steadily bleeding out in front of her and he won’t stop reminding her.

Ever since they had set foot on Neverland, Hook had made pretty clear that he was The Captain and the only hotshot who knew how to survive in that world. He had proved that was true when he pulled her out of the mermaid lagoon. Or when he pushed her father out of the way of an acid-spitting flower (seriously). Or when he had treated his mother’s wounds after a Lost One had thrown a poisoned dart at her.

(he hasn’t gotten around to saving Gold or Regina yet but, well, she can’t really fault him for that)

Mermaid lagoon fiasco notwithstanding, Emma and Hook do make quite the team. All of their missions together have worked mostly without a hitch, which is why they usually end up together when it’s time to split the group.

Much to David’s chagrin, of course, but he did get his ass kicked by a flower, so Hook has now something to hold over his head when her father second-guesses his decisions and orders.

The day had started well enough, with them scouting the surrounding area of Skull Rock. Hook was leading the way, needling her in a way that had her laughing in spite of… everything that was going on. In a way that still made her want to punch him in the face with a magic compass, but in a more friendly way. If there is such a thing. Theirs is a pretty weird relationship.

Then a fairly corporeal shadow had appeared out of nowhere, fenced with her and stabbed Hook, who had rolled down a hill - cliff, mountain, whatever, Neverland is oddly flexible- and ended lying down on the sand near the water. Emma had panicked and dropped the sword she was brandishing (which was getting her nowhere anyway) and, with a combination of Hook’s rum and a lighter she had in her pocket she set the Shadow on fire. Which turned out to be a pretty good idea.

Emma is very proud of how well she works under stress.

Ignoring the Shadow’s inhuman shrieks behind her, she ran down the hill towards Hook and, after checking his pulse, she had gotten him away from the sand and into a small sea cave, so small she can’t get up in it or walk two steps before reaching the water.

A cave that would be deathtrap if the tide decided to fuck them over.

So there she is. In a dark and damp sea cave, terrified the shadow will come back for them, covered in sticky black blood and dealing with Captain Dramatics.

She doesn’t normally say this kind of things but damn, she really needs her mom right now.

"I meant that I am not carrying you out. I did not just kill a…" she hesitates, and has another moment of how is this my life ”…whatever the hell that was to have you die of a papercut,” she insists, and looks at the small fire and the potion boiling in the tiny pot on it.

"A paper-!" he starts, half offended and half amused.

"Yes. You’re being a big baby, so stop it."

The cut is actually the length of her forearm and it’s probably oozing poison. She eyes the pot again, nervously.

"It’ll be a minute," she says, more for her benefit than for his.

Hook twists his mouth.

"I could use some rum right now," he sighs. Apparently, he’s done with the histrionics, thank fuck. "Hand me the flask, would you."

Emma stops fretting around and side-eyes him. Side-eyes him hard.

"The rum is gone."

He frowns, annoyed and wait for it.

"Why is the rum gone?"

Emma hates her life so much.

"Because I didn’t have gasoline in my backpack. It was that or set you on fire,” she bites back defensively. Stabbing the shadow had only gotten her filthy with shadow ooze. Fire had proved the better alternative “Why were you even carrying rum around? We were scouting!”

"Well, I am a pirate.”

"An alcoholic, more like."

While he chuckles softly, she checks the potion, black as the night, and shivers. It looks like petrol, sticky and foul-smelling, like the shadow’s blood. Hook had advised everyone to carry a vial on them at all times, so she supposes it can’t be bad for him.

Please, don’t be bad for him.

"You do know this poison might be different," he says, voice oddly nonchalant, as if he is hearing her thoughts. It’s eerie how he can still do that while drowsy and weak. "The potion may not work. You should return and make sure the shadow is truly gone before coming back for me."

"I set it on fire, Hook,” she says, slightly offended because seriously, what does a woman have to do around here to get a little respect.

"Emma. It was a flying shadow.”

Okay, fair point. Nevertheless.

"I am not leaving you behind. Not now, not ever."

Not again, she wants to add, but the words get stuck in her throat. Then, because this is not Lilo & Stitch, she clears her throat and goes on;

"Now I’m going to take off your clothes and you’re going to be mature about it," she says as she reaches for the lapels of his coat.

Hook’s eyes, which were quizzical and intense just a moment ago, light up suddenly because he is twelve of something.

"Will you spank me if I misbehave?"

"Shut up and help me."

Hook smirks again as she tugs at the leather to get the coat out of the way. With his hooked arm rendered useless, the action takes way more effort than it should. By the end of it, Hook is panting with exertion and the smell of blood and infection is so strong she almost gags.

She can almost see the wound now, but she’ll need full access to apply the cure “Now the vest.”

Hook manages a smile despite all the pain and exhaustion.

"Yes, mistress."

It doesn’t help that he’s trying to innuendo-ize the situation while bleeding to death, but at least it lets her she know he’s still alive and kicking. She’ll take what she can get.

Hook can barely muster enough energy to keep his eyes open, so she reaches for the buckles of his vest. She’s suddenly very aware that she is basically undressing him, and a blush threatens to take over her cheeks. The fact that he’s wearing satisfied smirk (that’s all front, but still), as if saying ‘I told you we’d end up like this’, doesn’t put her at ease.

She’s cold and terrified, and her hands are shaking from the adrenaline, so this is far from romantic. Still, they’ve grown closer during the time they’ve spent in Neverland, hushed conversations at the helm of the ship, a calm dinner below deck, a soothing hand on her back when the rocking of the ship became too much for her. Touching him after he had been hit by Greg’s car was different than touching him now.

Maybe it’s because of what they share. There is more, perhaps too much, between them. Betrayals and fights and jokes and confessions and some sort of weird understanding and how does this belt buckle even work, magic?

"Do you need assistance, love?" he asks, sounding half bored half amused.

"No, I got this," she bites back, gritting her teeth, chastising herself for being distracted by his body when he is in clear pain. "Jesus Christ, how the hell can you do this one-handed?"

She’s knows she’s just handled him a big ‘insert penis joke here’ on a silver platter, but she has to keep him talking. For both their sakes.

The reply takes a bit longer than usual.

"I can do a lot of things one-handed," he says, and his voice almost breaks halfway through. It’s obviously costing him a lot to speak. "You’d be surprised."

"I really wouldn’t," she replies, sounding bored when she’s anything but, the sight of his wound making her chest hurt. "There are a lot of things I can do with one hand.  Lots of other things I can do with my teeth.”

Hook is struck speechless for a moment, eyes widening. Then he lets out a weird laugh, gleeful and bittersweet, and suddenly he looks unbelievably sad.

"The wound must look bloody awful if you are flirting back. It feels like you are granting a dying man his last wish."

Oh, come on.

"Nah, it’s not that. Open wounds just do it for me."

There’s another chuckle, slightly more relaxed. Less sad. Emma tries not to dwell on that.”Just keep talking.”

"Oh, is that what this is about?" he asks, with mock-offense. "You vixen.”

She finally undoes the buckles and opens the vest, revealing his chest. She’s expecting the innuendos to come pouring down, but when she lifts the leather and unsticks it from the wound he gasps in pain and apparently you can’t crack a joke about a girl in a bloodied tank top playing nurse when she is sticking her hand in your stab wound.

The cut is ugly; dirty and bloodied and, as Hook said, probably poisoned. Scab is already forming around it, but its color is a sickly yellow, like the Neverland sunset before the children’s cries start to fill the air. She opens more the vest to take a good look at it, but the leather strap of the brace that keeps his hook in place is in the way. Emma had no idea it reached his shoulder, but now it has to go. She reaches to unclasp it.

And then Hook actually flinches away.

"Not necessary, love."

Emma stops because what?

"It’s in the way."

"You really want me as naked as possible, don’t you?" he jests, but the joke falls flat.

She doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that removing the brace sets his teeth of edge. She searches his face to identify the emotion, to see if it’s shame or sadness or fear of feeling unprotected, but the cave is dark and his eyes are clouded with pain and whatever truth there is in his face is hidden behind that.

And then suddenly, when Emma is about to ask again, his face contorts in surprise, confusion and, to her dismay, fear.

"Emma!" he shouts, and Emma turns back, hands looking for a hunting knife that she’s probably lost somewhere in the middle of the Neverland jungle. She is expecting to find the shadow staring down at her, but what she finds is a little head poking out of the water, too-bright aquamarine eyes and hair decorated with seashells and coral and oh, shit, a mermaid.

Emma has a moment of stunned panic, remembering how it was to be pulled under by scaly hands, to feel the air leaving her lungs and see the sunlight getting farther and farther away from her. For a moment, she is completely frozen, unable to react, and thinks this is it, this time she’s done for. If the creature wants to drown her she’ll go under and nobody will be able to save her.

Hook will watch her drown or die trying to pull her out. Both prospects are terrifying for different reasons.

But the mermaid has other intentions, and her strong arm shoots out of the water and grabs Hook by the ankle. Hook has only time to let out a muffled shout before the mermaid is pulling him to towards the water.

So much for seductive singing, this one skips right to third base.

And just like that, when she sees her fingers gripping his foot, all her fear is gone, replaced by a raw, animal rage. Her blood boils in her veins and she can’t hear anything over the sound of her heart beating loudly in her ears.

And Emma may be a hothead sometimes, but she’s a fast learner and the last time she had an encounter with the sea-monsters, she catalogued strengths and weakness. In the end, she uses the same strategy that saved her life that other time; she reaches out before Hook’s knee reaches the water, grabs a handful of mermaid hair and pulls with all of her might.

The mermaid shrieks, half offended and half pained, and swats at her with her claw-like fingers. Emma twists her grip with a roar of rage and, once she feels the mermaid’s head is secured, she raises her free hand and slaps the mermaid with all the strength she can muster.

Go for the face. Mind the teeth. Rinse and repeat.

She remembers being ten years old and Nick StClaire laughing because she didn’t have any parents. She remembers the police taking her mugshot, saying the words robbery and no other accomplices during her interrogation. Remembers Henry lying in a hospital bed and Regina screaming “It was meant for you!”. Remembers Tamara shooting Neal in the stomach and pressing the barrel of her gun against his forehead.

Then she sees Hook scrambling to hold onto something and hot red fury surges through her. After slapping the mermaid again, she punches her right in the nose, grabs her by the ear, sinks her nails into slippery, cold flesh and pulls.

There is another horrible, high-pitched scream and the mermaid lets go of Hook, recoiling horrified and staring at Emma as if she were the psychopath that feasts on human flesh. Emma bares her teeth at her, rabid and high on adrenaline, and for moment she aches to cross the distance and tear her apart.

The mermaid disappears underwater, apparently deciding they’re more trouble than they’re worth, leaving a wide-eyed Emma with blood on her fingertips and still trembling with barely restrained rage.

Emma tries to stop the shaking, breathes in and out and then turns to check that Hook is still in one piece. What she finds is not what she expected.

Hook does seem in one piece, by which she means he still looks like hell, but not worse than he was before a mermaid tried to kidnap him. Emma lets out a shaky sigh and gets closer.

"Are you…?"

And then she notices his eyes have gone half lidded and he looks like’s he’s debating between feeling terrified, impressed or…


Oh, come on.

"Please tell me that does not do it for you.”

Hook snaps into attention at her incredulous tone and for a moment he seems genuinely caught off guard. His lips are parted, his breathing ragged. Some color has returned to his cheeks and for a split second he seems honest to god embarrassed. “I… What?”

Then he shifts his legs, rearranging himself, apparently uncomfortable and holy crap, is he serious.

"You have gotta be kidding me,” Emma says, and you’d think she’s too cold and scared to get flustered but she blushes anyway. Her body is thrumming with energy and the sudden heat hits her hard, leaving her almost dizzy.

Still. What the actual fuck.

Hook’s lips twist in lazy smile that’s tentative and pained and the slightest bit sheepish, like what are you gonna do ”Well, love, I am only a man.”

"Yeah, well, she is only a fish with boobs and a good contralto!" she mutters, keeping her gaze firmly on his face, then shifting to the pot that she was supposed to be looking after. "I really hope this is the blood loss talking because, buddy, you’re hallucinating."

She can hear his smirk when he tilts his head, looking at her through his lashes.  Emma can feel his wheels turning. Apparently, even though he loves to make her uncomfortable, to throw her off her game, this is somehow embarrassing even for him.

Not that it stops him, mind you.

"It’s not the mermaid, Emma. It’s you. It’s all you.”

Captain Hook, ladies and gentlemen. Discussing his turn ons while bleeding to death in a cave. J. M. Barrie must be turning in his grave

"You’re hallucinating and crazy,” she replies, trying really hard not to look like she’s blushing to the roots of her hair.

He wasn’t even lying, the jerk.

Hook huffs out a laugh that quickly turns into a pained cough. Emma moves closer, suddenly worried, and places her hand on his forehead.

"You’re burning up," she says, worried because that must mean the poison is taking its toll on him (Or is it infection? It has been barely an hour, surely not enough?). The worry makes her forget to pull her hand away while she thinks, and she only notices when she feels Hook’s breath on her arm.

"You need to lighten up, Emma. You could use some, ah… stress relief?"

Emma does a double take, because is Captain Hook is telling her to get laid? While smelling of infection and sea water and blood?

"And I could help with that," Ugh. Her childhood is trying to crawl out of her mouth and die. “How about I-“

"How about no.”

"You did ask me to keep talking before."

"Well, not about my sex life."

"I would volunteer mine, but there is not much to talk about lately," he says with a shit-eating grin. "Jumping between worlds takes too much energy."

Emma cocks her head and stares at him. He is looking at her with a frightening intensity, like she knows when the world’s going to end but she’s refusing to tell him. He also looks sick as fuck, so, small mercies.

The potion is boiling now, and Emma’s had enough of this.

"Okay, we’re taking that off, right now," she says, pointing at the leather strap.

Hook presses his lips together and frowns.

"It’s…" he starts, hesitates. "…A tad distasteful, Swan."

"I shall avert my eyes lest I faint," she says, rolling her eyes, hands going for the clasp. "Give me a little credit here, Hook, what the hell, I just tried to tear off a mermaid’s ear."

"Aye," he says, the corner of his mouth twitching. "That you did.

Hook doesn’t say anything else, agreeing wordlessly, but he averts his eyes as she removes the strap and the brace falls to the ground, baring the scared wrist. Hook lets out a soft exhale. For the wound or for the brace, she can’t be sure.

Emma tries to pay it no mind, but it really looks… well, it doesn’t look good. From what she could gather from this trip to the Enchanted Forest, medicine wasn’t the strong suit of her parent’s… her land. People relied on magic for the miraculous cures. So if Hook hadn’t had access to some kind of witch or potion when he lost his hand, well…

It’s a wonder he didn’t die of infection. Or that gangrene didn’t take his whole arm. So yeah, Emma actually grits her teeth, because with his hook the lack of hand looks almost cartoonish, but without it the scope of the injury hits her hard.

The fact that Hook looks that he’d rather be stabbed again than to look her in the eye is pretty telling too. Emma doesn’t know what to say, so she rolls her eyes for his benefit and just fixates on the open wound.

"Okay, pretend I just fainted from sheer horror and let’s move on with our lives," she says, to lighten the mood.

Hook fixes his fever bright eyes on her, uncertainly. Emma smiles, trying to be reassuring and ending up on pained instead.

And suddenly she grabs the pot and says “This is going to hurt like a bitch.”

And then she pours the whole potion on Hook’s wound.


"You certainly know how to make a man scream, I’ll give you that" Hook tells her half an hour later. His voice is hoarse and almost gone, he’s covered in sweat and still shaking slightly. But his face is not contorted anymore and his muscles are- well, not relaxed, but not tense as a bowstring like they were before.

"I do. You want a repeat performance? Because there’s still a little potion left."

Hook blanches and shakes his head, no more words coming out. Emma would find it funny if she hadn’t had to deal with the most horrifying, bloodcurling screams she had ever heard after she used the potion on his wound. For a few terrifying moments, she had thought she had done something wrong, waited too long, poured too much. Then she thought he was dying and that he was not leaving the cave after all.

Emma tries to clean her stained hands in the water next to them. She sees her reflection and notices the tear tracks on her cheeks. She wipes them furiously, hoping he hasn’t noticed.

"The shadow must have informed the Lost Ones of our position. We’ll have to leave as soon as we reach the Jolly Roger" Hook says in hushed tones.

His breath is even now and he looks just like the time a Greg’s car ran him over. Which doesn’t sound too good, but at least the car didn’t carve a hole into his flesh and poisoned the wound.

She is getting the pot inside her backpack, getting ready to leave, while he eyes her non-too subtly.

"I told you to leave," he says, pensive, almost to himself.

Emma remembers this same man asking her not to leave him at the top of the beanstalk. Remembers him stealing Aurora’s heart and wrestling her for a stupid compass. Him coming back and giving her what was probably the most important and valuable item in all of the realms, lending his only possession and his expertise to her and her family.

"You did," she says, finally. "I ignored it."

Hook’s smirk is wry and tired.

"Ah, I do love the smell of mutiny in the morning."

Emma snorts “I did not mutiny. I overruled you because you were unfit for command.”

Hook’s half smile vanishes at that, so fast that Emma leans away, taken aback. She almost turns to check there aren’t more mermaids behind her.

"Does that mean you are my first mate?" he whispers, his face blank, his voice without his usual teasing tilt.

Emma has the sudden, uncomfortable sensation that there’s a lot riding on her answer.

"Do I have to tell Gold he can have the helm?" she deflects, half jokingly, because she is actually the most sensible choice of first mate for him: David and Snow don’t trust him, Regina is too unstable and Gold is… Gold.

Hook doesn’t look satisfied by that.


And Emma has a sudden moment of clarity. She knows why Hook is insisting and exactly who his last real ‘first mate’ was. There is tugging at her heart, like the day she put on a leather jacket that wasn’t hers and stole the sheriff’s badge from a dead man. It had felt like intruding. Like theft. Suddenly she’s terrified and so, so sorry. She is about to apologize and backtrack, but.

But Hook doesn’t look like he’s angry, or even sad. He just looks lost, stuck in this world without his real crew, looking for a child he’s only seen once in his life and with the man he’d give his life to kill sleeping inside his home.

And Emma makes up her fucking mind.

"If you’ll have me."

Hook stares at her and slowly, ever so slowly, extends his hand towards her. Emma grabs it and shakes it, sealing the deal. He doesn’t let go, and neither does she.

Instead, she strokes his hand with her thumb.

"Now you listen to me, you… landlubber,” she says, her voice uneven and her throat dry, staring into his eyes with mock conviction. “We are going to get you into those stupid clothes again, return to the ship, blackmail Regina into healing that shoulder with magic, then we find that shadow and then we go ghostbusters ­­on its ass. And then we get back Henry. Are we clear, sailor?”

Hook blinks at her, surprised, and then strangely proud.

"Aye aye Captain," he says, with a cheeky half smile.

Emma puts her hair behind her ear, suddenly feeling self conscious under his scrutiny.

"And you’re gonna sail the ship because I actually have no idea how to do that."

Hook’s grin widens until it’s almost blinding. The stench of blood must have made her dizzy, because she finds herself smiling back.

"That’s what I’m here for."

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