Never [I'm] Never [Yours] ★ ∞ ★ PROLOGUE

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'Captain Hook' had to come from somewhere after all...perhaps it's time we heard the true tale of the fearsome Captain James Killian Vale II?

ALWAYS


 

“We shouldn’t be here, My Lady, it’s not safe,” Marie wasn’t comfortable with their current path, that much was certain. Clair, on the other hand, smiled as she took in the salty sea air that wafted through the docks. If she was to be locked in the proverbial tower for the rest of her life, she would enjoy her freedom while she had it; she’d always wanted to travel and have adventures of her own. As this was not to be, she would take the next best thing and taking a walk around the docks was the best she could do without Marie having a fit.

“Be calm Marie, it’s not as if we’re getting on a ship, I just want to have a look around,” Clair looped her arm through her friends’ and continued to lead them down the way. Marie, although worried, allowed Clair to drag her along, if only to keep them both from getting into trouble. Something she’d noticed her Lady was quite good at the older she got; finding trouble had become second nature of late and this worried Marie more and more.

“As you say, my lady,” Marie replied softly. She had suppressed the accompanying sigh, but Clair knew it was there nonetheless.

“Oh, don’t be such a worry wart, we shan't stay long and I promise I will endeavour to avoid trouble,” she gave her friends arm a comforting squeeze. Marie’s worries weren’t exactly new after all and Clair knew that they were reasonably well founded, considering she frequently walked headlong into trouble these days. Not that she didn’t enjoy it most of the time.

As the two young women strolled down the docks Clair found herself drawn to a bright yellow and red ship, she’d never seen one so brightly painted before and had to wonder what kind of ship it was. She didn’t even notice that she’d let go of Marie and started off through the crowd towards the oddly painted ship until she could no longer see her friend behind her. This section was far more crowded than the other parts of the docks they’d walked through so far and Clair found herself dodging and weaving through the throng giving her a real sense of adventure. It didn’t take her long to find the ship that had caught her attention, the name on the bow told her it was called ‘Hades Treasure’ an odd name for a ship in her opinion, but it was an odd ship so Clair figured it had to have made sense to the Captain at the very least.

Content in her find Clair turned to make her way back to Marie, not noticing she’d caught the eye of a tall dark haired man that was currently disembarking the ship she’d been admiring not a moment before. The young woman had not taken two steps before she was knocked off balance by a huge man hastily brushing past her, the heavy dress she wore certainly didn’t help her either; certain she was about to end up in the drink Clair squeezed her eyes shut and waited to hit the water.

The odd thing was, she never did. Upon opening her eyes Clair found herself looking into the bluest eyes she’d ever had the opportunity to happen upon and with further inspection she discovered that those eyes belonged to a rather handsome, and more than a little windswept, man.

“Do you often make this a habit, falling off of things?” he asked her with a crooked smile. Clair wished she had more self control when she felt her cheeks flush at his words, but, not one to be stunned to silence so easily, she found her tongue.

“Only when there is someone around to catch me,” his smile broadened at her words.
 It was at this moment that Marie managed to brake through the crowds to spy her lady in the arms of a man who was most certainly not someone she should be anywhere near on the best of days.

“My Lady! Are you alright? This brigand hasn’t hurt you has he?” the woman had to practically pry the man off Clair as they both seemed lost in each other. The moment contact with each other was lost the spell they’d been under seemed to brake. Clair turned to Marie with a warm smile and patted her friends hand gently as she explained;

“I’m fine Marie, really, and you should be more thankful. It was thanks to this kind man that I didn’t go swimming after losing my footing,” she flashed him a thankful smile as she gestured to him which he gladly returned.

“Oh, well, really,” Marie spluttered. She never would have expected that, the man didn’t look the sort, far too wild. He was obviously a sailor, though his clothing style was a little dated, but that could just mean he hadn’t made port in Briton for a while. On the other hand, something about him put her on edge, and she was rarely wrong about people when it came to first impressions. “Thank you, I suppose, for saving my Lady,” she curtsied briefly. Of a mind to drag Clair out of there before they could exchange pleasantries, alas she was far too late as she watched the man smoothly take up her lady’s hand and kiss it gently.

“It was truly my pleasure, dear lady,” while Marie was horrified the man had done such a thing, her mistress could only giggle embarrassedly. “Might I ask your name?” he asked her softly. Again Clair cursed her lack of self control when her cheeks brightened again.

“Clair, Clair Rycroft,” she told him with a brief curtsy of her own. With a small and somewhat cheeky laugh the man took a step back and gave both women a flamboyant bow that made only one of them smile.

“It is a pleasure my lady Rycroft, allow me to introduce myself,” he looked up from his bow and gave Clair his crooked grin. “Captain James Killian Vale, at your service,” he was intrigued to see Clair perk up at the mention of his captaincy. “My friends simply call me Killian,” he added with his best dashing smile.

“A Captain? Truly? But you’re so young,” Clair commented. Killian couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm and the way the sunlight was catching in her eyes made them look like the colour of the sea after a good long storm. It almost made his breath catch. Almost.

“What can I say? When you’re good, you’re good,” he answered with fake modesty and a lazy salute. This only seemed to amuse the young woman more, though he had to give her credit, she wasn’t exactly swooning yet. Most other women he turned his charms on hadn’t lasted nearly as long, yes, among the less than desirable darker parts of Lundon Captain James Killian Vale II was known as ‘The Ruthless Gentleman’, a man from which no woman was safe. Yet, it seemed, the women before him was more than a little immune to his regular old charms.

“Full of yourself, aren’t you?” oh yes, he liked this one. She had a fire in her, one you didn’t see often in that day and age.

“Naturally,” he admitted with good humour.

“Well at least you can laugh about it,”
He was certain they would have continued on like this for some time quite happily, but Clair’s companion brought a halt to their banter abruptly.

“My Lady, I apologise, but we really must get back before you’re missed,” Marie insisted. With a sigh Clair conceded that her friend was right, she hadn’t meant to stay out this long, but meeting Killian had waylaid her a bit.

“Of course,” she looked at Killian apologetically, “it seems we’re out of time, as sorry as I am to say it,” he shook his head and held up a hand.

“Nonsense, I’m honoured to have the time given me,” he admitted freely. “Perhaps we will meet again, dear lady,” he added with another bow. He was gifted another curtsy from each of them as they bid him farewell.

“Perhaps we will, you never do know what fate has in store,” Clair smiled as she allowed Marie to begin to lead her away, “until next time, Captain Vale,” and with that she was gone. Lost in the throng of people that surrounded them.

“Yes, next time,” he muttered. He caught sight of her only once more in the crowd, her long copper coloured hair giving her away, and, though he wasn’t sure if he imagined it or not, he swore she looked back at him in that moment and smiled in the sunshine. That had, in fact, made him catch his breath. A feat in itself. 

“Connar,” he called to one of his men sharply. A thin, lithe looking man stepped up beside his captain, his dark eyes looking ahead, only the slight tilt of his shaved head to show he was listening.

“Cap’n,” the man responded softly.

“Follow them, I want to know where she lives,” he told his man seriously. Connar nodded and vanished into the crowded dock after the two women without another word, knowing better than to ask his Captain as to why.

When Killian turned around he found the core members of his quite reasonably sized crew watching him curiously. He frowned at them a moment and they all quickly got back to what they were supposed to be doing; which was loading the ship with supplies so they could be done with this infernal city as quickly as possible so as not to catch the attention of the guard. “Bloody hell,” Killian found himself muttering under his breath, “five years of sleeping with anything that bloody moves and then I get thrown off my game because of one bloody goddess,” he rubbed his temples in annoyance at himself. Pointedly ignoring the fact that he’d called her a goddess out loud Killian strode right back onto his beloved ship of a mind to drown himself in a bottle of rum in hopes of getting the woman out of his mind.

“Cap’n?” he didn’t have to turn around to know it was Smee. Damnable man was like a blood hound when it came to his Captain’s moods, often acting as the voice of the crew and Killian’s own voice of reason.

“What?” he didn’t stop in his path toward the booze. In fact Smee’s presence only urged him forward, if only to avoid awkward questions he didn’t quite know the answers to yet.

“Why have the girl followed? I don’t quite understand your reasoning, sir, when we’re supposed to be shippin’ out tonight if the tides favour us,” Smee, being Smee, pointed out. They’d entered Killian’s cabin at this point and the slightly confused young man collapsed into his favourite high backed chair and grabbed the half drunk bottle of rum on the desk, taking a swig before even thinking about answering.

“Felt like the thing to do,” he shrugged. In an attempt to avoid looking at his first mate Killian resorted to having some more rum, yes, rum always made things better.



Except when it didn’t.

And in this case it wasn’t. In truth it only seemed to be exacerbating the issue even more so. Three hours had passed since Killian had sent Connar after Lady Clair, three hours had passed and Connar had still not returned and it had been three hours since he had begun drinking. He’d long since finished the first bottle and had insisted that Smee fetch him another, his first mate had done so only after Killian threw the empty bottle at the wall next to him.

The rum was making him think very dangerous thoughts, thoughts that including stealing a certain stormy eyed girl away and showing her the world and remaining faithful to her forever and-oh god he was going to throw up. Pirates didn’t think like this, they didn’t kidnap young women -well no, they did, just not because they fancied them, pirates kidnapped young women to hold for ransom and get some monetary gain. Not for-yes, he was definitely going to throw up- feelings. Not even feelings, stirrings of feelings.

Killian dropped his heavy head onto his desk with an audible moan, to think he’d been done in by his own incessant need to woo every lass he laid eyes on. If he’d just pulled her back from the edge and went on his merry way he wouldn’t be in this mess. If he hadn’t looked into those eyes he’d be fine. Actually by now he was usually in a bar, rather than his own damned cabin, with a wench on each arm to boot.  
If he believed in such things he would have called it fate, but he didn’t, no, Killian Vale decided his own fate. He charted his own destiny, always had, though now, when offered a look of what might or could be, he found himself balking and deciding to pointedly look away. If he didn’t acknowledge it, then maybe the whole damned thing would go away.

This would require more rum.


 

Another hour passed, Killian had done away with the second bottle and Smee had purposefully ignored his Captain’s shouts for more rum, even going so far as to tell the rest of the crew to ignore any and all requests for rum in an attempt to avoid their already rather impulsive Captain from doing anything stupid. Smee should have let him drink, if he had Killian would have been too drunk to stand let alone make any decisions when Connar eventually came back. As it was, Killian was reasonably drunk, but far more sober than he ever would have liked, when the lithe man walked into his cabin to report his findings on Lady Clair.

“Cap’n,” Connar nodded his head in greeting. Killian had always liked Connar, he was a man of few words, but could get in and out of anywhere completely unseen given enough time. Nodding his head to give the man leave to speak and let him know he was listening, Killian reclined back in his chair to hear what had been found. “I followed the lass and who I figure to be ‘er maid to a large-well huge- building further in the city, yeah? Big place, gated, guards all round so I couldn’t get in without being seen, but I asked ‘round, she walked into the royal palace through the servants entrance,” Killian’s eyebrow raised at this. He’d figured her for being well bred, but royalty? He didn’t see it, but then why was she sneaking in through the servants entrance?

“Go on,” he said slowly, masking his interest carefully.

“I continued surveillance and caught sight of her leaving by carriage, too fast to follow, but it seemed as though she was with her family,” Connar paused to assess if his captain was still interested. Killian motioned for him to continue while holding his head which was spinning uncomfortably. “Asked ‘round some more and found out that the Rycroft family is in pretty close with the royals. They’ll be honoured guests at the masque the king is holdin’ in a few nights,” Killian’s head snapped up at this information.

“A masque you say?” the crooked grin returned to his face. His impossibly blue eyes shining with mischief at the thought of sneaking into the masque to see his lady. It was at this thought that Killian promptly emptied his stomach on his crewman’s boots due to his subconscious mind violently rejecting the idea that he could even have a lady in the first place. Unfortunately even this act could not deter Killian now he had made up his mind. He would see the woman again, if she still plagued his thoughts unbidden he would consider himself decidedly smitten and would -very probably throw up repeatedly before hand- at least attempt to steal her away. He wouldn’t kidnap her though, if she was to come with him it would be her choice.

Killian knew under normal circumstances, or rather, if he wasn’t half drunk, he probably would think the plan foolhardy and verging on suicidal. The after effects of the rum, however much he had just thrown up, was giving him just enough confidence to convince himself that he could and would pull it off without a hitch and with that, Killian Vale decided that he would infiltrate the royal palace for the sake of seeing a woman again.

Connar’s discomfort was magnified when his captain proceeded to empty the rest of his stomach on his already sick covered boots repeatedly until he was dry retching. With a sigh he removed his boots and walked out of the cabin quietly to fetch Smee so he could help their very young captain sober up.


 

“This isn’t a good idea,” Killian glanced at Smee who was standing beside him in the alley.

“Probably not,” he admitted with a grin. Smee handed him the black mask and invitation one of the boys had been kind enough to acquire for them. Smee hadn’t asked how, he never wanted to know how much they’d had to pay, yes, pay for this invitation. Killing was messy and he’d made sure they wouldn’t kill anyone, it would bring too much scrutiny, which was something they really didn’t need at this point.

“In fact this is probably the worst plan you’ve ever come up with,” Smee stressed the word ‘worst’ in hopes the captain would change his mind. It had the opposite effect the poor first mate had hoped for, Killian’s grin widened considerably as he placed the black mask over his eyes and ran a hand through his dark, permanently windswept hair before answering with aplomb.

“It wouldn’t be any fun if there wasn’t the threat of a good hanging, Smee, you know that,” Smee could only sigh in response. He didn’t want to get the Captains hopes up or try to dash them either, truth be told, he hadn’t seen Killian this excited about anything for quite a while so at least he was happy to see the old, very stupid and reckless, Captain Vale rear his impulsive head once again. “How do I look?” Killian opened his arms wide, his crooked grin the only thing of his face visible as the mask blended into his hair, giving him a very dark and enigmatic appearance even without donning his best clothes for the occasion. Smee had always been of the opinion that Killian was far too good looking for his own good, as such he often tried to down play the young man’s appearance so as to temper his already over inflated ego. In this case, however, Smee decided Killian needed all the confidence he could get as he was insisting on walking into Lundon’s royal palace.

“Dashing, mysterious and all round handsome, sir,” he answered promptly. He helped Killian on with his large black and gold coat and handed him his hat, being careful not to ruffle the attached red feather as he did. Placing the hat on his head with flair only he could muster he lifted Smee’s own red cap and ruffled the man’s decidedly lacklustre short ginger hair before replacing the woollen cap back on his head with his signature crooked grin in place.

“But Smee, I always look like that!” he laughed as he turned to the street to begin his plan.

“If you say so Cap’n,” Smee chuckled. Perhaps, with the attitude and energy Killian was excluding, this really would go off without a hitch. He doubted it though, but Killian had proved him wrong before so who was he to say what could and could not be done. Smee stood in the alley, waiting for the ‘all clear’ signal from Killian to head back to the ship and prepare for a quick getaway, tides or not, girl or not, they were leaving tonight.

Killian strode into the Palace complex with purpose and as such wasn’t  halted by the outer guard, he supposed it was due to his appearance; coming up beside a carriage that was coming to a stop Killian nicked the nice looking cane resting beside the driver and waited till the last person was disembarking to climb inside and vacate after them as though he’d been in there all along. As he was behind the rest of the party from the carriage and he’d vacated it with them no-one batted an eye at him as he handed over his invitation and put down his name in the registry as ‘James Killian’ knowing ‘Captain James Vale’ or ‘Killian Vale’ was going to draw attention. Making sure to lift his new cane in the air before entering to signal Smee he stuck close to the party he’d followed in until they hit the ballroom after which he hugged close to the walls, keeping a wary eye on the guards while looking for his lady. Again Killian’s stomach rolled at that thought, but not as badly as it had the day before thankfully and he managed to keep his dinner down. The lack of rum in his system probably helped with that too, though it didn’t help his nerves. He was now asking himself if this was such a good idea, well, no, he knew it was a bad idea, he was just wondering if it was worth it.

Perhaps he didn’t make as much as an impression on her as she had on him? What if she didn’t even remember him? What if-? His nerve-wracking train of thought was broken when he caught sight of Clair standing across the room from him. She hadn’t seen him, or recognised him more likely due to his mask and far more extravagant clothing than what he was wearing the day before. Killian found himself wondering if he could be content with just seeing her here, he was given an answer when he realised he was moving around the edge of the room towards her.

She was wearing a smoky blue gown that fell about her in waves gave in the impression of what Killian could only call a ‘sky goddess’. The pearls that decorated the bodice and the lace mask that adorned her face brought out the colour of her eyes. Her copper hair had been left down for the most part, but tiny braids were interlaced throughout it and tied with blue ribbons. Overall Killian approved, the way they’d set her hair made it look far wilder than it had the day before and he thought it suited her well. Although, he noted as an afterthought, she looked rather bored at this particular moment. A sly grin slid onto his face slowly as he considered that there were already plenty of people dancing on the floor so it wouldn’t be perceived as doing anything out of the ordinary to ask the young lady to dance.

“My lady,” he began with a bow to get her attention. When Clair’s stormy blue green eyes turned to him they looked surprised and became even more so when he lifted his mask ever so slightly so she could get a better look at him and winking at her.

“What-?” she started as he took her hand lightly and kissed it as he had the day before.

“I did say we might meet again, did I not?” he teased her. She held back her laughter in favour of scolding him, but Killian could see the amusement dancing in her eyes as she spoke.

“How did you get in here? It’s supposed to be nobility only,” she smacked his arm with the hand he’d kissed only moments before.

“Yes, well, before I regale you with my ingenious and nefarious plan of getting into a party, I was hoping you’d join me for a dance,” he held a hand out to her. His smile was patient as he waited for her answer, but, Clair was pleased to see, still slightly crooked in it’s delivery and somehow very him.

“I suppose, if that’s what I have to do to get some answers out of you,” she sighed, humouring him. She placed her hand in his and allowed Killian to lead her onto the dance floor. “Now, what are you doing here?” she wondered as they moved in time to the music.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked her with a grin as he lead them around the dance floor.

“No, it isn’t,” she was frowning at him suspiciously now. He smiled as he twirled her and then pulled her closer ever so slightly so he could murmur in her ear without being too obvious.

“I’ve come to either steal something or take back what has been stolen from me,” he told her softly. Though this only served to confused the young woman even more so as she studied his face while they danced.

“And what, pray tell will you be stealing? Or perhaps I should ask what has been stolen from you?” Killian couldn’t help but smirk at the questions.

“That, my dear Clair, depends completely on you,” he answered cryptically. Which only caused frustration in his dance partner, she retaliated against his smirk by quite purposefully slamming the heel of her shoe down on his foot. He winced, but laughed it off as he’d thankfully seen it coming and had known he deserved it, if only just a little.

“Captain Vale if you do not give me a straight answer I shall leave the dance floor and report you to the guard,” she warned seriously. Seeing that he may have pushed his luck a little too far with his game Killian relented. Though he couldn’t resist one last game.

“Only if you call me Killian,” he pulled her closer again as she’d leaned away when telling him off. He heard her sigh against him and she looked out to the crowds of nobles around them.

“Do you see the man over there, the one in that awful purple suit?” she changed the subject. Killian glanced over to where she’d been looking and caught sight of the man in question. Clair was quite right in saying the purple suit was awful, though Killian probably would have ventured to call it hideous.

“I see him,”

“That is his idea of ‘adventure’,” she told him with a good deal of disdain in her voice.

“What? That’s absurd,” Killian had to laugh at this. Since he’d taken to the sea at fifteen Killian had seen all manner of things he never even dreamed existed, his life was nothing but one big adventure for the most part.

“He’s the King,” that just made him laugh more. Before he could comment, however, she continued, “he’s also my intended,”

“What?” Killian suddenly felt like Smee had come and doused him with icy sea water after a long rum filled night of frivolity. Clair silently leaned her forehead against his shoulder lightly, quietly taking solace in his presence. At least he hadn’t turned tail and fled yet. The thought made her smile a little and gave her the strength she needed to keep talking.

“This is technically my engagement party, the wedding is in three days,” she admitted. Killian didn’t say a word, still stuck on the words ‘intended’, ‘engagement’ and ‘king’. He found himself very much wanting to wake up from this rum induced nightmare, but found, or rather knew, it was no nightmare unless you counted the fact that it was of the waking variety. Clair waited a moment, wondering when he was going to speak and what he was going to say. After a moment she could tell he wasn’t there with her anymore, his dancing had become more ridged and he was obliviously moving automatically rather than with the purpose he’d had a few moments ago. “Killian?” the soft call of his name snapped the dazed Captain out of his conflicted and confused thoughts. His eyes snapped down to find Clair watching him worriedly. “I’m sorry,” she looked about as sorry as he felt at that moment.

“Do you love him?” he didn’t really want to know the answer, but had to ask all the same. This changed everything he’d planned.

“Don’t be silly, how could I fall in love with a man who’s idea of adventure is a suit that awful?” she laughed and Killian relaxed.

“You’ll be Queen,” he reasoned, hating himself just a little.

“I don’t care,” she laughed again as Killian twirled her once more as required by the dance.

“Then come away with me,” he murmured sweetly into her ear.

“Killian,” she thought he was joking.

“Oh, my lady, you asked me before why I am here, well the answer to that question is fairly obvious; I’m here for you,” he told her with a smile that made the poor girl melt on the inside. To her credit Clair was able to remain calm about his proclamation and although the thought of running away had crossed her mind since the announcement of her engagement, this was the first time she’d even considered it a possibility.

“Why?”

“Because you have stolen something without even trying, something that I hadn’t even thought possible of being stolen and although I am quiet loath to admit it, that something- my heart- now appears to belong to you,” his blue eyes pierced hers with blue fire and left her breathless. “Come away with me,” he repeated softly, “just say the words and I will take you from this place, I’ll show you wonders you never thought possible,” normally empty promises somehow held a deeper meaning for Killian in this moment.

“Do you mean that?” she asked as so many others had. He wasn’t sure how to express that, of course he meant it, that for the first time he’d said something of that effect to a woman and had actually meant it. Only one word could, but it was a tad scary to say when they’d only just met and yet, it was the only one he could think of. So out it came.

“Always,”

The music stopped and the two separated with a bow and curtsy as expected and joined the rest of the party-goers in applauding the small orchestra supplying the nights music. A man approached Clair, speaking to her quietly before leading her toward her intended. Killian watched silently, knowing it wasn’t his place to intervene, at least not until he got his answer. He got quite a few dance invitations from young ladies who’d seen him dance with Clair, but he turned all of them down as kindly as he could while keeping an eye on his lady. Strangely, that thought did not make him feel like throwing up this time. Instead Killian felt a small bubble of happiness form inside him, a kind of happiness he’d never felt before.

He didn’t move from his spot, leaning against a marble pillar until he realised Clair was not where she’d been only moments ago. Frowning he scanned the packed ballroom carefully, taking note that there appeared  to be more guards present than there were when he had arrived. A flash of smoky blue in the corner of his eye caught Killian’s attention, turning he managed to see Clair’s back disappear behind a deep red curtain, covering the entrance to the patio area. He counted to fifty before following her as covertly as he could and slipping out into the cool night air.

“You have to go Killian, they know you’re here,” she didn’t turn to look at him. Instead keeping her gaze focused on the starry sky above her as he approached from behind.

“‘They’ meaning?”

“The King,” she replied. Killian sighed and leaned against the stone railing, briefly glancing at her still form standing next to him before responding.

“I’m not leaving without an answer,” he told her stubbornly.

“Killian-”

“No,” unable to stop himself Killian took hold of Clair’s shoulders and turned her to face him. She wouldn’t meet his gaze though and he didn’t know why. “I need to know-I need to know how you feel,” he leaned down a little to see if he could get her to look at him.

“I can’t-” a look of pain on Clair’s face accompanied her words.

“Why the hell not?” Killian shook her a little as he became more and more irritated by her refusal to look at him. Clair shook her head, keeping her eyes lowered to the ground between them. He did notice her hands were balled into fists at her sides and shaking slightly, as though she were holding something back. The happy bubble that had secretly formed while they’d been dancing was starting to feel very fragile the longer they stood outside without her looking at him. Taking a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself down, something he’d always had trouble with in the past, Killian tried to think of what he could say to get Clair to talk to him. When no brilliant plan formulated instantly as they usually did Killian was at a loss of what to do. He wasn’t sure if he should be thankful for the words that spewed forth from his mouth unbidden or not, but what else could he do but just go with it? “Why can’t you just say yes? You know I’d make you happy, so why?” he brushed some copper strands away from her face gently. “Just talk to me,” he whispered, “please,” Killian watched a tear roll down her cheek.

“He knows who you are, what you are,” her voice trembled as she spoke.

“Alright,” Killian sighed, “he told you, I take it. Told you who and what I am,” that made her laugh.

“I knew you were a pirate yesterday when we met,” he was graced with a watery smile that made Killian’s chest clench.

“What gave me away?” he smiled back at her. Clair reached up and pulled at one of his cheeks, a wet, but teasing smile playing on her lips.

“Only a pirate could have such a handsomely crooked smile,” Killian took her hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Ah, so you think I’m handsome,” Clair rolled her still teary eyes at his attempt to make light of the subject.

“You know I do,” the flatness of her tone made his grin grow wider.

“And?” Killian prompted as he leaned down of he mind to kiss her there and then.

“I-”

“And if you do not remove yourself from my bride, pirate, I will be forced to run you through before her eyes,” Killian’s insides froze slightly at the voice of whom he could only surmise belonged to the King. Swallowing, he slowly turned his head to look behind him, finding he was right when he saw a tawny haired man in a truly horrible purple suit. Killian was surprised to see the man was only a few years older than him, or his real age rather.

“But you’d have her watch my hanging, I take?” he kept his cool. If he needed to get out he could, Killian was very certain of this as Connar had spent a good part of the day casing the palace and the surrounding grounds to find escape routes at Smee’s insistence.

“Naturally, I can’t have my bride falling for a man like you, Mr Vale-”

“Captain,” Killian interjected quickly. It was more reflex than a conscious decision, but Killian did enjoy the look on the King’s face when he was interrupted.

“Captain Vale,” the King allowed with the briefest of nods after a moment, “as a known pirate and wanted for various crimes, it would not be proper for a woman of Lady Clair’s breeding to be connected to you in any way,” the King drew a pistol and pointed it at Killian’s chest.

“What would you suggest then?” Killian turned to face the other man slowly. He was ignoring the point the King had made, he was ignoring that a part of him agreed that Clair was too good for him. He didn’t want to believe that.

“Run, little pirate, run away with your tail between your legs and never look back. Forget her, for she will never be yours,” the King’s smile never reached his deep green eyes. Killian glared at him, he would have taken a step toward the monarch if the man had not cocked the pistol the moment he even twitched. “Now, now, lets not do anything foolish, hmm?” the King said warningly.

“Your name?” Killian asked with a forced smile, but his voice was tight and lacked any of his usual cockiness.

“I’m surprised you don’t know, Captain, where have you been skulking? Under a rock?” the King looked amused at his question.

“Nowhere you’d know, and I would know the name of the man who would take away the only source of light I’ve found in my life,” he felt a small hand touch his back lightly. It calmed him somewhat, but the way her hand was trembling slightly made him more determined to take her away from this King.

“I am His Royal Majesty King John Pentagal the Fifth,” the King declared with far too much pride. His chin raised as he spoke and chest expanded slightly as well as a show of authority.

“Pentagal, I’ll remember that,” Killian assured him calmly. He could feel Clair’s thumb lightly rubbing against his back, right between the shoulder blades and it made him feel invincible even though he didn’t understand how.

“Please run,” she whispered behind him. Pentagal couldn’t hear her, for which Killian was grateful, no doubt hearing Clair say anything at all to him would send the idiot into a rage from which Killian wasn’t sure he could protect her from completely. “I couldn’t bare it if you were killed because of me,” Killian felt his whole body sag at her words. She sounded so very sad, sad and scared.

“I’m not leaving this place without her,” he said resolutely. John Pentagal laughed and raised an eyebrow at Killian’s decision in disbelief.

“Come now Captain, she may be beautiful, but no woman is worth your life,” he glanced at Clair behind Killian. “Well, perhaps yours is, being a pirate and all,” he added as a malicious afterthought. Killian’s blue eyes turned steely at this, his demeanour became harder and far more ridged than normal as his anger at the King before him built.

“She is worth everything,” the defiance in his voice made Pentagal frown deeply. As though the other man didn’t understand what Killian was saying.

“I think you may regret those words one day,” he replied after a moment.

“Not even for a moment,” Killian assured the monarch and the woman behind him. Glancing behind him Killian smiled at her, “I meant it, you know, what I said before, every single word,” when their eyes met he knew that she believed him.

“How sweet, pity,” were the only warning Killian had before Pentagal pulled the trigger. The word ‘no’ the only indication that Clair understood what was happening and her body pressed against his back as she spun them around without warning right before the sound of the gun going off was the only way he knew what she had done.

“No,” Killian echoed her single word as he felt her lean against his back heavily. He couldn’t move, frozen inside and out from the shock of what she had done for him.

“Forgive me, I couldn’t let him,” Clair whispered breathlessly into his back. Killian closed his eyes as her small hand found his own and her fingers entwined with his, a brief moment of warmth before the reality of what had been done crashed down on them. It was almost as if for a few moments time had frozen just for them.

“Please run, please, for me, just run and don’t look back,” she begged him. She was crying, he could tell by her voice. Killian wanted to ask her, ask her how bad the wound was, but his voice stuck in his throat and he couldn’t find the words. Instead he shook his head, he wouldn’t run, not now, not after this. “You have to, you have to look forward, for both of us now. You have to live, for me and for you, because if you don’t, I won’t forgive you,” he could almost smile at this. They’d only known each other for two days, but he could say, with ease, that those words were very her.

“What would be the point without you?” his voice returned to ask. Clair squeezed his hand gently, her hold on his was getting weaker and he began to worry that this truly was their ending when they hadn’t even begun.

“Don’t worry, we’ll see each other again, I promise,” Killian very nearly believed her. She sounded so sure.

“So, until then, chase the wind and see the world, for me, and just you wait, because I’ll come back to you,” Killian squeezed her hand back.

“You’d better,” his voice cracked but he refused to break. Not now, he would be strong for Clair, he needed to be.

“You said I stole your heart, so I give you mine in return, take care of it till next time,” her voice was weakening by the moment.

“Clair-” she wouldn’t let him speak the words, not now. Not yet.

“I’ll find you again, so run, just run,” Clair’s words faded in her throat as her grip on his hand slackened and she slid off his back, hitting the ground with an audible thud that seemed to bring the world back to life. Killian could hear the King yelling in the background as he took his first step away from Clair, but he didn’t stop, he would run, for her. He would never stop running until she found him again. Though in his heart, he didn’t believe it possible, he would do as she bade. It was the last request of his first love, so yes, he would run.



Killian didn’t remember how he managed to get back to the ship, he didn’t remember giving the order to weigh anchor or even when he’d started drinking. Yet there he was, up to his eyeballs in rum, in the safety of his cabin and very, very alone. There was a red blanket wrapped around him tightly that he could only guess Smee had placed on him. He also didn’t know where the three bottles of rum he’d drunk so far had come from either, though he was very grateful for them. Another thing Killian wasn’t sure of, was how much time had passed since he’d arrived at the docks, or how long he’d been drinking. He was aware he’d probably been crying, or something to that effect anyway, but a tad more manly with any luck. Luck, how he wished he’d had some luck back on the patio with Clair and that wretched King. Inwardly Killian cursed the whole Pentagal line, past and future. Should he ever come across another belonging to that family Killian wasn’t sure he would be able to stop himself from destroying them utterly. But revenge could wait, Clair had bade him run and run he would, he would flee back to the Never Nevers and there he would stay. People didn’t come back once they were gone, of this he was certain and so, he would stay in the Never Nevers for the rest of recorded time here on Earth. This world, for all he cared, could burn now she wasn’t in it.

It took him a good deal of the rest of the day to sober up properly and once he did Killian found himself feeling more and more empty where his chest should be. She’d said she’d give him her heart in return for his, but it didn’t help, Clair was gone. Taken from him before their story had even begun.
When he stepped out onto the deck late in the afternoon Killian stood beside his first mate silently, looking out to the horizon before them as the sun sank towards the sea.

“The girl?” Smee asked after a few moments of silence.

“Gone,” Killian’s voice was lacking it’s usual liveliness and his first mate took note of this as he continued the brief exchange.

“The manner?”

“She’s dead, Smee,” Smee’s eyes closed and he bowed his head respectfully once the empty sounding words left his Captain’s mouth.

“Right then, if you need some more time Cap’n I’m sure the lads will-”

“Hiding away in my cabin isn’t going to change the fact that she’s gone, nor will drinking myself under the table,” Killian’s eyes didn’t leave the horizon as he spoke. The darkness in his voice was enough to worry Smee, but he thought it best to allow Killian to deal with his grief in his own way. It wasn’t as though Smee had ever been in the same situation after all, he’d been spared the pain of love so far and for that he thanked whatever deity was watching over them.

“Very well, heading, sir?” this question brought Killian back to the present it seemed as he turned and looked at his first mate for the first time since coming out on deck.

“We’re going back to the Never Nevers Smee,” the older man’s eyes widened at this declaration.

“What? Why in blazes why we want to go back to that godforsaken place? That thing almost killed us all last time and we barely made it out,” Smee gestured wildly as he spoke and the fear in his voice was plain. He wasn’t exaggerating either, the main denizens of the Never Nevers weren’t exactly friendly and the one to whom he referred to mainly was one that had taken a deep dislike to Killian in particular. More than one close call had been had in the five years they’d wandered within the timeless waters of the Never Nevers.

“Pan be damned, we’re going back and will not be returning, this world can burn for all I care,” Killian said darkly. Knowing now was not the time to be arguing with his Captain, Smee sighed and nodded.

“As you say Cap’n,” with that he moved to the helm to give the helmsman his new orders. Killian could hear his men muttering unhappily as word passed that they were going back to the hell they’d only just escaped, but said nothing to quell their fears. They were right to be afraid after all, The Pan was probably going to kill them all when they went back, but Killian could live with that. He would rather die fighting anyway and Clair wouldn’t like it if he died fighting Pentagal so this was the next best thing. Running to the Never Nevers would fulfil her last request and going down fighting The Pan was something Killian had assumed he would meet his end doing anyway.

Killian calmly fiddled with his cuffs as his ship turned toward a wall of mist that had appeared out of the quickly encroaching darkness of the night. He didn’t notice Smee approach him again until the first mate cleared his throat to get his attention.

“Beggin’ your pardon Cap’n, but the lads would like to pay their respects to the lady before we leave this world,” Killian stared at him for a moment before he understood what Smee was saying. Temporarily unable to speak from the all consuming grief that suddenly felt like it would swallow him whole, he nodded and followed Smee to stand near the stairs that led down to the main deck. His whole crew were assembled and any that wore a hat had removed it, holding it over their hearts in respect. Smee motioned for him to say something and Killian drew on the small amount of strength her memory gave him as he took a deep breath.

“Tonight we say farewell to a bright light that once shone amongst the darkness and has now been extinguished without reason or need, on this, our last night on Earth, we say goodbye,” were Killian Vale’s last words spoken in the world of his birth before he left it for an other, much darker one.

 

 

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