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If You Ask Nicely

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“No.”

She crosses her arms over her chest and plants her feet firmly on the ground, not backing down on her position in the slightest. She’s stubborn as hell, but so is Killian. They’re likely in for a long night, in more ways than one.

“What do you mean no?”

He looks genuinely confused, and he’s smarter than that, can usually read her better than she can read herself, so why the hell is he confused?

“I mean, I don’t want to go to your brother’s for Thanksgiving.”

Liam’s an asshole who she doesn’t want to be around, but Killian thinks he’s basically God himself. And as much as she usually puts up with that because she loves Killian, she doesn’t want to do that this year. She doesn’t want to deal with Liam and his snide remarks about her and her relationship with Killian like the two of them haven’t been together for half a decade. It’s too fucking much, and she’d much rather spend time with the people she loves, even if that’s selfish.

“Yeah, I got that, Swan.”

“Then why the hell did you say ‘what do I mean by saying no?’ Did the wordsmith in you forget the English language?”

“No, I meant why would you say no to doing Thanksgiving with my brother and his family this year when we’ve gone to Mary Margaret and David’s house for the past three years?”

“I said no because we always go to their house. It’s tradition. And I don’t want to spend an extra day with your brother right now.”

“Yeah, well,” he seethes, his eyes squinting in anger as his jaw ticks, and they’ve gone past argument to fight in the blink of an eye. Her breath hitches, and her stomach aches at the look on his face. “I want a new tradition where I get to spend it with my family.”

“Am I not your family?”

“Not officially because you won’t fucking marry me.”

For the first time in this entire stupid conversation she blanches, her heartbeat increasing so rapidly that she thinks her blood may be hot enough to be set on fire and to burn both herself and Killian. Tears sharply sting in her eyes, and she tries to blink them away before Killian can get the satisfaction of knowing just how badly those words hurt her.

Not that he doesn’t already know. He said them with the intention of hurting her, now didn’t he?

“How dare you,” she spits, backing away from him until her back hits the wall, a hanged portrait of the two of them shaking at the force of her impact. “You know my reasons behind that because I trusted you with that information. And how dare you say I’m not your family. Fuck you, Killian.”

She sees the moment his words to her really hit him, his stupid blue eyes widening and his lips parting, and even if he already feels remorse, she doesn’t care. She can’t deal with him tonight. Not after that.

“Swan, I – d”

“Don’t. Just…sleep on the couch and I-I’ll, um, you can go to Thanksgiving with whoever the hell you want, but I won’t be there.”

“Emma please.”

He takes a step closer to her, and she puts her hand in the air to keep him away.

“Not tonight. Or tomorrow. You know what, I’ll tell you when I’m okay with speaking to you again. Or if I am.”

She sees his lips part again like he’s going to try to say something else, but she doesn’t want to hear anything else from him tonight. He fucking hurt her, and even if their argument was the lead up to his words, he was still the one who said them. He was the one who said she wasn’t his family, and after almost five years together, that’s like being stabbed with a knife and left to bleed out. So she hurries into the bedroom, their bedroom, and slams the door behind her, the sound of the wood clicking in its frame reverberating throughout the entire apartment, before resting her back against the solidness of the wood and sliding down to the ground as the sob that’s been stuck in her throat finally escapes. She can finally breathe again, but it’s not really worth it as her breathing is heavy and stilted, air hard to capture as her chest heaves and her body shakes with these awful sounds she hasn’t made in a long time emanating from her body.

God, why does crying make you feel so bad? If you’re crying it means you’re most likely already feeling awful, and then what? It had to somehow be made worse? With salty tears puffing up your eyes and making you feel tired and snot coming out of both your throat and your nose? Like, what the hell? She feels bad enough as is. Why does it have to be made worse?

The more she thinks about tonight, the more she sobs. The more her heart absolutely aches. Physically aches like it’s constricting. She can’t…she can’t do this. She can’t breathe again, and when she puts her head between her knees and circles herself in the smallest ball that she can make, her arms wrapped around her knees, she only feels a little relief as she rocks back and forth in front of the door, the floor hard against her ass.

She and Killian don’t fight. They just don’t. Not like that with raised voices and anger that practically radiates off their bodies in harsh red waves. Yeah, they get into arguments or disagree. But it’s not like this. They don’t throw out insults that they know will hurt the other’s insecurity and emotional scars.

And it’s not about Thanksgiving. It’s really not. It’s about the fact that she’s a bit selfish making them do everything with her friends because she doesn’t get along with his family. She doesn’t have a family, not one she’s related to, and it took her a long time to find one she was okay loving. With all of her past, the heartbreak and betrayals and lost family, it’s been difficult to trust anyone. But she trusts David and Mary Margaret. She has for a decade now, and adding Killian to that trust was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. But she did it, allowing him into her life piece by piece until he practically held all of the pieces of her heart.

Right now that feels like a mistake, but she knows deep down that it’s not.

Killian’s a bit selfish, too, though. He knows about her relationship with Liam. If anything has ever almost broken them apart besides her walls, it’s Liam and his protectiveness of Killian. Yeah, she knows that David is the same way with her when it comes to Killian, but she made David see reason and stop being such an asshole about things. She appreciates the concern, but just like Killian is a grown-ass man who can take care of himself, she’s a grown-ass woman.

God, they probably could have compromised by doing two Thanksgivings, and then none of this would have ever happened. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.

They both fucked up, but right now, Killian is the one who took it too far.

Killian is everything to her, and she’s miserable being mad at him right now, the sobs only stopping a bit so that she can breathe. Because she doesn’t think that she was breathing for a minute there.

She wants to go out there and talk to him, maybe yell some more, but she doesn’t know if she has the energy to, everything drained from her the longer she stays on the floor. He’s probably asleep anyways. She hates him a bit for that because there’s no way she’s going to be able to sleep tonight.

God, how did this even happen?

She was just supposed to come home for them to eat dinner and go to sleep…together…and somehow it’s come to this.

“Emma.”

His voice on the other side of the door shocks her, and her head falls back against the door, hitting it harshly and making her entire head sting. She really did think he was asleep. She wasn’t prepared to have to hear his voice again tonight. It’s too much.

“Go away.”

“Love,” he pleads, his voice cracking the slightest bit, “I will, but you didn’t take your vitamins today. They’re still on the counter.”

Shit, she never did take them, did she? She has to take those. Scrambling up from the floor, her legs shaking a bit having to stand after being curled in on herself, she moves to the door, her hand barely grabbing onto the doorknob because she knows that Killian’s on the other side of the door.

Before she’s ready for it, the door swings open to Killian leaning against the wall with his hands covering his face and his hair sticking up all over the place like he’s been running his hand through his locks. He only does that when he’s nervous or anxious or upset, and at least he seems to feel some remorse at their argument.

“I’m sorry for disturbing you.” He reaches back to scratch behind his ear, and his eyes look a little puffy as well. Maybe he’s more upset than she thought. “I debated on it for two hours, but even if you’re pissed at me, and rightfully so, the baby needs you to take the vitamins. And you didn’t take them this morning, so I…uh…”

“No, you’re right, Killian.” She forces a smile, and it feels pained. “Thanks for reminding me.”

She walks down the hall until she gets to the kitchen, her vitamins sitting on the kitchen counter just like Killian said, and she tosses them in her mouth before she somehow forgets again. God, this entire day is fucked up. She just wants to be over.

Suddenly she realizes Killian said he debated on coming to get her for two hours, and what time is it? She swears she was only in the room for a few minutes, but when she looks at the clock on the microwave, it’s three in the morning, several hours after they’d argued.

“Are you, uh, are you okay?”

“No,” she admits, her eyes filling with tears again as she looks up at the ceiling to try to stop them because she just can’t take anymore. She should be out of tears. “I can’t believe you said that.”

“I can’t either,” Killian admits, and her resolve to not cry again keeps breaking.

“I thought you loved me.”

“I do.”

“But then why would you say I wasn’t your family? Why would you bring up the marriage thing again? I thought you were okay with that decision. I thought we’d made it together.”

“We did. And I am okay with it. One hundred percent okay with it. I was being stupid, and I’m sorry.”

Oh shit. She wants to blame the hormones, and maybe they’re to blame a bit, but she’s about to fall apart again, the stupid waterworks fully starting, and she doesn’t want to be upset anymore. But she is.

“But then w-why…why would y-you,” her lips quiver as she rests her hands on her still flat belly, “s-s-say i-t-t?”

Killian’s just a blurry mess right now. He doesn’t even look like a human being.

“Sweetheart, I don’t know. I fucked up. I fucked up for taking that argument too far, and I don’t know why I said what I did. Yeah, I’d love to marry you, but us being married doesn’t change who we are. We still love each other, don’t we?”

She furiously nods her head because no matter how pissed she is, she loves him. She doesn’t think she’ll ever stop loving him. “Of course we do.”

“And you’re my family always. You’re the mother of my child, and even if you weren’t, even if you were simply my girlfriend for the rest of my life, nothing would make me happier because it means I’m with you. And that’s all that matters to me, okay?”

“I’m still pissed at you.”

“As you should be.”

“And I’m still not decided on what we’re doing for Thanksgiving.”

“Okay. That’s fine. I know that we can talk about it more when neither of us are pissed off and we’re more rational than not.”

“And I’d really like you to hold me right now because I hate you and I love you and I don’t want to be by myself right now.”

His face softens, the slight scowl she could make out through the tears turning into a soft smile with understanding eyes, and as much as this probably isn’t over, she really just needs him to hold her right now. She was alone for so long, and she doesn’t want to be alone again, especially now that she’s pregnant. She doesn’t want to be by herself when she has someone who loves her and who she loves and who she wanted to have this baby with.

“Of course, love,” he admits, moving forward and wrapping his arms around her waist as she does the same to him, holding onto him like her life depends on it. Maybe it does a bit. She almost sighs in relief at feeling close to him again, and as he buries his face in her neck, practically inhaling her, she starts sobbing again, but this time in relief.

“I love you, you asshole,” she cries into his t-shirt as he rubs soothing circles up and down her back, and she swears he kisses her neck through her hair. And that only makes her cry more.

“I love you, Emma. And I love our cygnet. You two are my family now and forever. No matter what.”

“No matter what.”

Chapter Text

He cannot sleep. It doesn’t matter what time he and Emma lay down to go to bed or how exhausting their day was, he can’t sleep. Emma falls asleep almost instantly every time. It doesn’t matter if she’s wide awake when she crawls under the covers or if she’s tired from her day trying to save the world even with her bloody shaking tremors or if she’s sated from the love-making he’s just now allowed himself to be a part of again, she falls asleep. The world rests on her shoulders, but she can sleep.

So why can’t he?

The most obvious answer is that every time his eyelids flutter closed and there’s no noises but the soft sounds of Emma’s breathing against his chest, all he can think about is the horrible things he did as the Dark One. He’d hated Emma for what she did to him, for making him the thing he despised most in the world, the thing he’d tried to kill for centuries, but he understands now. He really does. He’d wanted her to let him die a hero and to remember him as a good man, and while she hadn’t respected his wishes, he understands. If the situation had been reversed, he doesn’t think he’d be able to let her go. Actually, he knows that he couldn’t let her go because he’s a selfish bastard. He’d have done anything to be with her because though their hearts are not one despite Emma’s attempts at saving him in the goddamn Underworld, his only beats because she’s with him.

It would likely stop again if she stopped loving him.

He doesn’t know how she’s managed to forgive him for all of his harsh words and even harsher actions when some days he can’t even forgive himself. But she’s always been stronger than him, the bloody wonderful woman that she is. He doesn’t deserve her, not in the slightest, but as his stump rubs up and down her back, feeling the silky soft bare skin underneath that glows in the moonlight, he’s eternally thankful that she does.

Eternally. Unequivocally. Undeniably.

He’s ruined so many families in his search for revenge, his own included, but the family he worries about ruining most of all is Emma’s. She’s his everything, the very reason why his search for revenge changed into a quest for love, and he feels like they can never catch a break. It’s like if there isn’t something from the outside threatening them, one of their own becomes a threat that can pull them all asunder. He was that threat, and he nearly did.

So he can’t sleep. He can’t sleep because his guilt consumes him even with the love that fills his heart.

He hears Henry’s bedroom door open from across the hall, and the guilt just intensifies, his chest aching at what he did to the boy, the boy who he loves as if he were his own flesh and blood and who he would go to the ends of all the realms to protect. He’d almost destroyed Henry’s family. He’d almost destroyed Henry, marking him to go to the Underworld with everyone else, and Killian feels bile rise in his throat and his body begin to perspire at just the thought alone.

Fuck does he wish he could sleep. Maybe then his demons wouldn’t come out to play.

Henry is everything that’s good in the world, even with his teenager tendencies and faults. He believes in people even when they don’t deserve it, which can be as bad as it is good. He is Emma’s son, and when he sees the love in her eyes that she has for Henry, his heart both shatters and swells because she should have never had to have given him up or gone through all of the heartbreak that came with that. Henry should have never had to have gone through all of his heartbreak either.

Emma’s told him all about everything that happened with Baelfire…with Neal, and that shatters him, too. The boy he knew would had never done that, but he still did. And there are always reasons behind everything, but those reasons don’t excuse the actions. Emma was still heartbroken and scarred, alone and in jail and pregnant because the one person she trusted in the world betrayed her and then abandoned her…like every other person in her life. If anything, he understood the abandonment and when they met, he saw the look in her eyes behind the sheer force of will she had to simply get back to her boy she’d only just gotten back and who had only just gotten her.

There seem to be a lot of wrongs and injustices, but they’re all still here, living and breathing and existing in one household.

Well, mostly. Henry often stays with Regina, and even when he’s here, Killian avoids him because whenever he looks at the boy, his guilt consumes him and shackles him to the point where he cannot function as he normally would, his limbs failing him and his mind becoming a jumbled mess where even the most basic of thoughts do not make sense.

He understands the Henry is forgiving and that he’s likely forgiven him, but he almost ruined that innocence the only children can possess. Even if they’ve experienced darkness like he and Emma, there’s always a tiny bit of hope until the small flicker of light is extinguished and the wounds made when young linger for longer than they should. But Henry has never had a small flicker of light represent his hope. It’s always been a blazing conflagration. And Killian almost put the whole bloody thing out. How is he supposed to live with that?

“Babe,” Emma murmurs against his chest, and he didn’t realize until this moment that he was breathing so heavily that is chest was heaving enough to move Emma up and down, causing her to stir from her slumber. “You’re freaking out again.”

“Shhh,” he whispers, trying to get her to go back to sleep by leaning and down and pressing a kiss against his forehead while still rubbing her back, moving in the motions that he knows now soothe her, “go back to sleep, love.”

“I can practically feel your mind running all over the place. How am I supposed to sleep with that going on?”

“Tis nothing, love.”

He knows she’s not going to listen. She never listens, and he so loves her for it. Instead of falling back asleep, she props herself up on her forearms, her hands noticeably still and for that he’s thankful, before staring up at him from under those beautiful, long eyelashes, her eyes lightened by the small sliver of moonlight that comes through the opening in the curtains.

“You know you can’t lie to me.”

He sighs, and how did he forget about her superpower? “I know.”

“So talk. We talk, remember?”

“Aye,” he confirms, nodding his head before taking his hand and moving the hair hanging in her face behind her ears before getting the non-rum filled courage to tell her how he’s been feeling. He’s told her before, and she likely thought this issue was resolved. “I feel guilty. And yes, I know we’ve talked things through until we’re both blue in the face, but right now I’m feeling guilty over Henry.”

Those beautiful eyes of hers thin and her lips purse like she’s trying to figure out his thought process when he thought it should be obvious. Maybe it’s only obvious to him.

“Why over Henry?”

“I tried to kill him, love. And his entire family. And now he’s living in a house with me. He must hate me, and I wouldn’t blame him.”

“Henry doesn’t hate you, Killian. I promise.”

“How can you know, though?”

She smiles, and it’s a beautiful sight that calms his erratic heart. “Mother’s intuition.”

“I just…I don’t know that I deserve to be a part of his life for all that I did to him.”

“That wasn’t you.” She reaches up to caress his face, her fingers running over the scar on his cheek as they discuss the scars on his heart. “You weren’t yourself.”

“It was still me underneath. And just because you can separate us, doesn’t mean that the lad can.”

“Well why don’t you go talk to him?”

She says it like it’s the most simple thing in the world.

“It’s the middle of the night.”

“You and I both know he’s in the kitchen sneaking food right now.”

She rolls off of him before kicking at his side until he rolls over and gets off of the bed, stumbling into some pajama bottoms and a long-sleeved shirt to hide the scars on his arm from Henry. Emma is always saying he doesn’t have to if he’s comfortable showing his scars, as they’re a part of him, but he doesn’t want to shock Henry any more.

Reluctantly walking down the stairs, avoiding all of the spots where they creak that Henry hasn’t quite mastered yet, he braces himself for this conversation he’s about to attempt, knowing it could go in a myriad of directions for which no Naval Captain could prepare. Some maps cannot be charted. Some seas cannot be sailed, even if he is a hell of a captain.

“Lad,” he whispers when he gets to the kitchen and Henry’s eating out of a container full of noodles Emma made earlier this week, his chocolate brown eyes blown wide as noodles hang out of his mouth, “can we talk?”

Henry’s eyes widen as he hurriedly consumes the food in his mouth and at the very least he’s not consuming those pop tarts in the middle of the night.

“If this is about my midnight snacking, I can try with the healthier things. But the broccoli is just so gross, Killian.”

“Tis not about that.” He sits down across from Henry, reaching up to furiously scratch at his ear while his mouth ticks up to his side, the words on the tip of his tongue, but they do not want to pass through his lips. “I, uh, wanted to talk about you and me.”

“What about us?”

“Well, um, about your feelings toward me. I’ve done some terrible things, including to you, and I’m worried that you may not be comfortable living in the same house as me or with me being with your mother. So I wanted to talk to you…or your mother is encouraging me to talk to you because your comfort and happiness are important to me.”

Henry shrugs before slurping the remaining noodles he just picked up on his fork, and the lad really shouldn’t be eating this late at night. Again, at least it’s not the pop tarts.

“Why would I not be comfortable with that?”

Oh gods, he’s really going to have to try to explain it, isn’t he? He has to regulate his breathing, deep breaths in and out as he tries to get the courage to say these words too. It’s all he can think about, but saying it out loud in front of Henry is daunting.

“I tried to kill you and your family, lad. Most wouldn’t forgive for that.”

“But that wasn’t you, Killian.”

He’s not necessarily startled by Henry’s response, he’s an intelligent boy, which Killian totally attributes to his mother, but Henry hasn’t always liked him. He understands this. He’s with his mother. Though, Henry did always like Robin, and Robin was with Regina. That’s not important, though. It’s only his history with Henry that matters, and it hasn’t always been smooth. So he doesn’t expect smooth sailing now. That’s precisely why he’s been avoiding the lad.

“It was. Even if the Dark One possessed me, it was still me underneath.”

Henry lets out a frustrated huff of air before putting down his fork, and Killian thinks he may very well be more frustrated at his late night eating being interrupted.

“Look, I know that everyone thinks I’m smart, but sometimes you guys still treat me like I’m five years old. My mom was the Dark One, too, and I never stopped loving her, even when she did bad things. And while, yeah, that was terrifying, I don’t hate you for it. You’re part of the family, Killian. And you died a hero, and you’re still a hero now. Even heroes make mistakes. We know that better than anyone.”

Bloody hell…that is everything to hear Henry say those words, and it’s like two tons of steel lift from his shoulders. He feels almost free, the shackles breaking off of him.

“When did you get so smart, my boy?”

Henry smirks, and he almost looks like Emma in that moment.

“I’ve had some good teachers.”

When he walks back upstairs, leaving Henry to keep eating, it’s only to find Emma sitting up in bed worrying her lip between her teeth. “That was fast.”

“Well, it turns out your boy still has a heart full of belief even when I’ve sinned against him.”

He leans down to press a kiss against Emma’s lips, and she holds him there, her lips brushing against his when she speaks. “Someone very wise once told me all sins can be forgiven when someone loves you.”

Chapter Text

 

When it happened the first time, she didn’t think anything of it.

 

When it happened the second time, she thought that maybe it was a little odd.

 

When it happened the third time, she knew that this was probably just a phase.

 

When it happened the fourth time, well, that’s when she knew that it had to stop.

 

Killian had been back in London for the longest two weeks of her life (well, maybe a bit shorter than when he was deployed for seven months, but she likes to block that out because it still hurts), and all she wanted was for him to come home. She missed him so much that her heart physically ached, and every second that he wasn’t home was a second that was absolutely killing her. He’d had to go home to clean out his father’s house after his death, and as much as she wanted to go with him, the plane tickets were too expensive for her to go with them, not even considering having to pay for Andy to fly or for him to have a babysitter for two weeks. Not that the second thing was really an option. Her baby is three, and there was no way in hell she was leaving him alone for two weeks. Killian had been pretty visibly sour about it, and he’s usually the one that can hide his emotions better of the two of them.

 

It probably didn’t help that Killian hadn’t spoken to his father in seventeen years, since he was eighteen and had left home, and yet he was the one stuck with the responsibility of handling the man’s estate. When they got the call that Brennan died, Killian had barely reacted, going through the call like it was a business deal or something equally emotionless, and it was only when they went to bed that night that he’d told her how pissed off he was that the man was still bothering him from the dead. He’d run away to get away from him, and yet he still inconvenienced him and was making him leave his family for half of a month.

 

“Baby,” she soothed, rubbing all of the stress knots out of his shoulders and his neck, kissing along the skin as she tried to comfort him, “I’m so sorry. But it’s going to be okay. You’ll go and get it over with and then never have to deal with it again. And Andy and I will be waiting for you when you get back.”

 

He turned in the bed, grabbing onto her arms and pulling her onto his lap, wrapping his arms around her waist while he buried his head into her neck, his scruff rubbing up against her while she ran her fingers through his hair to try to comfort her. He’s her rock, and while she’s seen him highly emotional on many of an occasion, it’s been a long time. Probably since Andrew was born and all of the little things that have come with being parents. He’s an exceptional dad, probably the best in the world if she’s honest with herself, and the fact that he ever thought he wouldn’t be because of his relationship with his dad is ridiculous.

 

“I love you,” he whispered into her hair before kissing her. “Thank you for being my everything, Emma Jones.”

 

“I love you, too.”

 

So the two weeks passed slowly, Emma going to the precinct every morning and dropping Andy off at daycare only to pick him up early so that they could facetime daddy before he went to bed far before they would with the time difference.

 

But Killian’s about five minutes away from being home right now, and she’s ecstatic to have him back. She’d offered to pick him up from the airport, but he’d simply said that he wanted to have their reunion at home.

 

Which has led to her anxiously pacing back and forth in the living room while Andy watches Paw Patrol on the television behind her. Every time a car drives down the street, she looks to see if it’s Killian. Of course, he’s in an Uber, and she has absolutely no idea what kind of vehicle he’s in.

 

“Momma, can I have a snack?”

 

“Yeah, sure. I’ll get you some of your crackers.”

 

She scurries into the kitchen and ruffles through the cabinets to find the crackers, and as she closes the cabinet, she hears the front door slam shut. She’s not dramatic, she swears, but she drops Andy’s crackers and runs to the front door as fast as she can, running into Killian’s arms and wrapping her legs around his waist as she peppers kisses all over his face, laughing and smiling and just being absolutely elated to see him and smell him and feel him.

 

“Hi,” he chuckles, adjusting her on his waist by cupping her ass with his hands and pulling her up to make sure she doesn’t fall as he stares at her with absolute wonder. “Did you miss me?”

 

“You have no idea.”

 

She reaches forward to cup his face and press a fierce kiss against his lips, everything in the world drowning out around them until she hears a high-pitched scream, Killian pulling back from their kiss to look down at his legs, where a furious toddler is angrily pushing and hitting at his legs.

 

“Andrew Jones,” Killian warns, still taking a beating from their son, “stop that right now.”

 

“No,” he protests, and she recognizes that he’s about to cry before he actually does, “you can’t kiss, momma. No kiss momma.”

 

Killian looks back to her, confusion in those beautiful eyes that their son shares with him as Andy’s cries start to echo throughout the room. “This is still happening?”

 

“I guess so,” she confirms, “put me down, babe, and we’ll deal with your attacker.”

 

Killian nods, and she sees his head move like he’s going to kiss her again, but he thinks better of it before slowly lowering her to the ground. As soon as her feet touch the hardwood, Andy stops hitting Killian and turns to Emma, raising his hands in the air until she picks him up and rests him against her chest, his little arms wrapping around her neck as his sobs slow down and his breathing evens with every second that he’s in her arms. She has no idea how to deal with this, and as much as they can’t allow Andy to hit someone, let alone his dad, he’s more upset than anything else right now, so she simply rubs his back up and down until he calms while her eyes begin to water looking at Killian and the hurt on his face.

 

When Andy calms, they move him into the living room and sit him down on the couch between the two of them. He understands most of what they tell him in normal conversation, but it’s difficult to have heartfelt conversations with someone who is just now learning not to use diapers.

 

“Andy, baby,” Emma begins, and his eyes are so blue and puffy that it breaks her heart, “why won’t you let daddy kiss momma?”

 

“Cause you’re my momma.”

 

“What about daddy?”

 

Andy shrugs, and it’s like Killian reincarnate. “He’s my daddy.”

 

“And we love daddy, right?”

 

Andy nods, and she really hopes that this goes well. She’d like to be able to kiss her husband in places other than the privacy of their bedroom.

 

“And you like to give daddy kisses, right?”

 

Andy nods his head again, and when she looks up at Killian, he’s smiling down at them, nodding at her to keep going.

 

“Why don’t you give daddy a kiss and tell him you love him because I know you’ve missed him while he went bye bye?”

 

Andy seems to contemplate it for a minute before turning to face Killian, crawling up into his lap and cupping his cheeks like Emma does before planting a smacking kiss onto Killian’s lips and mumblinglove you against his lips.

 

“I love you, too, buddy,” Killian smiles, that big-toothed grin that both of her boys share. “And I love Momma. And Momma and Daddy like to kiss each other just like we like to kiss you and love on you.”

 

Killian accentuates this statement by pressing kisses all over Andy, causing him to dissolve into a fit of giggles which only increases when Emma joins in, kissing and tickling and trying to make it all as normal as possible when in uncharted territories of parenthood.

 

“Can I kiss Momma now?”

 

Andy nods his head before Killian leans over him and presses the quickest of kisses against her lips, and the both of them smile into it.

 

For the next few weeks, Andy is still a bit wary when they’re affectionate with each other, but there’s no more hitting (and boy was that a fun conversation) or fussing even with the residual apprehension and jealousy.

 

When they finally solve the jealousy issue, Killian kisses her twice as much.

 

That’s probably how they end up with another baby.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Eager are we?” He chuckles darkly as her hand fumbles with the zipper on his jeans. Why are these damn things so fucking tight? How does he move around in these let alone walk with an erection?

 

“Shut up,” she hisses, letting out a too loud exclamation of excitement when she gets Killian’s jeans undone and pushed down past his hips. He’s going commando tonight. That’s how the hell he fits in those things.

 

“I thought you liked my dirty talk, Swan.”

 

“Only when you’re not being annoying and when I don’t feel the need to get off right now.”

 

He raises his eyebrow at her, and she really hates that eyebrow sometimes. “So you are indeedeager.”

 

She grabs onto his finally free cock before it can bob against his treasure trail, squeezing the velvety length and making Killian shut up for just one second as his head hits the bathroom door and it rattles at the impact.

 

“Shit,” she murmurs, stopping her ministrations while they both listen out to see if anyone seems to be walking toward the bathroom.

 

“I think we’re in the clear, love,” he mumbles against her jaw as his lips find purchase there, sucking and licking and driving her insane with how he can’t stick to one sensation. “Do you have a condom or are we doing oral presentations tonight?”

 

“Condom. I most definitely have a condom in my back pocket.”

 

Before she can even maneuver her hands off of Killian’s length, he’s running his hand down her side, stopping to fondle her left breast for a few moments, before trailing down her waist and sticking his hand in the pocket of her jeans, harshly squeezing her ass over the foil package while still running his tongue along her jaw and around the lobe of her ear.

 

He holds up the package, rubbing it between his fingers while he deliciously smirks down at her. “Would you like the honors, Swan?”

 

“Of course.”

 

They back away from each other as much as they can in David’s small bathroom so that she can slowly slide the condom down Killian’s cock while he watches her with dark, hooded eyes and his tongue running across his bottom lip. That turns her on more than she’s willing to admit because she’s only supposed to be scratching an itch here, using Killian for his body and his ability to give her an orgasm so fucking good that she has no reason to go searching for one somewhere else.

 

“You need to take off your pants, love.”

 

“Would you like the honors, Jones?”

 

“Of course.”

 

He gets her jeans undone much more quickly than she got his undone, hooking his thumbs into her jeans and her underwear and harshly yanking them down to her knees before cupping her mound and running his fingers through her folds. He groans when his forefinger lightly thrusts into her heat and with the way that it easily slides in, she knows she’s already soaking wet. It makes sense. They’ve been teasing each other all night.

 

“Your quim is always so wet for me,” Killian quietly whispers, his voice coming out in low, dulcet tones that accentuate his accent and makes her stomach clench in anticipation of what’s coming. “Your sweet, sweet essence priming you for me so that you can milk me dry.”

 

“Killian,” she whimpers, her legs antsy as he fingers her, “you have to fuck me now.”

 

“If the lady insists.”

 

He uses his body to back her up against the kitchen sink, her bare ass digging into the hard ridges of the sink counter, as Killian wraps her legs around his waist and swiftly pushes himself into her, stretching her and filling her and making her cry out in pleasure.

 

“Ah ah ah,” Killian chastises, clamping the end that was just inside of her over her mouth and muffling her cries as his hot breath ghosts over her ear. “You have to be quiet. There are people just outside that door, and we wouldn’t them knowing of our activities.”

 

He punctuates each word with a harsh thrust inside of her, pushing himself to the hilt and making her gasp with every stroke of his thick length into her fluttering walls, and her voice catches every time as her moans are caught with the palm of Killian’s hands until he captures her lips with his and their grunts are captured by the other’s mouths as Killian kisses her, hard and demanding and so fucking hot while his tongue swipes against her in a warm, wet slide.

 

They really only do have time for a quick fucking, and if anyone took that to heart, it’s Killian, pumping up into her at such a furious pace that she can’t think and just has to hold onto his biceps, her nails likely leaving marks in his skin through his shirt, as he furiously fucks her, their skin loudly, wetly slapping against each other, and they can’t really help that.

 

She’s getting close, the way their bodies are so tightly pressed together and the angle of her legs helping her get friction on her clit that send shivers throughout her entire body that makes her absolutely want to scream out in pleasure as she’s pushed higher and higher into that hazy state of ecstasy.

 

The thrill of getting caught doesn’t hurt.

 

“You’re so tight around me, love,” he grunts into her ear as his hands scoop down to press against her ass and press her further into him. “Like those pretty pink walls were made for my cock, fluttering around me as I pulse inside of you to make you come.”

 

Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.

 

She’s falling before she knows it, the tightly wound coil in in her belly springing open as her orgasm courses through her, Killian still slamming into her while he keeps her from screaming by crushing their lips together. He comes while she’s still coming down from her high, and she didn’t realize how much her body was being supported by his until his legs practically fall out from underneath him and she has to help keep him from crashing backwards and ruining their tryst.

 

“Another good round aye, Swan?”

 

She shrugs as she pulls her underwear and jeans back up but not bothering to button them as she’s got to clean up when Killian leaves. “Eh, it was fine.”

 

He tilts his head forward before raising both eyebrows and looking down at her. “Well, text me when you want to scratch the itch again. But maybe we do it in a bed next time because you’re going to be bruised tomorrow, and Dave would probably be scandalized to know we used his restroom for fucking.”

 

At that, Killian opens the bathroom door, dipping his head outside to see if anyone from the party is there, before winking and exiting the door, leaving her behind to catch her breath and wonder what the hell she’s doing.  

 

It’s…they’re not dating. They’re scratching an itch. That’s what she said the first time she fell into bed with Killian Jones three months ago after a drunken night out with all of their coworkers from the office. It was, well, it was good, and when she got up to leave his apartment at three in the morning, he grabbed onto her arm and pulled her back down onto the bed, whispering in that low, deep voice of his, “It doesn’t have to be a thing, Swan. It doesn’t have to be a relationship or an embarrassing mistake. We can be friends, or coworkers, with benefits if that suits your tastes.”

 

It did, and it does. And while she never thought she’d be one to partake in booty calls, she finds that when she gets a “come over” text at any time of the night, she crawls over to Killian’s apartment without a lick of shame.

 

Usually they don’t fuck in bathrooms at their coworker’s apartment, but they’d both shown up to David’s apartment this evening to watch a football game (American football much to Killian’s dismay) like they don’t already spend all of their time with these people. She didn’t recognize a few of them, and it’s only until halfway through the game, her eyes not having watched the screen in the slightest, that she discovered they were friends of David’s girlfriend…which would explain the distinct excess in females when their law office is predominately male.

 

It would also explain why she sat in a recliner with a glass of whiskey in her hand watching Killian flirt his way through all of the new women with low cut shirts and indecently short skirts to be watching a fucking football game. Something unfamiliar bubbled up inside of her as one of the new girls ran her hand across Killian’s bicep, batting her eyelashes and using a falsely high voice to ask what it was like being such a smart, successful, handsome lawyer.

 

Her teeth clench and her knuckles go white around her glass as she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the scene. She felt like she could be sick, and she needed more alcohol. She hates football. What the hell was she doing here anyways?

 

Alcohol. She definitely needs more alcohol.

 

God, he’s such an asshole, flirting with everything that moves. And she’s a hypocrite for being mad at that because he flirts with her all the damn time. But he’s obviously not flirting with her tonight, choosing instead to pay attention to whoever these people are as they play dumb to try to get into his pants. He’s a smart guy. He has to know all of the moves women play to get with him, and it’s that thought that has her mind turning with the ideas of what exactly to do to get his attention turned back to her…so she can scratch her itch. That’s all.

 

She’s got on a t-shirt, not bothering to dress up, so there’s not anything she can do cleavage wise, but Killian knows all about what’s underneath her clothes, so his imagination can do the rest of the work as she takes the ponytail holder out of her hair, letting her blonde locks fall in waves down her back, and ties the front of her t-shirt up at the side so that her midriff shows just enough to be a tease.

 

Killian likes to be teased.

 

When she walks out of the kitchen, refill of whiskey totally forgotten, she sees that he’s sitting on the couch and the seat next to him is empty, so she quickly slides into the open spot before someone else can take it, the…whatever that was lodged in her throat disappearing as he smiles down at her.

 

“To what do I owe the pleasure of your company, love?”

 

“Oh,” she hums, her hand casually moving to rest on his inner thigh, “I just saw an open seat is all.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

“Yep,” she pops the “p” while her fingers dance against his inner thigh, no one in the room paying attention to the two of them. “Just wanted a better view of the balls…oh, ball.”

 

Killian chuckles before dipping his head down to lightly brush against her ear, and she has to keep her body from shaking at his breath on her. “That was not your best work in the flirting department.”

 

“I’m not flirting.”

 

God, she’s not even making an attempt at being a bad liar. This is pathetic.

 

“Of course, not. And you wouldn’t happen to have been jealous earlier when a certain woman was flirting with me earlier.”

 

“Was someone flirting with you earlier? I didn’t notice.”

 

He doesn’t believe her. Good. And he was obviously watching her. Even better.

 

“Sure you didn’t, love. I didn’t see daggers in your eyes earlier either.”

 

Yep, she’s got him hook, line, and sinker

 

“So you were watching me?”

 

He smirks before his hand wraps around her shoulders, his fingertips messing with her hair.

 

“Always.”

 

Ten minutes later they’d both slipped out of the room and into each other, and she’d be feeling that particular fucking for days.

 


 

“Hey,” she greets when she dips her head into Killian’s office the next Wednesday, “can you bring some food over tonight?”

 

He looks up from whatever it is he’s working on to smile at her, quirking an eyebrow and making her squirm a bit as she thinks about what exactly it is that they’re going to be doing tonight. “I thought that was against the rules.”

 

“It is, but I’m not going to get to eat today at all. And I can’t,” she waves her hands between the two of them, “you know, without something in my stomach.”

 

“Well, there’s going to be something in your stomach, regardless.”



Her face scrunches up, because even though that’s kind of sort of true, it’s all kinds of gross. It also kind of turns her on. “You’re gross, but I still want you to bring me food. I like Chinese.”

 

“No Irish sausage?”

 

She winks. “It’s not filling enough.”

 

And at that she closes his door behind her and starts walking away, a smug smile dancing across her lips because he thought he was being all cute with his innuendos, and she was the one who ended up getting in the last word.

 

She’s got a million things to do today, and every single one of them involves proofreading contracts and then going over those contracts with her supervising junior partner. So when she said she probably wouldn’t get the time to eat, she wasn’t kidding as she often forgets to eat whenever things get extremely busy and all she can think about it is finishing all of the tasks ahead of her.

 

But she most definitely has time for coffee, and as she waits for the coffee to finish in the pot, wondering why the hell it’s taking so long, she’s joined in the break room by Tina, Killian’s secretary…well, she’s the secretary for five different people, but he’s one of those people.

 

“Hey, Tina,” Emma greets, giving her a kind smile because she doesn’t really know the girl, “you want a cup when it’s finished?”

 

“You know I’m sleeping with him.”

 

Emma legitimately has no idea what Tina’s talking about. Who is she sleeping with, and why does she feel the need to tell Emma about it? They’ve maybe shared one hundred different words with each other, and Emma knows that she doesn’t have a lot of friends, but it kind of feels like this is a little too soon to be sharing about sex lives.

 

“W-what?”

 

“I’m sleeping with him.”

 

“Okaaaay,” Emma drawls out, confusion seeping into her as the coffee maker beeps and lets her know that it’s ready. She’s pouring herself a cup, the hot steam practically hitting her in the face, when Tina speaks again.

 

“Killian. I’m sleeping with Killian.”

 

The coffee mug falls from her hand and crashes into the counter, the glass not shattering but the coffee spilling everyone, and Emma’s thankful that she managed to jump out of the way and that the actual coffee pot doesn’t fall from her hand. She feels as if she’s just been burned, but she knows that if she’d spilled the coffee on herself, she’d likely need to go to the hospital for severe, actual burns.

 

Tina is just staring at her, and Emma’s having an absolute meltdown in the breakroom, her throat constricting and her eyes blurring with unshed tears that she refuses to let fall. She feels like her world has just crashed around her, and it wasn’t until this moment right here that she realized that these weird things she’s been feeling for Killian…are feelings. Romantic feelings and not just “hey you’re kind of funny and a really good fuck” feelings.

 

Oh fuck. She’s screwed.

 

This was not supposed to happen. And yet here she is. And while they never said they were exclusive, she just kind of assumed, but Killian’s apparently been sleeping with someone else while also sleeping with her…she could vomit.

 

When her eyes finally clear of the stupid tears (mostly), Tina is still standing there with a smirk that she’d very much like to punch off her face.

 

“Tina,” Emma grits, trying to steady her breathing as she moves to clean up all the spilled coffee because she just needs to focus on something, “I don’t care who you’re sleeping with, and it’s ten kinds of inappropriate for you to be telling Killian’s coworker about his sex life.”



“I know. I just wanted to know so that you can stop flirting with him.”



And at that Tina walks away and leaves Emma wiping up spilled coffee and spilled tears.

 

The rest of the day passes in a blur, her entire body aching with the pain she’s going through. She can’t – she can’t handle this, all of these unexpected and conflicting feelings assaulting her. She manages to push them all down while at work, but the moment she gets home, she takes off her jacket and kicks off her shoes and crawls into bed and into herself as she cries herself to sleep to try to numb out some of this pain.

 

She can’t believe she was so fucking stupid to fall for him.

 

She never does manage to fall back asleep, but everything is hazy, the sounds of outside her apartment, cars and busses and the angry yells of pedestrians, blurring until all she can focus on is the way her ceiling fan clicks with every turn. But then there’s another sound, and it’s one that she’s wanted to hear even if it’s the one she was avoiding.

 

 “Emma, love, where the hell are – ”

 

She hastily sits up from her position curled up in bed, wiping at the tears that were falling from her eyes, as she sees Killian standing in the doorway. Fuck, she forgot he was coming over tonight. She never told him not to. As Julia Roberts would say, big mistake, big, huge.

 

“Love, what’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing,” she lies, frantically wiping at the tears that are still furiously falling because she can’t very well tell him she’s upset he’s sleeping with someone else. “I’m fine. I’m fine. I didn’t hear you come in.”

 

She’s up off the bed, sauntering toward him and pressing up on her toes so that she can press her lips against his, opening her mouth to gain more access to him, and he groans into the kiss, making her almost forget that fucking him won’t solve all of her problems. It’ll only create more, but he’s a damn good kisser and is making her forget.  

 

“Emma,” he pushes her off of him, making her stumble back and onto the bed in her shock because what the hell. “I’m not going to sleep with you when something has obviously upset you.”

 

Her sadness is suddenly rage, anger coursing through her and heating the blood in her veins to a boiling point. “If you’re not going to sleep with me, what the fuck are you doing here?”

 

“Trying to make sure that the woman who I consider a friend is okay because her tears were just falling into my mouth.”

“I’m fine,” she repeats, crossing her arms over her chest.

 

“You’re lying.”

 

“No, I’m not.”

 

He crosses his arms as well, peering down at her and refusing to back down. If she’s going to be stubborn, he can apparently do the same. She does not appreciate that right now. “I don’t know if you know this, but you’re a bit of an open book love.”

 

She scoffs. He’s said that before, and it had made her heart flutter at someone finally understanding her. Maybe she knew she liked him then, and oh boy was this stupid. “Why do you even care?”

“I like you,” he admits, shocking her as she doesn’t know what the hell that’s supposed to mean. He’s inching closer and closer to her, and she scoots further back on the bed. “And I know I’m not supposed to, but Emma Swan, I care about you and the reasons behind you being upset.”

 

“Are you sleeping with your receptionist?” she blurts out, and his face recoils in disgust. Is he upset because she knows or…is it not true? It has to be true, doesn’t it?

 

“Bloody hell. What?”

 

“Are you,” she repeats, the tears welling up in her eyes again, “Sleeping with your secretary? With Tina.”

 

“No.”

 

He sounds so sure, and she knows he’s not lying. She can always tell. But she thought Tina was telling the truth earlier. Of course, she didn’t look Tina in the eye, and even if she had, her eyes were too blurry and her mind too cloudy to know anything.

 

“Then why the fuck did Tina come up to me today and tell me the great tale of what it’s like having Killian Jones as a bed partner and then made sure that knew that I was to stay far, far away from you?”

 

“She’s lying.”

 

“How am I supposed to know that?”

 

“Use your superpower, love.”

 

She should have never told him about that. It seems to be kicking her in the ass multiple times today. “You’re not lying.”

 

“Why do you even care?” he questions, his face softening before he schools his features again.

 

“Because,” she flaps her hands in the air like that explains everything, let alone anything.

 

“Because what, Emma? We’re not exclusive. We’re fuck buddies. Friends with benefits. Scratching an itch. Even if I was sleeping with Tina, which again, I am not, why would you care?”

He takes a step closer to her, invading her space and bending down so that their faces are pressed together, barely an inch between them, and she can’t breathe. “Are you jealous, love? That would be the second time this week.”

 

God, he’s so cocky. Why in the hell does she like him?

 

 “I’m not jealous.”

 

“I think you are,” he speaks against her lips before capturing them with his own, his hands finding purchase on her hips and squeezing her bones through the thin material of her dress, excitement and arousal running through her, and she thinks she’s experiencing emotional whiplash. “I think you’re jealous that another woman might find pleasure in that way that I,” he runs his tongue along her jaw before flicking it out at her, rearing back to smack her ass as he continues, “kiss and tease and…fuck.”

 

He’s riling her up, and they both know it.

 

“I’m not.”

 

He moves his hands from her hips up her side, tracing the dips and curves of her body until he’s ghosting over her breasts while his lips continue to worship the soft skin of her neck, and she’s thoroughly distracted by the bastard. “You are. It’s okay to admit it, love. I get jealous, too.”

 

Her breath hitches, and this isn’t real. He smirks against her neck before pressing a kiss there, and that’s very real. “Two weeks ago, Graham stared at you during the entirety of the weekly briefing. I don’t think he paid a lick,” he licks up the tendons of her neck, “of attention to the meeting. But that’s okay. I didn’t either, too distracted by the way that red dress of yours dips down in the front. Bloody hell you’re beautiful.”

 

“Jealousy is animalistic and ugly,” she protests even as she whimpers and her heart soars.

 

“Aye,” he bites at her pulse point and his hands move away from kneading at her breasts to rest at her sides, “but it often proves that one may have feelings for another when they were denying those feelings. Like you and me.”

 

“I don’t have feelings for you.”

 

Why the hell is she still scared to say it? She needs Killian to say it first. He has to.

 

“That’s a crying shame because I feel something for you, and it’s not just lust.”

 

Oh thank God.

 

“Really?”

 

“Really, so Emma Swan, if you were to have feelings for me, they would be reciprocated. And if not, friends with benefits would still be fine. It would suck, but I’d learn to live.”

 

Friends with benefits would be bloody torture now.

 

“And if I were to say the feelings are true? What would that mean?”

 

He hums. “Perhaps nothing would change between us. Except maybe we eat before we fuck, and maybe we also talk a little, get to know each other’s minds better than our bodies. Because I know both of yours are brilliant.”

 

“So like a date, huh?”

 

“Only if you wish.”

 

“I wish.”

 

“Oh thank God.”

 

He moves to her mouth almost instantaneously, relief coursing through her body over the fact that he admitted her feelings to him, even if it was just in the tiniest of admissions, but that’s good enough for her as he demands a passionate kiss out of her, pushing her back so that she crashes against the bed and he crashes down on top of her.

 

It’s the best sex they’ve ever had.

 

The date Friday night is pretty good, too.

 

They no longer need to have hurried bathroom sex, but sometimes the mood does strike.

 

David is, indeed, scandalized.

Chapter Text

 

They tried for seven months before it happened. And while he now knows (he’s done weeks of research on the magical box…the internet. He knows that it’s a computer with internet. He’s a modern man now, and he’s always liked to think he was more intelligent than most people think) that seven months isn’t too long in the grand scheme of things, it just seemed like everyone around them was having children so easily and they weren’t. It didn’t seem fair, but he’d never been one to believe that life was fair. His certainly wasn’t for a long time, but by the grace of something that’s most likely named Emma, his life is everything he never dared to dream for himself.

 

Also, there’s the fact that trying to get Emma pregnant for seven months was a hell of a lot of fun. That made it a little less frustrating.

 

That’s what he always told her when she’d take another test or get her monthly and be so heartbroken that they weren’t there yet. He’d knock his shoulder into hers while they sat on the bathroom floor with the negative pregnancy test and bring their joined hands to his lips, pressing a lingering kiss there and promise that it’d all be okay. And when she smiled at him, even if it was soft and watery, he’d know to waggle his eyebrows and smile at her, even if he didn’t truly feel like smiling, and promise that they’d keep partaking in their more enjoyable activities until they were successful.

 

She’d laugh, albeit quietly, and lean her head on his shoulder while she cried until she couldn’t cry anymore at the fear of her not getting her second chance. But if anyone knew that second chances were possible, it was him. He’d been granted many of them.

 

And it went on like that every month, sometimes several times a month, until one day he came home from the station, not even having a chance to close the front door, when Emma ran down the stairs and catapulted herself into his arms, her legs wrapping around his waist and her arms wrapping around his neck while he instinctively supported her bottom to keep her from falling. He had no idea what was bloody happening, but he wasn’t going to complain, his wife very obviously thrilled to have him home.

 

After holding her for awhile and getting his bearings so that he no longer thought he would drop her, he closed the door with his foot and walked them to the couch, settling down with Emma still clinging to him like a small child to a parent. Her face had been buried in his neck the entire time, her soft skin and even softer hair rubbing against the stubble he hadn’t managed to clean up that morning. Finally, though, she pulled back and moved her hands from his neck to cup his face, a look of absolute wonder dancing in her magnificent eyes.

 

“What?” he chuckled, scanning her face trying to figure out what was happening.

 

“If I tell you, you have to promise not to be mad at me, okay?”

 

“I could never be mad at you, my love.”

 

She rolled her eyes, and he expected that. “That’s a lie, and we both know it. Just last week – ”

 

“I don’t care about last week. Just tell me what’s going on, Emma.”

 

She smiled before taking a deep breath, her chest obviously moving under her shirt. “So I know we were supposed to do it together, and I really tried waiting for you. I did. I paced back and forth for so long that I think there might be a hole in the ground. But I just had a feeling, you know? Like, I was so sure, and I just had to know. And I know that’s kind of selfish but – ”

 

“Emma, love,” he smiled, his mind already working out where she was going with her rambling, and bloody hell was it a good thing that they were sitting down because he definitely would have dropped her, his heart beating so quickly and so strongly and tears already stinging in his eyes, “are you pregnant?”

 

She brought her bottom lip between her teeth before nodding her head up and down in confirmation, a tear slipping from her left eye before she said, “yes.”

 

He doesn’t like to say that he has a happiest moment of his life. He has several, most of which he never thought he’d get or deserve, but that moment right there, he thinks it may have been the happiest. He really does. He’d never felt so overwhelmed with happy emotions in one moment than he was there, his heart so full that he thought it might burst.

 

As the months passed, Emma’s stomach swelled with the proof of their love and their child, and even when she told him that she hated him for all of the horrible symptoms pregnancy made her go through, he knew that she didn’t truly mean it…most of the time.

 

Of course, as much as they both wanted and wished for this child, their little girl (gods, he couldn’t believe he was going to have a little girl), he still had his own insecurities over his ability as a parent, as did Emma. While they were both already parents to Henry, that was a complex situation. He was already ten when he came back to Emma and even older when Killian became a part of his life. Older still when Killian was able to be a father figure for him and eventually a step-father. This was all new territory for them, and while he knows that every expecting parent feels that way, their backstories are significantly more storied.

 

After all, their backstories are actual stories.

 

But they dealt with every doubt and every fear by talking to each other, by leaning on the other and knowing not to hide their feelings because that always led to nothing but pain. So when he thought of the fact that he didn’t have two hands to hold his little girl with, just as he didn’t have two hands to hold his wife with, he had to talk to Emma before he drove himself mad with worry.

 

She was seven months pregnant at the time, her belly as swollen as her feet, while his heart was swollen with love for her and how beautiful and wonderful she was. He hated to weigh her down with his burdens, but he knew that he could not carry them on his own. So while they were relaxed in bed on a Saturday morning, the only lights in the bedroom coming from the small sliver where the curtains didn’t fully close, he confessed his fear.

 

“What if she’s scared of me because I don’t have two hands, love? What if she thinks less of me and doesn’t want me to hold her because of my stump?”

 

Emma didn’t respond for so long that he thought her to be asleep, but when he turned in the bed, the comforter moving with him, to look at her, she was laying on her back with tears silently running down her cheeks. Bloody hell, what has he done?

 

“Hey, hey, hey,” he soothed, reaching with his stump to wipe away the tears on her cheeks, and he didn’t even realize he wasn’t using his hand until she grabbed his arm and kissed at all of his scars, the lines that used to be angry and red now a faded pink. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Babe,” she croaked, still pressing kisses to his blunted end, “she won’t care. I don’t care. I know that at first I said some things that were…less than savory about you, but you are not less of a man, or husband, or father because you don’t have two hands. You are still you, and I love every piece of you, scars and all, right?”

 

“Scars and all.”

 

“And to her, to our little love, you’ll be her papa. She’ll not know any better, that you’re any different, and even if she did, she wouldn’t care. She’ll love you because you’re her daddy, no matter what. And if anything, when she gets older, how cool will it be that her dad has a hook for his hand while all of the other dads just have regular old hands?”

 

“I love you, darling. So much.”

 

Hope. They’d named her Hope. It just seemed right. After all, hope is what they held onto when they had nothing else. When he thought Emma was going to die for all of those months before their marriage and even when they were separated not an hour after being officially joined, he had to have hope for a happy future. She represented all of the hope that they had in the two of them and in their future, and holding her for the rest time, the tiniest thing he’d ever seen, he just knew it was right. So did Emma.

 

The first few months were wonderful and rough all at the same time. There was no sleep and a lot of crying. More crying than he thought was possible, if he’s honest with himself. But if he’s good at anything, it’s not simply surviving, but also adapting and eventually living to the fullest. So he and Emma got the hang of it (don’t even get him started on how amazing Emma is because he could go on for hours, most likely days, and possibly years) and didn’t always feel like they were falling when Hope wouldn’t eat or wouldn’t stop crying.

 

She was six months old when it started, and he doesn’t think anything has made him as emotional as this did. He knows that young infants have a grasping reflexing where they instinctively grab onto a parent’s finger, but this is different. He just knows it. When he sits with Hope in his lap, she always holds his hook. So much so that he had to start wearing a small pink protector over the point so she wouldn’t hurt herself. At first, he thought maybe it was just something fascinating and shiny that she liked the look and feel of, and even though Emma had reassured him, his breath still hitched the first time Hope truly started holding it. It reminded him so much of the first time he looked down to see Emma holding onto it while they walked down the streets together, and he’s sure this his smile was just as bright.

 

As the weeks passed, he realizes that Hope had grown attached to his hook. She reached for it instead of his hand, so much so that if he offered her his hand, she’d protest for his hook. His heart swelled, and he didn’t know that it was possible to have this much love in his life. He really didn’t.

 

But it wasn’t just his hook that she loved. She was also comfortable with his stump when they were sitting at home and he didn’t feel the need to be wearing his brace. It was…everything to him, the way she was comfortable with him just the way that he was. And every time she wrapped her chubby little arms around his left arm, he had to hold back his tears. He’d always been an emotional man, feeling things so deeply, but he had no idea that fatherhood would do this to him.

 

“I told you so,” Emma said one day as Hope nuzzled her cheek into his stump.

 

“I know, darling,” he happily sighed, leaning over to press a quick kiss against her lips. “You’re always right.”

 

“And don’t you forget it, babe.”

Chapter Text

 

 “No.”

 

“Emma, please.”

 

“Killian, no.”

 

“Swan,” he pleads, and he’s about to do something dirty and unfair to get her to change her mind, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

 

Throwing the sheets back so that Emma’s legs are bared to him and yanking on her ankles to pull her to the edge of the bed, he starts kissing up her calf, lingering in all of the sensitive spots while working his way up to her inner thighs. He can hear and feel her breath hitching the closer he gets to her core, and he smirks to himself over the fact that this is most definitely going to work. Until Emma knees him in the stomach and he’s left holding onto his stomach as he flops down on the bed.

 

“Shit, love. What was that for?”

 

“You can’t use sex to get me to agree.”

 

“You do that all of the time.”

 

“No,” she corrects, pulling the sheets back over her body and crawling back to her spot, “I have sex with you because I love you, and you just happen to be very agreeable after you get laid, you big oaf.”

 

“Why won’t you let me do this?”

 

“Why do you want to do this?”

 

“Because I’m turning thirty-five, and I was supposed to do this before I turned thirty.”

 

“You also have ‘marry Angelina Jolie’ on that bucket list, and that’s not happening.”



“Well, she is single now, and I did see her at the event last week. I think she might have waved at me.”

 

She playfully (maybe) hits his chest, and he grabs her wrist to kiss it. “You’re being an ass.”

 

“You’re being protective.”

 

“Fine,” she acquiesces, slamming her free hand against the mattress, “you can go skydiving, but I better not know about it. You come home alive and unscathed, or I will kill you.”

 

“But I’ll already be dead.”

 

“I am your wife, Killian. I’ll haunt you forever, even if you’re dead.”

 

“You’re so loving.”

 

“I’m really not kidding, babe. If you have your heart set on doing this, I know you’re going to do it. And I want you to be happy. But I’m not going to tell our kids ‘daddy died because of a bucket list he’s never followed until he started having an early mid-life crisis.’ So seriously. You can do it as long as I never know.”

 

He makes an appointment to go in two weeks. He doesn’t tell Emma, and it feels weird not telling her that he’s going to do it. Of course, he really does think she was serious telling him that if he dies doing this, she’ll somehow still haunt him. Maybe he is going through an early mid-life crisis, but this is something he’s always wanted to do. Maybe it’s the adrenaline or maybe it’s that he jumps from high buildings and planes in his movies all the time. He’s just never done it in real life.

 

He’s also probably just the tiniest bit crazy.

 

A large group of people are going up in the plane with him that day, eleven jumpers and eleven professionals to jump with them, and he wasn’t nervous until another man was strapped to his back and the plane door was opened.

 

There are no other words for this but holy shit.

 

But he’s going to do it. He’s got to do it. He might not marry Angeline Jolie (he’s very happily married to Emma Jones, thank you very much), but he’s going to skydive. And then never tell Emma about it and most likely block it all out from his mind.

 

Isn’t there a country song about this? Maybe that should be playing in his head. Or some Tom Petty. Except he sure as hell hopes that he’s not about to be free falling. He’ll have a parachute. Isn’t there a band named Parachute? No, that’s Paramore. There’s got to be another song out there about a parachute. He thinks it might be a country song. But a different one than the first.

He’s freaking out a bit.

 

“You ready to go, Mr. Jones?”

 

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

 

One. Two. Three. Jump.

 


 

When he gets home that night, his hair still sticking up all over the place and his face still flushed red from all of the wind hitting him for the ten minutes it took him to get to the ground, Emma’s sitting on the couch with the kids watching The Incredibles. None of them pay a lick of attention to him until he picks Will up and places him in his lap so that he can sit next to Emma, kissing her shoulder in greeting.

 

“How was your day, love?”

 

“No talking during the movie, daddy!”

 

“Sorry,” he apologizes, not realizing that The Incredibles was such serious business to his five-year-old, but this would explain why the three of them were all so quiet.

 

Not a word is spoken until Lizzie and Will are in bed, snoozing away while he and Emma settle in their own room. All he wants to do is tell Emma what he did today, but he believes her when she said that she didn’t want to know. She already freaks out enough when he gets injured at work, and while he’s not injured, things could have gone wrong. They didn’t, though. So Emma never has to know.

 

“So I was watching the local news today,” she begins, rubbing her moisturizer over her skin as they settle down under the covers, “because Lizzie’s school play was on for some reason. I’m not really sure why. I think it was something about supporting the local arts, but anyways, right after the segment, they show a video entitled ‘local star falls from the sky.’ Would you like to guess who that local star falling from the sky was?”

 

Well, shit. She knows. How does she always know?

 

“U-uh,” he stutters, reaching up to furiously scratch behind his ear because this is just one of those situations where he’s not getting out of it. “So you know?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Are you mad?”

 

“I mean, I wouldn’t say mad because you’re here alive and seemingly unscathed. I just can’t believe you actually did it.”

 

“I told you, love. I’m a survivor…and a bit of a daredevil.”

 

“Yeah, a daredevil who screamed bloody murder the entire fall. G’night, babe,” she yawns, leaning over and pressing a deep kiss against his lips that leaves him reeling as much as skydiving did. “I love you, and I’m glad you’re alive. Today and every day.”

 


 

Weeks later he’s on a morning talk show with Kelly and Ryan promoting a new movie, this one not an action movie but a drama of which he’s incredibly proud, but he’s not even the slightest bit mad when Kelly brings up something else to talk about.

 

“So your wife, Emma,” Kelly begins, clapping her hands together, and he has absolutely no idea what’s coming, “is possibly the sweetest woman alive. The two of you met while on the set of The Heist, correct?”

 

“Yes, correct,” he confirms, smiling thinking about how the first time he saw Emma she was dressed in her pajamas because she was late to the table read, looking like a rumpled, adorable mess. “She played my love interest, and in the first scene, she punched me in the face. It was bloody glorious.”

 

“So you two had a bit of a rough relationship in the beginning then?”

Killian lets out something close to a full belly laugh thinking about how he and Emma had a bit of a rough courtship until halfway through the movie when it was his birthday and she got him a cake with a picture of himself hanging upside down during a stunt practice gone wrong screened on the cake. He’d laughed so hard then, and later, after they finished shooting for the day, he asked Emma out on a date and she kissed him in return.

 

“Let’s just say that all of the chemistry in that movie was some pretty intense sexual tension until we started getting along. And I hope that this scars our children when they are old enough to know what sexual tension is. But yeah, Emma’s the love of my life, undoubtedly, and as much as that was one of my earlier movies and not the best acting wise, I’m thankful for it for letting me meet her.”

 

“It’s a good thing you say Emma is the love of your life,” Ryan begins, and Killian does not like where this is going, “because she has a surprise for you on the video screen.”

 

Suddenly he hears Emma’s voice and sees her face on the giant projector behind him, and oh man does he miss her.

 

“Hi, babe,” she greets on the prerecorded video, “I hope you’re having a great time in New York, and while I’m super proud of you, we’re excited for you to be back home next week. And while I say that, you’ll likely not be excited to come home after what’s happening in the next five minutes. So everyone knows that you went skydiving, but what everyone doesn’t know is that I only agreed to him doing that if I never knew about it. Well, obviously I know, but what you don’t know, babe, is that I emailed your instructor to get the video that captured your entire fall instead of the small video of you landing at the end. Love you. Enjoy!”

 

The next three minutes may have been the most embarrassing three minutes of his life, and he laughed for every minute that he watched himself freak out as he fell through the sky. Emma’s a bloody minx, and he cannot wait to get home to her to talk about this. And kiss her. To definitely kiss her.

 

“If anything,” Kelly begins, tears running from her eyes from the laughter, “this tells us that, men, you don’t mess with what the wife says because if you do, you become a viral video. Anything to say, Killian?”

 

He smiles to himself as he thinks about how very much he loves her before saying, “Darling, I have a video on my phone of you at our daughter’s second birthday with a piñata, and just so you know, payback is something I very much believe in. I love you.”

 

His kids never find the video of him talking about having sexual tension with their mother, but they do play his skydiving video every chance they get.

 

Emma keeps it as a favorite on her phone.

 

He never does make another bucket list.

 

He doesn’t need to.

 

With his family, he’s got everything.

Chapter Text

He’d called out of work the next morning and asked Emma to do the same because as much as they talked last night, he didn’t feel comfortable with how they left things. Plus, both of their jobs can be semi done from home, and the two of them just felt more important than work at this moment. It’s not like it was the first serious argument they’ve gotten into, but it was the first in a long, long time. He’d almost forgotten how riled up they made each other when anger sparked at their fingertips and threatened to catch fire, but it had come back in full force last night over how to celebrate Thanksgiving.

 

He’s not even American. It’s not even his own bloody holiday.

 

But it wasn’t really over Thanksgiving, was it? It was over how even how very much together they are and have been for a long time, they still have issues, their relationship far from perfect. But he loves her more than anything in the world, and he cannot believe he was so harsh with her last night, saying she wasn’t family because she wouldn’t marry him.

 

She’d be his family even if she walked out the front door and never came back. He’d chase after her because he never plans on letting her go, and unless she told him not to, he’d go to the end of the world for her. Or time.

 

Gods, he’s an arsehole for telling her that she wasn’t family. How could he be so fucking stupid and cruel and bring up the one thing he promised not to bring up until she said she was ready to talk about it again? He knows that’s a touchy subject, and he threw it in her face like a cheap shot of whiskey on a healing wound.

 

They had been together for two years before she told him she’d been married when she was younger, something about marrying Neal because all she wanted was a family of her own and he was offering her one…until he wasn’t, leaving her in the middle of the night after two years together without a single trace of his existence except for the bills that he left in her name that almost put her into a hole so deep she never could have crawled out of it. It had been jarring to hear that she was married before and had waited so long to tell him, harboring that secret from him, but when he heard the full story over several days and several bottles of cheap whiskey and rum, all he wanted to do was hold her. Her past doesn’t change how he feels about her as his doesn’t change how she feels about him, even if it does shape the way they make some of their decisions.

 

He doesn’t understand how anyone could do such a horrid act to this wonderful, beautiful woman, and if he ever met Neal Cassidy, he wouldn’t hesitate to punch him in the face, screw the consequences. He’d honestly probably do a little more than punch him, but he’s going to be a father now and it’s not just him he has to think about. He can’t go around bashing in the faces of every arsehole he meets…maybe just the ones who truly deserve it. Neal deserves it, but neither he nor Emma are seeking the bastard out, wanting to be rid of all traces of him for good.

 

It had taken years for her to get divorced since no one could locate Neal and the legal proceedings about not being able to find a spouse are more complicated than he could ever really, truly understand. And it’s not like Emma had a lot of money, her job as a bail bondsperson not exactly paying for her to live in luxury as a young, abandoned twenty-one-year-old girl in hordes of debt. That’s when she’d met Mary Margaret and David, the two of them finding her crying outside of the law office she was using because all she wanted was to not be tethered to that awful man anymore and it didn’t seem like she’d ever get to escape.

 

She said it was like she was trapped in her own life, and she couldn’t be her own savior. She’d always been her own savior, and it wasn’t until David and Mary Margaret that she didn’t have to be.

 

They’re about a decade older than Emma, and so their lives were a bit more established. Those two blessed souls took in his broken and lost love for a dinner and chat, letting her vent all of her frustrations and woes to them and absolutely taking her under their wings and showing her that not everyone in the world is going to betray her. Of course, she didn’t take to them easily, running away after that first night and only coming back weeks later when she thought she’d seen Neal and needed a shoulder to cry on and something to eat that didn’t come out of a box in the freezer or off the dollar menu.

 

The Nolans are the first family Emma ever had, and they came long before him, breaking down some of her walls but not nearly enough.

 

But that’s okay. He likes her walls. He likes breaking them down and getting to know her and the golden heart beating in her chest under it all.

 

They’d met when she was capturing a skip at a bar, handcuffing the man at a table in the middle of the dimly lit bar like a goddess from above in her skin-tight red dress. In the scuffle, the guy’s glass had gotten tossed in his direction, a broken edge of it hitting him in the face and cutting his cheek to leave an angry red scar that he still has today. Usually, he’d be right pissed over something hitting him in the face and leaving a scar, but the bloody love of his life had cleaned the cut on his cheek, her nimble, slight fingers running across his cheek as she dabbed him with an antiseptic cloth from the bar’s first aid kit.

 

He hissed at the alcohol hitting the open wound, no matter how much he tried not to show his pain.

 

“Sorry about that,” she apologized, her long lashes covering her eyes as she focused on his cheek, her concentration never wavering from his slash. “And about all of this. Usually no one but me and the guy getting taken in gets hurt. You were just trying to have a nice night out and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

 

“I’d say it was the right place at the right time.”

 

She rolled her eyes, dabbing his cheek one last time before placing a cotton bandage there and backing away. “Good as new, uh, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Killian Jones, milady.”

 

She smiled, and it almost looked genuine. “Emma Swan.”

 

He thought that would be the last night he’d ever see her, and every time he went out for a drink after work or on the weekends, he went to that particular bar without fail hoping to see the blonde enchantress again. He didn’t for a long time, and he thought his brother might very well murder him if he dragged him to the Velveteen one more night. It was kind of a shitty bar, but he wasn’t there for the alcohol. Liam didn’t need to know that though. He’d probably drag him out of that place by his hair if he did. He’d all but given up hope and decided that he was the most pathetic man alive.

 

But then he saw her, very obviously in the middle of another one her honeytrap (he’d googled bail bondspersons the night they met and discovered that delightful term) dates, and before she’d left, he made sure to go up and talk to her, not letting her get away without even offering his number to her. She’d accepted, but the look on her face made him think she was more likely to delete it and block it than actually call.

 

If she didn’t call, he would commit a minor crime and then skip bail on the off chance she’d bring him in…One meeting with the lass, and he was contemplating committing a crime for her. He was a goner.

 

She did call, though, and even if it took him six bloody months to get her to go out on a date with him, she eventually did. Now it’s five years later, and she’s lying in their bed peacefully sleeping, almost four months pregnant with their child that they both wanted and wished so hard for. Her breath is coming out hot against his neck, and he can’t help but hold her a little tighter, rubbing circles into her lower back because he knows that’s been bothering her lately. She’s such a trooper, suffering through horrible morning sickness and fatigue and only working at the office and not doing field work ever since they found out she was finally pregnant.

 

She’s not ready to marry him. She may never be, but she’s committed herself to him in every way possible, and even if one day he’d still love to be her husband, that’s not a requirement for him, even with what he said last night.

 

Emma starts to stir, her even breathing becoming a little more erratic, and he sees her eyelids groggily open, revealing her puffy green eyes to him as her head lifts off his chest.

 

“What time is it?” she mumbles, burying her face back in his chest and rubbing her nose against him.

 

“A little after eleven.”

 

“Holy shit. I didn’t expect to sleep that much.”

 

“You needed it, love.”

 

“So did you.”

 

“Aye,” he confirms, leaning down to kiss her hairline. “Are you hungry?”

 

She shakes her head, her matted hair obvious in the movement. She’s going to be so annoyed when she has to brush that out later. He may do it for her just so she doesn’t get frustrated.

 

“You need to eat.”

 

She shakes her head again, and he doesn’t know if she’s nauseas or simply doesn’t want to eat. It’s always one of the two lately.

 

“Darling, can you not eat or do you just not want to right now?”

 

“The first one.”

 

“I’m going to go get you one of the ginger mints, okay?”

 

He crawls out from underneath her, letting her flop back down on the mattress, before going to get the bag of ginger flavored mints Mary Margaret had suggested for her morning sickness, also grabbing her vitamins so that she doesn’t forget to take those as well. She’s usually good about it, but it’s a new thing for her to take them and she’s still adjusting to all of the changes. After handing her everything, she takes her vitamins before popping the mint in her mouth and hopefully letting the bad taste of nausea leave her mouth and calm her stomach.

 

“I’m sorry again about last night,” she whispers a few minutes later when her face looks significantly less queasy and more like his Emma. “I know we both fucked up, but I just wanted to say that I’m sorry again and I’d like to work on the Thanksgiving plans for next week so we don’t blow up again. And maybe we should work on Christmas, too.”

 

“That sounds like a solid plan, love.”

 

Her face goes a little green, and he thinks she’s about to make a run for the restroom until the moment passes. He’s still sitting up on the bed, and she crawls back over to him and wraps her arms around his waist like she was earlier, resting her head over his stomach and nuzzling into him. She’s not always one for cuddling, but when she is, he’s not going to question it, instead instantly rubbing her back and fingering the tangles in her hair.

 

“So I know we do David and Mary Margaret every year,” he begins, and her face presses further into his chest, “and I love them and love that you love them, but I feel like we should spend some more time with my family as well. With Liam and Belle.”

 

“I mean, I don’t want to give up David and Marg, but I’d do it if it makes you happy. Or we could somehow figure out a way to do both? Like, do two Thanksgivings and just say it’s because I’m eating for two now so I need double the food.”

 

“I think that’s a good plan,” he laughs, reaching up to scratch behind his ear because this has been nagging at him since last night, “but I feel like there was something else you weren’t telling me with why you don’t want to spend time with Liam. I know you two aren’t particularly close, but I don’t know. You usually tolerate each other.”

 

“Killian, he hates me. You know that.”

 

“He doesn’t hate you.”

 

His brother’s not exactly Emma’s biggest fan, and he’s never been able to figure out why. When he asks him about it, he gives some kind of vague non-answer or changes the subject. It hurts, but he’s never thought that he actually hated Emma. There’s no way his brother could ever hate someone who he loves and who loves him, too. Liam’s just…protective of him after basically raising him after their parents died in the car accident.

 

“Yeah, yeah he does. He hates me and you know it. I get that he’s your hero, babe, but your hero thinks I’m just dragging you along and now ‘trapping you with the baby’.”

 

His entire body goes still at those words, his breath hitching and his hand stopping its ministrations on Emma’s back. There’s no fucking way Liam said that, but Emma wouldn’t lie. And she sure as hell wouldn’t come up with something like that all on her own. What kind of prick would say something like that?

 

“Did he say that?”

 

“What?”

 

“Did he tell you that you were trapping me with the baby?”

 

She hesitates before looking up at him and pulling her bottom lip in between her teeth, her eyes blown wide like the words slipped from her mouth without meaning them too. Finally, with tears sparking in her eyes, she nods her head in confirmation.

 

He’s going to kill him. Screw what he thought about being a good father earlier and it meaning that he couldn’t bash someone’s face in. Sod the fact that it’s his brother. No one gets to say such an awful thing about Emma and their child. They are his family above anything, especially after thinking of all of the ways he could lose them last night while he heard Emma’s sobs emanating from the bedroom, and sod anyone that threatens that in any way.

 

“Fucking hell. I’m going to kill him.”



“Killian, don’t.”

 

Her voice is so quiet and weak, and she should be happier than this. This is not how their lives are supposed to be. Emma’s supposed to be happy. He’s supposed to be happy. They’re supposed to be happy.

 

“No,” he spits, his blood boiling and his fists clenching at his sides, “he doesn’t get to speak to you like that. I was fucking pissed when he used to say those snide little non-answers and vague insults when we first got together because he had some misguided view that you weren’t good enough for me, but to say something now? And to say something so awful directly to you, that’s even more inexcusable.”

 

Her eyes are filling with excess water, and he hates this. He absolutely hates all of this.

 

“I don’t want you fighting with your brother.”



“Well, I don’t want him insulting the woman I love and our child.” He gently moves her off of him and kisses her temple, a tender move despite the rage inside of him, before throwing on whatever clothes he can find. “You good to stay here?”

 

“Killian, what are you going to do?”

 

“Either knock or talk some sense into my brother. I haven’t decided.”

 

“Are you just going to show up at his work?”

 

“It’s my bloody business, too, and I know for a fact we’re not busy today. So he’ll be available.”

 

When he walks into the office of Jones Brothers’ Architecture, Liam’s sitting in their small reception area with his computer perched on his knees, and it’s going to be a bloody shame when that inevitably gets broken.

 

“I thought you called in fake sick today, brother,” Liam laughs, barely looking up from his screen. “What are you doing here?”

 

Before he even thinks about responding, he rears his hand back and punches Liam in the jaw, controlling himself enough not to break anything despite all of his intentions to.

 

“Bloody fuck,” Liam hisses, rubbing at his jaw while his entire face is contorted in a grimace. “What was that for?”

 

“Did you tell Emma she was trapping me by getting pregnant?”

 

“What?”

 

“Did you tell Emma she was trapping me by getting pregnant?”

 

Liam shrugs, like he can’t be bothered by this accusation. “I may have said something along those lines.”

 

It’s taking everything in him not to do something incredibly stupid right now as all of his blood is seeming to rush away from his brain so that he cannot think of anything put punching Liam again and this time breaking something. Screw the pain in his hand right now and screw Liam.

 

“Fucking hell, Liam. How could you be such an undeniable dick? No decent gentleman would say that to any woman, but to the woman I love? To the mother of the child who I very much want? Who I am not being trapped with. You are an arsehole, and I don’t see you ever getting out of this hole, brother.”

 

Liam doesn’t even look sorry. He doesn’t look bothered or ashamed or show anything resembling guilt. What kind of monster could do something like this? And fuck, who knows how much shit he’s put Emma through that she’s simply hidden away and harbored inside to try to make him happy? He can’t…he can’t think about that. He can’t think of how broken Emma must be when he feels like he’s breaking.

 

“She won’t marry you. She drags you along like a meal ticket because we both know that you make more money than her, and now you can never leave because you’ll always have the kid connecting you even when she finally leaves you high and dry. Why can’t you see that?”

 

Everything is a bit of a blur to him as he tries to connect that his brother, the man who has always been there for him, the man who he looked up to, is the same man saying such vile words about Emma. And he really thinks them, too. They’re not words said in anger or words said to rile him up. They’re words that Liam means, and Killian cannot stand to hear anything like that every again. Liam wants to know how Killian can’t see the truth behind Emma. Well, he does see the truth behind Emma. He just never saw the truth behind his brother.

 

“We’re done. Don’t ever speak to me again. Ever.”

 

“You’re my brother, and we work together. You have to see me.”

 

He takes a step closer, his nose nearly brushing Liam’s. “Fuck you. I can work from home.”

 

When he gets home, he’s somewhere between pissed and heartbroken, and when he sees Emma standing in their kitchen in nothing but one of his old Stanford t-shirts eating a sandwich that he’s sure is filled with all kinds of weird toppings, he has to stop her from taking another bite, cupping her cheeks and kissing her with every bit of emotion that he can muster because she is real and lovely and his lifeline right now. She’s whimpering into the kiss, and she tastes like mayonnaise. He hates mayonnaise, and the taste on his tongue makes him pull back and rest his forehead against hers.

 

“I’m sorry, baby,” he stutters, his voice absolutely breaking. “I’m so, so sorry, my love. I’m sorry that I could ever – that I could ever try to ask you to spend time with such an abominable man. You’re my love. You’re my family. Just you.” He bends down, cupping her stomach and lifting her shirt to kiss her bare, nearly flat stomach. “You, too, little love. You’re my whole world, and you don’t even know it yet.”

 

Emma doesn’t ask what happened, and she obviously knows that it was something big with the way that’s clinging to her. But by the time he’s calmed down, he tells her all about what happened at the office, and like the first night they met, she heals his wounds, tending both his hand and the emotional wounds that he’s been left with.

 

It’s been a shit show of a few days, but he knows that the future will be better. He has hope for it. Even if he had nothing, he’d still have hope.

 

They end up spending Thanksgiving with just the two of them, funnily enough, and they eat pizza. They don’t eat turkey or dressing or rolls. Just pizza. And it’s the first thing she’s truly been excited about eating in a month, and as she sits on the couch doing a little happy dance chewing on the greasy dough, he can’t help but smile and laugh with her. It’s the first time that’s happened in a few days, and he feels his body lighten at the sounds of their laughs intermingling with each other. For some reason Christmas movies are already playing on cable, and they end up watching a marathon of people falling in love in small towns with cheesy Christmas celebrations all within two weeks time. They’re awful, truly, verifiably awful, but it’s one of the best Thanksgivings he’s ever had in his decade of celebrating them.

 

And when Thanksgiving ends, the Christmas season rolls in and all of those movies become much more appropriate. It’s not all holly jolly celebrations, though, because he does have to see Liam when he meets clients in the office or is using some of the equipment he doesn’t have at home. They don’t speak, and he’s glad for it as he wants nothing to do with him. He doesn’t think that’ll change.

 

Maybe if this was a different life and he was a different person, he’d find it in his heart to forgive his brother. But there is a difference between words said in the heat of the moment to hurt someone and words said because you actually mean them. His brother was the latter. He’d said the vile words to Emma, and then he’d said them again to him. Killian doesn’t care how much Liam thought he was protecting Killian. He doesn’t want that kind of hostility around his child. It’s not healthy for anyone.

 

As the months pass, Emma’s stomach grows and his heart continues to swell as his love for her increases almost to the point of being painful. He’d never thought that seeing their child growing inside of her could fill him with such joy, but it does. It does as her morning sickness finally subsides and is replaced by her constant need for him (that was a particularly enjoyable phase) or as she starts to crave ice cream in the middle of the night and he keeps all over her favorite flavors in the freezer, clearing nearly everything out to accommodate her. She’s happier than he’s ever seen her, and it serves as a constant reminder to him that just because you have been broken in the past doesn’t mean that you cannot find happiness in the future.

 

One morning when she’s seven months along and the winter chill has faded a bit to make the temperatures outside a little less chilly and a little more warm, he’s lying when his head on her prominent stomach and singing soft lullabies to their little lass as she kicks his cheek in response to his voice while Emma runs her fingers through his hair, soothing him almost as much as his sweet songs soothe his girls. His lovely, wonderful Emma and their little cygnet. His big (Emma did not like that) love and little love.

 

“I think we should get married.”

 

He must be dreaming, Emma’s ministrations lulling him into a slumber he wasn’t aware he had fallen into as he hears the words of which he’s only dreamed. But then he hears the words again.

 

“Killian?” she pulls on his hair, yanking a bit too hard, “Did you hear me? I think we should get married.”

 

“Little love,” he whispers to Emma’s stomach, pressing a quick kiss there, “is your papa dreaming?”

 

He feels a pinch against his cheek before turning over to look at Emma who is staring down at him with a nervous smile on her face. So this is very much real, and Emma’s very much violent without realizing it.

 

“Emma, you’ve never wanted to get married.”

 

“I changed my mind.”

 

He wants to accept immediately. To tell her yes, they should get married. To go and buy the engagement ring he’s been eyeing in a local jewelry store that somehow no one has bought in three years. But he can’t without talking to her about it.

 

“Have you…have you thought about it?”

 

“No,” she rolls her eyes, lightly slapping his head, and he smiles even if he was trying to contain the hope bursting through him, “I’m obviously just changing my decade-long view in one minute.”

“I just…Emma, that would make me so happy, but I can’t ask you to do that for me. You’ve already done so much.”

 

“I want to do it for me. For you. For me. For the baby.”

 

“Just think on it the next few days, okay?”

 

The next day, before he can even brush his teeth, Emma speaks.

 

“I want to get married.”

 

The words and their novelty still thrill him, but he cannot let her make a split-second decision on this. “I need you to spend more time thinking about it. I don’t want to be something you regret.

 

The day after that, they’re eating dinner after work, and she says the words with a mouth full of grilled cheese.

 

“I want to get married, babe.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

She rolls her eyes, and he takes a bite of his salad, the lettuce a little tougher to swallow than usual.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Just spend some more time and make sure you’re absolutely sure. I don’t want you to feel like I’m pressuring you.”

 

The day after that, it’s while they’re getting ready for work and rushed because they’d stayed in bed fooling around with each other like teenagers…if one of the teenagers was seven months pregnant.

 

“I want to get married.”

 

“Okay,” he sighs, tying his tie because he has a meeting with a client today, “now I have to ask. Why the sudden change?”

 

He sees her shrug in the reflection of the mirror. “Because I want to.”

 

“That’s all you’re going to say?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Then the answer is still think about it.”

 

On day four, they don’t even let each other finish their sentences, and why is he being so bloody obstinate about all of this? Is he a fool? He must be.

 

“I want – ”

 

“To get married, yeah I got it.”

 

“So you’ll do it?”

 

“No. Think – ”

 

“On it, yeah. I got it.”

 

By day five, he thinks Emma may murder him in frustration. She’d probably get Dave to help her bury his body.

 

“If I say it today, are you going to listen?”

 

“I’m just giving it time for it to sink in so we don’t rush into anything.”

 

“I want to get married, though.”

 

By the time it’s nearly been a week, he’s sure that Emma is going to murder him, but this is all part of his idiotic process that he never should have begun.

 

“Goddammit, Killian. Let me fucking marry you.”

 

“Not with a proposal like that, Swan. A man likes to be courted.”

 

The breaking point comes on day seven, a week after Emma’s initial admission of wanting to marry him, and if he’s honest with himself, he’s a bit tired of refusing her. They should probably talk, and it’d be a good day as the both of them have the day off. Emma seems to read his mind because she looks at him with wide green eyes and the words poised on the tip of her tongue.

 

“Killian?”

“Yes, my darling?”

 

“Can we talk?”

 

He nods his head yes even if the somber tone of her voice makes him terrified of what she’s got to say. Maybe he was a fool for making her truly think about the prospect of marriage instead of accepting the offering and running with it. But that would be wrong, and this has to be her choice without hesitation.

 

They settle down at their kitchen table, moving away all of the boxes of baby gifts they got from the shower Mary Margaret hosted for them, and Emma leans back as much as she can in her chair with all four of its legs still on the ground and rests her hands on her ever-growing stomach.

 

“So I’m going to talk, and you’re going to listen. Because I am about two more ‘think about its’ away from killing you and having David help me hide the evidence, okay?”

 

He nods his head, not daring to speak, and damn does he know her well.

 

“Killian Jones, I, Emma Swan, want to marry you. This is not a quick decision. This is not a pregnancy brain decision. This is not a decision I’m making purely because we are having a baby. This is a decision I’ve made and a decision of which I’m sure. I never wanted to get married again because the first time I did, it screwed me up so badly that I thought I would never be capable of loving myself again, let alone someone else. And then little by little, David and Mary Margaret showed me that I was lovable. And it took a long time for me to believe them, let alone agree with them. So they loved me, but I didn’t quite love myself for a long time. And then this dashing, intelligent man came into my life, and I fell in love for what felt like the first time in my life. He, or yousince I feel a little weird talking like this even though I rehearsed this.”

 

“You rehearsed this?”

 

“Yes, and don’t mess me up.” She sighs before beginning again. “You showed me what a heart full of love was capable of, but I still let that heart that used to be full of hate control me most of the time. But Killian, that’s not what I want anymore. I don’t want Neal to have power over my life. I don’t want my past scars to keep the two of us from being together. I wanted to have a baby with you willingly. Like, we planned it and hoped for it and tried for it, for her, and I was willing to commit to something that’s even more difficult than committing to marriage. So why couldn’t I commit to you and just you? I don’t know. I really don’t, and it’s been bothering me for months now, ever since we had that fight about Thanksgiving. There’s so much brokenness in the world, but you and me and this little girl, we’re not broken. And I want to marry you. Plain and simple, and I’ve never been more sure of anything because I love you.”

 

Bloody hell. That’s all. Just…bloody hell. He’s the one for sweeping speeches, but that right there, that’s everything to him.

 

“I’d love to marry you, Emma.”

 

“Good, because I already went and got all of the paperwork that we need. We have an appointment at the courthouse Tuesday at ten. Mary Margaret is going to be our witness and you’re going to wear the navy suit and help me into the white maternity dress I bought two weeks ago that makes my stomach look smaller and my boobs look big.”

 

So they get married on a Tuesday at precisely ten eighteen in the morning, and it’s the best day of his life. They have a little girl two months after that on a Wednesday at precisely three thirty-seven in the morning, and it’s another best day of his life.

 

Things aren’t perfect. They never are with anyone. People are complicated on their own, but when you put them together in a family, they’re suddenly the most complex thing in the world. Fights happen. If you say they don’t, you’re most likely lying. They happen and they’re real and they’re raw and with some of them, you cannot come back from the words spoken and the actions taken. Sometimes that’s for the best. But for the people who are worth fighting with and more importantly, fighting for, well, sometimes it works out, even in ways that you never expected or thought would be possible. Life can be surprising, and you never know which way the wind is going to blow.

 

And you’ll be damn happy about it even when you aren’t.

 

At least, Killian and Emma are.

 

Chapter Text

Is she allowed to be hormonal an entire year after giving birth? Is that a thing that happens? She knows that she did this before, but if she thinks about that, if she thinks about how she was somewhere between eighteen and nineteen and barely able to live without starving, so heartbroken that even if she had been hormonal, she’d not be able to distinguish between it and feelings of betrayal that she lived with every day. She understands that things work out the way that they’re supposed to, but a part of her doesn’t believe that’s true. A very large part of her.

 

She should have never had to be separated from her parents as a child and everything that followed after that, all of the heartbreak and hurt that still comes back to her sometimes. Of course, then her life now wouldn’t be possible, and she wouldn’t change it for the world…not that this excuses any of the heartbreak in her life, but today isn’t about her. It’s about Hope, and not the thing with feathers. It’s about her daughter, their daughter, and she can’t help but smile as she hangs pale yellow and seafoam green streamers across their fence in the backyard while Killian tries tying down a few balloons so that they won’t move too much in the wind that’s currently blowing through and rustling the trees.

 

She knows that Hope doesn’t care about any of this stuff. She’s one. She can barely say dada (and she most definitely did say that first as Killian likes to remind her), so she’s not going to care if there are streamers or balloons or if the weather holds up for long enough for Emma to get some pictures of the entire family. But Emma cares. She cares that this day goes well and that Hope gets to feel all of the love everyone has for her. Maybe she’s overcompensating a bit for never getting to do this for Henry, but he’s told her time and time again that it’s fine.

 

She thinks his exact words are usually, “It’s fine, mom. I don’t even remember the first five years of my life anyways.”

 

But Emma remembers, and that’s what makes it hard. But today isn’t hard, she repeats to herself, making sure that it sinks in. Today is a happy day because her little girl is one. Of course, that also makes her incredibly sad because her little girl is one. She’s growing up, and Emma’s just not okay with that. When did she go from the woman who didn’t feel anything to the woman who feels so much?

 

Over the past five years most likely, and she’s glad for it. Having emotions doesn’t make her any less badass. It probably makes her even more badass if she’s honest with herself. Yep, definitely more badass. Emotions are badass.

 

“Darling,” Killian calls, his voice soothing her internal freak out like it always does, “I think maybe we should move this inside. Those clouds on the horizon do not look friendly for our purposes.”

 

Well, maybe like it sometimes does. This time it’s freaking her out the slightest bit. Worrying her lip between her teeth, she asks, “Are you sure? Like, maybe they’re not rain clouds. Maybe they’re just a little darker but don’t contain rain.”

 

Killian comes to stand in front of her, placing his hand and his hook on her hips, smiling down at her with that smile he saves for her, his teeth showing and his eyes crinkled on the side, before leaning down to press a kiss against her forehead. “Swan, I’ve watched clouds for nearly three hundred years now. I know which ones bring rain and which ones don’t. And those are going to bring rain.”

 

Sighing, she leans into her husband, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his chest while she tries not to be too overdramatic over the rain. Killian rests his cheek against her forehead and rubs her back in soothing circles, like her own little personal barrier from all of her little, miniscule problems…and you know, the bad guys that still pop up every now and then.

 

Her own personal barrier…barrier…she can make a barrier around the backyard, and that’ll keep the rain out! She’s a genius. Yep, definitely a genius, and when Hope becomes one, she’s going to take all of the credit even if Killian deserves a hell of a lot of it. Releasing him, she focuses on all of the barriers she’s made in the past, flicking her hands and causing the entirety of the backyard to be under a transparent dome.

 

“Why do you carry an umbrella if you can do that?”

 

“I didn’t think about it until now.”

 

He shakes his head, still smiling down at her. “You’re a bloody marvel, always.”

 

The rain does indeed come, the water beating down everywhere, including on the dome, soaking everything but those inside the clear plastic bubble…oh gosh. Has she really put her family in a plastic bubble? She totally has, and she most definitely should have done that years ago. Life would have probably been a bit easier.

 

While she finished setting up, making sure the dome wasn’t going to burst or anything, and zapping everything into place instead of doing it manually, Killian goes upstairs to wake Hope up from her nap and get her dressed in the outfit Killian picked out for today. It’s, well, it’s nautically themed, as are most of her possessions, and helping Killian get a debit card was both one of the best and worst things she’s ever done. The best because sometimes he buys her new boots and jackets just because he thinks that she’ll like them (she always does), and the worst because Hope owns more possessions than she and Killian combined. He probably gets reward points at Baby Gap. He should honestly probably buy stock. Does he know how to buy stock? Knowing him, he most definitely does.

 

It’s charming in every way possible.

 

When Killian comes downstairs with Hope, dressed in her navy romper and red and white bow with matching shoes (the man doesn’t play around), she can’t hope but smile at the two of them and their undeniable bond. He’s obsessed with his daughter, and it makes her heart swell every damn time. She’s happy after so many years of being unhappy, and it doesn’t really surprise her anymore.

 

“You know we’re going to have to take that outfit off when she eats the cake, right?”

 

Killian practically grimaces, and his poor little taste buds are still not into sweets. “Love, are we sure she should be having cake? It’s a lot of sugar, and she’s just a wee little lass.”

 

Laughing as she walks over to them, holding her hands out as Hope does the same, mumbling mama (yeah, she can do that too, Killian Jones) until she’s in Emma’s arms and resting on her hip. “Babe, it’s tradition. We’re not tainting her by filling her with sugar. And the cake is really cute. It’s in the shape of the Jolly.”

 

“It resembles the Jolly. It doesn’t share too much of a likeness.”

 

“You daddy is a weirdo,” Emma laughs to Hope, looking down at her daughter and her cute little smile. Her hair is getting darker, but it’s still in shades of blonde, but her eyes still stayed in that shade of hazel in mixtures of blue and green. It’s like she’s an exact mixture of the two of them, and Emma has no idea how they got this lucky. “But we love him very much, don’t we? Yeah? We love daddy.”

 

“Why do I feel like you’re talking to me but not actually talking to me?”

 

Stepping up to Killian and standing on her toes so that her lips ghost over his when she speaks, “Because I was. I do love you though, baby daddy.”

 

He captures her lips between his, the two of them sharing a passionate kiss even with Hope placed between her, and it’s definitely not too early to start scarring her for life.

 

Speaking of scarring for life, just has Killian’s tongue flicks against her lips, she hears her mom’s voice intermingling with her dad’s, and it’s a damn miracle they even had time to create Hope.

 

“Later,” she whispers to Killian before going off to greet her parents, hugging them and kissing their cheeks as she hands Hope off to her very greedy baby hogs (one of Killian’s favorite new phrases) of grandparents while her brother starts running to the playset that Killian bought (online, of course) a little too prematurely, but they’ll get there.

 

They always do.

 

They’re not really sure who will be here today or how old they’ll be or from which realm they hail from (it’s really confusing, okay?), but soon their backyard starts to fill with all of the residents of Storybrooke as well as some stragglers from other realms, everyone popping through the little bubble and drying off from the torrential rain pour that’s happening outside. It’s a wonderful time, all of the children running around as the adults eat, drink, and make sure that no one ends up injured.

 

At one point, Hope starts to get a little fussy, and Emma knows that it’s because this is usually the time of the day when Killian reads to her, so he gets all of the kids small enough to want to listen to the seafaring tale he’s planning on telling to settle down on blankets in the middle of the yard, Hope between she and Killian. As Killian weaves his tale, she flicks her fingers and creates pictures reflected against the top of the dome, everyone oohing and awing over the entertainment, all of the kids freaking out when she gets bubbles to fall down from the dome and hit them in the face. Hope especially likes it, reaching her chubby little arms up to try to catch them, and how did she never think to do any of this before? Seriously, it’s amazing.

 

It’s especially amazing when Killian uses the distraction of the bubbles to lean over and kiss her, whispering “you’re bloody amazing” against her lips.

 

After story time, it’s getting to be nearer to Hope’s bedtime (and by that, she means giving her enough hours for the sugar to die down as it travels through her teeny tiny system), so they go along with the cake smash, making sure to take all of the pictures of the three of them and Henry (who showed up late without a valid excuse, not that she can yell at him anymore, but this is his sister’s birthday party after all) before adding in everyone else. After taking off Hope’s romper, much to Killian’s dismay, they place her in her highchair again with her Jolly Roger cake in front of her. Emma instructs her to take one bite, helping to guide the cake and icing to her mouth, and it only takes one lick of the sugar for Hope to absolutely hate it. Like, despise it, her tiny face grimacing in disgust that looks so much like Killian that she can’t help but laugh while everyone else awes in disappointment.

 

“Well,” Emma sighs, hanging her head forward in amusement and placing her hands on her hips as she watches her mom and dad try to convince Hope to take a bite of her cake, the two of them getting the blue icing from the cake ocean all over their lips, “she’s definitely your daughter, Jones.”

 

“Aye,” he agrees, coming up behind her and looping his arms through hers, resting his hand and hook protectively over her stomach while their cheeks rest together, “but it took her mum a little time to come around to the Jolly as well. Give it time, love. She’s a pirate as much as she is a princess, so she’ll love things both salty and sweet when the time comes. And it will come. It always does.”

Chapter Text

“Ruby,” Emma whispers into her phone, scared that somehow someone will hear her even if she’s in her apartment alone, “you will never believe what just happened.”

 

“Why are you whispering, Ems?”

 

“I don’t want him to hear me.”

 

“Him? Shit, Emma. Did you sleep with someone who’s still in your apartment?”

 

“No, I didn’t sleep with anybody. And there’s no one in my apartment. It’s seven at night. But I have to tell you what just happened to me.”

 

“What?”

 

“You know the hot guy who lives in building B?”

 

“Tall, dark, and fuck me? Yeah. What about him?”

 

“I saw him naked.”

 

The phone line goes so quiet for a moment that she thinks the phone might have disconnected, but that doesn’t really happen anymore, especially in the middle of a city. But she can’t hear anything on Ruby’s side of the line, and she can’t imagine that Ruby wouldn’t immediately freak out over tall, dark, and fuck me being seen naked.

 

“Rubes?” she questions, turning the phone on speaker and walking around her apartment with it like she’s trying to get signal. “Ruby Muriel Lucas?”

 

“That is not my middle name.”

 

“I know. I was just checking to make sure you were alive.”

 

“I am.”

 

“Then why haven’t you said anything?”

 

“Because I’m trying to figure out how you saw him naked if you didn’t sleep with him.”

 

Sighing, she goes into the story of how she’d come home from work exhausted, like she could barely keep her eyes open after her shift at the hospital, but she’d promised herself that she’d unpack today. She’d been living in this apartment for almost a month, and she couldn’t keep living out of boxes. It wasn’t sustainable. Yesterday it took her thirty minutes to find a sports bra, and by the time she did find it, her desire to go to the gym had completely vanished. So today, today she was going to unpack some even if it killed her.

 

She’d gotten all of the boxes in the living room done before she moved to the bedroom, and as she was taking all of her t-shirts out of a box in front of her bedroom window, well, she got an eyeful that she never expected.

 

The guy that lived in the building next to her (tall, dark, and fuck me as Ruby had so helpfully named him when they saw him in the main lobby at the mailboxes two weeks before) was changing out of his clothes, presumably after work. She didn’t mean to stare. She really didn’t. But she looked up from her box to see the man standing there bare ass naked, the, quite frankly, firm ass right in her face as he shimmied his boxer briefs off and over his lean thighs, more tanned than she’d imagine and covered in dark hair that matched the back of his arms. She wondered if it matched his chest, but just as he was about to turn around, she realized that this was wrong. Like, really, really wrong. It didn’t matter that he was changing in front of an open window. She was still staring at him in his home, and that was fucked up and a super creepy move.

 

So she’d basically dropped to the floor, landing on her clothed ass, and crawled back into the living room where her curtains were very much closed to call Ruby and tell her what happened.

 

“So you didn’t see his dick?”

 

“Rubes,” she hisses, and while normally she’d be fine talking about this if it was someone she slept with, this feels dirty…and not in the good way. “That’s, like, sexual harassment if I’d kept watching. How would you feel if your neighbor stared at you naked from his window? This isn’t ugly naked guy from friends, which was super messed up by the way.”

 

“No,” Ruby corrects, “this is tall, dark, and fuck me. Or more appropriately, tall, dark, and fuck Emma with his presumably large dick.”

 

“That’s quite the mouthful.”

 

“Well, it could be. But it can also be quite the vagina full if you play your cards right.”

 

Emma keeps her curtains closed in all of her rooms for the next week and a half, but every time she walks by her bedroom window all she can think about is her neighbor’s backside, the way that his shoulders were broad but his waist tapered in at his hips and his ass…and oh my god was she just fantasizing about him? She totally was. It was definitely gross and wrong and all of these different morally ambiguous things, but his stupid (wonderful) ass kept playing over and over in her mind every time she so much as laid down on the right side of her bed.

 

She needed it to stop.

 

So of course she ran into him while getting her mail again. Why couldn’t all of their mail be delivered right to their front doors? Why did a communal mailroom exist? And why did she still have to use her box to pay her rent? It’s 2018. That should be online.

 

In her defense, she was in the room first. And while it would normally take her about two seconds to get this over with, she can’t find her key. Somehow it had gotten loose from her key ring, and she had to empty out the entirety of her purse after spending five minutes looking and not being able to find it.

 

“You lose something, lass?”

 

Holy mother of God, he’s British. Tall, dark, and fuck me is British, and fuck her life. Like seriously. Could she dive into the black hole that her purse very obviously is and just disappear because he’s talking to her now, and her thoughts are varying between, “I’ve seen you naked,” “you’re super hot,” and “I’d like to die from embarrassment.”

 

(Also, what is your name because I can’t keep calling you tall, dark, and fuck me?)

 

“M-my keys,” she stutters, looking up for just the barest of moments to see the smile on his face that accentuates his stupid blue eyes before having to look back down to hide the blush that is most definitely heating up her face. “They were on a ring with everything else, and I can’t find them. And all I’m trying to do is pay my damn rent, but apparently I’m going to get a late fee because I can’t find my key.”

 

“You can just put your check in my box. The super will still get it.”

 

She has to look up at him again, her eyes squinting in concentration to try to figure out what this dude’s deal is. It’s a simple offer, a nice one at that, but how does she know he’s not going to take her money and run? Of course, the check isn’t made out to him, so he can’t exactly cash it without some shady stuff. But really, what the hell? She can’t look at this man much longer with the way her face is heating up, and she just has a feeling that he’s going to offer until she says yes.

 

“Would you really do that?”

 

He reaches up to scratch behind his ear, his eyes crinkling and the front of his t-shirt lifting, and that just causes her blush to increase. She’s seen this man naked, and he doesn’t know.



“You seem to be in a bit of distress, love, and I’m nothing if not a gentleman.”

 

“Most gentleman don’t actually have to say that they’re a gentleman.”

 

“Aye. That’s probably a good point. I’ll try to be more obvious about it in the future.”

 

“You plan on saving me from paying late rent more often?”

 

He shrugs, smiling again before squatting down to help her put her junk back in her purse (and wow is she glad that she didn’t take her tampons out) before helping her stand back up, the blush on her face only increasing (is she a tomato now?) the more she thinks about him changing his clothes with his curtains open. After thanking him for all of his help with her purse, she practically runs out of the lobby only for him to grab her wrist, small sparks running through her with how warm he is.

 

“Love, your rent check.”

 

“Oh shit, yeah,” she mumbles, grabbing the check out of her back pocket and handing it to him, watching him as he fingers the envelope between his fingers. It’s then that she notices they’re all adorned with rings.

 

“See you around, Emma Swan apartment 617.”

 

It’s only later that she realizes she didn’t get his name.

 

So tall, dark, and fuck me he’ll stay.

 

She sees him everywhere. Literally everywhere except for in his apartment (her curtains may as well be permanently sewn shut), and she avoids him like the plague. Normally she’s not this flighty around guys. Normally she’s badass and confident, but he makes her feel off kilter, like she can’t stand up straight or breathe at a normal rate.

 

Finally, after a week of seeing him everywhere she goes around the apartment, she doesn’t see him. She makes it through an entire Saturday staying in the area without seeing him, and maybe her face won’t be as red as a tomato by the end of the day. She spends far too much time thinking about him. Like, what is his name? What does he do for a living? If he’s British, why is he living in Boston? Does he have a girlfriend? What does his dick look like?

 

That last one is mostly because Ruby mentioned it, and it’s been stuck in her head ever since.

 

There’s another dick joke in there, but she’s really trying not to think about this man too much. She’s just not succeeding.

 

She obviously has terrible (or maybe good. She hasn’t decided yet) luck because he’s at the bar she and Ruby go to that night. Ruby sees him first, because of course she does, and slaps Emma on the shoulder so damn hard that it might bruise…just like her ego.

 

“Ems,” Ruby practically squeals, and the girl only has one margarita in her, “do you see who’s here?”

 

“How could I not,” she grabs Ruby’s arm and tries to bring it down so that she’ll stop pointing at him, “with you screaming and pointing like a kid?”

 

“This is fate, Emma. Really, it is. You can finally see what his cock looks like.”

 

“I’m not going to sleep with him. Hell, I’m not even going to talk to him.”

 

“That’s what you think.”

 

Ruby’s up and sliding out of her chair, practically jogging over to where he’s standing by the stage as Emma simply sits there watching with her jaw unhinged and hitting the floor. She thought the mailroom incident was mortifying. This is something else entirely, especially as he smiles at Ruby while she’s animatedly talking to him, waving her arms all over the place, until she turns and points right at Emma. He gives her the smallest wave, and she finds that it’s adorable even as her face blushes.

 

She’s going to murder Ruby, and she’s going to make it look like an accident.

 

Ruby comes barreling back to her, a wolfish grin on her face, before practically pulling Emma out of her chair, the heels of her boots making her stumble a bit when she is out of the chair. “He wants to meet you. Also, did you know he was British?”

 

“I did, and I don’t want to meet him.”

 

“Oh, come on. Please, Ems. It’s been forever since you were even interested in a guy, and this has all of the makings of a love story.”

 

“How many love stories do you know that start off like this?”

 

“Just yours. Now come on.”

 

Before she can really stop her legs from moving (she really doesn’t want to), she’s standing in front of tall, dark, and fuck me, and fuck her does he look hot. He’s, well, his jeans are painted onto his legs that she’s eerily familiar with, and he’s got on a gray v neck under a red and black plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up to show his toned forearms, those rings still adorning his fingers as well as one hanging on a chain on his neck. There’s got to be a story behind those, and a part of her really wants to know. But she doesn’t even know his name. She should probably change that.

 

“Hi,” she squeaks, and she can practically feel Ruby internally face palming.

 

The guys smiles down at her, the right corner of his lips ticking up in amusement. “Hello, Emma Swan apartment 617. So your lovely friend here tells me I’d be smart to introduce myself to you, and I cannot help but agree.” Yep, she’s going to kill Ruby. The guy takes her hand, bringing it to his lips, and she fucking dies when he kisses her knuckles in greeting. “Killian Jones, milady.”

 

“It’s, um, it’s nice to meet you, Killian.”

 

“Same goes to you, Swan.” He reaches up to scratch behind his ear, and that must be some kind of nervous tick. It’s adorable, and she’s really got to get a grip on herself. “Now, while I’d love to chat with you some more, hear about if you ever found that key, I’ve got something I have to do now. If you’d, uh, like to stay near the front of the stage, I’ll come meet you after, okay?”

 

She’s got no idea what he’s talking about until he hops up the stairs to the stage, and there’s no way he’s a musician. Nope. Nope. Nope. That would be too good to be true.

 

He’s a musician. A singer to be more specific. And she’s never seen anything hotter. No, like, seriously. She’s seen the man’s toned backside, and him up there singing, his accent almost disappearing into low, dulcet tones as he goes through several cover songs is the hottest thing she’s ever seen. This isn’t a huge bar, just an average sized one, and it’s definitely not like a club, but there seems to be an influx of women in here tonight, all of them crowding around the stage and crowding Killian. She’s not jealous, per say. She just learned the man’s name thirty minutes ago, but her throat constricts and her heart seems to speed up while women near the front of the stage dance underneath him.

 

“So tall, dark, and fuck me is a hot musician, huh?”

 

She doesn’t respond, still watching the way Killian’s mouth moves over the microphone and the way that his jeans stretch over his legs as he sits on the stool. She’s going to have to move buildings. Seriously.

 

“Ems,” Ruby hisses, tapping her shoulder until she reluctantly snaps her head away from Killian, “you’re staring. I mean, I don’t blame you, but you’re very obviously staring.”

 

“He’s hot, Rubes. Like, seriously. I feel like this is some kind of lead up to a very erotic dream.”

 

“It could just be erotic in real life. He’s got the hots for you.”

 

“No he doesn’t.”

 

“He stares at you every time you look away. He’s staring at you now.”



Emma whips her head around to look back up at the stage, and sure enough, Killian is staring at her. The blush that seems to always accompany him rising in her cheeks, and when he winks at her, she giggles. She giggles.

 

When the song is finished, she thinks the set may be over, and disappointment rushes through her, settling in the pit of her stomach. But then he speaks. “So this is the last song of the evening, but I’d like to dedicate it to Emma Swan, the woman who gives me checks I can’t cash, if you know what I mean.”

 

Not a single person in this room knows what he means but her, and it makes her smile. Exuberantly. Maybe he does like her, or have the hots for her since they don’t really know each other.

 

“I have no idea what he’s talking about, girl, but he’s flirting with you.”

 

“I know.”

 


 

“You’re beautiful,” he whispers into her neck an hour later in a dark corner of the bar, their bodies pressed together while he kisses up and down the side of her neck, making her whimper because oh damn is this good. She’s making out with a musician in a bar, and this is not how she expected her night to go when she walked in here with Ruby. She thought, yeah, maybe she’d get drunk and go home with someone, but she’s had two drinks, is nowhere near drunk, and she and Killian might not even make it home with the way they’re grinding against each other.

 

“We’re going to get arrested for public indecency,” she sighs when his hips move against hers, and she can feel his erection pressing through his jeans. Fuck, fuck, fuck, that feels good.

 

“Would you like me to take you home?”

 

“Your place. My place. It doesn’t matter. I hear they’re close.”

 

He practically growls before pulling back from her and grabbing her hand, dragging her out of the bar so quickly that she already knows this is going to be a good fucking.

 

And she can’t wait.

 

He slams her against his front door, devouring her mouth as their hands roam each other’s bodies, hers finding purchase on his ass while his snake up her shirt and land just below her breasts, his calloused fingertips warm and rough against her bare skin. He still tastes like rum, and he must have been drinking some before he went to perform, the spiciness of it mixing in with her tongue for the second time tonight.

 

God, how has she managed to get herself into this situation? Should she really be sleeping with her neighbor?

 

The thought consumes her until he does this thing with his tongue while his hands start to palm her breasts, and she basically dissolves into a puddle of Emma-shaped goo.

 

“Bedroom,” she breathes when they both come up for air, her lips kiss swollen and her chin reddening from beard burn, a slight stinging sensation every time the cool air hits her.

 

“Aye, it’s down the hall and – ”

 

“To the left. I know. I live in the apartment next to this.”

 

He quirks any eyebrow, and shit. She did not mean to just reveal that she knows which apartment he lives in even if he knows which one is hers.

 

“I know that, but how do you know that? You just familiar with the layout of this complex?”

 

Oh God. She has to fess up, doesn’t she? She can’t sleep with him without telling him that she’s seen him naked. Here goes nothing.

 

“I have something to confess, and it’s most likely going to ruin this thing that’s about to happen. Which really sucks because I kind of like you, and I’m really turned on and I know that you’re turned on and I – ”

 

He captures her ramblings with his mouth, sucking her bottom lip into his mouth and biting down before releasing her and resting his forehead against hers. “Emma, just tell me.”

 

“I saw you naked a few weeks ago!”

 

His face recoils, and she sees him blink several times, his mouth continually opening and then closing like he doesn’t know what the hell to say. She doesn’t blame him. She wouldn’t either.

 

“What?” he finally sputters out, his voice going higher in pitch than she’s ever heard it.

 

She wants to die. She’s not dramatic or anything. This is just damn embarrassing.

 

“I saw you naked. Or just your ass really. I looked away before I could see your,” she’s very aware of his cock pressing into her thigh right now, “front side, but you left your bedroom curtains open…and I, uh, I accidentally saw you when you were changing.”

 

He’s silent for a moment, his eyelids closed so that his long, dark lashes rest against his cheeks, and if they weren’t completely pressed together, she would run away.

 

“Did you like what you saw?”

 

“What?”

 

A cocky smile starts to form on his face, and he opens his eyes, the blue almost completely blown black.

 

“Did you like what you saw? Would you like to, you know,” he rolls his hips into hers, “finally see the front side?”

 

Well, that’s not what she was expecting.

 

“You have no idea.”



“I kind of do, love.”

 

He’s got her naked and writhing on the bed before she can even wrap her head around the fact that she’s actually about to fuck tall, dark, and fuck me. Like, he’s devouring her folds right now, licking stripes up and down her slit while his arms keep her from bucking up into him and her hands tightly grip his hair. She’s close, so damn close, and he’s working wonders down there. She knew that he was good with his mouth and his tongue after listening to him sing earlier tonight and then kissing her on and off for the past hour, but damn.

 

“Killian,” she moans when his tongue starts thrusting inside of her, the coil in her stomach tightening and the pleasure and the pressure building. He simply hums, and that drives her crazy, the vibrations shooting straight through her. “Killian, just like that. Please. Oh God please.”

 

Suddenly all of the movement stops, and she wants to cry out in pain. How could he stop? How could he wind her up like that and then just stop? Does he want her to scream? Well, he probably does, just not in the way that she’s thinking of screaming right now.

 

“What the fuck, dude?”

 

“I’m going to spill myself onto the mattress from the sounds you’re making, Swan. I’ve got to get inside of you now.”

 

“Oh,” she gasps, letting her head hit the mattress, a small bit of relief coursing through her even with how frustrated she is right now.

 

“That sound good to you?”

 

“That sounds perfect.”

 

He crawls up the bed until he’s reaching inside his bedside draw for a condom, pulling the foil package out and sliding it down his very impressive length before pushing her legs over her stomach and lining himself up at her entrance, teasing her as he coats himself with her juices.

 

“Killian?”

“Yes, love?”

 

“I have one more thing to tell you.”

 

He doesn’t even look surprised, simply smiling down at her. “And what’s that?”

 

“Before I knew your name, Ruby and I called you tall, dark, and fuck me.”

 

He chuckles before lightly slapping her clit with his cock, and shit, the sensation travels through her at lightning speed, her flesh already so swollen and sensitive from his earlier ministrations.

 

“No offense to Ruby, but I’d really only like to do that last part to you.”

 

“Then I think you should fuck me.”



He smiles again, and she thinks she could get used to that smile. “As you wish.”

 

He pushes into her with such force that he’s completely buried inside of her within seconds, her walls pulsing and contracting around his length as he fills her, the both of them groaning at the new sensation.

 

“Fuck you’re tight.”

 

He doesn’t let her respond, grabbing onto the underside of her knees and pushing her legs further over her stomach as he slams himself into her, the wet slapping sound likely reverberating throughout the entire apartment. It’s good. He’s good, and even if this is going to be a quick fuck, it’s the best she’s had in a long time.

 

“Faster,” she moans, needing more despite all that she’s giving him, and his pace immediately quickens, pumping into her so fast that she’s sure she’ll be bruised and unable to walk tomorrow. He’s building her higher and higher, occasionally swiveling his hips to hit her clit, and every time he does her vision blurs and all she sees are little white sparks projected against a black background. It only takes four more thrusts and one more swivel for her to be gone, the entire world blurring around her as her entire body shakes.

 

Yeah, she hasn’t had an orgasm like that in a long time. Tall, dark, and fuck me is very good at the last part of his name.

 

When she comes back to herself, Killian has let her legs down and is sucking on her nipple, biting down hard when he spills himself inside of the condom and inside of her, his length pulsing as the aftershocks of her orgasm still flutter around him, a tiny bit of desire still sparking up inside of her.

 

She’s most definitely going to blush every time she sees him from now on, and it’s going to have nothing to do with accidentally seeing him through the window.

 

When he gets up to dispose of the condom, she gets a nice view of his backside, and she lets out a wolf whistle similar to the one she let out when he was performing earlier tonight. He simply turns around and winks, and she turns her face to laugh into the pillow, her entire body filled with bliss.

 

She thought she’d be tired enough to fall asleep soon after their very passionate sex, but the two of them stay up for hours after, getting to actually know each other in between gentle caresses and a few more rounds, her body sore and used but everything about it coated in pleasure and, well, in happiness. She likes him. He’s funny and smart and sweet, and he hums the song he dedicated to her at the bar as he rubs her back when she falls asleep.

 

When she wakes the next morning, it’s to her phone going off, and she tries to answer before Killian wakes up. That doesn’t work, though, because as she’s mumbling hello to whoever’s talking, he’s pressing kisses all down her stomach, sending little sparks of desire through her entire body. She smiles as she starts running her fingers through his hair, pushing the strands back that dried in curls from how damp it got last night.

 

“Hey, Ems,” Ruby greets, and why is she so cheery this early in the morning? She’s usually not awake before noon on a Sunday after a night out at the bar.

 

“Ruby, I can’t talk right now.”

 

Killian runs is tongue around her belly button, and she smiles, her body shaking the slightest bit.

 

“Why not – ooooh are you still with Killian?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did you two fuck?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Is his dick as big as I thought?”

 

“Bigger,” Killian answers for her, taking the phone out of her hands and ending the call before pouncing on her and weighing her down on the mattress, her squeal and resulting laughter echoing throughout the room.

 

Killian takes down the curtains in his bedroom, and he never replaces them.

 

Well, he does when someone besides Emma lives in her old apartment. They can’t have someone else looking into their bedroom window, now can they?

Chapter Text

This has undoubtedly been the worst date of her life. No, like, seriously. This is the worst, and she’s been on several awful, horrible dates.

 

When she was fifteen, she went on her first date (well, kind of) and her entire body stressed and tightened with nerves and anxiety. She thought she was going to vomit out of both excitement and nerves. She wasn’t the one who ended up vomiting. Nick Pachelli showed up to her parents’ house drunk off his ass and vomited all over their front porch before the date even started. Her dad had to drive him home, and she wasn’t allowed to date for several months, which kind of pissed her off because how was she supposed to know that the guy who she only saw at school got plastered at five o’clock on a Saturday? But after seeing a guy she kind of liked vomit on her front porch, dating wasn’t really her thing, at least not for awhile.

 

When she was nineteen, she was going on her first date after her high school boyfriend, Neal Cassidy, had broken up with her because he “wanted to see other people.” He’d already been seeing other people, but she didn’t know that. She was actually completely oblivious until it was all over, and her heartbreak turned into rage and a mantra of “screw all men.” But, you know, not literally. She wanted to stay far, far away from all of the screwing. But then Ruby and Mary Margaret convinced her to get out of her slump and go on a date with Michael Robinson from her history class. They went to a football game together, and while it wasn’t really her thing (she preferred baseball), she was having a nice time, the chill of the fall air combined with the sun and the jubilation of all of the other students in the stands as they cheered on their team making her feel lighter than she had in a long time. Michael was nice, funny, and even if she wasn’t sure that it was love connection, she would count this as a good date. But then out of nowhere someone dumped several drinks over she and Michael’s heads, and it was only later that she found out it was Michael’s ex and her friends. He never called her again, and her favorite white cable knit sweater was ruined.

 

That was probably the worst thing about it. She loved that sweater.

 

When she was twenty-four, well, there’s not a lot of story to this one. August Booth stood her up after weeks of casual flirting at work, leaving her sitting at the restaurant to the pitying looks of her waitress. When she showed up to work the next day, the man didn’t acknowledge her presence at all. It was like she didn’t exist, and she really shouldn’t have such big expectations for dates, or any expectations really, but a small part of her held out a little candle of hope. She’d been on plenty of good dates, had a few medium-term (is that a thing?) relationships, and so she knew it was possible. She knew it was possible to find someone who would make her happy and who wasn’t a Class A asshole. She could see those guys all around with her friends, but she didn’t think it was going to happen for her.

 

She was twenty-four, and she’d given up on finding love. How pathetic was that?

 

Three strikes and you’re out, she guesses, but she’d had enough strikes to rival the entire World Series. Maybe a few balls in there, too. Some near misses. Some far misses. Some smaller. Some bigger. Just your garden variety of strikes and balls.

 

Is she making an innuendo using baseball terms?

 

It’s fitting. There is a lot of wood.

 

Or maybe not. The bats aren’t made out of wood anymore, but her point still comes across.

 

Now, though, she’s twenty-eight and sitting at a Red Sox’s game with Walsh Oswald. Mary Margaret, fresh off of having a baby and thinking that everything in the world is sunshine and rainbows, set her up with him. She apparently knows him through David’s father’s work, and Emma knew that if she didn’t say yes to this guy, she’d just have to say yes to another guy Mary Margaret likes. She hasn’t dated in awhile, hasn’t wanted to date in awhile to be honest, and she’s been fine with that. She’s been happy…most of the time…and she really hasn’t minded being single. She kind of likes it to be honest, the freedom to do whatever she wants (not that being with someone has ever really stopped that before) whenever she wants. Also, she can sit around her apartment in her sweatpants and no bra with two-day hair and no makeup and not have to give a damn what anyone thinks. Being able to walk around your own home without a bra is one of the great wonders of the world. You’re free. Your boobs are free. It’s fantastic.

 

What’s not fantastic is this date. She wasn’t expecting fireworks, not really. And while her ideal date is definitely doing fun things like going to baseball games or on bike rides around the commons, this isn’t exactly her ideal date.

 

First, Walsh was rude to the guy at the box office because there was an issue with their tickets. Yeah, she gets the frustration of something going wrong, but there’s no reason to take it out on someone who’s simply trying to do their job, especially when it was an error on Walsh’s part. She’d almost left then, the thought racing through her mind, but these are damn good seats. Football may not be her thing, but baseball is. And as someone who’s lived in Boston for most of her life, getting to see the Sox make it to the World Series is a pretty big deal. Getting to watch from right behind the dugout with food and drink service, though, that could make up for a lot of things.

 

A part of her feels a bit guilty since she is basically using him for the seats, but hey, when she agreed to this, she had no idea they’d be so nice. She thought they’d be sitting in the nosebleed section or something. She’d also kind of thought Walsh would be nice (he is according to Mary Margaret), but that’s not the case. He’s been ignoring her for the past hour, and the game is somehow only in the bottom of the third. It’s like one of her biggest dreams and nightmares being combined into one bad afternoon where her date yells at the players on the team he’s cheering for, and not just insults about their game but about their personal lives, too. And when he’s not yelling at them, he’s talking on his phone doing business. It’s like she doesn’t even exist. Like she’s some pretty little thing that he only brought so he could fill his extra seat.

 

It’s whatever, though. It’s a beautiful day, the sun beating down on her skin and causing it to heat, freckles likely forming across her nose, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for her to get these seats. So screw Walsh. She’s going to enjoy her time here, and if she puts her beer and popcorn on his tab, well, all’s well that ends well.

 

The Sox are winning, and it’s the top of the fifth when the guy who’s been sitting next to her starts talking to her. He’s cute. Cute might be a bit too innocent of a term to describe him, though. He’s…stunning. The blue of his eyes is brought out by the navy blue of his baseball hat, black hair poking out from underneath it and curling the slightest bit. He’s got black and red stubble covering his defined jaw, and his muscles show under the tightness of his gray t-shirt. He kind of looks like a baseball player, if she’s honest with herself. Maybe he played in high school or college, or maybe he just looks like how a guy should look when attending a baseball game. A t-shirt and jeans and not a three-piece suit.

 

Walsh is wearing a three-piece suit.

 

He’s also a piece of work.

 

“You think we’re going to take the series, lass?”

 

He has an accent, either British or Irish. She can’t tell, but it makes a shiver run down her spine that doesn’t match up with this surprisingly warm day for fall in Boston.

 

“I do,” she answers, glancing over at him quickly before looking back to the field so as not to stare. “Which, just, is insane. I never thought I’d get to see it, let alone actually be at a game in seats like this.”

 

“Your boyfriend not bring you a lot?”

 

“Not my boyfriend,” she answers instinctively, twisting her head to see if Walsh is paying any attention to her. He’s not. “This is, uh, our first date actually.”

 

The guy’s head recoils into his neck, his brows furrowing and his lips pursing while he studies her. She squirms a bit under his gaze, and why is she sharing this much information with someone she doesn’t know? At least he’s talking to her. She thinks he may have said more words to her in the past two minutes than Walsh has for the past few hours.

 

“Excuse me for being forward, love, but the bloke hasn’t spoken to you at all, and we’ve been here for hours.”

 

“Yeah, I know.”

“That’s not really the way a gentleman should treat a lady.”

 

Who is this man? Why does he sound like a character from a Jane Austen novel? Not that she’s complaining. It’s actually kind of nice.

 

“Are you saying you’re a gentleman?”

 

He smirks, and her heart flutters. “I’m always a gentleman.”

 

She hums before awkwardly reaching her hand over to him to shake his hand and introduce herself. He takes it, and the heat of him sends sparks right through her. “Emma Swan.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you Emma Swan.” He brings her hand to his lips, pressing a kiss there and never wavering his eye contact. Is she swooning? She thinks she might be swooning. Has she ever swooned before? “Killian Jones, at your service.”

 

“At my service, huh?”

 

He’s trying to knock her Sox off.

 

“Indeed,” he smiles, looking at her and showing her all of his incredibly white teeth. He must have good dental. Why is she so damn weird that she’s thinking about this guy’s dental plan?

 

“So what does this service entail?”

 

“Free baseball commentary because, well, Swan, while I’d hate to distract you from this wonderful date you’re on, I think I could provide some quality entertainment. If you’re amenable to that.”

 

She smiles. “I’d like that.”

 

Over the next hour and a half (damn, baseball games can be long), she learns a lot about Killian Jones. First is that he’s funny, always spewing the baseball puns that she keeps inside of her head, scared to say them out loud. (“Which superhero is the best at baseball, Swan?” “Who, Jones?” “Batman.”) He makes her laugh, her beer almost coming out of her nose at one point, and this day is starting to turn around. His brother apparently works for the team and instead of getting seats in one of the boxes, he requested a seat right in the action (“I think it’s working out for me pretty well, don’t you think?”), and while his brother works in sports management, Killian is a detective and a Brit (so not Irish after all) who happens to love America’s favorite pastime.

 

When he bashfully tells her his job, scratching at his ear, all she can think is that baseball uniforms aren’t the only uniforms that can make a girl’s heart go wild.

 

Killian doesn’t need to know that, though. He’s a pretty confident guy from what she can tell, so maybe he does already know that. She doesn’t really care. It’s kind of working for her.

 

Okay, that’s a lie. It’s really working for her.

 

They don’t stop talking for the rest of their time there, probably to the annoyance of those around them, and Walsh literally never notices. After awhile, she even forgets that she’s not here on the date with Killian to begin with, and when Killian leaves to go to the bathroom, she turns back to Walsh to see if he’s still on the phone. He is, and even when she tries to talk to him, like all day, he ignores her.

 

And then the damn kiss cam comes on.

 

She hates this thing, and even if it can have its funny moments, she thinks its awkward for people to have to kiss by demand of camera and for that kiss to be seen by all of these random strangers trying to watch baseball.

 

So of course the camera pans down to she and Walsh, who simply shakes his head when he sees it and goes back to talking on the phone. It’s fine with her, though. She didn’t want to kiss him anyways, but the crowd doesn’t feel the same way, everyone booing and the cameraman not moving away from them until they kiss. This is mortifying, and annoying as hell, and she thinks that maybe a kiss on his cheek will subdue the crowd because obviously this isn’t going away.

 

And that’s when she feels someone grab her wrist and tug her to her feet with the force of the pull, her body colliding with Killian and her arms wrapping around his neck out of instinct. He’s looking down at her with mischief dancing across his eyes, and she faintly hears the sound of boos changing to cheers when Killian dips his head and slants his lips of hers, his hands grabbing at her thighs until she’s jumping and lifting her legs around his waist, her ankles hooking at his backside.

 

He’s kissing the holy hell out of her, and her entire body hums at the pleasure of his lips moving against hers and his scruff rubbing against her chin, leaving small little pricks that she doesn’t mind in the slightest. Her hands move from his neck up into his hair, knocking his hat off of his head as she moves above him while his hands grip onto her ass, their lips never ceasing in their movements.

 

It’s got to be the best first kiss she’s ever had.

 

“That was,” he stutters, his voice husky and low as their foreheads and bodies are still pressed together after they come up for air, her hands moving through his hair now that she’s got full access to it. She can hear all of the cheers and wolf whistles, but she doesn’t care.

 

“A homerun,” she answers, kissing him again and smiling the entire time.

 

When Killian puts her back down, her mind still hazy from the kiss, she feels a tap on her shoulder and turns only to have water thrown in her face, soaking through her clothes and dampening her hair. Walsh curses her out and gets up to walk away before she can recover from the shock of having a drink thrown in her face.

 

“What the hell?” Killian hisses, cupping her face, his hands especially warm in light of the cold water on her skin, droplets falling from her eyelashes. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah,” she laughs, shaking out her sweater. “It’s not exactly the first time that’s happened to me.”

Killian quirks his eyebrow, and she shakes her head. “Different circumstances, most definitely. But that’s a story for another day.”

 

He smiles again, and he’s trying to make her heart explode, isn’t he? She hasn’t felt this way about a guy in forever, and she’s just met him. It doesn’t matter, though. She’s just going to go for it. She’s got a gut feeling, and she’s tired of warming the bench when she should be in the game.

 

“You think we’ll see each other again, do you love?”

 

She takes a swing, and she’s pretty confident she’ll hit her target.

 

“Yeah,” she inches closer to him, wrapping her arms around his neck and standing on her toes to brush her lips against his. “I think you’ve stolen yourself a date. And maybe you’ll even get to steal a base or two later.”

 

So she’s been on a lot of bad dates.

 

This impromptu date with Killian, though, he hit it out of the park.

 

“So, Swan, my dugout or yours?”

 

“Yours.”

 

He hits a grand slam later that night.

 

Well, he hits several of them, and the fireworks have nothing to do with the ones exploding at Fenway.

 

The Red Sox aren’t the only ones scoring.

Chapter Text

“Swan, you have to go get all of your belongings. It’s been months.”

 

“I can buy new belongings. Those are…tainted.”

 

“How are they tainted, love? They’re from your year with Henry. I’m sure a lot of love went into those.”

 

She sighs, sitting down on the bed and putting her face in her palms, and she feels the bed dip down as Killian sits beside her, his scent invading her as his hand running up and down her back in small circles. Her parents are talking downstairs, something about if Neal’s (God, why in the hell did they name him Neal?) bathroom habits are normal. She loves them. She really does, but living with her parents is getting old. That’s why she needs to go back to New York. Her things are there, her clothes, her furniture, her memories, both fake and real, of Henry. If she ever wants her own place, she needs things to fill it with. She just doesn’t want to go because as happy of a time as that was, it wasn’t all real. She didn’t keep Henry when he was born and raise him, and as thankful as she is that Killian came to save her so that she could be reunited with her family (and with him), she wishes she didn’t have all of these conflicting memories.

 

And then there’s the fact that she almost married a damn evil monkey. Like, what the hell? How could she have been so blind to all of that? Maybe she wasn’t. Maybe that’s why she didn’t say yes to his proposal. Deep down she must have known that, well, that there was a man in the life she didn’t remember, a man who she may have…had strong feelings for.

 

Killian had said a man who she loved, and while sometimes she thinks those words when it comes to him, she can’t…she can’t say them out loud. She can’t even really think them. How is she so screwed up that she can’t even think the words? He loves her, and the thought of that causes a shiver to run down her spine where his fingers her touching her, her body slightly shaking at the thought. He loves her, and that scares her. It’s not that she’s scared to be loved, though she was for a long time. It’s that he loves her so truly and so deeply, and what if she can’t return the same level of his affection? What if he gets tired of her not loving him in the same way that he loves her?

 

She knows that’s ridiculous. He’s loved her for over a year, a part of that time thinking he’d never see her again, and his feelings didn’t waver. His feelings didn’t waver then, and they didn’t waver when she treated him like shit. If that’s not terrifying, she doesn’t know what is.

 

So she likes him, really likes him, and while New York causes conflicting feelings for her, she’s excited about the prospect of the two of them getting away for a weekend. It’s been difficult for them to be together, even in these weeks of relative peace, with her parents downstairs and Henry often sharing the top floor of the loft with her. Sometimes she’ll get a chance to sneak away to his room at Granny’s, sneaking out of the loft so that she doesn’t have to deal with her dad’s obnoxious disapproving look, and those nights are incredible, the sounds of the old mattress at the bed and breakfast creaking as they move on top of it, the sounds of moans and grunts mixing with skin sliding together and laughter echoing throughout the small bedroom.

 

But there are people sleeping next door, people who often give her disapproving looks, similar to the ones her dad gives, the next morning when they’re eating breakfast at the diner, and she wants time with just she and Killian and no one judging them. She’s an adult woman. Shouldn’t she be able to spend time with her boyfriend without interruptions? Without disapproval?

 

Why the hell is she being stubborn when she keeps thinking about all of the reasons to go? Don’t the good outweigh the bad?

 

“They’re just…” she groans sitting up and resting her head on his shoulder, his arm further wrapping around her and pulling her a little closer to him, “…it’s complicated. But we’re going to go and get the things I want to keep. I’ve just got to do it. Maybe we can even go on a date or something.”

 

“Oh, love, I think a date would be wonderful. I’ve even got a surprise for you when we get there.”

 

“A surprise?”

 

She looks up to him to see him raising an eyebrow, the black brow high on his forehead causing his skin to wrinkle the slightest bit and the one eye that’s widened become incredibly blue. His lips are closed in a smirk, the left side raising with his brow, and whatever this surprise is sounds both intriguing…and terrifying.

 

But in a good way.

 


 

They take her dad’s truck for the drive, her bug not big enough to cart around all of the things they’re bringing back, even with the Uhaul, and this long drive is much more comfortable than the first one they shared when they traveled the same distance but in the opposite direction. She guesses that things with them are a bit opposite now, too.

 

The radio doesn’t work, so Killian entertains her with tales of the sea. She doesn’t fail to notice that most of them seem pretty tame, and not a single one is from the missing year. She’s heard enough of those to know that it was incredibly difficult for him, heartbreaking he’d said once under the influence of alcohol and under the cover of the darkness, and so if he wants to keep to lighter tales of mishaps on the Jolly and non-violent thieveries of other ships, she won’t complain. In return, he asks to know a little more about her, about things he doesn’t know yet, things she hasn’t shared.

 

“What do you want to know?”

 

She glances over to see him running his thumb across his bottom lip, the rings on his fingers glistening in the sunlight piercing through the window, and that’s not distracting at all when her attention is supposed to be on the road. It seems like forever before he finally responds, and she blushes at his answer…or his question really.

 

“How old were you for your first kiss?”

 

“What?” she laughs, glancing over at him again quickly before turning her eyes back to the road, heat still flaming in her cheeks even at the innocent question. “Why would you want to know that?”

 

“It seems like a popular question to ask when dating someone.”

 

“What did you do? Google questions to ask on a first date?”

 

“Google?” he inquires, his voice raising in pitch. “What the bloody hell is google?”

 

She knows that he can’t help it, that he wasn’t raised in modern times so modern terminology is still baffling to him, but she giggles a bit anyways. He huffs in frustration, and she releases the steering wheel to reach over and grab his hook, holding onto the cool metal and bringing it to rest over her thigh.

 

“Google is when you look things up on the internet. On the computer. You can look up…research whatever you want, find out almost any information.”

 

“So like a library inside of the computer?”

 

She smiles. “Yeah, exactly.”

 

“Huh,” he contemplates, scratching at his chin, and he’s brilliant. People don’t realize it, but he’s utterly brilliant. If her time in the Enchanted Forrest taught her anything, adapting to a new world with new (and old) technologies is no small feat, and he’s done it with barely any help time and time again. You don’t live for as long as he has without being a cunning, intelligent being. “Well, I’d like you to teach me how to do that when we get home, aye? But I didn’t google that. I read it in a book actually.”

“What kind of book?”

 

“I think one meant for people Henry’s age, but I thought it would keep the conversation light. I can tell you first, if you’d wish.”

 

“Sure. Tell me about your first kiss, Killian.”

 

“Well, I am a dashing rapscallion and have always been devilishly handsome, so it should come as no surprise that I was young.”

 

Cocky bastard.

 

“How young, babe?”

 

Oh shit. The endearment just slipped from her mouth. She’s never called him anything but Hook or Killian before. She knows that he uses every endearment in the book for her, but would he like being called by a pet name? Where did that even come from? How long has she wanted to call him that?

 

“Well, I was certainly not a babe. I was fourteen. Liam and I had just gotten to spend a day on land when the ship we were currently…residing on was docked. I met a lass, though, I don’t remember her name, and she kissed me while Liam was buying us some food.” He bends toward her without her realizing it, his breath hot against the shell of her ear, and there’s that damn shiver again. “You can call me babe whenever you want, love. Don’t refrain from saying it on my account. It’s…alluring.”

 

He pulls away from her like he didn’t just turn her on in the middle of a hellishly long drive, and he’s going to be the death of her. He really is.

 

“So how old were you, Swan?”

 

The sun has set by the time they get into Manhattan, and after finding parking near her apartment and switching out Killian’s hook for his prosthetic hand, they make their way to find something to eat, her stomach grumbling in protest of its emptiness. Killian offers to take her somewhere nice, but neither of them are really and truly dressed for it. And as wonderful as going somewhere all dressed up sounds, she kind of likes the idea of just running in somewhere and grabbing a bite before walking around New York with Killian and chatting some more, telling happy stories from their lives even if they’re all a bit tinged in sadness. It’s nice to be able to walk around somewhere, sightseeing and people watching without them actually being the people who are being watched by the residents of Storybrooke.

 

She’s the one who lived here for a year, but Killian is the one who leads their walk, the two of them occasionally passing his flask between them when they can get away with it. She wonders how he knows his way around, but he did wander around Manhattan until he found her, didn’t he? Maybe one day she’ll ask how exactly he found her, but she doesn’t really want to reminisce tonight, not when she’s got so much ahead of her.

 

Suddenly Killian stops, tightening his grip on her hand, his fingers twitching, and turning her to face him, a mischievous smirk gracing his lips. “Close your eyes, Swan.”

 

“What?” she giggles, the rum from Killian’s flask hitting her a little more than she thought it would. “Why would I close my eyes? Does this have to do with that surprise you were talking about?”

 

“Aye, now close your eyes, love.”

 

She listens even having no idea what’s going to happen next, but she trusts him. She trusts him, and she’s sure that this plan can’t be nefarious, not with Killian. Everything is black as he guides her to wherever they’re going, his hand and prosthetic placed on her shoulders to guide her, and after what feels like several minutes of blindness, she’s guided to sit down, the cold wood of what must be a bench seeping through her jeans.

 

“Keep them closed for just a minute more, love.”

 

She does, he she smiles when he takes her left hand, pressing kisses against each of the individual knuckles like the gentleman he is…and that’s when she feels the cold of metal and the familiar sound of handcuffs closing together, locking into place with an audible clink.

 

Her eyes shoot open immediately, her vision taking a moment to adjust to the blackness that still surrounds her from the inkiness of the night, and even through her blurring vision and the lack of light, she sees Killian standing before her with his arms crossed and the cockiest smile she’s ever seen formed on his lips.

 

“What the fuck, Killian?” she gasps as she tries to loosen the cuffs, the metal cutting into the skin of her wrist. Yep. This thing is secure, and she cannot believe this is happening. Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined tonight turning out like this.

 

Though, she has had some wild dreams vaguely similar to this.

 

“Do you know where we are, Swan?”

 

Her eyes dart around, her vision fully returned to normal while her heart beats erratically in her chest, and it takes her less than a minute to realize where they are. She handcuffed him to this very same bench when she didn’t remember him and thought he was some kind of lunatic, and it looks like some kind of payback is in order…but why would he want payback? What would he even do to get payback? It’s not like she’s an enemy of his who he wants vengeance from. And he’s not exactly into the whole vengeance thing anymore. So what? Is he here to torture her? That doesn’t make any sense. He’s enamored by her. He wouldn’t torture her.

 

And that’s where she’s wrong.

 

The smirk never leaves his face, and he takes a step forward, squatting down in front of her and running his hand and prosthetic up her thighs, his hand stopping right at the top and rubbing against her skin, inching closer and closer to her core, and when did she stop breathing? Because she’s most definitely not breathing right now.

 

“Killian,” she whispers, and his eyes have never fallen away from hers, his contact unwavering while his left arm moves up her side and rests just below her breasts and his hand continues to tease at her leg, causing a coil to tense in her belly and flush to rise in her cheeks, invisible under the darkness of the sky.

 

“Killian,” she whispers again, her voice a little louder this time as he moves up her body, his hand sneaking under the hem of her sweater, his hot skin mixing in with the cold of the air, and moving higher and higher until he’s touching her breast through her bra, her nipple already hardening as his ringed thumb runs over the cotton cup. “Whatever it is you’re doing…you can’t – you can’t do it in public.”

 

“There’s no one around,” he breathes against her lips, his so close that she can almost touch them. She can almost kiss him. She wants to kiss him.

 

“It’s New York. Someone’s always around. The city that never sleeps and all that.”

 

He moves away from her and turns side to side, checking their surroundings, and when he looks back to her, he leers while he palms her breast, his rough hand kneading her soft flesh. “Not right now. But don’t worry, Swan. I’m only doing this to tell you a little story. And yes, this is my surprise for the night.”

 

He presses a kiss against her jaw, much more tender than she would expect, before beginning his tale. “I came back to save you, and while I didn’t want to be the one to put all of that pressure back on your shoulders, all of that heartache, I knew that I had to. And it wasn’t for me or for my feelings for you. It was for your parents. For Henry. For you. You might not have wanted to remember your past, but you deserve to live in the truth, love. You don’t deserve to live a lie.”

 

When she drank that memory potion, it was like waking up from a really good dream only to have everything she knew crash down around her, but she doesn’t regret it. It wasn’t her life. This is her life…being handcuffed to a bench by her boyfriend, Captain Hook. It sounds like some kind of manic dream, but it’s not. It’s real. This is real.

 

“Why are you handcuffing me, though?”

 

He intensifies his smirk, lips curling further up, before tapping at breast with his forefinger. “Ah, ah, ah, love. We’re not there yet in the story…So you hated me for awhile – ”

 

“I didn’t hate you.”

 

His smirk turns into a soft smile. “You did, love, but that’s okay. Look where we are now.” She raises her eyebrow, and he chuckles. “Okay, maybe not right at this moment, but in general. You’re happy with your life. You’re happy with me, I presume?”

 

She smiles, something akin to joy rushing through her veins. “I am.”

His soft smile turns brighter, his eyes crinkling in amusement. “And so I thought that we could have a little fun. And while I don’t believe in my revenge anymore, I do believe that some people deserve a taste of their own medicine.”

 

“And I’m one of those people?”

 

“That you are, love.”

 

“So what’s my payback?”

 

“When I came back her to save you, I tried to kiss you to make you remember, and you refused me.”

 

“Killian – ” He’d tried a true love’s kiss, and it didn’t work. They don’t work when someone’s memory is altered. Would it had worked had her memory not been altered? Are they…are they true love? Does she get to have a true love other than Henry? Is that possible for someone like her?

 

“Think nothing of it, love.” He looks pained when he says it, but he soldiers on like he always does. “You didn’t know me, which was exactly the problem. I knew you, but you weren’t you. I couldn’t have you. I couldn’t speak to you like I normally would, and I couldn’t touch you. That’s your payback. To be tied up in bed…in the good way.”

 

She gulps, desire rushing straight to her core at his plan, and this is a surprise she can get on board with. If all of her paybacks were like what she’s imagining, she would do more things that caused her to deserve it. That’s probably not normal, but Killian has lowered his voice, his words coming out in a smooth, dulcet tone that he often uses when whispering dirty little nothings in her ear, whether that be during sex or when they’re sitting in a booth at Granny’s. It’s intoxicating, and she wants more.

 

She reaches up with her free hand to grab the collar of his coat, pulling him into her so that she can press her lips against his, sliding their mouths together but not pushing it any further than that, thrusting him back with eyes blown wide and parted lips searching for air.

 

“You forget,” she breathes against his lips, resting her forehead against his and gripping onto his lapel a little bit harder, “I have a free hand.” She caresses his face just to prove a point, and she sees his eyes flutter closed, eyelashes hitting his cheek. “I can still touch you.”

 

“Aye, but you won’t be able to when we get back to the apartment.”

 

Holy fuck.

 

He let her touch him as they were making out when they first got back to the apartment, stumbling across the hall, running into the furniture they have to pack up, shedding clothes while their lips hungrily slanted over each other. He didn’t even give her a chance to look around, to feel the memories of this place, and through her haze of lust she realizes that must have been his plan all along, the sneaky bastard. He’s disguising whatever this payback is to keep her tainted memories away, only replaced with good ones, and he seems to do a lot of that. He’s always helping her, even when she doesn’t realize it, and her heart pounds in her chest and something catches in her throat just thinking about it, about how kind he is.

 

But that kind man has also got her sitting in bed with nothing on but a pair of handcuffs…her handcuffs to be exact. She didn’t realize that until now, the lightness of the room making them visible unlike the darkness of the park outside. How the hell did he manage to swipe these off of her?

 

“Roll over, sweetheart.”

 

He’s been working his lips up and down her body, spending an extraordinary amount of time lavishing at her breasts with his tongue, lapping her up and swirling the tip of it against her tits, bringing them to hard peaks with his tongue and his hand, his stump running up and down her side, the jagged edges of it sending shockwaves through her. She didn’t realize how much she needed to touch him until she couldn’t. Sure, she’s got her legs and a bit of movement in her hands, but she can’t roam the lines of his body with her hands, with her fingers. She can’t grab onto his hair and direct his ministrations. She just can’t, and it’s killing her.

 

It doesn’t help that she’s absolutely soaked, and while he’s working her up, he’s not working her up in all of the right places. Just, like, right…adjacent.

 

“Roll over, love,” he repeats, his voice a bit more demanding than she expected.

 

 She kind of likes it even if this isn’t their usual way of going about things.

 

She likes it, so she complies, rolling over on her stomach and lifting her arms above her head so that they rest near the headboard. She knows that’s what he wants with this whole thing, and even though it’s a little difficult to think straight with all of the absolutely indecent thoughts running through her mind, she knows that the faster she complies, the faster they get this thing on the road.

 

She feels him kiss down her spine while his hand and stump hold onto her hips, roaming a bit closer to her ass, and with every kiss, his scruff rubs against her skin, the harsh hairs of it sending a prickling sensation right to her core, her entire body shivering in anticipation. It’s a lot of sensations all at once, and she needs him to pick one. She really does because she might just combust right here and turn into a million little Emma pieces.

 

“Your skin is like silk,” he murmurs at the base of her spine, his hand palming her ass, and she moans at the sound of his voice when he speaks and the way that the hot air hits her skin. “I’ve never felt anything like it, and I can’t quite believe that it’s mine to touch.”

 

She shudders at his words, especially as his lips move to kiss her ass, and she twists her neck to look at him as much as she can, only seeing a bit of his dark hair and his arms holding her thighs up, her ass high in the air. To her disappointment, she can’t really see him, but she can feel him moving down her body and hear his groans as his knees hit the hardwood floor. He’s so close to where she wants him, and the anticipation runs through her like nothing else has ever done before, especially when he uses the strength of his arms to lift her ass higher in the air and then breathe against her glistening folds.

 

Just…damn. Her entire body practically pulses in pleasure, in desire.

 

He’s almost there. So, so close, and she can practically already feel the vibrations of his tongue touching her, but then he pulls back so suddenly that she thinks she might have whiplash, her head spinning and her body groaning in protest.

 

“This is okay right, Emma?” he questions. Gone is the confident Captain who always takes charge, and out of his shadows appears the gentle man who cares for her and comforts her at all times, no matter what he’s feeling.

 

She smiles, her entire face softening at finally getting to see his blue eyes again and his soft, kiss swollen lips. She nods her head, a smile breaking out onto her own face, and they must make quite the sight. “Killian, if I wasn’t okay with this, I’d have stopped it long ago.”

 

“You sure, love?”

 

“I’m sure.”

 

Those are apparently the only words that he needs because without hesitation he’s back between her thighs, his tongue assaulting her dripping folds with such ferocity that it’s almost like he’s not the same sweet, caring man he was a moment ago. Of course, not all men do this, so even with its filthiness (such sweet, sweet filthiness), this a damn sweet, caring man. God, he’s good at this, the way he flattens his tongue to eat at her only to curl it inside of her entrance, quick little flicks of it to tease her, bringing her higher and higher only for everything to come crashing down around her. This entire night has been like one big tease, the pressure in her stomach building so much that it’s painful, and even if she can push her hips into his face, she can’t really do anything to hurry this along, simply having to lay there and go along for the ride as the onslaught of his tongue and lips continues.

 

“Killian,” she moans as he thrusts into her entrance, her walls fluttering the slightest bit around his tongue, “please.”

 

“Please what, love?” he speaks against her folds, his lips gently touching her swollen flesh, and even that sends shocks through her.

 

“Please let me come. Please do something. This is…this is…”

 

“Payback?” he suggests, a dark chuckle escaping his lips while his hand leaves her ass and moves around to rest at her stomach, his fingers inching closer and closer to her bundle of nerves, all of her senses heightened so that she can feel every place where Killian is touching her body.

 

It isn’t enough.

 

It’s torture.

 

“Yes,” she gasps, and that’s when his fingers find her clit, rubbing roughly as soon as the calloused pads of his thumb make contact, and there’s some many differing sensations happening that her mind starts to go numb. His thumb is rough against her nerves, pushing hard and tightening the coil in her stomach, but the rings on his fingers are cool against her flesh, making her shiver under his touch as his hot mouth starts eating at her again, his scruff rubbing into her skin with each movement. It’s too much. It’s all too much, and before she knows it the coil unwinds and her entire body turns into a quivering mess, her legs slipping from their position and falling to the mattress only to be held up by Killian’s mouth as he continues to work her through her orgasm, lapping up her juices while she’s just absolutely…boneless, her body twitching in the aftershocks.

 

She thinks she hears Killian mutter delicious. He’s going to kill her, and she’d let him without question.

 

There’s the sound of a zipper coming undone, and that’s when she comes back to herself, twisting her body over onto her back so that she can look at him, a dopey smile on her face while she brings her arms down to rest on her stomach, the cool metal of the handcuffs shocking compared to how warm she is all over.

 

“You ready to set sail there, Captain?”

 

He laughs before shucking his pants, his cock bobbing up against his stomach, and it shouldn’t be surprising that she can laugh during such intimate moments with him…but it kind of is. She wonders when she’ll get used to this feeling of happiness, of trust.

 

“Why, love?” He starts stroking his cock, his fingers moving up and down the velvety length. “You like my vessel?”

 

Her face scrunches in amusement (and cringes a little at his return of the bad pun), her eyes closing and her stomach moving with laughter, and she doesn’t realize that Killian is leaning over her lips until he presses a kiss against them, the taste of herself all over his scruff and his tongue. She moans into the kiss, and he does the same, the vibrations of them mixing together. Right before he pulls back, she can feel his smile.

 

“Well, it is quite the vessel you captain there, Jones. I hear you’re a hell of a captain, too.”

 

He laughs before quickly pressing another kiss against her lips, this one much more innocent than it has any right to be. “You’re a marvel, darling. Truly.”

 

When he slides into her a few minutes later, his length filling her in the way that she’s grown used to in the past few weeks, she can’t help but smile even as she gasps at his slow, shallow thrusts, hitting her clit with every movement and every swivel of his hips. He gets into a good rhythm, his hips doing most of the movement, but then he nudges her legs further apart so that he can settle himself more fully into her, sheathing himself to the hilt. And when he does, he rests his fully body weight over her chest, the coarse hair there rubbing against her nipples while his hand holds her arms far above her head to stretch her entire body, the handcuffs still intact, and he kisses her nearly the entire time, the slow slide of his tongue matching up with the slow slides of his length in and out of her.

 

“You’re so perfect for me, love,” he growls into her ear, dipping his tongue inside, and she’d give anything to touch him right now. To hold onto his shoulders, her nails leaving crescent moons in his skin, marking it with scars that’ll leave pleasant, pleasurable memories. “Like a perfect fit that I never want to leave.”

 

“Don’t,” she practically sobs, and the words mean more than just sex, and the way that Killian pulls back to gaze in her eyes makes her realize that he knows it too. “Don’t leave.”

 

“Never,” he promises, devouring her mouth while his hips piston into hers, hitting her so hard and so passionately that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to walk tomorrow. “You feel too good, too tight, to bloody wonderful. You’rebloody wonderful.”

 

She wants to say something back, to say something as seductive and yet kind to him, but everything gets caught in her throat and comes out as a moan while he drives himself into her, his thrusts slowing even more, long drags in and out of her that make her breath hitch with every single pump of his length. All she can do is mutter little half words, mixtures of his name and cries of pleasure while he works inside of her, her muscles contracting around him while his weight continues to push her into the mattress. Fuck, this is good, and if it could go on forever, she’d let it. She’d let Killian push her higher and higher until she does actually combust into a million little pieces of Emma.

 

A bead of his sweat falls onto her eyebrow, the salty water dropping down past her lashes when he leans down and presses his lips there, capturing his sweat and a bit of hers before kissing her eyelid, his hips swirling and causing him to hit spots inside of her that make her vision blur and her body convulse while his lips move up and down her neck, trailing hot, wet kisses on her over heated skin.

 

She’s never made love to someone before, but that’s what this feels like. He’s got her handcuffed and was doing absolutely filthy things to her earlier, but as her walls flutter around him, her heart flutters in her chest, doing something that she doesn’t think she’s ever felt before, not like this. It would scare her…it should scare her, but she’s not scared. Not tonight. Tonight she’s going to let Killian make love to her, and she’s going to return all of his affections in equal measure.

 

When she falls, it’s in more ways than one, and it feels like the most natural thing in the world, their bodies coming together while her heart tries to catch up through its erratic beating in her chest, finally calming when Killian slants his lips over hers right before he falls, too.

 


 

“So how exactly are the two of us supposed to move this couch down all of these stairs with just us? Two people and three hands don’t exactly make for the best movers. Though I do work pretty well with one hand, as you and you only know.”

 

Blush rises on her face at his lewd suggestion, and she turns back to the kitchen cabinets to hide it while he moves his eyebrows across his forehead. It’s Saturday morning, and she’s blessedly sore in all of the right places, beard burn all of her body and only the slightest bit of red marks around her wrists from the handcuffs. They did actually come to New York for a reason, and whether she and Killian like it or not, it wasn’t simply to be able to fuck each other into the mattress and into oblivion with no one around…though she does hope that her elderly neighbor wasn’t wearing her hearing aids last night.

 

“Maybe I should just buy a new couch?” she suggests, not really meaning it, just feeling particularly lazy at the daunting task of moving her stuff. She and Henry somehow amassed more in a year than she has in the entirety of her life. “We only have so much room in the truck and in the Uhaul, and I never liked it that much anyways. It looks nice, but it’s kind of stiff.”

 

“Is it?” Killian questions, cocking his head to the side and studying it before he goes to sit down on the leather, bouncing up and down as he tests it out, his face schooled in concentration. “C’mere, love. I think you need to try it again. I don’t want you throwing out perfectly good furniture.”

 

She sighs before putting down the box of kitchen wares that she was packing up, knowing that she’s never going to use them, especially since she doesn’t even have her own place yet. God, how does she not have her own place yet?

 

“I sat on that couch for a year. I know what it feels like.”

 

“Swan, just come here.”

 

She listens, but she grumbles about it, walking over to the couch and going to sit down only for Killian to grab onto her ass and pull her onto his lap, her bottom hitting the firmness of his thighs with only the slightest bit of shock.

 

“I’m pretty sure this isn’t the couch, babe.”

He quirks his eyebrow before wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her closer. She’s only a little bothered that she let the endearment slip from her lips again. With time, it’ll come naturally, without hesitation.

 

“No,” he whispers, kissing her cheek before moving along to her jaw, nibbling at the skin there, “but I thought I’d show you what wonderful things can be done on this couch to encourage you to keep it.”

 

“You know this is going in the living room of my non-existent apartment, right? And Henry will use it…because he lives with me. And these things can’t happen with him around.”

 

“Aye, but only part of the time. It’s a pity this isn’t like that blasted park bench. I can’t handcuff you to it.”

 

A thought she had last night comes to her, one she pushed down in the heat of the moment, and she pulls back from him so that he can’t distract her with his lips and the way he smells like her vanilla body wash because he forgot to bring his. “How’d you even get my handcuffs anyways?”

 

He smirks, that cocky grin back on his face, and he is a man of many talents, obviously, his expressive emotions one of them. His thievery another. “A good pirate never tells his secrets, especially when he finds some good booty.”

 

He smacks the side of her ass he can reach from the way she’s sitting on his lap, and she stifles her laugh at the side of his neck, pressing several long, wet kisses there, biting at his skin as she gives him a bit of payback of his own.

 

Yeah, she’s keeping the couch…if they ever get around to packing.

Chapter Text

The house is quiet, every step that she takes echoing in the aftermath, and she doesn’t like this. Well, she kind of does. She likes the calmness of it all, the way that she’s not always looking over her shoulder for someone to attack her and cause her unthinkable pain. When she’s home, in this wonderful house that Killian and Henry picked out for her when she was filled with darkness and they still saw her having a happy future despite the evil threatening to break free within her, she’s not the savior forced into carrying the weight of everyone’s happy endings. Well, of course she is. That never leaves her, but she’s learned to accept that, to want it sometimes. But things have been calm lately, Storybrooke finally becoming the idyllic seaside town it appears to be to the outside world…or how it would if they knew that it existed. Things have calmed, and the anxiety in her heart has as well.

 

At least with most things.

 

But right now, as she quietly slips down the stairs in her socked feet, Henry asleep in his bedroom upstairs, she’s simply Emma. Yes, she’s Emma, a mother and a wife as well as a sheriff and a savior, but she’s simply Emma right now in the darkness of her home before the sun bothers to rise from its resting place. It’s all she’s ever wanted, this sense of knowing herself and being happy with her life. At one point she was so lost, so despondent that she thought she’d never get her happy ending, but she’s somehow found it.

 

Something is missing, though.

 

Well, not necessarily missing, but her heart yearns for something else. It yearns so much that sometimes it feels like her heart is breaking, and while she’s known for awhile that she wants to have a child with Killian, the feeling has never been this strong, this intense, like it’s consuming her to the point where she cannot ignore it. She wants another baby, and while it should be simple, something is keeping her from talking about it with Killian. That makes her heart ache more, her stomach clench, because they don’t keep things from each other, not anymore, and she’s sure that he knows she’s holding something back.

 

He always has, even the first time they met.

 

He’d called her an open book, easy to read, and that had terrified her to her very core. It’s like he saw right through her, and no one had ever done that before. No one had ever cared to. She’d always hidden herself away, especially because the few times that she didn’t, she ended up burned so badly that she thought she’d never recover. And maybe in some ways she didn’t. Maybe her scars still mark her skin, but scars are just that. They’re scars. They’re proof that something happened to you and that you lived through it to tell the tale. You might have been broken, but you still survived.

 

If it can be broken, that means it still works.

 

She’s not surviving anymore, though. She’s living. She’s living, and she shouldn’t hold anything back from her husband. She married him because she loves him and trusts him with the entirety of her beating heart, the very heart she was willing to split in half to share with her true love, and of all the things they’ve learned being with each other, one of the most prominent is that things are better when they’re open with each other, even if it hurts like hell.

 

This won’t hurt. Killian wants a child, too. They’ve spoken of it before, but neither of them were ready, the final battle still fresh in their minds, but she’s ready now. And Killian’s always several steps ahead of her.

 

Speak of the devil (devilishly handsome, my love), Killian’s sitting in the living room, all of the lights turned off except for the soft glow of the television, and she’s glad she found him in the first place that she thought to look. She’d woken, and his side of the bed had been empty, the sheets cold to the touch. It wasn’t the most unusual thing as he sometimes gets up early to check on the Jolly, but he always tells her the night before. And if he doesn’t tell her the night before, he leaves her a note, his curving script notifying her of where he is in much more detail than necessary. Neither of those things happened this morning, however, so when she woke with no Killian underneath her cheek and the warmth of his body not pressed up against her, she almost immediately got out of bed to come look for him.

 

She doesn’t even have to say anything for him to know that she’s there, his arms opening until she settles herself into his lap, his arms wrapping around her while she rests her cheek against his and plays with the hair at his chest that’s exposed by his t-shirt.

 

“What are you doing down here?”

 

“Watching the television.”

 

“On silent?”

 

“Aye, I’m making up my own words.”

 

She laughs before pressing a kiss against his jaw, his scruff soft against her lips. “Is something wrong?”

 

“I don’t know,” he admits, his voice so deep that it rumbles through her and through the living room. “I just woke up, and I felt uneasy, like something was bothering me and lodging itself in my throat. So I came down here to think.”

 

“You didn’t go to the docks?”

 

“It didn’t feel right to leave home.”

 

She hums before resting her head against his cheek again, and the two of them sit there in silence and watch infomercials flicker across the television, the sun starting to rise around them, until suddenly the channel changes to a children’s show, something she doesn’t recognize with animated children playing in the sea water. She’s not sure that she believes in signs, but this kind of feels like one.

 

Or maybe simply Storybrooke’s cable scheduling.

 

“Darling,” Killian begins, and her face begins to heat, flush rising to her cheeks for a reason unknown to her. It’s something about the way his voice hitched the slightest bit, his usual suave demeanor faltering for the smallest of moments.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I know we’ve talked about it before, but it’s been awhile. Do you, uh, would you want to start trying for another child?”

 

She doesn’t miss the way he says another, and her heart warms at him including Henry. He’s always included Henry, taking him under his wings from the very beginning, and she’s glad that her two loves have each other. That they love each other, too. It means the world to her how they’ve bonded, and even when they’re up to no good, she loves her boys and the way they support each other and support her without fail.

 

“Yes.”

 

He turns his head to look at her, their foreheads pressed together as the heat of his body rushes over her to warm her, and she can see the timid smile gracing his lips. She’s sure it reflects the one gracing hers as well. “Truly?”

 

“Killian, I think about it all of the time. Hell, I was thinking about it this morning. I want a baby…with you, preferably.”

 

“Well, I’d hope so,” he chuckles before kissing her, a soft, gentle press of his lips with hers. “But you’re worried about Henry, right?”

 

“How could you possibly know that?”

 

She doesn’t know why she even asks. He always knows.

 

“Because I know you, my darling. I also know our boy. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to have a little sibling. He’d probably love babysitting for us as well.”

 

“He would for the first part, not so much the second one.”

 

Both of their heads turn to see Henry staring at them from behind the couch, his pajamas rumpled and his hair sticking up all over the place. Her cheeks blush realizing he’s heard their conversation, and a part of her wants to bury her face in the couch to avoid further embarrassment.

 

“Lad, what are you doing here?”

 

“You guys are having an emotional conversation on the couch in the living room. It’s not like I’m barging into your bedroom. Everyone knows better than to do that.”

 

Forget burying her face in the couch. She wants to bury her head in the backyard to keep from having to listen to Henry hint about his mother’s sex life with his step-father. But as Killian begins rubbing his hand up and down her back, she realizes that Henry said he’d love the first part…the part about having a sibling.

 

“So that wouldn’t upset you?” she asks, her voice shaking in its tepidness. She needs to hear the words. “You wouldn’t be upset if I have another kid?”

 

Henry shrugs, and he looks so much younger when he wakes up in the mornings and doesn’t bothering taming his hair. Killian is the same way. Or maybe Henry simply looks younger because she always wants him to be young, to be the little boy she got to meet again when he was ten.

 

“I mean, maybe at one point I would have thought that, but I know that you’re not replacing me. That’s not a thing that happens. You both love me. You just want to have a baby with your husband. I hear that’s pretty normal for most families.”

 

Killian absolutely beams, his eyes crinkling in the corners before he presses a kiss against her forehead, and her eyes flutter closed for just a moment. When she opens them, she doesn’t miss Henry’s small smile at she and Killian. “See, love, he’s on board. He’d be perfectly fine with a little pirate running around the house.”

“I just don’t want to hear all of the details of you guys trying. I’m almost an adult. I know how babies are made. I don’t need more details.”

 

And at that Henry walks into the kitchen and starts making himself something to eat, leaving she and Killian sitting in the living room soaking in the revelation that they’re going to have a baby…or at least they’re going to try.

 

A little pirate, according to Killian. She kind of likes that idea.

 

It takes longer than she expects, and it’s a hell of a lot more heartbreaking than she was thinking it would be each month she ends up not being pregnant. Of course, she’s never tried to get pregnant before. The first time she was seventeen, and it just kind of happened. As much as she loves Henry (it’s so much that there aren’t words for it), he very obviously wasn’t planned, and a part of her feels like it’s never going to happen again, that she’s not going to get her second chance.

 

That Killian’s not going to get his first.

 

She knows that she’s not letting him down every time she takes a negative test, but an irrational part of her feels that way. She sees the sadness reflected in his eyes. It’s the same sadness in hers, but he’s always the one to take her hand and kiss her knuckles, encouraging her and telling her that it’ll all be okay. If he’s half as good with the baby (There’s going to be a baby. She can feel it in her bones somehow.) as he is with her, he’ll be the best father in the world. He might not believe it all of the time, but it’s true.

 

It’s been months of trying, months of heartbreak knowing she’s not pregnant as well as watching Henry go off to find his own story, when she wakes up one morning and feels like a storm is raging in her stomach. She knows she’s going to vomit before she can even get out of the bed, and as she runs to the bathroom, she’s never been so thrilled to be losing her insides at two in the morning. She doesn’t feel that way ten minutes later when her body is empty and Killian is braiding her hair to keep it from falling in her face while she continues to vomit, but she does forty minutes later when she’s holding a positive pregnancy, tears running down both of their faces as the negatives have finally turned into a positive.

 

Killian rests his forehead against hers before he places his hand on her flat stomach, the heat of his touch running through her. “Hello, little love. We’re glad to meet you.”

 

All of the heartbreak has turned into jubilation, and all of the despair has turned into something else entirely.

 

Hope.

Chapter Text

“So tell me again why we’re doing this, love?”

 

“Because it’s Henry’s tenth birthday, and this is what he wants to do.”

 

“And he wants to do it with just his mother and his mother’s boyfriend?”

 

“Well, he wanted his dad to come too, but Neal hasn’t called me back in three weeks.”

 

“There’s still time.”

 

“Killian.” Emma places her hands on her hips, and he feels like she’s about to scold him in the way that she scolds Henry, her voice stern and her posture authoritative while her brows furrow together. “We’re leaving in fifteen minutes. I don’t think Neal is going to show up.”

 

He takes a tentative step forward, knowing that no matter how long he’s known Emma, knowing how to talk to her when she’s pissed at Neal is a delicate situation. But as he inches forward, she leans into him and wraps her arms around his stomach while he does the same, his hands moving up and down her back to try to soothe her. The man’s been breaking her heart for ten years, but he knows she’s more upset about how Henry will act when he realizes his dad isn’t here. Hopefully the man will at least call later in the afternoon.

 

“I’m not sad for me. I’m sad for Henry,” she mumbles into his chest, her voice muffled as she admits to what he already knows. “He deserves to have everything he wants for his birthday, and I feel like having his dad be here should be the easiest thing in the world. But it’s not.”

 

He leans forward to kiss the top of her head, holding her until Henry comes running into the room decked out in his pirate costume from Halloween…and his green converses which are undoubtedly the shoe choice of pirates everywhere. “Hey guys, are you – what’s wrong, mom?”

 

“Nothing, kid,” Emma lies, pulling back from his arms and plastering an almost genuine smile on her face. “I was just trying to get all of the warmth from Killian before we go out into the cold.”

 

Henry’s little face grimaces, his wide chocolate eyes turning into small, pained lines, and he and Emma both chuckle. The lad is Emma’s best bud (maybe his too), but he’s still just now ten. He doesn’t appreciate his mother being affectionate toward her boyfriend in his presence, though he will make exceptions on occasion. This apparently is not one of those times. He has no idea what the lad would do had he walked in on them kissing. Probably fainted or asked to walk the plank in theme of today’s adventures.

 

“You guys are gross.”

 

Emma smiles before marching over to Henry and planting a sloppy kiss against his forehead, making exaggerated noises until Henry starts laughing underneath his mother and falsely squirming away from her as she holds onto his sides to keep him from running away. She’s the best mum in the world. He’s sure of it, and his heart swells as he watches she and Henry interact with each other. She’d go to the ends of the earth for her lad, and he thinks that he would, too. Actually, he knows that he would should the two of them let him.

 

Emma finally releases Henry, both of their faces flushed with laughter, before she taps on his shoulders and fixes the mused hair at the top of his head. “Put your coat on, kid.”

 

Henry looks more perturbed by this than he did by he and Emma’s moment of affection, and Killian has to stifle his laugh in his hand at the lad’s disgusted face. “But that ruins the costume.”

 

“It’s January in Boston, Henry. You’re wearing a coat.”

 

Henry grumbles something under his breath before going to wrap his coat around himself as he and Emma do the same with their own, as well as pulling beanies over all of their heads to keep their ears from freezing off and falling into the harbor. She’s right to tell the lad to put on his coat because he has a feeling the three of them are going to suffer greatly while on this pirate cruise in the midst of January.

 

They walk down to the harbor in a small bundle as the air nips at all of their small patches of exposed skin, chatting about the new book Henry has been reading as well as what food he wants to go along with his cake for when they get back to the apartment (duh, pizza, mom). The lad is more energetic than he’s seen him in a long time, and he’s glad to see that Neal’s absence isn’t causing too much visible heartbreak on him. As much as Killian has his own issues with Neal, he’s Henry’s father, and Killian would rather have him here for the lad’s birthday than have him be absent. But Neal’s not here, and Killian will try his best to make sure Henry has the best birthday he can despite that.

 

“Killian?”

 

“Yes, young sir?”

 

“Is the pirate ship going to be like the ship you were on when you were in the Navy?”

 

Emma squeezes his hand, and he can practically feel the heat of it through their gloves. He doesn’t have the most pleasant memories of his time in the Navy, but Henry’s always loved it, always found it fascinating that Killian got to live out on the ocean for months at a time over the span of several years. So he squeezes Emma’s hand back, tightening his grip on her fingers, and presses a kiss to her chilled cheek before speaking.

 

“I’d like to think my ship was much cooler than the pirate’s ship we’re going to simply because I’m cooler than a pirate.”

 

“You and mom tell me that math is cool, so I think the pirates are definitely cooler.”

 

He and Emma both bark out a laugh as they finally make it to the harbor where the ship is resting at the docks, painted in bright colors and standing out among all of the regular sail boats and small yachts.

 

“Yeah, the pirate ship is definitely cooler, Killian.”

 

There are a total of three other passengers on the ship, and it makes sense as January isn’t the most common time for an excursion around the harbor like this. It’s bloody freezing out, but the warmth of the heaters and Henry’s smile keeps his body heated as the time goes on. The crew is all dressed similarly to Henry (well, without the modern coat and knit beanie on top of their heads), overexaggerated pirate’s costumes that include striped pants and billowing white shirts to go along with their eye patches and fake hooks for hands. He’s sure that pirates didn’t dress like this, likely wearing dirty linen pants or leathers, but he reminds himself that this is for Henry.

 

He’d do anything for Henry.

 

Including watch the love of his bloody life act along as the damsel in distress in whatever play the crew members are acting out. Emma’s having to cling onto the lead actor’s jacket, pretending to swoon as the man spews his lines and holds onto Emma’s waist, his hands inching a little too close to her arse for comfort. He feels ridiculous when his jaw clenches in jealousy because Emma is simply play acting for her son who is eating this entire thing up, a broad smile gracing his face while he laughs and watches his mum like she’s in one of his favorite movies.

 

A chuckle passes through his lips when Emma pretends to faint because there is no one less like a damsel in distress than Emma Swan. The only person who saves her is herself, but she’s putting on quite the show with all of her dramatics. When a wind chill blows across the ship and he sees Henry shiver out of the corner of his eyes, he reaches over to tug the boy into his side to shield him from the wind, tugging the lad’s beanie back down over his ears while he’s at it. Henry looks up at him and smiles before wrapping his small arms around Killian’s waist and resting against him while the two of them watch Emma continue to act out the play.

 

He catches her mouthing “I love you” when she sees he and Henry, and he whispers it back, letting the words catch in the air as they travel to her. She smiles and gives him a subtle wink (for Emma at least) before fully going back into her role. The lass is a private investigator and apparently a damn good pirate wench/damsel (the role is becoming confusing the longer this goes on). Maybe she missed her calling to act. But then she fakes her jubilation at being saved, and he’s rethinking his opinion on her acting skills.

 

“Mom looks ridiculous, don’t you think?”

 

“So ridiculous, but it was either me or her up there acting in their little play.”

 

“I’m not sure you’d make a very pretty woman.”

 

“Oi,” he moves his hand to tickle Henry’s side, causing him to dissolve into a fit of laughter, “I’m devilishly handsome, lad. I’m sure I could pull a little eyeliner off. Maybe rock a ponytail, too.”

 

“I don’t think mom would want to date you then.”

 

“I think you’d be surprised.”

 

Eventually Emma is relinquished from her acting duties and allowed to return to he and Henry, wrapping her arms around Henry and exaggerating how happy she is to be reunited with her long lost son after being captured by some nasty pirates. Henry rolls his eyes, but he laughs anyways.

 

Maybe Henry still thinks he and Emma are kind of cool. At least cooler than the pirates.

 

Eventually the cruise ends, and the three of them exit the ship and make their way back to Emma’s apartment for pizza (duh, mom), cake, and presents. Emma had been worried that Henry didn’t want to have a party with his friends from school, but she seems to be happy now as she sits on the couch and eats so much cake that the icing gets stuck on her face while Henry does the same.

 

Like mother like son.

 

Sticking with the pirate theme, Emma bought Henry the box set of all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies along with what has to be ten nautically-themed novels. He’s still not sure where the lad got his obsession with pirates, but it’s heartwarming watching his eyes light up as he flips through the book of “Pirate Puns” that was on the bottom of the pile. They’re going to be hearing jokes like “How can you tell a pirate has fallen for modern technology? It’s the iPatch that gives it away” forever.

 

Or at least until the next obsession comes along. God does he hope it’s not dinosaurs.

 

He’s got to go get his gift for Henry from where it’s hidden in Emma’s bedroom, and when he comes back in with a large chest that’s likely big enough to fit Henry inside of it, Henry and Emma’s eyes light up for entirely different reasons.

 

“Cool. Is that a real naval chest?”

 

“Aye, it’s mine from my time in the Navy. Thought you could have it to keep all of your treasures, even if you think pirates are cooler than a Naval man like myself. I think there might be a treasure already inside of it for you, too.”

 

When he places it down in front of Henry, he ignores Emma’s pointed stare, watching as Henry undoes the latches of the chest and reveals the telescope waiting inside of it.

 

“No way,” Henry squeals, his voice going even higher pitched than normal, and both he and Emma reach up to cover their ears while Henry takes the telescope out of the chest. “I can’t wait to use this! Can it see all the way up to the stars?”

 

“Aye. I can teach you how to navigate the stars with it as well, if you really want to take on your pirate persona. If that’s okay with mum, of course.”

 

“That’s fine with me as long as I never have to act in a pirate play again.”

“Awesome.” Henry very carefully places the telescope on the couch before launching himself in Killian’s arms, his small limbs that grow longer every day wrapping around his neck and holding on tight. “Thank you, Killian. I love you.”

 

His heart stops at Henry’s words, the beating completely ceasing until it comes back at such a rapid pace that he thinks it may burst. Henry’s never said those words to him before, and he never really expected him to. He may have been the one to give Henry a gift, but this is the greatest gift he could have ever received himself. Hugging Henry tighter and fighting back the damn tears stinging in his eyes, he whispers, “I love you too, lad. I’m so glad you like it.”

 

“It’s the coolest. Much cooler than the pirate stuff.”

 

Oh how quickly allegiances change.

 

The three of them spend the rest of their day binging Henry’s new movies, and the entire time Emma mutters things about how she wishes the pirates on the ship today could have looked like Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom because she’s already close enough to Elizabeth Swann. Henry falls asleep around ten and just for tonight, Emma lets him sleep in his pirate costume as Killian carries him off to bed, tucking him under the covers with his new telescope resting on the desk beside him.

 

“You want to stay over tonight?” Emma questions when he shuts Henry’s door behind him and moves toward her to rest his hands on her hips, his thumbs finding the skin under her sweater and rubbing small circles there.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Mhm,” she hums before wrapping her arms around his neck and standing on her toes so that she can slant her lips over his. “I’m sure. I kind of think you should maybe start spending even more nights over here. Like, every night.”

 

His heart starts beating quickly at her words, his pulse pounding in his neck, and he has to contain the smile that wants to emerge on his face and light up the entirety of Boston.

 

“You looking for someone to share the rent with?”

 

She starts backing down the hallway, leading him into her room before she sits down on the mattress and moves his hands from her hips to twine their fingers together while she looks up at him with those beautiful emerald eyes of hers and a soft smile formed on her lips.

 

“I’m looking for someone to share my bed with, my life with. Someone who I love. Who my son loves.”

 

He quirks his eyebrow and runs his thumb across her knuckles to reassure both Emma and himself. They’ve talked about moving in together, but it’s never been definite because of Henry. And then there’s the fact that Henry told Killian he loved him earlier. He didn’t meet Henry until he and Emma had been dating for over half of a year because she didn’t want him to get attached to someone who wasn’t going to stick around, so he knows that it’s a big deal for not just Henry, but for Emma for her to want him to live with the two of them.

 

“So you heard that, did you?”

 

 “I did.”

 

“And you’re okay with it?”

 

“I’m more than okay with it, babe.”

 

His heart flutters at her words, and this day is turning out to be much better than he thought it would be when his arse was turning into an icicle on board the ship this afternoon.

 

“And Henry would be okay with me living here?”

 

“Yep. We talked about it two weeks ago when he asked why you couldn’t always be here in the mornings to cook breakfast or to help with his forgotten math homework or even just to talk about ‘guy stuff,’ whatever that is.”

 

“What’d you tell him?”

 

She shrugs, before she yanks them down so that they’re both lying on their sides, Emma’s hands moving up and down his waist while his threads into her hair, feeling the soft strands between his fingers. “That it’s more complicated when you’re adults, but that I could ask you and see. I tried not to get his hopes up before we talked about it again, but I saw his eyes light up the minute I said that I would ask. He thinks the world of you, and I imagine that’ll only increase now that he has Captain Killian Jones’s naval chest. That was sweet, babe. You didn’t have to do that.”

 

“I wanted to.”

 

“But what if we – ”

 

“We’re not going to.”


“But – ”

 

He leans forward to capture her lips with his, slanting them over each other until she whines into his mouth, their bodies molding together until they have to come up for air. Even then, though, they don’t stray far from each other, resting their foreheads together and looking at each other in the darkness of her bedroom…soon to be their bedroom.

 

“Emma, if we God forbid do break up, Henry can keep every single thing I’ve given him.” He reaches down their bodies to pull at the chain on her neck, fingering the silver ring that hangs at the bottom of it. “And so can you. But I’m not going anywhere, Emma. I’m in this for the long haul.”

 

“Me, too.”

 

It’s a pirate’s life for them all.

Chapter Text

“So can I hear the story of you getting a drink thrown on you? I feel like I know you well enough now to get that privilege of hearing of this bad date of yours.”

 

Killian’s drawing lazy patterns against her back, his nails leaving temporary marks as he moves across her skin. It’s got to be somewhere near four in the morning, the sun setting so long ago that it’s almost time for it to rise. After the game was over yesterday, Killian had offered to take her out to diner, but her sweater was absolutely soaked from the water Walsh had thrown on her, the damp material seeping into her skin and causing her to shiver as the temperature outside continued to cool. So he’d bashfully, scratching his ear the entire time while his cheeks reddened below his slight sunburn, offered to have her over to his place to change clothes and eat takeout since he lives near Fenway. Well, he’d actually phrased it as “So, Swan, my dugout or yours?” and she’d chosen his.

 

And him offering her a dry shirt pretty much got the ball rolling off the mound for them to fall into bed together.

 

And while they were there, there were no strikes. Only home runs, and at the end of each inning, a damn grand slam.

 

She’s going to talk and think in baseball innuendos for the rest of her life.

 

Or maybe just until she gets some sleep. She’s been up for almost twenty-four hours and has taken part in some rigorous activities in the past few of those. Totally worth it, but she’s starting to get delusional.

 

She hums when Killian moves his fingertips over her shoulders and up to the base of her neck, drawing lines right at her hairline that send vibrations through her boneless, sated body. “You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine.”

 

“Is this the getting to know you equivalent of you show me yours and I’ll show you mine?”

“Considering I’ve already shown you all of mine,” she turns her head to look at him, tracing her eyes up and down his still bare body, “and you’ve shown me all of yours, I think we can do the same for bad dates. Plus, you were a real live witness to an actual, historical bad date.”

 

“Me and a couple other thousand people. And a few million if they showed it on the television…which Liam tells me they did.”

 

Well, she was not expecting that. And she’d also totally blocked out the fact that her kiss with Killian had been seen by everyone in the stadium. J.D. Martinez probably saw her make out with Killian, and she’s just not sure how she feels about that…not that she personally knows Martinez. And who is she kidding? He’s trying to win the World Series. He doesn’t care about who she’s swapping spit with.

 

Strike that (strike out).

 

Swapping spit is a horrible way to describe a kiss. Martinez is trying to win the World Series, and he doesn’t care who she’s kissing…or stealing bases with. Okay, that’s a slightly better thought.

 

“Holy shit. Are you serious?”

 

“As the plague. You’re a bit of an internet sensation, Swan. Though no one knows who you are.”

 

“When did you even find time to talk to Liam?”

 

“While you were in the bathroom after round,” he counts his fingers, exaggerating his movements, and she rolls her eyes, “two. He’d texted me several, well, several different versions of ‘what the hell, brother’ and then links to a bunch of articles online. His job is more PR management for the team than anything else. So when we trended on Twitter, he was all over that.”

 

Holy shit. Did he just say they trended on Twitter? That is something she never thought would happen to her. Ever. That doesn’t even feel real. This entire day doesn’t feel real.

 

She doesn’t even have a Twitter.

 

Does that make this a…no hitter?

 

“Is he…is he going to release our names?”

 

She doesn’t think it would be the end of the world, but her friends are never going to let her live this down.

 

“No, though there’s no guarantee the masses of the internet won’t find us out. I’m a public servant related to someone who works for the team, and you’re supposedly a nutritionist. We’re online.”

 

“What do you mean I’m supposedly a nutritionist? I am one!”

 

He pokes her in the side, causing her to jump a bit, her stomach convulsing at the surprising warmth of his touch. “You ate half of a pizza tonight. That’s the exact opposite of what a nutritionist would suggest.”

 

“Yeah, but I don’t always eat like that, and I’ve gotten quite the workout today. And it’s like that hypocritical thing parents used to say. Do as I say, not as I do.”

 

“Fair point.”

 

He leans over to kiss her, and just as his lips touch hers, she remembers how this conversation started. “Hey, what was your worst date?”

 

“This one.”

 

She rolls her eyes, and she’s got to be dreaming. This isn’t her life. She’s never connected with someone this easily, and it has to be a dream. A really good dream. “Shut up. What was it really?”

 

“It was really this one, love. Because nothing is ever going to compare to it.”

 

What a smooth talker, and she’s totally falling for it…well, almost.

 

“That’s sweet and super cheesy, but I still want to know your actual worst date.”

 

He sighs before flopping down on to his back, the mattress bouncing under his weight while she lays down next to him, propping herself up on her fisted hand and pulling the comforter over the two of them to keep the fan from causing her skin to break out in gooseflesh.

 

“I was twenty seven and – ”

 

“Wait. How old are you now?”

 

“Thirty-two. You?”

 

“Twenty-eight. It was my birthday a few days ago. Go on.”

 

“Happy birthday, love.” He kisses her brow before settling back down in his spot, a soft smile gracing his face that causes butterflies to rise up in her stomach. “So I was twenty-seven, and my last serious girlfriend and I had just broken up. I wasn’t really ready to date again, but my mates were on my arse about it. So I asked a lass I knew through Liam out, and it was just…horrible. It’s not like anything dramatic happened where my date was an arsehole and ignored me, but I was still so upset and heartbroken that everything was doom and gloom. And she and I just had no connection. Like, none. We sat at a restaurant forever and didn’t talk for thirty seven minutes. I timed it because words were not forming in my mind. It was like torture. And then she asked me out again when we were leaving, and I had to turn her down.”

 

“Why would she ask you out again if it was so awkward?”

 

“No bloody clue. A glutton for punishment obviously. So do I get to hear the drink story now?”

 

“I was at a football game.”

 

“You obviously shouldn’t go to sporting events for dates, lass. Take me out to the ball game should not be a part of your song catalog.”’

 

He waggles his eyebrows before smirking at her, and she can’t help but reach over and playfully hit his shoulder. Their batting average with each other is not the best. Or maybe it is. She’s not sure how that works in this particular situation.

 

“Yeah, but then you wouldn’t have me in your bed right now.”

 

“Too true.”

 

“So I was at a game in college, and I, too, was starting to date again after a relationship. The guy I was with apparently had an ex who was pissed at him, so she dumped her drink on us. It was definitely an interesting experience.”

 

“Maybe one day I can take you on a date where you don’t get a drink spilled on you.”

 

She smiles, and her stomach does that thing with butterflies again. Maybe it’s fly balls if she’s sticking with the baseball theme, but that seems like it might be painful. She hopes that this isn’t painful.

 

“I’d like that.”

 

She leaves around seven in the morning after getting approximately an hour and a half of sleep, and while the night was a whole new ballgame to what she’s used to, she’s really feeling it now as she walks into the office in her jeans and her sweater from yesterday. She’s going to need all of the coffee in the building as well as the Boston area for how her body is dragging, and she just has to make it until four before she can go home. She can do that, can’t she? She’s survived worse, and she doesn’t have any appointments today, so she can avoid people.

 

Or at least she thought she could until her office phone starts ringing before she even manages to sit down.

 

“Emma Swan’s office. How may I help you?”

 

“Whoisthemanwhoyouwerekissingonthejumbotronyesterday?”

 

The words come out of Mary Margaret’s mouth so quickly that Emma almost can’t make them out, but she’s been interpreting her friend for years. Plus, she figured that before the world discovered who the girl was who made out with a stranger on television, Mary Margaret would see the video and call her. Crap, she didn’t even call to tell Mary Margaret about her date. She’s going to be so confused. And probably a little pissed.

 

“His name is Killian. Also, breathe, Marg.”

 

“What happened to Walsh?”

 

“He was an asshole. Why did you think I would like him?”

 

“He’s been nothing but nice to me.”

 

“Well, he was lying.”

 

Mary Margaret is silent for a few seconds, and Emma knows that she’s debating whether or not to follow up on the Walsh situation or to just drop it.

 

“So who’s Killian?”

 

So she tells Mary Margaret the story of how she met Killian, leaving out the part about going back to his apartment because as much as she loves her friend, she can be a little judgmental. She can’t talk long, as Mary Margaret did call her why she was at work (I knew you wouldn’t pick up if you could see the caller ID on your cell), so she gets out of having to share too much. The day passes like a game with extra innings. At one point, you just want it to be over. You don’t care how.

 

Okay, maybe she cares a little bit.

 

Ruby: So I hear you slept with the hottie you made out with on national TV. You want to tell me about his wood? His baseballs? There are two, right?

Emma: How do you know that? And no.

 

Emma: I mean no to telling you about his baseball bat. There are definitely two balls, just to clarify.

 

Ruby: Mary Margaret read between the lines. Or the chalk or whatever. So did you round all of the bases?

 

Emma: I’m never talking to you again.

 

Ruby: Let me know before you get married in Fenway.

 

The next few days are pretty busy, her life getting back to normal, but she does text back and forth with Killian. They’re in that weird state of “hey we slept together and kind of talked about going on a date but we’re not really doing that.” So they just kind of text randomly throughout the days, making sure to update each other any time they hear or see something about the kiss cam make out and, of course, talking about the World Series. It’s after Boston wins game four that she gets her first call from Killian.

 

“Swan.”

 

“Jones?”

 

“Can you get Monday off of work?”

 

“Maybe. Why?”

 

“How would you feel about going to game five free of charge?”

 

“What?”

 

“My brother can hook us up with tickets. Says all we have to do is do a promo thing.”

 

“A promo?”

 

“Yeah, apparently they’re using us in promos and stuff, and he wants us to record a video. And then maybe you can see the Sox win the world series in person. And, you know, go to LA.”

 

Well knock her sox off. She doesn’t care if she’s used that pun before. It’s a good one.

 

“Killian, I’m not sure I can do that. I don’t really know you or Liam. This feels weird.”

 

“I’m not going to murder you, Swan. If I was, I’d have done it in my apartment where no one knew where you were.”

 

“Creepy.”

 

“I’m trying to make a point.”

 

“So it would cost no money? I’d just have to lose a bit more of my dignity?”

 

“Exactly.”

 

And that’s how she’s ended up sitting in the visitors’ locker room in the Dodgers stadium in LA decked out in Red Sox-provided team gear with Killian sitting right next to her as his brother interviews them, a camera with a bright light flashing in her face. She’s never been one to do spontaneous things like fly across the country to go to a baseball game with someone she barely knows, but really, how could she pass this up? It was a free plane ride, a free hotel room (she does plan on staying in her own room tonight, but things could change now that she’s with Killian again if she’s honest with herself), and a free ticket to what could be the Sox winning the World Series. So while it may not have been the most sensible decision in terms of, you know, safety, she doesn’t think she’s going to be murdered or something.

 

She at least hopes not.

 

The only murdering that’s going to be done is on the baseball field.

 

Okay, so maybe that’s a little violent, but she’s new at this trash talk thing.

 

The interview they do is, in one word, embarrassing. For one, she has to talk about how she met Killian and how she really did make out with him after knowing him for a few hours (obviously she leaves out what they did afterwards because…logic). There’s also a game played where she and Killian wear those headbands with little notecards on them and have to describe to each other which MLB team they are without saying the mascot, the city, or any of the words in the team’s name. But the real kicker is that Killian flirts with her the entire time while his brother interviews them. She’s meeting the guy’s brother, and while it’s not like he’s introducing her to his family because they’re seriously dating, it kind of feels that way. You know, if they weren’t in a locker room with a bunch of professional baseball players and their managers.

 

But it’s kind of fun once she gets over herself. Killian Jones is still the same man she met less than a week ago, and he puts little puns into their interview every time that he can. Whenever he messes up or curses, he says “strike that,” a giant grin on his face that cause her to giggle under her breath. At a point in the interview, Liam asks Killian if he has anything he’d like to say to Emma, and without any emotion in his face he said, “Are you in the outfield? Because you’re an angel.” Liam muttered “fuck you, Killian” under his breath, and they had to redo the entire scene from how hard they were all laughing. Okay, maybe not Liam. Apparently, Killian has annoyed Liam with baseball puns ever since he got this job.

 

She can respect that. She doesn’t have any siblings, but from what she can tell, they are incredibly close. Like their own little team.

 

Eventually she is allowed to be released from the torment of their little promo video, and she and Killian make their way to the box their seats are in. She’d rather be near the field, but is she really going to complain about watching game five or the World Series from a team suite?

 

Hell no.

 

She is going to complain, though, when the kiss cam finds she and Killian after the top of the second inning after showing the video they made earlier today on the jumbotron, and she already knows this was all Liam Jones’s doing. Maybe there will be a murder that’s not on the field.

 

“You don’t have to kiss me, love.”

 

She smiles before leaning over and pecking him on the lips as chastely as possible. She has a feeling this won’t be the last time the kiss cam finds them, so they might as well start off slow.

 

She doesn’t really want to start off slow.

 

“I mean, this is kind of like our second date, right? I obviously like you, even if my feelings on your brother are wavering.”

 

He laughs before nodding, and when his fingers intertwine with hers later, she doesn’t mind at all.

 

The kiss cam continues to find them throughout the rest of the game. No one has scored in three innings, so when she and Killian aren’t watching the game, they’re getting to know each other a little more. If you’re going to travel across the country with someone, you might as well get to know them. And she’s glad that the man she’s getting to know is Killian because he seems like a good man, nice and funny and like he won’t throw her screwball after screwball when she’s expecting a simple pitch straight down the line.

 

When the Sox win, she and Killian both go ballistic, jumping up and down and hugging everyone around them until Killian cups her face and kisses her like it was the two of them who actually played the game. If she’s on the jumbotron again, she doesn’t care. His lips are soft against hers, and her heart is so loud in her chest that she can’t hear anything else except for the groan that emanates from the back of Killian’s throat that she thinks she’ll remember for the rest of her life. Probably more than she’ll remember witnessing the Sox winning the Series, and that’s a pretty big deal.

 

This kiss seems like a pretty big deal, too.

 

“I hope you’re good at catching because I’m starting to fall for you.”

 

“How long have you had that one prepared?”

 

“About a day and a half, love.”

 

So Emma thought she’d always be someone who had bad dates, someone who never got to have that really good one that she remembered for the rest of her life. And then she had another horrible one which transformed into a great one that she and the internet will remember forever. And that great date turned into a year and three months of even better dates. Nothing ever topped getting to see the Sox win the series in terms of excitement, but when you love someone like she loves Killian, things like grand gestures don’t always matter. Every dinner date, whether that be out at a restaurant or in one of their apartments, is wonderful because they get to be together. She enjoys doing simple things like going to the movies, walking around the commons, exploring Boston and the surrounding areas, a yes, going to a few baseball games here and there. It’s not that things are perfect and that she and Killian don’t fight. They do. But they work through those things so that they can be better.

 

She’s happy, and Killian’s happy. That’s all that really matters to her.

 

Okay, so why Killian has her blindfolded and is walking her somewhere matters to her, too.

 

“Babe, where are we?”

 

“It’s a surprise, darling. We’ve been over this.”

 

“I know, but I don’t like being in the dark. Literally.”

 

He laughs, and she can feel him kiss her hair before moving to kiss her temple, his lips soft against her skin.

 

“Just a few more steps, okay?”

 

She’s got no clue where they are, but she knows the moment they go from being inside to walking out into the bitter chill of a Boston winter, the air nipping at her uncovered nose as Killian leads her to wherever they’re going. The ground stays solid until the feeling of grass is underneath her boots, but that doesn’t help her know where they are. Then, all of the sudden, Killian stops moving them and moves to stand behind her, his body heat invading her as his right hand finds purchase on her hip while his left hand takes off her blindfold while he rests his chin on her shoulder.

 

She’s in…they’re in Fenway park. A very empty Fenway park to be specific, standing on the pitcher’s mound, and Killian’s grabbing onto her left hand and pointing her arm just over one of the dugouts…where they met.

 

Oh. Ohhhh. Oh wow. This is…this is about to be a big moment, isn’t it? Her heartbeat starts pounding in her chest, the pace so rapid that she thinks Killian must be able to hear it, let alone feel it, and can she say yes right now? That’s what’s happening, right? Killian is about to propose. Why else would he get them alone on the field in the evening in the middle of January?

 

“So you see those seats right there, love?”

 

“I do. They look oddly familiar.”

 

“They do. You see, I met a girl in those seats, a girl who was on a horrible date. Not with me, of course.”

 

She chuckles under her breath, and she’s surprised she can even speak right now. “Of course not.”

 

“And this lovely lass spent an entire game with me, and near the end of it, she gave me the best bloody kiss of my life.”

 

“The best, huh?”

 

“Well, we’ve had some better ones since then, but I’ll remember that one forever.”

 

“Forever?”

 

“Aye, it’s on the internet, you see, and the internet is forever.” He kisses her cheek, his lips soft and warm in comparison to the hardness of the bristles of his scruff and the iciness of the air. “You know what else is forever?”

 

“Tattoos that you get when in college and are too scared to remove?”

 

“Not what I was going for, but that’s true in case of you and your buttercup.”

 

“What were you going for then?”

 

She knows, but he’s obviously planned this thing out. Who is she to do anything but play along? Killian releases her waist and her arm before turning her and getting down on one knee, a bright smile on his face even if his hand shakes a bit when he reaches into his jacket, a small black box emerging with his hand.

 

“I was going for marriage, specifically between you and me. So what do you say, Emma Swan? Will you marry me?”

 

She doesn’t even hesitate. “Yes.”

 

He doesn’t get a chance to slide the ring onto her finger before she’s pulling him off the ground and slamming her lips into his and wrapping her arms around his neck. Killian almost immediately moves to pick her up, allowing her to jump into his arms and wraps her legs around his waist, the ring box digging into her ass. It’s so much like their first kiss, but this is better. So much better.

 

“I love you so damn much, Killian.”

 

“I love you even more, Emma.”

 

“You just have to one up me, don’t you?”

 

He almost drops her then, a small scream emanating from her lips until he gently places her on the ground, letting go of her so that he can finally slide the ring on her finger…sliding it home.

 

That’s a baseball pun she’s okay with.  

 

“Well, I’ve got to make sure I’m never one of your bad date stories.”

 

“You won’t be.”

 

It’s only later that she realizes that Killian proposed to her with a diamond inside of a baseball diamond.

 

She’s okay with that, too.

 

And that’s a ball game.

Chapter Text

After being home in London for three months, a part of him wants to stay with his family, his mum, Liam, and Liam’s wife and children, but a much larger part of him aches for the familiarity of his flat in Boston that he’s lived in for the past decade. That is home to him now, and he knows that the ache of missing his family will fade until it is bearable the longer he is away from them and the more miles he puts between them. He’s thought about packing up and moving back across the pond more times than he could count over the years, but something has kept him living in America. He has just never been quite sure what that mysterious call to stay has been. Maybe it is the novelty of living somewhere new, though Boston is as familiar to him as London now. Maybe it is the fact that as much as he loves his family, England holds some of his worst memories. Or maybe it is simply because he’s built a life for himself in America. He has a job he actually enjoys, mates to spend time with, and a place to rest his head that is all his.

 

However, none of that keeps the sting of saying goodbye to his family from affecting him as he boards the plane that will take him home. Some of that is likely due to the fact that it is five in the morning, and his head pounds behind his eyes so ferociously that his eyes may as well come out of their sockets. As he settles down into his seat, a blessed window seat for the long journey ahead of him, he thinks that maybe the flight won’t be so bad. Maybe he’ll get some sleep. And then a woman and a small babe that can’t be older the half of a year slide into the seat next to him, and while they are quiet now, he knows that they won’t stay that way for the next eight hours. He doesn’t blame them for it. That is simply the nature of children and is to be expected when you spend any amount of time with an infant.

 

He is just so damn tired.

 

The woman and her lad are mostly silent for the first hour of the trip as her boy sleeps and she watches a movie on the screen attached to the seat ahead of her. He finds that despite his tiredness and the pounding of his head, he becomes distracted by his neighbors. He can’t outright stare at her without making her uncomfortable (and frankly being creepy), but he does manage to pick up on a few things. She’s got long blonde hair that is twisted into intricate braids that remind him of the way Liam’s wife wears her hair. He’s never quite understood how women do anything but a simple braid down their back, and he’s curious about it as stray pieces of her hair fly away from their constraints and land near his shoulders in the cramped seats. He believes that she has green eyes hidden under the blonde of her eyelashes, and he wonders if her son has matching emerald orbs as well. The lad’s got a small hat on, but his brown hair pokes out underneath it from where it’s gotten mused during his slumber. He must get that from his father.

 

Where is his father?

 

It’s none of Killian’s business, but when you’re trapped in a flying vessel for hours on end you become fascinated with your seatmates. He once rode next to a woman who was allowed to bring her cat with her, and she spoke to the cat for the entire three-hour plane ride.

 

He’s mildly allergic to cats.

 

It was hell.

 

Just as he gets lost in his musings, the lad begins to stir, his small eyes fluttering open to reveal the darkest brown eyes he’s ever seen in a child so young. He looks nothing like his mum, and that shocks him a bit as the only children he knows are the perfect combination of their parents. But he also doesn’t know much about kids, so he wouldn’t use himself as an example of infant expertise.

 

The lad starts to fuss a bit, small cries emanating from his mouth, and the woman’s eyes shoot away from the movie screen to look down at her boy.

 

“Oh crap,” she mutters, taking her headphones out and adjusting him while she reaches down to look for her bag that’s stuffed under her seat, shuffling through the contents trying to find whatever the item is that seems to be alluding her. She’s obviously flustered and trying to balance everything in her lap while the plane hits a bit of turbulence doesn’t help he cause.

 

“Love?” he questions, tapping on her shoulder so that she’ll look at him, her green eyes (he was right) blown wide like she’s been shocked until they squint and her brows furrow almost like she’s angry at him.

 

“I know, I know. I’m annoying for bringing a baby on a plane, but I’m trying to keep him as quiet as possible, I swear.”

 

She’s obviously not had good experiences traveling with her son before, and he doesn’t want her to think he’s cross with her. He simply wants to help out for everyone’s sanity.

 

“It’s not that. I was just going to suggest that I hold the lad for you while you search through your bag. Or maybe I could search through the bag to help you find whatever it is you’re looking for if you’re not comfortable with me holding him.”

 

“Would you,” she begins, her lips parted in surprise, “you’d do that? You’re not pissed that you’re sitting next to the woman with the crying baby? You actually want to help.”

 

He was at first, but that’s just because he was bloody exhausted. He still is, but he’s pushing that aside. “I’m not pissed, no. He’s nothing but a wee one. He can’t help that he’s crying. You can’t either.”

 

“I mean, he’ll stop crying if I feed him, but I can’t find my nursing stuff to take to the bathroom. Plus, the entire plane is shaking, and I’m pretty sure I’ll get yelled at for moving around. Or I’ll bust my ass.”

 

He reaches up to scratch at his ear, suddenly nervous for a reason he can’t quite pick out. It’s like he’s scared of what this woman who he doesn’t know will think of him, and he’s never been one to worry about others he’ll never see again. “If you’d like to switch seats with me for more privacy, you can feed him here. It’s not a bother to me, but I know others can be prickly about that.”

 

She rolls her eyes before she smiles, and something in his stomach stirs. “You have no idea.”

 

He and the woman manage to switch seats with only a little fuss and one pointed stare from their flight attendant before she’s feeding her boy, the cries stopping and the woman sighing in relief.

 

“My name is Emma, by the way. I feel like if you’ve seen part of my boob you should probably know that. Though, I can say that hasn’t always been a true fact.”

 

He chuckles, mostly because he doesn’t know what to do as he did, in fact, accidentally see part of her breast, but also because the lass manages to have a sense of humor when at least fifteen people on this plane likely want to yell at her.

 

“I’m Killian, and I fear if I show you something equal I’ll both be a horrible human being and get arrested.”

 

“So your chest is that scary then?”

 

Oh, she’s feisty then. He can appreciate that.

 

“Like Wolverine’s.”

 

Emma snorts, and as awkward as it is, he finds himself smiling at her. “I don’t know if I’d constitute that as scary, just hairy.”

 

“That’s scary to some women.”

 

“A human being exited my body, so I don’t think something as simple as chest hair is going to scare me. To be honest, I kind of like it.”

 

He kind of likes her.

 

He and Emma talk for the next couple hours of their flight. He learns that she was in London visiting her brother who had yet to meet his nephew due to the distance between London and Boston. He’d offered to pay for her flights so that she could come, and she accidentally let it slip that it was the first time she’d had any help with Henry (that’s the lad’s name) since he was born. That’s what allows him to piece together his question about Henry’s father and where he is. Okay, so only some of the questions. He’s got many more about how a man could leave a woman as captivating as Emma and a child as precious as Henry, but it’s none of his business so he presses no further.

 

He does check to see if she’s wearing a ring, though. He can’t help himself.

 

She doesn’t share much about herself, but she doesn’t have to for him to know that she’s brilliant with a quick wit and very obviously gorgeous. He finds that he may be a bit infatuated with the woman he’s just met, and even if she is the dreaded “woman with a baby on a plane”, she’s the best seatmate he’s ever had.

 

Take that cat woman who was most definitely not Halle Berry.

 

Emma would probably be better than Halle Berry anyways. The altitude may be causing him to lose his marbles.

 

About halfway through their flight, Emma leaves with Henry to change his diaper, and when she comes back, he finally notices the bags under her eyes that most likely match his.

 

“Emma, love, I can hold him if you want to take a nap.”

 

She hesitates and brings her bottom lip between her teeth while she studies him. She’s obviously not used to help, and he can understand her not trusting him fully. He’s a stranger, and she can’t just be handing her baby off to anyone, even if they are on a plane where he can’t run off with the lad.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Positive.”

 

“Okay, just, um, if he starts fussing and I don’t wake up, wake me okay?”

 

“You’ve got it, love.”

 

Emma hands Henry over to him, and after she checks to see that he won’t fuss being in Killian’s arms, she settles herself down against the window, propping her head on the sweater she’s bunched up and falling asleep more quickly than anyone he’s ever seen fall asleep while on an airplane. It’s almost like magic.

 

“Alright, lad,” he bounces Henry up and down on his leg until he’s adjusted enough in his lap, “let’s see if we can find something colorful for you and me to watch while mummy sleeps.”

 

If you’d asked him five hours ago if he’d spend part of his flight watching cartoons and quietly singing nursery rhymes while he tickles a baby’s stomach and makes funny faces, he’d have said no. He’d have said bloody hell no, actually. But he’s somewhere over the Atlantic with a woman’s head resting on his shoulder as she sleeps (his heart rate is most definitely not beating at a normal pace anymore) while her child clings to his neck and is softly puttering against his skin, the both of them drooling onto his shirt. He doesn’t…mind it, actually. He kind of likes it, likes the fact that he’s helping out a kind soul simply because he can.

 

Plus, it keeps him busy, and the time seems to pass by much more quickly, and for the first time in his life while flying, he doesn’t actually want that.

 

Emma’s been out for about an hour and a half when the flight attendants start making their rounds for drinks, and he’s not sure if he should wake her or not to see if she wants a cup of coffee. He doesn’t get the chance, though, because the attendant is speaking to him before he even realizes it.

 

“Would you or your wife like a cup of coffee? Water? A soft drink?”

 

“Oh, um, she’s…I…she’s not – ”

 

“Coffee,” Emma mumbles beside him, picking her head up off of his shoulder before rubbing the sleep out of her eyes with her fists. He misses her warmth almost immediately. “I’ll take a cup of coffee.”

 

“How do you take it?”

 

“With as much cream and sugar as you have, please.”

 

“And you sir?”

 

“I’ll take it black.”

 

The attendant hands them their coffees in disposable travel mugs, something he appreciates it because it’s already easy to spill a cup of liquid on a plane when it’s just himself, but he cannot imagine what it would be like to drink one with an infant. When the attendant finally leaves, he looks over to Emma to see her practically inhaling her caffeine, the scalding heat of it seemingly not affecting her while he places his down on his tray to cool.

 

“I’m sorry that I didn’t correct her on you being my wife. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just…I was startled, and it seems I forgot the English language. A bloody waste of thirty years of learning it if you ask me.”

 

Emma simply chuckles into her cup before placing her hand on his forearm and squeezing. Heat courses through his entire body, and he’s not sure if it’s from Emma’s touch or the fact that she was just holding the hot coffee and her hand is physically hot.

 

Both. It’s both.

 

“Don’t think anything of it. It’s easier not to correct than to try to explain. I had about fifteen people compliment my brother on his ‘adorable son.’ Henry looks nothing like David, but you put a man and a woman together with a kid and bam, they’re married.”

 

“Seems much less complicated than going to the courthouse for a license.”

 

“Yeah, but the nine month waiting period is a bitch.”

 

He barks out a laugh that not only causes everyone around them to look at him but for Henry to wake up as well, his eyes widening and frantically searching for something familiar until he finds Emma, his chubby little arms immediately reaching for her when he spots his mum.

 

“Hey, baby,” she coos, putting her coffee down on her tray before taking the lad out of his arms. “Were you good for our new friend? Yeah? I didn’t hear you cry once.” She turns to address him, worry suddenly in her eyes that causes them to widen. “He was good, right? Like, you’re not going to hate me for the rest of this flight for having a fussy kid and drooling on your shirt. Sorry about that by the way.”

 

“Think nothing of it, love. Your boy drooled on my other shoulder, so I’ve got two reminders of you to wash when I get home.”

 

“I never asked earlier. Are you…do you live in America or are you just visiting?”

 

“I live in Boston. Charlestown more specifically.”

 

“Dorchester,” Emma replies, a smile blooming on her face, and he can’t help but return it. “Maybe we’ll see you around if you’re up for people drooling on you some more…not that I drool often, just to clarify.”

 

“So it was a one time thing then?”

 

“Let’s go with that.”

 

Talking with Emma causes the flight to be over at an even quicker pace, and before he knows it, he, Emma, and Henry are heading toward baggage claim, Henry’s diaper bag over his shoulder and Henry on Emma’s hip.

 

“You don’t have to carry it, Killian.”

 

“It’s not a problem, love. It’s what a gentleman would do.”

 

“And you’re a gentleman?”

 

“Aye, I’m always a gentleman.”

 

His luggage comes first, and he goes to grab it while Emma points out her red suitcase for him as well, and he returns to she and Henry with two suitcases, a car seat, and what he hopes is a normal smile on his face because this woman and her son have him all flustered in a way that he hasn’t been in years.

 

“Would you, uh, would you like to share a ride home, love?”

 

Blush rises in her cheeks before she shakes her head no, and he tries not to be too disappointed in that. “My friend is picking us up, but thank you.”

 

He simply nods his acknowledgment, not knowing what else to say until Emma pulls her phone out of her pocket and types something out before thrusting the device in his face.

 

“You can put your number in there if you want. I figure if you can have a good time with me and Henry on a plane, imagine how well we’d get along when not so constrained.”

 

“Swimmingly. We’d get along swimmingly.”

 

He waits with her until her friend arrives in a bright yellow bug, and before she leaves, she presses up onto her toes and leaves a kiss against his cheek, her lips warm and soft against his skin. A shiver runs through his entire body, and he prays that Emma doesn’t notice the gooseflesh rising on his arms and the hair standing at attention on his neck.

 

“It was nice to meet you, Killian Jones. I’ll text you.”

 

And then she heads over to the car, setting up the car seat and buckling Henry inside before he hears her friend say “who’s the hottie and why isn’t he getting in the car with us?”. Heat rises in his cheeks while Emma throws her head back to laugh, her neck extending and her braided hair falling against her shoulder before she winks at him and they drive away, like a bright yellow dot in a sea of gray.

 

Unknown number: You want to get some coffee that’s not stale sometime? My driver has agreed to babysit.

 

Killian: Tell your driver that the “hottie” says he appreciates her for doing that. It’s a date, love.

 

The next time he flies to London, Emma’s sitting beside him with Henry in his own seat next to her. They booked their tickets together, and when the flight attendant asks him if his wife would like some coffee, he says yes without hesitation.

Chapter Text

Emma has been coaching him on things to say and to not say for weeks now. He’s to avoid baseball unless explicitly asked about it (“Babe, as far as anyone can know, you are not a Red Sox fan.” “I’m from Boston, love.” “Technically, you’re from London, and you guys don’t have baseball, so you’re not a Sox fan.”) as well as making sure not to mention that they’re living together around her Uncle Leroy. Her mum will most likely not ask for them to sleep in separate rooms, but if she does, he can just ignore that one. He’s to prepare himself for her brother to be obnoxiously protective to the point where he’ll likely want to punch him in the face but end up having to restrain Emma from doing it in his place. And most importantly, he’s to cook absolutely nothing with apples in it. He doesn’t get an explanation for that one, but honestly, he feels like it can’t be as much of a minefield as Emma thinks it’s going to be.

 

He’s taken the week off of work, something his boss down at the harbor was not fond of, but he can’t say anything when Killian hasn’t taken a vacation day in three years. He’s taken a few sick days that weren’t really sick days, but Robert doesn’t need to know about that. So while Emma may be as nervous as can be for this trip, he’s excited to be traveling to Storybrooke and meeting his girlfriend’s family as well as seeing the place where Emma grew up. It’s been a long time since he met a girlfriend’s family, and the savings account he has for an engagement ring helps to drive home the fact that he hopes this is the last time he ever has to do that. It also drives home the fact that he needs to make a good first impression. He thinks he will, but Emma’s nerves aren’t helping.

 

The closer they get to Storybrooke, city interstates turning into rural backroads with greenery surrounding them and not a high-rise to be seen, the more Emma’s legs start to fidget, shaking up and down in the passenger seat of her yellow bug (she’d insisted on them taking her car even if he’s driving). There’s no one else on the roads, nothing to distract him or endanger him, so he reaches over to take her hand, intertwining their fingers and gently rubbing the pad of his thumb across her knuckles to try to calm her. She seems to take a bit of comfort in it, her legs ceasing their movements and a soft smile tugging at the corners of her lips when she tightens her hold on his hand.

 

“Why are you freaking out so, love?”

 

“Why aren’t you freaking out?”

 

“Because I’m incredibly charming, and I don’t think your family is going to be like a pack of wolves waiting to devour me. Dare I say it, I think they might even like me.”

 

“I know they’re going to like you. I’m just scared that you’re not going to like them.”

 

“Well, I love you, and even if I think they’re the worst people on the planet – which they won’t be – that’s not going to change, aye?”

 

“Aye,” she mimics, bringing their joined hands to her lips and pressing several kisses against his wrist that make him smile and his heart settle while Emma’s hopefully does the same.

 

By the time they pass the “Welcome to Storybooke” sign, Emma’s nerves transfer over to him while she points out all of the little landmarks she’s mentioned in their year of dating and two years of being friends. He recognizes the ice cream shop that’s made Emma turn up her nose at every store bought pint of ice cream he’s ever eaten as well as Granny’s diner, the place where he’ll apparently be stuffing his face with the food that’s not included in their Thanksgiving meals. Maybe he can ask Granny for her grilled cheese recipe so that he can make it at home.

 

His is apparently just not the same.

 

At least seven people have waved at Emma while two people have flipped her off before they’re even past Main Street, and this is a small town if he’s ever seen one.

 

The little town turns out to be larger than he thought as Emma guides him through the quaint streets, houses with white picket fences and large spacious yards so unlike the crammed and crowded apartments and townhouses of the inner city of Boston. Fifteen minutes after entering city limits, he finally pulls up to the two-story faded yellow farmhouse on the outskirts of the town lines, no white picket fence but plenty of browning grass that must be a beautiful sight when it’s luscious and green in the summertime. It’s beautiful, like nothing he’s ever seen before as someone who has only ever lived in large cities, and if he wasn’t intimately aware of Emma’s reasons for leaving home, he would wonder how she could ever leave a place like this.

 

“Home sweet home,” Emma mumbles as he puts the car in park behind an old Chevy, pitchforks and shovels sticking out of the back of it from what he hopes is farm work and not a riot. She turns to look at him as he does the same, and before he knows what’s happening, she’s cupping his face and slanting her lips over his, the softness of them consuming him until a moan escapes his throat and is captured by Emma’s lips before she releases him. “Just remember that no matter what happens, I love you.”

 

“That’s my line.”

 

“I know.”

 

Emma’s mum runs out of the front door before they even get the chance to unbuckle their seatbelts, and before he gets the opportunity to laugh about it with Emma, she’s running into her mother’s arms, wrapping her arms around Ruth and hugging her like she hasn’t seen her in months…and she hasn’t, not since the loneliest week and a half of his life this past June. He takes the time of their reunion to get their luggage out of the backseat, and when he gets their bags all settled on his arms, he turns to see Emma and Ruth staring at him like he’s the meal they’re going to be serving on Thanksgiving.

 

“Uh, Mom, I’d like to officially introduce you to my boyfriend, Killian. And Killian, this is my mom.”

 

He smiles at Ruth before dropping his bag to the ground, reaching for Ruth’s hand and bringing it to his lips to press a kiss against her knuckles while Emma rolls her eyes at him to feign annoyance, the blush rising in her cheeks giving her away.

 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Nolan.”

 

“You can call me Ruth, dear, and I’m thrilled that Emma’s finally letting us meet you. I thought I’d only get to see your handsome face in pictures.”

 

“So she sends you pictures of me, does she?”

 

“Goodness, no. David helped me make an Instagram so that I could see what you and Emma are up to.”

 

Emma looks as if she’s about to faint, but he’s having quite a bit of fun with this conversation. “Well, Ruth, give me your number, and I’ll send you whatever pictures you want.”

 

“That’s exactly how he got my number.”

 

Emma claps her hands over her mouth when she realizes what she’s said, her face going as red as a tomato, and he has to bite down on his lip to keep from laughing at her joke. It’s definitely not how they met, but the innuendos fly from Emma’s lips almost as freely as they do from his after spending so much time together.

 

After chatting for a few minutes Ruth leaves them be, and Emma leads him up to her childhood bedroom, which is, quite frankly, a treasure chest of new information about his girlfriend. Everything is in light pinks and yellows, a flowery bedspread covering the small twin bed that he already knows is going to wreak havoc on his back over the next few nights. Emma gets to unpacking while he runs his fingers along the furniture in the room, looking at the old picture frames of Emma when she was younger, watching her evolve from a kid with braces to a beautiful, gangly teenager, her smile so full of joy in all of these photographs with her childhood friends that he can’t help but laugh as he learns more about her beginnings. And then he comes across one with her dad and suddenly the joy fades away a bit. Both of them have lost loved ones, and while it’s something that’s bonded them, it’s not something that either of them like to talk about.

 

The joy comes back, though, when he catches a poster of NSYNC on her wall, and a chuckle passes through his lips as he looks at it, the edges well worn, showing its age.

 

“I didn’t know you were such a big fan of boy bands, sweetheart.”

 

“Listen, buddy, I absolutely cannot wait until I get to go to your brother’s in London to make fun of all of your stuff. Everything you say today is going to come back to bite you in the ass.”

 

An idea sparks in his head before he stalks over to Emma and grabs her sides, causing her to illicit a squeal while he runs his fingers up and down her sides, snaking his hands under her sweater and touching the warm, bare skin of her stomach while he tickles her. She hates when he does this, but that doesn’t deter him from moving her to the bed and covering her body with his as he presses her down into the mattress.

 

“K-Killian,” she giggles, her breaths coming out in stilted spurts, “babe, s-stop…stop it. This hurts.”

 

“Is it a pain in the arse?”

 

“You…you are a pain in the ass.”

 

He stops the ministrations of his hands until he moves them up to her face, conscious of his entire body weight on top of her, and leans down to press his lips against hers until they’re joined together, only breaking apart when he needs the simple necessity of life that is air. “Am I still a pain in your arse?”

 

“Always. Remember, Jones, payback.”

 

“I’m not scared of this so-called payback because it means you have to actually get on a plane and fly overseas. Plus, I did nothing embarrassing as a teenager.”

 

“That’s a lie, and you know it.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

He dips his head to kiss her again, their lips sliding together while his hips start to move against hers, and he’s just teased her bottom lip with his tongue when he hears a knock on her door at the same time that the wood swings open, the two of them springing apart like they’re teenagers as the hinges continue to squeak. It’s got to be this damn room or something that’s taking them back in time because he’s definitely reminded of all of the embarrassing things he did as a teenager in that moment.

 

“Damn, Ems. It’s been a long time since I caught you making out with a boy in your room.”

 

“Maybe if you waited for me to answer your knock before you answered the door then we wouldn’t have this problem. Also, David, this is Killian.”

 

Oh yes, meeting your girlfriend’s brother after he catches you dry humping her…when you’re thirty years old. That’s always the best way to make a good first impression.

 

Over the next two days, he learns practically everything there is to learn about Storybrooke, whether that be through Emma’s guided tour or the way that the townspeople overshare everything. And he does mean everything.

 

He knows that Ruby, whose squeal was so high-pitched when she saw Emma that he thought an ear drum might have burst, is in veterinarian school while also working at her grandmother’s diner. He also knows that she just broke up with Dr. Victor Whale to start dating Dorothy, a fellow veterinarian student. She told Emma the entire tale, the coffee in the pot she was holding cooling until it was as cold as the temperatures outside as the story went on and on. It was bloody fascinating, but he’d walked in thinking he would be eating some of Granny’s famed grilled cheese at some point. Beyond Ruby, he knows that Emma’s Uncle Leroy is incredibly loud, gave Killian some kind of lecture about being too handsy with Emma in public (his hand was resting on her shoulder as they walked down main street), and threatened to bury Killian twenty feet under should he do something to harm Emma. He was bloody tempted to correct the man for using the wrong saying because he heard enough of the overbearing nonsense from David, but he decided that he’d rather not be ten feet under…or twenty.

 

Despite the chilled temperatures, he and Emma go for the famous ice cream she’s always talking about, and he meets Ingrid Frost (yes, that apparently is her real last name) who gives him the iciest stare he’s ever received until she suddenly smiles, kindness blooming onto her face like she and Leroy aren’t in cahoots to murder him. He’s honestly pretty nervous that she’s going to poison his peppermint ice cream, and while Emma may have left this town behind to break free of the shackles of her past, they have certainly not left her behind. It makes him nervous to know that he’s the one with the target on his back, but he’s glad to know that so many people care about the woman he loves.

 

She continues to guide him around town, showing him the docks, which he takes a particular interest in, wandering through the docked ships and admiring the variety of shipping freights to casual sail boats, before she shows him some of her favorite spots to hang out on the beach when she was a teenager. At one point they make out like teenagers (it’s funny what going home does to you), the taste of peppermint on his tongue mixing in with the test of hot chocolate on hers as the sand digs into his ass and Emma presses into him. He doesn’t know what got ahold of her in that moment, but he doesn’t bloody care when her tongue tangles with his.

 

He always knew that he liked the beach.

 

Each of the days they spend exploring as well as running errands for Ruth allows him to learn about new little facets of the quaint town of Storybrooke as well as learning about now facets of Emma. He’s aware that he knows her well, well enough to want to marry her, but there’s still so much to learn, and if he could sit with her in the back section of the library as she tells him a story about how she once got caught sneaking out of her bedroom when she was ten to return an overdue library book, he would.

 

She’s an unfinished book that he’s always reading, always learning new things about, and he’d like his access to her story to continue forever, hopefully intertwining their two stories together somewhere in the middle.

 



 

“Hey, Mom,” Emma calls as she comes running down the stairs, her socks skidding across the hardwood floor in a movement that reminds her so much of when she was a teenager and would come downstairs like that in the morning before school, until she finds her mom prepping food in the kitchen, all of her floral baking tins spread out across the counters.

 

“Yeah, hun?”

 

“Have you seen Killian? He was going off with David earlier, but he hasn’t answered his phone the past few times I’ve tried him.”

 

“I haven’t seen him, but David’s sitting on the back porch. Said something about wanting some peaceful time looking out at the lake while Mary Margaret and Leo nap.”

 

“That doesn’t sound like David in the slightest, but I guess I’ll go check to see if he knows where Killian is.”

 

“Hey, Emma. Wait.”

 

She stops her turn to pad her way back to her mom, propping herself against the counter and crossing her arms over her chest as the wire in her bra presses into her. “Yeah?”

 

“I like Killian.”

 

A smile blooms on her face despite her best efforts for it not to. She’s never been big on talking about her relationships with people outside of the actual relationship, but she’ll indulge her mother for a few moments, even if the smirk on her mom’s face should warn her that she’s going to regret this.

 

“Me too, Mom.”

 

“Do you…is he the one, do you think?”

 

It’s the question she was expecting, but it by now way means that she was prepared for it, her heart beating erratically in her chest as she tries to find words instead of standing here with her lips gaping open like a fish while her mom mixes something in a bowl.

 

“If I say yes are you going to freak?”

 

“No.”

 

“Liar.”

 

Ruth smiles, and Emma can’t help but be wary about where the rest of this conversation is going. Where the hell is Killian? And why do Mary Margaret and Leo have to be napping? She wants a nap too.

 

“I know. I know. But can you blame me? David’s married with a kid, and it’s just been so long since you’ve been this happy. And it’s the first boyfriend I’ve met since – ”

 

“Don’t mention him, please.”

 

“Sorry, sorry,” Ruth raises her hands in the air to try to placate Emma, and this is exactly why she doesn’t talk about everything with her mom. She loves her to pieces and would do anything for her, but she’s always bringing up how Emma’s been closed off for years and isn’t on the same life track as David. Her mom doesn’t mean to be annoying, but it just comes with the nature of being a mom to adult children, she guesses. “It’s just nice to see my babies growing up, and far be it from me to comment on your love life, but I personally think Killian is the one for you. Also, he’s a cutie, Emma.”

 

She laughs at her mom’s description of Killian. He would be so affronted if he knew that her mom described him as a cutie instead of something like devilishly handsome or striking.

 

“Yeah, I know. I love him a lot.”

 

It’s then that David comes barging into the house, his face flushed red in laughter as he stares down at his phone, running into the kitchen table because he can’t take his eyes away from the screen. “You’ve got to see this, Emma.”

 

Suddenly his phone is thrust into her hand, and there’s a video with their lake in the background. Except, it’s not just their lake because when she presses play, Killian is standing on the dock stripping out of his socks, shoes, and jacket like a madman in the forty-degree weather.

 

“Now tell me again what kind of tradition this is, Dave,” Killian speaks, his voice hesitant as he places his phone in the insert of his shoe.

“A family one.”

 

“Aye, I got that, mate. I just don’t understand why it’s necessary for me to take the plunge.”

 

“Because you want to be a part of the family apparently, and we’ve all done this. It’s like an initiation process. Our dad started it back when he was alive.”

 

“Sounds bloody ridiculous, but if your father started it, who am I to disrespect him?”

 

And then Killian jumps off the dock and into the lake, and she’s going to kill David. She’s also going to laugh at the fact that Killian fell for that when she’s no longer pissed at David.

 

She’s not quite there yet.

 

“I’m going to kill you.” She slaps his shoulder as hard as she can, making David move back across the kitchen as he grabs onto his shoulder like she actually hurt him. Good. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

 

“What?” he laughs, tears from his laughter threatening to fall from his eyes. “Just some brotherly love with pranks like we did when we were kids. I thought it would be funny.”

 

“To have my boyfriend jump into an icy cold lake by claiming it’s a tradition that dad started? You’re an asshole.”

 

David opens his mouth to say something, but she pushes out of the kitchen before he can get a word in, running toward the back doors of the house to see Killian standing on the porch steps with his shoes in his hands and his body shivering from the way that he’s soaked to the bone, his clothes clinging to his skin. It would honestly be pretty hot if she wasn’t a combination of pissed and concerned all at the same time.

 

When he sees her, he simply shrugs, a timid smile on his face. “It wasn’t until I stepped off the dock that I realized your brother was messing with me, and I feel like a right idiot.”

 

She takes a few steps forward until she can touch his face, running her knuckles across his cheek and feeling the chilled skin where it’s usually warm. “Yeah, well, you have my permission to punch him in the face after we get you out of those clothes and into a hot shower.”

 

“Trying to get me out of my clothes and into the shower, I see.” He smirks, but it doesn’t quite have the same effect. “So naughty, darling.”

 

“You’re shivering and turning a bit blue, babe. You’re not being seductive. And shower sex isn’t as great as you think it is.”

 

“Honestly anything would be better than how I’m feeling right now.”

 

She grabs onto his wrist over his shirt, the material soaked beneath the pads of her fingers, and if she doesn’t kill her brother, Killian very well might if he ever recovers from being a human icicle. “Come on.”

 

While Killian takes a shower, she goes through the drawer where she put away all of his stuff, rifling through the contents until she pulls out his sweatpants and his favorite college sweatshirt for him to get dressed in, leaving them on the bathroom countertop while the mirror steams from the heat of the water. A part of her is tempted to join Killian, but she’s not about to hop into the shower with her boyfriend when all of her family is downstairs. This is not Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. This is Emma Nolan in How to Lose Killian Jones in One Day While Also Getting Away with Murdering Your Brother.

 

It’s a working title.

 

Eventually Killian comes back into her bedroom all decked out in the clothes she left him, and he looks slightly less blue when he crawls into her bed and slides under the covers to wrap his arms around her stomach, pulling her closer and resting his forehead against hers, his wet hair seeping into hers while his nose brushes against hers while he hums, the vibrations nearly running through her.

 

“You’re warm, love.”

 

“You’re wet still.”

 

“Yes, but the second best kind of wet.”

 

“What’s the – oohhh, you’re so pervy.”

 

“You like it.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

He moves to press a kiss against her nose, and her eyes flutter closed at the contact. How can he possibly be so sweet to her when her brother was such a jerk? If Liam did something like this to her, she’d probably dunk him into the water with her. No, she’d definitely do that.

 

“You realize I’m going to have to get back at your brother, don’t you?”

 

And there’s the Killian she knows.

 

“What are you thinking?”

 


 

It’s Thanksgiving morning, and she’s been up since six. She’s not cooking or anything, but Killian is and she’s sitting on the kitchen countertop while he mixes…something. She’s not really sure what he’s doing. All she knows is that she’s had to kick up her running game since they got together because he cooks for her all the damn time. Okay, so she kicked up her running game at first, but then she pretty much gave up on that and just did her normal routine and hoped that sex did the rest.

 

Of course, if she ate too much of what was on the table, sex became something that was off the table.

 

It’s a vicious cycle.

 

“You want to taste this, sweetheart?”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Icing for a cake.”

 

She basically squeals her agreement and waves her arms until Killian comes over to stand between her legs, the heat of his body nestling into her when he hands her the spoon full of icing that she knows is probably like torture for him to allow her to eat the icing without the cake, the weird food nut. It’s delicious, and she makes an overexaggerated moan that she knows that he hates just to get a rise out of him, but, you know, not the rise that moans usually cause. That’s not happening here when her mom’s room is right next door to hers.

 

“You’re doing that on purpose.”

 

“I am.”

 

“I will take away the icing.”

 

She reaches forward to wrap her arms around his neck, pulling him closer so that she can capture his lips with hers, feeling the softness of them as a pleasurable tinge runs through her and ends with the curl of her toes in her socks.

 

“I will take away the sex for when we get home, too.”

 

“That’s not an equal threat and you know it.”

 

“I do, and I don’t care.” She pecks his lips again before leaning back against the cabinets, her head hitting a knob. “The icing is good, babe. You realize there’s only going to be, like, twenty people here, right? You’re cooking for fifty, and that doesn’t include what mom’s already made.”

 

“Well, I’ve got to win the rest of your family over, and that may be difficult when I’ve only got the day and plan on having your brother meet the same fate I did yesterday.”

 

Eventually the rest of her family comes downstairs, and they all settle down to watch the parade on TV. It’s tradition, and even if she doesn’t find it as fascinating as she did as a child, she still likes to watch, her body nestled under a blanket with Killian’s arm wrapped around her shoulder and Leo sitting on her lap, pointing out all of the floats that he recognizes and even babbling along to some of the songs. It’s…nice. There aren’t any other words for it, and it’s good to be home. It’s good to be here with Killian, too.

 

Maybe he’s home, too.

 

Their guests start to arrive around noon while she’s still frantically setting up the tables down by the docks. It’s surprisingly warm for Thanksgiving, the sun beating down so harshly that it feels much warmer than fifty degrees, so her mom insisted that everyone eat outside instead of in the house which, frankly, works just fine for her if she wasn’t the one spending her early afternoon cursing folding tables and chairs that she and Killian are carrying to the dock from the storage shed. Life is much easier when you sit around on the couches with the television on than when you’re attempting to have a picture perfect outdoor meal.

 

It’s two hours of food, conversation, and having to shield Killian from the people who haven’t quite gotten their fill of messing with him for being with her, and she loves nearly every minute of it. Yeah, coming home has its faults, her family has their faults, but now that she’s out here, her stomach full of food and her heart happy, she wouldn’t trade sitting in the backyard, the lake sparkling behind her, with so many people she cares about filling the usually quiet farm with cheerful voices…at least until the alcohol kicks in and the competitive arguments begin.

 

She wonders what the big argument will be this year. Last year it was over when is too soon to listen to Christmas music. There were…a lot of opinions.

 

“You ready, darling?” Killian whispers into her ear, his lips brushing against the shell and causing a shiver to run through her body.

 

“Yeah, I’m ready.”

 

She stands from her chair, placing her phone on the table, before walking to the other side and tapping David on the shoulder. He looks up at her with his cheeks rounded, probably stuffed with bread. “Get up. I want a picture.”

 

“Now?” he mumbles, covering his mouth with his hand like she doesn’t already know he’s talking with food in his mouth.

 

“Yeah, I like the lighting down by the lake now. It’s pretty, and it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a good picture together.”

 

David grumbles as he finishes chewing, standing up from his chair and wrapping his arm around her shoulder.

 

“Babe,” she addresses Killian, “will you come and take the picture for us?”

 

“Of course. Just keep me away from the water.”

 

David snorts as the three of them make their way to the docks, Emma settling she and David right on the edge of the wood after convincing David to give Killian his phone for the photo. It takes some maneuvering to get arms wrapped around David without him being wrapped around her, and when Killian counts to three for the picture (do people still actually do that for photos when not plotting against their brothers?), she uses all of her strength to push David off the dock, his curse making everyone look down toward the dock to see him fall into the water, his head popping up only seconds after there’s a David-sized splash.

 

She knows it was an awful thing to do, she really does, but there was no way they could get David to willingly jump in the water. There just wasn’t, and the water’s not deep enough for him to have done anything but immediately rise to the surface anyways.

 

Also, it was damn funny, and she can’t wait to watch the video of it over and over again.

 

By the time David lifts himself out of the water, his clothes soaked and dripping water, Mary Margaret and Ruth have made their way down to where she and Killian are standing, and surprisingly, Mary Margaret is the first one to break out into roaring laughter.

 

“How could you possibly find this funny, Mary Margaret?” David questions as he tries to squeeze out his shirt, his body not nearly as cold as Killian’s had been because of the warmer temperatures today.

 

“Because it’s about time you get a taste of your own medicine, hun. You should have known that Emma was never going to let you get away with anything. That’s never how it’s worked between the two of you, and that’s not going to change because you’re adults.”

 

“I can’t believe you were dumb enough to stand so close to the lake with me,” Emma laughs, wiping the tears from her eyes. “You’re smarter than that.”

 

“You distracted me while I was eating.”

 

Killian takes a few steps forward, his hand clamping down onto David’s shoulder, and he chuckles before speaking, “Don’t worry, Dave. It’s a family tradition.”

 

And after that year, it is.

 

But in the summertime, where no one will get hypothermia and become a human icicle after taking the plunge.

 

That next summer is also the time when Killian takes the plunge and asks Emma to marry him.

 

She says yes, and they jump into the water and into life together.

Chapter Text

Killian hadn’t meant to do it. It had been, well, it had been an accident. He and Emma had simply been chatting earlier tonight down in the kitchen, their voices filled with joy as they talked. He’d been regaling her with one of his pirating adventures, a swashbuckling tale of danger, excitement, and thievery. He’s never shared a lot of his pirating tales with Emma, scared that his past would somehow cause her to finally run away, to leave him no matter how much she promised that she understood that he had a past, that they both did, and that she likes when people find their good hearts along the way. But something had made him think of a time he’d managed to run into an old foe, someone who had once wronged Liam, and despite the dark nature, he and Emma were uproariously laughing as he weaved the words of his story, his tongue crafting an adventure so vivid that it was like he was actually sailing the seas again, even if he is quite fond of living on land with Emma and her little bump.

 

He doesn’t remember exactly what in the story had caused him to make a swooping arm movement, his hand resting on Emma’s hip, thumb rubbing side to side against the skin under her tank top, and out of nowhere he’d brought his left arm down for emphasis, the point of his hook digging into the skin of her shoulder with such force that she cried out in pain and he flew backward so quickly, his hook moving with him and causing blood to start gushing from her shoulder at the way he’d slashed her skin when he suddenly pulled back and ripped her flesh.

 

There had been so much blood running against her pale, creamy skin and even more salty tears running down Emma’s cheeks while his own blood completely drained from his face. It wasn’t the first time he’d hurt someone with his hook, but every single one of those times had been intentional, his hook a weapon used to bring pain to a foe. But he’d never harmed someone he loves, someone like Emma. He’d never want to harm her, and yet he did. And by harming her, he also harmed their child.

 

God, how could he be so careless? So harmful?

 

Emma doesn’t need anyone to protect her, but he’s here for that anyhow, protecting her when he can, when she wants him to, and oftentimes when she doesn’t. Especially when she doesn’t and is running into danger without a plan in her mind and only bravery on her shoulders. He promised to protect her heart a long time ago, and even if this wasn’t her heart, he feels like he’s failed her. Failed them.

 

Emma’s never seen his hook as anything other than an extension of himself. Maybe she did see it as a fault at one point, but she’s the only person who’s ever made him feel like there’s nothing wrong with only having but one hand. She’s always made a point to hold onto the metal of his hook when they’re walking together and she’s on his left side. She’ll hold it at dinner when he’s eating, and she’ll hold it whenever she gets the chance no matter what they’re doing. And he knows that while it was likely a once conscious effort, something she did as a physical way of expressing her acceptance of him in more ways than one, it’s now something she does out of instinct, holding onto it like the cold metal gives her the same comfort as the heat of his skin as if their fingers are twined together and his thumb is running over her knuckles.

 

And he went and slashed her flesh, harming her with the very thing with which she felt comfortable.

 

He’s always been more than his hook. He’s a man, a complete man even with his various faults, but the insecurities behind his lack of a left hand can come roaring back without so much as a warning.

 

They’re back in full, raging force tonight as lays wide awake in bed, Emma’s breath coming out as hot puffs against his chest while the smoothness of her legs rubs against the hairiness of his own. She used to sleep like a rock, never moving once she settled herself down, but ever since they discovered she was pregnant, it’s like she’s been running in her sleep, her legs constantly kicking and hitting against him. It’s bloody distracting, and it’s likely what he deserves.

 

The curls of her hair are covering her shoulder where he’d harmed her, and while he knows there’s no scar, Emma having used her magic to heal herself, he’ll always remember when he sees that little patch of skin. Maybe even when he sees his hook, the attachment hidden away in his bedside drawer while his blunted end breathes, the redness caused by his brace fading the longer he has it removed from his skin.

 

He knows that Emma loves him. He does. There is nothing in his life of which he is more sure, but on nights like tonight, nights where his mind is his enemy, he can’t help but think that she deserves more than him, like all of those things people have said about him over the years – and there have been many – are correct.

 

The heat and smoothness of a hand grabs onto his wrist, fingertips running against the bumps of his end in the circular motion that he finds soothing, that only Emma knows he finds soothing, and when he looks down, he sees Emma’s eyes open and gazing in his direction.

 

“You should go back to sleep, love.”

 

“Can’t,” she mumbles, pressing a kiss against his chest. “your heart is beating too quickly in your chest, and it’s moving me. What’s wrong? Why are you overthinking?”

 

“I’m not overthinking.”

 

“Killian, you are.”

 

He sighs, his breath passing his lips in agitation. Maybe a bit of frustration. How does the bloody woman know even when she’s sleeping? “I harmed you, Emma.”

 

He feels her responding sigh against his skin before she props her chin on his chest, her eyes looking up at him as he stares at the wall across from their bed. “It was just a cut. Yeah, it hurt like a bitch, but it’s fine. There’s not even a scar. Why are you so worked up about this? Accidents happen.”

 

“But I damn well hurt you, Emma,” he mutters, trying not to raise his voice in the quietness of the room, the only sounds coming from the usual groaning of the house. “I caused blood to run from your skin. What if I had hit your stomach? God forbid, what would happen had I done something to the babe? What will happen if I do something in the future. Emma…I can’t…I…” his voice cracks and hot tears sting behind his eyes, “ I cannot hurt either of you. I’m supposed to love you, protect you, not break you.”

 

All of the sudden she’s moving on the bed, untangling herself from his limbs, the heat of her disappearing until she settles herself over his thighs, straddling his lap, her stomach against his, and cupping his face like everything is normal and they’re about to make love.

 

“Killian Jones, you are being ridiculous. You had an accident, and it’s not a big deal. Two weeks ago I cut my own damn finger with a knife, and I did it with two hands. People with two hands make mistakes and have accidents in the same way that people with one hand do. You are not less of a man. You are not some awful human being. Get out of your damn head and realize that you could accidentally slash me with your hook or your sword or a knife in the kitchen, and I’d still love you…okay, that sounds a little weird, but do you get my point?”

 

“Aye. I’m being ridiculous.”

 

She smiles, her lips pressed together in sympathy, maybe in affection. He’s not sure, but a single tear breaks free, running down his cheek and catching in his beard, and she swipes it away with the pad of her thumb. “You are, but also, your feelings are valid, and I want you to talk with me about them, okay? That’s what we do. We’re a team, and we lean on each other, especially when we’re feeling vulnerable. Got it?”

 

The way she speaks, the way she presses her hands against his face, it leaves absolutely no room for question, whether that be him questioning himself or questioning if Emma actually means the words she speaks. She does, and no part of him doubts her. He never has.

 

He reaches to wrap his arms around her wrist, his fingers covering her slight bone, while his other arm wraps around her waist and tugs her closer, their foreheads resting together as they sit together and simply breathe.

 

“What if I hurt our little love one day, Emma? Children don’t understand in the way that we do.”

 

“No, they don’t, but that’s a good thing sometimes. They aren’t born with prejudices. They’re born seeing things as they are, and what she’ll see is her daddy, someone who would never hurt her. And if an accident happens, well, then it does. But it won’t be your fault, okay?”

 

He nods before pressing a kiss to her forehead, feeling her soft skin against his lips. “Aye, old habits and thoughts tend to linger, love.”

 

“I know, but they don’t have to.” She pulls back from him and grabs his left arm, pulling his wrist to her mouth and pressing kisses over all of the scars and bumps there, making something that was once ugly beautiful. “I love you, Killian. Every single bit of you.”

 

“And I you.”

Chapter Text

As Emma gets older, she appreciates different things in life.

 

She used to like to get dressed up, tight dresses with cleavage showing and heels that were definitely more for looks than for practicality, to go out for drinks and dancing and maybe a little something extra if she was feeling it that night. And it definitely wasn’t the same type of dancing she did on her wedding day or back in the Enchanted Forest when she and Killian went back in time and had to reunite her parents so, you know, she didn’t disappear from existence amongst other things. Now, though, she prefers to stay at home in her leggings and an oversized sweater or one of Killian’s shirts, her makeup wiped clean and her hair falling in loose, sometimes un-brushed waves as she dances with Killian in the kitchen when she swipes some of the blueberry muffin batter out of the bowl he was mixing it in and he grabs her by the waist in retaliation until they somehow start swaying to the music that’s often playing through Killian’s phone. He prefers slow, soft songs, and there’s usually something from the fifties playing whenever he’s in control of the music instead of Hope and her penchant for Disney music that she doesn’t fully realize is about the very real people in her life.

 

She hasn’t discovered Peter Pan yet, and Emma’s not sure if she or Killian are more thankful.

 

Alone time used to be a big thing for her, and while it still is, it’s in a different way. She’d been alone for the entirety of her life, and even when people were around her, maybe especially when people were around her, she felt alone. So it’s something that she got used to, and it wasn’t until Henry that she realized that being alone is okay when you need it, but there are people who are worth being around and spending time with on a regular basis. Now, though, while she thanks Killian for those times when he makes sure her parents stay away with Hope and he takes over the station so that she can take a nap, she also appreciates her parents coming over (when it’s planned) with her brother and her time with Killian and Hope. She really appreciates when Henry comes home and everyone’s together. She’d give up all of her alone time for the next year for that to happen more frequently. The girl who was always alone isn’t anymore, and while it doesn’t surprise her so much now, she’s no less thankful.

 

But she does still like that alone time.

 

For most of her life, she hated sharing a bed with someone. It was too intimate, and it was also too damn hot, the body heat of the man beside her too warm and too much like her time in foster homes. But now she’s clingy to Killian as he sleeps besides her, her arms wrapping around his waist and her hands feeling the hair on his chest under her fingertips, soft and warm in the same way that his calves are as they tangle with hers. If he works the night shift, it feels lonely in their bed, like something is missing. And it is. She never thought she’d be that girl, but she guesses that she just never had the right person for her to want to be that way.

 

There are other things like finding a good book to read as well finding the time to read it, going on dates with Killian, spending time at the playground with Hope, texting with Henry, hosting people at her house for meals and holidays. She guesses that she appreciates the normal things, the things that people who don’t wield magic and fight off evil get to do on a daily basis. She appreciates getting to be part of a normal family….well, normal in the way that families are normal in Storybrooke.

 

She always thought that she wasn’t sentimental, that she didn’t care about things or trinkets that held memories, but she’s learned that she was wrong to think that about herself.

 

Hell, she kept her baby blanket from the people who she thought had left her on the side of the road and didn’t care about her enough to even take her to the hospital. Of course, she also kept the keychain from Neal, and while things like that could be passed off as being sentimental, they weren’t. They were reminders not to trust because trusting means that your heart gets broken again and again and again even if the walls around your heart are built so high that you think they can never crack or never fall.

 

They can, and it’s not always in the good way.

 

But then Henry found her and allowed her to meet her parents and find love in places she never thought she could find it.

 

And then Killian came into the picture and helped her to fill in the gaps of her life by simply being him and believing in her even when she didn’t believe in herself. Maybe especially when she didn’t believe in herself.

 

So yeah, she’s kind of sentimental, and she finds herself growing that way more so now that she’s getting older but not too old thank you very much. She and Killian are trying for another baby, something they’d decided when Hope was four and both of them just had this want, a need really, and she may be a little emotional today because she knows that she’s pregnant again. So yeah, she’s totally sentimental because she has an entire basement full of all of her children’s things, and she’ll do the same with this one’s belongings.

 

And also a chest full of things from Killian which Hope found while exploring her closet and is now shifting through like the vibrant, curious five-year-old that she is, asking questions with every item she pulls out.  

 

“Why do you have a dirty towel in here, Mommy?”

 

She fingers the scarf Killian had wrapped her bloodied hand with at the top of the beanstalk. She didn’t realize she kept it until she found it in her room at her parents’ after Neverland, and her heart started pounding in her chest at the thought that subconsciously she was holding onto pieces of Killian in the way that she was consciously holding back from when she saw him in real life. She still remembers the sting of the rum on her cut hand and the way that Killian had tugged on the material with his teeth while staring up at her with those ocean blue eyes of his. Her heart had pounded out of her chest then too, her eyes unable to look away, and he took her breath from her lungs in a way that she simply wasn’t comfortable with. She’s comfortable with it now.

 

“It’s a scarf that daddy gave me when we first met.”

 

Hope studies it for a moment longer, looking between it and Emma, her face trying to connect the pieces of it as if it’s more than just a scarf. It is.

 

“It’s not as pretty as your other scarves.”

 

She chuckles because if you ever want the truth, you should simply ask a child. “No, it’s not. But it’s special to me.”

 

Hope doesn’t seem to pay any attention to that, moving on from the scarf only to pull out the wine-stained napkin from their first date. This one she didn’t keep herself. It was all Killian who swiped it from the restaurant, and she found it in his room at Granny’s one night when she was staying there and looking for protection so they didn’t create someone like Hope far before either of them were ready. She’d smiled to herself before quickly grabbing a condom and shutting the drawer as her heart fluttered in her chest over something other than the arousal she was feeling. She swiped it the next day, and it took Killian a total of three days before he finally asked if she had taken it, his voice frantic like he had lost something precious. She guesses to him, he had. And to her now, too.

 

“This is also a dirty scarf. Or a napkin which is gross. Did daddy give you this?”

 

“Daddy gave me everything in the box.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because he loves me.”

 

Hope scrunches her nose up, making the face she always has when Killian tries to get her to eat fish. She despises fish, and Emma swears it may break Killian’s spirit a little more every time.

 

“Weird.”

 

Hope then pulls out the chain where Liam’s ring used to reside, the faded silver of it dimly sparkling in the light. When Hope was teething, she’d bite on the chain, yanking at Emma’s neck in the process, and one day Emma got so fed up with it that she simply slid the ring onto her thumb and kept it there until Killian came home with a different chain because he thought she’d lost the original one. She hadn’t, and while the ring mostly stays on her thumb, she’ll sometimes let it hang on it’s new, more delicate link along with a small diamond pendant Killian bought her for their first wedding anniversary.

 

“This necklace doesn’t have a jewel like your other ones.”

 

“Not all of them do, baby.”

 

Hope reaches for an ultrasound picture next, and the tears start to sting behind Emma’s eyes as she thinks of the child inside of her now as well as the two before it and how different each of them already are and how they’ve all come to be in different phases of her life.

 

“What’s this a picture of?”

 

“You.”

 

“This doesn’t look like me.”

 

“It’s from when you were in my belly.”

 

“Your belly is a blurry place.”

 

She reaches forward to tickle at Hope’s sides, causing her melodic giggles to waft through the room while Emma messes with her, curls falling from her ponytail the more she wiggles around. “Well, you still stayed in there for nine months, squirt, so you didn’t mind that too much.”

 

“You’re a silly goose, mommy.”

 

“She’s a silly swan, little love,” Killian chimes in from where he’s emerged from downstairs to stand in the doorway of their bedroom, a soft smile on his face that may bring out the tiredness in his eyes but makes him no less handsome.

 

“The saying goes silly goose,” Hope protests, and the girl is so headstrong they don’t know what they’re going to do with her when she gets older. They don’t even talk about how she’s going to be when her magic really comes into play. That’s just…terrifying. “Not silly swan. That’s what grandma says.”

 

“Ah, and grandma seems to always be right these days, doesn’t she?”

 

He moves to come and sit beside them on the bed, wrapping his arm around her waist and resting his hand against her stomach, the heat of his skin seeping through her shirt, like he already knows another child rests inside of her. Knowing him, he probably knew before she did.

 

“What are we looking at, my loves?”

 

“A box of weird stuff you’ve given mommy.”

 

“Oh, so are you in the box then too?”

 

Hope turns to look at Killian, and she gives him the meanest look she can muster, her brows furrowing together and her lips pursing while she puts her hands on her hips. Bless her little soul for trying to mean mug her dad, but he’s an impenetrable fortress when it comes to things like that. He basically invented that staring into your soul thing, so Hope is a bit out of luck here.

 

“You didn’t give me to mommy.”

 

“Technically, I did.”

 

Emma slaps his side and stifles her laugh. She hopes that Killian never stops with the innuendos. It’s never too early to scar their kid…kids for life. God knows Henry was probably relieved when he moved out, but they lay it on extra thick when he comes home.

 

“What else you got in there, bug?”

 

Hope rifles through the box again, pulling out a few darts that she and Killian have pilfered from Granny’s over the years, the one he was throwing when she asked him out on a date sticking out with its blunted in. There’s the seashell he’d used to communicate with her when they got separated and she’d stupidly thought the worst of him. That one brings back a mixture of memories that she’d care to forget about, and luckily Hope doesn’t linger on it too long, moving onto a stack of letters that Killian has written her over the years.

 

“Is this mail?”

 

She and Killian both laugh, and he presses a kiss to her temple before releasing her side so that he can grab onto the stack of letters, the both of them knowing that even with Hope’s advanced but limited reading skills, there are some things in there she doesn’t need to know about.

 

“Like mail,” Killian supplies, thumbing through the letters until he pulls one out, reading through the contents before smiling to himself. “These are letters I wrote to mummy.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I love her, and I want her to always know that.”

 

“Couldn’t you just tell her that? Like you already do.”

 

“I couldn’t always, so I wrote letters to give to her later. Like how you draw pictures at school and give them to us when you get home. These are like a book.”

 

“Like the storybook?”

 

“Aye.”

 

“Can you read it to me?”

 

“Aye.”

 

“Swan, would you like to have dinner with me on Thursday? Possibly on the Jolly Roger this time? We could sail away, if not just a small ways away from the harbor so as not to be disturbed for the smallest amount of time. Perhaps we could dance again like we did during our adventure, our bodies swaying together as the depths of the ocean sway underneath us, rocking us together. I realize you’ve spent much time with me on my ship, but it’s never been while we were intimately acquainted. We were adversaries at best, reluctant allies, and now we are not that. We are friends, lovers, something more, and I know that may scare you, but I’d like you to see the place I called home for so long before I met you. Have a wonderful day, love. I’ll see you at lunch. Killian.”

 

There are a few things in the letter that she hopes pass right over Hope’s head, a few suggestive words and innuendos, but she’s sure there’s not a letter in there that doesn’t contain one of those. That’s who her husband is, and his way with words never fails to amaze her. She feels her heart pound in her chest over hearing those words again, the rhythm almost as erratic as when he’d left in on her desk at the station, somehow getting inside and past her security system of…okay, well, it was simply a lock at the time. Of course he could get in.

 

“That’s not a story,” Hope protests, and she and Killian both chuckle before Killian leans forward and kisses Hope’s forehead in the same way that he kissed hers earlier.

 

“It is to me, bug.”

 

Eventually Hope grows bored with Emma’s box of things, carefully putting everything back like the meticulous little thing that she is – she does take after Killian in a lot of ways after all – before going to her room and playing with her own things while Emma and Killian go through the things on their own, Killian looking back at her and sharing small smiles and pointed eyebrow raises with every little bit of their past.

 

Life can be made up of things, sure, but those things represent memories, little pieces of pasts that make up the present they live in. This box is full of her own personal treasures, but the real treasure lies within her husband and her children, the life that they’ve formed with her. It can’t be quantified within a treasure chest, but it can be in her very real chest, her heart beating right inside of her.

“So when are we going to get another one of these done?” Killian questions, fingering Hope’s ultrasound picture, and how does he always know? He always knows any change in her, even the smallest of ones. This really is the smallest of ones, for now.

 

“How did you know?”

 

Killian doesn’t answer with words, not yet. Instead he turns his head so that he can slant his lips over hers, their noses pressing into each other in spite of the box in between them until they pull back.

 

“Because I know you, and I found the pregnancy test in the kitchen bin. Not your best work, darling.”

 

She scrunches her nose up, internally chastising herself for not hiding it someone else, before shrugging her shoulders and kissing at the corners of his lips.

 

“In my defense, I didn’t think you’d go rummaging through the trash can when you got home from pulling an all-nighter at work.”

 

“I accidentally threw a fork away. I had to get it out.”

 

She bursts into laughter, her entire body moving with the force of it before she rests her forehead against his.

 

“Are you ready to do this again?”

 

“Aye. I’m ready for a new box of treasure.”

Chapter Text

The pregnancy glow is not a real thing.

 

Okay, so maybe it is.

 

But it’s only for a limited time, like the Macy’s One Day Sale…which seems to happen a hell of a lot more than one day, and it also often lasts for several days in a row.

 

So scratch that. Bad example.

 

She’s kind of got pregnancy brain right now, and while the glow is a limited time only event – somewhere between morning sickness and a whale belly, likely right around the time when your hormones are crazy and there’s nothing in the world more important than jumping your husband’s bones – the pregnancy brain is not. She’s all over the place all of the time, and she hates it. She is not spacy. She’s just not. She’s focused and determined and not someone who loses her mind over every little thing.

 

But then Killian went and knocked her up (okay, okay so they tried for this baby, and being knocked up totally isn’t the appropriate phrase for this), and a tiny human – who she loves a lot, thank you very much – invaded her body and caused all of these changes.

 

So now her feet (and face to be honest) are swollen and her back hurts and she’s wearing jeans that don’t have a zipper to go along with a tank top that she’s stretched out with her stomach. At least her leather jacket still fits on her arms even if she can’t zip it up over her front.

 

She’s been living in loose dresses or leggings with sweaters now that she’s eight months pregnant, and as comfortable as those clothes are, she just doesn’t feel like herself all of the time. It’s not that she never wore things like that before she was pregnant, but she had the option to wear a skimpy dress if she wanted to. And now she doesn’t. She wants her little boy to come into the world so she can finally hold him, and she wants to be able to wear her old jeans again – she’ll think about fitting into those later because she might freak out if she thinks about it now.

 

Okay, so freak out a little more.

 

Because right now she’s in a bathroom at a bar for Liam’s fortieth birthday (such an eternal bachelor to be having his fortieth birthday in a bar), and she had to take a breather from everything that was going on with Killian and those women.

 

Emma knows that her husband is attractive, and while she’s definitely biased, it’s not simply that. He’s attractive to a lot of women, and while she’s grown used to the occasional stares, something she’s never been okay with is the flirting. She gets the urge, but he’s got a ring on his finger. And she knows that women notice something like that. She’s been single more than she’s been in a relationship, and if there’s anything you learn to do, it’s look at a man’s ring finger. So there’s really no excuse to flirt with a married man, especially when he’s with his wife.

 

It’s not something she’d normally get upset about, jealousy an emotion she despises but still suffers from on occasion, but she’s feeling a little down tonight, a little unattractive, and little more like a whale than a human being. So when a group of women came up and started flirting with Killian, she felt more insecure about things than she had in a long time.

 

“Well, you’re a handsome, sailor,” a woman giggles after coming up to Killian at the bar, her body leaning closer to his than necessary.

 

“I uh,” Killian reaches up to scratch behind his ear as Emma rolls her eyes at the woman, “thank you, lass.”

 

Out of the corner of her eyes, Emma sees the woman turn to her friends, and Emma simply shakes her head and takes a sip of her water.

 

“Don’t you think he’s cute, girls?”

 

“Cute? Dang sexy, Rachel.”

 

“Someone who I’d like to take home.”

 

“Ladies,” Killian takes a sip of his rum, his jaw visibly clenching, “I’m flattered but – ”

 

“Oh listen to that accent! You’re like a prince!”

 

“Like Prince William, but so much more attractive!”

 

“Better hair, too!”

 

“And those eyes.”

 

At first she thought it was pathetic how these women were swooning over Killian, not letting him get a word in edgewise, but then her inner demons started to eat at her, convincing her that Killian was enjoying being flirted with by someone whose stomach was flat and whose sexual positions weren’t…limited. That really began to gnaw at her, and before she knew it, she was up off the stool and waddling (she’s legitimately waddling sometimes) off to the bathroom to cool herself down.

 

Has she mentioned that she feels hot all of the time? It’s November.

 

She feels ridiculous because Killian definitely was not flirting with those women, and she knows that. She also knows that he loves her. She doesn’t doubt that, but jealousy edges its way into a person like that.

 

Sighing, she gets ready to leave the bathroom, pulling her pants up and adjusting her shirt (and maybe reapplying her lipstick) before walking back to the bar where all of those women are somehow still crowding around Killian. Do they think he’s going to go home with all of them because…nope, she’s not going to think about that.

 

“Ladies,” she overhears, deciding to stop a few feet behind Killian, “honestly I really appreciate your kind words, but I’m married.”

 

“When has that ever stopped a man from having a little fun?”

 

“With you all, right now,” Killian grits, and Emma smiles but still stays away so that she can listen in on him (it’s totally not eavesdropping, right?). “I’m happily married to a wonderful woman, who was sitting right next to me until she ran off to the restroom. I love her, and no amount of flirting from you all is going to change that.”

 

She sees all of their faces deflate at his words, and her heart flutters. She shouldn’t feel so smug, but she does. Oh boy did she get a good one when she started running the same path in the park as him that eventually caused them to meet three years ago. Killian places several bills down on the bar counter before getting up, his face breaking out into a smile when he sees her standing a few feet away.

 

“Hello, beautiful,” he greets, pressing a kiss to her hairline and wrapping his arm around her waist, his heat seeping into her when his hand rests against her stomach, “I missed you.”

 

“I was only gone for a few minutes.”

 

“I know, but those blasted women kept hitting on me, and I never want to be hit on by anyone but you for the rest of my life.”

 

“Really now?” she teases, happiness blooming in her chest and maybe a bit of that pregnancy glow coming back.

 

He hums before kissing her temple again and resting his stubbled cheek against her skin as his thumb rubs back and forth over the side of her stomach.

 

“Really, no one flirts quite like you do, darling. It’s not got the same punch you in the face kind of factor.”

 

She turns so she can smack him in the chest and look up at him, wrapping her arms around his waist with her belly in between. “You and I both know that was just an accident.”

 

“Aye, but you make quite a first impression, love.”

 

“I know. So sailor, you wanna go home and do it in one of our two available sex positions?”

 

“I thought you’d never ask.”

 

“Oi,” Liam shouts from across the room, half the bar looking between them, “you two can’t leave until I open my presents.”

Chapter Text

“I’m not doing it.”

 

“You have to. You lost the bet.”

 

“There was no contract. I don’t technically have to do it.”

 

“No, but you would be a sucky friend if you didn’t. Come on, what have you got to lose?”

 

“The rest of my dignity that isn’t being stomped on and kicked around.”

 

“See?” Ruby teases, finishing the curl on Emma’s hair, the blonde strands bouncing against her chest. “You’ve got nothing left to lose then.”

 

She doesn’t want to do this. She really doesn’t. But she did talk a big game all last week at the bar, and when she lost the bet…well, she lost all of her dignity, too...okay, so maybe she hasn’t lost her dignity quite yet. So who cares if she’s about to embarrass herself in front of the entire world? She does. She cares. But a part of her is nagging at her that she has to keep her word, and if all else fails, this will bring light to her job. Maybe they’re get some donations, and all of the children will be able to have a bit of a merrier Christmas. It’s something she never had when she was a child, and she’s worked her entire life to help save others from her fate, even if it’s something as small as gifting them a doll for Christmas.

 

It may seem small to most, but it’s not to them. It’s everything.

 

And if a heart for humanity can’t convince her, well, there’s about a .0000487% chance that she’ll get to meet Killian Jones, A-list Hollywood actor fresh off his Oscar winning role as a mass murderer. The movie was, well, it was disturbed, but not everything he’s in is so dark. He’s most well-known for playing Superman, and if anything, that’s more appropriate when she’s going to ask him to be her date to her company’s Christmas party that doubles as a fundraiser for Together We Rise and building Christmas boxes for foster children.

 

She’s mostly only nervous because of the whole losing her dignity thing, but a big factor is definitely that she’s hardcore attracted to the man…and all of her friends (mostly Ruby) know it. Hence why it’s him of all people she’s asking to be her date.

 

She’s going to die of embarrassment. Yep.

 

“If this is going to haunt me for the rest of my life, I don’t want to look like an actual ghost. So just try to make me look nice. But not club nice, you know?”

 

“Yep,” Ruby agrees, releasing another curl from the iron, the steam lingering a little too long for Emma’s liking, “got it. But you’ve still got to wear the tacky Christmas sweater. That’s non-negotiable.”

 

If Ruby wasn’t in possession of an extremely hot curling iron, Emma would try to hit her. It’s a truly horrendous sweater.

 

But it could be worse.

 


 

“Jones,” Robin calls, and Killian simply buries his head further into his pillow. He’s jetlagged, and it can’t be past eight in the morning. Why the bloody hell is Robin even here? In his home. So damn early.

 

“Go away,” he hisses, and he really shouldn’t be this much of a bastard, but he’s tired.

 

“I need to show you something.”

 

“Can it wait until my head isn’t pounding? I just got back in from London four hours ago, and I couldn’t sleep on the plane.”

 

“I mean, it could, but I think you might find this amusing. A young woman is asking you out on a date.”

 

What the hell? What is he talking about? Why would Robin know about a woman asking him on a date before he even knows? He hasn’t dated in awhile, but he’s pretty sure that’s not how dating works unless you’re in middle school and you use your friends to see if the girl you like likes you back. He cringes, thinking of the times he actually did that, and embarrassment from things he did as a child tends to linger.

 

“Through you?”

 

“Through the internet.”

 

“W-what? What are you talking about?”

 

Robin thrusts his phone into Killian’s hands, and his eyes have to adjust to the brightness of the screen before he can watch this, a headache already blooming from his lack of sleep. When they do adjust, he’s taken aback by the young woman who is apparently asking him out on a date. She’s beautiful. Stunning, really. Her blonde hair falls far past her shoulders in soft curls and her long dark eyelashes accentuate her wide green eyes. He’s never seen anyone like her. Sure, he’s seen lots of beautiful women, especially in his line of work, but no one has ever enraptured him like this woman who is apparently asking him out on a date. He hasn’t even pressed play on the video yet.

 

Maybe it’s the jet lag.

 

Yeah, the jet lag.

 

“Hi,” the woman begins, her voice clearly strained. In his years of acting, he’s had to learn when people feel uncomfortable by the tone of their voice or their facial features, and this woman is obviously uncomfortable, the smile on her face very clearly not reaching her eyes. “My name is Emma Swan, and I work for Boston’s Children’s Shelter. And I’d like to ask Killian Jones to be my date to our Christmas gala on December first to raise money for Together We Rise. Come on, Superman. Don’t you want to be a hero in real life, too?”

 

The video ends with the woman, Emma Swan, still sitting with a forced smile on her face as the camera pans down to the sweater she’s wearing. It’s, well, it’s horrible, the green base of it covered in shining green garland and ornaments, clearly emulating a Christmas tree. It’s the sweater and her forced words that make him realize she’s likely not doing this because she wants to. She’s somehow being forced into it. A lost bet maybe? Or an order from her boss? Maybe she drew the short stick in a company contest at work? Nevertheless, she looks entirely uncomfortable even with everything about her outer appearance seeming cheery.

 

He knows better than to look at comments of anything online, the comment sections on his Instagram and twitter have taught him enough lessons to know that in some cases ignorance is bliss, but he can’t help from scrolling down on the video which has apparently amassed nearly half a million views in the week it’s been online.

 

KJ7839: This is cute! You should go, Superman!

 

LilJlove: I mean, does anyone else think this is ridiculous? This woman is supposed to be a professional, and she’s basically begging a man who has better things to do with his time to go on a date with her and claiming “it’s for the kids.” Pathetic.

 

JohnSmitherson: Dude, this chick is smoking! I’ll be your date even with that sweater, lady.

 

SuperJones: Can you say thirsty? Because this girl sure is!

 

Anonymous: Killian is a good guy! He probably won’t go, but he’ll likely donate to the charity!

 

The last message gets his head spinning, thinking of how he could just donate to the charity Miss Swan’s mentioned. He does every year anyways, but he could likely make a difference by showing up, spearheading a campaign to get his fans to donate. He’s never really wanted to do anything like that before, always worried that people are going to think that he’s only doing it to promote himself, and while he’s sure that’ll be the case if he does this, he doesn’t care.  No one knows that he spent time in the foster system. He’s not ashamed of it. He simply grew tired of the pitying looks he got when people find out, but he’s been discreetly trying to help out as much as he can with what he can from the success he’s somehow garnered.

 

Maybe it’s time to stop hiding in the shadows.

 

“So you can likely just make a small video,” Robin begins, taking his phone out of Killian’s hands, “thanking her for her offer but saying you’re busy and then donating money to the charity and asking others to do the same.”

 

“Am I busy?”

 

“What?”

 

“Am I actually busy on that day?”

 

“Well, no. You’re free, but you can’t go on dates with every woman who asks you out on a date through a video. If you do it this once, it’ll start something.”

 

“I’m going.”

 


 

“Emma, holy shit,” Ruby screeches, running into her office and wow is she glad she didn’t have any kids with her today.

 

Before she can even ask what Ruby’s yelling about, Ruby’s phone is in her face, and she sees Killian Jones himself on the screen in a Christmas sweater exactly like the one she wore in her video. Holy shit is right. Did he really go through the effort of searching for a matching sweater? Not that it was that difficult. It’s on the first website that pops up when you google ugly Christmas sweaters, but still.

 

“Is it…is he about to make fun of me in this?”

 

Ruby laughs, her entire body shaking with the movement, and she has no idea what that is supposed to mean. “No, Ems. Just watch.”

 

She’s apprehensive, but she presses play, preparing herself for what has already been a week of embarrassment (three people recognized her in Target in fifteen minutes, and one person asked for a selfie) only increasing. She’s tried to block out the fact that her face is all over the internet and that her office gets so many prank calls, but everything just seems to make her unable to forget. She should have known he’d respond in some way, should have prepared herself for it.

 

But she didn’t.

 

“Hello, Emma Swan,” he greets, a broad smile on his face that seems much more genuine than the one she had plastered on her face in her video. He reaches up to scratch behind his ear after giving her (or the camera really) a small wave, and her heart flutters a bit. A man who she has a weird, celebrity crush on (She’s an adult. Should she have celebrity crushes?) just said her name, and she’s not sure if she’s excited or mortified. Probably a little bit of both as her cheeks heat and tint in red.

 

“My name is Killian Jones, though I guess you know that from your video, and I’d just like to say that it turns out I am available on December first. So, Emma Swan, you want to go on a date? I can pick you up at eight, and I promise I won’t be a minute late.” She snorts at his rhyming, and he seems to grimace, his lips curling downward and pursing like he’s eaten something sour. “I most definitely didn’t mean to rhyme there, so I apologize about that, love. I guess I got caught up in myself, but I’m not going to record this video again because I’ll overthink it. Guess my other secret identity is Dr. Suess.” He laughs at himself, and she does the same, her mind completely ignoring Ruby smirking at her from her desk. “So yeah, this is probably my worst attempt at asking a lass on a date, even if you did ask first. See you soon, Swan, and to everyone watching, if you’re able, find a charity you support and donate your time or money to them this holiday season!”

 

At the end of the message is a little recorded roll of how she can get in contact with him through his agent, and if her office has gotten a lot of calls this week, she cannot imagine how many he’ll get. People will probably claim they’re her, and she’s most definitely already seriously ruing the day she made a bet with Ruby Lucas.

 

“You’re going to pass out when you see him, aren’t you?”

 

“No. That’s just weird, you know. Like, he said my name, and it obviously wasn’t a prewritten thing.”

 

“You realize you’re going to meet him, right? Like, I know we didn’t expect him to say yes, but holy shit he said yes.”

 

For some reason it’s not until Ruby says the words that she realizes that he said yes. That this stupid bet has somehow resulted in something other than her embarrassment. Though she does think this will only lead to more embarrassment. Yeah, she’s just going to go ahead and dig her own grave.

 

“He said yes,” she mumbles under her breath, trying to calm herself because this is absolutely ridiculous. Every single part of it.

 


 

He’s spoken on the phone with Emma Swan three times, but nothing compares to speaking to her in person. She was obviously nervous when he picked her up at her apartment (he did say that he would, after all), and while he’d like to say that he was going about this as if it was a business deal, he can’t. The moment she opened the door and his eyes spanned down to the black jumpsuit she had on, sleek and modest except for the way that it dipped in between her breasts into a low v, as well as the way her lips were painted red and her hair pulled up into a ponytail, well, he knew that the camera did not do her justice. He also knew that he stared at her far too long than what was appropriate, and he’d probably made himself look like some kind of creep, effectively making her uncomfortable for the rest of their evening.

 

But she doesn’t seem to be cross with him, nervously talking to him about her job and what exactly they’ll be doing tonight in the car ride over to the museum where the gala is being held. It’s apparently for several charities and not just Boston’s Children Shelter, and that’s why it’s a black tie event with all of the gift wrapping. If it were up to her, they’d actually do something with the kids, but she apparently has to make small talk with all of the wealthy donors in town instead.

 

Emma also thanks him at least twice every five minutes for coming, and after about the seventeenth time, he took her hand in his and squeezed, feeling the soft skin of her palm underneath the callouses of his, and assured her that he was more than happy to do this.

 

They make their way through the photographers outside the museum, ones he knows are specifically there for him, and so he waves to them, posing with his hand on Emma’s back until they make it inside. There are Christmas decorations interspersed between the exhibits, silver Christmas trees with blue and green lights, contemporary decorations that are a total mismatch the decorations he has at home. But the place is beautiful, the dim overhead lights making the Christmas lights brighter, tinsel and glitter everywhere he looks with a muted Christmas playlist, all slow, classical songs playing in the background.

 

He’s suddenly struck with the idea that this is like that episode of The Office where Michael makes everyone get rid of all of their regular decorations and replace them with things like the museum’s decorations because Holly is coming to town. What did he call it? Cool Christmas? No. Was it a classy Christmas? Yeah, that’s what it was. This feels like a classy Christmas where Santa wears red leather and has a six pack instead of being jolly with a belly that jiggles. Something about that just doesn’t seem right to him.

 

He and Emma wander around the museum a bit, looking at the exhibits and decorations before getting some drinks and settling down at their table, the awkward conversations trending more toward normal the more time he spends with her.

 

“So I’m just going to apologize,” she begins, taking a sip of her water, and he’s just going to stop her there. She doesn’t need to apologize. He’s glad to be here.

 

“You need not apologize, love. I want to be here.”

 

Emma puts her glass down and waves her hands, shaking her head side to side, her hair moving with her. “No, no. Not that, though I do have to tha – okay, yeah, I’m not going to thank you anymore. Got it. I want to apologize for my coworker and friend, Ruby.”

 

“What is there to apologize for?”

 

“She’s, uh, well, she doesn’t have a filter.”

 

“What do you mean she – ”

 

“Well if it isn’t the smoking hot Killian Jones himself,” a tall brunette in a red dress compliments, and if he were a betting man, he’d bet this was Ruby.

 

He reaches his hand over to her, taking it in hand as he shakes it and represses his laughter. “Killian Jones. Pleased to meet you…?”


“Ruby Lucas, Emma’s best friend. Has she told you how much of a fan she is? Because she is. Huge, really. She even watched you play that psycho, and she never watches things like that. It’s because she thinks you’re hot.”

 

“That’s not true, Rubes! I love crime things!”

 

“So you don’t think I’m hot, lass?” he teases, waggling his eyebrows and watching the blush rise in Emma’s cheeks. He knows that he barely knows the woman, that they’re just acquaintances, but he can’t help but mess with her, Ruby’s laughter encouraging him.

 

“That’s not what I – I…Ruby, why are you trying to torture me? Wasn’t the online video embarrassing enough?”

 

“Nope,” Ruby grins, and he can practically feel the awkwardness rolling off of Emma. “I was trying to set you up, and you’ve just ruined it.”

 

“Rubes,” Emma admonishes, “you’re being ridiculous!” He feels a hand on his arm, warm fingers digging into his. “I’m sorry. I’m sure this whole night is going to be quite the story to tell when you go back to L.A.”

 

He places his hand over Emma’s on his arm and squeezes, a genuine smile on his face. “I sure hope so, love.”

 

Throughout the night Emma (and Ruby if he’s honest) gives him little glimpses into her life. She doesn’t share much, and why would she? He’s a stranger to her, and who the hell shares their life story to strangers? But he does learn that she loves Christmas as an adult more than she loved Christmas as a child, a feeling he recognizes almost instantly. He has so much now, more than he could have ever imagined, and while children usually experience the most joy around Christmas, he gets joy out of being able to give to others. Emma works for a children’s shelter, something one does only if they’re passionate about the work, so he knows that she feels the same way.

 

Christmas can be more than gifts and shiny things if you let it, and he thinks that Emma Swan does.

 

She prefers Christmas comedies, but she will occasionally sit down and watch the dramas, stuffing her face with chocolate covered popcorn while drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream and cinnamon. He’s learned those last two things are essential, and he stores that away for some reason, like he’ll have use for it in the future.

 

She and Ruby together are hilarious, the two obviously close, and he’s having a better time than he thought that he would when he agreed to do this, his stomach aching with how much he’s laughing. He was asked out through a video online, and it’s one of the best dates he’s had in awhile…even if it’s not really a date.

 

But maybe it is, even if there will be no pillaging and plundering.

 


 

Killian freaking Jones is dancing with her. Like, her arms are wrapped around his neck while his hands hold onto her waist as they sway back and forth to match the other people dancing. Okay, so it’s swaying not dancing, but she doesn’t think her feet could do anything else. She’d also likely lose the last remaining shred of her dignity (it’s already scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point) because cameras have been on her – Killian – all night long. There’s likely not a single point of her night that’s undocumented by someone.

 

“So Swan,” he speaks over the music, “can I ask you something?”

 

“It depends.”

 

“On what, love?”

 

“Well, if it’s something like when my birthday is, that’s fine. But if it’s the color of my underwear, I’d say that’s not.”

 

“Damn. I’ll have to think of something else then.”

 

She chuckles before moving a bit closer, her hands tightening around his neck. He’s nice and incredibly cheeky, something she always thought was a bit of a show for the cameras, and while he could be putting this all on for this quasi date tonight, she thinks that it’s genuine. She’s always been good at reading people, at being able to tell when they’re lying, and he’s telling the truth with everything he says. He’s a good guy, and that’s what she’s going to tell people when this night is over and she never seems him again.

 

“What were you really going to ask?” she ponders, and her fingers brush across the hair at the nape of his neck, quickly feeling the soft strands before moving her hand to a more appropriate spot. She definitely doesn’t need to be messing with his hair, and she’s so distracted by it that she misses his question.

 

“Why me?”

 

“I’m sorry, what?” she mumbles, her attention finally focused back on him, her eyes looking into his and her mind totally focused.

 

Okay, so mostly focused.

 

“Why me?” he chuckles, and the man probably knows that their proximity is distracting her.

 

“Why you what?”

 

Why is she such an idiot? He’s going to think she’s incompetent, and she’s not. She’s definitely not. She’s a fully competent adult with a respectable job and friends and…oh God, she’s likely spacing off right now, which totally isn’t helping her case. When she looks forward again, Killian is softly smiling at her, kindness in his eyes, and she’s got to get a grip. After their initial meeting and the car ride, she’s been far less nervous, far less uncomfortable with him being here, and she doesn’t want to revert back to that.

 

“Why am I here on a date with you tonight? How did that happen?”

 

She cringes, and he laughs, his eyes crinkling while he flashes his teeth at her. Oh yeah, going on a date with your celebrity crush is a fantastic idea. It doesn’t make her feel like her stomach is turning upside down inside of her at all.

 

“I lost a bet.”

 

Killian raises an eyebrow and flashes her that smile again. Her stomach most definitely flips again, and she’s going to lose it by the end of the night if that doesn’t stop. “Can I, uh, ask what the bet was?”

 

“It was stupid, so, so stupid, but Ruby and I were out at a bar throwing darts. And that may not seem like a big deal, but she and I get super competitive. It’s kind of like a tradition for us, and to be honest, I was one drink away from being drunk, so I started to talk a good game, saying that I could hit a bullseye before Ruby could.”

 

“I’m guessing you didn’t hit the bullseye.”

 

“I barely hit the board, while Ruby hit at on her second try. And our deal was that we get to pick the date, no restrictions except for exes, to the person who loses. Little did I know that it’d be, well, you.”

 

“I ask again. Why me?”

 

“I may or may not have a huge celebrity crush on you, and my friends are evil.”

 

“Well, I am devastatingly handsome.”



“And humble too.”

 

It’s when they finish dancing that Killian whispers in her ear, “I’m glad you didn’t hit that bullseye.”

 

There’s that stomach flip again, but this time it feels different.

 

The rest of the evening pretty much involves schmoozing the wealthy and convincing them to donate their money to the shelter. A part of her feels guilty that she knows most of these people will probably donate a bit more to her because of Killian, but she’s not about to refuse their money for all that it can do to help the children she works with. Killian is every bit as charming and convincing as he’s been all night, and every few seconds she’s sure that she’s going to wake up from some kind of really good dream where her celebrity crush has his hand on the small of her back and is buying her drinks from the bar.

 

This entire night, and the weeks leading up to it really, is surreal, and there’s no other word for it.

 

By the time that she and Killian load up into the car he drove her here in, it’s far past midnight, her feet aching from her heels and her mind weary from all of the schmoozing and sweet talking she’s been doing all night…not to mention not looking like an idiot to her date. Okay, so she’s long past that. There’s no way he doesn’t think she’s an idiot, though. He’s a celebrity (though sometimes she does forget and thinks he’s simply a normal guy) who is likely has better things to do than go on dates with women who ask him out online, but all night she’s felt like there was something there, some kind of connection. She’s simply not sure what that connection is.

 

It’s probably her imagination, some kind of weird fantasy that she’s dreamed up about tonight, and she’s just going to stuff that thought down. She likes him, and that’s another thought that she needs to stuff down. She can’t like him. She’s never going to see him again, and there’s no need for her to get caught up in one night.

 

But she has gotten caught up.

 

She’s insane, right?

 

“Can I ask you a question, Killian?”



They’re nearing her apartment, and she has to ask. She’s wondered all night, and she knows that she’ll regret never asking. Of course, if she doesn’t like his answer, she’ll likely regret asking.

 

“Black.”



“What?”

 

“My underwear is black.”

 

She snorts, a loud throaty thing that she wishes she could take back, but she can’t. instead she covers her mouth with her hand and leans back, her head hitting the soft leather seat as she looks over to see him smiling while his eyes never leave the road.

 

“So not what I was going to ask.”



“What then, love?”

 

“Why did you come tonight?”



“Ah, well, because a pretty lass asked me on a date.”

 

Heat rises in her face, and it only increases when his eyes stray from the road to look over at her, the smile still on his face when he gives her an exaggerated wink.

 

“I’m sure a lot of pretty lasses ask you on dates.”

 

“Aye,” he confirms before reaching his hand over to place it on hers, his skin every bit as warm as it has been all night, “but only one of them asked me on a date to raise money for a charity I love, and only one knows that I love that charity because I spent a few years in the foster system.”

 

He…what?

 

“Y-you did?”

 

“I did. It’s not something I share as it’s deeply personal, but I figured you’d understand.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“Orphans all have the same look in their eyes, and while I’ve always had my brother, I understand.”

 

“I…thank you for sharing that with me, Killian. I feel honored that you’d share something like that with me, someone you’d just met. Even if you did somehow figure out a secret of mine.”

 

“You’re a bit of an open book, darling.”

 

She smiles before resting her neck against the headrest as they continue to drive, the city light up with a mixture of Christmas lights and headlights, every one of them the tiniest bit too bright, but she doesn’t care. He walks her to her door when they get to her apartment, his suit jacket draped over her shoulders, leading her up their staircases and lingering outside on the balcony, the sounds of cars zooming by and intoxicated pedestrians echoing from four floors below. If she listened carefully, she could hear her heart beating within her chest.

 

“Would you like to come inside?”

 


 

When she wakes up the next morning, still clothed in her jumpsuit with Killian in his tux on the couch beside her, her neck is screaming at her while her pores are yelling at her for not removing her makeup. She can’t believe that she slept with him…okay, that she fell asleep on her couch with him. So she slept with him in the very literal sense of the word, and this is by far the craziest thing that’s ever happened to her.

 

All because she can’t throw darts while drunk.

 

Her phone chime continues to go off, and she has to move Killian’s head off of her shoulder, letting it fall to the back of the couch, in order to get up and scramble through her clutch from last night to find her phone, the screen filled with texts from Ruby.

 

She types in her passcode, clicking on the messages, and it only takes her a moment to see what all of the fuss is about.

 

It’s pictures of she and Killian throughout the night, arriving at the gala, sitting at dinner, dancing, getting drinks from the bar, betting at the silent auction, and then, finally, Killian’s lips slanted over hers outside her apartment before the two of them stepped inside.

 

Ruby: YOU KISSED HIM

 

Ruby: AND THEN HE WENT INSIDE YOUR APARTMENT



Ruby: DID YOU SLEEP WITH HIM

 

Ruby: EMMA SWAN I NEED DETAILS WHAT’S HAPPENING

 

Ruby: IF YOU GUYS GET MARRIED AND HAVE BABIES YOU OWE ME BIG TIME

 

Ruby: I’M THINKING A YACHT.

 

Ruby: WE’LL CALL IT THE LOVE BOAT

 

She snorts at all of Ruby’s messages, blush rising in her cheeks at all of her questions as well as thinking about the fact that she did very much kiss Killian last night, something that was totally inappropriate for their arrangement, but something that also felt just right. She’s had a lot of first kisses in her life, some chaste, others awkward, a few far too passionate, but this one made her toes curl in her heels and her body tingle with pleasure. And then when he kissed her again once inside her apartment, the smallest of chaste kisses before they fell asleep watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, well, that kiss had confirmed that after a few hours, Killian Jones might just be on his way to stealing her heart.

 

Dignity is overrated when your world has possibly been turned upside down by a stupid bet.

 

For Christmas next year, Emma gets a ring and Ruby gets a ship ornament inscribed with the words “love boat” along with a Christmas card of Emma and Killian in their matching ugly Christmas sweaters.

 

She finally hit that bullseye.

Chapter Text

Water drips off of her entire body, her jeans practically glued to her thighs and her soaked hair likely ruining the leather of her jacket. She’s too stubborn to buy a new umbrella, knowing that Killian took it on a date last month and returned that night dateless and umbrella-less. And because of that, she’s getting soaked walking home from the bar. Water has even managed to get into her boots, making her socks wet, a squishing sound emanating every time she takes a step forward.

 

She’s going to kill Killian.

 

She finally gets to their apartment building, having to kick the gate open as it won’t budge from its rust, and her mood only sours the longer she’s out in the storm. It had been a shitty night, more sleazy guys hitting on her than she was prepared for, and she’s usually prepared for a lot. Right before her shift ended, the early one tonight, she’d ended the night having to punch a guy for slapping her ass. Luckily, her boss wasn’t around because she already knows that if she had been, Emma would have gotten fired on the spot.

 

Women supporting women her ass.

 

Okay, so that’s really just her boss. Ruby would have kicked the guy’s ass six ways to Sunday if she’d been helping behind the counter tonight instead of coming in when Emma was finished.

 

The storm outside begins to rage as she steps inside, thunder shaking the building before she sees a flash of lightening light up the sky, a glimpse of yellow in the darkness of the night. She already knows there likely won’t be internet, and all she’s wanted to do all night was curl up on the couch and watch Netflix.

 

Life never really goes as planned, does it?

 

She can hear the sounds of the television from outside the apartment door, the cable obviously still intact for now, and as she pushes the door open, the sounds of sword fighting become more clear, metal clinking against metal and curses being shouted by men with deep, accented voices. Killian’s obviously watching that new pirate show he’s been into lately. Okay, obsessed with. There goes her last chance of watching what she wants.

 

Killian shouts a “hello, love” to her when she walks in, and she grumbles something far less nice before stripping out of her wet clothes and hanging them over the railing in the shower before pulling on a pair of leggings and a tank top, not caring that Killian will be able to see her boobs through the material, especially as her hair is causing the top to dampen and cling to her, her nipples pebbling in the cold aftermath of her being out in the weather.

 

When she’s dressed, her wet hair twisted into a braid even as pieces continue to fall out of the front, she slams her bedroom door closed before heading back to the living room and practically plopping down on top of Killian, not caring that he yelps or how much it hurts when her ass hits his thigh.

 

“What the hell, Swan?”

 

“Bad night,” she grumbles, adjusting herself until she’s under the cover of the blanket and nestled up against Killian’s side, having to move his arm so that it covers her shoulder.

 

Killian lets out a low wolf whistle, adjusting himself until they’re finally comfortable, thighs pushed together. “A bad enough night that you’re going to be affectionate tonight?”

 

“Shut up.”

 

“Okay, so physically affectionate but not emotionally affectionate. Got it.”

 

“You’re being an ass.”

 

“And you’re being cranky.”

 

They don’t talk for the next hour except for Kilian answering occasional questions that she has about the show. It’s actually pretty interesting, but she has no idea what’s going on or why everyone is so pissed off all of the time. There’s some sort of love triangle, and within an hour, she’s watched two explicit sex scenes, something she’d be more than fine with if she couldn’t feel every inch of Killian’s skin that’s touching hers.

 

They’ve been roommates for two years, friends for three years before that, and their story is something along the lines of the timing never being quite right. He’d break up with someone and she’d start dating someone. She’d break up with that person, and he’d start dating someone else. They’d both be single and want absolutely nothing to do with a relationship for the foreseeable future. There’s attraction simmering just below the surface, occasionally bubbling over during nights where they’ve imbibed a little bit too much and their lips meet. They never talk about it when it happens, but it remains the elephant in the room…or in the apartment.

 

She likes him. Really, really likes him in all of those cheesy high school terms. It’s ridiculous, and she swore that she’d never actually fall for him because of all of those mishaps and mistimings.

 

But she did.

 

And now nearly every interaction she has with him is filled with some kind of weird sexual tension that is slowly eating away at her soul.

 

Okay, so her long day has made her the slightest bit dramatic.

 

Another crack of thunder crashes outside, loud enough for the windows to rattle, and she jumps, the unexpected noise causing her to elbow Killian in the side and jostle around his arm. He’s laughing at her, so she elbows him again, making sure she gets him just below the ribs.

 

“Shit,” he grimaces, his voice cracking the tiniest bit in a way that makes her smile. “What was that for, Swan?”

 

“For laughing at me, you asshole.”

 

“You jumped at a tiny bit of thunder, love.”

 

“It was unexpected, and I got startled.”

 

The thunder continues to roar as the rain crashes down around them, everything so loud that she can barely hear anything on the TV, another swordfight just about to start when lightning strikes and everything goes black.

 

Killian lets out a guttural groan, something that shoots straight to her core, before moving his arm off of her shoulder and wandering over to the window, his gray sweatpants hanging dangerously low so that there’s a strip of skin between his tee shirt and pants.

 

“The building across the street’s lost power, too.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

Even in the darkness she knows the he rolls his eyes at her.

 

“Because every flat is dark, and it’s only eleven on a Saturday. People should still be awake.”

 

Their next few minutes are consumed with finding all of the candles in the apartment, using her barely charged phone’s flashlight to find everything, and lighting them all in the living room, knowing that neither of them are ready to go to bed yet. Everything smells like a mixture of vanilla and pine with what she swears is salt water mixed in there somewhere. That’s got to be one of the candles Killian’s bought. She loves the beach, but she doesn’t think she could handle everything smelling like salt water all of the time.

 

After the room is lit in a soft yellow glow, the occasional lightning strike making it look as if they actually have power, she and Killian settle back down onto the couch, this time on opposite sides as she wraps her arms around her chest and curls up into a ball. Killian does the same, settling himself down across from her, but instead of curling into a ball, he stretches his legs out so that they almost touch her.

 

The only sounds in the room are of the storm raging outside, howling winds mixing in with the pounding rain, and she continues to use up her data to see if this is going to be anything more than a thunderstorm. It’s supposedly not, and that calms her a little bit.

 

She really hates storms.

 

Killian eventually offers to let them watch a movie he has downloaded on his phone, but when they never do quite get into a comfortable position, she gives up and tells him to lay down before crawling in front of him so that their bodies are aligned and he’s basically spooning her. She can feel every inch of his skin on hers, even through their clothing, and she has to keep herself from shivering when his scruff brushes against the sensitive skin of her neck.

 

It’s…nice, and if she stuffs down all of her conflicting emotions about she and Killian, she can enjoy it, especially as his free arm wraps around her waist, a heavy weight that grounds her, and his fingers play with the skin of her stomach between her leggings and her shirt.

 

They’re halfway through the movie, and Killian’s hand has completely moved under her tank top so that his fingers are splayed out over her stomach, never moving anywhere untoward or where he knows she’s not comfortable with. If she’s honest with herself, she hasn’t paid any attention to the movie ever since Killian shifted, and his half hard length brushed against her ass at the same time that he laughed into her ear over a joke in the movie. Her entire body tingled, and she might as well have been struck by the lightning outside with the way that her heart is thundering.

 

She’s warring with herself, thinking that maybe tonight they can finally make a move for something more. Neither of them are dating anyone, and the attraction is there. Would it really be so bad for her to turn in his arms and capture his lips between hers?

 

Her entire body hums in anticipation of it. She feels like she’s practically vibrating, and just as she’s about to turn, a text pops up at the top of Killian’s phone.

 

Milah: Hey, baby. You want to come over tonight?

 

Her heart drops to her stomach, and everywhere Killian is touching her makes her feel like she’s being burned. His hand noticeably tenses, and his body becomes stiff behind her. She can’t…she can’t be in here with him, so she makes an excuse about going to the bathroom, her voice cracking while she does it, before heading into her bedroom, not even pretending to go to the bathroom down the hall.

 

She slams the door shut before sinking down against it, tears stinging in her eyes despite her best efforts of blinking them away. God, how could she be so damn stupid to think that they could finally do something? Finally be something? Finally be together? He’s gone crawling back to his ex all while he’s been flirting with her for the past few weeks. She should have known.

 

She and Killian are never going to be together, and she should give up whatever hopeless fantasy she has that they will be. It’s a waste of her time, and she’s only going to let herself cry for five minutes before building her walls back up and not letting Killian in that way again.

 


 

“Emma.” She hears his knuckles banging against the door, her five minutes of self-pity long since eclipsed, but she’s in no way prepared to see him, instead choosing to sit in the darkness of her room, only one candle that she doesn’t remember lighting flickering on her bedside table. Killian must have lit it. “Emma, love, I know you’re in your room.”

 

She doesn’t respond, listening to see if the floor groans under his weight as he steps away, but she never hears footsteps. Instead she hears him slide down against the door, his back hitting against the wood while his knees creak, Killian mumbling curses under his breath. He doesn’t say anything else, but she can tell that he’s still there, the storm not drowning out the sounds of his breathing.

 

“I also know you didn’t actually go to the bathroom. What’s wrong, Swan?”

 

Tears sting at the back of her eyes again, but she won’t let them fall. This is all idiotic, jealousy seeping through her, but she can’t help how she feels. Her body physically aches with pain, and Killian trying to comfort her sure as hell isn’t helping.

 

“Darling, what’s – ”

 

“Don’t call me darling or sweetheart of love. That’s not my name.”

 

“Lo – Swan, I’ve always called you those things. Why are you upset? You’ve got to tell me. I’d also really like for you to open the door.”

 

“When did you get back together with Milah?”

 

The words come out of her mouth so quickly that she clamps her palms over her mouth, like she can somehow take the words back so that Killian never hears them.

 

“I didn’t.”

 

Liar. Men are all liars.

 

“Then why the hell was she texting you, calling you baby, asking you to come over?”

 

“She hasn’t quite gotten the hint of me being done with her. We’re not together. You know I wouldn’t lie to you.”

 

He wouldn’t…men may be liars, but she knows that Killian isn’t. She’s just pissed.

 

“Block the number. It’s not that hard.”

 

“I’m trying to be more mature than that.”

 

She rolls her eyes. Of course he is. He probably thinks it’s some kind of gentlemanly, chivalrous act. The woman blatantly cheated on him throughout their entire relationship, and he’s still trying to be nice. What the hell?

 

“Being mature is overrated when you have an asshole ex.”

 

God, she’s pissed, all of her self pity morphing into anger and frustration and, frankly, a little bit of blood boiling rage.

 

“Why do you care, though, love? Why would it bother you? We usually just let each other make stupid decisions before realizing that we’ve fucked up.”

 

Well, shit. Is she going to go for it?

 

She’s going to go for it, isn’t she? What the hell has she got to lose? This isn’t completely uncharted territory, and he feels the same way…doesn’t he? She hasn’t been feeling this way all alone, and she’s tired of living her life with a barrier between them.

 

And she’s not talking about the damn door between them right now.

 

Sighing and mustering all of her courage, she goes for it. “I don’t want you to get hurt again…and I, uh, I was a little bit jealous. I thought that you and I might finally be able to get together. I know that was stupid, and I’m being ridiculous and you’re probably never going to want to talk to me again, but I apparently can’t hold in my words anymore.”

 

She hears him move outside, and he’s very obviously walking away until the knob on her door twists, the door pushing open despite her body blocking it, and when Killian continues to push, she scrambles around until she’s off the floor, standing in front of Killian holding a candle while his lips part before coming together, his jaw visibly clenching in the candlelight.

 

“We’re idiots, love. Did you know that?”

 

Why is he smiling? Why are they idiots? Why is he even still talking to her?

 

“W-what?”

 

“Idiots. Right wankers.” He puts the candle down on her dresser before stepping forward and placing his hands on both sides of her face, the roughness of them making her eyes flutter closed. “We’re damn stupid, and there is nothing in the world that I want more than to be with you. So just be quiet for one moment.”

 

And then he kisses her, his mouth insistent and plundering and everything she’s ever dreamed of when she’s dreamt of kissing him…you know, besides those other times that she’s actually kissed him, but she was always drunk then. His lips are soft against hers while the scruff of his chin is rough against the smooth skin of hers. The moment he nibbles on her bottom lip, she whimpers before parting her lips, granting him access and tangling their tongues together while she backs him up to the bed, their bodies crashing onto the mattress in a mess of limbs and lips and tongue as they explore each other in ways they’ve never done before.

 

“I want to be with you, too,” she admits before slaps his chest, thinking of his last words to her, before rolling over so that he’s on top of her, his hand grasping onto her wrists and bringing them above her body to rest near her headboard. “Don’t tell me to be quiet.”

 

“Aye, love. I know.”

 

The room is dark, every part of him basically shadows with only little glimpses of his skin and of his hair, a flash of a smile or a flicker of a hand as he takes her tank top off of her, trailing his tongue across the lines of her body, tracing the muscles she’s gained there from years of running in the afternoons before work. The bastard stops just as he reaches the concave between her breasts, her nipples straining, begging to be touched by his hand or his tongue, unable to be touched by her own.

 

“Killian,” she whines as he begins sucking a mark just below her right breast, teasing and nipping with his teeth right below where she is willing to beg for him to touch. “Killian,” she whines again when his nibbling gets a bit more insistent below her breast, and when she cants her hips up into his, he just tightens his grip on her wrists, “as much as I’m loving this, you’re driving me crazy.”

 

He leaves one last harsh bite against his skin before running his tongue along the faintly forming bruise, kissing up her chest until his body is hovering over hers and his lips are a hairsbreadth away. It’s so damn hot in here, the broken air conditioner making her sweat to the point that she’s not sure what’s heat and what’s Killian.

 

He’s…everywhere.

 

“That’s the point, darling.”

 

“I thought the point was to fuck me.”

 

“Well,” he teases, tenseness coiling in her belly at the low, huskiness of his voice. “We’re getting there. But I think I’d like to be a bit more intimately acquainted with you first. I’ve waited a long time for this.”

 

“Me too, but how much more intimately acquainted can we get than you being inside of me?”

 

“Oh, Emma Swan,” he kisses her lips, pulling away before she can tangle her tongue with his again, “you have no idea.”

 

He finally gives her something, rolling his hips into hers so that she can better feel how hard he’s been this entire damn time, and the way his length feels through the material of his pants may very well be the best feeling she’s ever experienced.

 

Obviously she hasn’t gotten laid in a while.

 

Or maybe she’s been experience foreplay with this man for years, and she’s so keyed up because she’s finally getting what she wants.

 

And it’s more than just the sex.

 

Killian finally – finally– moves his mouth from her lips to nose at her breasts before he sucks a nipple into his mouth and oh god that’s good. He’s got the perfect mixture of teeth and tongue and sucking that her entire body feels like it’s on fire, and she really, really needs him to release her hands so that she can touch him, too.

 

“Let me – ” he bites her straining peak as soon she speaks, and her hips buck off the mattress “ – let me touch you.”

 

He stops his ministrations, and her left breast really needs attention, to look up at her, his raised eyebrow visible in the dim light, before releasing her with an audibly wet pop that causes the wetness at her core to grow just a little bit (a lot) more. He looks like he’s seriously considering it, and what kind of man doesn’t like to be touched? What the hell has she stumbled into?

 

But then he smiles, and she feels butterflies in her stomach that have nothing to do with how turned on she is right now. “As you wish.”

 

He releases her hands and moves to start working on her neglected breast, but she’s got other ideas that include Killian in fewer clothes. So she pushes him over with all of her strength, and she knows he could have stopped her if he wanted to. As much as Killian seems to like to take charge, she’s glad to know that she can show a bit of dominance, too.

 

“I…” she begins, sliding off her leggings before straddling his hips, settling right above the shadow of his length in his sweats. She gulps at the sight of it, and this is about to be a damn fun night. “…I have been staring at this hair,” she moves to start lifting his shirt off of his body, laying a kiss at the newly exposed skin as the material moves up, “for years now. Wondering how it would feel as I run my fingers through it, or how it would feel against my nipples. But mostly,” she scoots down a little further to work at his pants, sliding them down his body until his length bobs against his stomach, long and thick, “I’ve wanted to see where it leads.”

 

“So you’ve been thinking about me then, lass?”

 

“Don’t let your ego get too big, Jones.”

 

“Well, if not my ego than something else has to be big.”

 

“It’s amazing you’ve ever had a girlfriend with flirting like that.”

 

“Oh, I wasn’t flirting. I was telling you how big my cock is.”

 

Normally she would never dare laugh at something like that, the, well, the cockiness of the joke a bit of a turn-off, but Killian could probably admit to her that he walks around in sneakers and a Santa hat and nothing else when he’s in the privacy of his room and she’d still want to fuck him. His flirting and charisma have certainly worked on her, and she laughs at his jokes more often than not.

 

Oh boy does she have it bad.

 

“You’re ridiculous,” she mumbles before getting more of his pants off, exposing exactly where his treasure trail leads along with the anchor he’s got tattooed on his hip bone. Yep, that’s hotter than she expected it to be. She runs her tongue over the ink while Killian kicks his pants the rest of the way off, the both of them now bare in the darkness of the room. She doesn’t take her eyes off of him, and he gazes down at her like she’s some kind of magical creature, his breath hitching the further down she dips her tongue, inching closer and closer to his length.

 

Her entire body giddy in anticipation of what that’s going to feel like pulsing inside of her.

 

She takes him in her mouth, the saltiness of his skin consuming her while her hand twists around the base as she bobs up and down, and his hand finds purchase in her hair, nails digging against her scalp. She wishes that she could see more of him, not just glimpses based on the candle.

 

“Fuck, love,” he groans, something that emanates from the back of his throat and makes her squirm, hips bucking into the mattress for friction. “Just like that. K-keep going.”

 

She hums around him before doubling her efforts, and even though she tries to keep Killian’s hips from bucking up, she can’t, his thrusts overpowering her arm holding him down before she has to let him go, releasing him and moving up his body, capturing his lips between hers and letting him nibble on her bottom lip before pulling back and looking at him, smiling really.

 

His hands move through her hair, thumbs rubbing back and forth at her cheeks while she sits on his chest, her folds slick against his skin.

 

“Are you sure you want this, love?”

 

“I was just giving you a blowjob, and now you ask?”

 

“Well, I didn’t know how you were going to respond. Your mouth was otherwise occupied.”

 

She snorts before leaning down and kissing him again, her body calming down even as her core continues to pulse, begging for more. “I want this. Do you?”

 

“More than I’ve ever wanted anything.”

 

The words…he means them, and she can’t help the smile that breaks out across her face and the way that her body flutters.

 

She scrambles for a condom in her bedside table, ripping open the package before sliding it onto Killian and guiding herself down on his length while his hands tightly grip onto her hips. From there, she begins to rock above him, the two of them finding a rhythm through hushed words and hesitant instructions. She needs Killian to move a little to the right, while Killian needs her to slow down the pace. It takes a few minutes until everything is just right, and all of her thoughts are drowned out by the rain outside and the feel of Killian inside of her.

 

He’s everywhere, his touch never leaving her, and his lips never far from her own, only trailing away to suck at the skin below her ear, causing her to writhe and squirm above him.

 

“Fuck, Killian. Just like that.”

 

“You close?”

 

“S-so close. I need…I need you to touch me.”

 

The hand that was palming her ass moves to reach in front of her, thumbing hard, fast circles where they’re joined until her body feels like every inch of it is being shocked, even her cheeks feeling the pleasure of it. She falls, and her body practically goes numb, something that rarely happens in the aftermath of an orgasm, and something that she never would have expected in her first time with Killian.

 

Her first time with Killian.

 

He continues to pump up into her, whispering dirty little nothings combined with words of affection in her ear, and when his voice stops, she knows that he’s pulsing inside of her, his length humming while her walls continue to flutter.

 

Later, they’re still covered in sweat, her hair likely a frizzy mess, the lack of air conditioning and frankly very exhausting sex not helping the matter, but she doesn’t care. She’s sated and happy, and Killian’s got his body wrapped around her, their legs tangled together, while his arm settles over her hip and his chin rests on her shoulder. It’s almost an exact mirror of how they were on the couch, but this time there’s no question as to how the other feels.

 

A tornado might not have blown through, but she kind of feels that way, her life in upheaval in the way that clothes are scattered across the floor and her sheets are mused, barely hanging onto the bed. This is a good thing, though. It has to be. She’ll convince herself of it until she can’t.

 

“Hmm,” Killian mumbles, “I could fall asleep like this.”

 

“It’s too hot to fall asleep like this,” she protests, squirming against him only for him to hold onto her more tightly, his left hand swiping away at her loose hair and pushing it off of her forehead before cradling itself under her cheek. She kisses his palm, getting more of his fingertips than anything else, but she doesn’t think he’ll mind.

 

“Our first night together, and you’re already kicking me out of the bed. This might be some kind of record.”

 

“You’re being ridiculous again.”

 

He squeezes around her stomach, before his hand moves up to play with her breasts, leisurely moving them, teasing and twisting but with no obvious intent to go further. She feels his lips against her shoulder before they move below her ear.

 

“I am not, darling. I’m just thinking about how nice this is. And how thankful I am for the storm raging outside.”

 

“Do you think things will be different in the light of day?”

 

It’s all she’s been able to think about since she came down from her high, the demons inside of her mind fighting her even as she tried to keep telling herself that this is good. This is right.

 

“I bloody well hope so. That was fantastic darling, but I could barely see you. I’d like to change that.”

 

“Shut up. That’s not what I meant.”

 

“Aye, I know.” He kisses her neck again, and her body sags against him, her own arms coming to rest against the hand cradling her breasts. “I think things will pretty much stay the same. This has been a long time coming.”

 

“Is that an innuendo?”

 

“Always.”

 

The lights flicker back on around five that morning, the air conditioner and appliances humming with life as the apartment begins to right itself, but neither of its occupants even realize it, fast asleep, their bodies tired and relaxed against each other.

 

When they wake, however, they see everything in the light of day, and all Emma can think as Killian slides into her again, not bothering to move from their sleeping position, is that maybe lightning does strike twice.

Chapter Text

He’d gone to the restroom, leaving his seat at the back of the pub empty. He figured it’d be fine, a place no one would want to steal, but when he gets back, there’s a blonde lass sitting in his chair, or at his table really, her gaze studying the bottle of beer she’s tracing with her fingertips. As he gets closer, he realizes how beautiful she is, her hair shining even in the dim lights as it runs down her back, landing in soft curls around her waist. It’s too dim in the pub, and he’s too far away to see many other details, but as he gets closer, pushing through the crowd that’s gathering at the front near the stage, he sees that her skin is smooth like porcelain. There’s a red tint to her cheeks that nearly matches the red painted on her lips, something so vibrant that he’s sure it matches the woman behind the ruby red lips.

 

When he gets close enough, he notices the black of her lashes landing against her cheeks, and when she looks up at his presence, her green eyes enchant him so that he forgets every word he was going to say, possibly every word he’s ever learned.

 

“Do you need something?” she questions, her voice high and lilting.

 

“Well, excuse me, lass, but I think you’ve got my chair.”

 

He means table, but there’s that business of forgetting the English language to worry about.

 

Her eyes squint and her brows furrow together before she twists and turns, looking around. “Your chair? Is this, like, reserved seating?”

 

She begins to get up, her legs rising from the seat, before he puts his hand out in front of her and chuckles. “No, it’s not, love. I was simply sitting here before I ran to the restroom. It may be that I’m a creature of habit, but I for some reason had to come right back here.”

 

Maybe it was the pretty lass.

 

“I can move if you want me to.”

 

“No, no,” he shakes his head, smiling to himself, “don’t worry about it. Do you mind if I, um – ” He gestures to the empty chair beside her.

 

“Yeah, sure. Go ahead. I don’t mind. It’s not taken.”

 

He settles down in the chair next to her, the legs scraping across the wood and squeaking as his weight settles down onto it. The band starts to play, soft guitar strands emanating throughout the busy pub, the Friday night crowd packing the place in as strangers, friends, and couples mill about. He and his table partner sit in silence. She takes several sips of her beer, swishing the small amount of liquid remaining until there’s none left.

 

Building up his courage, reminding himself that he’s very capable of asking a lass if she wants something to drink, he asks, “Could I drink you a buy?”

 

She looks over to him, her beautiful eyes blown wide and her lips parted. “What?” she chuckles, her lips stretching into a smile.

 

He doesn’t understand why she’s confused until he replays his words in his mind, realizing that maybe he’s not as capable of asking a woman if she wants a drink as he thought. Chuckling, he corrects himself as he scratches behind his ear. “Can I buy you a drink, love? Don’t know how my tongue got all twisted up there.”

 

She laughs before looking down at the table, her fingers messing with the damp paper on her empty beer bottle. When she looks up at him, his breath hitches, butterflies settling in his stomach that he hasn’t felt in too long of a time.

 

“I’d like that.”

 

“What would you like? Another beer?”

 

“Anything you please. Thank you.”

 

“Oh, you’re welcome.” He stands from the table, his thighs hitting the wood and shaking it. He couldn’t be more of a klutz tonight, and on the off chance that she’s not here when he comes back, he asks a question he should have asked twenty minutes ago. “I don’t think I caught your name, love.”

 

“I don’t think I gave it.”

 

Oh.

 

Well, he’s a damn fool.

 

“Hey, hey,” she corrects, reaching her hand over to grab at his forearm, right above where he’s missing his hand. He flinches, but she doesn’t even blink. Maybe she hasn’t even realized. Maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t even care. “I was kidding. My name is Emma. Emma Swan.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Swan. Killian Jones.”

 

He goes off the get their drinks, returning with two beers in his right hand, his fingers holding onto the necks of the bottles, only to see Emma still sitting in her chair, much to his surprise. If his bumbling didn’t scare her away, he thought the lack of a hand would. But maybe tonight is a night of surprises.

 

“So Jones,” she asks after taking a sip of her beer, her lips wrapped prettily around the bottle, “are you waiting to meet someone here?”

 

“I’m not,” he bashfully admits, taking a sip of his own drink. “What about you?”

 

“Nah, just wanted to get out of the apartment, get something to drink, be alone without really being alone.”

 

“Am I keeping you from that?”

 

She smiles, and his heart flutters while his cheeks heat from what he’s sure is blush. When was the last time he blushed? “Not at all. So tell me, who exactly is Killian Jones?”

 

Ah, there’s the kicker, the thing that always makes beautiful moments like those go downhill.

 

“It’s not a pretty story.”

“None of the best ones are.”

 

So he shares a bit of his past, explaining the lack of a hand and the Naval career that went before it, leaving out the long-term girlfriend who left him and the brother who died. Only one tragedy at a time, he reminds himself, thinking that baby steps are all he really needs. He’s only known the lass for an hour. There’s no need to weigh her down with the heaviness of his life. But it’s not all sad stories. He tells her of the books he likes to write, the ones he uses to make a living, while she tells him of the pictures she likes to take, the both of them channeling their energy into creative outlets. He picks up from the way she talks that she has no family, but a close group of friends, and it’s like the stars aligned, or maybe just the chairs, to allow them to sit next to each other tonight.

 

Two kindred spirits.

 

She’s hilarious in ways that no one has any right to be, her wit rolling off her tongue quickly and fiercely. A part of him wonders if she knows how brilliant, how entertaining she is, and he’s sure that she does. But that doesn’t keep him from telling her so. She smiles in return, her lips spreading across her face as her eyelashes flutter. She becomes more brilliant and enthralling the more time passes, and he knows that it’s not the beer talking.

 

It’s simply Emma.

 

The band begins playing a cover of Fooled Around and Fell in Love, and he immediately starts humming along, knowing the chords before the words even start. Emma looks over to him, her lips parted as if she’s surprised.

 

“What?”

 

“You knew that song so quickly.”

 

“It’s a favorite.” Taking a shot, he holds his hand out. “Would you care to dance?”

 

“I’m not really much of a dancer. I’m not very good.”

 

“That’s alright. You just have to pick a partner that knows what he’s doing.”

 

He guides her out to the small space next to their table, intertwining their fingers while he tentatively rests his stump high on her waist. She softly giggles before using her free hand to move it down lower, resting it at her hip before wrapping her arm around his neck. They sway back and forth to the music, getting gradually closer to each other as the seconds pass until she’s so close that their bodies are completely pressed together and her head rests on his shoulder in the crook of his neck. He smiles, and he can’t seem to stop doing that, before pressing a kiss to the top of her head. When he does, she feels her lips move against his neck, trailing several kisses there until she pulls back, her lips now a hairsbreadth away from hers and her eyes full of questions.

 

He nods in answer to them, and she releases his hand before wrapping both arms around his neck and pressing up on her toes so that their lips slant over each other. She’s soft and warm, and the damn butterflies might as well set up a garden in his stomach. They’re here to stay.

 

When she pulls back, there’s a tentative smile on her face, one he wipes away with another kiss before resting his forehead against hers.

 

“Is there a chance that later on I could drive you home, darling?”

 

“Drive me home or take me home?”

 

“Drive, though I’d bloody like to take you home, too. But I’d like to court you because I find myself liking you, Emma Swan.”

 

“I like you too, Killian Jones.”

 

“And Emma?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“To tell you the truth, that wasn’t my chair at all. I was in the one right next to it.”

 

She smiles before her hands move into his hair, playing with the stands at his neck. “I know. Why do you think I sat there?”

Chapter Text

There are few things he hates more than having to reprimand coworkers. Or subordinates, really. He hates reprimanding subordinates because they’re people and often his friends, and fussing at them makes his skin crawl, especially if it’s over something as minor as using the wrong kind of stationary or mixing up some of his files while taking them to the file room – thank goodness for their new electronic system.

 

But then there are things a little bigger than that.

 

There are things like his secretary going around and talking about his sex life to his coworkers, even if the sex life isn’t real…his sex life is real. Just the one Tina was talking about is not. And even if she hadn’t told those lies to Emma but to someone else, he’d still be pissed. He’d be pissed, and he’d likely have to do a little more than simply talking to her. It’d be a whole thing with the human resources department, and God is it awful filling out all of that paperwork.

 

Amongst other things.

 

And while the words Tina said to Emma helped guide Emma forward and guide them forward two days ago, he can’t very well let his secretary go around spreading lies about him and talking about his sex life, even the fictitious one, to others in the office. If she’ll say things to Emma, who knows who else she’ll speak to?

 

And then he’d have to speak to HR.

 

It’d be like some never-ending cycle of things that he hates.

 

He’s pacing. He knows he’s pacing. He’s actively trying not to pace, but he can’t stop, likely running a hole in the floor of his office. He hopes the guy in the office below him doesn’t mind having a skylight.

 

“You’re freaking out, you know that?”

 

He looks over to Emma who’s sitting on edge of his desk, a soft smile on her face that calms him the slightest bit. The way her shirt frames her curves does not.

 

“Aye.”

 

“Why are you freaking out? You never freak out at work.”

 

“I’m not exactly sure how to go about this, love. I don’t want to go to HR because I don’t want this to be a bigger thing than it has to be. But the lass obviously has feelings for me. She’s not going to be thrilled about this. And she’s not going to be thrilled that you told me. And if it’s not a feelings thing, then she might just be a little unstable. I can’t think of another reason why she’d lie like that. I just…I don’t know.”

 

“Yeah, I know. But this was your idea. I was the one who said it was fine leaving it be.”

 

“I know, I know. I just can’t let this settle. It’s both my personal and professional reputation here. While you and I can date, we’re not technically supposed to date anyone below us.” He pauses when she lifts an eyebrow. “Don’t say it, Swan.”

 

She shrugs and bites her bottom lip, her eyelashes fluttering. “Wasn’t going to say anything.”

 

“Yes, yes you were.”

 

She finally breaks out into laughter, her shoulders heaving while she smiles. “You just left it sitting there, Killian. What was I supposed to do? Not make a joke about being on the bottom?”

 

“Help me figure out what to say.”

Emma rises from his desk, coming to stand in front of him, her fingers running through his hair and pushing it back, her touch soothing. “You practiced. Just be honest.”

 

“Do you want to…do you want to stay in here for this?”

 

She quirks her eyebrows, and he leans down to touch his lips against hers. “Isn’t that inappropriate?”

 

“No. it’s a discussion between the three of us. You’re technically involved.”

 

Tina comes into his office at seven thirty, a smile on her face until her eyes fall to Emma sitting on the arm of his couch, awkwardly fidgeting with the hemline of her skirt and the non-existent wrinkles in her shirt. He would know. He’s becoming very fond of that shirt.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“I was asked to be in here,” Emma answers, the tone she’s using the one she does with clients she absolutely cannot stand. It’s also the one she used with him when they first met.

 

“Why?”

 

“Just listen please, Tina,” she sighs, her voice much more soothing this time. “It doesn’t have to be a whole thing if we don’t make it any more than it is.”

 

Tina turns to him, her eyes blown wide and her lips quivering until she steels her emotions. “Okay, so would you like to tell me while I’ve been called in an hour and a half before work? Because it’s obviously not what I thought it was.”

 

What the hell did she think it was?

 

“Miss Swan tells me that you told her we were sleeping together. I’m not going to gloss around or over it, Tina. You and I both know that we’re not, and even if we were, you shouldn’t be spreading that around. I could get you in actual trouble with the office for this, but I’m not going to do that. I just want to talk.”

 

“Talk about what?”

 

“You know exactly what, Ms. Alan. Why would you lie like that? What could possibly make you want to go around telling your coworkers, especially one who you know is my friend, that we’re sleeping together when we’ve never had anything but a professional relationship?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

He’s heard a lot of idiot excuses over the years, a hell of a lot of them from himself, but “I don’t know” has to be on up there for lack of effort. He crosses his arms and perches himself on the edge of his desk, raising his eyebrows as Tina stands across the room with her hands on her hips. At least she’s not denying it, but she’s also not giving any answers. He doesn’t much care for them at this point. He just wants to know that something like this won’t happen again.

 

“Not a part of me believes that. Don’t do it again.”

 

“You know,” Tina huffs, practically spitting at him, “you’ve got some kind of superiority complex thinking you can call me in to talk about this when you and Emma are obviously together, which I’m pretty sure is against the rules.”

 

“We’re not, and it’s not for us. But it’s also none of your goddamn business. And we’re not the ones who undermined a superior.”

 

“But – ”

 

“Tina, don’t spread rumors again, or I will actually do something more about it. This isn’t high school. It’s a business, and you need to go before you say something you regret or cause me to actually want to fire you because I’m getting a hell of a lot closer to that.”

 

Tina’s lips part, and he swears that he sees her jaw tick. If she’s going to say something, she best rethink it. He’s done with this conversation and with talking about his love life with anyone other than Emma who has been suspiciously quiet over on the couch when he wanted her to be a part of this conversation.

 

“Thank you for your time,” Tina stutters before walking away, stopping at the door after she twists the knob and giving him the most sarcastic smile he’s ever seen grace her face. “I’m sorry for my inappropriate behavior.”

 

“I’m sorry for it as well.”

 

Well, hell. That went far better than expected. He was expecting much, much worse. He didn’t get any real answers, but he’ll take it. He’s sure that she’s going to drop his calls and misplace his files from now on, but he can handle that. He’d just rather his work be for work and not misplaced dramatics.

 

“That was kind of hot,” Emma whispers when Tina slams the door behind her. She takes several steps forward, the sound of her heels clicking on the floor muted by the carpet underneath her, until she’s standing directly in front him, her hands running up and down over his chest until they settle at his tie. “Actually, really hot.”

 

“Me having to reprimand my secretary for spreading lies and then me blatantly lying about you and I being together? That was hot to you?”

 

“Mhm,” she mumbles as her fingers undo his knot, his tie falling to the floor while she undoes the buttons of his shirt, nails dragging across his chest while all of his blood rushes to his cock. “I don’t know what it was because I’ve worked with you for forever and never found you to be anything but annoying.”

 

“Annoying?”

 

“So damn annoying.” She pops the last button at the bottom of his shirt before running her hands up his bare chest and hooking her hands underneath his suit jacket, pushing it off his shoulders with a little help from him before he moves his hands to rest at her hips and she wraps her arms around his neck, their lips tantalizingly close so that their breaths intermingle. “But I don’t know. Now you’re my boyfriend, and maybe I’m not nearly as sexually frustrated.”

 

“Were you not being pleased, darling?”

 

“I was, but not quite in the right ways.”

 

He dips his head to capture his lips with hers, yanking her hips closer so that they press up against his, the friction fucking incredible even as he focuses on slanting his lips over hers and threading his hands into her hair so that he can change the angle, their tongues tangling together in a hot, wet slide. When he pulls back, his chest is heaving as he tries to breathe air back into his lungs, his lips already swelling while Emma’s face looks particularly red.

 

He wants her, needs her, and he doesn’t care that they’re in the office.

 

“Lock the door, Swan.”

 

Emma slowly saunters back to the door, obviously swaying her hips, and he’s never quite appreciated the way she wears a skirt like this until now. But then when she flips the lock, the bolts clicking into place, her face breaks out into a wide smile as she begins to laugh.

 

Has she lost her mind? Has he lost his?

 

“Why are you laughing?”

 

“Because we’re really about to have sex in your office.”

 

“I don’t see why not.”

 

“What if people hear us? We could legitimately get fired, and you’d be the biggest hypocrite in the world.”

 

“I guess you’ll have to be quiet, love.”

 

He captures her response with his lips, grabbing onto her scalp and pushing her back against his desk, stepping around her thighs and pressing himself into her. They may have been dating for two days – though they haven’t been on a date – but he’s been sleeping with her for a hell of a lot longer than that. So when she whimpers and her hands grip into his hair so much that it’s painful, he knows that she’s keyed up without too much work on his part. His lips trails from hers across her jaw, nipping at her soft skin before he gets to her ear and she throws her head back, allowing him more access to her neck.

 

“So that turned you on then, darling?”

 

“Yes,” she sighs, her voice breathy and labored and everything he likes to hear.

 

“That’s surprising, but I can’t say that I mind.”

 

“I didn’t think that you would.”

 

He pulls back from her neck so that he can focus on getting her shirt unbuttoned, every popped button revealing more skin until he gets to her bra, while she nibbles at his neck, making his fingers fumble the slightest bit. He’s just about to pull the cup of her bra down when her hands grab his wrists and stop him. When he looks up at her, her lips are pulled into a small smile and her gorgeous green eyes are blown back.

 

“What are you doing, Swan?”

 

“I don’t need it, and we’ve got to hurry.”

 

“What do you mean you don’t need it?”

 

She laughs before kissing the underside of his jaw, guiding his hand down to pull up her skirt until he can touch her underwear…her slick underwear. When he looks back at her, every bit of his blood rushing away from his head so quickly that he’s practically dizzy, she’s absolutely beaming even with her dark, hooded eyes and blush ridden cheeks.

 

“You get it now, Mr. Big Shot?”

 

“I get it now.”

 

From there it’s a quick fumbling of his pants, undoing his belt and sliding them down along with his boxers while Emma gives his length a few quick pumps, making his cock throb and his breath stutter.

 

“How are we going to do this?”

 

“Turn around and prop your hands up on the desk.”

 

“Kinky.”

“Shut up,” he chuckles, kissing the back of her neck while he nudges her legs further apart so he can slowly guide himself into her, her walls tightening around him while her heat envelopes him. The both of them groan, and he covers her body with his while he buries himself into her and his nose into her hair. “You have to be quiet, sweetheart. Remember?”

 

“That does seem familiar.”

 

He laughs before beginning to move inside of her, continuously kissing the back of her neck while his hands rest over his against the desk, squeezing her palms before tracing the clothed lines of her body with his hands and resting them on her hips, pushing up her skirt even more so that he can feel skin.

 

“I hope you feel this for the rest of the day, lass,” he grunts before increasing his thrusts, their skin slapping together so loudly that he bloody hopes no one else came into the office early – or that he comes earlywhile in the office. There’s no way he can keep that quiet along with his grunts and Emma’s gasps. His grip on her hips is so tight that he knows it’ll bruise, but he can’t completely release her without losing control of himself far before he wants this to be over.

 

Emma whimpers when he moves his hand to palm at her ass, holding onto the pliable skin there while he continues to sink himself into her heat, her walls squeezing him like they always do. She’s a marvel. Always a marvel.

 

“You feel so bloody good. Always so good.”

 

“Ah fuck,” she moans when he gets into a particularly harsh rhythm, his spine beginning to hum with his release when she speaks again, “Ki-Killian, s-stop.”

 

It takes him a moment to register her words, his thrusts ceasing when he does before he pulls out of her with a hiss, helping to turn her over so that she’s facing him, her chest heaving up and down as she holds onto her stomach. His fingers are cupping her face immediately, feeling the soft skin as he coaxes her to look at him.

 

“Darling, what’s wrong?”

 

“Your desk was killing my stomach. I can’t…I can’t do it like that.”

 

“Bloody hell. I’m sorry. I didn’t even think about it.”

 

She waves him away before leaning forward and resting her head against his shoulder, her skirt still pushed over her ass and his pants still around his ankles while his cock continues to throb. They make quite the pair. “It’s fine, really. You just always think things like that are going to be hot, and then you’ve got mahogany digging into your stomach and you’re totally turned off.”

 

He runs her hands across her back, moving them in unplanned circles while he kisses her hairline in a move so tender he knows she wouldn’t have allowed it a few days ago. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

 

“Didn’t start hurting like a bitch until right about then. The chair or the couch or this itchy as hell carpeting would probably be more comfortable.”

 

“You still want to give it a go after I basically fucked you into a piece of hard wood?” She laughs against his shoulder as she nods. “Yeah, yeah. I heard it, too. You can make a dirty joke out of anything, Swan.”

 

“So can you.” She reaches down between them, grabbing his hand and dragging it through her folds so that he can feel the slickness that’s still settled there. “If we can find a more comfortable position, I could really go for the morning orgasm right about now or I’m just going to be in a bad mood all day.”

 

“Well please,” he waggles his eyebrows up and down, knowing it makes Emma laugh, “if not for you, for the sake of all of us.”

 

She slaps his chest, her touch stinging a bit, but he simply captures her wrist and kisses her palm, chucking against her skin. “Come on.”

 

“That’s what I’m trying for here.”

 

He settles down onto his couch, and Emma splays her knees on either side of his thighs before sinking back down onto him and leisurely kissing him. They move slowly despite their lack of time and earlier pace, and this feels more like what they did last night than anything else. It’s not a fast and furious fuck, but a slow and sensual joining together. He dares not think love making. He might be there, but Emma’s not. Though right now, with the way she’s moving above him and whispering words of affection in his ear, he thinks she might very well be on her way.

 

She cups his face, her fingers soft against his skin, and slowly kisses him while his hands move down to her ass, kneading the firm skin and helping her movements above him. She’s so good, so tight and wet and warm, and he doesn’t think he’s going to make it much longer, especially with the way her breasts are moving against his chest and she’s moaning into his mouth.

 

“Fuck,” he stutters when she picks up her pace, and he has to release her lips to breathe, his chest heaving and the pleasure increasing in his spine while sweat begins to form at his hairline. He moves to kiss along her jaw, peppering kisses there and listening to her gasp against him until he starts whispering in her ear. “So bloody tight, love. You feel so good.”

 

“So do…so do you.”

 

“You getting closer?”

 

She gasps when he moves his hips up, sheathing himself completely inside of her, before she rests her head against his neck and nods against him, her nose brushing right up under his ear and making him shiver. God, it feels good being connected to her like this. He never wants it to stop, never wants to leave her warmth.

 

He bites on her lobe, a shriek emanating from deep in her throat, and he barks out a deep laugh at how poorly they’ve remained quiet. Snaking his hand away from her ass, he moves to where they’re joined, rubbing his thumb in quick hard circles that match the intensity of the pleasure in his spine.

 

“That’s a good girl. Come for me, Swan.”

 

Emma doesn’t speak, but her breaths come out heavy and her chest continues to heave against his while her walls flutter around his length. The moment she comes, she bites down on his pulse point, muffling her moan with his skin while he thrusts himself up into her, his legs straining with the movement. She comes back to herself after a moment of complete stillness and swivels her hips while worrying a bruise into his shoulder, building him higher and higher until the sensations in his spine burst and he releases himself into her.

 

“Fuck,” he grunts while working himself through it, grabbing Emma’s face and pulling her lips to his so that he doesn’t scream out his love for her as he pulses inside of her.

 

“How have we never done that before?” she whispers while he catches his breath, her forehead resting against his and her hands caressing his face while her warmth continues to invade him. She’s so bloody warm.

 

“Believe it or not, I don’t usually have sex at work.”

 

“Just in bathrooms at a coworker’s apartment and one time at a company Christmas party at a hotel?”

 

“Exactly,” he laughs, kissing her nose. He’s softening inside of her, but he doesn’t dare pull out of her quite yet. He knows they’re pushing it with the time, but he doesn’t care too much right now. “This was nice, though.”

 

“Nice?”

 

“Fucking fantastic. Or fantastic fucking. Whichever you prefer.”

 

“Such a wordsmith.”

 

“Well, that’s why they pay be the medium bucks.”

 

“Medium?”

 

“I felt like I’d be lying if I said big.”

 

She wiggles her hips above him and hums. “Seems pretty big to me.”

 

A snort escapes him, and Emma simply raises her eyebrow. “You want to go grab something to eat after work today?”

 

“Like a date?”

 

“Exactly like that.” He presses his lips against hers. “I’ll even let you pay.”

 

They eventually get themselves together, straightening out clothes and hair, Emma braiding her hair to contain that tangled mess. Emma has to apply some of her makeup to his neck where a bruise is already forming, and he’s sure that’ll make it more obvious than the hickey would have been. They likely look like a mess, but he doesn’t bloody care. Not with how he’s feeling right now.

 

He only sees Emma once throughout the entire day, and it’s from across the office, just a glimpse of her red skirt and blonde hair. But then when six o’clock rolls around and he finally finishes for the day, Emma’s waiting for him at her desk.

 

“You ready to go, Swan?”

 

“Absolutely.”

Chapter Text

She watches headlights zoom by next to her as she continuously freaks out over the cars driving on the wrong side of the road. She’s only been in Ireland for an hour, most of that spent in the airport getting their luggage and waiting in line for the bathroom or a bottle of water, so she thinks that she’ll have time to adjust. But right now her entire body is buzzing with nervous excitement or maybe just nervousness. She’s not actually sure if she’s excited or not to meet her boyfriend’s family, but this is important to him and she’d agreed.

 

Plus, it means that she can actually spend Christmas with Killian.

 

In Ireland.

 

With his family.

 

Who she’s never met.

 

It’s one in the morning when Killian pulls up to his mom’s house outside of Galway, the only light left on a small one on the front porch. He guides her inside after getting the key out from under a rock by the steps, and the entire house practically groans with every step she takes. He told his mom not to wait up for them, so as quietly as they can, they make their way to his childhood bedroom, Killian flicking on the light as soon as they step inside and close the door behind them.

 

His room, well, it looks like a teenage boy’s room. There’s a blue plaid comforter stretched across a twin bed with one matching pillow. There’s another pillow in a flowery print that she assumes his mother left for her. Everything else is pretty bare, a chestnut dresser shoved in a corner and a matching desk against the opposite wall with a painting of a sailboat hanging above it and framed posters of his favorite football players stacked in the corner behind the desk. She knows that if she were to look under the desk and in its drawers, there’d be paperback novels with folded pages and faded words, her little bookworm.

 

“So this was your room?” she questions, running her fingers against his bed before sitting down and pulling her hair up into a messy bun while Killian shoves their suitcase into the closet that seems to be used as storage space now.

 

“This is it. You like it?”

 

“I think it’s very you from what I know about teenage Killian. Though, I’m glad grown ass man Killian has learned the wonders of a queen bed.”

 

He chuckles before coming to stand between her legs, spreading her knees apart and squatting so that she’s looking down at him. He looks tired, his eyes a little dull and skin a little pale, and when she pushes his hair off of his forehead, his eyelids flutter closed and his long, dark lashes land against his cheek.

 

“I honestly didn’t think about that until we walked in here. You can say goodbye to the way you starfish on the bed, darling.”

 

“Or I can do that, and you can sleep on the floor.”

 

Killian kisses her clothed thigh before standing up, his knees cracking with the movement. “I know it’s only the evening for us, but I’m bloody exhausted. Do you want to go to bed now?”

 

“Absolutely.”

 

When she wakes the next morning, Killian’s completely wrapped around her, his body heat consuming her even as the chill of the house starts to break through Killian and his comforter to nip at her nose and the tips of her ears. Killian had mentioned that his mom didn’t have a heater like they do in their apartments so to make sure to pack warm clothes to sleep in, but she wasn’t necessarily expecting this. Shivering, she moves further back into Killian, her ass accidentally brushing against his morning erection. Instead of trying to move so as not to wake him, she settles there, pulling his arms further around her and the comforter up to cover everything but her eyes.

 

He stirs a few minutes later just as she’s about to fall back asleep, the chill not affecting her as much anymore...which is still a lot. He begins moving against her, pressing into her backside as he stretches his body and tightens himself around her, pressing kisses into her neck that make her sigh into him.

 

“Good morning, babe.”

 

He doesn’t respond, his kisses more insistent while his hand begins palming her clothed breast. It feels so damn good, a way she’d usually love to wake up in the morning especially as he’s been pressing into her for the past ten minutes, but she’s not about to sleep with him when his mom is just down the hall. She’s not even met the woman yet.

 

“Killian,” she gasps, when he bites down at her pulse point, “we’re not having sex this morning.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Your mom.”

 

“Darling, my mum knows what sex is. How do you think I got here?”

 

She snorts before turning in his arms, her knees hitting his side and elbows hitting against his chest until they’re face to face, his eyes hooded and hair sticking against his forehead. “That’s a good point, but I’m still not sleeping with you right now. Maybe later. And maybe not when I’m so cold that I refuse to take off any clothes.”

 

“I told you to dress warmly.”

 

“I thought this was warm!”

 

Killian chuckles before kissing her nose and rubbing his whiskers against her face, causing her to squirm against him while the soft bristles scratch her.

 

“Do you have any clue what time it is, love?”

 

“Not a one.”

 

“My mum is awake. I can hear her puttering around in the kitchen.” He nudges against her nose again while he rubs the lobe of her ear between his thumb and forefinger. “Do you want to go meet her?”

 

“I mean, can I at least brush my hair first? Maybe my teeth? I imagine I’m not going to make a good impression looking like this. Plus, you need to calm down, or your mom is going to get quite a show I can assure you she has no interest in.”

 

“Darling, my mother is going to love you. How could she not?”

 


 

His mother hates her.

 

Hates her.

 

And she’s not exaggerating or being overly sensitive. It’s just that damn clear to her that Moira Jones cannot stand her.

 

They’d cleaned themselves up as much as they could in Killian’s room and the bathroom down the hall, changing into jeans and sweaters that did absolutely nothing to combat the chill of this house. (She has no idea how they live here. It’s freezing.) So she thought that she looked nice enough, but Moira had taken one look at her and forced the fakest smile that Emma had ever seen. She didn’t expect the beaming smile that Killian got. That would be ridiculous. Killian’s her son, and she loves him. Emma’s just the girlfriend who Moira’s never met.

 

She at least thought she’d get a warmer greeting, freezing cold house aside.

 

But it was…hostile. And not in a completely obvious way. It was subtle, little comments here and there that if Emma wasn’t paying attention, she would have never noticed. There were remarks about her job, how it couldn’t possibly be stable hours or pay with the randomness of being a bail bondsperson. Killian’s a damn lawyer. That’s not exactly the most stable job in the world when it comes to his pay or hours, but Moira couldn’t stop asking questions about how work was going for Killian. (Okay, so she knows that being a lawyer is a hell of a lot more impressive than being a bail bondsperson, but she’s damn good at her job.) And then there were things like the way Moira looked at her when Killian kissed her cheek or called her darling, her brows furrowed and lips curled into a scowl. It was uncomfortable and awkward, and she really hoped that meeting Liam and his family would go more smoothly.

 

It didn’t.

 

Okay, so Caitlin and the kids were wonderful, hugging her and welcoming her. Dalton showed off the train he carries with him, telling her all about different trains he’s been on, and Cameron allowed her to hold her, cuddling into her shoulder almost immediately and wrapping her legs around Emma’s waist. The kids were so dang sweet and precious, and as she held Cameron, all she could think about was a future where her own kids were meeting their older cousins and Caitlin was the one cuddling her toddler.

 

But Liam gave her the same kind of reaction as Moira, a stilted hug and pointed conversation that often ended up with her trying to coax conversation out of him while he sat in the corner chair next to the fireplace with his arms crossed over his chest and the same scowl that she recognized from both Moira earlier and Killian when he’s pissed off.

 

What the hell?

 

Throughout the entire morning, the seven of them sitting in the living room with the television playing in the background, she felt like some kind of American outcast. She didn’t expect to be the center of conversation, didn’t want to be, but they acted like she wasn’t even there. Killian would try to bring her up in conversation, adding in things that they did together or mentioning her interests when they talked about what Killian did outside of work. Eventually she gave up even trying to be a part of the conversation, sitting there with Cameron and murmuring to the little girl while she stroked her red curls.

 

She thought, hoped really, that maybe Killian wouldn’t notice. He loves his family. Liam is practically his hero, and she doesn’t want to be something that drives a wedge between them. But with the way that his jaw clenched and his hand tightened around her bicep every time she was cut off or practically ignored, she knew that he noticed.

 

They haven’t exactly gotten a chance to talk about it, however, because they haven’t had a single moment alone all day. Apparently, Killian’s mom wanted to wait until her children and grandchildren were here to decorate the house, even though it’s only five days until Christmas, and so they’ve been unloading boxes from the attic and hanging lights on the outside of the house. Even if she can tell that Killian is still a little pissed – and she is, too – it’s nice to see him where he grew up. Just from the conversations she’s overheard, she gets a little bit more insight into her boyfriend and what he was like before she knew him.

 

If his family ever decides that they like her, she’s going to ask to see the photo albums. Killian let it slip one night when he was drunk off his ass that he had long hair right after high school (“It’s called secondary school, love”) that he cut off before moving to the states for college. She’d also like to see baby Killian because she bets that’s damn adorable.

 

All of her thoughts about babies today are freaking her out almost as much as Killian’s family hating her.

 

When Killian finally excuses them to bed after the most awkward dinner since that one episode of The Office, she sighs in relief as she sinks down onto the bed and covers her forehead with her hands while Killian changes into his pajamas, carefully folding up his jeans and sweater before putting them on top of the dresser. She should probably change, but right now she doesn’t feel like moving, letting the old springs of the mattress dig into her back while her thoughts run rampant.

 

She’s only ever met one other guy’s family, and that was only because they ran into his parents while out at dinner. It had gone better than this, but at the time, she didn’t really care. She’d only been dating Nick for a few months, not nearly a year and a half…if you don’t count the month she and Killian stopped seeing each other five months into dating because she was being flighty. 

 

Dumb. She was being dumb.

 

But they worked it out and got back together, and besides small bickering over where to go out to eat or their schedules not matching up, it’s been fine. Good. Great. Fantastic. She loves him so damn much, and she’s been looking forward to this future of theirs. That’s why she wanted to come to Ireland with him and stay in his mom’s house and go through all of the embarrassing things that come with meeting a boyfriend’s family. But it’s been awful, and she just wants to go home.

 

She’s twenty-seven years old, and she just wants to go home and ask Mary Margaret to make her those blueberry muffins she made for David last week when he came over. She should also probably talk to Mary Margaret about their living situation because the both of them are idiots for not having moved in with Killian and David yet. They’re barely ever home with just the two of them, and when they are, either David or Killian are there with them. If anything, it’s a waste of money for them to be paying rent and basically living in other places. But then she’s also been living with Mary Margaret for so long, and she knows that she’ll be sad when she’s not her roommate anymore.

 

While she does wear Killian’s clothes, they’re not quite as cute to go out in as Mary Margaret’s.

 

Her thoughts are consumed with going home, Killian’s family hating her, and those damn blueberry muffins when Killian crawls on top of her, his body weight crushing her while he props himself up on his elbows on either side of her with those beautiful blue eyes of his staring down at her.

 

“Hi, beautiful.”

 

“Are you trying to sweet talk me because your family is a bunch of assholes?”

 

“I am,” he admits before leaning down at pressing his lips against the corner of her mouth and lingering there as he continues to speak, “and they are. Bloody hell, love, I’ve got no idea why Liam and mum were so awful to you.”

 

She reaches up to brush her hand against his cheek, feeling the bristles of his scruff under her palm while her eyes flutter closed before opening up to look at Killian. “Did they…did they act this way when you brought Milah or Lauren home?”

 

“Milah never met the family, darling. She was married, remember? So she spent the holidays with her family and always made up excuses as to why she couldn’t meet mine or be with me.”

 

“Oh yeah, sorry. Didn’t really think about that.”

 

“Tis fine. It was the past, and I have you now.”

 

“But what about Lauren? Wasn’t she as sweet as apple pie?” She fakes a Southern accent, something twangy that makes her sound bitter when she’s not. Okay, maybe a little. They ran into Lauren one morning getting breakfast, and the woman was that passive aggressive kind of nice to Emma. “I know for a fact that they knew about her. Your mom mentioned her today.”

 

“Aye, they met Lauren when they came to the states, and I’ll admit that it went better than today.” He leans down to brush his lips against hers again, this time capturing them instead of landing on the corner. “But I’m not with Lauren. I’m with you.”

 

“I know, I know. I’m not jealous or anything. We both have our pasts. I just wanted to make a good impression, and I feel like no matter what I do or say, they hate it.”

 

“I’m going to talk to them tomorrow.”

 

“You don’t have to do that. I don’t want to taint your family’s Christmas.”

 

“Swan, my family being rude to you taints myChristmas. And yours. I’m not just going to let them be rude to you. I want to know what the hell is going on.”

 

He doesn’t get the chance to talk to them the next day because he takes her out into the city, guiding her through the streets and landmarks of his adolescence. It’s freezing and she may as well be a burrito with how she’s wrapped up, but it’s exciting to get to see where Killian grew up. She never got to do this for him, the foster homes of Massachusetts not exactly a great tour, and even if she didn’t get to have the childhood Killian did, she doesn’t mind too much anymore. His life wasn’t perfect, his dad leaving him and his mom checking out for awhile after that, but you’d never know from the way he animatedly tells her about the restaurant he bused tables at as a teenager or how he’d go to the Latin Quarter on Saturday nights and listen to the street performers with Liam.

 

He takes her to a pub that’s this little hole in the wall, something she wouldn’t have even noticed in the crammed streets filled with aged stones and greenery. When they walk inside, the lights are dim and everything is made of dark wood with deep maroon cushions and accessories. There’s only a few people inside, all of them with a drink in their hands, and when Killian takes her up to the bar, his hand resting on her lower back, the woman behind the bar practically shrieks, stopping the cleaning of the glasses to come around the bar counter and wrap Killian up in the tightest hug she’s ever seen before pulling back and planting a sloppy kiss against his cheek.

 

“Hi, Siobhan,” Killian chuckles, pulling back from the gray-haired woman and placing his hands on her shoulders while he smiles down at her, “did you miss me?”

 

“Miss you? I damn near forgot about you, lad. It’s been years. You’ve gone and become a man.”

 

“Oi, I was twenty-five the last time you saw me. I was most definitely a man then.”

 

“Not as much as you are now. You’ve got hair on your chin and this jawline.” Siobhan moves to trace Killian’s jawline, and Emma has to stifle her laugh as the older woman examines him. She has no idea who she is, but this woman obviously knows Killian very well. Maybe a little too well. “And I believe you’ve got some lines around your eyes from age or smiling. I’m not sure yet.”

 

“Thanks for pointing out my age, love.”

 

“Please, you’re thirty-three, Killian. Don’t think I’ve forgotten your birthday after all this time. Thirty-three and unmarried, I might add. Unless this beautiful lass next to you is your wife. And if she is, I’ve got a bone to pick with you about not being told about the wedding.”

 

Blush rises in Emma’s cheeks as Killian and Siobhan turn to look at her. Killian’s got a smile on his face, but it does not nearly compare to the way Siobhan’s lips are stretched while all of her teeth show. God, she can’t wait to figure out the relationship here.

 

Siobhan moves her hands and cups Emma’s cheeks, the chill of her palms shocking Emma more than the touch does. She doesn’t know what to do, how to react to this, her lips parting in surprise and confusion as Siobhan’s deep brown eyes bore into her.

 

“Are you my Killian’s wife, dear? You’re awfully pretty. Probably too pretty for him.”

 

“I’m the girlfriend, and I’m definitely too pretty for Killian.”

 

Siobhan barks out a laugh before patting Emma’s cheeks and removing her hands. When Emma looks at Killian, he shrugs his shoulders and winks at her, the blush on her cheeks only increasing as her confusion and curiosity rise.

 

“Emma, darling,” Killian begins, stepping to the side so that he can wrap his arm around her shoulder and press a kiss against her hair, “this is Siobhan O’Pry. She gave me my first job running errands for her when I was a wee lad, and she always looked after me. Like a second mum, if you will. Though my mum doesn’t exactly love that phrase. Siobhan, this is Emma Swan, girlfriend, best friend, the woman who keeps me in line without you.”

 

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Ms. O’Pry.”

 

“Oh please, love, call me Siobhan. We’re family in here. Now, let me get you a drink so that I can hear the story of how you two kids met.”

 

Siobhan fills them up with Guinness and food as well as filling Emma in on all of the stories about Killian that she hasn’t gotten out of his own family yet. She’s wonderful and incredibly witty, causing Emma’s stomach to hurt from all of the laughter. Every time she looks over to Killian, his cheeks are a little more red, but the smile on his face is no less bright. His hand stays on her knee, rubbing circles into her skin through her jeans, and she’s never been so glad to be in Ireland.

 

When they leave, Killian promising to come back to visit before they go back home, Siobhan gives her a similar smothering hug that she gave Killian before whispering in her ear that she’s found a good one in Killian.

 

She knows.

 

By the time they get outside, the sun has set and white lights are strung above the crowded cobblestone street. It’s packed, barely enough room to move around, and when she thinks that Killian is going to lead her back to where they parked the car, he leads her into the crowd instead, pushing and maneuvering his way through until they come out by the oversized Christmas tree that’s in the middle of the street. She doesn’t know what he’s doing until he takes her hands and pulls her in close, moving them to the music of the street performers along with a few other couples. She feels absolutely ridiculous, but giddiness settles in her chest and the smile that’s been on her face stays there even has she’s spun into another man’s arm while the dance continues.

 

The house is dark when they get back, Liam and Caitlin gone from having picked up their children and his mom asleep. She doesn’t know if it’s the alcohol that’s still running through her veins, not sobering nearly as quickly as Killian, or the fact that she loves her boyfriend – most likely both along with a million other things – but she doesn’t care what she said about not sleeping with him when his mom’s just down the hall presumably dreaming about all of the better girlfriends that Killian could have instead of her. In the darkness of Killian’s childhood bedroom, they quietly strip each other down, the chill of the house not brushing over her as Killian slides into her and rocks slowly inside, warming her in more ways than one.

 

In the morning, Killian’s not in bed with her, somehow having crawled off of the small mattress without her noticing, and after she dresses herself, throwing on some leggings and one of Killian’s sweaters, she walks down the hallway to use the restroom only to hear hushed, angry tones from the kitchen.

 

“How could you still be with her, Killian?”

 

“Because I love her, Mum! Why the hell can you not understand that?”

 

“I can’t understand because she was so awful to you! It had been years since you dated and were happy. And you tell me all about this bloody wonderfulgirl you’ve been going out with only to find out a week later that she’s kicked you to the curb. And I barely hear another word and then suddenly she’s here for Christmas. What am I supposed to think about that?”

 

Killian scoffs, his voice growing harsher and louder. She shouldn’t be listening to any of this, but she can’t move, her body practically glued to the wall. They’re arguing about her, and she can’t help the guilt that weighs itself down in her stomach. She also can’t help but wonder why Killian hasn’t told them anything about her other than the fact that they broke up once. She knows that she screwed up then, that she hurt Killian, but she thought that they were over that. They have moved past it, haven’t they? But shouldn’t Killian have at least mentioned good things about her since then? It’s been nearly a year since the breakup. He’s close to his family. Why…why has he just gone on letting them think that she’s an awful person?

 

“I don’t know, Mum. Maybe you and Liam learn that relationships are complicated and just because things aren’t picture perfect doesn’t mean that I don’t love Emma. And maybe I haven’t said too much because it’s my relationship, and I didn’t want you two being judgmental of her.”

 

“She left you.”

 

“She came back.”

 

“Killian, I’m just not sure about her. She seems nice, but all I can think about is how upset you were.”

 

“Mum,” Killian sighs, a chair scraping across the table, “I know that dad messed you up when he left. He messed all of us up, and I get it. You love me, and you’re trying to protect me. But Emma is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She’s not bloody perfect, but I love that about her. I thought that you guys would, too. I asked her to come home and meet you guys because I’m going to ask her to marry me.”

 

“Oh shit,” Emma murmurs underneath her breath, her legs practically falling out beneath her as she grabs the hall table to keep herself up only to knock over a large picture frame, the glass pane shattering when it hits the floor. “Shit, shit, shit,” she curses again, this time not even bothering to keep quiet. Killian and Moira have most definitely heard her, and she can’t focus on anything but the last words Killian said.

 

“Swan?”

 

She doesn’t respond, continuing to try to pick up the broken glass that’s scattered across the floor. God, she should get a broom, but she doesn’t think that she can even move right now, her legs still wobbly and her mind all over the place.

 

“Emma,” Killian whispers, squatting down next to her and grabbing onto her wrists so that she’s no longer pulling up glass, “you’re cutting yourself. You can’t clean broken glass up this way.”

 

“I know, I know. I just – ”

 

She looks up to see concern etched in his features, and when she looks down at her hands, she sees tiny specks of blood from cuts that she didn’t actually feel until this moment. There are so many things running through her mind that it’s all a jumbled mess, different pieces of information all coming to the forefront at different times as she moves to wash her hands while Killian gets the first aid kit out of the cabinet for a band-aid for a larger cut on her thumb. Moira is cleaning up the glass in the hallway, and this trip is pretty much a total disaster.

 

Some Irish coffee would be good right now.

 

Or maybe just the whiskey.

 

“So how much of that conversation did you hear?”

 

Killian wraps the band-aid around her thumb before leaning against the counter and raising his eyebrow, arms crossed over his chest.

 

“Started with your mom not liking me because apparently you haven’t told them anything about me since our breakup, and it ended with you wanting to marry me. And I’m honestly not sure how I feel about either of those things at this moment.”

 

His head bobs up and down while his arms uncross so that he can scratch behind his ear. He’s nervous. She is, too. Killian’s family already doesn’t like her. That last thing she needs is them getting into a fight over this.

 

Happy holidays.

 

“Which one do you want me to address first?”

 

“The not telling them about me.”

 

“Aye, okay,” he sighs before looking up at the ceiling, his jaw ticking. “Swan, you know what happened between us. We were good, great. I was bloody in love, and that was too much for you. It wasn’t all your fault. A lot of it was on me, but for that month, I was heartbroken. I was heartbroken, and I couldn’t hide it from my family when I talked to them. So they dug a little deeper and made me tell them what was wrong.”

 

“So what? You talked shit about me?”

 

She doesn’t blame him. She would have talked shit about her too.

 

“I told the truth. Not a lot of it was pleasant, but I loved you…loveyou. I wasn’t going around saying you were the bloody devil. But to my family, that’s probably how you came off.”

 

“So why didn’t you say anything when we got back together?”

 

“I did,” he grits, his mouth in that familiar scowl before it fades into a smile while his shoulders shrug. “At least I thought I did. I guess I never shared as much about us after that because I don’t like airing all of my life to people who aren’t you. The heartbroken venting was a one-time thing, and I guess that’s where my family’s gotten this awful impression of you.”

 

“I get it.” She reaches over to grab onto his hand, and he brings her fingers to his mouth so that he can press a kiss over her band-aid and then again at the pad of her finger. “I do, but that’s kind of screwed up, babe.”

 

“I know. But we’re going to fix it, aye? If you’re comfortable with it, we can sit down and explain things. After we’ve figured it out ourselves.”

 

“That’s fine.”

 

He smiles at her then and squeezes her hand before letting go so that his hand can find its place back behind his ear, scratching before trailing down to his chin. God, he’s adorable. They’re having a serious, probably pretty important conversation, and she can’t stop thinking about how adorable his nervous ticks are.

 

“Do you, uh, still want to talk about that other thing, or are we going to pretend that you didn’t overhear that?”

 

She wants to talk about. She’ll go crazy if they don’t talk about it.

 

“What do you want to do?”

 

“I want to know how you feel about that.”

 

“Killian, I don’t know where you are in that…process. I don’t know if there’s a ring or if there’s just the thought. But I want to be with you. I’m kind of pissed off right now, but if you ask, I know what my answer would be.”

 

“What would it be, darling?”

 

“You’ll have to ask to find out.”

 

“Bloody minx.”

 

“So,” she drawls while her face heats from the way Killian’s smirking at her, “how attached to that picture frame do you think your mom was?”

 

He laughs before leaning forward and kissing her temple. “Yeah, you don’t want to know. We’ll go to the store and buy her a new one today.”

 


 

The rest of his family comes over that night, and while Moira is kinder to her now, engaging in conversation and asking about Emma’s life after having apologized earlier, everything is still a bit stilted. It doesn’t help that Killian hasn’t gotten a chance to talk to Liam yet, and every time she looks over at him, she sees daggers in the blue eyes that are nearly as bright as Killian’s.

 

Nearly.

 

Caitlin asks how Emma’s liking Ireland at one point, and while she tells the story of their day out yesterday, Liam scoffs across from her at the dinner table, his eyes practically rolling in the back of his head. Screw it. It doesn’t matter if he thinks she’s some kind of awful person. He’s being an asshole, and she’s had enough of it.

 

“What is your problem?”

 

Liam’s eyes blow wide and his lips part as he stares at her, all of the sounds of silverware stopping as all eyes fall on her.

 

“Are you talking to me, lass?”

 

“No one else seems to have a problem with me but you. So tell me, how can you possibly have so much disdain toward me when you’ve never met me?”

 

“Because I know your type. You wrap a man around your finger and have him fall in love with you only to rip that love away. You’re not good enough for my brother, and I’ve got no bloody clue why he’s brought you here.”

 

“Enough,” Killian bellows, slamming his fist down so that the plates shake before turning to Caitlin. “Caitlin, if you’d be so kind, can you take the kids in the other room? I need to have some words with my brother.”

 

Caitlin nods before telling Dalton to go to the other room and grabbing Cameron out of her high chair. As soon as they’ve left the dining room, Killian snaps, and her heart begins rapidly beating within her chest.

 

“First of all, Liam, you don’t have any right saying Emma is not good enough for me. That’s not your bloody job, and you don’t get to be such a pompous arse about it. Secondly, she’s more than good enough for me. Obviously, we’ve worked things out from when we were having issues. If you would bother to listen to me when I call, then maybe you’d have picked up on that.”

 

“I listened when you were drunk off your arse talking about the woman who broke your heart. You were miserable. How am I supposed to know that she’s not going to up and leave you again? She’s done it before.”

 

“Because I love him,” she interrupts, tired of not being in the conversation when it’s her life here. “Dammit,” she wipes away that tears that have stupidly fallen from her eyes, “I get that you guys love him. I do. I love him just as much. And I know you probably have a bad impression of me because of something that happened a year ago. But there’s no way in hell that you’ve never screwed up in a relationship. I screwed up, but Killian forgave me. It’s our relationship, not yours, and you have absolutely no right to be acting like this. Have some human decency.”

 

Screw it. She doesn’t want to be in here. She slides her chair back, the legs scraping against the wood, and she ignores Killian’s calls as she heads down the hallway and back into Killian’s room, slamming the door behind her before she crawls into bed and pulls her phone out of her pocket, angrily scrolling through Instagram and looking at all of the happy couples posing in front of a Christmas tree.

 

She and Killian took a picture exactly like that yesterday.

 

There’s a knock on the door nearly an hour later, and while she expects it to be Killian poking his head through, it’s the other Jones brother. The one who she really hates right now.

 

“What do you want? Here to tell me I’m the scum of the Earth?”

 

Liam cringes, and she doesn’t even feel guilty. He deserves to feel every bit of shame that’s broadcasted on his face right now.

 

“Lass, can we talk?”

 

“I don’t exactly want to talk to you, but go ahead.”

 

Liam opens the door further until he comes inside and closes it behind him. She thinks he’s just going to stand there fiddling his thumbs until he takes a seat in the desk chair, moving some of her clothes until the seat’s free.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

She thinks he’s going to say more, but he doesn’t. So she raises her eyebrows, using Killian’s signature move against Liam, and sits up so that she can cross her arms over her chest and look down at him.

 

“I’m sorry,” Liam repeats, his jaw ticking the slightest bit, “that I was an undeniable arsehole. You’re right. I don’t know you, and I don’t know your situation past the one major impression I got a year ago. But you have to understand that I’m trying to protect my brother.”

 

Youhave to understand that your brother is a grown ass man, and you can’t go around fighting his battles for him. You also can’t go around treating human beings like you’ve treated me.”

 

“I know. I realize that now. That’s why I apologized.”

 

“Yeah, but an apology doesn’t exactly mean that I’m going to run off into the sunset as one big happy family with you.” She sighs, tilting her head back against the wall and looking up at the ceiling. She can faintly see the lines of where Killian must have once had something hanging up there. “Liam, Killian adores you. He always has. You two are so incredibly lucky to have each other, to have your mom. I cannot even begin to understand what it’s like to have family there from the start, but Killian is my family too. Yes, I hurt him. I will admit that. But I love him more than anything in the world, and all I want is for him to be happy. And he is happy. His life is good.”

 

“So you’re serious about him? This isn’t some type of game to you?”

 

She rolls her eyes. God, stubbornness runs deep in this family.

 

“As a gunshot to the groin.”

 

Liam quirks his eyebrow before chuckling. “Is than an American phrase?”

 

“It’s an Emma phrase.”

 

She and Liam talk for a little while longer, the hostility simmering away but not completely dissolving. That’s going to take awhile, but at least for now, for tomorrow and for Christmas, they’re jolly.

 

That night after everyone has left and Moira has gone to bed, she and Killian settle down onto the couch next to the fire. Being here is the first time she’s actually ever seen a fireplace in use, her life in apartment buildings not giving her much to go on. It’s gorgeous, if not a tad bit too toasty from where she sits, and she’s most definitely going to miss the smell of burning wood when they go home.

 

Maybe there’s a candle for that.

 

“I think we should buy a house with a fireplace.”

 

Killian hums beside her, his arm tightening around her shoulder while his fingers continue to play with her hair. She’s pretty sure that he’s practically asleep, and after the day they’ve had and the lingering jet lag, she doesn’t blame him.

 

“Are we buying a house now, Swan?”

 

She shifts next to him, bringing her body closer and resting her head on his shoulder. He smells like a mixture of rum and sugar cookies, and she knows that if she were to capture his lips with hers, that’s how he’d taste. They’d made cookies with the kids to try to make up for the fighting, hoping to distract them, and Killian had imbibed in some rum after they left to dull the headache that had been steadily forming throughout the day.

 

“One day. We should probably start saving for things like that.”

 

“You know, we could do that if we ever officially moved in together, mixed my black leather with your red leather.”

 

“Oh Killian, don’t you know that I won’t live with you until there’s a ring on my finger?”

 

He slaps her arm before he kisses her hairline, and she giggles at her own joke. Their living situation isn’t exactly ideal, but she’s already thought to change that this weekend. They’ve just got to stop being lazy and actually do it.

 

“It’s in the inside pocket of my leather jacket if you want it.”

 

“What is?”

 

“Your engagement ring.”

 

Oh.

 

Oh damn.

 

“Killian,” she cautions, turning so that she can look into his eyes, the blue completely clear in the firelight, “I was kidding. I want you to propose how and when you want to, not because I made a bad joke.”

 

“Emma, what about us has ever been conventional? I think this may be the most fitting proposal for us. The only thing that would make it more us if someone were to walk in on us.”

 

A laugh passes through her lips before she presses her forehead against his while her arms wrap around his neck and her fingers land in his hair, the black strands soft to the touch. “Ask me.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

She nods her head against his. She was sure earlier when she heard the words slip from his mouth when talking to his mom. Okay, so maybe she was in a bit of shock and a little pissed then, but underneath she was sure. She was sure in the few times they’ve talked about it before. She is sure now.

 

“Ask me, Killian.”

 

He nods his head then, and she can feel his smile against her lips. “Emma, darling, I was going to take you somewhere beautiful with the snow surrounding us, get down on one knee, and then give some great speech. But then this week has been insane and weird and awful, and at the end of every day, despite all of that, all I want is to be with you every day for the rest of my life. So what do you say, Swan? Will you marry me?”

 

“Yes.”

 

She doesn’t get the chance to press forward and kiss Killian because he moves faster, his lips slanting over hers while his hands thread through her hair. He does taste like rum and sugar cookies, and it’s the most glorious taste in the world while her lips continue to move against his. Her entire body hums in the pleasure of it and in the pleasure of being with Killian.

 

Every day for the rest of her life.

 

When they pull back from each other, Killian’s hands still anchored in her hair while her hands still rest on his shoulders, fingers playing with the hair at the nape of his neck, Killian giggles. He actually giggles, and she can’t help but join him.

 

“Why are you laughing?”

 

“Because my family put you through shit, and you’ve still agreed to be joined to them forever.”

 

“Well, technically I agreed to be joined to you. They just come with the package.”

 

“It’s a big package.”

 

She snorts, the sound anything but romantic in one of the biggest romantic moments of her life. “Did you mean to make that joke there?”

 

“I’m going to lie and say no.”

 

“I like my big package,” she whispers before straddling his lap, the warmth of the fire replaced by the warmth of Killian. “And your family may not have been the most welcoming, but they’re starting to grow on me.”

 


 

They fall asleep without remembering to get the ring out of Killian’s jacket, but when she wakes up the next morning to a continuous tapping on her shoulder, it’s to Killian kneeling on the floor next to the bed with a small red box opened up to show a simple, beautiful gold ring with a singular diamond in the center. Killian’s silent, but the grin on his face is speaks volumes, and without any words, she nods her head and crawls out from under the covers, holding her hand out so that he can slide the ring onto her finger.

 

“Emma Swan, will you move in with me now that you have a ring on your finger?”

 

She barks out a laugh and pulls Killian up for a hug, squeezing him as tightly as she possibly can while he does the same.

 

They don’t bother getting dressed or looking presentable when they go into the kitchen to get breakfast, and while Emma is flipping pancakes, Moira spots the ring on her finger and practically screams, the plate of pancakes falling to the ground while the one on the pan burns to a crisp and sets the fire alarm off.

 

Breakfast may be ruined, but at least Killian’s mom doesn’t hate her anymore.

 

It’s the small victories.

 

Liam’s family comes over that night to open presents since they’re spending Christmas day with Caitlin’s family, and while they don’t react in the same way, it’s still with congratulations and smiles. But beyond the engagement, they’re kind to her regardless. While Liam is still a bit awkward around her and she around him, they manage to talk and enjoy Christmas Eve together. It’s her first Christmas with a family outside of David and Mary Margaret, and while it’s messy and complicated and there’s going to be glitter on her jeans for years to come, she kind of loves it.

 

She definitely loves Killian.

 

She’s learning to love his family.

 

Eight months later they’re back in Ireland, and Killian takes her into Galway and into a pub that she will always notice even with the way that it’s hidden behind aged stones and moss.

 

“Siobhan,” Killian greets, the woman behind the counter putting the glass she’s cleaning down while a broad smile spreads across her face, “this is my wife. And yes, she is far too beautiful for me.”

Chapter Text

Killian’s always been a bit of a restless sleeper. He tosses and turns, his legs moving around until he takes up the entire bed and his long limbs practically fall off the bed in their motions. It’s gotten better since they moved in together. Now that she sleeps with him every night in the most innocent of ways (there’s literally no way she could sleep with him every night in the most delicious of ways without her lower body just…falling apart), he’s gotten calmer. She thinks that it helps for her to stretch across him, anchoring his legs down with her own and using his hairy chest as a pillow instead of using the actual pillow she’d grown fond of over the past few years.

 

So it’s not new for her to find her boyfriend doing weird things in his sleep.

 

But him talking in his sleep right now is, frankly, a little weirder than normal.

 

He’s drunk. She knows that he is. She watched him throw back multiple glasses of rum with his friends while they were watching the soccer game at the pub, and she’d had to call a cab to take them home instead of simply walking the five blocks back to the apartment.

 

She has to assume that’s why he’s muttering things under his breath, the Irish in his accent coming out thickly as he mumbles things about green frogs and how pissed he is over Manchester winning the match today. It’s funny and a little bit cute, and she laughs as quietly as she can before resting her head back down on his chest and pushing the hair that’s fallen on his forehead back. She loves his hair, would touch it all of the time if she could, and playing with it often soothes her into sleep in the same way that it soothes him to sleep.

 

Her eyes are fluttering closed as his steady heartbeat lulls her back into tiredness when she hears her name.

 

“Emma,” Killian mumbles, his rum-scented breath coming out against her forehead, “I love you.”

 

She’s about to say the words back out of instinct when she looks up and realizes that his eyes never opened, long dark lashes still pressed against his cheeks while his breathing pattern never falters.

 

Oh.

 

So he’s talking about her in his sleep. That’s weird and maybe the tiniest bit romantic.

 

“We’re gonna…we’re going to get married.”

 

A squeak emanates from her throat, the words that he’s saying causing her own heartbeat to quicken, and she dares not move to wake him. Married? He wants to get married. Is he…is he going to propose? They’ve talked about it before, but she was kind of starting to think that it was never going to happen. They’ve been together for three years, which she knows isn’t long in the grand scheme of things, but for a man who told her he loved her two months in, it practically seems like an eternity.

 

Of course, she did take three more months to say it back, and she’s not regretted it for a moment since.

 

“I’ve got to hide the ring from Emma. She’ll…she’ll find it. It’s so pretty. Just like Emma. So bloody pretty.”

 

Oh damn. There is a ring.

 

“I can’t wait to marry Emma.”

 

Killian eventually stops talking, but the words in her head never cease. She and Killian are going to get married, and she absolutely cannot wait.

 


 

She’s tired of waiting.

 

Okay, so she’d wait forever for Killian. If getting married wasn’t a choice, she’d still stay with him for the rest of time. All she wants is to be with him. She’s never pressured him into getting married, never dropping hints or consistently talking about all of their married friends, but she knows there’s a ring. She’s known there was a ring for two months now, and she’s going to burst if she doesn’t get some type of clue that Killian’s going to ask sometime soon.

 

She loves him. She’s going to kill him if this takes much longer. But she loves him.

 

She bursts when it’s been another two weeks, and there’s still no ring on her finger.

 

Damn, that sounds petty.

 

“Killian, why the hell haven’t you proposed yet?”

 

In hindsight, she knows that she shouldn’t have asked while he was shaving, the giant cut on his cheek from where the razor had jerked proof of that, but she wasn’t exactly thinking clearly.

 

After she’s cleaned the cut up, wiping up the blood and putting a band-aid on his skin, Killian encourages her to sit down on the bathroom countertop while he stands between her splayed legs, hands resting on her hips and rubbing circles into the skin above the waistband of her pajama pants.

 

“What’s this about now, love?”

 

“It’s stupid.”

 

“Hey,” he coos, releasing one hip so that his thumb can rest at her chin and encourage her to make eye contact with him. His eyes are so damn blue sometimes she can’t stand it. “Whatever you have to say isn’t stupid. Tell me.”

 

Sighing, she tries to build up the courage and push down some of the embarrassment. “About three months ago you were talking in your sleep, and you said a couple surprisingly coherent things about us getting married and you finding a new hiding place for the ring. And I assumed that maybe that wasn’t just sleep talking but something that was real. But obviously I was wrong, and I’ve made a gigantic ass out of myself.”

 

Killian’s lips part and blush rises to his cheeks, visible even under the cut he has on his cheek and the rest of his unshaven beard. “I said that while I was sleeping?”

 

“Yep. You were drunk.”

 

“Damn,” he chuckles, pressing his lips together and shaking his head back and forth. “Emma, darling, I have an engagement ring for you in my dress uniform pocket. I was waiting until next week. I had this whole big plan. I’d ask you to come meet me at work, then we’d go for a stroll together down to the park outside of your old apartment, find that shady tree you used to like reading under on nice days, pray no one was there, and then I’d ask you there.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“That’s all you have to say? Oh?”

 

“Oh, well I feel like an asshole. I’ve completely ruined everything.”

 

Killian moves his thumb upward so that it rubs against her bottom lip, and she nips at it, not able to resist even with how shitty she’s feeling about all of this.

 

“You haven’t ruined anything. In fact, I’ll give you two options.”

 

“Options?”

 

“Mhm, you wait until next week and we go with that plan or I propose to you in our bathroom kneeling down next to a condom wrapper in the waste bin.”

 

“Well, when you put it like that…” she giggles before resting her forehead against his and stretching her lips into a smile “…I have to go with you kneeling down next to a condom wrapper in the trash can.”

 

Killian chuckles before releasing her and jogging out of the room, coming back in with his hands behind his back as he kneels down and beams up at her.

 

“Emma Anne Swan, light of my life and cutter of my cheek,” he brings the ring out from behind his back, a gold band with a small cluster of diamonds gathered at the top, “will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

 

She grabs onto his shoulders and helps to pull him up before she answers. Pressing up on the counter and wrapping her arms around his neck while her legs wrap around his waist, she promises, “yes, Killian, I’d love to be your wife.”

 

When she kisses him, their lips joining together and their bodies pressed against each other as tightly as possible, all she can think about is that this was perfect even if no one else thinks it is. But she doesn’t care. It’s not about others. It’s about she and Killian.

 

Killian only talks in his sleep when he’s drunk, something they test out that night and many times after.

 

Emma never talks in her sleep.

 

Well, okay, so she does. And that’s how Killian finds out he’s going to be a father.

Chapter Text

He hates his job.

 

That’s not true. He loves his job, but he’s enjoyed it a hell of a lot less lately even though he’s finally back out in the field. It’s most likely been since a blonde with a quick wit and red leather jacket stopped coming around and bringing her skips into the station. He worked here for years before her, but ever since the morning that she first came in, her long wavy hair whipping around behind her with a large slash on her face, with a man twice her size in handcuffs trailing behind her, his life was never quite the same.

 

He’d been the one to help clean up her cut, dabbing it with the antiseptic and checking to see if she needed stitches all while she cursed more than some of the sailors he drinks with at the pub. She ended up not needing stitches, but he did after that day with the way she tore him open. It had been a long time since he was infatuated with a woman, and while he’ll admit a part of it was the way her breasts looked through the sheerness of her tank top, it was more that she amused him, fascinated him really.

 

But then she’d filed the paperwork, got her check from the clerk at the desk, and walked out of the precinct and out of his life.

 

Until she came back.

 

It went on like that for weeks. He was on desk duty after the loss of his hand as a result of a wreck on the job. He’d been in the passenger seat, and a drunk driver had run straight into the cruiser, causing them to tumble over and over, his left hand getting caught in the crushed door while Hobbs and the drunk walked away with nary a scrape on their bodies. If anything, he should have been grateful to be alive. Mostly, he was pissed that he was left with an injury that left him as less of a man and with pains that kept him from being able to do anything but fill out paperwork and do investigative work inside of a building that really needed to invest in a heating and cooling system.

 

The highlight of his days – or his nights since he’d taken to working the night shift –  was when the blonde woman would come in, usually in the middle of the night with a perp on her arms. They took up talking every now and then, and he learned that her name was Emma Swan, she’d lived in New York for the past ten years, and she didn’t have time for men who weren’t going to give her a paycheck.

 

But then one day she did have time for him.

 

She asked him if he ever had a night off and if he wanted to go get a drink at the pub across the street.

 

He accepted, and then every Thursday night for a month he and Emma Swan went to O’Cleary’s across the street. He had rum. She drank bourbon. She never asked about his hand or why he always sat on her left side.

 

But then one night they got drunk beyond belief and ended up as a tangle of limbs and a mass of sweat and pleasure as he fucked her into the mattress at his apartment only for her to return the favor two hours later.

 

As everything seemed to go with Emma Swan, someone who he very much liked at that point, it took awhile for them to actually talk about the fact that they slept together. And that he’d very much like to do it again.

 

But they did end up talking about it, and then doing it again. And somewhere in between the messiness that was his resentment toward his accident and Emma’s general resentment toward life, he ended up falling head over heels in love with her. He’d…it had never been like it was with her. She was absolutely everything that he could ever want, and he decided that he never wanted anyone but Emma.

 

And that’s exactly what made it all so sad when he blew the entire thing up.

 

There had been a fight, words said that he didn’t mean, but more importantly, actions had been done that he couldn’t take back. He was pissed that she had trouble with how quickly things were moving with them, which wasn’t quickly at all. She was pissed that he’d stopped trying to get back out into the field at work and was moping around feeling sorry for himself. If it had been any other night, one where they both weren’t exhausted over their late hours at work and opposing schedules, then it would have just been a fight. It wouldn’t have been pretty, but it wouldn’t have been so damn ugly that he walked out of the door and didn’t come back.

 

It was the biggest mistake he ever made, and when he came back to Emma three days later begging for her to just talk to him, she refused.

 

It’s now been four months, seventeen days, and approximately nine hours since he last spoke to the love of his life, and it’s taken every bit of strength within him not to drown himself in alcohol every damn day just so that he doesn’t have to feel anything.

 

But he caved today, stopping by a market and buying some of the cheapest rum he could find along with a bag of salt and vinegar chips. When he walks up to his apartment door, the grocery bag resting on his prosthetic, he’s so damn shocked by the sight in front of him that he drops the bag, the bottle crashing against the cement and shattering all over the ground while rum soaks through his shoes.

 

“Emma.”

 


 

She’s here because her friends had some kind of intervention. They’d apparently ambushed her at her apartment, barging in and making her get showered and dressed all while telling her that she was being an idiot. A miserable, miserable idiot. Mary Margaret had apparently spearheaded the whole thing, and no part of him is surprised by that. They’d given Emma a timeline to get better, something that shouldn’t be done when it comes to grief and sadness, and she’d apparently run over the timeline a month and a half ago.

 

And she tells him all of this all while glass rests on his doorstep and the rum continues to soak into the ground, his shoes, and most likely his chips.

 

“ – and I really don’t know why I’m here. But ba – Killian, I miss you. I didn’t want to admit it because I was so mad, so fucking pissed, but the more time I’ve had to be alone and to think, the more I realize is that it was just a fight. We both fucked up. Yeah, we have issues, and our own personal issues seeped into our relationship and – ”

 

“That’s what a relationship is, lo – Swan. It’s sharing your personal issues and dealing with them with the other person.”

 

“Yeah, well, I didn’t know that until you. And I obviously wasn’t any good at it.”

 

“Aye, me either.” He reaches up to scratch behind his ear, unsure of what to say next. He knows what he wants to say, but a part of him thinks he’s already drunk on this rum and imagining that she’s back in front of him. She’s so beautiful, and all he can think about is holding her in his arms again. “Would you like to come inside and chat?”

 

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

 

He shrugs. “I’m sure that it’s not a bad idea.”

 

She laughs, but it’s watery, and he has to fight back a tear or two of his own as he reaches into his back pocket to grab his key, stepping forward and unlocking the door before he welcomes her inside, letting her walk first. She’s got on the bloody tight blue jeans that hug her arse, and he’s an arse for staring at her.

 

It’s awkward and stilted, and he thinks that maybe he should go outside and clean up the glass and rum, but he doesn’t. Instead he sits down in the recliner he prefers while Emma sits on her preferred spot in the corner of the couch, going so far as to pulling the knitted gray blanket down and draping it over her legs. It’s like she’s always been here, and in a way, she has been. He didn’t throw out any of her clothes in his closet, the pictures with her beautiful face stay framed throughout the apartment, and he still buys her preferred coffee creamer of hazelnut that she uses in her hot chocolate.

 

He uses it in his coffee now.

 

“So,” she drawls before pulling her bottom lip between her teeth, and he’s suddenly jealous of her teeth, “you wanted to chat? I mean…I did too but – ”

 

“Aye, darling I wanted to – what? Why are you looking at me like that?”

 

“You called me darling. It’s stupid, but, I, uh, I missed that.”

 

“Tis not stupid. I’ve missed calling you darling.” She smiles at him, and even if it’s strained, it’s a smile. “I’ve also just missed you.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Definitely.”

 

“Do you, um, do you think we could be friends?”

 

“No.”

 

“Oh,” she sighs, her face absolutely crumbling, and he has to speak before she flees.

 

“Emma, you’re my best friend. Despite everything, you are. And while I think I could be simply your friend for the rest of my life, that’s not what I want. I want you to be my darling, my love. I want us to fight and work through things so we don’t walk out doors or refuse to answer them. We can’t be halfway in. It has to be all the way. And I’m not saying it happens all at once, but Gods, love, I’ve thought of nothing but being with you since I left.”

 

“Me too. I’ve…I’ve thought about you a lot. I’ve been pretty pathetic actually. And really stupid.”

 

“Not as stupid as me.”

 

“Killian – ”

 

“No, no,” he shakes his head back and forth before raising his right hand in front of him, “I’m broken, Swan. I was broken before I lost my hand, and I used the loss as an excuse. A bloody good excuse, but an excuse.”

 

“Hey,” she soothes, throwing the blanket off of her legs and walking over to him, straddling his lap with absolutely no hesitation. Her heat invades him, and feeling her again is the moment he breaks, tears falling from his eyes while his heart beats erratically within his chest. She wipes away the tears with the pads of her thumbs before he grabs her wrists and kisses her thumbs, tasting the salt of his own tears. “We’re all broken. Not a person on this planet isn’t. You went through a trauma.”

 

“I used it as an excuse.”

 

“It’s a damn good excuse…I think…I think maybe we have a lot to work on.”

 

He quirks an eyebrow before his left arm snakes up the back of her shirt, her skin warm and soothing to the skin on his wrist that’s beginning to become a bit agitated by his brace and prosthetic.

 

“I’m back in the field.”

 

Her eyes blow wide, the blue flecks in the green showing, before the most gorgeous smile blooms on her face. There’s absolutely no hesitance in it.

 

“What? Seriously?”

 

“Seriously.”

 

“Baby, I’m so proud of you,” she squeals, and his heart does another kind of fluttering. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

 

His hand reaches up to caress her face, and they are the absolute worst at having important conversations. They’re also the worst at being broken up. They had a messy breakup, and here she is straddling his lap while his arm rubs up and down her back.

 

“You called me baby.”

 

“Yeah, well, I’ve missed calling you baby. I’ve also just missed you. I shouldn’t have…I don’t know why I was so hesitant in the pace of us. There’s never been anything scarier than being with you, but it’s also been the best thing to ever happen to me. Can you ever let me try to be better?”

 

Gods, he loves her. They need to talk, but his mind is telling him other things right now. Or maybe that’s his body. If he’s being extra sentimental, which he always is, he’d say it’s his heart.

 

“Emma, sod everything else right now. Can I kiss you?”

 

She doesn’t answer with words, instead leaning forward and crashing her lips against his in the most fierce kiss he’s ever experienced. Her hands thread into his hair yanking on him and pulling him closer while his arm pushes her into him so that he can feel every inch of her body. She tastes just the same, the mint of her toothpaste still on her tongue like she brushed her teeth before coming over here, and the thought of that has him laughing into the kiss, turning something passionate into her lips crashing against his teeth before he pulls back and buries his lips in her neck, breathing her in.

 

“I love you,” he whispers against her skin, pressing kisses in all of the places that make her writhe above him.

 

“God, I love you. I’m sorry I ruined your rum.”

 

He laughs against her skin before grabbing onto her waist and holding her tightly against him as he stands from the chair, her legs wrapping around his waist while she holds onto his neck, hugging him as tightly he’s hugging her.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“I’m taking you back to my bed. It’s missed you.”

 

“Yeah, well, it’s about to get me back for a long, long time.”

Chapter Text

He wakes to soft puffs of breath against his chest. They come out evenly in the way that he knows Emma is still asleep, her arms wrapped around him while her icy feet tangle between his calves. He can’t very well move without waking her, so he’s content to lay in the silence and darkness of the room. They didn’t bother to close the curtains last night, in too much of a hurried frenzy to undress each other after their dinner, so he can see that the sun is just beginning to rise, inky black transitioning into an orange glow over the streets of New York.

 

It’s not often they get to sleep together after a date. And by sleep, he does actually mean sleep. They’ve gotten creative in other aspects like they’re two teenagers and not a man in his early thirties and woman in her late twenties with their own apartments and bedrooms. But it’s nice to be able to make love to his girlfriend in the privacy and comfort of her bedroom. He will admit to that. There’s something to be said about being able to appreciate Emma slowly, leisurely, deliberately, and he savors every moment of it.

 

Emma has a son, a spitfire of a young man named Henry, and while he’s never met the lad, he feels as if he knows him almost as well as he knows Emma. She swears that one day he’ll get to meet her boy, something he never pressured her for knowing that it’s not a moment to be taken lightly, and then their secret rendezvous and hurried trysts won’t be nearly as often. He may be allowed to actually sleep over at their apartment more than when Henry’s at an actual sleepover, and he does long for the day when he’s granted that privilege.

 

To both meet Henry and stay over. The first part is far more important, but the second would definitely be lovely.

 

But Emma’s been burned in the past, men betraying her ever since Henry’s father impregnated her at seventeen and abandoned the both of them when he found out. She told him from the very beginning that Henry comes first. If he had an issue with that, he could walk out the door then and there and not bother coming back. But it wasn’t an issue for him then, and it’s not eight months later. He loves every part of her, and Henry is a very large part of exactly who Emma Swan is.

 

She stirs beside him, her breathing becoming more erratic and her legs moving against his calves. God, he loves her, and he can’t help himself but to begin rubbing his hand up and down her bare back to ease her into wakefulness.

 

“G’morning, sweetheart.”

 

“It’s early,” she mumbles against his chest, burrowing her nose into his chest hair, “I don’t like early. We should be sleeping, not waking.”

 

“So articulate this morning.”

 

She pops her head up and opens one eye, giving him the most incredulous look he’s ever seen from her. And he’s seen a lot of those.

 

“Shut up.”

 

“Make me.”

 

“Too tired.”

 

He chuckles before grabbing onto her sides and rolling them over until his body is completely covering hers, his lips peppering kisses across every inch of her face – her temple, forehead, nose, eyelids, cheeks, chin – until they land on her lips. She’s laughing by the time he’s finished, the vibrations moving through him, and when he pulls back to look down at her, his arms on both sides of her head propping him up, she’s smiling.

 

It’s beautiful.

 

She’s beautiful.

 

Her hand reaches up to touch his cheek, the smoothness of her skin soothing against the harshness of his stubble. “Good morning, babe.”

 

“There we go, love. You want to make some breakfast?”

 

She hums. “I want to take a shower alone while you make breakfast.”

 

“Why does that seem like I am getting the short side of the deal?”

 

“Because you are.”

 

She pushes at his chest before pressing up and pecking his lips. When he rolls over, she crawls out of the bed, her bare arse and back in full view to him while she walks into her bathroom. He groans and tries to calm himself down, taking deep breaths until he finally gets out of bed and slips into his jeans from last night, not bothering to put on a shirt.

 

Emma never has any food, but she does have pancake mix and bacon, so he begins making those, popping the bacon in the oven and letting the pancake batter sizzle on the stove. The radio she keeps on the counter plays Motown music, and he hums along to it while the sounds of the shower continue to play in the background. It’s as he’s flipping a pancake that he hears the front door unlock, the sound shocking him so much that he simply stands where he is until Emma’s son walks into the apartment and is staring at him with parted lips and wide doe eyes.

 

Shit. Shit. Shit.

 

He’s not even wearing a shirt, and his jeans are unbuttoned.

 

Jeans. Button them. He has to button his jeans.

 

He quickly does that, zipping himself up behind the counter while Henry continues to stare at him from the front door.

 

“Um, hello, lad,” he greets, reaching up to scratch behind his ear and forcing an awkward smile.

 

“Your pancakes are burning, dude.”

 

It takes him a moment to register what Henry’s said, his mind running all over the place. Emma is going to be pissed when she gets out of the shower…pancakes. Henry said something about the pancakes. He’s burning the pancakes.

 

“Fuuu-dge,” he mumbles under his breath, correcting his language even though Henry most definitely caught that judging by his snicker before he turns and gets the burnt pancake off the stove, flipping the switch so that the pan stop sizzling and stepping to the side to get the bacon out of the oven, mindful enough not to grab a hot pan with his bare hand. “So, um, what are you doing home so early, Henry?”

 

He turns to see Henry sitting at the kitchen counter, a smug smile on his face that reminds him of Emma even though they look nothing alike.

 

“You’re the boyfriend, right?”

 

“Yeah, I – I am. That’s what your mum calls me? Boyfriend? She says that to you?”

 

“My mom doesn’t really talk about you around me, but that’s what she calls you to her friends.”

 

“Well, yes, I’m the boyfriend. Look, Henry, this is an awful way to be meeting you. I’m…I’m sorry for that.” He sticks his hand across the counter, and Henry accepts, giving an extra firm grip for an eleven-year old. “Killian Jones. It’s nice to meet you. Your mum thinks the world of you, and I do, too.”

 

“Henry Swan. We need to talk.”

 

That shocks him, his already erratic heartbeat only increasing. That’s a phrase he usually hears from women, but he’s never been more nervous to hear it than right now.

 

“About what?”

 

“Your intentions with my mom.”

 

Henry’s arms are crossed over his chest, and Killian knows that the look he’s pulling is supposed to be intimidating. But the lad is so small and screams friendliness that it comes off as more cute than anything. Henry is serious, though, and Killian would never diminish that or him. If he wants to have a serious conversation, they’ll have a serious conversation.

 

“Well, I love your mum, Henry. I just want her to be happy.”

 

“You made her cry once. Is that going to happen again?”

 

Shit. Henry’s seen Emma cry because of him, likely over one of their arguments, though he doesn’t know which one, and he can’t imagine how that must have looked.

 

Awful. It must have looked awful.

 

“Not on purpose.”

 

“What does that mean?”

 

“It means that sometimes things happen without us meaning to, but I’d never make your mother cry on purpose. Like I said, all I want is for her to be happy. And for you to be happy, too.”

 

“Yeah, well, my dad said he loved my mom, and so did a couple of her other boyfriends. And they all hurt her. What makes you different?”

 

He’s always known Henry was a smart lad, much smarter than most kids his age if Emma’s stories are anything to go by, but he’s getting the absolute third degree here. How the hell is he supposed to answer something like that? A part of him wants Emma to get out of the shower, but another part of him is terrified for when she does.

 

“Henry, I don’t know,” he answers honestly, making sure to look Henry directly in the eyes before he brushes his hand through his hair. “That’s a hard question. I know your mum has been hurt before, and I hate it. I wish I could take all of that pain away from her…and from you. I really do love your mother, have for a long time and hopefully will forever. But I can’t do that without your approval. You’re her number one man. Always. I’m just playing second fiddle.”

 

Henry contemplates him for a minute, his eyes slanting as he studies him. “Do you actually play the fiddle?”

 

He barks out a laugh before shaking his head. “No, but I do play the guitar.”

 

“Cool. You think you can teach me?”

 

Oh how children get so easily distracted.

 

“I’d be honored,” he smiles, resisting the urge to reach over and ruffle Henry’s hair. Where did that urge come from? “You want some breakfast?”

 

“Duh. I’m starving.”

 

He turns to get Henry a few pieces of bacon and the unburned pancakes when he notices the shower water has stopped.

 

Emma.

 

Oh shit, Emma. Please have gotten dressed in actual clothes. That’s…that’d be mortifying for everyone. Okay, maybe not for him but for everyone with the last name Swan.

 

He’s just about to turn and jog to the bedroom to warn her when he hears her voice.

 

“Hey, babe, I was thinking after breakfast we could get back to what we – Henry, shi–oot, kid. When in the world did you get here? Why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be with Avery?”

 

Emma looks shocked, her eyes blown wide and her lips parted, almost exactly like Henry when he walked in, but her eyes run between he and Henry. He simply shrugs, not knowing what to say, and hands Henry his plate of food before walking over to her and placing his hands on her hips.

 

“It’s a good thing you got dressed, darling.”

 

“Um, yeah, how long has he been here?”

 

“About twenty minutes.”

 

“And you’ve – ”

 

“We chatted.”

 

“Killian,” Henry chimes, “these pancakes are good. And, Mom, Avery’s mom dropped me off early. She had to go grocery shopping and didn’t want to leave us home alone.”

 

“Thank you, lad.” He kisses Emma’s cheek before going back to the stove and turning it on again. “Swan, you want some pancakes?”

 

“Uh, yeah, sure.”

 

He sees Emma walk over to the island, settling down next to Henry, and he hears her start whispering to Henry, quiet enough that he’d have to really try to listen to understand what’s going on.

 

“Mom,” Henry whines, “stop freaking out. It’s fine. He passed the test.”

 

“What test, kid? What are you talking about?”

 

“That’s between me and Killian.”

 

He turns around to look at the two of them. Henry winks and smiles before taking his plate and walking over to the couch in the living room, the sounds of the television soon following.

 

“Later,” he tells Emma. “We’ll talk about it all later. But your boy is a spitfire just like you. And he’s definitely spending too much time with David. Oh, and we’re starting guitar lessons.”


“I don’t…I don’t understand.”

 

He slides her a plate of food before leaning over and kissing her forehead. “Just enjoy your breakfast, love.”

 

Killian eats breakfast with Emma that morning and the morning after that. It’s another week before he eats breakfast with them again, but that’s okay because there’s also a thing called dinner. Their Saturday morning breakfasts become a thing with the three of them before they spend the day together, usually exploring the city until settling in so that Killian can teach Henry how to play guitar. After three months, the lad decides that music isn’t his thing, but their Saturday morning breakfasts continue anyways. Eventually Saturday turns into several times a week and several times a week turns into everyday…forever really.

 

Killian asks Henry’s permission, though he knows it’s more likely asking for a blessing, to marry Emma, and Henry readily agrees as long as he gets to be the best man at the wedding.

 

He is.

Chapter Text

“Hey, babe?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Have you thought about your Christmas plans this year?”

 

She hears him put the knife down, his chopping of the vegetables stopping. She thinks he’s making some kind of stew. She’s never quite sure, but she always goes with whatever he makes. He’s a damn good cook, and she’d probably starve if she didn’t live with him.

 

Starve or only eat quick, easy junk food with the occasional piece of fruit so as not to die.

 

Killian hates yelling between the kitchen and the living room, something she learned early on in their relationship, but sometimes she can’t help herself. So she’s in no way surprised when she hears the floor creak under his steps as he makes his way toward her. Them planning out holidays is always difficult, especially because his family lives in London while he lives in Boston, so he probably wants to have this conversation face to face.

 

It’s always a fun one.

 

He walks into the living room, sitting at the edge of the coffee table right in front of where Emma’s perched on the couch stuffing popcorn in her mouth like they aren’t about to eat dinner. She was hungry, and someone gave her that assorted popcorn bucket as an early Christmas gift at work. She’ll count it as an appetizer or something.

 

“I have thought about them. I’m not going home this year.”

 

“W-what?” she stutters, the popcorn falling from her hands and her gaze trailing away from the television to find his. “What do you mean you’re not going home this year?”

 

He shrugs and reaches forward to grab her knee, resting his hand over the bare skin. “I mean, I’m not going to London. I don’t want to spend the money or take the extra time off of work. And I’d really rather spend it with you.”

 

She…what is happening?

 

“But we never spend Christmas together.”

 

“Aye, I know, but Emma we’ve been together for three years. I’d like to spend Christmas with you.”

 

“But what about my family?”

 

“What about your family?”

 

“What do we tell them?”

 

“That your roommate can’t go home for the holidays, so you’re bringing him with you. You know, one day we’re going to have to tell everyone we’re dating.”

 

“Yeah,” she admits, though she still waves her hands and chuckles under her breath, “but, like, only after I’ve given birth to a kid or something that looks like you and we can’t hide it anymore.”

 

“Bloody brilliant plan there, love.”

 

“I thought so.”

 

He squeezes her knee again and smiles up at her. “It’ll be fine.”

 

“Killian?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I want to spend Christmas with you, too.”

 


 

Her mom is in no way surprised when she shows up at her parent’s house with Killian right behind her. She simply welcomes Killian in without question, telling him how great it is for him to be joining them for the next few days, before telling him that he can sleep on the couch in the living room. Logically, Emma knew that her parents weren’t about to tell Killian to sleep with her in her room. Why would they? To them, he’s a friend, and they’ve never shared a bed in any way, shape, or form. But that doesn’t help the sting she feels knowing she’s going to be sleeping upstairs all by herself.

 

That’s soon forgotten when they walk into the kitchen and nearly every resident of Storybrooke is standing in the room, the noise level only increasing when her mom announces that she’s here. It’s a mess of limbs and hugs and trying to answer questions about how life has been before she has to move onto the next person. There’s several uncomfortable hugs and kisses from older relatives, their excess perfume invading her senses all while she tries to breathe. She has no idea where Killian is or what he’s doing, but she searches for that flash of blue and mop of black hair until she finds him on the other side of the room backed into a corner by her aunt Susan.

 

Yeah, he’s not getting out of that one for a long time.

 

And he’s definitely not getting out of it without his face covered in gaudy bright pink lipstick.

 

Her brother finds her before she finds him, Leo practically tackling her to the ground and wrapping her in a hug just like their dad does, his hand cradling the back of her head as he holds her close.

 

“Nice of you to finally show up, sis.”

 

“Some of us have jobs, Leo. We don’t get a month of Christmas break like you.”

 

“Some of us have also brought our secret boyfriends home for Christmas, I see.”

 

She slaps the back of his head before pulling back and giving her best older sister glare. She knows it doesn’t work, hasn’t worked since he was about ten. He’s twenty now, and it just doesn’t have quite the same effect.

 

“Watch what you say,” she whispers, quickly glancing around to see if anyone is paying attention. “He didn’t want to pay to go back to London, so he’s come home with me.”

 

“When are you going to tell them? This is getting a little ridiculous, and you guys are the worst at hiding your weird love eyes.”

 

“Never?” she shrugs, bringing her bottom lip between her teeth. “You know how they are. It’s like they’re the family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Way too overbearing. Also, what the hell are love eyes?”

 

“Something you and Killian do, and it’s disgusting. You know you have to tell them eventually, Emma.”

 

“I know,” she sighs, leaning forward and kissing Leo’s forehead, hoping for the day that he comes home with a girl and these so-called love eyes. She absolutely cannot wait to tease him for that, but she probably shouldn’t. He’s known about she and Killian from the start, and he’s done a damn good job keeping it a secret. It’s probably why she spends a little extra on his Christmas gift. Nothing says love like a little bribery.

 

“So did you hear that Uncle James is dating the lady who owns the pet store? The one with the crazy black and white hair?”

 

“No,” she gasps, covering her mouth with her hand when she realizes how loud she’s being, “Constance? That woman is insane. She talks to animals. And not in the cute way. In the way that she thinks they talk back.”

 

“I know. She could be our aunt one day.”

 

“I refuse.” She wraps her arm around Leo’s shoulders before guiding him toward the other room so that she can breathe. “Come on, bro. Tell me all of the family secrets that put my secret boyfriend to shame.”

 

Killian finds her when they all sit down to dinner an hour later, sliding into the chair next to her before her uncle James does, and she can practically feel his sigh ruminate throughout her entire body. She kind of left him in the lion’s den to catch up with Leo, and she’s going to have to apologize for that later. Apologize and wipe that pink lipstick off his face that definitely doesn’t belong to her.

 

“Your family is bloody exhausting.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

His hand finds hers under the table for a brief moment, squeezing before letting go and going to eat his beef stew. This is going to be a long few days, and she hopes that the two of them can make it through it without going completely crazy.

 

It’s a long shot, but at least there’s always alcohol around.

 

Though, alcohol and her family are not always the best combination. Then again, when is alcohol ever a good idea when you’re in a house full of people who speak their minds completely sober?

 

That night she tries to fall asleep alone in her childhood bedroom while Killian sleeps downstairs on the couch. She’d tried to convince him to sneak upstairs with her, but he’d refused, his willpower better than hers. He’d kissed her in the darkness of the living room before pushing her up the stairs and settling down under the blankets on the couch like he didn’t have any problem sleeping in separate rooms. Maybe he did, but she’s not entirely sure at this point. It takes forever for her to fall asleep, the sounds of Leo’s television in the next room keeping her awake along with her racing thoughts, but she thinks somewhere around three in the morning is when she finally lets her mind and body rest.

 

She wakes up to the sound of Christmas music playing downstairs, just a muted sound but loud enough to wake her. She’s groggy, her entire body protesting the idea of getting up and getting ready for the day, so she grabs her phone, unplugging it from the wall and flipping over on her back as she scrolls through all of her notifications.

 

Killian: This couch is bloody uncomfortable.

 

Killian: I can’t sleep because of it.

 

Killian: Or maybe because I miss you. Is that pathetic?

 

Killian: Not pathetic, I’ve decided. I can’t remember the last time we were in the same building and didn’t share a bed.

 

Killian: Anyways, goodnight, darling. I love you, and I look forward to seeing you in the morning.

 

Killian: Remind me when we get home to buy us some new dishware and cutlery. I like the kind your mum has.

 

Killian: And also some new kitchen towels. Basically we need a new kitchen. Love you.

 

God, he’s ridiculous, but she understands every single sentiment…except those ending statements about needing new things for the kitchen. Crawling out of bed, her body aching with the movement even after she’s had time to wake up, she wanders downstairs, not bothering to change out of her pajamas or fix her hair, leaving it in the bun that’s absolutely falling out on top of her head. What she finds, though, isn’t what she was expecting.

 

Killian’s standing in the kitchen dressed in jeans and a sweater, his shoeless feet covered by red socks with snowflakes on them. But most shocking of all is the apron he has on, one that says “kiss the cook” that she knows is her dad’s and has always thought is super cheesy. And she’s definitely never wanted to kiss the cook until now. She just…can’t. He’s kneading dough while her mom chats with him about his job, and she has to cough to catch their attention.

 

Killian’s head turns toward her, and a beatific smile stretches out across his face. He looks like he’s just about to say something when her mom speaks.

 

“Hey, sweetie. You sleep well?”

 

“Uh, yeah,” she mumbles in reply, reminding herself that she can’t actually be herself today and tomorrow, “was just coming downstairs to look for something to eat.”

“Well, Swan, your mum and I are cooking Christmas Eve breakfast. Just wait an hour, okay?”

 

“Oh okay. That’s fine. I’ll just go watch TV or something.”

 

Killian finds her in the living room thirty minutes later, and he plops down next to her on the couch, halfway sitting on her thigh in the way that he knows that she hates. She pushes him off, but his weight goes dead on top of her, stretching out and weighing her down so that his entire body covers hers.

 

“K-Killian, you’re suffocating me.”

 

He simply hums in response, wiggling his ass over her thighs and pressing her further into the cushions. “I feel like I hear just this tiny little bird chirping, but I don’t know where it’s coming from.”

 

“You’re an asshole.”

 

“Look, there it is again.” She pushes at him again, and he doesn’t budge until her knee kicks up to his upper thigh, immediately yelping, falling off of her and onto the couch so that his feet are propped up in her lap. “Love, we’re not going to be able to make children if you knee me there. And then your plan for revealing us to your family will never come about.”

 

“Yeah, well. Shit happens.”

 

“Hey,” he coos, sitting up and looking at her, his hand reaching forward to cup her face, thumb rubbing up and down her cheek, “what’s up with you today? What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Swan.”

 

“Jones.”

 

“Emma.”

 

She sighs, and her eyes close. She’s being dramatic and emotional, and she woke up this morning really feeling like not doing this anymore. She’s tired of it, of the lying and playing around. This was such a dumb plan to begin with. If she’d just told the truth when they started dating instead of keeping it from her family simply to avoid all of the questions then none of this would have happened.

 

“I’m starting to feel bad about lying about us. And it’s mostly because it’s like I’m here with you but not really. And you and Leo are right. It’s not like we can hide this forever. That’s probably going to hurt like hell for my mom and dad to know we’ve been lying.”

 

“What are you saying?”

 

“I think we should tell them. But maybe not until after Christmas. And maybe when all of the family isn’t around. We’d be bombarded.”

 

He squeezes her chin and smiles at her before leaning forward and kissing her lips, the smell of flour in his hair invading her. “Sounds like a plan.”

 


 

Her entire family is back for Christmas Eve dinner. While they spend Christmas morning with just immediate family members, all of her aunts and uncles and cousins come over in the days leading up to it. It’s crazy and crowded and she swears her feet have been run over by at least ten different toy cars. She also thinks she might have lost some of her hearing from the volume of voices couples with the Christmas music playing over the speakers.

 

She hates it.

 

And loves it.

 

But she also needs alcohol. All of the alcohol.

 

Killian seems to have the same idea. She finds him in the kitchen pouring himself a sizable glass of rum while pouring her a smaller one, sliding it over to her and leaning against the counter, his legs crossed over each other.

 

“Long night?”

 

“Aye,” he answers, taking a sip. She watches his Adam’s apple bob with the sip, and she gulps at the sight. God, they need to go home and just be alone for, like, an hour. “Your cousin, Katie, told me in a pretty roundabout way that she’d like to fuck me in the backseat of her car, while your aunt Mary just straight up said it.”

 

“I’d like to fuck you in the backseat of my car.”

 

She looks up at him, and his jaw ticks. Oh. So the joke didn’t play over well. That’s not what she was expecting.

 

He takes another sip of his rum. “Very funny, Swan.”

 

“You obviously didn’t think so. You’re brooding.”

 

“Your entire family is drunk and hitting on me. I feel like it’s a minefield in there.”

 

“Hey,” she soothes, putting her drink down and turning so that she can rub her hand up and down his arm, trying to get rid of some of the tension that’s built up inside of him, “I’m sorry. I know that it’s crazy, but it’s almost over. And next year we’ll go see your family, okay?”

 

“My family will just get drunk and insult everyone because that’s what they find funny.”

 

“Okay, so we celebrate with just the two of us. Problem solved.”

 

He chuckles then before leaning down and pressing a kiss against her cheek, his lips soft in contrast to his stubble. “I like the way you think, love. Come on,” he puts his drink down and rests his hand on the small of her back, “let’s go back to the craziness.”

 

They settle back down in the living room, finding a spot on the floor in the corner of the room next to the Christmas tree. Everything is infinitely calmer over here, the voices a little softer with much less accidental feeling up of family members. Killian seems more relaxed as well, his body not as tense with an actual smile on his face while he chats with her Leo. She and Killian have been unusually stressed at different moments today, and she simply wants to enjoy the holidays with her family and her boyfriend.

 

There shouldn’t be this much stress, but you can’t spell the holidays without stress…okay, you can, but the meaning is pretty clear.

 

“Alright, alright,” her dad shouts, adding in a wolf whistle to quiet the room down. “Mary Margaret and I are thrilled to be hosting Christmas Eve. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun, and now it’s time for what is personally my favorite part of the evening. It’s time to share something we want for Christmas that can’t be wrapped and put under the tree.”

 

“Your family is awfully sentimental when drunk,” Killian whispers in her ear, his voice rumbling.

 

“Shush,” she chastises before reaching behind him and rubbing her arm up and down his back, knowing that no one can see. “Be thinking of what you want. Dad will ask you, especially because you’re a guest.”

 

“My Christmas wish has already been answered in both of my children being home for the holidays.”

 

“The same,” David agrees with Mary Margaret, and her brother gags. She has to stifle her laugh. “It’s so rare that we see Leo and even rarer that we see Emma. This is really all that I’ve ever needed. Mom, would you like to go next?”

 

Her grandmother leans forward in her chair, swishing her wine around in its glass before taking a long sip, practically draining the rest of the liquid. “My Christmas wish would be that Emma and Killian stop pretending to be roommates. My God, I caught them kissing two years ago, and they’re still going along with this ruse of being friends. It’s getting ridiculous.”

 

The house is silent for the first time all weekend, but she wouldn’t know for how her heart is pounding, the sound somehow reaching into her head and beating like a drum between her ears. The little drummer boy needs to shut the hell up.

 

What?

 

What just happened?

 

“What?” David screeches, breaking the silent spell everyone seemed to be over. “What the hell are you talking about, mom?”

 

“David, how could you be so blind? Your daughter’s been with this man for years. Isn’t it obvious?”

 

“No. That doesn’t make any sense.” Her dad looks to her, his eyes blown wide. He’s sounds like he used to when she got in trouble as a kid, not angry…but disappointed. And that was always the worst. “Emma, is this true? Have you been lying to us?”

 

“I – uh, I mean…it’s…well.”

 

Oh God, she’s forgotten how to speak, words not stringing together and all meaning being lost to her. She doesn’t know what’s happening or how to respond to it. It’s all a mess, and she can feel every pair of eyes in the room on hers except for one. Killian’s.

 

She turns to him, and he’s looking straight forward, his jaw ticking again. God, he’s been extra pissy this weekend, but she doesn’t blame him for that. She just needs him to look at her and help her decide what to do. She needs him to tell her that it’s going to be okay. This is like ripping a band-aid off in the most painful of ways.

 

“Aye,” Killian speaks, shocking her out of her thoughts, “Emma and I are dating. Have been for three years now. But here’s the thing. There are only two people in this relationship. Emma and me. Not a single one of you. It’s Christmas Eve, and we’re going to celebrate without ruining this night for Emma, got it? You have any questions, keep them to yourselves. Maybe we’ll answer them later. Just not today. My Christmas wish is for Emma to be happy and unstressed, and I think you could all do to help me along in that.”

 

She was wrong earlier. This is the most quiet this house has even been.

 

“Well damn,” Ruth whistles, and everyone turns to look back at her, “looks like I got my Christmas wish.”

 

That night, after at least an hour of grilling over she and Killian’s relationship, Killian follows her up to her bedroom, much to her father’s dismay. But she doesn’t care, falling asleep wrapped around Killian and waking up on Christmas morning for the first time with her boyfriend.

 

The very same thing happens the next year…and the year after that…and for every Christmas.

Chapter Text

He sees her nearly every day on the seven train from Queens to Manhattan. She gets on at Jackson Heights, somehow always managing to find a spot to sit despite the car being packed in like sardines, and it’s usually a small sliver of a seat directly across from him who has been sitting in the cart since the very first stop at Main Street. He doesn’t mean to stare, not really, but it’s either look at her, directly above her, or at the armpit of the man standing above him.

 

He knows nothing about her, not really, but after studying her for nearly a year on his way to work, he’s picked up on a few things.

 

She’s got long blonde hair that reaches all the way down her back. It usually falls in loose waves, but sometimes the curls are a little tighter. On days where she looks a little harried, it’s often in a ponytail or bun on top of her head. His particular favorite, and this does make him feel every bit as creepy as it should, is when she braids it. He’s got no bloody clue how she does these things, the intricate twists that are nearly always different seemingly so complicated, but she does them.

 

The way she dresses varies to such a degree that he’s never been able to discern what it might be that she does for a living. She’s in jeans and boots more often than not, even in the warmer months, but on occasion she wears nice dresses or trousers and a suit jacket. Her makeup is always subtle, dark eyelashes framing her green eyes, but on occasion she will wear a red lipstick. That always catches his attention.

 

She’s gorgeous, and a part of him is always reaching out, trying to convince himself to talk to her.

 

He never does.

 

But of all the things he knows about her, it’s that she has never once stepped foot on the seven train without a pair of white earbuds in her ears and a book in her purse. She doesn’t always get the book out, but the pages are nearly always sticking out of her small black bag.

 

However, she always has the earbuds in.

 

He’s got no idea what kind of music she listens to, but he’s curious. He’s always curious about things like that. It comes with living in a city so large that you’re surrounded by millions and often feel alone. No one stops to chat or asks how another person is. The most conversation he has with a stranger is asking to hold a door open from afar or warning them that there’s an especially long line at the bistro around the corner. So he’s taken to noticing things that others do, the conversations they have, often filling in his own little stories as he makes his way to the office.

 

It’s entertaining, if not a bit weird, but he’s a journalist. Words are always turning in his head, and that’s never going to stop.

 

So he goes about his mornings, and occasionally his evenings, seeing the woman sit across from him on the train humming along to the words only she hears. It’s every bit a part of his routine as brushing his teeth is, and nothing about it ever changes.

 

But then one day he runs into her early on a Saturday morning, the sky outside somewhere between black and blue, like a muted hue of gray. The train is nearly empty but for the two of them and a few people down the cart, but she still sits in her same spot, her ever-present headphones in her ears.

 

This morning is different. And it’s not because he’s not in his usual suit and she’s in leggings and a tee shirt, looking like she’s on her way home from the gym or that she simply left right after rolling out of bed.

 

This morning is different because she waves at him and gives him a small smile of recognition before sitting down. He waves back, his hand awkwardly hanging in the air for too long, before he settles back down and scrolls through the texts on his phone to make sure he’s meeting Will for breakfast at the right time.

 

Besides their acknowledgment of each other and the unusual day, their ride is like any other, the car rocking back and forth below him with the muted sound of the stop announcements ringing out whenever they near the next stop. As they move, the sky changes from gray to a light blue, tall buildings coming out of the horizon and into his view, and he closes his eyes to let the harsh rocking soothe him like he’s so used to.

 

That’s when he hears a different noise, the humming of the train continuing while the humming of the woman stops and is replaced by the sound of sniffling. His eyes pop open and his gaze finds hers immediately. She’s wiping away tears with the back of her hands while she sniffles, and her eyes are more green than he’s ever seen. His mouth opens to say something, but he quickly closes it, not knowing how to speak or more likely, what to say.

 

There’s a war between his head and his heart, and he doesn’t realize they’re at Grand Central until they’re pulling in and the muted announcement is made. It’s too late. He can’t ask her if she’s okay. He can’t use this rare opportunity of their unusual Saturday morning encounter to speak to her because she’s gone.

 

But then he spots her blonde hair in the mess of tourists, and without thinking, he reaches out for her arm. She spins around, her other arm raised like she’s about to punch him, but she stops when she sees that it’s him, her face lighting up in recognition. His hand lingers for too long before he releases her, reaching up and scratching behind his ear. It’s his moment to say something, his time, and all of his words die on his tongue.

 

“Hi?” she questions, her lips parting before closing. “Did you, um, did you need something?”

 

Her voice is beautiful, if not a bit broken.

 

He shakes himself out of his thoughts, plastering an awkward smile on his face.

 

“I’m sorry, love,” he chuckles, scratching at the whiskers on his chin now. “I know I must seem like a crazy man, and maybe I am but…well, I couldn’t help but notice that you were crying on the train. Is everything okay?”

 

“Oh,” she laughs, confusion written all over her face, “that is really, really embarrassing.”

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean – ”

 

“No, no. it’s fine.” She waves him away before smiling. He returns it. “It’s embarrassing because you’re being, like, the nicest checking on me even though we don’t know each other. And then I’m crying over a song, which is the stupidest thing in the entire world.”

 

“Tis not stupid, love. Words are powerful. They can make us feel without even realizing it.”

 

Her words make him feel…something. He’s just not sure what.

 

“Yeah, but I was crying over Love of My Life. You know, the Queen song? And I just thought it was kind of ironic because I don’t have one of those…which is too much information and totally not really what that song is about. It’s depressing as hell.”

 

He chuckles before kicking his feet against the ground and looking down at her, people moving around them in a blur from where they’ve stopped foot traffic. She’s a rambler. That’s another fact he can add to his weird little mental list. And she likes Queen. He wonders what else she likes.

 

“I know the song. I likely would have cried as well.”

 

“Oh yeah? You a big crier?”

 

“I feel like there’s no good way for me to answer that.”

 

She laughs, and it’s one of the most beautiful sounds he’s ever heard. “Um, so my name is Emma…Swan. Emma Swan. I figured you should know that since we basically ride to work together every day and you make sure I’m not having an emotional breakdown.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Swan.” He tests her name on his tongue, and he likes it, likes her. “Killian Jones.”

 

He extends his hand and she takes it, her small palm cool but soft against his.

 

“It’s nice to meet you, too.”

 

An awkward silence falls between them, one he’s not sure how to get out of until more awkward words fall from his lips. “I know this might be forward of me and you likely have plans, but I’m going to get breakfast with a friend. Would you like to come? My treat.”

 

“Like a date?”

 

“Like a getting to know the beautiful woman who sits across from me on the train breakfast so I can ask her some more about her music tastes and, you know, prepare for the next time she cries.”

 

Emma laughs again before nodding her head up and down, taking a step to the side and allowing him to step beside her. “I’d like that. All this crying can make a girl go hungry. Forget men. Carbs are the love of my life.”

 

On Monday Emma gets on the seven train at Jackson Heights and sits next to him, his backpack and leg saving her a seat even with all of the rightly angry grumbling people who curse him. She’s wearing her headphones, but she takes one bud out so that she can talk to him.

 

Four Mondays later, Emma doesn’t wear her headphones at all, greeting him with a bright smile before plopping down next to him and chatting for their entire ride and on their walks to work, which happen to be two blocks away from each other.

 

Seven Mondays later, Emma gets on the train at Main Street with him, their hands intertwined before they step inside the automatic doors and find their seats together.

 

Eighty-two Mondays later, Emma gets on the underground train in London with two rings on her left hand’s ring finger and the love of her life walking in step beside her.

 

But this love of her life is a hell of a lot less melancholy than the Queen song.

 

And this one only makes her cry tears of happiness.

Chapter Text

“Hey, happy birthday, Emma.”

 

“Happy birthday!”

 

“Hope you’ve been having a great birthday!”

 

“So the big three – oh, huh?”

 

“You feeling old yet?”

 

By the end of her day, she is ready to punch any and every person who says happy birthday to her. It’s ridiculous. Her birthdays have never really mattered to her before, but she’s also never turned thirty. Logically, she knows it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t really mean anything. But thirty just sounds so much older than twenty-nine.

 

It doesn’t help that her day has just been awful, problem after problem arising at the office. There were issues with shipments, orders were missing packages, and she had to stay four extra hours to fix it all. Normally it would have been fine, but she’d had to call Killian and tell him she wouldn’t be home for dinner. Knowing him, and she did after two years of marriage, he likely had this whole big thing planned to try to make her feel better.

 

And she’d had to ruin it.

 

She trudges in their apartment door, slamming it behind her, only to find that all of the lights are turned off. If he planned a surprise party she’s going to kill him. Absolutely kill him. She flips the lights on and no one pops up from behind the furniture or yells out surprise.

 

Huh.

 

Okay, so she was really expecting a surprise party.

 

“Killian,” she calls, kicking her heels off and wandering through the archway into the living room. “Babe, where are you?”

He doesn’t answer, and she just kind of assumes he’s in the bathroom, so she settles down in the recliner, popping the footrest up and closing her eyes to try to block everything from this day out. Sure enough, she hears the bedroom door close down the hall and opens up one eye to see Killian emerge wearing his old white dress uniform.

 

“What the hell are you wearing, babe?”

 

He simply smirks, his lips stretching across his face and causing his eyes to crinkle. He continues to walk over to her until he’s right in front of her, leaning down and slanting his lips across hers. “Happy birthday, my love,” he whispers against her lips, rubbing his scruff against her cheek so that it burns. “I’m glad you’re home.”

 

“Hmm, me too,” she agrees before running her hands up his chest, fingering with the buttons. “But I’d really like it if you explained your outfit choice to me.”

 

“Well,” he hums, backing up from her and kicking the footrest down so that she flies forward, “my wife loves a man in uniform and since I don’t wear this anymore, I figured I’d give her a show for her birthday.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Really.”

 

He leans down to press a button on his phone, music coming through their speaker system, before he begins swiveling his hips, slow and sensual while his hands pop open the buttons on his shirt.

 

“Killian,” she laughs, her eyes going wide while he looks down at her, his tongue running across his bottom lip while his jaw ticks, “what the hell are you doing?”

 

“Isn’t it obvious?”

 

“I mean, yeah. But I have a lot of questions.”

 

“Later,” he promises, grabbing her hands and pulling her up from her seat, guiding her over to the kitchen chair she didn’t notice by the television. He sits her down before straddling her lap, gyrating his hips over hers and rolling his hair-covered chest in her face.

 

All she wants to do is laugh, the ridiculousness of this situation making her light with giddy, but Killian is obviously going with sensual here. It’d be rude of her not to play along. Plus, her husband is really fucking hot, and she’d hate to interrupt where this is going to end up, heat already pooling in her lower belly.

 

“So do you have a stage name?” she whispers as his shirts falls completely off his body, falling to the floor and exposing the muscles in his arms. Her head falls back against the chair while another rush of heat goes through her body.

 

“The Captain.”

 

“Really?” she questions, running her hands through the hair of his chest and tracing his abs with her fingers. He’s hard beneath her touch, his muscles still defined despite retiring from the Navy last year. Yeah, this idea is beginning to grow on her now. “How long did it take you to come up with that?”

 

“About twelve years.”

 

“Yeah?” She tugs on his pants, his bulge showing through the material. Her hand runs across it, feeling his length through his pants. He whimpers at her touch, and she gives him her own smirk. “I bet that was really hard.

 

Killian’s eyebrows tick up, practically landing in his hairline. He brings his bottom lips between his teeth, and she can visibly see that he’s trying to keep from both groaning and laughing. Good.

 

He doesn’t respond, instead moving his body around hers. She’s got to ask later if he watched Magic Mike or something because the way he moves is cracking her up. He’s down to his boxer briefs, the snug black material hugging his ass and hips while he grinds down into her, her clothed breasts rubbing against his chest. She’s surprisingly turned on, the ridiculousness having faded away, and her fingers find their way to the waistband, pulling the material down until his cock snaps up against his stomach.

 

Glorious.

 

“You’re not supposed to touch the dancers.”

 

“I’ve never been one to follow the rules.”

 

She grabs his length then, tugging tightly while Killian hisses and throws his head back, his hips bucking up into her hand. She traces the veins with her fingers, twisting and turning while precum pools at the tip. Obviously his little dance was turning him on as much as it was turning it her on.

 

“Darling, you have to stop that.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because this is supposed to be about you.”

 

She chuckles under her breath before releasing him, pushing him back as she stands. “Well, come on, Captain. Let’s make it about me.”

 

She unzips her dress as she walks back to the bedroom, leaving it on the hallway floor while Killian follows behind her. She’s popping the clasps on her bra when Killian reaches her and picks her up around her waist, growling into her neck, his breath hot against her skin, while she squeals.

 

“Babe,” she gasps when his lips begin to nibble on her earlobe, shivers shaking her body while she’s still suspended in mid-air, “put me down.”

 

“As you wish.”

 

He drops her onto the mattress, her body bouncing and her hair spreading out around her while he crawls over her. His length lands against her thigh, hard and warm and thick, and his lips capture hers in a fierce kiss. She feels like she’s on fire, every inch of her body heated and full of desire. The way Kilian’s tongue tangles with hers doesn’t hurt, the slick, wet slide driving her into madness while his hands thread into her hair and his hips thrust against hers. God, this is good, just dry humping like this, but she needs more.

 

She bites down on his bottom lip, and he emits something that’s between a growl and a groan. She wants to remember it forever, to add it to the log of the other sounds that she knows he makes. He’s so gorgeous, so wonderful and loving, and even while her mind is muddled with lust, she can’t stop thinking about how very much she loves him.

 

His hands snake down her body while his teeth bite into her collarbone. Hard. She gasps and he chuckles against her skin while her bra becomes undone with practiced ease.

 

“You’re going to leave a bruise.”

 

“I know. That was the point.”

 

His lips continue to move down her body, tracing her skin with his tongue until he gets to her newly exposed breasts. The moment his tongue makes contact with her nipple, she bucks her hips up into his and closes her eyes in the pure ecstasy of at all. He hums around her bud while his teeth begin to nibble, and her hands find their way into the soft strands of his hair, grabbing on tightly to keep his ministrations going.

 

“Ah fuck,” she gasps, the pleasure far outweighing the pain as his other hand pinches her neglected nipple. “That’s good.”

“I know.”

 

“Cocky.”

 

He rolls his hips against hers, his straining length pressing further into hers. “Exactly.”

 

“You’re ridiculous.”

 

He looks up at her, the blue in his eyes shining in the darkness of the room. “Aye, but you love me.”



“I do love you,” she gushes, gently pushing his hair back off his forehead. “I’d really love for you to be inside of me though.”



“Oh,” he growls, trailing hot, wet kisses against her skin. “Is that your birthday wish?”



“Most definitely.”

 

His eyebrows wiggle across his face, and his lips stick up into the most salacious of smiles before he begins moving down her body, pulling her underwear off of her with absolutely no flourish. His fingers find her folds almost immediately, and she gasps, her entire body flying.

 

“So wet already, darling,” Killian whispers, his fingers teasing her while his lips move across her hip bone. “Is this all for me?”

 

“I had an exotic dancer perform for me earlier so not really.”

 

Killian chuckles against her hip before thrusting a finger inside of her, curling it just so that her brain goes blank for a moment while her entire body shivers. He begins to pump inside of her, adding another finger while his thumb rubs at her clit, all of his motions driving her insane. It’s good, so damn good, and she’s almost there, the coil continuously tightening in her belly when Killian pulls out.

 

“Fuck,” she yells, opening her eyes and looking up to see Killian smirking above her. “What the hell was that for?”

 

“Darling, I’m going to come into the mattress if we keep going like this.”

 

“Oh,” she sighs, trying to regulate her breathing while her chest heaves. “I think it might have been worth it.”

 

She sees him roll his eyes before he lines himself up to her entrance, his tip teasing her while he pushes her legs back over her stomach and hooks her right knee over his shoulder. He slides in with one quick thrust, the angle fucking incredible and his fullness a familiar but always pleasurable feeling. God, it’s good, filling her up completely.

 

“So tight,” he groans, beginning to rock slowly inside of her, “always so tight and warm and wet, so perfect.”

 

His lips moving against her knee, soft and sweet while his thrusts are fast and hard, the mattress moving along with them. He continues to mumble things against her skin, telling her how wonderful she is, how beautiful, how much he loves her. The coil in her belly that had loosened begins to tighten again, his words and his actions driving her toward the edge, and when his thumb finds her bundle of nerves, she nearly loses it.

 

“Keep going,” she begs, reaching up and pulling him down and capturing his lips with his while her legs fall on either side of his hips. He slips out for a moment with the movement, but he quickly slams back inside of her, keeping up with his earlier movement while his thumb drives her mad and his lips capture all of her gasps and whimpers.

 

Finally the coil bursts, the tension reaching its peak until her body can’t take it anymore. She feels this one in her toes and her cheek, the power of it surprising her in the seconds that she feels numb in pleasure and the black spots begin in her eyes.

 

“I love you,” she gasps when she can breathe again. Just barely, though.

 

“I love you too,” he grunts, his pace increasing while he searches for his own release.

 

She tries to help him along, swiveling her hips and kissing along his neck in all of the places she knows drive him mad. He whimpers and groans, the deep rumbling noises some of her absolute favorites. Suddenly his thrusts slow while he begins to pulse inside of her, his lips parting and his release hitting hotly against her insides. She feels herself flutter, the aftershocks of her orgasm still hitting her, and that combined with Killian twitching inside of her lulls her into comfortable, sweaty bliss.

 

His body lands on top of hers, his weight comforting for a moment, until he pulls out of her with a hiss and flops onto his back. For a moment all she can think about is having to change the sheets while his release drips down onto her thighs and likely onto the sheets. But she’s sated and exhausted and her awful birthday feels a hell of a lot better than it did a moment ago.

 

Happy birthday to her indeed.

 

“Thanks for that, Captain.”

 

He chuckles, and when she looks over at him, he’s got his forearm stretched across his forehead, tattoos inked in his skin. God, he’s beautiful, and she still can’t believe how many of those tattoos are for her.

 

“I can’t believe I did that.”

 

“It was hot.”

 

“Aye, but it’s likely a good thing I’ve never had a career as an exotic dancer.”

 

“Probably,” she admits, turning on her side and crawling over to rest her body on top of his, her legs tangling with his, “but it worked for tonight. Thanks for making my birthday better, babe.”

 

He presses a kiss against her sweaty hairline. “Anything for you. How are you feeling about your day now?”

 

She hums, contemplating it for a moment while he looks down at her with the softest of smiles on his face. He needs a haircut, his hair curling around his ears, and she reaches up to push it back again before he grabs her wrist and kisses her palm.

 

“I’m thirty, flirty, and thriving, Captain.”

Chapter Text

He met her when they were five years old, and the first thing he noticed about her is that she had bright yellow hair that was as long as his mother’s. He now knows that yellow is more aptly described as blonde – but often golden when it comes to Emma – and that her hair wasn’t quite as long as his mother’s. But he was young and decided that he loved her (and her hair) that first day.

 

So he asked her to be his girlfriend. She said no, citing that her dad told her she couldn’t date boys until she was at least eighty, and he decided then that he’d wait for her until he was eighty. It seems ridiculous, and maybe it was, but somehow he just knew that Emma Nolan was special.

 

He kissed her for the first time, or really she kissed him for the first time, when they were seven and in the second grade. It was behind the slides, and he’s honestly not sure if her lips even really touched his. But it was beautiful and amazing, and her pale cheeks blushed red. When he asked why she did it, she said that she wanted to and her mom said she didn’t have to wait until she was eighty to like a boy like her dad said.

 

When they were ten his mum moved his family back to England, and he cried for an entire day thinking about leaving Emma. He’d spent nearly every day by her side, even during the summer months, and suddenly he was being ripped away only to move back into a small home that was cold and smelled of fish. His mum said it was too expensive to call Emma, but he was allowed to write her.

 

So he did, but it was never quite the same.

 

He was fourteen when his mum died, the cancer taking her quickly and without a lot of pain, and it was Liam’s decision to move them away from England. When he asked Killian where he wanted to go, he knew his answer immediately.

 

Boston.

 

It was the week after his fifteenth birthday when he saw Emma Nolan again, and she ran into his embrace so quickly that he could do nothing but hold her. Tightly. She was so different than she was the last time he saw her, but then again, five years is a lot of time when you’re young. Her hair was as long and as blonde as usual, cascading down her back in soft waves that reminded him of the ocean. Her eyes were just the same as well, but they didn’t seem so bright. There was something more dull, muted, and he ached to know what could possibly dull the sunshine that is his Emma.

 

And he wanted to fix it. Or at least to have her allow him into her heart. She’s Emma. She didn’t need him to fix anything, but she allowed him to anyways.

 

He was seventeen when they finally kissed again, and this time he knew that her lips touched his, soft and warm against him in the back row of a darkened movie theater. He has no clue what was playing on the screen, and to this day, he still doesn’t care.

 

He was still seventeen when he told her he loved her for the first time on a broken breath and a fluttering heart. He remembers everything about the moment. He remembers the way it was three in the morning and the moonlight shone in her open window from where he’d come in just after midnight. He was a bloody fool sneaking into a detective’s home to fool around with his daughter, but he was in love and nothing else mattered. She said the words back, giggling under the covers before kissing him like her life depended on it. He’s sure that his did.

 

They were eighteen when they went to different schools four hours apart, the scholarships they received keeping them from attending the same universities. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that far, but at the time there might as well have been another ocean between them. But there wasn’t. It was just a few turns and an interstate away, and he’d skip Friday afternoon psychology and Monday morning calculus just to be with her, even if she was the one traveling to see him that weekend.

 

He scraped by with a C in both of them, and it was worth it.

 

They were twenty when she broke up with him over the phone, the stress and distance too much, and he missed a project deadline to go see her and try to fight for them. He found her in her dorm room crying, and he cried with her, trying to comfort her even if he was the one who broke her. But they talked and yelled and broke down until it was better.

 

Missing the deadline was definitely worth it.

 

Missing Emma, well, he never wanted to do that again.

 

The two of them graduated when they were twenty-two, and the ceremonies were at the same time so they skyped with each other so they could watch the other walk across the stage. Afterward they met in the middle, along with her parents and Liam, and he knew that he never had to be separated from her again.

 

They moved into together two weeks later, and they spent more time on the mattress on the floor of their bedroom moving together than actually moving in.

 

Yeah, that was definitely worth it.

 

He bought a ring, a singular diamond with a gold band, when he was twenty five and more in love than he ever before. She said yes before he could even ask, apparently having found it in the sock drawer the week before, and that kiss is his favorite of all.

 

It took longer than he expected for them to actually get married, life and jobs and all of the changes getting in the way, but then the summer before his twenty-eighth birthday she walked down an aisle in a white dress and hair that flowed down her back, again in waves just like the ocean. She became his wife and he her husband, and during their first dance she joked that she’d been breaking her dad’s dating rule for two decades now.

 

He was thirty when they welcomed their first child, the most handsome young lad he’s ever laid his eyes on, and he felt flutters of happiness and joy in his chest no matter how tired and exhausted and bloody miserable he was when they hadn’t slept.

 

But then they did it again when they were thirty two, and that time they knew a little better at how to hold a baby and change clothes and sleep. But those same flutters of happiness and joy always stayed around.

 

He met the love of his life when he was five, and though things have been far from perfect, she’s perfect to him, even as her hair grays and wrinkles form over the smoothness of her skin. The same happens to him, and they grow with each other, sometimes growing apart but always growing back together.

 

They’re eighty when he looks at her while sitting on their front porch swing (yes, they do have one of those now), and smiles. “Hey, my love, it looks like I can finally date you now.”

Chapter Text

She’s not exactly sure how it started, but she stops by The Bean (yeah, she knows it’s a cheesy name for a coffee shop but it’s better and cheaper than Starbucks) and buys two cups of coffee five days a week. One is black, the bitter smell of the hot liquid invading her senses, while the other is full of sugar and milk, really more of a latte than anything. But she’s never been a fan of coffee alone. She likes when it’s mixed in with sweets, and she can get her sugar and caffeine fix all at once.

 

If she has to walk a few extra blocks to burn it off, it’s worth it.

 

So she buys two cups, walks out of The Bean, and makes her way to the office, her heels tucked away in her purse while her feet are clothed in white tennis shoes to walk the New York streets. She looks like every movie cliché of a New Yorker, but she doesn’t care. She’s not crazy enough to wear heels while walking (and walking and walking) through crowds to get to work.

 

The sounds of horns honking, people talking, tires screeching, and buildings being repaired with the loudest drills imaginable fill her ears for a few blocks until things start to get quieter and calmer, Manhattan someone feeling a little peaceful. And like every morning, she hears a guitar being expertly plucked and a melodic voice singing along to a song from at least half a century ago, and she smiles at the familiar, wonderful sound.

 

The source of the music comes into sight when she turns the corner and passes the thirty-third street subway station. She could have swiped her metro card and ridden here, sure, but she’s got to work off the latte (and maybe the pizza she ate last night). Plus, she likes watching the people, tourists mixed with locals, and all of the different cultures being combined. She’s not saying New York City is the greatest city in the world, but it’s got to come close with the way it’s like walking through different countries and cultures all in one day.

 

Today’s apparently a Frank Sinatra day for her favorite street performer, a fitting choice for New York City, and she can already feel herself humming along as she gets closer and closer to him. Today he’s got on an old Yankees cap, the blue edges fraying on the side, as well as his usual jeans with worn out holes in the knees and his trusty black leather jacket that he must take expert care of for the condition it’s in. He smiles when he sees her, nodding his head in acknowledgment, but not stopping his playing. He’s really brilliant, could probably be somebody if he wasn’t a street musician in an area where it’s mostly poor recent graduates and curry restaurants, but life isn’t fair and sometimes the talented don’t get their big break.

 

When she checks her watch, she realizes she doesn’t have time to stay and listen or chat, as they sometimes do, so she carefully places his black coffee down next to his guitar case, flashes him a smile, and is then off to work.

 

And so goes nearly every morning of her life.

 

Tuesday he sings the songs of Elvis. She gives him his coffee.

 

Wednesday it’s the Beatles, his one voice somehow capturing some of the magic of all of theirs. She gives him his coffee.

 

Thursday it’s Bing Crosby. She gives him his coffee.

 

Friday he jams out to the Backstreet Boys. She gives him his coffee and a tip for making her laugh before eight in the morning on a Friday after a long week of work.

 

Her weekend passes as normal, time spent doing laundry, buying groceries, cleaning, and going out with her friends on Saturday night, and on Monday, she buys her two cups of coffee and makes her way to work. She gets to Murray Hill, expecting to see her musical coffee acquaintance, but he’s not there.

 

And he’s not there on Tuesday or Wednesday or for the next two weeks. After week one, she stops buying the coffee, having to tell her regular barista she doesn’t need it. She gets a pitying look, something she does not appreciate it, and she carries that awful feeling in her gut on her way to work and every time she takes a sip of her own coffee. It’s ridiculous how one little change in her day can affect her so much, but she’s a woman of routine. She likes doing the same thing at the same time, and her British street singer not being there is throwing her off in the mornings.

 

She wonders if maybe he got a job, something that takes up his mornings. She doesn’t really know what he did to begin with, if he even had a job. She’s always kind of assumed he didn’t have one or maybe he worked gigs at night along with his street performances. He’s a nice looking guy, stunning blue eyes and a neatly trimmed beard that covers a defined jaw, and his hair is always cleanly cut. So he definitely spends time on his appearance and has the funds to do so, but she doesn’t know many people who have well-paying jobs and spend their mornings performing on the streets.

 

He’s a mystery, one she thinks about far too much on her strolls to and from work, and as the days pass, she wonders where her Mystery Musical Man has gone off to.

 

But then one day, music blaring in her headphones, she’s walking her same path, one coffee cup in her hand, and she sees him strumming along on his guitar. She’s a little early this morning, so even though she doesn’t have his coffee, she stops and listens to him playing a majorly stripped down version of We Are the Champions.

 

There’s no one else around, everyone looking past the street performer, so when it’s over, she throws some cash into the guitar case and flashes him a smile before opening her mouth. “Where have you been?”

 

He quirks an eyebrow, the thick black brow practically reaching his hairline, before he flashes his perfectly white teeth and eyes her coffee mug. “Did you miss me?”

 

She shrugs, not really sure how to carry on this conversation with a man who is a stranger but also not. “I guess so. I didn’t – I stopped buying your coffee. I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be, love,” he insists, “I wasn’t around. Wouldn’t want you to waste your money, but I did miss you and your coffee.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Absolutely. They don’t make black coffee in LA, and they don’t have pretty lasses bring it to you.”

 

That throws her for multiple reasons, but it’s mostly because he admitted to being in LA…and maybe a little bit that he called her pretty, but she’s going to harbor that secret inside and pretend her cheeks don’t heat. But seriously. What the hell was he doing in LA? Is she even allowed to ask? Is that taking a step too far?

 

“What a pity,” she says instead of everything she wants to say. “I wonder how you survived.”

 

“The hardest few weeks of my life honestly. I didn’t think I was going to make it.”



She barks out a laugh before talking to him for a few more minutes, only leaving when she absolutely has to get to the office, and while her life feels a little more settled having him back, she’s also full of every question imaginable.

 

Mostly, what the hell does he do? Why was he in LA for weeks? Why does he perform in such a calm spot when there are better out there? And what is his name?

 


 

The next day she buys two cups of coffee, the barista giving her another pitying smile, and she walks her usual walk, dropping the steaming cup off every day. They talk a little more than they used to, but it’s never about anything serious, and she still doesn’t have any answers to any of her questions. If anything, the man is more of a mystery than he was at the beginning, and she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

 

He’s between songs when she walks up, his guitar resting on his back, and so she hands him his cup instead of placing it on the ground.

 

“Thank you, love.”

 

“Yeah, no problem.” She doesn’t know what else to say, the awkwardness somehow filling the entirety of Manhattan. But like the smooth talker she is, she blurts out her next words. “What’s your name?”

 

He’s in the middle of sipping on his coffee when she asks, so she impatiently watches him drink the liquid, his throat bobbing, and it takes a hell of a lot of restraint to hold herself back from just running away.

 

“Killian,” he finally answers, flashing her a smile. “And you?”

 

“Do you not have a last name?”

 

“I do. I just didn’t think you’d care.”

 

“I care. I’m Emma Swan if that helps.”

 

“Jones then. Killian Jones.”

 

Her lips twitch, laughter practically bubbling below the surface. “Did you phrase it that way so you could say your name like James Bond?”

 

“I guess you’ll never know.”

 

So now she knows Mystery Musical Man’s name, but she doesn’t think she’s ever going to call him anything else in her head. That’s what she’s called him for months now, and it’s hard to change things. But now he calls her Swan every morning, and it makes her smile. Of course, it’s only after a few weeks that she realizes he likely knew her name because it was on all of the coffee cups. But she kind of finds it endearing that he never used her name without her permission.

 

It starts with an exchange of coffee, and the floodgates open when there’s an exchange of names. Every day is nearly the same, but when she hands him his coffee, he calls her Swan and makes an extra effort to interact with her. Sometimes he even messes with lyrics, changing the names around to fit hers, and it brightens her day so that work doesn’t seem so dreary. As the days pass, they talk more and more. She wakes up earlier to buy their coffee so she can get to Murray Hill faster, and they talk until she absolutely has to go to work, his musical stylings lessening as they get caught up in talking to each other, learning a bit more about the other.

 

She tells him she’s in family law, and he tells her he’s a musician. She doesn’t quite understand that, really wanting to know what he does outside of performing on the street, but he never says more. If he doesn’t want to share, that’s perfectly fine. The only reason she’s sharing things about herself is because this is a man she talks to for fifteen minutes a day and who likely will move his spot somewhere else more populated to make more money.

 

But he never moves. He’s always there, and if he’s not going to be, he tells her the day before. All of the changes become part of her routine, and she becomes quite fond of her daily chats with Mystery Musical Man Killian Jones.

 

And then one day everything changes.

 

There’s a monsoon raging through New York, water hitting you no matter how bundled up you are in your rain boots and coats and umbrellas. The streets are as full of water as they are of people, and as much as she logically knows there’s no way Killian’s going to be performing today, she still stops in The Bean and goes to buy her coffee.

 

“Hey, Hannah, can I get the usual?”

 

“Uh, the guy in the gray beanie over there,” she points to the corner of the shop where there’s a man bundled up in plaid and jeans with the aforementioned beanie on, “he already bought your orders. Is that the boyfriend you’ve been buying coffee for all this time?”

 

“No boyfriend,” she answers automatically, still staring at the man to see if it’s Killian. She can’t tell from this angle. “But I’m gonna go see who this guy is.”

 

She nods to Hannah before walking away and walking toward the man in the corner. He’s pretty well hidden, which she finds suspicious until she gets a good look at his profile and can tell that it’s Killian. Her tense shoulders relax, and she sighs in relief before unceremoniously plopping down in the seat across from him.

 

“So you stalking me now?” she jokes as blue eyes look up to meet her. “Because I’ve got to say, I’m not sure the coffee I bring you every morning is worth all of the hassle.”

 

His hand reaches up to scratch behind his ear while his eyes crinkle as he gives her a lopsided grin. “I’m not stalking you. I, well, I can’t perform in all of this rain, and I still needed my coffee fix.”

 

“How’d you even figure out it was this store? You know this is a chain, right?”

 

He shrugs. “Google, some powers of deduction, and a whole lot of luck.”



“Well color me impressed Mystery Musical Man.”

 

Killian barks out a laugh, loud enough that people turn to look at him. “I’m sorry. What did you just call me?”

 

Heat rises in her cheeks while the rain pours down outside. She’s dramatic, but she kind of wishes she could run away with the rain right now. “Um, nothing.”

 

“No, no,” Killian teases, leaning over the table and waggling his eyebrows while flashing her another smile, amusement stretched across all of his features, “you called me Mystery Musical Man. Swan, I didn’t know you had a nickname for me.”

 

“Yeah, well, I went a few months not knowing who you were. What was I supposed to do?”

 

“Ask me my name.”

 

“I did…eventually.” He smiles before sliding her coffee over to her, and she accepts it before taking a sip, the liquid cool enough that she knows he’s been here awhile. “So, um, can I ask you a question? And you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

 

“Sure, love, but I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t tell you unless you’re about to ask me some deep, personal secret like if I’ve ever dyed my hair.”

 

She snorts into her drink, shaking her head back and forth. “No, no. I’d never ask such a deeply personal question, but I do, um, what the hell is it that you do for a living?”

 

His brows furrow, and he clicks his teeth. “Didn’t we talk about this already? I’m a musician.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I know, but do you do anything else besides performing before eight in the morning? I know this is rude, but I’m just…curious.”

 

“Tis not rude. What someone does for a living is basic conversation. But seriously, no. I’m a musician, and I do play more than the mornings. That’s honestly just for fun.”

 

“So where do you play? I’d love to come see you.” He raises his eyebrows, salaciously smirking at her in a way that makes her cheeks heat again. Is she just going to word vomit everything today? “To see you play. I’d love to see you play.”

 

“I know what you meant, love. I, um, I haven’t had many gigs lately, but I am playing next Friday night if you’d like to come.”

 

“Really? Where?”

 

Killian’s jaw ticks and his eyes look up at the ceiling like he’s trying to figure out what to say. Has she pushed too far? Is she making him uncomfortable? But then again, he told her he’d like for her to come.

 

“Tell you what, love, I’m going to get you some tickets for you and a friend, and the address will be on them. Does that work for you?”

 

“It makes you seem like the definition of Mystery Musical Man.”

 

“Yeah, well, that’s apparently who I am.”

 

They talk a little more before he walks with her to work, bypassing his regular playing spot and taking her right to the office. She doesn’t know what to say when they’re leaving, but Killian figures that out for her, leaning in and brushing a kiss against her cheek that lights her entire body on fire.

 


 

“So how exactly did you score these tickets?” Ruby questions as they walk into Madison Square Garden, people milling around in every direction and making it difficult to find their seats.

 

“You know the street performer who I bring coffee to?”

 

“Your Mystery Musical Man?”

 

“That’s the one.”

 

“Shit,” Ruby whistles as they find their way into a roped off section, only a few other people in their seats there. “He got you these? How?”

 

She shrugs, leaning closer to Ruby as the opening act for the White Sails sets up. “I’ve got no clue. He said that he’s performing, and I about flipped out when he gave me the tickets this morning and saw where they were. But I don’t know who the White Sails are, and honestly, I think he’s probably a guitarist for their opening act or something.”

 

“Do you think he was asking you on a date when he gave you these? Are you sure he’s even performing?”

 

“He told me to bring a friend so no, and he definitely said he was performing.”

 

“Huh. Curious. But hey, we get a free night out, so let’s go with it.”

 

The opening act is pretty good, someone she’s also never heard of, but that’s pretty much par for the course tonight. And Killian is most definitely not up there, so her confusion continues to grow while she tries to figure out what’s going on. Maybe she should have been more direct in her questioning. She’s never that wishy washy at work or with anyone else, but she never wanted to accidentally insult Killian in questioning his job when he may not have one. But he can get her nice seats to a concert in Madison Square Garden, so now she’s really confused.

 

And she also really wishes he was here so she could talk to him. She barely got to this morning, and they weren’t able to talk about the cliffhanger on The Good Place last night.

 

The opening act eventually finishes, and instruments on the stage are interchanged before several men, each of them in head to toe black, walk out on stage to the sound of cheers and wolf whistles.

 

And that’s when she sees him, front and center holding a different guitar with his hair bare of a baseball cap and a presence that’s totally different than the one he usually has while they’re talking on the street.

 

“Holy shit.”

 

“I know, right?” Ruby agrees, yelling over the crowd into her ear, “they’re hot.”

 

“No, Rubes, that’s him.”

 

“That’s who?”

 

“The singer, the guy up front.” She points up to him as he fiddles with the tuning of his guitars, “that’s Mystery Musical Man.”

 

“Holy shit.”

 

“Hello, everybody,” he begins, the familiar voice booming through the microphone, “I’m so glad you all can be here tonight. I know it’s been awhile since we performed, but it took a bit to get some inspiration for our new songs, though I finally found some lately. So I thank you for being patient with us. I’m Killian Jones, and we are The White Sails.”

 

Yeah, she needs to sit down or be pinched (or punched really) because all of the coffee has obviously destroyed her brain cells.

 


 

She and Ruby make their way backstage after what is a frankly incredible show, and while her brain managed to chill itself out about halfway through the concert, she’s still freaking out because she just doesn’t understand. Why would someone who performs in Madison Square Garden also perform on the sidewalk in Murray Hill? He said it was just for fun but still. And why does no one but her really notice him? Sometimes there’s a crowd, but it just…it doesn’t make any sense.

 

And she’s still waiting to wake up from whatever kind of dream this is.

 

But then Killian walks out of a backroom in a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt with a smile on his face entirely focused on her. He steps toward her, his hand scratching behind his ear, before he’s standing directly in front of her.

 

She doesn’t know what to say, so she blurts out the first thing that comes to mind. “I’m sorry I didn’t buy you a coffee.”

 

He shrugs while he laughs, his lips ticking up on one side. “That’s okay, love. I think maybe you can have a pass this time.” He leans forward and wraps his arms around her, embracing her. “Did you have a good time?”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” she pulls back, nodding her head and smiling, “that was incredible. You’re incredible. I’m just entirely confused.”

 

Ruby coughs behind her, and she’s brought out of her confusion and disbelief and a little bit (a lot) of a crush that’s been developing for weeks now. “And this is Ruby Lucas.”

 

“Nice to meet you, Mystery Musical Man. I came with to make sure my girl wasn’t going to get murdered tonight.”

 

“Totally understandable,” Killian laughs, shaking Ruby’s hand. “That’s why there were two tickets. To prevent the murder, you know?”

 

“I’m sorry,” she interrupts, shaking her head back and forth, “I just have a lot of questions.”

 

“Well, Swan, maybe I have some answers. Do you – ” he looks behind him where someone is calling his name “ – can you and Ruby wait here while I do a bit of quick business?”

 

“Sure. That’s fine.”

 

Killian jogs off, running over to whoever was calling him, and she and Ruby sit down on a bench behind them. Ruby fiddles with her phone while Emma tries to think through everything, connecting the nice, normal guy she’s come to really like with the man she saw up on stage commanding thousands of people with his voice. He’s still Killian, that much she knows, and when he said he was a musician, he definitely wasn’t lying. She kind of just thought he performed in bars.

 

“So according to Wikipedia, your new boyfriend is thirty-four, is from London, and he’s been playing the guitar since he was twelve.”

 

“I knew all of that, and he’s not my boyfriend.”

 

“He’s going to be.”

 

“Ruby.”

 

“Listen, Ems,” Ruby commands, hitting her in the shoulder, “out of the kindness of your heart you have been buying this man coffee and talking to him every day for months because you thought he was a struggling artist and really appreciated him as a musician and as a person. You like him. He likes you. What he does for a living doesn’t matter. It’s cool as hell, don’t lie to yourself, but it doesn’t matter to you, does it?”

 

“Not at all.”

 

“Then I say you take life as it comes to you, and you should go for what you want.”

 

So she does.

 

 As soon as Killian comes back into view, she walks toward him with a purpose in her step, and before he can say anything, she wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him. He takes a moment to kiss her back, but when he does, it’s soft and slow, his lips caressing hers while his hands thread into his hair and hers do the same. His whiskers are rough against her chin, and right before she pulls back, he growls, something that nearly makes her keep going as if she doesn’t need air.

 

But she does, would die without it, and pulls back, putting some space between their lips while their foreheads rest together.

 

“So the whole being in a band thing really did it for you, huh?”

 

“No,” she promises, quickly brushing her lips against his again, “I don’t care about that. It’s awesome, but I don’t care.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah. All I really want is to buy you a coffee.”

 

Killian laughs against her lips, the vibrations moving through her. “You know what, Swan? I think I can buy this time.”

 

She and Killian go get coffee two days later. Killian buys despite her protests, but that’s okay. She buys the next time they go. And it goes on like that for weeks and then months and eventually years. As time goes on, they stop going out to buy coffee. Instead they get their caffeine fixes in their home, and she has several White Sails albums dedicated to her that she listens to on her way to work. It’s not quite the same as getting a live performance right outside the office, but she thinks she may like it better this way.

 

Actually, she knows that she does. She can get a live performance at home.

Chapter Text

“You don’t have to go.”

 

She turns back to look at the man lounging in bed, his hands crossed behind his head and his body on full display to her. She thinks about his words as her eyes trace the strong lines of his legs, the defined muscles there, and move up to his hips where the muscles dip into a v and the dark hair guides her to the already hardening length that drove her to madness no less than five minutes ago. The man is beautiful, stunning really, and she’s never seen eyes that blue or lashes that long before, not that were natural or anything.

 

He is stunning, and he has this deep, rumbling British accent that melted her, the one who does not melt, into a puddle of arousal while at the bar where’d they met a few hours ago. He’d been funny too, charming, all of the things that a man usually is when trying to pick up a woman at a bar, and she’d played along like they were both reading the same sheet music. She didn’t give anything but her last name, Swan, and he didn’t give anything but his last name, Jones.

 

All in all, it may have been one of the best one-night stands she’s ever had.

 

But that’s all it was. It was one night, no full names, and as much as she’d like to stay, maybe sleep with him again, it’s not really her cup of tea…or coffee. He’s the British one.

 

“I really do,” she tells him, pulling on her jeans, the material tight against her thighs, and zipping them up before she grabs the gray v-neck he’d been wearing earlier that showed his chest hair and the necklaces hanging against his skin, the ones she’d used to pull his mouth closer to hers. “But it was a really good time. Congrats on the,” she motions over to him, “cock.”

 

He snorts, the sound high pitched compared to the low rumble of his laugh. “Thanks, lass. You realize that’s my shirt, aye?”

 

“I know.”

 

“And since I’m assuming this was a one-time thing, how am I supposed to get it back?”

 

She shrugs, the material falling off of her shoulder while she pulls on her boots. “Guess you’ll just have to figure that one out, Jones.”

 

Jones raises one dark eyebrow, his forehead lines crinkling, before absolutely smirking at her. “I do love a challenge.”

 


 

“So what time am I supposed to be at dinner, Margarita?” Emma questions while brushing her teeth, the words coming out muffled.

 

“Six and you’re supposed to bring a dessert.”

 

She spits into the sink, the blue toothpaste marking the white bowl, before rinsing off her brush and sticking it in its holder. “Can I buy it?”

 

“No, you have to make it.”

 

“Are you serious? Why can’t I buy it?”

 

“Because Emma,” Mary Margaret scolds, using the same voice she uses with her five-year-old son, “this is a potluck dinner we’re doing with everyone from David’s work where they bring their families, and everyone is bringing something homemade.”

 

“And why am I coming to this again?”

 

“Because you’re part of David’s family.”

 

She groans, leaning down and splashing water on her face before applying her face wash and rubbing it in, the suds bubbling up. “I’m technically not related, genetically speaking.”

 

“You were adopted. That’s the same thing.”

 

“Technically – ”

 

“Emma Swan, you are going to make dessert, and you are going to put on a nice outfit and smile and come tonight. End of story.”

 

“Damn,” she mutters under her breath, knowing Mary Margaret can hear her through the speaker, “Leo and David better stay on your good side tonight or they’re going to be buried under your classroom books tomorrow.”

 

“And you with them.”

 

Emma hangs up the phone after Mary Margaret reminds her to bring a dessert five more times, telling her to put it in the nice serving dish they gave her for Christmas last year, and tells her to wear the blue dress. Yeah, she’s not wearing that dress tonight, but she can do everything else. Maybe. Hopefully. She lives off of take-out and leftovers, but she’s sure she can make a dessert. She just doesn’t know what.

 

She moves out of the bathroom after blow drying her hair and plops down on her bed, which also doubles as her couch in her studio apartment, and scrolls through her laptop for easy dessert recipes, things that don’t involve a lot of mixing or baking…which is pretty much every dessert. But then she remembers there’s such a thing as cookies and while it’s not technically handmade, she can buy the pre-made dough and pop them in the oven, problem solved. It’s following all of Mary Margaret’s weird rules – technically of course – so the woman can’t say anything. She can’t expect Emma to make a soufflé. That would be ridiculous.

 

It only takes her five minutes to run down to the grocery store near her apartment, popping in while still in her pajamas, and grabbing cookie dough for peanut butter cookies (so what that she enjoys those more than chocolate chip) as well as a few bananas simply because she should probably eat some fruit every now and then. The rest of her morning is spent working on her open cases, trying to find any information she can on Elizabeth Moore’s husband and whether or not he’s cheating. Her job doesn’t exactly give her a lot of confidence in the fact that people stay faithful in relationships, but she gets paid whether the spouses are cheating or not.

 

She just kind of prefers that they aren’t. Giving people that news isn’t exactly the best of things to do.

 

Around five the cookies go in the oven, and she really hopes that the whole uneven cooking thing doesn’t happen like when she was making a pizza last week. While they’re baking, she heads over to her clothing rack, grabbing a black and white plaid skirt and an oversized v-neck t-shirt, pulling them on and tucking the t-shirt in before slipping into her black ankle boots. She thinks this entire night is idiotic. She should be able to hang out with David and Mary Margaret while in sweatpants and a t-shirt, but now she’s got to do it while dressed up and with other people. That may be the worst part. It’s not that she doesn’t like other people. It’s that she doesn’t like David’s coworkers. Some of them are okay, but his boss, Walsh, is an absolute asshole who got pissed when she told him she didn’t want to date him.

 

Rejections hurt, dude, but there’s no need to be rude about it. They’d literally only known each other a day, and he acted like she’d broken his heart after two years of dating and then burned all of his possessions.

 

The timer on her phone goes off, and she heads to the oven, grabbing an oven mitt and pulling the cookies out, praying that they don’t stick or aren’t burned or undercooked. She totally should have bought something and then passed it off as her own, but whatever. What’s done is done. After plating them on the serving dish that the Nolans gave her, she makes her way out the door, walking the few blocks to their farmhouse on the outskirts of Downtown Storybrooke.

 

When she walks up their driveway, the street is already covered in cars, and she can see people moving inside of the home. Taking a deep breath, she prepares herself for small talk and reminds herself that the food others bring will likely make this worth it. And alcohol. There has to be alcohol.

“Emma,” Mary Margaret greets before she can even take a step up onto their porch. Was she waiting for her? “I’m so glad you’re here. And you brought cookies. Oh, I’m sure these will be wonderful.”

 

“Well, you know me and my culinary skills.”

 

“I don’t know how you survive,” Mary Margaret sighs, taking the plate from her hands and ushering her inside to the consistent chatter and clinking of glasses as well as children running back and forth.

 

“Takeout and your leftovers,” she answers honestly, immediately walking to the kitchen where she knows David will at least have a beer. Sure enough, he’s standing in front of the fridge talking to some guy while the both of them have bottles in their hand. The moment he sees her, he smiles, waving and beckoning her forward until she wraps her arms around his waist and hugs him in greeting. “Hey, David. You hiding out in here?”

 

“Just getting something to drink. Emma, I have someone I want you to meet. This is my new partner, Killian.”

 

She releases David to turn and greet this guy, kind words already on the tip of her tongue, but the moment she sees him, every word she’s ever known is swallowed back. Shit. Shit. Shit. How can this possibly be happening? Is the entire world playing some kind of practical joke on her? Because there’s no way in hell the guy she had a one-night stand with a month ago could possibly be her brother’s new partner down at the station.

 

Just no. This isn’t happening.

 

“It’s lovely to meet you,” he greets, the accent exactly the same as it was a month ago even in a different, far brighter environment. “I’m Killian Jones.”

 

“Emma Swan,” she grits out, plastering a smile on her face knowing that David is right next to her and not wanting him to have any idea that his partner has slept with her. That would be a disaster for everyone. “It’s nice to meet you too.”

 

He smiles, his perfectly white teeth on full display, and she tries to ignore the flashes of their night together that are coming back. This is all one big nightmare and something that’s not going to go away as long as he’s working with David. She just hopes that he doesn’t say something stupid. She doesn’t know the man. She’s only met him once, and despite a good first impression, she’s not sure if he’s going to be a jerk about things or not.

 

“I like your shirt, love. I used to have one just like it.”

 

Heat rises to her cheeks, her entire face likely as red as a tomato, and it takes everything in her not to tell him to fuck off even if she did steal his shirt. Instead she says, “Thanks. I’m sure you can find a replacement for yours. They’re pretty common.” She turns to David then, not wanting to continue this conversation. “You got one of those for me?”

 

David nods before opening the fridge and handing her a beer. She takes it, twisting it open, and excuses herself claiming to go talk to Mary Margaret. Really, she’s heading away from anyone who has seen her naked and just attempting to breathe. And maybe to get something to eat. There’s got to be good food here.

 

It’s later that she’s sitting in the living room picking at her plate when the seat on the couch next to her is suddenly taken, the weight causing her to shift the slightest bit.

 

“Listen, love – ”

 

“I’m not your love.”

 

Killian clicks his tongue, and she turns to stare at him, wondering how he could protest that at all, but as she faces him, she sees Mary Margaret staring at her from the kitchen, not even trying to hide it. And that’s when she gets it. This night was going to be a set up between she and Killian, and she is not falling for that. She despises Mary Margaret’s set ups, and this one is especially not going to work.

 

“I am aware of this, Swan,” he drawls, bringing her attention back to him. “That’s what I was trying to say. I, well, I am perfectly aware of what our dalliance was. I’m not expecting anything else, and from what I gather, you’d like it to be kept a secret from your brother.”

 

Who the hell calls a one-night stand a dalliance?

“I would. I don’t exactly share my dalliances with him to begin with, but I think it’d be smart for us to keep it quiet. And to ignore the set up that Mary Margaret is obviously trying to do.”

 

He raises an eyebrow, his forehead crinkling with the movement. “Set up?”

 

“Ah, yes,” she sighs, leaning back on the couch and resting her head on the cushion, “how many times have you met Mary Margaret?”

 

“Three times.”

 

“And how long did it take you before she weaseled out that you are single? You are single, right?” He nods his head, and she sighs in relief knowing she didn’t sleep with a married man. She is not here to be doing shit like that.

 

“I think she asked me the first time we met if I was married or have children. She wasn’t very subtle about it.”

 

“Yeah, that’s Margarita for you.”

 

“I’m sorry, Margarita?”

 

“It’s a nickname. She’s been plastered once in her life, and it was because of margaritas. I thought it was a fitting nickname. Anyways, she’s in love with love. Like, she thinks weddings are the best thing on the planet, that Hallmark movies are great cinematic feats, and mostly, it’s her lifelong goal to set me up with a man who will marry me and knock me up.”

 

Killian grimaces, his face scrunching up so that the lines around his eyes crinkle. “That sounds…interesting.”

 

“Yep.” She looks around the room, checking to see if anyone is listening, but they’re all still caught up in their own conversations. “So in you walk in, likely a new transfer to the police station, and she sizes you up. She sees that you’re attractive, single, and I’m guessing a charmer if how we met is any indication. So in her head, she’s putting us together, thinking that we’d be a great match, and I can almost guarantee that she’s likely imagined what our children would look like.”

“That’s bloody disturbing.”

 

“That’s Mary Margaret. So when tonight is over, you’re going to leave, and I’m going to be bombarded with questions by her, and David will be forced to ask you questions at work tomorrow. Just say that I’m a nice girl, but I’m not your type or something cliché. They get disappointed, but it works.”

 

“Well, what makes you say that we’re not going to hit if off? I think we’re doing great.”

 

She scoffs, the familiar heat rising to her cheeks that she’s trying to tamper down so that her face doesn’t turn red. “I don’t do relationships, and I really don’t do them with people who I slept with just to release some tension.”

 

Something crosses his face, a mix between amusement and disappointment, but he quickly schools his features. “If that’s what you want.” He studies her for a minute, the blue of his eyes tracing her face until they trail down to her exposed shoulder. “I could arrest you for stealing my shirt, you know?”

 

She clicks her tongue before leaning over and whispering in his ear. “You should probably know not to sleep with random women at bars then. You never know if they might be a thief.”

 


 

She’s sitting in the corner of the Velveteen Café with her hat pulled low over her forehead and her laptop in front of her as she watches to see who Hunter Moore is meeting, if he’s even meeting anyone. He comes here nearly every day at the same time, but it’s usually always alone. If he’s with someone, it’s a fellow doctor, and she’s almost completely sure that he’s not cheating on his wife. They definitely have some obvious communication issues, but Mr. Moore seems like a guy who goes to work, eats the same lunch every day, and then goes home to his wife. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who is sleeping with a nurse on the side…unless that’s exactly what he’s doing and that’s why she hasn’t seen anything. She can’t exactly sneak around the hospital looking in on call rooms. And she’s pretty sure Grey’s Anatomy overexaggerates people sleeping together in hospitals…not that it doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen at that frequency.

 

She makes a note to figure out a way to check out what’s happening in the hospital and to see if she can find a reason to roam the hallways without breaking some kind of privacy law, but for now, she thinks that she’s likely getting paid just to tell Elizabeth Moore that she needs to talk to her husband, which is so not what her job is supposed to be.

 

Her phone rings, Mary Margaret’s picture popping up from Leo’s fifth birthday party, and she slides her finger across the screen to quietly answer so as not to disturb anyone else in the café. “Hey, Margarita.”

 

“Hi, hon,” she greets, the sound of children eating in the cafeteria at her school in the background, “do you have a minute to talk?”

 

“I’m on a bit of a stakeout, but I can multi-task. What’s up?”

 

“I just wanted to talk about the party the other night. You and Killian seemed to be getting along.”

 

And there it is. She was wondering when this was going to happen, and honestly, Mary Margaret waiting nearly a week is some impressive resolve.

 

“Marg, that may have been one of your more obvious set ups. Seriously. You have absolutely no shame.”

 

“Oh come on, Emma. The man is beautiful and so, so kind. You guys would be so good together. Why won’t you give him a chance?”

 

She sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose while watching Mr. Moore order his food (alone). “He’s a nice guy, but I’m just not interested.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“You know why.”

 

“It’s been years since Neal. You can’t let him still affect you like this.”

 

“He fucking cheated on me and then tried to frame me for him stealing jewelry. If I hadn’t been with David at the time, I’d be in jail. That’s not something you just get over.”

“Emma – ”

 

“Just no, Mary Margaret. I love you, and I appreciate all that you do, but no more set ups. No more trying to get me to be happy when I already am.”

 

“I’m…I’m sorry. I was just trying to be a good friend.”

 

“I know, and you are. But maybe we go about it in a different way, yeah?”

 

Mary Margaret sighs on the other end of the phone at the same time that a bell rings. “I’ve got to go. Will we still see you at dinner at Friday night dinner?”

 

“Yep. Can’t break that. Emily Gilmore would have my head. Love you, Margarita.”

 

“Love you, too.”

 

Moore leaves at the same time as he always does, and because she does need to check out what he does after this, she follows him back to the hospital. He stops at the reception desk, chatting with the people who work there, before moving along and taking an elevator, the doors closing before she can get there to see where he’s going. Damn.

 

Sighing, she walks back toward the entrance, fully intent to come up with some kind of new game plan, when she walks right into a solid body.

 

“If you wanted to get close to me, all you had to do was ask.”

 

Is the world out to get her? It has to be. Hasn’t she had enough bad luck in life? Can’t she catch some kind of break?

 

“Hi, Jones,” she grits, rolling her eyes and backing up, releasing her grip on his biceps, “that was, um, an accident. I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

 

He reaches up to scratch behind his ear while his lips tick up on one side. “Swan, what are you doing at the hospital? Everything alright?”

 

“I’m working.”

 

“Are you a doctor?”

 

She scoffs, the thought of her being a doctor absolutely ridiculous. “I’m a private investigator.”

 

He quirks an eyebrow again, something she’s learned that he does frequently. “Interesting.”

 

“What the hell does that mean?”

 

“Nothing, it’s just fitting for you.”

 

“Yeah, whatever,” she sighs, taking a step to the side so she can leave. “I’ve got to go.”

 

“See you around, Swan,” he smiles, subtly winking at her. “If only because we can’t seem to stop running into each other. Literally.”

 


 

For someone who she didn’t see for a month after they slept together, she sees Killian Jones at least once every few days ever since the party at David and Mary Margaret’s house. If part of her job wasn’t watching people’s moves and noticing subtle changes and differences, she’d think he was stalking her. But he’s not.

 

When she sees him at the police station while meeting David for lunch, that’s on her for going to his place of work. When he joins them for said lunch, that’s on David for inviting him. She wants to say that it’s awkward, and honestly it kind of is when he licks his lips or makes one of those creepy, sensual sounds that some people do while eating, but it’s not truly awkward. As far as she can tell, he’s not a bad guy. An incessant flirt but not a bad guy. But he’s still someone who she slept with who she has no interest in getting to know more, so she suffers through the lunch because she wants to spend time with David.

 

It’s a little bit weirder when she sees him at the grocery store, loading up on fruits and vegetables as well as fresh fish while she’s got processed food, frozen pizza, and the obligatory fruit she picks up to trick herself into being a healthy eater. She works out a hell of a lot so she can eat junk, but at some point she should likely tone it down. They say their hellos, casually look into the other’s cart, and then go on with their lives only to meet up on the sidewalk while walking home. She forgot that he lives a few apartment buildings down from her, and when she mentions that while they’re walking, his face flushes and he scratches behind his ear before dismissing the fact that she knows where he lives.

 

By the time she starts seeing him at her gym, lifting weights while she’s on mile four of her run wondering if it’s all worth it as sweat pools at the small of her back, she’s kind of accepted that he’s now a casual part of her life. They say hi, make small talk, and she tries to forget how he looks while thrusting into her as sweat coats his arms and forms at his forehead while he exercises. Yeah, so the gym is the worst place to see him. She obviously finds him attractive, wouldn’t have slept with him if she didn’t, but she’s starting to be attracted to him, which is not something that she wants.

 

Storybrooke is simply too damn small.

 

It’s pouring down rain this morning, the dips in the street filling with water while cars drive through it and splash the water up onto the sidewalk. This weather makes her absolutely miserable, and all she really wants is to cuddle up in bed and watch Netflix all day with the lights turned off. The only problem with that is that she’s starving today and doesn’t feel like cooking, so she dresses in her rain boots and coat, bundling up and driving to Granny’s, not even bothering to walk. When she walks inside, the bell ringing over the door, there’s only a few people inside, Leroy, Victor, Ashley and Sean…Killian.

 

She chuckles under her breath when she sees him sitting in the back booth, a cup of coffee and an omelet on his table while he reads the newspaper. She knew he was old fashioned, but she didn’t know he was thatold fashioned. She doesn’t know what possess her to walk across the small diner and slide into the seat across from him, but she does, the material of the booth squeaking when her wet jacket touches it.

 

“Hello, love,” Killian greets without looking up from his newspaper.

 

“What are you reading?”

 

He passes the newspaper over to her while taking a sip of his coffee, seemingly not bothered at all by her intrusion of his breakfast, and when she sees what he was reading, she’s honestly in no way shocked.

 

“You’re reading about soccer in the newspaper?”

 

“Football, Swan. It’s called football.”

 

“In America, football is something totally different and the players aren’t quite as hot as soccer players.”

 

Killian chuckles, his lips ticking up on both sides while his eyes crinkle, and she feels proud of herself for making him laugh. “I played…soccer as a child. Does this hotness thing apply to me?”

 

“Shut up, Jones,” she laughs, passing the newspaper back to him and flagging down Ruby with a wolf whistle knowing that’s the best way to get her attention when she’s flirting with Victor. “But seriously. Couldn’t you have just read about this on your phone or something?”

 

“Eh, most likely, but this paper costs a quarter, and I like to give back to a dying industry.”

 

“Aren’t you a philanthropist?”

 

“Philanthropist and hot football player. You’re flattering me this morning, Swan.”

 

“I did not say the hot thing.”

 

“I think you’re hot,” Ruby adds in when she walks up to the table, winking at Killian only for him to wink back. Something settles in her stomach. It’s heavy and unfamiliar, and she hates it. “You need some more coffee, Officer?”

 

“I believe Miss Swan was trying to get your attention, love.”

 

“I know,” Ruby sighs, looking over to her then, “I was just messing with Emma. She hates when I don’t get her food right away even when I already put in her regular order.”

 

“Such a saint, Rubes.”

 

“I know, I know. I’m going to go get your coffee now since you don’t take it black like this weirdo.”

 

Ruby walks away after pouring Killian’s coffee and as Emma’s about to excuse herself to sit somewhere else, the awkwardness beginning to sink in, her phone buzzes in her back pocket.

 

Ruby: When did you and Jones start dating?

 

If she had a drink, she’d spit it out.

 

Emma: We’re not.

 

Ruby: I don’t believe it.

 

Ruby: Do you want whipped cream on your waffles?

 

Emma: Obviously.

 

Ruby: So you are dating?

 

Emma: No, I just want the whipped cream.

 

Ruby: Okay, but don’t use it to get freaky in the bathroom.

 

She snorts as she looks down at her phone before putting it away and finding Killian with an amused look on his face as he stares at her. “What? Why are you staring?”

 

“Nothing. You just looked amused.”

 

“It’s just Ruby being ridiculous. You’ll learn her ways eventually.”

 

“So I’ve gathered since I moved here.”



“Why, um,” she begins, already regretting the words. “Never mind.”

 

“No, love, you can ask.” He smiles, nodding his head as if to encourage her that he doesn’t mind her asking him personal questions.

 

“Why did you move here? Storybrooke isn’t exactly a place where a lot of detectives want to move.”

 

Killian shrugs, taking a sip of his coffee even as steam moves above it. How is he not burning his tongue? “I, um, well, I’d been living in Boston the past few years, working there, but I needed a change of pace.”

 

“Bad breakup?”

 

“You could say that.”

 

That’s not an answer, but it’s really none of her business. He’s sharing more than she ever expected him to. “Well, I’m sorry. Breakups are hell, even if they’re amicable.”

 

“Aye.”

 

Ruby brings her food and coffee to her then, the whipped cream piled extra high on the waffles, and she has to stifle her laugh when she sees that. She and Killian chat a bit more as she eats and he finishes his food, and by the end of her meal, she realizes how normal that was, how normal a lot of their interactions have been. It shouldn’t be like this. If she were to run into any of her other one-night stands, she’d literally run in the other direction. But she’s forming what has to be a friendship with him, and she’s not sure that she likes that.

 


 

“Okay, so explain to me why we’re meeting at your house at four in the morning.”

 

“Because Killian mentioned to David that he was going to wake up early to watch a soccer game, and David invited him to watch at our house and make it this whole thing to make him feel at home. He’s apparently been through some things in the past few years.”

 

She wants to ask what things, to question it more, but it doesn’t feel right asking about his past behind his back. She’d be pissed if someone did that to her, so she leaves it be, pushing the curiosity about how bad exactly his breakup was for David and Mary Margaret to be trying to get her to watch a soccer game before the sun has even risen.


“And why am I coming to this, Margarita?”

 

“Because,” she sighs on the other end, “hey, no Leo. Don’t get something to eat. Dinner is in a few minutes. Because he doesn’t have a lot of friends, and you guys are kind of friends. Also we’re going to cook a big breakfast.”

 

“Well, now you’re speaking my language.”

 

Her alarm goes off at half past three the next morning, and instead of getting dressed, she brushes her teeth and braids her hair before driving to David and Mary Margaret’s house. She should have walked, but she doesn’t think her legs are capable of that it this moment. Of course, driving probably wasn’t the best option, but she’s here and didn’t hit anyone.

 

“I hate you,” she mumbles to Mary Margaret as soon as she walks in, immediately making her way into the living room and flopping down on the couch next to Killian who looks wide away as he turns on the television. “I hate you too.”

 

“Good morning to you too, Swan,” he greets, his voice tired but cheery. “What’s got you in such a good mood this morning?”

 

“It’s still dark outside, and I’m up to watch soccer. I don’t even do that on my own time when it’s the middle of the afternoon.”

 

“It’ll be worth it. I promise.”

 

The match starts, but with the way that the lights in the room are all turned off, all she can really do is drift off to sleep as the whistle blows. When she wakes, there’s a warm body and moving chest underneath her cheek while a hand plays with the hair at the end of her braid. The green of the field comes back into vision first, the game still going on, and then everything else comes back to her.

 

Please be David she’s leaning on. Please be David.

 

“Get in a good nap there, Swan?”

 

It’s not David. Shit.

 

“What time is it?”

 

“Just past five, love. You fell asleep before the match started.”

 

“Ah hell,” she sighs when she finally sits up, the loss of warmth immediate, “so I literally came over here for nothing.”

 

“Well, we had a nice cuddle, so I wouldn’t say that.”

 

She chokes on her own saliva, having to cough it up. She can’t believe he just said that…that he was so open to admitting that. She is not like that. She avoids and denies. She does not just state the obvious that she fell asleep on him.

 

Killian pats her back, trying to help her, but she’s pretty sure that he makes it worse. God, this is not at all how this morning was supposed to go. She was supposed to watch a sport she doesn’t care about and eat food, and all she’s done is accidentally fall asleep and drool on Killian’s shirt before choking.

 

“Did you really just say that?”

 

He shrugs. “It’s what happened.”

 

“No, I fell asleep and happened to lean to the left when I could have leaned to the right. It was an accident.” She finally looks around the room then, noticing that the other seats are empty. “Where are David and Mary Margaret?”

 

“They went upstairs and went back to bed.”

 

…no. Hell no. This is not happening. She cannot believe them. “Fuck. Are you serious?”

 

“Yeah, about thirty minutes ago they went back upstairs. Said they’d come back down for breakfast around six or seven with Leo.”

 

She gets up from the couch, shedding the blanket Killian must have covered her with before she begins pacing the room, trying to calm her heartrate even as the pacing makes it speed up. “This was another set up. And it wasn’t even subtle. A soccer game at four in the morning? Claiming that you needed some friends to watch with because you’re missing home? That’s so obvious, and I didn’t even see it. And then they go to bed when they’re supposed to be spending time here with you. What a load of crap.”

 

“Swan, I don’t think that’s what’s happening here.”

 

“Of course it is! I bet you didn’t even mention that there was a game. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

 

“Love, calm down,” Killian encourages, stepping over to her and placing his hands on her shoulders so that she looks up at him. “I did mention the match, and I have been having a hard time missing home. Last week was the anniversary of my brother’s death, and they saw that I needed some company. And I told them to go back to bed when they were yawning every two seconds. I promise this wasn’t a set up. I wouldn’t let them do that to you or to me. I’m not interested in being set up.”

 

Wait. What? His brother? He has a brother. Or really, he had a brother. Oh. Shit.

 

“Oh…I, um, I feel like an idiot. I didn’t know…about any of that, about your brother.”

 

“Tis not your fault. It’s not something I like to talk about.”

 

An awkward silence settles between the two of them, his hands still on her shoulders and her toes resting against his. If she pressed up on her toes, she could kiss him, and the thought shakes her. She’s kissed him before. He’s a damn good kisser, and she’s tempted to do it again. But now isn’t the time for something like that. He just told her about his dead brother, so instead of pressing up on her toes, she wraps her arms around his stomach and hugs him, holds him really. It takes a moment for him to hug her back, the hesitance obviously there, but he eventually does, pulling her body closer to him and feeling the heat of it.

 

“Thank you, Emma.”

 

It’s the first time he’s called her Emma, and she doesn’t know why that’s something she notices, but she does. And she feels some kind of monumental shift in…everything.

 

Instead of going back and watching the game, she and Killian head into the Nolans’ kitchen. Killian’s apparently a big cook, so he directs her in slicing apples and mixing flour all to make a breakfast casserole with bread, apples, cheese, and bacon. It sounds kind of gross, but he promises that it’ll be good. She doesn’t know when she started trusting him, but she does, in his breakfast food prowess and in life.

 

She doesn’t ask, but he tells her all about Liam and how he was a brother, father, and best friend all rolled up into one after their father abandoned them and their mom died of cancer. It breaks her heart at the same time that she’s breaking an egg, but it also reassures her that Killian understands what it’s like to be left alone. Except she found a family in David and Ruth and eventually Mary Margaret, and he lost his.

 

Liam was his Captain in the Royal Navy, literally and figuratively, and when he died ten years ago, so did Killian’s passion and love for the service and the sea. How he tells the story without breaking all while cooking is something she doesn’t understand, but maybe he’s stronger than her. Or maybe he’s learned to be alone and how to deal with his grief.

 

Mostly, she thinks he’s just being brave.

 

“So how did you end up here, though? I know you said a breakup, but that sounds like an awfully bad breakup for you to have to leave Boston. That’s a huge ass city.”

 

He pops the casserole in the oven before washing his hands, seemingly avoiding her question, but then he sits on the barstool and looks at her with the clearest blue eyes she’s ever seen. “I was dating a married woman, Milah. I bloody loved her even when I found out she was married, and I was going to stay with her. I was in too deep when I found everything out, and I think I was too weak to walk away.”

 

“What changed?”

 

“She decided to go back to her husband, or really to commit solely to her husband. And, God, love, I can’t blame her. She was never supposed to be with me, but she broke my heart regardless.”

 

She doesn’t know what to say, how to respond to that. She’s learned so much about Killian Jones in the past hour, and she’s the wrong person for him to be trusting with his heart. She doesn’t even trust herself with her own.

 

“I know you probably think I’m a fuck up,” he continues, his voice the most broken she’s heard it.

 

“Hey,” she soothes, reaching over the counter and placing her hands over his knuckles, “I don’t think that at all. We’ve all got fucked up pasts.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I could fill a book with mine. One day, I might even share them with you.”

 

“Does this mean you’re planning on speaking to me again after today?”

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

 

He smiles, and it’s beautiful. “Perhaps I would.”

 


 

Killian: Did you know you’re twice as likely to be killed by a vending machine than a shark?

 

Emma: There’s no way that’s true.

 

Killian: It is. There’s scientific proof.

 

Killian: I have a university degree, love.

 

Emma: Yeah, well, so does Leroy, and I don’t trust him.

 

Killian: I am not Leroy.

 

Emma: True, but he’s more of a charmer than you.

 

Killian: …

 

Killian: I think you owe me an apology for that.

 

Killian: I am much more charming.

 

Emma: Did you know that statistically speaking Leroy Coleman is more likely to be more charming than Killian Jones?

 

The three little dots indicating he’s typing don’t pop up immediately like they have been for the past hour, and she stares at her phone a little too long to wait for them to appear. This has been happening far too often lately, not the waiting for him to text back…just the texting in general. It’s every day, all day, even with the sporadic gaps between them when they’re working. If she thinks about it, she can piece together all of the little moments where she and Killian became friends, but she knows that the biggest part of it was that day at David and Mary Margaret’s. it’s been weeks since then, summer completely fading into fall as October began and pumpkins were placed at every door step while colorful leaves cover the ground.

 

What she can’t pinpoint is the moment she developed real feelings past attraction for him. They’ve probably always been there, simmering beneath the surface waiting to boil over ever since that first night, but she hasn’t let them. But now it’s not just the fact that she knows how he kisses and how he…maneuvers himself in the bedroom. It’s also that she knows who he is as a person. He’s kind and smart and funny, and he has the ability to turn any conversation into a dirty joke. Seriously. Last week there was one when they were talking about cherries on the top of a milkshake and…never mind. She can’t even think it without turning as red as, well, a cherry.

 

So she likes him. She likes him even though she told herself she shouldn’t, and she likes him even though she knows it’ll give Mary Margaret some kind of sick satisfaction that her set up worked, even if Emma technically met Killian all on her own.

 

Killian: What size t-shirt do you wear?

 

Emma: I feel like this is some kind of weird, creeper question.

 

Killian: Obviously, yes.

 

Emma: I wear a small for fitted t-shirts, but I usually go a size or two up for others.

 

Emma: Why?

 

Killian: That’s my secret to keep.

 

“Weirdo,” she laughs to herself, shoving her phone in her back pocket and going back to working on her new case since she finally finished the Moore case. He wasn’t even cheating, and it took months to figure out. Go figure.

 


 

“Happy Birthday,” Ruby screams the moment she walks into the Rabbit Hole, holding her arms out and smothering Emma in a hug that takes her breath away. “You need shots.”

 

“I am not getting drunk tonight, Rubes,” she tells her as she pushes her away so that she has her personal space.

 

“What the hell is the point of going out to a bar for a birthday if you’re not going to get drunk?”

 

“To celebrate me and the fact that I’ve made it twenty-eight years without dying?”

 

“Such an accomplishment.”

 

Ruby hooks her arm around her shoulders, dragging her over to where the rest of her friends are waiting…except for Killian. He’s supposed to be here. He said he would be here, and she doesn’t see him anywhere.

 

What the hell?

 

David, Mary Margaret, Victor, and Ruby keep her entertained, buying her a beer or two and not anything like vodka, and as much as she tries to not be disappointed and think about Killian, not showing up, she can’t. He is supposed to be here. He isn’t supposed to leave. So where is he?

 

“Swan,” a familiar voice yells, and she finds its owner when she looks over to the entrance. He’s standing there in black jeans and an unbuttoned plaid shirt with a white t-shirt underneath it, his hair windswept and honestly a bit crazy, but she doesn’t care. All she cares about is that he showed up…and a little bit about why he was late.

 

She starts moving at the same time that he does, his feet carrying her faster than hers, and when they reach each other, it’s like a bit of a cheesy rom com moment until he knocks his forehead into hers while going in for a hug and the both of them recoil in pain.

 

“Shit.”

 

“Fuck.”

 

“I, uh,” he holds out a wrapped present, “happy birthday, love.”

 

She takes the package out of his hands, feeling the light weight of it, before looking up at him and slapping his chest. “Where the hell were you?”

 

“Ah,” Killian sighs, scratching behind his ear and ticking his lips up on one side, “it’s your present. I meant to get it last week, but for some reason it was bloody hard to find in Storybrooke. And I got distracted and busy at work, and I had to drive to the Target outside of town tonight to get it. But then I got a flat tire, and it’s just been…it’s been a disaster. But I’m here now.”

 

“This is true. It kind of sounds like you had some shit luck there.”

 

Killian leans forward and presses a kiss against her cheek, his lips warm and whiskers rough, and she sighs into it. “I’m kind of hoping that it’s going to get better.”

 

She is too.

 

Emma keeps to her words of not getting drunk, only drinking too beers and taking one shot of tequila to appease Ruby, but even with the alcohol and slight buzz, she’s every bit as coherent as she normally is. And that’s exactly why she notices and isn’t bothered by the fact that the only one of her friends remaining is Killian, everyone else slipping out the door and going home some time ago.

 

“I should probably go home soon, Jones.”

 

“Aye. Can I walk you home?”

 

“Such a gentlemanly offer.”

 

“Well, I am always a gentleman.”

 

They walk out of the Rabbit Hole, her present from Killian still unwrapped and in her hand, before ambling out onto the streets of Storybooke and back to her apartment. Like everywhere in this town, nothing is out of walking distance, so it only takes a few minutes before they’re standing at the front door that leads into her building.

 

“You can open that, you know,” Killian suggests as he nods down to the box in her hand. “I was kind of hoping you would.”

 

“Yeah?”



“Absolutely.”

 

She carefully undoes the paper then, noticing how meticulously he’s wrapped the package, before sliding the box out and undoing the tab. She laughs when she sees the soft gray t-shirt, inside, pulling it up and holding it out. This is why he asked her the size of her shirt. How could she be so stupid so as not to think about it?

 

“You know, I like that shirt, darling. I used to have one just like it, but it seems to have disappeared.”

She hums, closing her eyes and contemplating her next words. When she says them, she means them and all of their implications, the buildup of the last few months finally reaching its peak. “I have one upstairs if you’d like to borrow it.”

 

Killian’s eyebrows practically disappear into his hairline, and he takes a step closer to her, the scent of his cologne mixed with beer invading her nostrils. “I think I’d like that.”

 

The walk upstairs is full of anticipation, the air between them incredibly thick despite the amount of space that’s separating them. Killian is keeping his distance, staying a few stairs behind her, but when they get to her door, he cages her in, pushing her into the wood and grabbing her hips while he presses gentle, hesitant kisses up and down her neck that make her head dizzy.

 

“You are a bloody marvel.”

 

The words she wants to say are caught in her throat as he nibbles on her earlobe, soothing every bite with his tongue, so instead of talking she turns in his arms and captures his lips with hers. It’s exactly the same as the first time, his body and lips warm as they press into her and his hair just as soft while her fingers sink into the locks, holding him as close as possible. But this isn’t Jones, her one night stand who she’s about to use as a way to scratch an itch. This is Killian, a friend, a confidant, and maybe something a little more that doesn’t quite sound like the Golden Girls theme song.

 

“Emma,” he breathes, his voice husky and deep, “is this going to be a one-time thing again? Because…because I can’t. I can’t be nothing to you.”

 

“I know. And it’s not. You’re not.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah,” she sighs, letting this moment sink in, “it’s just…I’m not sure if I’m ready for everything yet. I think maybe we should take it bit by bit. Naturally. I’m not good with trying to live up to expectations.”

 

“I’m not either.”

 

He kisses her again, soft and sweet and full of all of the affection that she’s been feeling for him lately. He makes her head dizzy with the way his tongue traces her bottom lip, her spine tingling with the sensations, and when he licks into her mouth, she’s glad for the door supporting her back.

 

“Do you want to…do you want to go inside?”

 

“Aye,” he growls against her jaw, “I was promised a t-shirt.”

 

Everything is different than the first time they were together. Things are slower, softer, but they’re somehow more passionate. Yeah, things are a bit awkward, bodies hitting hard surfaces and knees and elbows stabbing soft body parts while trying to maneuver into good positions, but once they’re situated, Killian slides into her in one slow motion, and she feels absolutely everything. As he moves above her, making sure that his lips never leave her lips, her skin, her hair, she gets lost in the moment, forgetting everything that’s led to them being here and just being glad that they are here.

 

After, they’re wrapped under the covers of her bed, her feet tucked between his calves while his hands roam across her skin, somehow always finding their way back to her hair and twisting with the strands. He’s so gentle and kind, things she never would have thought in the beginning, and she’s really glad that the town of Storybrooke somehow had a way of pushing them back together.

 

“So,” she sighs, scooting a little closer to him in the bed and wrapping her arms around his neck, “what do we do from here?”

 

“Well,” Killian begins, leaning forward and brushing his lips over her bare shoulder, “I think we do that a hell of a lot more.”

 

“Obviously yes.”

 

“But I also think that you let me take you out on a date or fifty.”

 

“Fifty? You’re shooting high there.”

 

He chuckles against her skin before kissing her, the softest of pecks that she barely feels. “Well, we start with one. I let you see how absolutely charming I am, and then we work our way into having fifty first dates.”

 

“Are you referencing the Adam Sandler rom com?”

 

“Absolutely. Don’t you know that Mr. Sandler is the peak romantic comedy lead?”

 

She barks out a laugh, something that she feels in her chest and the rest of her body, and she honestly just feels light, happy even. “I thought that was Tom Hanks.”

 

“Well, darling,” Killian purrs, pushing her over and crawling over her body so that he’s caging her in, “I’ll have you know that Hanks and Sandler have nothing on me.”

 

They don’t. Killian Jones far outdoes Hanks and Sandler and any other romantic comedy lead (take that Gosling) when it comes to romancing her. It’s not always easy, and she’s definitely not easy to love, but Killian doesn’t seem to care. He takes her on the first date, and if she’s honest with herself, that date never really ends. It goes on forever, and she likes it that way.

 

She likes them together. Okay, she loves them together after a couple of months, and at the end of every day, she comes home to an apartment that’s full of their things together with two gray v-neck t-shirts hanging in the closet.

 

And Mary Margaret absolutely does not get the credit for setting them up.

Chapter Text

She comes into the emergency room once every few weeks with some kind of minor injury that either needs to be scanned or stitched up. It’s never anything serious, but it’s not minor enough for her to treat herself at home. After her first few visits, he worried that she was in an abusive relationship, the black and blue bruises marking her otherwise smooth skin a clear indication of the signs that she needs help, but after following protocol and asking if she did actually need help, she laughed, her head thrown back and hair cascading down her back while her stomach moved, causing her to cringe from where she thought she might have a broken rib (she didn’t, but it was bruised). She’d then told him that she was a bounty hunter and often got injured while working.

 

He’d quirked an eyebrow, not entirely believing her story, but then she’d pulled out her phone and shown him proof of what she did, apparently having gone through inquiries like this before. He acquiesced, choosing to believe her but staying wary just in case, before sending for an x-ray and moving on to his next patient.

 

He’s checking the computer, scanning through the patients when he sees the name Emma Swan in bed seven. He didn’t see her come in, didn’t hear her call for him, and even though he’s only got thirty minutes left on his shift and should be transferring his patients to Ariel, he makes his way over to Emma, slinging the curtain over and finding her laid out in the bed with her leg propped up on a few pillows.

 

“Hello, Swan,” he greets, grabbing her chart off the end of the bedframe and hooking it over his prothesis, “what’d you do to your ankle?”

 

“I fell down the stairs while chasing this bastard who would have handled my rent for six months, and he got away while I got,” she motions to her foot, “this. It hurts like hell.”

 

“Do you think it’s broken or sprained, love?”

 

“I don’t know,” she sighs, throwing her head back against the bed and closing her eyes while her chest heaves as if she’s controlling her breathing to regulate the pain, “but I’ve never felt anything like it. I usually wouldn’t come in for a little sprain, but I can’t walk.”

 

“That sounds broken or seriously sprained, but we won’t know until you get some tests done, okay?”

 

“How long is that going to be?”

 

“Probably a few hours. We’re a bit backed up tonight despite all of these empty beds, and broken bones aren’t high priority.”

 

“Fuck that. Can I say my heart hurts to get faster service?”

 

He chuckles under his breath before sitting down on the rolling stool next to her bed, scooting closer to her and patting her hand, squeezing her soft palm before releasing it. “No, you cannot because that’ll only charge your insurance more, and we don’t want that, love.”

 

“Jones,” she groans, throwing her head back again and slinging her arm over her eyes, “you’re killing me here.”

 

“Technically, I’m in the business of saving lives.”

 

“Okay, McDreamy,” Emma laughs, moving her arm so he can see the green of her eyes that are somehow not washed out by these awful, florescent lights.

 

“So you think I’m dreamy then, love?”

 

She rolls her eyes when he waggles his eyebrows, and he feels a little sense of pride getting her to smile. It’s not that they’re all too rare, but she doesn’t give them as freely as a lot of the people he sees. Of course, he works in an emergency room where people are freaking out ninety percent of the time, so he’s usually the one smiling trying to get everyone to calm down and feel better about things that often aren’t okay. He’s just glad that he doesn’t work trauma down here. Even with all that he’s seen while deployed, he doesn’t want to do that day in and day out. He prefers things to be calmer. Fewer car crashes, more fevers.

 

Mostly, he doesn’t want to see most of the trauma. You’d think that for a man who had his left hand cut clean off, he’d be okay with helping others deal with horrifying events, but the sight of intense traumas make him queasy…which is obviously a great characteristic for a nurse.

 

“Don’t you have other patients, Jones? I feel like you shouldn’t be sitting here with me when you’re literally not even examining me or whatever.”

 

“Eh,” he grimaces, reaching up and scratching behind his ear before checking his watch, “I’ve got about ten minutes left on my shift, and I’ve been working twelve-hour shifts for, like, three days, which is definitely not up to code. But someone is buying out the hospital, and everything is a mess.”

 

“Is that why it’s going to take forever for me to get treated?”

 

“Pretty much, yeah.” He gets up from the stool and taps her shoulder. “I’ll be right back, Swan. I’m going to go finish out my paperwork and see where you are on the list. How much pain are you in?”

 

“About a four, but definitely a six if I move or put any pressure on it.”

 

“Got it.”

 

He walks out of her curtained area, leaving it open as she’s not having anything done, before walking back to the nurses’ station and sitting down at his desk, finishing checking out and trying to figure out a time estimate for Emma before she gets seen. He’s not supposed to have favorite patients and he really doesn’t, but there are people who come in more frequently than anyone should. He gets to know them whether they like it or not, and that’s pretty much how he’s gotten Emma not to snap at him every time he tries to talk.

 

That happened for the first six months of her wandering in here, but she’s come around to not despising him.

 

“Hey, A,” he calls out, grabbing Ariel’s attention from the other end of the station, “I’m off the clock, but can you make sure Emma Swan in bed seven isn’t here for an unnecessarily long time? I’m already pretty sure she just has a bad sprain and not a fracture, but there’s really no way to tell yet.”

 

“What? You don’t want to stay and take care of your girlfriend?”

 

He rolls his eyes at Ariel’s teasing before twisting in the chair and scooting over to where she’s sitting and reading over her patients. “She is not my girlfriend, and you are far too cheeky for it to be six in the morning.”

 

Ariel slants her eyes and looks him up and down before patting his cheek. “You look like shit, Killian. You need to go home and sleep.”

 

“That’s what I’m trying to do, but you keep distracting me.”

 

“I know, I know,” she laughs, straightening her scrubs. “I’m reading over everything, and I promise I’m going to take care of your girlfriend.”

 

“Not my girlfriend.”

 

Ariel winks before rising from her chair and patting him on his shoulder as she walks away. “Whatever you say.”

 


 

When he comes back to work two days later, it’s eerily calm. There are no pressing needs to be taken care of, and he’s able to sit down and drink his coffee in the lounge while scrolling through his iPad to see how all of his patients ended up. They’ve either been discharged or admitted to a room, and he makes a note to check on Mrs. Lucas when he gets a break. She’s having issues with her cholesterol even if he keeps telling her to watch how much she snacks on her diner’s food.

 

It’s damn good food, so he can’t really blame her. Well, he can, but he’d likely do the same surrounded by everything she serves.

 

He’s just closing out everyone when he gets to the end and sees Emma’s name. He reads through her report, checking all of the tests she had done, and he was right to think that it was a bad strain. But it’s apparently bad enough that she has to stay on crunches and come in for physical therapy. He may not know a lot about her, but he already knows that she’s going to hate that.

 

He hated his own physical therapy for his prosthetic and his injured leg after the accident, and he likes to think he’s a hell of a lot less stubborn than Emma Swan.

 

Sure enough, Emma comes wandering down to his station later that afternoon. She’s walking with crutches and a boot, but the most noticeable thing about her is the sour look on her face as she marches (hobbles) right toward him.

 

“Hi, Swan,” he cheerily greets, bracing himself for whatever it is she has to say.

 

“Can you take me home?”

 

Well, he wasn’t expecting that.

 

“I’m sorry, what now?”

 

Emma looks up at the ceiling and clenches her jaw while her fingers fidget over her crutches. “Look, I know that this is a weird request and probably totally inappropriate, but I can’t drive and have no way to get home.”

 

“Have you ever heard of an Uber or bus?”

 

“I don’t have a phone. It broke when I got hurt, and I’ve just been using my laptop to text my friends until I get paid again for some old cases. So I can’t use Uber. And the bus stop near my apartment is too far away for me to walk with this damn leg.”

 

“How’d you get here?”

 

“My friend best friend’s boyfriend works here, and he gave me a ride. But he’s not getting off until seven tonight, and it’s literally ten in the morning.”

 

“Ahh,” he sighs, wondering how the hell she hasn’t lost it when she’s seeming to have horrible luck. “Well, I don’t get a lunch break for two more hours. Can you wait until then?”

 

She nods her head up and down, a small smile gracing her face. “Thank you. Where can I…do you want me to wait in the…waiting room? I feel like that’s a little too on the nose.”

 

“Well, as long as you’re not on the foot.”

 

“Wow, that’s horrible,” she groans even as amusement sparkles in her eyes. “So I guess I’ll just go wait in there.”

 

“Hey…why don’t – you can…Bloody hell, I’m going to get you a chair in here, and I’ll let you keep me company while I go through some discharge paperwork, okay?”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

He finds an empty chair and carries it over to the nurses’ station. He’s not technically supposed to let her behind the counter, so he lets her sit right outside while he goes through his paperwork. She’s pretty quiet, but that’s what he expects. They don’t spend much (any) time with each other outside of him treating her when she’s getting hurt, so this is brand new territory.

 

But after about fifteen minutes she cracks and complains about how the only thing she has to look at is the floor cleaner that’s running up and down the hallway and she needs something to entertain her. Thinking on his feet, he hands her the chain of paperclips he’s been collecting over the years and asks her to unhook them. She looks at him warily, but she eventually accepts. It’s his only solution for her boredom when he really is supposed to be working.

 

It’s after she’s finished and has all of them divided up into separate piles for the colors that an idea sparks in his mind.

 

“So, I’m a right idiot for not offering this earlier, but I can call you an Uber or a cab with my phone.”

 

Her lips part and her cheeks flush a wonderful shade of pink before she covers her face with her hands. “Oh my God. We’re idiots. Seriously. How the hell did we not think of that?”

 

He chuckles under his breath and shrugs his shoulders. “I mean, I had a beautiful woman asking me to take her home. I wasn’t about to complain.”

 

Like the mature adult Emma Swan is, she sticks out her tongue at him and grabs a pen off the counter. “I know how to use this pen to hurt you, Jones.”

 

“What are you going to do? Stab me?”

 

“Fill out my care card as having bad service. I hear that’s how you guys get your bonuses.”

 

“Mighty brave of you to threaten a man’s bonus there, Swan.”

 

“Well, it’s likely not very…big.”

 

She winks at him, and all he can do is shake his head back and forth in disbelief that they’re even having this conversation. “It can be big when the time calls for it, love, but best of all, I know how to use it.” He returns her wink before adding, “But seriously. Do you want me to call you a car or are you good waiting an hour more? I don’t mind either way.”

 

Emma seems to take a minute to think about it, weighing her options, and he braces himself for the not surprising disappointment that will come when she asks for him to call her a car. But then maybe he’s surprised in another way. “I can wait. I literally don’t have anything to do. It’s not like I’m working anyways.”

 

So she stays while he finishes his paperwork and checks on a few patients, requesting tests and administering medicine when needed. There’s a particularly nasty wound he has to clean out from a patient who doesn’t wash himself regularly. It’s gruesome and disgusting, but he deals with other people’s bodily fluids every day. At some point you become immune to certain things.

 

When it’s time for his lunch break, he makes sure his patients are covered before heading back to the nurses’ station to find Emma and Ariel chatting…which absolutely cannot be a good thing. He and Emma do not have an Izzie and Denny situation (don’t get him started on how inaccurate Grey’s Anatomy is because he may never stop complaining), but they are friends maybe. He’s not really sure. They chat, they tease, they give each other ride’s home…this one time. But it’s completely platonic. It’d be unprofessional otherwise.

 

But he does like the lass. She’s a spitfire and could kick his ass even with her sprained ankle if he were to ever do something she didn’t appreciate.

 

“Wait. He brings baked goods in every week? Is he some kind of saint?”

 

“I don’t think someone can be a saint and flirt with women quite that much, but he makes a damn good peanut butter cookie.”

 

“Huh,” Emma sighs as he tries to keep his cheeks from going red even if he can already feel them heating, “I guess I’ll have to time my next accident better so I can come in on a baked goods day.”

 

“Oh, I’m sure he’d give you whatever you want no matter what day you come in.”

 

“Alright then ladies,” he interrupts, clapping his prothesis down on the counter so Ariel will shut the hell up, “I’ve got to get Emma here home because I’m sure my lunch break will somehow get cut short.”

 

Ariel winks at him while Emma is leaning down to pick up her purse, and his eyes bulge while he mouths for Ariel to shut up. She’s going to be the death of him. If there was any way for her to be embarrassed, he’d do it. And teasing her about being named after The Little Mermaid because she has red hair does not work at all. He would know. He’s tried.

 

Emma questions him about his goods, baked that is, on the walk to his car. He’s parked a bit far away, but she seems to be handling the crutches well. It’s casual, easy conversation, and it takes out the awkwardness that he thinks would usually surround a situation like this. It’s only about a fifteen minute drive to Emma’s apartment building, and when he pulls up to the street parking, he lets out a low whistle. It’s a nice place in a good area, and he wonders how the hell a bounty hunter affords a place like this when he lives with two roommates in a crappy apartment. Of course, he could live somewhere else, but he kind of likes not having to carry the rent on his own and being able to save up for whatever his future may hold.

 

“This is a swanky place, Swan.”

 

She shrugs. “I get a good deal.”

 

“Wasn’t asking.”

 

“You were wondering.”

 

“How could you possibly know that?”

 

“I’ve spent hours of my life staring at your face while you stitch me up. You learn to read a guy. It helps that your face is more expressive than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

 

“So you’re staring at my face a lot then, love?”

 

He waggles his eyebrows, and she rolls her eyes, something he’s seen her do more times that he can count. Two can play at whatever game this is.

 

“You’re impossible, Jones.” She reaches behind her to get her crutches before opening the door and stepping out. “Thanks for the ride.”

 

“Wait, do you have a way to get to your next therapy session?”

 

“Yeah,” she smiles, tapping his open door, “I do. I’m getting a new phone before Friday, so I’ll just call an Uber then.”

 

“I thought you said you had to wait until you get paid?”

 

“I get a payment on Thursday. Don’t worry about it, though. I’ll be back to normal in no time. And Killian?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“My favorite kind of dessert is anything with cinnamon.”

 


 

He’s not exactly sure when he becomes actual friends with Emma Swan, his favorite frequent flier to the emergency room, but he thinks it happens somewhere between him driving her home and her visiting him after her therapy appointments. Or maybe it’s because he brought in snicker doodle cookies as well as several other dishes with cinnamon in the month where she was visiting the hospital three times a week.

 

They only really see each other in the hospital, but he does manage to snag her phone number when she asks for the recipe to a cinnamon coffee cake. Most recipes he finds online, but that one is his mother’s, something she left to him before she died, and so it’s at home stored in a box of all of her things. He doesn’t tell Emma all of this, not wanting to load her down with the emotional implications of something as small as a cake, but he does take her number to text her the recipe later.

 

Actually, that’s probably where their real friendship starts. He texts her the recipe, and she texts back saying thanks. But then a few hours later he gets several texts in a row accompanies by pictures talking about how “fucking awful” baking is and how she never should have tried this. He laughs when he sees them, especially when he opens the picture of Emma with flour spilled down her t-shirt. How the hell did she manage to do that?

 

So they start texting and stop seeing each other in person. He can’t really complain about that because it means that Emma’s ankle is healing and she’s not getting hurt while at work. He feels like he takes a physical beating after every shift. He has no idea how the hell she manages to take an actual one.

 

And he’d really hate to see the other guy.

 

He’s sure that is rough because if he were to describe Emma Swan in one word, it’d be badass.

 

It’s a Friday evening, one he’s thankfully got off of work, when his phone rings and Emma’s name pops up.

 

“Hello?”

 

“I need your help.”

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“No. I mean, yes. I’m fine. It’s a…baking emergency.”

 

He barks out a laugh that causes Will to give him a side eyed glance from his spot on the recliner in front of the TV. He’s not about to anger the beast while he’s watching a football game, so he stands from the couch and walks to his room, shutting the door behind him.

 

“What the hell is a baking emergency?”

 

“You’re British. Don’t you watch the Great British Bake Off? They have baking emergencies all of the time.”

 

“Oi, that’s stereotyping to assume I watch.”

 

“Killian, you’re British and you bake. There’s a pretty good chance you watch the show.”

 

“I neither admit or deny anything. I’ve got to keep some parts of me mysterious. Now what’s this so called emergency?”

 

Emma sighs on the other end of the line before he hears a loud crash and several muttered curses of shit, fuck, shit, fuck, damn. “Okay, so it’s stupid, but my friends and I have this…tradition.”

 

“Go on, love.”

 

“It’s…back when we were broke and needed to give each other gifts for holidays, we would make them to save money. And, I mean, we’re older now with a bit of money, but we still do it.”

 

“And you were trying to bake for your gift?”

 

“Yep. It’s my friend Ruby’s birthday, and I decided to get a little more complex than cookies and make your cake even though I spectacularly failed the first time. But this one tastes like…it’s inedible, and I need you to talk me through the steps because her party is in three hours.”

 

An idea forms in his head. It’s kind of risky considering the tentative tight rope he’s walking with her, but as he’s learning, it can’t hurt (or maybe only hurt a little) to ask…or to offer.

 

“Do you…I can come over to help.”

 

When she’s silent on the other end of the line, he thinks he’s pushed her too hard, offered too much. But then she sighs and mutters, “you would literally be my savior, Killian Jones.”

 


 

“Bloody hell, Swan,” he curses under his breath when he walks into her apartment and sees the mess she’s created as well as inedible cake that’s sitting on the counter. “Why are you always creating such a mess?”

 

“Because I am a messy person.” She shuts the door behind him and ushers him further inside. “Now tell me what the hell I’m doing wrong.”

 

He walks into the kitchen and looks over Emma’s mess of a kitchen, and before he does anything else like clean the place, he takes a bite of the cake before immediately spitting it out and into her sink, rinsing out the taste with the water from her faucet. “Good God, that’s awful.”

 

“I know. I already told you that.”

 

“But I hadn’t tasted it. That’s…something else.”

 

“Just help me please.”

 

They have to clean out all of her bowls and pans first, scrubbing everything down. He doesn’t have his usual kitchen set up, so it’s a bit awkward moving around with Emma and handling things with his prothesis. But they figure it out, and Emma, like always, doesn’t make any kind of deal out of the fact that he only has one hand. Most people aren’t as tactful. They either blatantly stare or just ask what happened. Some patients rude enough will even ask for a new nurse. And maybe that’s one of the things that’s endeared him to Emma. Yeah, she’s a spitfire and keeps him on his toes, but she never makes him feel like less of a human being for only having one hand. She simply treats him as he is, which is something that’s been rare when meeting someone new.

 

After they clean, he starts the process of baking, walking her through each step even if he’s not one to be much of a teacher. He’s not sure if she actually leans anything, but he easily sticks the cake in the oven while Emma cleans up their mess.

 

“Um, so,” Emma begins, wiping her hands on her shorts, “I’m going to go get ready for the party. You can make yourself comfortable. I don’t care if you look around.”

 

He nods while she walks off, her long, tan legs on display to him until she disappears around the corner. He’s always known she was attractive, been attracted to her, but damn. Those shorts have nearly killed him the entire time he’s been here. He’s become pretty acquainted with her kitchen in the past hour, so after checking on the cake, he wanders into her living room. She’s got floor to ceiling windows that look out onto a park, lush green trees decorating the ground. He can’t help but compare it to the way his bedroom looks at an another brick building. Maybe one day he’ll have a view like this if he ever decides he doesn’t want roommates.

 

All of her furniture is cozy, soft whites and grays covered with plaid blankets and fluffy white pillows. Emma’s got such a hard exterior, but as he’s gotten to know her, he knows those are just walls she’s built up over the years from whatever has happened in her past. But she’s really made this apartment feel like a home, somewhere she can obviously relax. After looking through her bookshelf, he sees a telescope that’s sitting in the corner. He picks it up, the dust on it showing that it’s obviously unused, before adjusting the scope and looking out at the park.

 

“You see anything you like, Jones?” Emma asks, her voice shocking him so that he nearly drops the telescope. But he doesn’t, catching it and turning to see Emma bending over and slipping into a pair of heels that extend her legs in the black skinny jeans that she’s got on. Her tank top dips down, showing the tops of her breasts, and he has to look away before he does something stupid.

 

Something stupid like kissing her.

 

He knows she’s talking about his view with the telescope, but all he can think about is that he very much likes how Emma looks…that he likes Emma. Gulping, he pushes all of his thoughts down while trying not to look like an idiot. “I was just…you’re fantastic. I mean, this is fantastic. The view. With the telescope. Not you. Though you do look fantastic.”

 

Yeah, there goes the not looking like an idiot thing.

 

“Thank you, Killian.” She seems to hesitate for a minute, bringing her bottom lip between her teeth. “Look, so I know this might be a bit awkward, but you just came over and helped me, which is something you didn’t have to do. So, like, if you’re not busy, would you like to come with me to my friend’s party? It’s super low key. It’s just at her boyfriend’s house. You might know him. Victor Whale?”

 

Heat rises to his cheeks at the prospect of spending the night with Emma. He should say no and go home, but he wants to go, to spend more time with her. The past hour has been wonderful, and he’s not sure if he’s quite ready to give up her company.

 

“Aye, I do know him, and I’d love that.”

 


 

“No, I’m serious,” Killian laughs, taking another sip of his beer while Emma does the same. They’re sitting in Victor’s living room with all of Emma’s friends who he’s gotten a crash course in over the past few hours. “The craziest thing I’ve ever seen at work was a man with a python head attached to his side.”

 

“Where the hell was the body?” David asks, his voice incredulous. It’s almost as if he doesn’t believe this is a true story, but he thinks David might just be naturally suspicious. He’s been eyeballing him all night.

 

“The guy cut it off to try to get the snake to let go. Obviously it didn’t work.”

 

“And this dude just had a freaking python as a pet?”

 

“Yep.” He takes another slow sip of his beer, letting the liquid wash down his throat, while wrapping his arm around the back of the couch so that his prosthetic lands on Emma’s bare shoulder. He swears that she leans in a bit closer to him, their thighs already touching, but he’s probably imagining it. “There’s some weird shit that happens.”

 

“Why don’t you work trauma, Jones?” Victor asks. “You’re a hell of a nurse. You’d be fantastic at it.”

 

He gulps, not prepared for this question. He’s never had to explain his reasoning to anyone, and he doesn’t want to explain to a group of perfect (almost, he has known them for a few hours now) strangers. So he shrugs and fakes a smile. “It’s not something that I want. I prefer broken bones and cut fingers with the occasional snake head. I like to be low key.”

 

Emma must hear something in his voice because her hand finds his knee and squeezes before she speaks. “So Rubes, let’s talk about that rock on your finger. That was not there yesterday, and I can’t believe you haven’t been squealing about being freaking engaged all night long.”

 

He and Emma have both sobered up by the time Ruby’s birthday party is over, his cinnamon coffee cake (which was much more edible than Emma’s) soaking up the little alcohol they’ve had, so she drives him back to her apartment, finding a spot just behind his car. They don’t linger while inside of her bug, but they do when they are both get out and wait next to his.

 

“Thanks for tonight,” Emma finally says, swaying into his space. Her heels make them nearly the same height, and he can still smell the cinnamon on her breath. “For the cake and for coming to the party.”

 

He sways a bit into her space as well, feeling bolder than usual when it comes to her. “Perhaps gratitude is in order.” He’s not sure what possesses him to tap his lips, but he does.

 

Emma snickers under her breath. “That’s what the thank you was for.”

 

“Is that all saving you from a baking emergency is worth?”

 

“Please,” Emma laughs, her voice lighthearted even as they move closer into each other’s space, “you couldn’t handle it.”

 

“Perhaps you’re the one who couldn’t handle it.”

 

Emma’s grabbing onto his jacket collar and smashing her lips into his before he can take a breath. It wouldn’t matter anyways because she steals his breath from him with the way her lips move over his and her body melds into his. Her lips are soft and warm, and he can taste her Chapstick when he finally returns the kiss and slides his hand into her hair while his prosthetic rests on her waist just under her shirt. Her hair is just as soft as her lips, if not softer, and the little groan she emits stirs him on to run his tongue over her bottom lip.

 

This is everything he didn’t know he wanted. Or really, he did know he wanted it, but he never really allowed himself to think of being with Emma as anything other than a fantasy. It’s been a long time since he’s been with a woman he actually cared about, and as they really begin to settle into the kiss, their lips moving in harsh but perfect sync, he knows that he wants to be with Emma Swan more than he’s ever wanted to be with anyone.

 

And that’s exactly what makes it so hard when she says her next words.

 

“That was – ” he stutters, trying to catch his breath while his forehead presses against hers.

 

“A one time thing.” She pulls back, taking a step away from him, “Goodnight.”

 

And then she’s practically sprinting into her building and out of sight all while he wonders about how many ways Emma Swan can steal his breath away.

 


 

“What’s up with you today, Jonesy?”

 

“You know I hate when you call me that, Lil’.”

 

“Yeah, well, you know I hate when you make fun of my name.” Ariel knocks her shoulder into his. “Seriously, Killian. What’s wrong with you?”

 

“Nothing,” he lies, eating another forkful of his salad. “I’m fine.”

 

“I have worked with you for half a decade, and you only get all dark and broody a couple times a year. It’s not one of your usual times.”

 

“You’ve been watching me too closely, A.”

 

“It’s what friends are for.” She puts her hand on his hand then, squeezing and encouraging him to look up at her. He does, and all he can see is kindness in her eyes. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

 

“I kissed Emma.”



“What?” she basically screams, excitement dancing across her features that he’s going to have to crush her spirit. “When? Was it good? I bet it was good. You guys are a very attractive couple, so I imagine the making out is fantastic. Not the I was really imagining it.”

 

“Ariel,” he sighs, managing to chuckle under his breath, “calm down.”

 

“Sorry, sorry.” She’s still bouncing in her chair, and he wonders how one person can be so bubbly. “I’m just excited.”

 

“Don’t be. It was a month ago, and we haven’t talked since.”

 

Her face and spirit immediately deflates, but there’s no way she can feel worse than he does.



“Why?”

 

“She told me it was a one time thing and then walked away. I’ve tried texting her, but she doesn’t respond. So I guess she’s just cutting off communication.”

“Well, I think she’s awesome, but if she’s going to lose a catch like you, she’s probably fighting some kind of internal battle. Does she have a bad history with people?”

 

“I don’t know actually.”



“Jones, that’s something you’ve got to find out about people you’re dating.”



“We weren’t dating.”

“You were basically dating.”

 

“Yeah, whatever.”

 

“Maybe, I don’t know…maybe text her today, ask if you can talk. You might not have been dating, but you deserve some answers.”

 

“Aye,” he agrees, even if he’s sure he won’t actually text her, not wanting another text to go unanswered. And he’s not even sure if he really deserves any answers. Emma doesn’t owe him anything.

 

But he’s a bloody fool, and he does end up texting Emma again despite every organ in his body telling him not to. If his organs could talk. They can’t. He knows this, but the rapid beating of his heart is obviously telling him something.

 

Killian: Hey, Swan. I know you probably won’t answer this, but I was wondering if you’d be willing to talk. Hope work is going well.

 

His day goes on as usual, patient after patient and pile of paperwork after pile of paperwork. He stands so much that his feet ache and his prosthesis is rubbing into his skin to the point of discomfort. All he wants is to go home, but he’s got another two hours before his shift is over.

 

The hours pass as slowly as they ever have, and no amount of coffee is helping him stay awake. He’s removing his gloves after seeing a patient when Ariel taps on his shoulder with a timid smile on her face.

 

“Whatever favor you need, just go ahead and ask, okay?”

 

“I don’t need a favor. It’s…Emma’s here.”

 

He sighs, looking up at the ceiling and pinching the bridge of his nose. “What does she need? Stitches, an X-ray? Can you work with her? I really don’t want to deal with her right now.”

 

“That’s the thing, Killian,” Ariel sighs. “She’s not in our sector. She came in with a shot to her shoulder and is up in recovery. She had to have surgery.”

 

His legs wobble beneath him, but he refuses to fall or feel weak. He can already feel his throat closing in on itself, emotions blocking his airway, and all he can think about is that he needs to see her. He has no right to, but he needs to.

 

“Is she okay?”

 

“Ashley is her nurse. Told me she’s fine, but she’s still a bit groggy from the anesthesia. You should go see her.”

 

“I don’t think she’d want me there.”

 

“Just go, Killian. Room 736.”

 

He nods before walking toward the elevator, pressing the button before deciding to take the stairs. He needs time to think, to breathe. He doesn’t know what he and Emma are to each other, if they’re even anything, but he needs to see that she’s okay with his own eyes. She may kick him out the moment he walks in her room, but at least he’ll know she’s okay.

 

His breathing is heavy by the time he makes it to the seventh floor, and when he gets to room 736, he pauses, taking a deep breath and calming himself down. She’s alone when he walks in the room, and he wonders where her friends are. Even after only knowing them for a night, he knows they’d drop everything to be here with her if she’s hurt. She’s only hooked up to a few machines, and as much as he’s used to her being hooked to an IV, this is different, especially with the heavy strapping over her right shoulder.

 

“Hi,” she croaks, her voice harsh, when she sees him. It’s too late to turn back now. “Water. Can I have water?”

 

He nods as he checks her chart, making sure it’s okay, before grabbing the cup and filling it up in the bathroom sink. When he hands it to her, her hand is a little shaky, the anesthesia and painkillers obviously having an effect on her.

 

“Thank you,” she sighs, her voice stronger even though she looks weak.

 

“You’re welcome.” He moves to sit in the chair that’s next to her bed, scooting it as close as possible so she doesn’t have to yell. “What the hell happened, love?”

 

“I got shot.”

 

“Obviously,” he laughs, shaking his head from side to side. “How did you get shot? How badly are you hurt?”

 

“I was distracted, not paying enough attention to my mark, and he shot me. And it fucking hurts. I’m not entirely sure what’s been done. I know I had surgery, but that’s about it.”



“That’s all I know too. Your chart doesn’t say much. I’ll ask when your doctor comes into check on you.”

 

“Okay,” she sighs, closing her eyes and falling back against her pillow. He thinks she might have fallen back asleep when she speaks again, “I’m sorry I ran, Killian.”


“Swan, don’t worry about it. Now is not the time.”

 

“You’re here. I’m here. I think it’s the perfect time.”

 

“You’ve just had surgery. You need to rest.”

“I can talk, Jones. I’m…I’m fucked up. I don’t trust a lot of guys, but I trust you.”

 

“I…why?”

 

“Why to which part?”

 

“Both, I guess.”

 

Emma laughs a little, a small smile twitching on her face. “When I was sixteen, I ran away from my foster home. I was done with it, and as luck would have it, I met a guy. He was sweet, charming, older, and he taught me all of these things about living on the run. The thing I didn’t realize was that he, Neal, was going to run away from me and frame me for the watches he stole. So I go to jail with a broken heart, broken spirit, and a criminal record that has stuck with me for over a decade now.”

 

His fist curls in his lap, his skin likely marked with red crescent moons from his nails, but he has to control his emotions here. He has to be calm. Emma’s been through a lot, and not just the surgery. He has too, and that’s precisely how he knows why getting upset over the past won’t do either of them any good right now.

 

“He sounds like a bloody bastard. You deserve better than that.”

 

“I know that. But my point is, I am hard to love. Or to like, really. I’m not always broken. I can be a friend, but anything more than that terrifies me. So I run. And I ran from you.”

 

“I don’t blame you.”

 

“Yes, you do.” She rolls her eyes. He missed that. He missed her. “The only reason you’re even in here now is because I got shot. I’ve avoided you for weeks.”

 

“I care about you, Emma. That hasn’t changed.”

 

“It should have.”

 

“Hey,” he soothes, getting up from his chair and gently sitting down on the edge of her bed, taking her hand and putting it in between his hand and his prosthetic, knowing she won’t be bothered by the foreign plastic feeling, “Emma, if you think I’m not fucked up too, you’re wrong. I get running. I’ve run my entire life.”

 

“Does the running have to do with why you don’t work in trauma?”

 

If he can read her like an open book, she can do the same.



“Aye.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“I was…in the Navy. With my brother actually, and there was an accident on our ship. We crashed, and my hand got jammed in crushed metal. So I lost my brother and my hand all in one day. And I lost my girlfriend two weeks later because she didn’t want to be with someone with one hand.”

“Well, she sounds like a bloody bastard too,” Emma jokes, obviously uncomfortable with what he’s said, the tragedy of it all. “I’m sorry, Killian. I can’t imagine going through something like that.”

 

“Sometimes I don’t believe that it was real. But yeah, that’s why I have one hand and no brother and an aversion to trauma. And to women who aren’t you.”

 

Silence settles between the two of them while everything they just said sinks in. He’s still got no bloody clue what’s happening, but he never really has with Emma. Like always, he goes with it, seeing what happens and hoping for the best.

 

He can’t hope for anything else because at this point, he’s halfway in love with the woman despite everything.

 

Or maybe because of everything.

 


 

Emma’s released from the hospital two days later, and he stops by her apartment with baked goods after his shifts. He’s not entirely sure how Emma getting shot gets them back on the track of wherever they were before, but it does. While she recovers, he stays with her as much as possible, Ruby and Mary Margaret popping in as well, and they all binge the Great British Bake Off, leaning into the stereotypes of his roots.

 

Nothing is quite as heavy as the two of them spilling their guts to each other in the quietness of a hospital room, machines buzzing in the background while sneakers squeak out in the hallways. It’s more lighthearted, like it was before their kiss, and he can’t say that he hates it.

 

Eventually she recovers fully and goes back to work. He can’t blame her. It’s her job, and she’s damn good at it. But he’s seen every injury she’s gotten from it in the past two years, and the last one was the worst of all. But she keeps him updated when she travels to catch someone, and when she gets back home, he’s one of the first to know. Usually she just shows up at his apartment, much to the chagrin of Will and Jeff but to the delight of him. She’ll plop down next to him on the couch and cuddle into his side, her hair always smelling of the different hotel shampoos when it doesn’t smell of her regular vanilla.

 

He grows used to her being around and by his side. Sometimes she’ll stay over at his place despite him living in a small apartment with two other guys who don’t always clean up after themselves. Those nights are his favorite, he thinks. She’ll tell him goodnight before wrapping her body around his and falling asleep with her cheek pressing into his chest. He’s got no bloody clue what they are, but he doesn’t care. He likes it, even if he wants more.

 

But Emma is different in all of the best ways, and he’ll take her allowing him back in at her pace.

 

He wakes one morning to her hair in his face and her legs stuck in between his calves. Emma Swan is a cuddler, something he never would have expected, but again, he’s not complaining. He likes waking up with her even if he’s got to get up before the crack of dawn to go to work. He slowly slides out of bed, untangling their legs and leaving her softly breathing into his vacated space while he heads into her bathroom and hops in the shower, quickly washing himself before getting out and dressing in the scrubs he left here last week.

 

“Hey,” Emma mumbles when he walks back into her bedroom. Her hair is mused on one side, and she’s got pillow creases marking her cheeks. “Do you have to go to work?”

 

“I do. You want to get dinner tonight?”

 

She hums in affirmation before stretching her hands above her head, her tank top lifting all the way up to show off the hard lines of her stomach. He’s not complaining about their weird friendship, but things like her showing that much skin do make it a tad bit difficult, especially when his scrubs show absolutely everything.

 

The fact that he wakes in the morning with an erection pressed into her skin probably doesn’t help either.

 

“Actually, I was thinking we could go on a date.”

 

His legs feel like Jell-O beneath him when her words sink in. Is she delusional? Is she talking in her sleep? Is he delusional? Is this all a dream?

 

“You okay there, Jones?”

 

He shakes himself out of it, looking down at Emma who is timidly smiling up at him. “I’m, uh, what…you want to go on a date?”

 

She shrugs her shoulders while biting at her bottom lip. “Why not? I mean, hell, Killian. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t stay with the other person. It’s weird don’t you think? That we’re not dating.”

 

“I was just going along with what I thought you wanted.”

 

“I want to go on a date. Don’t you?”

 

He takes several steps forward and bends his knees, gently cupping her face and running his fingers over her left cheek, before slanting his lips overs hers. It’s slow and soft, and when Emma hums into it, he nearly groans at the vibrations and feeling her lips against his after so long.

 

“I’d love to go on a date with you.”

 


 

“So we’re exactly are we going, darling?”

 

They’re walking the streets of downtown Portland, and Emma’s leading him with her hand on his prosthetic. He’ll never get over how naturally comfortable she is with it or his blunted end. It took awhile, but in their weeks of spending the night together, he eventually became comfortable taking it off and letting her see the rough edges and red scars. His heart legitimately stuttered, something that was not healthy in the slightest, but then at the same time, a lot of things settled for him.

 

“We, my extra special man friend, are going on a food tour.”

 

“Bloody hell. Why?”

 

She shrugs, a smile stretching across her face. “I thought it would be fun to be a tourist for a few hours. I mean, how often do you get to explore a city you’ve been living in for years?”

 

“Unless the exploring happens within the walls of the hospital, never.”

 

“Exactly, so since I asked you out, I took the liberty of googling touristy things to do in Portland and paid for us to follow around a group of other tourists while eating. Just so you know, we’re Emma and Killian from Buffalo, New York.”

 

“Why Buffalo?”

 

“Because people would ask about Manhattan. No one cares about Buffalo.”

 

Emma’s right when she says people don’t care about Buffalo. No one in their group asks or seems to care, walking down the street in their weirdly white sneakers that look like they’ve never been worn and in, he swears, actual fanny packs. If he’d known he had to dress the part of a tourist, he totally would have broken out the Hawaiian shirt he has from a party he went to a few years ago…it was not his best moment. But they’re guided around downtown, walking along the port and on cobblestone streets before stopping in small hole in the wall restaurants that he’s walked by but never gone in.

 

There’s a hell of a lot of lobster (it is a Maine tour after all), but it’s mixed in with other foods. He likes it with the macaroni and cheese even if Emma complains that she wants regular macaroni and cheese. The lobster rolls are honestly pretty good as well, but mostly he likes when they stop in a bakery and can pick anything they want. This is more up Emma’s alley, especially when they find a cinnamon coffee cake. But Emma tells him she doesn’t want that because it could never compare to his.

 

“It was my mother’s recipe, you know?”

 

“Yeah?” she questions while looking into a display case of cupcakes.

 

“Yep. She left it to me when she died because she knew that I liked to bake. I’d always help her when I was a kid.”

 

Emma turns to look at him then, twisting on her toes and pressing up to quickly slant her lips over his. His eyes flutter closed at that contact, and he can feel her smile into it.

 

“Swan, the date isn’t even over yet. It is against my delicate sensibilities for your lips to touch mine.”

 

“Well, you screwed the pooch on that one this morning when you stuck your tongue down my throat.”

 

“What a horrible saying.”

 

He buys Emma a box of s’mores cupcakes that they carry with them for the rest of the tour. She leaves them behind in one of the pubs they walk into, but she quickly remembers and runs back to it, meeting him and the group with sweat beading at her temples and her chest heaving up and down. It’s possibly the most light-hearted he’s ever seen her when she gets back at his side and wraps her arm around his elbow, holding on tight.

 

The entire night is cheesy and a tad bit ridiculous, but it’s by far the best date he’s ever had.

 

It probably helps that he’s in love with the woman who’s been his companion for it.

 

So when they get back to her apartment and she asks if he wants to come up for a cupcake, he obviously says yes.

 

It doesn’t take long for his lips to find hers again. The moment they’re inside he backs Emma into her front door and presses their bodies together so that he can feel every inch of her while their lips move together in a slow, passionate kiss. Emma’s hands find his back pockets, squeezing his ass, and his hand rests in her hair. He bloody loves her hair.

 

When her tongue finds its way into his mouth, a slick wet slide of cinnamon and beer, he groans and feels the sensations all the way to his toes. When Emma makes a similar sound, he nearly loses it right there. Instead he controls himself and rolls his hips into her, making her mouth fall way from his as he traces the skin of her jaw and her neck with his mouth.

 

His mind is blurry with lust (and love), but he takes the time to learn what she likes. For two people who share an intimacy that he’s never quite experienced before, they don’t know much about what the other enjoys. But they learn quickly as he nibbles on her ear and she throws her head back against the wood while her hands brush against the front of his jeans.

 

And as they slowly but surely make their way into her bedroom, they slowly but surely learn more about each other. Emma’s glorious as she moves above him later that night, her breasts bouncing and hair falling down her bare back while she smiles down at him. He lets her control the pace as he’s always done. It’s what they both want, how they both like things to be, and he’s got absolutely nothing to be complaining about.

 

It’s lovemaking if he’s ever experienced it, and when he flips them over, slipping out of her for just a second, he thinks he might see love in Emma’s eyes. But then he’s sliding back into her while her legs wrap around his ass and her hands find his, and it’s forgotten as he drowns in the pleasure of it all.

 

He’s nearly drowned before, but in this way, he doesn’t mind.

 

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispers against her lips while he thrusts into her in slow, long movements.

 

“You are too,” she smiles, squeezing his hand while her other hand holds onto his blunted wrist. “I…”

 

She never finishes her sentence because he releases her hand and rubs at where they’re joined, letting her find her pleasure before he finds his. But as he falls apart above her and within her, he does wonder what it is she was going to say.

 


 

 There’s no fooling around with what they are after that night. They’re together, officially and unequivocally, and he can’t remember the last time he was this happy. He’s got a partner in all that he does. If he has a bad day at work, she’s there to comfort him, wrapping her arms around his waist and kissing whatever skin she can find before listening to him spew his troubles, never judging him for how he feels. The same goes for her, though he learns that comforting Emma depends on the situation. Sometimes she likes to be held in silence, only his hand moving up and down her arm while his lips kiss her hair to make her feel better. Sometimes she needs a rough, quick fuck only to open up about what she’s feeling in the afterglow.

 

But she’s not just around for the bad times. She’s there for the good as well. Their living situation never really changed. They’re always together, so on mornings where he doesn’t have to be at work at six, they’ll wake up and make breakfast while blaring music from Emma’s phone (she claims that she has better taste in music, and while she does, he’s not going to admit that quite yet). Even on the days when he pops toast in the oven and Emma’s not having any of his soft kisses behind her ear or his tendency to like to talk a lot in the morning, he loves those moments. There are likely a million reasons they’re together, but really, he thinks he owes it to his mum’s cinnamon coffee cake.

 

When she told him she’d be looking out for him always, he didn’t quite think it would be in this way.

 

They’ve officially been together for four months when they’re lounging in his bed, having stumbled home there after a night out instead of going back to her place, and he can hear Jeff and Will sitting in the living room mumbling over whatever it is they’re watching. Emma’s tracing his chest her with her finger, curling it around her skin, while she breathes out onto his neck.

 

“I love you,” she whispers into his skin, and his breath hitches, chest noticeably moving beneath her. “I have for a while now. I’m sorry for not saying it.”

 

He gulps, trying to keep away the tears in his eyes. He’s loved Emma for a long time now, but really, no one has told him they loved him in years and that hits harder than he expected. She said the words. She means the words. And he feels freer than ever once his breathing settles.

 

His finger finds her chin, bringing her gaze up to him before he dips down and brushes his lips over hers, once, twice, three times. “I love you, Emma. More than anything.”

She smiles then, his words not pushing her over the edge, and everything in his life settles.

 

Eventually he does move out of his apartment, not seeing the point in staying there when they mostly stay at Emma’s for the privacy. Like everything with them, there are often rocky starts, but things progress as naturally as possible. They fit together. Maybe not perfectly, but he doesn’t think anyone truly is a perfect fit for another. But where his edges are jagged, she knows how to soothe, and where Emma is hardened, he knows how to be soft. So they work, plain and simple, and he chooses not to question any of it.

 

And after a year together, he buys a ring and Emma finally learns how to make the cinnamon coffee cake.

 

The third time is obviously the charm.

Chapter Text

She hates him when they first meet. She hates him, and it’s not to any (okay, so much is a better word here because it really is partially on him) fault of his own, not really. She doesn’t like change, and after David being her partner for three years, she’s not exactly receptive to him getting a promotion to Lieutenant. Of course she’s proud of him and happy for him. He wants to be Captain one day, so this is a natural step. It just means David won’t be kicking by her side (but not a sidekick, as he likes to point out) every day.

 

So in comes Killian Jones from another district with his overwhelming confidence and relentless innuendos that border on the line of inappropriate. But they never do cross the line. He is an expert at toeing the line, apparently. If anything, she probably would find them funny, enjoying the way he manages to turn anything into a joke, but he is David’s replacement, and everything he does annoys her.

 

Seriously. Everything.

 

She is annoyed with the way he takes his coffee (seriously, who drinks just black coffee?), the way he ticks his right eyebrow up when asking a question instead of actually asking the question, the way he flirts with half of the people they question when out on a case, and in all honestly, she really hates the way he listens to NPR instead of music when they are out driving on the way to a crime scene.

 

But after four months of having a new partner – and after what is basically the equivalent of getting yelled at by a parent when David sits her down and tells her to give Killian a chance – she learns to accept Killian and the fact that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So maybe she realizes that not everyone has to load more coffee creamer into their coffee than the actual coffee like she does, and maybe she realizes that she does the eyebrow thing too, possibly much more often than Killian does. And she definitely realizes that while, yes, he is a relentless flirt, he only does it with women who are a bit hesitant to talk to them and need a bit of coaxing. And it’s not so much flirting as charming and making them comfortable with him so that they’re not nervous. And sometimes he’s successful enough with it all to get people to let their guards down and tell him more information than they probably would had she stared them down with her arms crossed over her chest and her lips stretched into a thin line. And the NPR thing, well, that still annoys her, and she learns that he likes it simply because he’s a bit of a nerd.

 

A hot nerd, but a nerd all the same.

 

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. She kind of likes the nerdy side to him. Not that she’d tell him that.

 

Yet.

 

Or the fact that she thinks he’s hot. That’s also a deep, dark secret that she hoards to herself.

 

Four months bleed into five, then six, then seven, and as the time passes, she and Killian get into a rhythm and a partnership that works for them. They know exactly how to investigate a scene together or how to question a suspect. When they work at night, Killian drives, more comfortable driving in the dark, and she drives during the day, letting him talk to her and entertain her when things are a little slow.

 

Not everything is about work, either. David and Killian pick up a friendship, and not only does he infiltrate their friend group, but he also becomes her friend. It’s slow at first, much like them becoming successful partners, but as more months pass, she stops thinking about Killian Jones as just someone who she works with.

 

She knows that he’s a detective because his older brother was killed in the line of duty while serving in the Navy, and while he didn’t want to join the military, he did want to be of service to his adopted country of America. And he knows that she does this because she didn’t know what else to do, her childhood dream of being a music teacher taking a backseat after Neal and her almost-arrest when he tried to frame her for stealing watches. But luck was on her side then because she’d been at her social worker’s office when the crime happened, and as much as she hated Mr. Hopper sometimes, she was thankful for him that day. And thus the fascination with police work and the justice system. But in no way will she ever thank Neal for putting her on this path. He doesn’t deserve a damn thing.

 

And after a night off where she and Killian both crash at Rose’s Pizzeria while all of their friends go home, they each know deep, dark dating histories full of more heartbreak than any two people deserve.

 

Something shifts somewhere along the way, the heavy secrets still spilling out on occasion when the other needs to talk, but it’s mostly small, inconsequential things that they share with each other, needing the heaviness to lighten a bit.

 

Killian’s favorite color is, unsurprisingly considering his wardrobe, black, and his favorite thing to eat is, deeply surprising considering his usual healthy eating, fried chicken and onion rings. He apparently hated it when he first moved to America, not liking the grease, but on days where he really is tired of salads and grilled fish, he will indulge. He likes comedies more than any other type of movie, and he’s got an entire wall full of bookshelves which barely contain all of the books that he reads. He hates hot weather, the summer months in New York some of his least favorite, and the day it starts to get cooler, he’s like a girl on Instagram with her LL Bean boots and pumpkin spice latte.

 

(“I don’t drink damn pumpkin spice lattes, Swan.”)

 

She learns that he’s a bigger neat freak than she thought, the way his apartment is spotless despite his roommate Will is proof enough of that, and she learns that he likes to fall asleep before ten, a cup of un-caffeinated tea sitting on his bedside table along with one of his books and his reading glasses.

 

(“You poke fun, darling, but it’s the most pleasurable way to end an evening. Unless I’m getting up to more enjoyable activities, of course.”)

 

And she only knows this because at some point in time, she and Killian stop toeing the line of partnership and friendship and dive right into dating.

 

And the enjoyable activities thing.

 

She really likes that.

 

By some point in time, she means a year and seven months after they met. They’d been hanging out with all of their friends (because they officially don’t have any that the other doesn’t) at Killian’s place, and instead of going home, she stayed over. It was mostly innocent, something she’d done several times before, but then her lips brushed over his, soft and sweet until things turned desperate and demanding, and they’ve been together in the four months since.

 

If she’s honest with herself, it’s been the best four months of her life. Everything is great, Killian showing her for the first time in her life that guys don’t have to always be assholes, and she’s happy more often than she has been in years. They do argue sometimes, neither of them pushing away their strong personality in order to appease the other, but they work it out. It’s something she can’t quite put her finger on…okay, it’s freaking awesome. She’s not even going to try to be eloquent with it.

 

Really, the only problem with their relationship is that only she and Killian know about it.

 

Well, Will might. They’re not sure, but there’s no way he hasn’t heard them when she stays with Killian.

 

Poor guy.

 

-/-

 

“Killian,” she laughs, tucking her feet and knees up and curling herself into a ball while he brushes his lips over her face, purposely breathing heavily over her so she can smell the garlic on his breath despite her stuffy nose. “You smell disgusting. S-stop.”

 

“I just really, desperately need to kiss you, darling, and my breath is not going to stop me.”

 

She groans before kicking out and hitting him in the stomach so that he falls back on the bed, the mattress bouncing beneath them. “Go brush your teeth and use a hell of a lot of mouthwash, and then I will make out with you. I promise.”

“That’s the kind of promise I can get behind.” He smacks his lips against her cheek before jumping off the bed and jogging to the bathroom, popping his head out a minute later with his toothbrush in his mouth and his cheeks hollowed out while he brushes.

 

God, he’s a goofball sometimes, and she imagines that he and David must have had a little something to drink while they went out to watch the baseball game at O’Leary’s. And Killian must have inhaled the garlic because damn, she’s never smelled it quite like that.

 

“Whyareyoualreadyinbed?”

 

“You gotta repeat that. It was not…English.”

 

Killian holds up in his hand before stepping back into the bathroom and audibly spitting into the sink at the same time the water turns on. He’s gone for a few more minutes, probably wiping down her bathroom counter while he swishes the mouthwash around, but he finally does emerge in his sweatpants and a t-shirt, having changed out of his jeans and sweater. Before he settles down in bed, he leans over her and slants his lips over hers so she can taste the peppermint and fresh breath. Yeah, that’s much better.

 

“Why are you already in bed?” Killian asks, his earlier words making more sense while he settles down under the covers and fiddles around for the TV remote, checking the guide.

 

“Cramps,” she answers honestly, never bothering to shield him from the realities of how she feels. “And I’m pretty sure I’m getting a cold, as if periods weren’t bad enough. Actually, I know I have a cold. I’m all stopped up.”

 

Killian turns on his side and reaches over to brush her hair out of her face, his touch as gentle as always. “I’m sorry, darling. I can go out and get you something if you need it. Have you eaten?”



She nods her head, eyes fluttering closed at his touch. “I had a sandwich and some fruit. You know, an apple a day keeps the doctor away and all that jazz.”

 

“That’s not necessarily true. Do you need to go to your GP?”

 

“No, I’m fine, Killian. I promise. You still want to make out? I did promise to get you to practice some dental hygiene.”

 

“Now that I know you’re possibly dying with some kind of weird disease? Absolutely not. I’m not kissing you with that mouth.”



“Sucks for you because you already did.”



“I have leftovers of my shrimp. I can get garlic breath again and breath over you all night long.”

 

“Weirdo.”

 

“Takes one to know one.”



She shakes her head before sliding down on her mattress, bringing her heating pad with her, and settling down under the covers. Killian does the same, going back to finding something to watch on TV, deciding on old reruns of The Office until they both fall asleep. When Killian’s alarm goes off in the morning, her lower back hurts and her head is pounding to the point where she can’t imagine moving from her spot in bed, let alone going to work.

 

“Killian?”

 

“Mhm,” he mumbles, twisting in bed and propping himself up next to her head after shutting off his alarm.

 

“Will you get my phone and text Roberts that I’m not coming in today? I’m sorry, babe. I know we had a busy day, but I can’t…I feel awful.”

 

She feels his lips against her forehead before she feels his body stretch over hers to grab her phone off of her bedside table. “It’s fine, Swan. Are you sure you don’t want me to take you to the doctor?”



“I’m sure. I’ll be fine.”

 

Killian eventually gets up and leaves for work, but it’s not before shuffling through her medicine cabinet and finding any possible medicine that she needs, as well as a few packages of crackers and some snacks. Bless him for being so caring, but she’s sure she’s simply got a damn head cold on top of her period, and the combination just sucks. A lot. Sneezing while on your period is like some kind of weird, gross torture.

 

But as the day goes on and her medicine kicks in, the headache fades, and she’s left with some minor back pain and the unfortunate sneezing. She probably could have suffered through work, but she’s not going to feel bad about using one of her sick days. Instead she enjoys it as much as she can, staying in bed and watching whatever bad soap operas are on TV while stuffing her face with the crackers…and the rest of Killian’s garlic shrimp. It’s fantastic and totally worth the bad breath. And if he didn’t want to risk her eating his food, he should have gone home to his apartment instead of coming over to see her last night.

 

It was the logical thing to do.

 

At some point she gets sucked into looking at brownstones online. It’s a guilty pleasure that she has, setting the highest price limit possible and browsing through the houses that she can literally never afford. Hell, she can barely afford this place, but she likes living alone and made the monetary sacrifice for her tiny one-bedroom. But then she starts thinking realistically, looking at apartments a little closer to the station, and while she could probably afford one on her own, she knows she could if she got a roommate.

 

Specifically Killian.

 

Which is crazy. They’ve only been together for four months. That’s far too soon. She hasn’t even told him she loves him yet. She does, though. Love him, that is. She’s known for a few weeks, realizing it while they went for a run together only to stuff their faces with ice cream right after they finished. It was his suggestion, too, and she’d had so much fun eating ice cream in sweaty clothes in the middle of December that suddenly everything clicked into place.

 

She loves him.

 

She’s just not sure how to tell him.

 

There have been plenty of opportunities to tell him. Every time she sees him really or every time they talk on the phone. Literally every moment of every day. She could tell him anytime. She’s not scared. She knows he loves her back, but for some reason, for once in her life, she wants everything to be perfect in a cheesy rom com kind of way. Which is ridiculous and so not her, but then again, maybe it is.

 

So she spends hours looking at real apartments that she and Killian can actually afford on their salaries. It may not be for right now, but it’s a future kind of thing, which would and should terrify her, but she’s accepted that she’s growing and changing. There’s no more running away and hiding from her problems. She’s got to be an adult about things.

 

Telling their friends about them should probably be at the top of the list of being mature.

 

Right after telling Killian she loves him. That’s priority number one.

 

When they first got together, neither of them really knew what exactly they were doing, and while it was never a question of whether or not it was serious, there were some complications. Most of all, they’re work partners and while not prohibited, it’s strongly discouraged. Partners who are emotionally connected more than normal are assumed to not be able to think clearly in a situation when their loved one is in danger, which she thinks is bullshit in a lot of ways.

 

Yeah, it makes sense. When someone you love might get hurt, you might be tempted to put their well-being over the success of the case, but everyone cares about their partner. You have to be to work well together, to be able to think clearly on cases. It happens whether you’re dating or not. But she and Killian very rarely go into situations that are actively dangerous. They mostly investigate closed off crime scenes and then do a hell of a lot of paperwork afterward. Then again, they do run into some…interesting people when investigating, so yeah, sometimes they’re not exactly safe.

 

But on top of that, they decided to keep things secret in case they do break up. They didn’t want everyone else looking at them with pitying looks and judgmental stares. Most of their precinct is awesome, but there are a few awful people who’d make their lives a living hell, not to mention the stares she’d get for sleeping with her partner. Killian wouldn’t get them, would probably get high fives, which makes her blood curdle, but she would. And she’s not someone who wants to deal with assholes at work making a big deal of her personal life when her job is supposed to be about her professional life. She’s damn good at what she does, and she’s not going to let anyone try to tell her otherwise because she happens to be dating Killian.

 

And at the bottom of their list of reasons, their friends would all be so damn smug about all of it. The more Killian became friends with everyone in their group, the more teasing they’d both get about flirting with each other and being close. You’d think they were fifteen and not thirty.

 

So they’d decided to keep things a secret, but really, they should probably talk about that. She’d like to be able to kiss him in front of other people and to not have to sneak in when staying at Killian’s.

 

But she has to tell him she loves him first. That’s on the top of the list. Definitely.

 

The day seems to fly by, the nap she takes in the middle of it helping her, and before she knows it, it’s six in the evening, and she hasn’t heard from Killian all day. Usually she’s with him, but when she’s not, he texts one or twice to check in. It’s not something she worries about, not needing to be in constant contact with him, so she doesn’t think anything of it, fixing herself something to eat and settling down on the couch and turning on the TV where the local news is playing.

 

“We don’t know much about the situation, but according to sources, two officers have been sent to the hospital with serious injuries while others have been checked out on the scene and cleared. Gold and three of his associates have all been taken into custody. We’ll update you the more we know. I’m Elizabeth Cartwright, signing off from location.”

 

Gold.

 

Gold.

 

Gold.

 

Holy shit. That’s her case. That’s their case. The one they’ve been working on for months. What the hell are they all doing going after him when she’s at home sick?

 

But then Elizabeth’s words hit her, the fact that two officers have been hurt and taken to the hospital. Killian isn’t an officer, but the news gets titles like that wrong all of the time. So as her heartrate picks up and her stomach is weighed down with every horrible thought racing through her mind, she tries to hold it together as she rushes back into her bedroom to grab her phone, immediately clicking on Killian’s name.

 

“Pick up, pick up, pick up,” she chants, kicking off her pajama pants and changing into jeans all while the phone rings over and over again. She keeps calling, and all she gets is his voicemail every time. “Killian, please answer your fucking phone. I’m really freaking out, and I need to know that you’re alright.”

 

But Killian doesn’t pick up, and neither does David. She calls Mary Margaret, but she doesn’t get an answer from her either. No one is answering any of her calls, and she feels like she can’t breathe, her throat closing up in a way that has nothing to do with her cold. So she slips on her boots, not even really getting them down on her heels before she’s running out of her apartment and toward the subway station, probably looking like a crazy person as she swipes her metro card and rushes through the gates, hopping on a train and not bothering to sit down, knowing the she’ll just be fidgety and look even more crazed. God, she needs a tissue or something. She’s disgusting.

 

It seems to take longer than it ever has before for her to get through the three stops that it takes to get to the station, but she’s eventually there, rushing through the doors and up the stairs until she’s back in the not-so-fresh air of the city and just a few blocks over from where she needs to be. She runs, not caring anymore because the man she loves could be in critical condition in the hospital and she has no idea.

 

But then she’s in front of the double glass doors, flashing her badge at security and, as calmly as she can, walking into the elevator bay and attempting to even out her breathing, wiping her nose on her sleeve no matter how disgusting that is. There’re a few other people in the elevator with her, stopping on floors below hers, and by the time she reaches the twelfth floor, her heartrate has calmed even as her anxiety has heightened. She could vomit.

 

She didn’t even change her tampon, but she’s totally going to worry about that later.

 

Eventually the doors open to the bullpen, and it’s a mess of people walking around instead of sitting at their desks, and she can’t see the mop of black hair and ginger speckled beard that she’s looking for. But then her eyes connect with a flash of distinctive blue across the room, and she’s hurriedly pushing though people to get to him.

 

As soon as she reaches him, she peppers his face with kisses before clinging to his chest, the reassurance that he is ok confirmed with every beat of his heart beneath her touch. He’s here. He’s real, and he’s not hurt. He’s not dying or in a hospital or in any of the horrible situations that she imagined on her way over here.

 

“Emma,” he murmurs with a tightness in his voice that she doesn’t understand. She looks up at him only to see his eyes directed over her head, while his hands run up and down her back. She turns slightly only to see nearly every one of their coworkers staring at them as well as David, who’s got his arms crossed with a smug look on his face that she doesn’t even care about because he’s okay too. “Emma, darling, everyone can see us.”

 

“I don’t care,” she promises, tightening her arms around him and pressing them together as closely as she can. “I just don’t care right now, Killian.”

 

His hands leave her waist to come up and cup her face, light blue eyes staring intently into hers. “What the hell is happening, love? Why are you here? Why are you freaking out?”

 

“I thought…I thought you were hurt or dead. I saw on the news where we got Gold, but it also said people were injured. It just…it didn’t say who, and no one would answer their phones and I – I…” She slaps his chest, right over the heart she’s so glad to feel beating, “and I can’t believe you fucking went after Gold when I was sick and at home.”

 

“I didn’t.”



“You didn’t? What? What are you talking about?”

 

“I didn’t go. I wasn’t there,” Killian answers, leaning down and brushing his lips over hers before stepping away and grabbing her hand, pulling her away to the break room with the sound of wolf whistles and cheers in the background. She rolls her eyes, but she’s too confused and upset and finally feeling her exertion to quickly get here taking its toll on her body for her to care about any of them right now.

 

Once they’re in the breakroom, only Officer Collins in there with her headphones in not paying them a bit of attention, she takes a few deep breaths, her chest heaving with the movement, and stares Killian, whose lips are stretched into a soft smile, down, all of her adrenaline completely fading and the little energy she has being redirected to work.

 

“I’m so confused. What do you mean you weren’t there? That’s our case.”

 

“I know that, and I’m not bloody stupid. I’d never dare go after him without you. He could be sitting in my living room asking to be arrested, and I’d wait for you.”

 

“That makes you horrible at your job.”

 

“But a damn good boyfriend.”

 

He winks at her before he smiles so brightly that his eyes crinkles and squint. God, she loves him. He’s ridiculous, but he didn’t go. He didn’t go because of her. “I love you,” she sighs, meaning every word and saying screw it to waiting for the perfect time. This, right here, is the perfect time. “I love you so damn much, Killian Jones, and I can’t believe you’d give up being there for one of the biggest cases of our careers just because I was home sick.”

 

He clicks his teeth and tilts his head before dipping it down and brushing his lips over hers again, passionate enough that she feels it down to her toes. She’s gone through so much today, and she has no idea what any feeling in her body is right now…except happiness. And love. Lots of that.

 

And maybe still her damn cold.

 

“I love you, Emma,” Killian promises, cupping her face and wiping off the tears (and in all honesty, snot) from her face while his words settle into her and replace the anxiety she was feeling earlier with an overwhelming sense of calm, her breathing and heartrate only increasing with the euphoria that he’s here and alive and he loves her. “Let’s go home and get you medicated again. And then I’ll tell you all about what’s been happening at work and why we all missed your calls, okay?”

 

“It better be a damn good reason. You almost gave me a heart attack, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even lock the front door.”

 

-/-

 

In the following few days, her life feels like as much of a whirlwind as that hour where she didn’t know what the hell was going on with Killian, whether he was dead or alive or somewhere in between. Killian takes her back to her apartment, and after she’s showered and changed into her pajamas, he sits down with her on the couch and explains everything.

 

They got a tip from one of their sources that Gold was hiding out in an old warehouse down by the Hudson. He’d screwed up and left a paper trail buying lunch at a nearby café. The man is some kind of criminal mastermind with his drugs and his stolen goods, but he slipped up and paid with a debit card linked to one of his aliases. Years of never being caught, and it all went away for a sandwich and a cup of tea. So they’d sent out officers from their team as well as special ops and scoped out the area, quickly finding him early this morning based off of all of the research she and Killian had compiled.

 

And when their Captain asked for Killian to go even though Emma wasn’t there, he refused, stating he’d stay at the precinct and monitor the situation from there, feeding info into all of their offices who are more equip for active field work. He’d almost called her, wanting to update her on everything so she can be a part, but then everything had happened so quickly and he was being swept away into an office without his cell phone, which is why he didn’t answer any of his calls. The same with David. Mary Margaret not answering hers is still a mystery.

 

But they’d gotten Gold and despite not physically being there for his capture, she and Killian are awarded the credit for it. It is their case, after all. So somewhere between filing paperwork, answering questions, and actually getting to talk to Gold, she gets back to work and back into the swing of things even with her head cold still raging a war against her.

 

(And they welcome back Locksley and Penn two weeks later after they get the all clear from their doctors.)

 

She and Killian have to file their relationship with HR, which really isn’t an issue. Most of her annoyances come from her coworkers giving the two of them more glances than usual, even if they stay completely professional while working. But she doesn’t let it get to her, knowing that even if this isn’t how they really wanted things to happen, it’s good that they have.

 

David is expectedly smug, Mary Margaret is expectedly excited, Will is expectedly relieved that he can stop pretending he doesn’t know it’s Emma who spends the night, and Ruby is expectedly full of questions about the sex.

 

For the record, it’s fantastic.

 

Like everything with she and Killian, things progress naturally, even if life pushes and pulls them in certain directions that they may not want to go in. Their relationship is out there in the world and filed on some paperwork in the depths of the precinct, and it enables them to grow together, the “I love you’s” occurring every day and not just when Emma’s been thinking that Killian’s dead.

 

And then, after knowing Killian for three years, the period where he annoyed her daily included, Emma finally uses all of her useless knowledge of Brooklyn real estate to find a one bedroom apartment…for two people.

Chapter Text

All she needs is for finals to be over in two weeks. She needs them to be over, and then she’ll be free to do whatever the hell she wants for three months. Yeah, she’ll probably end up getting a job down at the Sheriff’s station, something she does with her dad every year since she’s been old enough to legally work there as an intern…which is definitely a bit of a stretch. She’s not exactly sure how her dad gets the approval from town council to pay her for answering phones and fiddling around on her computer for three months out of the year, but he somehow does. Whatever. It works for her. She gets to help out on the occasional interesting case that happens in Storybrooke and spend time with her dad.

 

It’s kind of like the dream for a twenty-two year old who’s a semester behind in college but can’t finish over the summer because her classes aren’t offered then. That sucks, a lot, but she’s a bit thankful for the extra six months to figure out what the hell it is she’s going to be doing for the rest of her life, which is terrifying in and of itself.

 

The fifty minutes of her advanced corporate finance class (she’d like to have words with whoever the hell decided this was necessary for a criminal justice major) tick by at a snail’s pace, Dr. Jitka’s monotone voice nearly lulling her into sleep until there’s an elbow hitting into her ribs at such a force that she almost falls back in her chair, having to grab onto the table in front of her to keep her from falling backward.

 

She knows exactly who just elbowed her, her eyes quickly glancing to her right where Killian is diligently taking down notes in his neat handwriting looking as if he didn’t just knock the breath out of her and nearly knock her over.

 

Asshole.

 

But then she sees the smallest of smiles on his face, his pink lips stretching out under the black of his scruff and the shade of his baseball cap. Yeah, that’s what she thought. It’s not like there’s anyone else who could have possibly elbowed her in the ribs.

 

Dr. Jitka finally finishes talking, their allotted time ending, and she scurries to pack up all of her stuff and make it to the Starbucks in the building, caffeine calling her name. Killian follows behind her, his longer strides allowing him to keep up with her hurried pace, even managing to pass her and sneak in front of her in line, the asshole.

 

“I need my coffee, Jones.”

 

“You are not the only person who’s tired, love. Do you even have any money left on your card?”



“Ahh,” she groans, bringing her bottom lip between her teeth, “no, no I don’t. I was just going to pay with cash.”

 

He reaches up to scratch behind his ear, something she’s noticed him do a lot in their four months of knowing each other. She thinks it’s a nervous tick. He does it before he asks a question in class, which she’s decided is his weakness. He’s this really confident guy, seemingly never lacking in it, except when he doesn’t know what’s going on, which isn’t often. He’s freakishly smart, is only in this class as his minor since his major is in mechanical engineering, and she kind of thinks he gets down on himself when he doesn’t know what’s going on.

 

But who is she to know the inner workings of Killian Jones? They’re friends, they talk, they study together a lot, but he’s still teetering on one of those people where she’s got a fifty-fifty shot of talking to him after graduation. Because, really, what do they have in common besides being in a torturous advanced corporate finance class?

 

(The same taste in movies, television shows, books, a liking for black coffee, the ability to stay up past four in the morning with no issue, the same biting sarcasm, a penchant for innuendos…maybe a few other things.)

 

But who knows? She, who doesn’t like making new friends, likes being his friend, even if she does call him an asshole more than she calls him by his actual name. So maybe she’ll put in the effort so that they can be friends outside of this class. He’s got an entire year left compared to her one semester, so it’s not like he’s going anywhere.

 

“I’ve got money I’m not going to use. I can pay.”

 

Her lips gape open, the act of kindness shocking her considering he never pays for her stuff when she forgets her food card. “Really?”

 

“Aye, it’s not like it transfers over to next semester anyway. You want something to eat?”

 

“A cake pop.”

 

“Love, it’s not even noon.”

 

“You offered. Don’t knock on what I’m getting. And I want my coffee – ”

 

“ – black but you’ll add two sugars to it, I know.”

 

“Good man,” she sighs, patting him on the back. “I’m going to go get that table in the corner before someone else does.

 

She walks out of line, dodging people and hoping and praying that no one takes the spot. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but an open table is pretty much buried treasure, so when you see one, you have to take it and claim it as your own. It’s a tough competition to not be sitting outside in the rain, which has been a constant for the past few days. She manages to snag the table, plopping her backpack down in Killian’s chair so that no one takes it before pulling out her laptop and opening up her notes, trying to understand what the hell Dr. Jitka was even talking about.

 

Killian joins her ten minutes later, placing her coffee and cake pop down on the table while he settles across from her, his legs kicking hers and shaking the table when he crosses them underneath the wood. When she goes to grab her cup, she sees a number written in sharpie right under Killian’s name. She rolls her eyes. Of course the barista gave Killian her number. She didn’t even know people did that, but apparently they do.

 

“So how did you charm the barista for her to give you her number on my cup?”

 

“Oh I didn’t.”



“Then why is this number on my cup?”

 

“Amy, up there, is my ex. I have her number blocked, and every time I’m in here she writes her number on my cup. I hate to say an ex is crazy because, well, that’s kind of a sucky thing to do, but Amy is crazy.”

 

“You’re telling me that your ex-girlfriend works in here, and not only do you still come in here but you also trust that she’s not going to spit into your food?”

 

He puts his cup down on the table, his lips twisting up and his forehead wrinkling. “Never thought about that second thing. Bloody hell.” She laughs, reaching over and taking a sip of her drink. “Ah, ah, ah, love, if she’s spitting in my drink, what’s she going to do to yours?”

 

“Nothing? I’m your friend.”

 

“Amy doesn’t know that.”

 

“Oh gross,” she groans, putting her coffee down on the table and looking over at the counter, where, sure enough, Amy is staring them down. “Why’d you guys break up?”

 

“She thought I was cheating on her so she cheated on me.”

 

“Were you?”

 

“Nope. I like to consider myself a one woman type of guy. I’m not quite sure how she got the idea that I was cheating.”

 

“Well, Amy seems like a gem.”

 

“You want to know the kicker of it all?”

 

“Sure, Jones.” She leans forward, closing her laptop so she can prop her elbows up on the table. “Tell me all of your dirty little secrets.”

 

“She cheated on me with my best friend.”

 

“Shit. Really?”

 

“Aye. Obviously he’s no longer my best mate, but that was a fun time.”

 

“Well, I’m sorry, but at least you’re not with someone who’d cheat on you. No one deserves that.”

 

“So,” Killian whistles, picking up his cup again and eyeing it for a few seconds before seemingly deciding to screw it and drink his coffee, “you going home to your weird little town of Storybrooke for the summer?”

 

Changing the subject. Got it.

 

“It’s not weird. It’s just got an interesting name.”

 

“You guys have, like, one market, a diner, and a library. It’s like every small town you’d see in a movie.”

 

“Well, not all of us live full time in Portland, but yeah, I think I’ll go home and work for my dad. It’s easy cash, I get to spend time with him, watch all of the tourists roll in, and buy a ridiculous amount of ice cream.”

 

“Sounds like a dream. I’ve got to do my last semester of co-op.”



“That sucks.”

 

“Eh, since it’s my last semester I get a pay raise, and I get paid double overtime. So obviously I’m going to be chomping at the bit for that so I can graduate with some actual money in my bank account.”

 

Her phone buzzes then, a text from Ruby, and that’s when she sees that she’s ten minutes late for her next class which is in another building. “Shit, I’ve got to go. I’m late for class.”

 

“Don’t forget about the assignment.”

 

“I won’t,” she promises, picking up her backpack and running out of the door, leaving her possibly poisoned coffee sitting on the table, her entire purpose for coming into Starbucks pointless now.

 

-/-

 

Emma: Joooooooonesssss.

 

Killian: Swan.

 

Emma: Oh come on, you’re supposed to be just as dramatic as me.

 

Killian: Oh my Swan, my Swan, whatever is wrong with the fair maiden that she calls out my name like that, since I do assume that it’s not in pleasure.

 

Emma: Okay, well I didn’t mean to be that dramatic.

 

Emma: I don’t understand our last homework assignment.

 

Emma: I need a B on it.

 

Emma: Can you help?

 

Killian: Of course. My place or the library?

 

Emma: Your place. I’m so frustrated.

 

Killian: What time?

 

Ruby calls out her name then, something about the two of them forgetting to pay a bill, and she groans as she gets up from the comfort of her bed (which is likely another reason she wasn’t getting anything done) to go see what’s happening. Ruby is scrolling through their apartment’s portal, showing her their last statement, so she doesn’t really look when she replies to Killian’s text.

 

Emma: How about sex tonight?

 

Emma: I don’t think I can finish without you.

 

Killian: Yeah, okay, that’s perfect ;)

 

She puts away her phone in her back pocket, forgetting about it and not seeing Killian’s next text as she deals with them not paying the electrical bill, which was definitely Ruby’s fault because she was in charge of paying their bills due on the first this month.

 

Killian: But what time are you coming over?

 

-/-

 

She pulls up to Killian’s apartment around five forty-five, but it takes a solid ten minutes to find parking. He lives close to campus, which blows her mind that he can simply walk to class, but those are the kinds of perks that she guesses you get when you’re on scholarship and literally only have to pay for somewhere to live. Seriously, even his textbooks are paid for.

 

It pays to be smart, apparently.

 

But once she finds parking a good half a mile away, she grabs her backpack and starts walking toward his place. She’s a little sweaty by the time she gets there, the rain stopping and humidity starting, but that’s fine. She’s just in her gym clothes anyways. When she knocks on his door, it takes no more than ten seconds for it to swing open.

 

Was he waiting for her?

 

Weird, but he is a stickler for time.

 

She doesn’t think anything of it until she gets a good look at Killian…and of the apartment. He’s wearing jeans and a light blue button down, the elbows rolled up to show his forearms. It’s a normal outfit, sure, but Killian rolls into class in sweatpants and a Henley or t-shirt, his hair usually tucked under a baseball cap. But right now it’s artfully tossed, the kind where you know the guy spent time on it but won’t admit to it. And is he…he’s wearing cologne. It smells damn good, but she’s confused.

 

Really confused.

 

Because he’s got soft music playing in the background, and she swears that she sees candles flickering in his kitchen.

 

“Hello, love,” he greets, bending down and kissing her cheek. When he pulls back, she can still feel where his lips touched her skin, the bristle of his scruff…she doesn’t hate it. She just doesn’t know what’s going on. “Why don’t you come in? Make yourself at home.”

 

“Was planning on it.” She makes her way into his apartment, passing his living area and heading toward the kitchen table only for him to grab her wrist, lightly tugging until she turns around.

 

“I feel like the living room would be better, or even the bedroom.”

 

“Weird but okay.” She’s definitely not going into his bedroom to do homework. That would be a disaster and uncomfortable on so many levels, so she settles down onto his couch, immediately pulling out her stuff while Killian sits down next to her, close enough that their thighs touch.

 

Her skin sparks the slightest bit, gooseflesh rising on her arms, but she ignores it, pulling open her notebook to where she’d been working out some of the more complex questions so she can get him to figure out where the hell she went wrong. But when she turns to ask him how to do the weighted average cost of capital, his face is freakishly close to hers the heat of his breath ghosting over her lips. And then before she knows it, his lips are on hers.

 

It’s nice, and she leans into it, returning the kiss and sliding her lips over his while his scruff brushes into her skin and his hands lightly thread into her hair. She gets lost in it, forgetting about who she’s kissing or why she’s here until he groans and his fingers grasp into her hair. That’s when it all comes back to her and she yanks back, separating the two of them and falling back on the couch, her notebook crashing to the ground while Killian blinks down at her.

 

“What the…” she stutters, hear heart beating quickly within her chest, “…what the hell was that?”

 

“What the hell was that?”

 

“I asked you first.”

 

“Are you five?”

 

“No, but I’m confused.”

 

“So am I.”

 

“You kissed me.”

 

“You kissed me back.”

 

“Well, I don’t despise you, and you’re a good kisser surprisingly enough. But I don’t…I don’t know where that came from.”

 

“What do you mean you don’t know where that came from?”

 

“Because I don’t? We’re supposed to be doing the damn assignment.”

 

“You literally sent me a text asking to sleep with me.”

 

“Woah, woah, woah,” she cries, backing up further on the couch until she’s sitting on the arm and curling into herself while her face heats. She’s probably red enough to pass as a tomato. “I did what now? Because I would literally never  ask anyone to sleep with me through text.”

 

If she’s red, Killian is worse. He keeps running his hands through his hair, making it stand up in a million different ways, while his lips open and close over and over again. What the hell is going on?

 

This is WACK and it has nothing to do with the Weighted Average Cost of Capital.

 

Oh wow, she just made a finance joke in her head. Maybe she really is losing it.

 

“But you did,” Killian says, reaching into his back pocket for his phone. “Here, you sent one text that says ‘how about sex tonight?’ And then right after you said ‘I can’t finish without you.’ I thought it was strange and pretty unconventional, but I don’t know. We get along. I think you’re gorgeous, but there’s obviously been some kind of misunderstanding, and I’m just going to never show my face in our class again.”

“You’d miss the final.”

 

“Thanks for the obvious, Swan.”

She waves her hand toward him, scooting down on the couch and sitting cross legged so that she’s closer to him. “Let me see the messages.” He hands the phone over, the messages still open, and she reads through them right up until…”How about sex tonight? I can’t finish without you. And oh my God, I said I was frustrated earlier.”

 

Her laugh begins low in her belly, making her entire body shake until she’s dry heaving, basically hiccupping into the laugh, and she can’t breathe. She’s laughing so hard that she can’t breathe. Killian’s phone falls to the couch, landing in between her legs while she covers her mouth with her hands to try to stop the appalling sound that’s coming out of her mouth. This is hysterical, and she has never been so glad to misspell a text.

 

“I’m glad you find this so funny, Swan.”

 

“Oh c-come on,” she gasps, wiping the tears that are falling from her eyes, “this is fantastic. I meant six, you know? I did not mean sex.”

 

“Aye,” Killian gruffs, rubbing his hands up and down his face until he’s practically pulling his hair out, “I realize that now. I’m sorry that I…I’m sorry that I misunderstood, that I pushed myself on you. I’m also sorry that I’m a bloody idiot.”

 

She shakes her head back in forth, disbelief over this whole thing settling in while she tries to stifle her laughter. She leans over and pats Killian’s knee, which only makes him groan more. “I’ve always heard the jokes about engineers not having social skills, but I really didn’t expect you to fall into that category.”

 

“Are you trying to torture me?”

 

“Absolutely not. I still need your help with my homework, and you can’t do that if you’re both emotionally and sexually frustrated.”

 

“Oi,” he protests, his lips finally ticking up into the smallest of smiles, atta boy, “I am not sexually frustrated.”

 

“Maybe you are. Maybe you’re not. Also,” she begins, getting up from the couch and wandering around the room, turning the music up on his Bluetooth stereo and blowing out the candles, “now I know what Killian Jones does when seducing a woman, and this is something I’m going to remember forever.”

 

“Can you knock me out so I forget?”

 

“No. Then I’d mess up your perfectly styled hair that I know you spent a lot of time on, not that you haven’t already done a number on it with all of that tugging.”

 

“I hate you.”

 

“Oh, I think that’s a lie.” She walks back over to him, settling down on the couch next to him and propping her head up on her palm before she sing-songs, “You think I’m gorgeous. You want to kiss me. You want to hug me. You want to love me.”

 

Killian rolls his eyes, a more genuine smile on his face now. “Okay, Sandra Bullock.”

 

“I like that you get the reference.”

 

“I’ve seen the movie.”

 

She laughs again, bending down to pick up her stuff, flipping back to her notebook page with her homework. “Killian, I promise you don’t have anything to worry about or be embarrassed with. I will never bring it up again if you want. We’ll just finish this homework and study, okay?”

 

“Aye, that sounds like a plan, though I don’t think I can truly forget.”

 

So they eventually get around to her homework. She’s still confused, doesn’t think she’ll ever understand it, but Killian talks her through it enough that she might get partial credit on the final. Possibly. She’s not really sure. But she does know she’ll at least get an A on the homework. It helps to have a genius friend who may or may not want to have sex with you but who can definitely help you with your assignments when you feel like pulling your hair out.

 

After they’re finished with their assignment, everything submitted through the online portal, Killian orders a pizza, grabbing two beers out of his fridge and handing one to her while a baseball game plays on the television. She doesn’t mean to, but she watches him as he takes a sip, his jaw ticking while he tilts the bottle against his lips.

 

It’s…attractive.

 

And it’s not exactly news to her. She’s always known Killian was attractive. It’d be hard to miss. His eyes…well, damn, he’s got some of the prettiest eyes she’s ever seen, and his smile is just a bright. The fact that she knows he works out regularly helps. A little. Or a lot.

 

His personality helps more than a lot.

 

Does she…like him? Maybe. Probably. Definitely.

 

Oh God, feelings are the worst, and she’s not sure that she wants them. 

 

Okay, she kind of wants them.

 

She kind of wants him.

 

“Killian?”

 

“Yeah, love?” he asks, not looking away from the game on the TV.

 

“Did you really want to sleep with me?”

 

He groans, falling back into the couch so that his head falls against the cushion and his hair flops in his face. “I thought you said we could forget about it.”

 

“I did…I just – I’m curious.”

 

He points over at her, seemingly circling her entire being. “Of course I wanted to sleep with you. I mean, I’d prefer that we were both on the same page and that maybe, you know, you’d let me take you out on a date first.”

 

“Killian Jones,” she gasps, reaching over and squeezing his shoulder, “are you asking me out on a date?”

 

“That is not what I said.”

 

“Yeah, well, I didn’t mean to send you a sext, but here we are.” She laughs as he groans again, throwing his arm over his eyes. “My answer would be yes, by the way.”

 

He lifts his arm, peeking over at her. “Really?”

 

“Yeah, let’s go with the Friday after finals are over.”

 

“Why, Swan, are you asking me out on a date?”

 

She leans over and quickly slides her lips over his. Killian’s the one who takes a moment to react this time, his lips soft when they finally move over hers and his hand gentle as it threads into his hair. She meant for it to be short and sweet, but as she readjusts herself to straddle his lap, her knees on either of his thighs, it intensifies, Killian groaning into her mouth as his tongue traces at the seam of her lips. That’s when she pulls back, resting her forehead against his and loosening her grip in his hair.

 

“So it’s a date then, Swan?”

 

“Yeah, you can pick me up at sex.”

Chapter Text

She’s on her way home from work when she hears it. Listening to the radio isn’t something she does, not anymore, but her car can’t connect to her phone’s Bluetooth and she forgot the aux cord, so it was either the radio or silence.

 

She probably should have stayed in silence.

 

Because for the first time in three months, for the first time since she was in Target and heard one of his songs over the speakers, she hears his voice.

 

And she hates it.

 

But she apparently hates herself a little bit more because she doesn’t change the station or turn the radio off. She doesn’t recognize the opening chords to this song. She recognizes the chords to every song. She knows all of the lyrics, all of the rifts and pauses. She knows everything.

 

But she doesn’t know this one.

 

It’s quiet, sullen, the usually prominent instruments muted in the background so that his voice comes through as clearly as possible. It takes her thirty seconds and two references of a swan flying away – really subtle there, Jones – for her to realize that the song is about her. She has to pull over to the side of the road, making several different cars blare their horns at her, but she can’t…she can’t listen to this while driving. She can’t hear him sing a song that’s clearly about their break up. She has to listen, but she can’t do anything else.

 

She can barely breathe.

 

He sounds broken. But she knows that’s on purpose. He records those songs a million times over, until he gets them exactly how he wants them to be, so she knows that he’s manufactured it this way. She’s watched him record enough songs to know how things work.

 

How dare he do this.

 

How dare he put their private life out there for anyone with ears to hear.

 

Hot tears sting behind her eyes, and she has to bury her face in her hands while her throat constricts, emotion lodging itself there and making her feel as if she has to vomit. Or as if she can’t breathe. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know anything.

 

All she knows is that she misses him. She misses Killian.

 

But right now she hates him for making her relive their breakup, for making her relive the agony that was the weeks and months of separation that inevitably led them to walking away from each other.

 

Or maybe it was her.

 

She’s not sure. If anything, it’s all a blur of tears and alcohol, sobs wracking her body while she was unable to feel anything but pain. She’d waited so long to find someone who understood her, who wanted to be with her with no reservations, who wouldn’t leave. But then he had left. It had been for work. She knows this. She understands this. Despite everything, she wants nothing more than for him to be happy and to follow his dreams. She just wishes it didn’t come at the expense of them.

 

She just wishes she’d been strong enough to handle the months of separation and the way that their schedules never matched up, the way that they were constantly missing each other when they tried to call.

 

The song ends and immediately something happy, upbeat plays through her speakers. She’s having some kind of meltdown on the side of the road, and the world keeps going by. Cars continue to drive by, shaking her bug with their momentum, and the song that’s about one of the worst periods of her life is quickly forgotten and replaced by something about…dancing in a club. It’s literally just about dancing.

 

She lets out a watery chuckle, the emotion that was lodged in her throat clearing the slightest bit so that she can breathe. Was she not breathing? She might not have been breathing.

 

Now that she can breathe again, she inhales, sucking her chest in before letting out a gush of air in an attempt to calm herself. In her review mirror she can see that her face is red and splotchy, that her eyes are still watery, and she has to wipe away the snot that’s formed at her nose.

 

It’s as she’s rubbing her eyes, trying to clear her vision, that all of the sadness starts to twist, transforming into something else entirely. She’s pissed. Absolutely pissed. And she can’t help but think of her earlier thoughts when the song first started playing.

 

How dare he do this to her.

 

How dare he write that song and put it on the radio.

 

Before she knows it, she’s putting her car in drive, looking over her shoulder to make sure the road is clear, before she’s pulling off of the dirt and onto the pavement, speeding down the road in the direction of Killian’s apartment instead of toward hers, driving in the direction of the place where she lived for so long. She knows he’s home, that he’s in town. And she only knows this because David still talks to him, still talks about him, and she overheard David talking to Mary Margaret about Killian being home for the next few weeks and how they’re going to go out for a pint to catch up.

 

She knows the path to his apartment better than she knows the path to her own, a right here followed by another until it’s a straight shot to the parking garage underneath his building. She still has her sticker, the one that lets her inside. She never could get the damn thing off.

 

But now it’s useful as she pulls into an empty guest space, hastily getting out of the car and slamming the door shut as she makes her way over to the elevator, hoping that the code hasn’t changed and she can still get inside. It’s only two minutes before she’s standing in front of his door, the momentum and adrenaline propelling her hand forward until she’s banging on the wood so roughly that her hand might actually hurt.

 

She hurts.

 

Every bit of anger, of malice, of disappointment that she has is on the tip of her tongue, posed to be spit at him as soon as she sees him, but then the door is swung open and she sees him for the first time in…shit. It’s been five months. It’s been three months since she heard his voice in Target, but it’s been five months since she’s seen him.

 

And he’s now standing in front of her with his hair damply falling across his forehead, water trailing down the hair of his chest, and the words of his tattoo peeking up over the white towel he has slung across his hip.

 

Fuck.

 

She doesn’t have any other words, especially as his fists clench and the muscles in his arms strain while his jaw ticks. He’d look surprised when she first showed up, his lips parting before closing, almost as if he had something he wanted to say. But now he looks angry, a storm raging behind his eyes, and all she can think about is the time that they went to Bermuda for their anniversary and spent the entire week either in bathing suits, a towel, or nothing at all.

 

“What are you doing here, Swan?”

 

There’s no anger in his voice though. It’s calm, even, and it’s that fact that gets her back on track. He sounded broken in the song. He’s obviously not broken like she is.

 

“How dare you write that song,” she spits, trying to keep her voice just as steady, knowing that she’s failing. “You just put our life, my life, out there for everyone to hear.”

 

“No one knows it’s about you.”

 

“I do! I know! Our friends know! Everybody goddamn knows! I’m driving down the road on my way home from work, trying to live my life, trying to move on, and I just have everything that I’m trying to forget thrown back in my face like that.”

 

“Love – ”

 

“Don’t call me that,” she cries, hating how her voice cracks. She shouldn’t have done this. She shouldn’t have come. She should have never let her emotions drive her, but that’s always what’s she’s done. She’s never been one to be able to hold back when she really feels. “I am not your love. You’ve made that very clear.”

 

“Swan,” he grits, crossing his arms over his heaving chest, “if you want to yell at me, come inside. I have neighbors, and I don’t think we want them witnessing this.”

 

She huffs, disbelief that he’s actually inviting her inside so that she can continue this emotional breakdown, but her feet still carry her inside, her eyes glancing over the apartment the moment she gets inside. It all looks exactly the same.

 

She hates that it all looks the same.

 

Something should have changed.

 

All of her stuff is gone.

 

She’s gone.

 

Something should have changed.

 

She turns around to look back at Killian, who’s locking the door behind him before running his hands through his damp hair, pushing it back on his forehead, before he’s rubbing his fingers over his scruff. She hates how good he looks almost as much as she hates that that’s what she’s focusing on.

 

“Why are you here?” he sighs, the indignation he had replaced with acceptance. “The song? You’re mad about the song?”

 

“Of course I’m mad about the song. How could I not be? Have you heard it?”

 

“I wrote it. And in case you’ve forgotten, I have dozens of other songs about you, nearly every one of them on a record somewhere. You never seemed pissed about those then.”

 

“We weren’t broken up then.”

 

“Well whose bloody fault is that? Because it’s not mine. I didn’t want to break up.”

“You think I wanted to break up?” she screams, not caring about staying calm while her entire body heats, her skin feeling overly warm and her head throbbing while her heart pounds. “You think I wanted to be having breakdowns on the side of the road because I can’t handle reliving parts of our relationship. You think I wanted to be the girl who sat at home and cried every time you didn’t pick up the phone? Every time you had to go one minute into our conversation? Every time I went out with my friends and heard your voice on the speakers at a bar when I hadn’t actually heard your voice in days? You think I wanted that?”

 

She can’t…she can’t breathe again, her heart beating far too quickly in her chest. This isn’t healthy. This isn’t good. She needs…she needs to sit down. So she does, collapsing to the ground and resting her back against his hallway wall while she wraps her arms around her knees and lets herself have another breakdown.

 

Who the hell needs dignity?

 

“Emma,” Killian sighs, and that only makes things worse. He never calls her Emma, not unless something is important, and she hates herself for this entire situation. She hates that he is able to still have this power over her, that she still loves him so much that she can’t fathom the fact that she’s not with him.

 

“Emma,” he repeats, kneeling down next to her, his towel opening as he squats, which really doesn’t help the situation at all. “Are you okay?”

 

“Do you think I’m okay?”

 

“No.” His thumb reaches up and wipes away the tears on her cheek. That’s the first time she’s felt his touch in five months too. And it’s also what makes her look up to see that he’s got a tear falling onto his cheek too. “I’m sorry, lo – Swan. I’m sorry that you heard the song and that it hurt you.”

“Why’d you write it then? You had to know that I’d hear it eventually.”

 

“Because I hurt too. Music is how I deal with things. You know this. You’ve always known this. And how the hell else am I supposed to deal with my heartbreak?”

 

“By writing the damn song and then not putting it on the radio.”

 

“I had to fulfill my contract. I had to release a new single.”

 

“Don’t you have another one? One that’s not about us?”

 

“No.”

 

She sighs, leaning her head back against the wall and tightly closing her eyes all while she physically aches. She aches for them to be back to normal, aches for this to not be happening anymore. She should have never come here.

 

“How long are you home?”

 

“What?” he stutters, his voice visibly shaken.

 

She opens her eyes and looks back at him, attempting to even her breaths. “How long are you home this time? How long until you have to leave again?”

 

“A few weeks. I’ve got to go back and meet with the guys for a couple of days at the end of September.”

 

She doesn’t know why she does what she does next, but before she can stop herself, before she can think straight, she leans forward and slides her lips over his in a harsh, demanding kiss. Her hands are in his hair in an instant, using the soft strands to tug him closer, and his hands find her face, the warmth and roughness of the pads of his fingers holding her to him as well. It’s like being connected, like being right, after so many months of not feeling like herself, of feeling like something in her life is off kilter.

 

Like something is wrong.

 

She doesn’t care that they shouldn’t be doing this. She doesn’t care that she shouldn’t be pushing Killian against the floor, the hardwood uncomfortable under her knees, and she doesn’t care that she’s losing her mind over the way that Killian’s groaning into her mouth and thrusting his hips up against hers, the towel doing nothing to hide his arousal.

 

And she really doesn’t care when they stumble away from the entrance of his apartment and fall back into his bedroom, quickly and surely moving against each other in the way that they always have. He feels good, fantastic, and she knows she should never be thinking about she and Killian together when they’re very obviously having a relapse, a collapse back into the them they used to be.

 

So she doesn’t say anything, doesn’t let herself not enjoy this, but she can’t speak, she can’t return Killian’s words of ecstasy and affection while he moves inside of her and above her. She simply falls into how good, how right, this feels, and figures that she’ll…she’ll figure it all out later.

 

It turns out when later comes that she’s still not ready to figure it out. She still doesn’t know what to do. Instead of getting up and leaving when they were finished, she didn’t. She stayed. She’s not sure that she had the strength to leave, that she even wanted to, so now she’s wrapped up in one of Killian’s sweaters while her legs are stuck in between his and his hands are trailing through her hair. She feels his heartbeat under her palm, the slow rise and fall of his chest a rhythm that she knows better than any other.

 

A rhythm that she knows better than any song he’s ever written.

 

“Sex doesn’t solve our problems, Swan. You know that, right?”

 

“I know,” she confesses, snuggling closer to him despite everything. “I don’t…we shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t even still be here. I’m not sure what came over me, over us.”

 

“A hell of a lot of emotions.” She feels his lips against her forehead, the sweat that’s gathered there being pushed away. “We’ve got…there’s a lot left between us, love. There was never anything wrong between us, I don’t think. I just wasn’t there.”

 

“That’s kind of what went wrong. You can’t be in a relationship without being there.”

 

“But it’s not us. It was the distance, my job.”

 

“Which is your dream.”

“Aye, it was my dream,” he confirms softly, running his fingers through her hair and down her back. “It is my dream. But I should have never let it come between us. You’ve been my life for half a decade. You have been there for absolutely everything, and I should have tried harder, should have done more.”

 

“I don’t think there was anything either of us could have done.”

 

“I could have made more time to call. I could have scheduled breaks between cities. I could have booked a flight for me, for you. I could have done so much to save us, to make you feel less alone.”

 

“Killian, this isn’t all on you.”

 

“No, no, it’s not, but I’ve had five months of living alone, even when I wasn’t here, to think about all of the things I could have changed.”

 

“Me too,” she sighs, lifting her head from his chest and untangling her legs before she moves to the other side of the bed, putting distance between them all the while Killian rubs his hand up and down his face trying to work out the stress lines. “I don’t…I don’t know what to do.”

 

“I don’t either. Do you even want to try again? Or are we chalking this up to a one-time thing? To a fallback?”

 

For the first time since she’s shown up here, he sounds as broken as he did during the song. He sounds like she feels, like there’s something missing, something just out of reach. He sounds…he doesn’t sound like Killian. Not the one that she knew. Not the one who woke her up in the mornings with a smile on his face and laughter in his eyes. Not the one who sang while he cooked, often burning the food because he would start writing down the beginnings of a song.

 

He doesn’t sound like the man who loved her.

 

The man who she loves.

 

“I don’t want it to be that,” she answers honestly, wrapping her arms around her legs and resting her chin on her knees. “But I can’t go back to how we were…what do you want?”

 

“You.”

 

A shiver runs down her spine, gooseflesh popping up on her skin.

 

“That’s all. You just want me?”

 

“Always, Emma,” he promises, his lips ticking up on the right and the lines around his eyes crinkling while his tongue clicks. “But you’re right. We can’t…I can’t leave like that. I can’t do things just for me without considering you. And you can’t let me just do it and say that things are okay.”

 

“I kind of figured you knew things weren’t okay.”

 

“You’ve never lied to me, so I didn’t expect it then. I always believed the words that you said.”

 

“So what are we doing, Killian? What do we do?”

 

He shrugs, sitting up against the headboard. “We try again. We make compromises. We do better. For ourselves. For each other. And maybe I don’t put a song out without letting you know.”

 

She smiles, the first genuine smile without heartbreak hidden behind it, for the first time today. Maybe for the first time in months.

 

“I’d like that.”

 

It takes more than one day for things to get back to normal. It takes weeks, months really. Killian was a constant part of her life for five years, but after nearly half a year apart, things don’t simply snap back. Trust has to be rebuilt, routines have to become routine again, and she has to learn that things are never going to be perfect and that compromise is a hell of a lot harder than simply saying the word. You actually have to break and bend, give and give up, but it’s worth it if you want to make things work.

 

She wants to make things work.

 

Killian does too.

 

And the next time she hears a song on the radio that’s about her, Killian’s voice isn’t broken. And neither is her heart.

Chapter Text

He drops his keys in the bowl on the entryway table, hearing them clank against the porcelain as they’re the only thing in the dish. There used to be another set of keys there, metal that would hit against his, but they’re not there anymore.

 

She’s not here anymore.

 

Pushing down whatever is lodged in his throat, he gulps and moves on. He thinks about her when he puts his keys in a bowl. It’s ridiculous. She should not be able to invade his memories like that. She should not still be so prevalent.

 

She left. She’s not here.

 

So why does he still feel her everywhere?

 

She’s in the way that there’s a scuff mark on the wall outside of their…his bedroom. Her heel had hit against the wall on the night that he signed his record deal. They’d been so happy and so incredibly intoxicated, stumbling into the apartment with smiles on their lips that they couldn’t seem to part. He’d tried to press her up against the wall to trail his lips across her jaw, but her ankle had twisted and her heel and jammed into the paint, making the gray chip off and turn into white.

 

That had been a good night. He doesn’t think they even made it into the bedroom.

 

She’s there in the way that she didn’t bother taking any of the throw pillows on the couch when she...left. She’d been the one to insist that they buy them, to drag (not that he minded) him into every home goods store in Maine for multiple days until they found the right pillows.

 

“It changes a room, babe. And the apartment is so stuffy. It needs color.”

 

He once almost packed up the pillows in a box and shipped them to her, but then he would have had to ask for her new address. Asking for her new address made it seem all too real. If she has a different address than him, that means she’s not here, that she’s not coming back.

 

Some days he convinces himself that she’s going to come back.

 

But he knows Emma. He knows how she works. She’s not going to come back unless something pushes her. She’s stubborn like that.

 

Besides, why would she come back when he was the one who pushed her away?

He was the one who left to go on tour, knowing how Emma feels about people leaving her. He knows her past, knows the people who have left her before, and even if he wasn’t leaving her, he was still leaving.

 

But she hadn’t begrudged him for it. She had encouraged him, supported him every step of the way. It was supposed to be better. It was supposed to be his dream.

 

They were supposed to be fine.

 

They weren’t supposed to fall apart.

 

But there were the interrupted FaceTimes and completely missed calls. Trips home were cancelled. Trips out to see him were never made. Somewhere along the way they stopped being them, they stopped fighting for each other, and that’s why when he puts his keys in their bowl, they’re alone.

 

It’s why he’s alone.

 

“God,” he groans to himself, running his hand through his hair and tugging at the strands, knowing he should cut his hair soon before it blocks his eyesight. “Get it together, man.”

 

He’s having to tell himself to get it together. He’s talking to himself, and it’s not the first time he’s done that lately.

 

It’s also not the first time he’s poured himself a glass of rum before five, not caring about social norms or early hangovers, so he doesn’t care while the alcohol burns as it runs down his throat. His tolerance is higher than he’s willing to admit, but he only has the one drink.

 

It’s always one. Never more.

 

He wants to drown out his thoughts for a moment, but he doesn’t want to drown them out completely, drown her out completely. Simply temporarily.

 

After he finishes his drink, he heads to his (their) room and immediately makes his way into the bathroom, turning on the shower so he can wash away this day and all of the thoughts that have been consuming him.

 

All of the thoughts of Emma.

 

Temporarily.

 

He doesn’t usually take hot showers, ones where the water scalds his skin, but if he’s going to be dramatic today, he might as well be dramatic in every sense of the word. Besides, it feels good. It makes him feel something other than what he’s been feeling today.

 

Not every day is like today. In fact, most of them are good. Or as good as they can be. He’s got a job that he loves despite all of the pain that it’s brought him. He’s got friends, good ones, even if he knows they have a difficult time hanging out with him and not talking about Emma.

 

That’s one of the things about dating someone for nearly half a decade. Their entire life can meld into yours. Her friends become his. His friends become hers. There was no separation between the two of them.

 

Until there was.

 

But he still has his life. He still has people who make him happy, things that make him happy.

 

He just misses her. That’s all.

 

It’s as simple as that.

 

He misses the bloody love of his life, and he wishes that he could turn back time, could make things right before they went wrong.

 

When his skin starts to pink, he turns the water off, getting out of the shower and drying his body off before wrapping his towel around his hips, the words of his tattoo peeking out over the white material.

 

“What does this mean?” Emma asks, tracing the ink with her nails, every touch setting him aflame.

 

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

 

“I know what it says, weirdo,” she laughs, the sound echoing throughout her apartment. It’s the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard, and he’s spent his entire life listening to beautiful sounds, beautiful music. “But what does it mean? To you?”

 

“Ah,” he sighs, reaching down and pushing the strands of her hair that are falling in her face behind her ears, “well that’s an entirely different story, love.”

 

"Will you tell me?”

 

“Aye, of course.” Her fingers continue to trace the words, running over the pretty cursive. “My brother – ”

 

“Liam, right?”

 

He tightly smiles at her, the wounds of his loss still fresh after all of these years. “Yeah, love. Liam. I used to be pretty uptight while in school, always worried that I wasn’t doing enough, being enough. So when I’d fail an assignment – “

 

“Which was really like getting a B, right?”

 

“Hush,” he laughs, reaching down and flicking her ear only for her to grab his wrist and kiss his palm, her lips soft against his skin. “So when I’d fail an assignment, when I’d struggle with my music, with anything, Liam would tell me that it’s okay to fail. That it’s a part of life, and often we become better for our failures. So when I ran across the quote a few weeks after he…after, I decided to get it inked on my skin as a permanent reminder of him and how important he is to me.”

 

He doesn’t know what he expects Emma to say, what her response should be. They’ve only been dating for a few weeks, and that was probably too much. But she asked.

 

If she asks him, he’ll tell her the truth. Always.

 

That’s the promise he can make to her.

 

Instead of speaking, Emma crawls up the mattress and plants her knees on either side of his hips, settling herself on his lap while her hands card into his hair, scratching at his scalp. Her lips slide over his, stealing his breath away. He’s never felt a kiss like this, never felt so much emotion in the movement of another mouth on his, but it’s like she’s trying to pour the words she doesn’t have into the kiss.

 

And it’s working.

 

He may be the one out of the two of them who works in words, who tries to make them pretty when they’re not, but Emma’s able to convey so much with so little.

 

He’s halfway in love with her, and he could tip over and be all in at any time, with any movement.

 

That might have been the movement.

 

Shaking his head, he brings himself out of the memory and tugs his towel up before pushing his hair off of his face. He’s about to dry his hair when there’s a knock on his door, a banging really. It sounds angry, hard, and he huffs as he makes his way out into the hallway, ready to yell at whoever is knocking on his door like they’d like to knock it down.

 

But then he opens it without looking through the peephole, which is either his worst mistake or greatest decision, because standing in front of him with red eyes and windblown hair is the love of his life.

 

The one he hasn’t seen in five months.

 

Three if he counts the time he saw her getting coffee at their old shop, but it was just a flash of blonde hair, a glimpse of a red jacket.

 

Emma.

 

Fuck.

 

He was not prepared for this. Nothing could have ever prepared him for this no matter how many times he wished for her to show up again.

 

He doesn’t even know that he’s clenching his fist and grinding his teeth until his hand starts to hurt and his head starts to ache. Maybe his heart too.

 

Bloody hell. It’s a good thing he writes songs for a living, that he has an excuse for why he thinks like this. Otherwise his thoughts would be that of a teenager having a crush for the first time.

 

(He’s thirty-two years old.)

 

Why is she here?

 

“What are you doing here, Swan?” he grits out, trying to control his emotions and knowing that he’s failing.

 

Something shifts in her face, the wide doe eyes and timid smile transforming into green slits and a scowl. It’s the look he got every time he did something to piss her off, and he prepares himself for the blowback, knowing that it’s coming.

 

“How dare you write that song,” she spits, her voice rising and falling with each syllable. “You just put our life, my life out there for everyone to hear.”

 

Fuck.

 

The song. He forgot about the song. He forgot that it was being released today. He’s sure his manager has sent him a million emails about it, but he’s been avoiding his phone. He can’t…he wrote the song, recorded it in two tries, and then never listened to it again. It’s too hard, too much, and when his label told him he was legally obligated to release a new single, it was the only one that he had prepared.

 

The others stay unfinished.

 

He shouldn’t have released it though. He knows that he shouldn’t have, not with a broken heart, not with Emma still out in the world where she can hear it.

 

She obviously heard it.

 

“No one knows it’s about you.”

 

“I do,” she screams, her face turning red and her voice echoing throughout the hall, so different than the laughter that once resided here, “I know! Our friends know! Everybody goddamn knows! I’m driving down the road on my way home from work, trying to live my life, trying to move on, and I just have everything that I’m trying to forget thrown back in my face like that.”

 

Trying to move on.

 

She’s trying to move on.

 

“Love – ”

 

“Don’t call me that,” she cries, and he aches, his stomach painfully twisting within him. He could vomit, but he needs to hold it together, needs to let her yell. He did air out their private life, even if it is in metaphors. She deserves this much. “I am not your love. You’ve made that very clear.”

 

That almost makes his legs fall out from beneath him. He’s never not loved her. He’s always loved her. He will always love her. He’s never wanted her to be anything else.

 

“Swan,” he speaks, crossing his arms over his chest and trying to calm his breathing, “if you want to yell at me, come inside. I have neighbors, and I don’t think we want them witnessing this.”

 

She scoffs, her body showing all of the signs of her stubbornness, but she walks inside anyways, walks inside like she did thousands of times before, walks inside like she still belongs.

 

She does.

 

He gives himself a minute to control his breathing, to try to pull together his emotions, so he takes a few breaths in and out and fakes it as spending time locking the door before turning around. The sight of her standing in his (their) apartment nearly knocks all of the breath he just got back out of him, and he has to steady himself on the table, the lone keys shaking in their bowl.

 

When she turns around, he moves his hand, running it through his hair to push it back before rubbing his face, hoping the tension will go away.

 

“Why are you here?” he sighs, even though he knows. “The song? You’re mad about the song?”

 

“Of course I’m mad about the song. How could I not be? Have you heard it?”

 

“I wrote it. And in case you’ve forgotten, I have dozens of other songs about you, nearly every one of them on a record somewhere. You never seemed pissed about those then.”

 

“We weren’t broken up then.”

 

“Well whose bloody fault is that? Because it’s not mine. I didn’t want to break up.”

 

Hot tears sting behind his eyes, his throat closing in on itself. He can’t do this. He can’t. He has to.

 

He finally said the words he’s been holding inside of him.

 

“You think I wanted to break up?” she screams, the volume and hoarseness of it taking him back a bit. “You think I wanted to be having breakdowns on the side of the road because I can’t handle reliving parts of our relationship. You think I wanted to be the girl who sat at home and cried every time you didn’t pick up the phone? Every time you had to go one minute into our conversation? Every time I went out with my friends and heard your voice on the speakers at a bar when I hadn’t actually heard your voice in days? You think I wanted that?”

 

He's about to say something back, to yell every single feeling he’s felt for months now, but then Emma quickly falls to the ground, her back against the wall while her arms wrap around her knees, making her as small as possible. That’s exactly what she does when her emotions become too much, when she doesn’t have the words, and he chokes down his own sob.

 

He’s hurt, but seeing her hurting is the worst thing for him. He can hurt. He can be the one who’s sad, but not Emma. She should…she should be happy. All he wants is for her to be happy.

 

“Emma,” he sighs, trying to steady himself for her. When she doesn’t respond, he kneels down in front of her, knowing his towel isn’t going to hold up but not caring. “Emma, are you okay?”

 

She peeks her head up, her eyes soaked with tears while her shoulders shake. “Do you think I’m okay?”

 

“No.” Without hesitation he reaches and wipes away the tears. It’s something he’s always done. He doesn’t see why he should stop now, even as he feels a tear escape his own eye. “I’m sorry, lo – Swan. I’m sorry that you heard the song and that it hurt you.”

 

“Why’d you write it then? You had to know that I’d hear it eventually.”

 

“Because I hurt too. Music is how I deal with things. You know this. You’ve always known this. And how the hell else am I supposed to deal with my heartbreak?”

 

“By writing the damn song and then not putting it on the radio.”

 

He chuckles under his breath, not able to help himself. She always sees thing so simply, just as they are.

 

“I had to fulfill my contract. I had to release a new single.”

 

“Don’t you have another one? One that’s not about us?”

 

“No.”

 

Emma sighs, throwing her head back against the wall and tightly closing her eyes. He can tell that she hurts. He hurts. He aches, really. His entire body aches with pain.

 

He wishes that she hadn’t come here, that she hadn’t shown up.

 

But he doesn’t think he’d trade seeing her face for anything in the world.”

 

“How long are you home?”

 

“What?” he stutters, not expecting that question.

 

She finally opens her eyes again. They’re clearer than they’ve been all this time. “How long are you home this time? How long until you have to leave again?”

 

“A few weeks. I’ve got to go back and meet with the guys for a couple of days at the end of September.”

 

He doesn’t expect what happens next, but he should have. He’s kissed Emma more times than he can count, and he should have seen the signs of her getting ready to kiss him. But before he can process any of this, she’s sliding her lips over his in a demanding kiss that makes him feel like they never stopped this, like they were never apart. Her hands are in his hair immediately, tugging him closer, and his hands find her face, the smooth skin just as he remembered it.

 

It’s like coming home after being away for months at a time. If anyone knows how that feels, it’s him.

 

He hasn’t felt like he had a home in months.

 

For right now, despite the fact that he knows this is a relapse, that he knows this is likely a mistake, he’s going to let it feel like home. He’s going to find home in Emma.

 

He almost stops them, but then she’s pushing him onto the ground, his towel falling open while she straddles his hips, rolling her hips into his while he trusts up into her, their lips never parting. He has no control after that, not after experiencing how damn good she makes him feel, so he doesn’t stop them when they stumble into the bedroom.

 

He doesn’t want to stop them.

 

So he enjoys himself, enjoys the way that she feels exactly the same when he slides into her, enjoys the way that she makes the same little sounds when he nibbles at her ear, enjoys the way that she still does that thing where she traces the muscles of his back with her fingers when she’s falling apart at his touch.

 

He enjoys it all and wishes with every breath in him that he can somehow fix the brokenness. That they can fix the brokenness.

 

After they’re finished, they don’t talk for nearly thirty minutes. He expected Emma to leave the moment he pulled out of her, but she didn’t. She stayed. She stayed while he cleaned them up. She stayed to go to the restroom. She stayed to slip into her favorite of his sweaters. She stayed to cuddle with him afterwards, her cheek resting against his chest.

 

She stayed.

 

But just because she stayed doesn’t mean that things are okay. He knows this. He’s just having a difficult time admitting it. But he has to.

 

“Sex doesn’t solve our problems, Swan. You know that, right?”

 

“I know,” she says, tightening her arms around his chest. “I don’t…we shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t even still be here. I’m not sure what came over me, over us.”

 

“A hell of a lot of emotions.” He presses a kiss against her forehead, wanting more proof that she’s real, that this isn’t a dream. “We’ve got…there’s a lot left between us, love. There was never anything wrong between us, I don’t think. I just wasn’t there.”

 

He hates that he wasn’t there. He should have been there.

 

“That’s kind of what went wrong. You can’t be in a relationship without being there.”

 

He knows. He knows. He knows.

 

But they still work. They’re still them. If he’s around, they can still be them. That’s what he has to tell himself.

 

“But it’s not us. It was the distance, my job.”

 

“Which is your dream.”

“Aye, it was my dream,” he confirms softly, running his fingers through her hair and down her back. She’s real, she’s real, she’s real. “It is my dream. But I should have never let it come between us. You’ve been my life for half a decade. You have been there for absolutely everything, and I should have tried harder, should have done more.”

 

“I don’t think there was anything either of us could have done.”

 

She sounds broken, like she doesn’t want to be having this conversation. Or maybe she can’t be having it. Maybe this is all too hard. But he needs to talk to her. He needs to work things out. There’s no other way.

 

If she doesn’t want him back, she doesn’t. He can’t change that. He can’t force her into anything. But he can hope. There’s always hope.

 

He still loves her.

 

He’ll always love her.

 

“I could have made more time to call. I could have scheduled breaks between cities. I could have booked a flight for me, for you. I could have done so much to save us, to make you feel less alone.”

 

“Killian, this isn’t all on you.”

 

“No, no, it’s not,” he admits, knowing that their relationship wasn’t perfect, that there were other things to fix, “but I’ve had five months of living alone, even when I wasn’t here, to think about all of the things I could have changed.”

 

“Me too,” she sighs, lifting her head from his chest and untangling her legs before she moves to the other side of the bed, putting distance between them all the while he rubs his hand up and down his face trying to work out the stress lines. Why is she moving? Why is she putting space between them?  “I don’t…I don’t know what to do.”

 

“I don’t either. Do you even want to try again? Or are we chalking this up to a one-time thing? To a fallback?”

 

He didn’t want to ask, but he had to. He has to know.

 

“I don’t want it to be that,” she answers, and his heart fills with hope. “But I can’t go back to how we were…what do you want?”

 

“You.”

 

That’s it. That’s all he wants. He just wants to be with her. No part of it is a lie.

 

Her eyes blow wide, her lips opening before quickly closing. “That’s all. You just want me?”

 

“Always, Emma” he promises, smiling despite himself, the hope growing even more. “But you’re right. We can’t…I can’t leave like that. I can’t do things just for me without considering you. And you can’t let me just do it and say that things are okay.”

 

“I kind of figured you knew things weren’t okay.”

 

He didn’t. He should have. But they can’t change the past. He knows that now.

 

“You’ve never lied to me, so I didn’t expect it then. I always believed the words that you said.”

 

“So what are we doing, Killian? What do we do?”

 

He shrugs, sitting up against the headboard. He won’t lie to her. He’ll tell her the truth. Always.  “We try again. We make compromises. We do better. For ourselves. For each other. And maybe I don’t put a song out without letting you know.”

 

She smiles, the first genuine smile without heartbreak hidden behind it for the first time today. It makes his heart absolutely soar with the hope that they can fix them. What’s that saying? Hope is the thing with feathers. Hope can fly.

 

“I’d like that.”

 

It’s not easy, but he didn’t expect it to be. They take things slowly, beginning things by just talking, by taking days to talk through their issues, to talk through all of the things that they’ve missed. It’s a lot of life to catch up on, but he and Emma have always worked. They understand each other, and they know when to push and to pull.

 

It’s just taking a bit of relearning.

 

But things do get better, and eventually they get back into the groove of things. There are more smiles than tears, and they go back to making each other laugh. They go back to being them.

 

He really likes making her laugh.

 

Their friends are thrilled if not a bit wary, but he reminds himself that this isn’t about their friends, it’s about them. The same goes with his bandmates when he tells them, when he has to after his lyrics become brighter, less melancholy. Some of them practically collapse in happiness that he won’t be “broody” anymore, but others ask him if he’s sure, if he really wants this.

 

He does.

 

Because at the end of the day, at the end of every day after awhile, he gets to come home and put his keys in a bowl that holds another set, the metal clanking together in a tune that’s sweeter than any music he can make.

 

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

 

Love better.

Chapter Text

His hand trails through the tips of her hair, untangling the knots that have collected from their day at the beach, the heavy winds and salty ocean air causing it to curl in unnatural ways until it ended up in a tangled, tousled mess. His touch is soothing even when he snags on a stubborn knot that pulls at her scalp, but he somehow always manages to work it out, helping her sort out her mess while she lays on top of him and feels his heartbeat with every rise and fall of his chest. It’s comforting in a way that no one’s touch has been, and she feels tears stinging in her eyes as she thinks about it.

 

She doesn’t want to cry, not over something as ridiculous as having someone play with her hair, but besides the few times Mary Margaret has curled it for her for job interviews and the occasional big date, no one has ever played with her hair, no one other than Killian. But Killian is playing with her hair right now after spending the entire day with her relaxing out by the ocean, and she can’t fight back this unwanted sob that she’s choking on.

 

“Emma?” Killian questions, the timber of his voice even deeper as he whispers. His hand stops its ministrations in her hair, and she feels him tilting her chin up before she can burrow her head in his neck. “Love, what’s going on in that head of yours?”

 

“No one has ever played with my hair before.”

 

She sees him subtly shake his head as his lips purse and his eyes squint, closing for a moment so that his long, dark lashes fall against his cheeks. “What now?”

 

“Nothing. It’s stupid.”

 

“I promise you, Swan, that’s not true.”

 

She sighs, managing to take a deep breath even with the way her body is pressed into his, before looking up at him with glassy eyes, a tear falling down her cheek. “I’m…no one has ever played with my hair before, not before you. It’s something that moms do, that parents do, and I don’t have those. So I guess it’s just on my long list of things that should have happened when I was a kid but didn’t.”

 

Killian hums as he dips his head and slides his lips over hers. She can taste the saltiness of her tears trickling down to their lips, and she tries not to feel like some kind of unwanted foster kid when she’s twenty seven years old.

 

“Tell me.”

 

“Tell you what?”

 

“Hold on,” Killian encourages, gently pushing her off of him and letting her fall against the bed while he runs into his living room, coming back two minutes later with a notebook and a pen. “Scooch over, love. He sits down on the mattress while she rolls over, getting up and crawling into his side to see what the hell it is that he’s doing. “We’re going to make a list, and you don’t have to finish it tonight or even do it at all if you don’t want to. But I want you to write down all of the things you wanted to experience as a kid and didn’t.”

 

“Killian, that’s ridiculous.”

 

“Aye, but I kind of like it.” He taps the pen against her nose, and she chuckles under her breath before kissing his cheek. “Now, let’s start with have someone play with your hair.” He writes it down in his neat, oddly beautiful handwriting, and then puts a check mark next to it. “See, you already have one done. Now come on, Swan. Let’s make a list.”

 

Over the next few weeks, she writes down whatever pops in her head, scribbling it down on a napkin or on her phone when she’s away from Killian’s and then adding it to the notebook that sits on Killian’s kitchen counter. He offered to let her take it home with her, but she said no. Besides, she spends most of her nights at his house anyways. It’s on the beach with an open floor plan and soft, comfortable furniture and the constant background music of the waves crashing against solid ground. And, of course, Killian. He’s also there.

 

Climb across monkey bars.

 

Draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

 

Eat pure candy for dinner.

 

Ride a bike.

 

Have someone braid her hair.

 

Have someone braid her hair. (It’s different than someone playing with it, Killian.)

 

Run through a sprinkler.

 

Make homemade cupcakes.

 

Go camping.

 

“This is ridiculous,” she sighs after adding in the last one. Killian’s cooking dinner, grilled chicken sizzling on the stove, and she can practically see him rolling his eyes even if she’s looking at his back and the way his t-shirt clings to his muscles.

 

“I can promise you the only ridiculous thing on that list is eating candy for dinner.”

 

“Hey, that’s a good one. But seriously. All of this stuff makes me sound like I’m five.”

 

“That’s the point. You’re going to experience all of the things you didn’t as a young lady.”

 

“A young lady?”

 

“That is what my mum used to call everyone under the age of thirty. Come on, Swan. Don’t overthink it. Don’t freak yourself out of it. We’ll even do the candy one first. I’m thinking gummy candies all the way.”

 

“You hate gummy candies.”

 

“Exactly. That way you’ll have them to yourself, and my dentist won’t get more of my money.”

 

So the next night she walks into Killian’s house to several different gummy candies sitting on his counter along with a few bars of chocolate. Sucker, she thinks to herself. He went to the store and bought himself candy that he actually likes. So much for healthy eating all of the time. She grabs the bag of sour patch kids and wanders throughout the house looking for Killian. She finally finds him in the hammock on his back porch, the one that’s so close to the ocean you can practically taste the salt, and without hesitation, she climbs in there with him, settling between his legs while his arms wrap around her waist and his fingers trail up under her blouse to mess with the skin of her stomach.

 

“I have provided you with nourishment, my fair lady.”

 

“Thank you, my good sir,” she giggles, popping a gummy in her mouth and chewing before tiling her head back and briefly kissing him. “Did you have a good day at work?”

 

“Ah, yes, I love when nineteen-year-olds act like assholes because they failed their exam.”

 

“Dr. Jones,” she sighs, making her voice as seductive as possible, “didn’t you give them an opportunity to make it up to you?”

 

Killian snorts behind her, the laughter of his chest moving her with him while he pinches the skin of her stomach. “I do not live in a bad porn movie, so no, I did not allow them to sleep with me to make things up.”

 

“I mean, you have a girlfriend, so I feel like there’s a lot of reasons why that wouldn’t work.”



“Aye,” Killian growls, kissing up and down her neck while she continues to eat her candy, “a beautiful girlfriend who I very much love would keep me from doing that on top of all of the other moral wrongs there.”



“Smooth save, bud.”



“Only for you.”

 

“Well, what can I say. I’m as sweet as candy. How could you ever deny me?”

 

Eat pure candy for dinner.

 

-/-

 

“Bloody hell,” Killian mutters while she watches him bite his lip in the bathroom mirror. Her laptop is playing an instructional video for fishtail braids, something she’s never quite been able to master herself, and she tries to hold in her laughter at his frustration. “Couldn’t we have done a regular braid for this? Or even a French braid? This is bloody difficult.”

 

“This is the only braid I can’t do myself, so I figured it’d be perfect for this.”



“Yeah, well, I can’t watch that video one more time. The woman’s voice is far too high pitched.”



“Well, find another one. There’s a lot.”



“Then I’ll lose my spot, and I’ll have to start over again. This is fucking ridiculous.”

 

An hour later Killian has braided her hair in a simple braid, the fishtail attempt long gone after she thought Killian was going to smash her laptop and cut off all of her hair if his braid fell apart one more time. God, she loves him and knows he can get frustrated, but she never thought her hair would be the thing to bring him down.

 

Have someone braid her hair. (It’s different than someone playing with it, Killian.)

 

-/-

 

“It’s November. I’m not running through a sprinkler. Can’t we save this for, you know, the summer?”

 

“Nope. We bought this damn sprinkler today, and we’re doing it today.”

 

“Killian, babe, we’re currently bundled up in three layers of clothes. I don’t think stripping down and getting wet is our best idea.”

 

He waggles his eyebrows, and she braces herself before he dips his head and whispers the words in her ear. “Stripping you down and getting you wet is always our best idea.”

 

“You’re dirty.”



“Then I suggest we run through the water to get me as clean as you desire.”

 

Killian sets up the sprinkler, hooking it up to the hose in his front yard, before stripping out of his clothes and only remaining in his boxers. As much as she loves the sight, she really hopes none of his neighbors are home looking out the window. Mrs. Lucas would probably love it. Sighing, she does the same, letting her coat and jeans fall to the floor while she jumps up and down to keep herself warm.

 

It does not work.

 

Before she knows it, the nozzle is turned, water shooting up into the air, and Killian is taking her hand in his, their fingers intertwined. “Are you ready?”

 

“No.”

 

“Well, we’re going anyways.”

His grip tightens before they’re both sprinting forward, the momentum carrying her forward until she’s covered in ice cold water and landing on the other side of the sprinkler.

 

“Cold, cold, cold, cold,” she chants, hopping up and down on her toes to try to warm herself up to no avail. “That was freezing.”

 

“Aye,” he agrees, shaking his wet hair out before looking down at her with his lips ticking up on one side.

 

“No. Killian, I swear to God, don’t even think about it.”

 

“I’m already thinking about it.” Before she can run away, he’s scooping her up, nearly dropping her when she doesn’t get a good grip on his shoulders, and running them both through the water while she squeals. Actually squeals. She didn’t even know her body could make that noise, but it apparently can.

 

“You.” Slap. “Are.” Slap. “An.” Slap. “Asshole.”

 

“Oi, I’m already freezing with you. There’s no need to abuse a man.”

 

“There was literally every need.”

 

Killian walks them over to the house, turning off the water, and bending down to pick up their clothes, nearly dropping her (again) before they make it inside to blessed, blessed heat and the warmth of a hot shower.

 

It’s so much better than running through a sprinkler, but she can’t help her smile thinking of she and Killian, two grown adults, running through a sprinkler in the yard in nothing but their underwear. It’s by far the most ridiculous thing they’ve done on the list of hers that she started back in September, but she kind of loves it.

 

Run through a sprinkler.

 

-/-

 

“Mary Margaret said Leo needs Christmas themed cupcakes. What does that mean?”

 

“Red and green icing? Peppermint flavor? Anything and everything festive?”

 

“Yeah, but why is a five-year-old so specific about his cupcakes for his birthday?”

 

“Because it’s his birthday, my love, and he was born two days before Christmas. He probably just likes the season. I know I would if someone came down my chimney and left me with presents.”

“I can come down your chimney if you want.”

 

“Look at that, Swan. I knew dating me for so long would suck you into the making everything dirty.”

 

“Yeah, well, I can do that too.” She winks at him before pressing up on her toes and quickly kissing him. “Add have Santa come to my list. That’s something I never experienced. You’re Santa in this case, by the way.”



“Aye, I got that. I should warn you, though, if your goal is for Santa to come, you really are going to have to slide down the chimney.”

 

“It’s a good thing we have each other because anyone else would break up with us by now.”

 

She’s never been one for baking, especially from scratch, but she and Killian go through his cabinets to see everything he has in order to make a list of everything they need. He really only has sugar, eggs, and milk, so they quickly drive down to the supermarket and load their cart up with every baking utensil that the small market in the town has. They have a surprising amount of Christmas-themed goods, so while Killian is getting the practical things, she grabs onto sprinkles (which she still says don’t actually taste good and just look nice) and Christmas themed cupcake…filters? Cups? Holders? She’s not really sure what they’re called.

 

After they’ve filled their basket up with everything including a birthday card for Leo, they check out and make their way back to Killian’s, immediately baking the cupcakes so they’ll have them ready for Leo’s party tomorrow afternoon. It’s a bit of a disaster at first, but once they get the mixture right (Killian apparently does not believe in measurements and instructions), it’s smooth sailing. Or Smooth baking, really.

 

“This icing is fantastic,” she moans, taking her finger and swiping another section from the bowl before Killian can swat her hand away (again). “Can we keep some in the fridge, like, at all times?”

 

She expects Killian to immediately shoot down her idea, but when she looks up at him in anticipation, he’s intently staring at her, his blue eyes slanted and his arms crossed. Is he really mad that she’s eating some of the icing?

 

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

 

“Move in with me.”

 

If she were holding anything, she’d drop it.

 

“What?”

 

“Move in with me, Swan,” Killian repeats, taking a step forward and interlacing their fingers, resting their hands on his chest. “Come on. When was the last time you even went home? Your stuff is here, your food…I’m here.”

 

“You are here,” she acquiesces, really coming around to the idea of living here…with him. He’s right. She doesn’t ever go back to her apartment, it would save money, she loves him. That last one seems pretty important.

 

Killian softly smiles down at her while squeezing her hands. “What do you say? You want to officially invade all of my stuff?”

 

“Are you going to make me clean as often as you do?”

 

“Obviously not.”

 

“And can I bring my pillow from my apartment?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“And we’ll keep icing in the fridge?”

 

He clicks his tongue. “Eh, that one is debatable.”

 

“Hmmm,” she hums, trying to keep the smile off of her face while she unlocks their fingers so she can wrap her arms around his neck, “I think you make an excellent salesman, Killian Jones. And an even better roommate.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah. And we can mark off having a sleepover on the list.”

 

“Was that on the list?”

 

“Nope.” She presses up on her toes to slide her lips over his, the both of them smiling into the kiss. This is so much better than she ever expected today to go, and she knows that this is the right choice. Killian is the right choice. “But you said we could add as we go. Now, come on, babe, let’s finish these cupcakes, and then we can get to the rest of our sleepover activities.”

 

Have “Santa” come.

 

Make homemade cupcakes.

 

Sleepover (Permanent)

 

-/-

 

She’s walking home from the station on a surprisingly warm afternoon in February. It was snowing last week, but as she walks the road home, there’s not a single bit of evidence of that, all of the snow having melted and run into the ocean a few days ago. Now she can walk outside with just a sweater and her boots without freezing. But it’s still cool enough that she wouldn’t want to spend extended periods of time outside, which is why she’s entirely confused when she gets to their driveway and sees Killian sitting outside with a…bike.

 

Shit.

 

He’s going to try to teach her how to ride a bike today, isn’t he?

 

The closer she gets, the more she can see the bright smile on his face, and the moment he sees her, he gets up from his spot on the front steps and jogs toward her, kissing her in greeting and handing her a helmet. Oh God, they’re really doing this.

 

“You ready to learn how to ride, Swan?”

 

“Well, I’d think I was already pretty adept at that considering last night.”

 

“Bloody minx,” Killian laughs, dipping his head and kissing her cheek. “But seriously. I actually ordered this for you after Christmas, sales and all that, but it just got here today. I figured we could start practicing today.”

 

“In…broad daylight? Where the neighbors can see me bust my ass?”

 

“Aye. Unless you want to do it in the mornings.”

 

She pats his shoulder and walks past him toward the front door. “Let’s try for the morning.”

 

Killian wakes her up at six the next morning. His gentle attempt of soothing her awake doesn’t exactly put her in the best mood. His nudging and lips against her skin might as well have been a blaring air horn and a sledge hammer. But she gets up anyways and bundles up as they step outside, putting on the idiotic helmet and waiting for Killian’s instruction.

 

It seems like it should be simple enough. People do it all of the time. Hell, children do it, but the moment she sits down on the seat, her feet still planted on the ground, she can already feel how uncomfortable this is. And she’s really beginning to question how something so thin on two wheels can hold an entire human being up.

 

Killian tells her they’re just going to work on her balance this morning, getting her used to the bike, and he promises that he won’t let go. So that’s exactly what they do. She gets accustomed to sitting on the seat and moving the slightest bit, all while Killian holds onto the back of the bike so she doesn’t fall.

 

And so it goes several mornings in a row, the two of them getting up before the sun to practice. She does get better, even if she feels ridiculous, but she keeps toppling over and scraping her hands, elbows, knees. The last straw comes when she rips open her favorite leggings after a particularly nasty fall and Killian tells her just to get back on the bike.

 

“No, I’m not getting back on the fucking bike. I’ve fallen too many times. My ass hurts, and I’m not doing it. Screw this.”

 

She gets up from the ground, careful not to get more pieces of gravel in her hands, before storming off in the house, ripping off her ruined leggings and stepping into the bathroom to clean out her wounds. She can feel her cheeks heat and the tears stinging in her eyes all while the water in the tub runs over her bloody, scraped knee. Her body is disgusting right now, scrapes and bruises all where she doesn’t want them to be. This has been a horrible plan, and they shouldn’t have done it.

 

Why the hell does she even need to ride a bike? That’s not a thing that even comes up in her everyday life. They never should have done this. Killian should have left well enough alone.

 

Huffing, she turns the water off and climbs off of the edge of the tub, making her way over to the closet and changing into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt before she props herself up on the counter and puts Neosporin over her new scrapes and tapes gauze over them. She’s finishing her knee when Killian comes to stand in the doorway of the bathroom, his hip resting against the doorframe and his ankles crossed just as his arms are.

 

“So should we add having a meltdown to your list?”

 

“Fuck off, Killian.”

 

“Okay, okay,” Killian soothes, taking a few steps forward and placing his hand over her bloody, bandaged knee, “that was a poor time for a joke. I’m sorry, Emma. I’d never do anything to hurt you or piss you off. Not on purpose or without good intentions. I just have to feel like all of this isn’t really about the bike.”

 

She really hates him for being able to read her so well. An open book, he’d said once. She hated it when he said it then. No one who barely knew her had any right to tell her they understood her from a few conversations, but now, now he knows her better than anyone and has every right to call her an open book, even if she’s pissed as hell right now.

 

“It’s not.”

 

“Then what is it, sweetheart?”

 

“I feel…stupid. You and I wake up at the crack of dawn to practice riding a bike. We literally go out there with flashlights so none of our neighbors can see me. I’m a grown woman. I should know how to do this. I should know how to do a lot of things and have experienced a lot of things and I just…I haven’t. And I feel inadequate and naïve and all of these awful things.”

 

“Listen to me, Emma Swan, no part of you is inadequate. You never have been, and you never will be. I love you more than anything on this planet or in the stars above, and you have to know how bloody brilliant you are. Yes, you had to miss a lot of your childhood and yes, you had to grow up too fast. We both did. But there’s nothing stopping you or me from making up for lost time.” He wipes away the tears that are falling from her eyes before softly kissing her cheeks. “You may hate the phrase, but even if you can’t actually ride a bike, all your life you’ve been getting back up on the bike when life knocks you down. But don’t let it, Emma. You’re better than that, stronger.”

 

Oh damn. She wasn’t expecting that. That’s…everything, and it’s so not fair that he can be so nice when she really is having a meltdown. He should be having a meltdown too. He’s being nice to her, and she’s just being an asshole.

 

She wipes away at her cheeks, sniffling a bit before smiling at him.

 

“Are you sure you weren’t supposed to be a literature professor or something? Because no one talks like that.”

 

“I do. At least to you, my love. You deserve it. Now come on, let’s try again.”

 

Yeah, she’s going to have to figure out a way to be extra kind to him somehow. Maybe she’ll scrub down the kitchen later when he’s at work. He might like that. Or he might get frustrated with how she cleans. It’s at least worth a shot.

 

“Can we try again tomorrow?”

 

“Aye.”

 

So she tries again. And again. And again.

 

And even if she sucks at it and it doesn’t go smoothly, eventually she’s rolling down the street without crashing onto the pavement or into the bushes. It feels like some kind of weird, success story, but this is her life and she’s along for the ride.

 

Ride a bike.

 

-/-

 

“Can you draw a football, Emma? Killian does it wrong.”

 

“Of course, buddy,” she promises Leo, ignoring Killian’s eyeroll and his muttering of bloody American football, before picking up the brown chalk and drawing out a bloody American football on the Nolan’s driveway. “I think Killian’s soccer ball is nice, don’t you?”

 

“Yeah, but why does he call it a football?”

 

“Well, from where Killian is from, that’s what they call soccer. It makes sense, you know? You do play soccer with your feet.”

 

“Huh,” Leo gasps, continuing to draw nonsense on the chalk while Killian works on his own drawings. “That’s weird.”

 

“Yeah, well, your Uncle Killian is weird.”

 

“If he’s my uncle and you’re my aunt, does that mean you guys are going to get married?”

 

Killian starts coughing, probably choking on his own spit, and she feels her cheeks heat and her heart start beating wildly within her chest. They’ve talked about it, but it’s never been more than a small conversation. Never too much detail. Just that it’s a possibility they both want one day.

 

“I don’t know, kid. Maybe one day.”

 

“Well, if you do, I think you should serve chicken nuggets at the wedding. Aunt Belle had gross food.”

 

She snorts, not knowing what else to do before reaching over and ruffling Leo’s blonde hair. “Okay, kid. We’ll keep that in mind.”

 

Draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

 

-/-

 

“I’m pretty sure we look like creeps right now, babe.”

 

“Swan, it’s fine,” Killian insists, pushing her forward toward the jungle gym. “All you have to do is climb across them quickly, and we’ll be gone before someone calls the cops on us.”

 

“I am the cops.”

 

“Well, then we won’t have any issue. Now come on, let’s do it.”

 

She whines a bit before walking over to the playground, waiting for the kids who are playing on the monkey bars to get finished before she quickly hops up on the ladder and moves across the bars, easily holding her weight up and thanking all of the time she spends in the gym for being able to do this. There’s a reason only kids do this. They can hold up their weight much more easily than adults can.

 

It takes less than a minute for her to finish, and when she hops to the ground, she sees Killian holding his phone up laughing as he very obviously takes a video of her.

 

“Do not put that online.”

 

“Yeah, no, that’s definitely going on Instagram, especially with how I captured the judgmental looks of all of the moms around here.”

 

“You’re an asshole.”

 

“You love me.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“Definitely.”

 

Climb across monkey bars.

 

-/-

 

“So can you really navigate by the stars?”

 

“Aye,” Killian confirms, tugging her a bit closer before taking her hand and pointing up to the sky, “Liam taught me when I was a lad.”

 

“How did that even come about?”

 

Killian sighs, dropping their hands and turning his body so that he’s facing her. He’s set up a makeshift tent in their backyard, which is really just the beach. There are enough blankets underneath them that the sand doesn’t get on them too much. It’s May now, and while that’s not a necessarily the warmest time in Maine, there is a pleasant breeze blowing up to them as the waves crash in the background, creating the most soothing backdrop that’s usually muted by the walls of their home.

 

Killian’s eyes look especially blue in the glow of the moonlight and of the lantern he has set up in the corner, and she reaches her hand out to rub her fingers across his jaw, feeling the rough stubble that she loves so much. His hand finds hers, and it’s as warm and as welcoming as always as he keeps her hand against his cheek.

 

“Well, you know we didn’t have much money and that our mum worked all the damn time. I’m not even sure when she managed to sleep or how she managed to be home to help with my homework. Um, but anyways, Liam took to entertaining me, and one of those things was watching the night sky from our roof.”

 

“How did Liam learn so much? Enough to teach you?”

 

“He didn’t. The wanker had no bloody clue what he was doing, but after I showed an interest in it, he started checking out books from the local library. And thus began our obsession.”

 

“He loved you a lot. Your mom did too.”

 

“Aye, I know.” His eyes get teary for a moment and they fall away from her gaze. It takes her fingers running across his cheek for him to look back at her. “I wish they could have met you.”

 

“I wish I could have met them too, but I feel like I know them through you.”

 

She moves her head forward, just the slightest of movements, so that she can brush her lips over his. His lips are as warm and as soft as always, and she can taste the beer he had earlier.

 

“I love you, Killian. You are everything to me, you know that?”

 

“I had an idea or two,” he laughs, squeezing her hand. “I love you too. I’m so glad you agreed to be with me.”

 

“Well, after I got over you being a pompous ass, there was never really any other option.”

 

He shakes his head back and forth before releasing her hand and crawling over her, caging her in with his body and his warmth while his lips run over her cheeks, her forehead, her eyelids, her mouth. He’s everywhere all at once, and she both laughs and sighs into all of the kisses. She feels desire building within her and even though the least romantic thing she can think of his having sex on the beach (think of all of the sand everywhere), that’s exactly what the two of them do. It’s slow and soft, almost exactly like it was the first time they were together, and she almost cries thinking of how her life has gone from nothing to absolutely everything.

 

She made a life for herself. She allowed people in. She allowed herself to dream that her life can be more than the girl who no one ever wanted and who no one ever loved, and she allowed it to become a reality long before Killian.

 

But then she met him after he parked his car in a no parking zone, and he became the first person she could ever trust with everything. Even more than David and Mary Margaret, which she thought would never be possible. But there he was prepared to and willing to love her with her walls, and here he is still loving her after knowing the deepest parts of her soul.

 

This list may have started as something small and stupid, but she’s realizing that it’s not about the list. It’s about experiencing life and doing things that make her happy, things she thought she’d never get to do.

 

They fall asleep outside that night and wake up as the sun rises over the ocean, the sky painted in oranges and pinks, and she wonders how she ever could have hated mornings and the thought of having someone by her side.

 

Go camping

 

-/-

 

Spring fades into summer, the temperature increasing daily and her job getting increasingly busier while tourists roll into town. Killian isn’t teaching a class this summer, so he stops by with lunch almost daily, eating with her before kissing her forehead and heading off to read a book or fix up the improvements they’re making to the house. It’s always had older features that she knows Killian has wanted to update and now that he has the time to work on it and the money to pay for the supplies, he’s really taken it to heart. Her home is basically a construction zone at all hours of the day, but she does have a really hot contractor.

 

She gets home around five one evening in June, the flowers in the front yard in full bloom, and she can see where Killian finished painting the house a light yellow, something that had taken some convincing for her to accept (who knew paint colors could be such a dividing point in a relationship). But he’s not outside, so as she walks up their new stone path, making sure not to trek on Killian’s vibrant green grass, she wonders where exactly her boyfriend is.

 

She finds him in the kitchen, carefully painting the cabinets a light gray with his laptop playing a video on how to paint kitchen cabinets that he’s been watching over the past few days. There’s music playing in the background, something slow and instrumental, and as she walks toward him, she notices the slight sway in his hips.

 

“Hi, babe,” she greets, kissing his cheek in greeting while squeezing his hip. “You’ve gotten a lot done today.”

 

“I had a pretty big pep in my step.”

 

“Yeah? Why?”

 

“Check the list on the counter.”

 

“Weird way to answer that question but okay.”

 

She steps over to the counter and finds the notebook, her list of childhood wants written down in a combination of she and Killian’s handwriting with all of the items scratched out. She thought they’d finished this, moved on from it. Maybe he meant another list.

 

Climb across monkey bars.

 

Draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

 

Eat pure candy for dinner.

 

Ride a bike.

 

Have someone braid her hair.

 

Have someone braid her hair. (It’s different than someone playing with it, Killian.)

 

Run through a sprinkler.

 

Have “Santa” come.

 

Make homemade cupcakes.

 

Sleepover (Permanent)

 

Go camping.

 

Get Married

 

“Killian?” she questions, her heart absolutely racing within her chest while her breath leaves her body and emotion gets stuck in her throat. “Killian, what is this?”

 

He puts his paintbrush down and takes a step toward her, looking over at the notebook as if that isn’t his handwriting that wrote the last two words that have already completely shaken her world. “Well, it looks as if you had some very mature dreams as a child.”

 

“I didn’t write that.”

 

“I know,” he laughs, taking her hands and interlacing their fingers before pulling her away from the counter and squatting down on one knee. Oh God, this is happening. This is actually happening. “Emma Swan, my love,” Killian begins, smiling up at her with the most vibrant smile and gray paint on his nose, “I have loved you for two years now and known you for three, but in the past year, I feel as if I’ve gotten to experience an entire lifetime of adventure with you. I’d like to keep doing that indefinitely. So what do you say, love, will you marry me?”

 

She falls to her knees as well, landing them on equal ground, and nods her head up and down, the smile on her face so large that it almost hurts. “Yes, of course. Of course I’ll marry you even if you proposed in the cheesiest way possible.”

 

Killian barks out a laugh before slamming his lips into hers and threading his hands into her hair, consuming her as if she won’t be there when he lets go. But she doesn’t care. She loves it. She loves him.

 

“Well, I could have spread out rose petals in the shape of a heart, but I like to think I’m more of a romantic than those people in Valentine’s Day advertisements.”

 

“You know that’s how David proposed to Mary Margaret, right?”

 

“I didn’t, but I’m definitely going to mess with him about it now.” She laughs while Killian releases her hand to dig into his shirt pocket, revealing a small black box with a sapphire ring inside. She doesn’t know how, but she completely forgot about the ring. It’s gorgeous, and she almost doesn’t believe it’s real as Killian slides it onto her finger. “This is my mum’s ring. I know I could have bought you a diamond but –”

 

“No, no, it’s perfect.”

 

-/-

 

Five months later, they cross off the final item on the list.

 

Get married.

 

It doesn’t mean they can’t make a new list, though. 

Chapter Text

She hates airports.

 

They’re basically like forcing everyone into a large (and yet somehow very small) room where germs are passed around, people are pissed, people are tired, and only a small amount are there to actually go on vacation where life is fun. Most everyone is there for work or to visit family, and really, what’s so fun about that?

 

Okay, so maybe she’s on her way to visit her parents in Chicago, and she’s not exactly happy to have woken up at four in the morning for her seven o’clock flight when it ended up getting cancelled because the weather in Boston and Chicago both seriously suck in February. Seriously. Snow is pretty and all, but she’s tired and wants to be sitting in her parents’ living room eating the breakfast casserole she knows that her mom is making for her right now.

 

And she’s stuck at Logan standing in the longest line in the world for overpriced coffee.

 

She doesn’t even really want coffee. She wants hot chocolate, but she really needs the caffeine.

 

She needs a lot of caffeine.

 

Sighing, she pulls her phone out of her pocket, figuring that she can at least use the free Wifi and pass the time by scrolling through the internet. And she does, making her way through all of Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Hell, she even goes through Facebook. She doesn’t even know when she last used Facebook.

 

It had to have been at least a year ago when Ruby and Dorothy got married, and she wanted to see all of the pictures Ruby had tagged her in. But that had definitely been the last time. She should probably just delete the account.

 

The line moves at a slow pace, and she’s convinced she’s never going to get her coffee, so as a last resort, she opens up Tinder, which is also something she hasn’t used in awhile, probably not since she was trying to find a date to Elsa’s wedding in June.

 

Why in the world are all of her friends getting married? What is she doing with her life? Woah, Emma, don’t go down that road. She’s fine. Everything is fine, and her mom totally isn’t going to hound her about why she’s not dating anyone while she’s eating the cold breakfast casserole that she’s missing right now.

 

Her mom is definitely going to hound her on it, especially because her cousin who is younger than her just announced that she was pregnant when they were all eating Christmas dinner. She could practically feel her mom screaming “baby, baby, baby oh” all Justin Bieber style.

 

Her mom is not as good of a singer as Justin Bieber…not that she would ever admit that…out loud. She’s twenty-seven years old, single, childless, and she can jam out to Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers if she wants to while she’s driving down the road late at night following a guy for one of her cases.

 

She’s a consummate professional. Always.

 

It takes forever to go through the profiles, a bunch of sleazy guys who pose shirtless in their pictures and write some of the dumbest captions in the world, and while she may not have always had the best taste in guys, she’s not about to go on a date with Matt from Boston who is looking for a “hot girl with an ass that won’t quit.” Her ass won’t quit, but her ass has standards. And it goes on and on like that, every single guy she sees just kind of looking like a douche, so she’s constantly swiping left simply because she can.

 

“Ouch,” someone groans behind her, right in her ear really, “so it’s a hard no on him, huh?”

 

She turns around, about ready to chew this dude out for looking over her shoulder, and it’s exactly when she sees familiar blue eyes and dark hair of the guy she just swiped left on.

 

Well, shit.

 

She’ll just walk to Chicago. Screw the snow. She’ll walk and then move there so she never has to run into this guy again.

 

Seriously, what are the odds? She needs someone super smart and good with statistics to figure out what exactly the odds are of having the guy you just rejected on Tinder standing right behind you in line at a Starbucks in Logan International. She’s also kind of regretting swiping left because, well, he’s hot, especially in person. His profile wasn’t bad, it was actually pretty good from the glimpse she got of it, but she was kind of on a roll of rejecting guys. It felt…powerful almost, and the more she thinks about that, the more she realizes that she really is tired if she thinks silently rejecting on guys is making her feel powerful.

 

But Matt from Boston totally deserved it.

 

“Seriously,” she whines when she looks up at him and the way his lips are stretched into an actual smirk. A smirk. In real life. And not on a Disney character. It’s insane. He’s smirking at her, his thick brows moving across his forehead, and she’s still considering just not going to visit her parents for their thirtieth anniversary party. “So I’m guessing you saw that.”

 

“I did just see you reject me without really even reading my profile,” he laughs, his British accent coming out stronger than it did when he first spoke. She didn’t even realize he had an accent at first. “I mean, come on, love. My profile is pretty good.”

 

“Obviously not if I just swiped it away like nothing.”

 

“Ah,” he sighs, crossing his arms over his chest and adjusting the backpack on his shoulders while his lips press together into a straight line, “well, maybe. Or maybe you were simply rejecting every man in Boston all while waiting in this ridiculous line. You were going pretty fast.”

 

“And you were invading my privacy.”

 

He shrugs, almost like he doesn’t have a care in the world while she feels irritation prick up over her skin. “I don’t mean to point out the obvious – ”

 

“Which is exactly what you’re about to do.”

 

“Aye,” he laughs, his eyes crinkling at the sides, and oh no, she will not find that attractive, “I am. I really didn’t mean to pry, but I’m a wee bit taller than you, and the way you’ve been holding your phone is directly in my eyeline while I watch the television playing. And imagine my surprise when a beautiful woman rejected me without even giving me a chance. I wasn’t planning on getting rejected this morning.”

 

“I’m guessing you don’t get rejected a lot.”

 

“It has something to do with my devilishly handsome good looks.”

 

“Oh my God,” she groans, rolling her eyes while he moves his eyebrows again. Why does he keep moving his eyebrows? “That is so conceited.”

 

“Or confident.”

 

“Conceited.”

He shrugs. “Whatever you say. So why the rejection of men on this fine Thursday morning?”

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

 

“I would. That’s why I’m asking.”

 

“Flight’s delayed, I’m bored, and I really want coffee.”

 

“The same could be said for me, but I do feel like I would give your profile a chance.”

 

“Guess you’ll never know now.”

 

“Perhaps.” He smiles down at her before he uncrosses his arms and sticks his hand out. Oh wow. He’s really about to introduce himself to her. Maybe the guy really does have confidence. “Killian Jones.”

 

“Emma Swan,” she says warily, taking his hand in hers and shaking it up and down three times. She definitely doesn’t notice how warm his hand is. Nope. “It’s nice to reject you.”

 

“It’s nice to be rejected.”

 

She and Killian talk as they move through the rest of the line. It’s awkward and stilted sometimes, but he’s a pretty persistent guy. And obviously he does not feel embarrassment because he powers through it all and chats away about his job at an engineering firm and then asks her far more questions than necessary about what it’s like to be a private investigator. He seems genuinely interested, and that may be the first time that has happened…ever. But he’s a nice guy, funny at least from what she can tell, and when she finally gets to the front of the line, she pays for his coffee.

 

She’s not really sure why she does it. Maybe it’s some kind of apology for rejecting him, even if she doesn’t need to apologize for that, and maybe she just figures there’s no harm in being nice. Plus, he drinks black coffee, so it’s not like it was expensive.

 

She was really scared he was going to order something complicated for a minute there. He seems like the type of guy who would do that.

 

He also seems like the kind of guy who would part ways after he got his coffee and leave her be, but he asks her if she wants to find somewhere to sit. She does, so she follows him until they manage to find a spot on the floor next to the windows, settling down on the ground and completely ignoring how disgusting this has to be.

 

It just has to be.

 

She’s sure of it.

 

Killian’s apparently flying to New York for a conference, something he’s not at all looking forward to, and his flight has been delayed until at least one. So really, he’s going to miss the entire first day of it, and a part of her feels like maybe the man is happy to be stranded in an airport.

 

She’s kind of happy to be stranded in an airport.

 

Yeah, this has got to be like that movie where the girl gets trapped in a romantic comedy? She doesn’t meet men in airports who are charming and funny, especially men who also use Tinder. She really can’t say anything. She uses it too. Maybe he was simply looking for a wedding date. Maybe he was looking for a hook up. She can’t blame him there either. Sometimes you just need to scratch the itch.

 

She does have a bit of a hard time believing that he has trouble finding someone to scratch the itch with, but hey, maybe he doesn’t always have a great first line like calling her out for rejecting him.

 

She wonders if people still even use pick up lines. She also wonders if they’ve ever worked. If someone walked up to her and said “Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?” she’d definitely have to hold herself back from slapping someone or tossing a drink.

 

She swears she’s not a violent person.

 

Maybe just a little.

 

“So tell me, Swan,” Killian begins, fiddling his fingers over his thighs and the suit pants that are stretched with the muscles, “you’re from Boston, correct?”

 

“That would be correct.”

 

He smiles, all of his white teeth on display, and she wonders what dentist he goes to. “And I assume that you’re single from your use of dating apps.”

 

“You’re a very smart man, Jones.”

 

“Oh, well that’s never been a doubt.”

 

“Stop,” she groans, reaching over and knocking her shoulder into his while she laughs.

 

“Never,” he promises, twisting a ring around on his thumb. It’s weirdly hot, especially since she knows it’s not a wedding ring. This conversation would have stopped before it started two hours ago because they have definitely been flirting, and she’s not going to flirt with a married man. It’s been awhile since she’s flirted with someone outside of work, but she knows how these things go. “So you’re from Boston and you’re single. It’s a funny coincidence because those two things happen to be true about me as well.”

 

“I’m glad we finally found something we have in common.”

 

“Aye, me too, even though we both have fantastic taste in comedic television.”

“That’s true,” she laughs, her lips stretching into a smile while her entire body buzzes with energy. She knows where this is going, and she likes it, which only surprises her a little.

 

“So I was thinking, maybe when we get back from our trips, you might like to go out to dinner with me.”

 

She hums, tilting her head back against the glass while Killian scratches behind his ear. “I think that might be a good idea. But I should warn you that you’ve already been rejected once, so I would suggest that you be on your best behavior. Or your worst. It kind of depends on how you want the night to go.”

 

“I’ll have to think on it. I do so fancy you when you’re irritated with me for peeping over your shoulder.”

 

“You’re a weird guy.”

 

“Who you’re going on a date with.”

 

“That I am.”

 

And it’s one date, then two, then three. And it goes on and on and on as she and Killian travel across all of Boston going to restaurants, museums, and baseball games. Eventually the fun dates slow down. They don’t stop, but they’re replaced by takeout at home, by a run down at the river on Saturday mornings, or by a cup of coffee in the morning before work when she’s staying at his apartment working on a case while he’s rushing off to do whatever it is he does as a civil engineer. She’s not entirely sure, simply because she doesn’t understand the mathematics of it, but she doesn’t really care as long as he’s happy doing it.

 

She loves him. She loves him a lot, actually, and it constantly surprises her how happy she is getting to have someone by her side who laughs with her and yells with her and who will let her eat all of the junk food in his apartment without complaining.

 

Okay, so he complains a little bit, but it’s really only when she eats his Doritos. It’s his favorite American snack, and he’s very protective over the cool ranch flavor. Anything else she can have.

 

She thinks it’s kind of weird, but then one day he’s at work while she’s at home doing research, and she really wants the chips. It takes some maneuvering, some climbing on cabinets because he put them on the shelf she can’t reach, and then she’s grabbing the unopened bag while making sure she doesn’t fall backwards and bust her ass. She doesn’t when she gets the chips, but she almost does when she spies a small green velvet box tucked into the corner. She knows what it is, wants to open it so damn bad that she almost does, but she restrains herself. She knows Killian, knows that he probably put a lot of effort into the ring and into his plan for proposing (holy shit, he’s going to propose), so she puts the Doritos back and pretends that she never saw it.

 

The weeks pass, and for awhile, she forgets about the ring even though something in the back of her mind is nagging at her, a little doubt trying to freak her out about why he hasn’t asked yet. But she does forget, doesn’t focus on it constantly, and they go about their lives.

 

It’s only when they’re at Logan again, two tickets in her wallet for them to fly to Chicago to visit her parents so Killian can meet them, that she realizes what he’s going to do. He somehow manages to get them in nearly the exact same spot on the floor as that first day, their thighs pressed together this time with no distance between them, and he hands her a diamond ring and whispers in her ear.

 

“I know that you swiped left on me the last time we were here, but I’d really like it if you put this ring on your left ring finger. Forever, preferably.”

 

Needless to say, she deletes the app.

Chapter Text

It’s not every day that a furious man comes barging into her apartment, slamming doors that shake in their frame and tearing through cabinets in search of a bottle of rum, haphazardly misplacing glasses and plates all while murmuring curses under his breath. If this did happen every day, she’d be concerned, mostly because it would mean an upset, emotional man is breaking into her apartment. But today it’s her boyfriend, his inky black hair sticking up in several different directions like he’s been running his hands through it, something he only does when he’s frustrated.

 

He hasn’t said a word to her since he came inside, just muttered something about the rum and then started banging around her cabinets. If he wanted rum, he probably should have headed home or waited until they went out to celebrate Ruby’s thirtieth birthday tonight.

 

But instead he’s throwing some kind of fit all while she watches him from her spot on a barstool next to the island.

 

Finally the cabinets stop slamming and he turns around, his usually bright blue eyes a cloudier gray than usual, and his beard somehow unkept even though she knows that he shaved this morning. She knows because she watched him carefully do it. He’s got a bottle of water in hand, probably the exact opposite of what he was looking for, and a heaviness settles in her stomach. Something must have seriously upset him, which doesn’t happen often, and she has no idea what it could be. How could she have no idea?

 

She’s supposed to know him. He’s supposed to confide in her.

 

“Babe,” she cautiously begins, tentatively reaching up and brushing down his wild hair, nails scratching his scalp in the way that she knows he likes, “would you like to tell me why you’re being all dark and broody?”

 

“No.”

 

“Okay, then tell me what’s wrong. And that’s not a question.”

 

He huffs, looking up at the ceiling and clenching his jaw, his skin ticking underneath the scruff. She can’t remember the last time he got this frustrated with something. “I got passed over for the promotion at work.”

 

Oh.

 

Oh.

 

Oh.

 

She didn’t…she didn’t even know he was working for a promotion. He didn’t say anything. Her dad didn’t say anything. She thought that he was happy, content with what he was doing, but even if he was, this has to sting. He must have really wanted this, and she can see how much it’s hurting him.

 

It’s hurting her.

 

Why didn’t he tell her?

 

Her hand falls from his hair to caress his cheek, his skin hot to the touch, before she lets it fall down his arm and to his hand, tugging on his palm until he reluctantly follows her to the living room, plopping down on the couch. She straddles his lap, her knees going on either side of his thighs until she settles down in his legs with her hands wrapped around his neck and his hands resting on her hips, a heavy presence that steadies her despite everything.

 

He won’t look at her, though, his gaze trained on the living room window as emotion dances through his eyes, the cloudiness only increasing as they get a bit watery. The only reason she knows that he hasn’t zoned out is because he keeps tapping three dots into her side, something he’s always done to silently tell her that he loves her.

 

It happens anytime they’re somewhere out with their friends, their own secret way of sharing their feelings, and it makes her smile every damn time, even when he’s being obnoxious and tapping (smacking) her on the ass when she’s trying to get ready for work.

 

She taps him back, hitting his cheek with her forefinger three times, and it’s what gets him to look back at her, a tear escaping his eye that she quickly wipes away.

 

“Tell me, Killian.”

 

“I don’t want you to think less of me.”



“Never.”

 

He scoffs at that, the self-loathing practically radiating off of him in waves. “I’m a bloody asshole who’s done nothing but screw up and then screw up again. And then I finally get on the right path, finally try to do something right, and then for what? Just to be dejected and rejected every damn time?”

 

“First of all, you are not a screw up or an asshole. You can be an ass sometimes, but you’re not an asshole.”

 

He rolls his eyes, looking up at the ceiling before looking at her with an emotionless stare, putting his mask back on. So obviously now was not the time to make a joke. Usually she can lighten the mood with her bad jokes. Killian’s the only person in the world who thinks she’s funny nearly all of the time.

 

“Killian, tell me what happened at work. I didn’t even know you were going for a promotion again. To what? Deputy Sheriff?”

 

“Aye.”



“And what happened?”

 

“Your father gave it to Graham.”

 

Well that explains half of the anger. Her dad gave her ex-boyfriend a promotion over her current boyfriend…which is a weird situation that she doesn’t think anyone else outside of soap operas has ever been in, but here she is.

 

Her dad also doesn’t know about she and Killian. No one does. So she and Killian are literally the only two people who know about the weird dynamic that’s going on at Storybrooke’s police station. It’s…complicated.

 

“Graham is good at his job. You know that.”

 

“Fucking hell, Emma. You think you’d like to support me a bit.”

 

“Hey,” she bites, anger beginning to stir within her, “I support you in everything you do, but I’m not going to be here for some kind of testosterone-filled jealousy, got it?”

 

“Aye,” he groans, clenching his teeth, his grip on her hip tightening for a moment before he loosens it, seemingly realizing what exactly it is that he’s doing. “I’m sorry…I didn’t…I’m pissed off, and I’m obviously not thinking clearly, not that it gives me a right to be a jerk but – ”

 

“It’s fine,” she sighs, knowing that he’ll keep rambling and go into some kind of self-loathing stupor if she doesn’t stop him. “Just tell me.”

 

His jaw moves and his tongue clicks, but he nods, tapping her hip three times.

 

“A few weeks ago your father came to me and told me that he was looking to promote a new Deputy Sheriff. Obviously, I was never under the impression that I was the only one up for the job, but out of everyone there, I’ve been there the longest, I’m always on time, I have the best success rate over all of the other officers. I know it’s cocky to think I was pretty much a lock, but I…I thought I was going to get it.”

 

“You should have gotten that.”

 

He should have. And yeah, maybe she’s a little biased, but she also knows that it’s true. Killian kills himself at work almost every day in an attempt to prove something to himself, to prove that he’s not still the man who fell apart after his brother died. She doesn’t know why he does it, why he thinks he has something to prove, but she knows it must make him feel better in his own personal battle.

 

But he doesn’t have anything to prove. She doesn’t think so. She wasn’t around then, wasn’t around for the days that he says he doesn’t want to relive, but she sees the good in him now. She knows that he’s a good man.

 

God, he has to be hurting when she knows he’s been hyping himself up over this for the last few weeks.

 

“You only say that because that’s what you’re supposed to say.”

 

“No, I mean you really should have gotten it,” she promises. “Graham is good at his job, but you’re better. And you’re better at being in charge as well. Yeah, he’d probably make a good deputy sheriff, but you’d make a damn good one. I’m going to go talk my dad.”

 

She gets up, only for him to tug her back to him, his lips finding the corner of her mouth. “No, Swan. Don’t do that. I don’t want to get a job because I’m with you or because you talk to your dad. I want it because I earned it. Let’s just forget about it and go get ready for Ruby’s birthday.”

 

“You did earn it.”

 

He smiles sadly at her before shrugging his shoulders. “My time will come.”

 

-/-

 

“Damn,” Ruby whistles, sliding into the booth across from her, “dear old Jones looks nice tonight.”

 

He does. She thought that when they were leaving her apartment. He hadn’t bothered to go home before they went out, so he grabbed one of his Henley’s and an old plaid shirt of his that she likes to wear when cleaning. It’s tight on his arms, making his muscles obvious beneath it, and he’s got on her favorite pair of black jeans that have holes at the knees. She has absolutely no idea why he has those jeans, but she’s not going to complain.

 

The only thing that she’s going to complain about is the fact that he looks as good as he does, and she can’t do anything about it, not while they’re out with everyone.

 

Not until they decide to stop dating in secret.

 

When she first realized what they were doing, she felt like she was in some bad movie, but it…it was exciting, honestly. It was exciting to have this secret that only she and Killian knew about. And then after they became comfortable being together, it was nice not having to tell anyone else, nice not having anyone else try to interfere.

 

Their friends, well, they have boundary issues. Like, seriously. Emma can’t pee without someone walking in without a second thought. And as someone who likes her space, that just doesn’t work with her. Mostly, though, they have boundary issues when it comes to relationships. If she’s not in one, they’re trying to set her up on a date every other day. If she is in one, they might as well be going out on the dates with her.

 

Don’t even get her started on her mother. That may be the worst of all.

 

No, definitely the worst of all.

 

When it comes to she and Killian, well, they’ve been friends for so long, over half of a decade, and everyone always called them inevitable. It was like they didn’t have a choice, like they couldn’t be with someone else because everyone was always talking about how they should be together. And she knows that she didn’t have to listen to any of them, that Killian didn’t have to listen to any of them, but some things just managed to work themselves inside her head.

 

So she resisted. She firmly planted him in the “just friends” category, no switches, replacements, or substitutions necessary.

 

And that is pretty much the exact moment that she also knew that the “just friends” thing would never be true. It happened slowly, them realizing they were dating. He’d come to her apartment for dinner, she’d go to his to watch a movie. They’d go out to eat and to baseball games. Hell, one time Killian took her to New York for a weekend so she could see Wicked on Broadway simply because she mentioned really liking the clips she’s seen for her entire life.

 

“I found a discount, love,” Killian tells her when she asks why the hell he bought these tickets. He reaches up to scratch behind his ear, and she knows that he’s lying. But she’s not going to call him out on it. She’s just going to let him have this. It’s a sweet gesture, and who is she to complain.

 

She takes a step closer and wraps her arms around his neck. “Thank you, Jones.”

 

It was like a gradual progression of a relationship if she’s ever seen one. They’d say goodbye with a simple hug, then it was a kiss on the cheek, and then it was a long embrace. When they watched movies at one of their apartments, they started off on opposite sides of the couch only to continuously move closer together like it was the most natural thing in the world.

 

According to everyone else, it was.

 

But it was like she was living in the montage scene of a rom-com where they play some upbeat music and fast forward through life so that they don’t have to show actual relationship development. And then when it was over, they kissed.

 

It was a damn good kiss.

 

Like, fantastic.

 

Like, she wanted to experience that every day fantastic.

 

So she did.

 

And absolutely no part of her regrets it. Except for right now. She kind of regrets it right now because the man she loves is being ogled by several women in the bar, including her best friend, and she can’t really do anything about it. Not that she thinks Killian would even consider any of their advances. He’s flirtatious and can be raunchy sometimes, but he’s loyal to her. He loves her.

 

No part of her doubts that.

 

“He does look nice,” she tells Ruby, picking up her drink and taking a sip.

 

“By nice, you know I mean hot, right? Like, I need a fan and about ten minutes alone to calm myself down hot? Like, I want him to do a tequila shot off of me hot?”

 

A bit of anger burns within her, but she can’t let it. She won’t let it. She hates jealousy, hates the way it makes her feel, and she won’t let it consume him. She won’t.

 

“Yeah, I got that, Rubes.”

 

“I’m going to go ask him to dance with me. It’s my birthday after all.”

 

At that, Ruby gets up from her seat and practically sprints over to where Killian is sitting with Robin and Victor at the bar. Somehow she doesn’t trip in her heels and is quickly standing by Killian, running her fingers up his arm. She sees him protest the slightest bit and then Ruby must say something because he’s smiling and nodding his head as he gets up from his stool, taking one last sip of his rum so that he drowns out the glass.

 

The dancing is, well…the dancing is Ruby. It’s bold and seductive and full of her ass being grinded into Killian’s groin while he stands there swaying to the music, his shoulders a bit tense. He’s definitely awkward, and she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do. Like, at all. Does she stay sitting in this booth watching? Does she excuse herself to go to the restroom? Does she go out there and dance with Ruby just as a way to get her best friend to stop grinding on her boyfriend?

 

(What a weird world this is.)

 

But before she can even make a decision, Killian is leaving the mosh of people dancing and heading back to the bar, holding his finger up and being handed another glass not a minute later. He downs it in one gulp, and she cringes imagining how that has to burn.

 

Her own glass is completely forgotten as he suddenly stalks toward her, a purpose in his step and a determined look in his eyes. She has no idea what’s happening, is still confused by everything that’s transpired in the past fifteen minutes, but suddenly his rough, warm hands are cupping her cheeks as he pulls her in for a kiss.

 

It’s…everything. At first, it’s shocking, and she doesn’t know what to do, her eyes staying open in surprise. But she’s kissed him who knows how many times. She knows how to do this, how to respond in kind, and most of all, she wants to. For a moment she doesn’t care about all of the hang ups she has with their friends, and she kisses the man she loves, sliding her lips over his and tasting the spice of the rum on his lips while her fingers thread in his hair.

 

His kiss is sloppier than usual, likely because of how much he’s been drinking, but she doesn’t care. She gives as good as she gets, flickering her tongue against the corner of his lips so that he growls, the sound that she loves to hear. It goes on and on and on until she can no long breathe, and when she pulls back, Killian’s looking down at her with wild blue eyes that are alight, alive even, nothing like the cloudy gray that they’ve been since he got home from work.

 

“What was that for?”

 

He taps his finger against her cheek three times, and she knows. “I love you, Emma.”

 

“I love you.” She caresses his face, pushing his hair back. “Why now? I thought we were waiting and sitting everyone down to talk.”

 

“Honestly?” he huffs before kissing her nose. “I’m about one drink away from being plastered, and I have spent all night talking about you. Seriously, all night. And I figured hell, why talk about how wonderful you are when I can just be with you?”

 

“You’re so romantic when you’re drunk.”



“I am romantic all of the time, my love.”

 

“It’s a freaking birthday miracle,” Ruby squeals, poking her head into Emma’s vision. “Also,” she slaps Emma’s shoulder, “I can’t believe you just let me dance with your boyfriend like that.”

 

“Consider it my birthday gift to you, Rubes. But never again.”



“Got it. Never again.”

 

-/-

 

When her dad steps down from his job two years later, Killian runs for Sheriff and wins.

 

Sheriff Killian Jones has a nice ring to it.

 

The ring on her finger is nicer.

Chapter Text

When he’s eight, his dad says goodbye to him and sends him off to school on the bus with a wave and a smile. It’s the last time he ever sees his father.

 

He thinks it’s going to be the hardest thing he’s ever experienced.

 

When he’s fifteen, his mum tells him that she’s going to be fine, that she’s not going to be sick forever. And she’s not sick forever. She isn’t. She finally gets to relieve herself of her pain and her sadness as she passes away slowly and then all at once, leaving he and Liam to themselves.

 

A family of four is down to two.

 

He knows that his mum dying is going to be the hardest thing he’ll ever experience. He just knows that it can’t get worse than that.

 

Then he’s twenty-two, and he gets a knock on his flat’s door, the one he shares with Liam when he’s actually home. He knows what’s happening the moment he sees the uniform, but he refuses to accept it. He refuses to accept the words that are being said to him, the truth that is being unveiled. It simply can’t be true. It just can’t be. He won’t accept that his brother is gone too.

 

But he is.

 

He’s gone.

 

A family of four is no longer a family at all.

 

A family of four is a family of one.

 

Is a family of one even a family?

 

So he decides that his life is a life of tragedy and darkness, dark secrets and misunderstood emotions. His life is not one that he wishes upon others, but he’d be naïve to think his life is the lowest of the lows, that it can’t get better. Be better.

 

Because it can and it does. After his mates peel him from the floor of his flat covered in sweat and alcohol, they help him…recover isn’t quite the right word, and move on isn’t quite the right phrase. It’s more that they help him breathe, live, that they help him go one day at a time.

 

One day at a time.

 

That’s a nice way to think about it actually. If he can make it through today, just one day, then he can continue to do that. And maybe eventually he won’t wake with that ache of his losses every morning, his brother’s and mother’s faces coming to him nearly thirty seconds after he wakes up each and every day.

 

But that’s thinking too far ahead.

 

One day at a time.

 

He got fired from his last job, having missed too many days to grieve, but he can’t live without pay, can’t live without a way to keep his hands busy, so he finds somewhere else to work. It’s a little place by the ocean, a small café, and he knows that it’s not what he should be doing. He should be using his degree as an engineer, but honestly, he simply wants to keep busy. He wants to be somewhere he can smell the salt of the ocean, where he can talk to people, where he can watch them live their lives with smiles on their lips and laughter lines on their faces.

 

And that’s when he meets her.

 

Milah.

 

She’s gorgeous with her eyes and with the way that her brunette curls fall down her back. She has laugh lines on her face, but she has no smile on her lips. So when he takes her order, he tries to coax one out of her, just because it’s the kind thing to do. When she does smile, he decides that he wants to make her smile far more often.

 

So he does.

 

It’s all a bit of a whirlwind with the two of them. He can’t quite explain it. Not really. It’s, like, well, it’s like he really is breathing and living and experiencing life as more than one day at a time for the first time in the two years since Liam’s death. He loves her, and experiencing love somehow brings a bit of light back to him. It’s not the same light, not as bright, but at the end of the day, light is light.

 

At the end of the day, light can still be extinguished.

 

And it is when she tells him that she’s married, that she has a child. It’s a shock to his system, making his head spin, but before she can explain further, he’s accepting it. He loves her. She loves him. Obviously, she’s separated from her husband. Their love for each other must have ended long ago. It must have.

 

But it didn’t. She’s still with her husband even though she still loves Killian, so she tells Killian that she’s leaving him, that she has to go back to be with her family because it’s better for her son that way. It’s better for her that way.

 

And, well, it breaks his heart, but who is he to keep a family apart? Who is he to keep a family from being together when he himself wants nothing more than a family to be together.

 

It’s not like he had a choice in the matter anyways. She told him he was leaving, so she did. He thinks that might be what breaks him most of all. She wants to stay with him, but she’s doing what she thinks is best for her son and for her. She’s giving her life a chance again. She’s a good mum, and he thinks he loves her all the more for that despite the way his heart breaks.

 

He reminds himself that if his heart can be broken that means it still works.

 

It doesn’t mean that he’s not hurting.

 

But he knows how to pull himself up from heartbreak. He does. It’s become a constant in his life.

 

One day at a time.

 

He’s back to one day at a time.

 

He quits the job at the seaside café. It becomes too hard, too difficult to work there and be constantly reminded of his loss. And he knows that he can’t keep working minimum wage jobs, not when he has the capability to do more, so he begins applying for every single job in civil engineering within, well, everywhere. He has no limits. He has no attachments. He has nothing to keep him anywhere.

 

And when he gets an offer from a firm in New York City, he thinks that maybe a change of pace, a change of scenery really, will be good. He thinks that maybe he’s finally moving on for himself instead of in spite of himself and his circumstances. He can take the offer in London, the one in Galway, but New York simply seems to stick out, to make itself prominent.

 

It takes some time and a hell of a lot of paperwork, but eventually everything is settled for him to move. He decides to sell his furniture instead of paying for shipping, only packing up his clothes and his personal effects, and the moment his couch is taken away, he knows that he’s got a clean slate to work with.

 

He’s always loved a good clean slate.

 

New York is similar enough to London that once he becomes accustomed to its layout and its tendencies, he feels comfortable there. He may have been looking for a clean slate for himself, but comfort is important to him too. He hasn’t had a true home in the six years since Liam died, but he feels like this can be home.

 

His job is bloody fantastic. There are days when he hates it, when he comes home with a migraine that he feels throughout his entire body, but most days, most days it isn’t like that. Most days he gets to be a part of the team, he gets to design his own layouts, his own plans, and he wonders how he ever could have quit something that he understands so well, that he excels at, that makes him happy.

 

But he can’t change his past no matter how often he wishes he could. His life is his life, and even on the days where he wakes up with an ache in his heart so strong that he has to call out of work, he knows that he somehow has a good one. He has a life of which he’s proud.

 

“Oi, pay attention to the game, mate,” Robin scolds, nudging him in the shoulder so that his gaze falls away from the blonde who just walked in and moves back to the television screen over the shelves of alcohol. “We didn’t come here for you to ogle pretty women.”



“Amen to that,” Will laughs, holding his glass in the air.

 

He rolls his eyes. He wasn’t ogling her. He simply happened to look in the direction of the door when she walked in. It is in no way his fault or in no way under his control that a beautiful woman and her friends walked in at that time.

 

“First of all,” he corrects, thumbing at the condensation on his glass, “I wasn’t ogling any woman. You both know I’m not interested in that right now. Secondly, we have cable at home. We could watch the game there, and there would be absolutely no women to speak of.”

 

“Which is a bloody shame considering the three of us are fantastic in both looks and personality.”

 

Robin snorts into his glass while Killian stifles his laugh in his shoulder. Will is a piece of work on most days, but he has his moments. Most of those moments happen when he’s sitting at home in the privacy of their flat (apartment, he’s learning to call it an apartment) and has a rare honest moment. But they do still happen. It’s refreshing to have mates again, to have people to talk to about his day or to watch an insane amount of football with. He likes it, and in the two years that he’s been in America, he’s really come to find it to be like his home.

 

Even if his two best friends are both from England and not native New Yorkers like everyone else he seems to meet. It’s that sense of comfort and all that makes him like them.

 

So they watch the match and drink their beer, letting their Thursday night go on as normal. Life is good, comfortable, and he enjoys doing things like this, even if the buffalo wings he’s eating are a bit messy and the tiniest bit too bland for him. The game ends, and they all go home, walking the few blocks back to their apartment and falling into a normal rhythm.

 

He likes his normal rhythm.

 

Which is probably the exact reason it gets disrupted three weeks later when he’s in the bar again waiting for Robin and Will to show up only for the blonde woman from before to be standing a barstool down ordering drinks for her group. Of course, she’s not the one who disrupts it. Not really. He does that all on his own.

 

By talking to her.

 

“I find that tequila is not something you want to be drinking at six on a Thursday.”

 

“Is that your version of a pick-up line?” she asks, raising a perfectly groomed eyebrow while she crosses her arms across her chest.

 

“Not at all,” he answers honestly, his gaze never falling away from her eyes. They’re green, and they’re beautiful. But he really has no business admiring her. He has no business admiring any woman. “I was simply suggesting a lighter drink, if only because I know from experience how you’ll feel at work tomorrow.”

 

“Well, bud,” she begins, and he knows he’s screwed up before she even says the rest of her words, “believe it or not, I know what alcohol I can handle without any of your precious help. It’s amazing that I have such knowledge all on my own, isn’t it?”

 

He holds his hands up, wishing he could take back his words. He didn’t intend to do that, didn’t intend to correct her or to think that she can’t make her own decisions, but that’s obviously what he’s done. He’s upset her, and that was the absolute last thing that he wanted. He’s just had far too many unfortunate experiences with tequila on a weeknight…and a weekend.

 

“I’m sorry, love. I – ”

 

“Nope, not your love. Just to make that clear.”

 

“I’m sorry then. Completely. It was not my intention at all to think that I knew better than you. I don’t.”

 

Her eyes slant into thin lines, her lips purse, and he almost feels as if she’s studying him, as if she’s trying to tell if he’s being sincere. He is. Completely. But he doesn’t think it really matters at this point.

 

“Thank you,” she finally sighs, her eyes opening from their slants, and he feels himself exhale, a weight that was on his shoulders lifting. “Just…enjoy your,” she waves at his rum, “piratey drink. Yo ho and a bottle of rum and all that.”



He wants to protest, but he’s already put his foot in his mouth enough times for one conversation. He doesn’t plan on doing it again. He doesn’t even get the chance to because she gets her tray of drinks and carries them back to her table, never to talk to her again.

 

Two sightings are apparently not the charm, but who is he to think that he can charm a woman for more than one night?

 

His life goes on as normal. He wakes up, goes to the gym, goes to work, and comes home to sit on his ass and do nothing. He likes it. He doesn’t mind it. He wants it to continue, and even when his mates suggest maybe he should begin actually dating again, he chooses to ignore them. He’s fine. His life is fine. He’s happy without a woman, and he doesn’t need one to make him happy.

 

Having the companionship again would be nice, but he’s gone long enough without it to know that he doesn’t need it.

 

He’s in a crowded Starbucks outside of his office, a place he only really goes when he doesn’t have time to get lunch somewhere else, when a young boy runs into his legs and causes him to drop his sandwich, his steaming coffee nearly falling as well. Luckily, though, he avoids that disaster. For himself but mostly for the boy.

 

“Woah, woah, woah,” he sighs, squatting down so that he’s face-to-face with the lad who can’t be older than five, is probably younger than that, but he’s never spent much time around kids. It’s difficult to tell. “Are you alright there, lad?”

 

“Mommy. I want my mommy.”

 

Oh. Is he lost? It’s a pretty big shop and the boy is close to the ground, so he imagines that it’s possible.

 

“Okay,” he soothes, not entirely sure what to do, “we’ll find your mummy.” He’s not entirely sure how to go about it, but he figures that if he takes the lad to the counter, it’ll be easiest for his mum to spot him. So he takes his hand and guides him to the front, propping him up on the counter and explaining to the barista what’s happening. “What’s your name, kid?”

 

“Henry.”

 

Henry’s lips are quivering, his eyes are welling with tears, and Killian has absolutely no idea what to do other than to keep his hand holding his. “It’s okay, Henry. I’m going to find your mummy, okay? And then you can give her a big hug.” He leans over to the barista. “Do you guys have an intercom system because – ”

 

“Henry,” he hears a woman shout, her voice oddly familiar, and he whips his head around to see the blonde woman from the bar. Of course it’s her. But she doesn’t look calm this time, doesn’t look to be herself. Her eyes are frantic, her hair wild, and she’s running toward him until her arms are wrapped around Henry’s, whispering words into his ear that Killian can hear. “Oh thank God, baby. You’re okay, you’re okay. You know you’re not supposed to go anywhere without me. You’re always supposed to hold Momma’s hand.”

 

“I saw cookies,” Henry explains, shrugging his shoulders, and Killian can’t help his laugh. He wishes that he could have because that’s what gets the woman to look at him with the deadliest glare he’s ever seen.

 

“How are you here? Do you tell people what coffee they should order instead of letting them get what they want?”

 

“He helped me find you,” Henry tells his mum, his voice high and broken in kid speech.

 

“You did?” she asks, her face shifting into something much kinder. “You found him?”

 

He reaches up to scratch behind his ear, not really sure what to say. “Your lad found me, love. Ran straight into my legs and knocked my sandwich out my hands. He’s quite the little charmer, and I felt like the very least I could do was to bring him up here and get his name spoken over their intercom. I just didn’t expect, well, you.”

 

“Thank you,” she sighs, reaching her hand out to shake his. He takes it, feeling the warmth of her smooth palm against his. “Thank you so much. I don’t…I don’t know how he got away. It’s just crowded and insane and I promise I’m not the worst mom in the world. I also don’t know why I’m explaining this to you.”

 

“I don’t think you’re a bad mum, love. And it’s not my place to say anyways.”

 

“Emma. Emma Swan. That’s my name. just so you can stop calling me love.”

 

“Killian Jones. It’s nice to meet you again…Swan. And it’s been a pleasure talking to Henry. He couldn’t stop talking about you.”

 

It’s the truth, but it’s mostly because he was a scared kid missing his mum.

 

“Can I buy you your sandwich? Just to make up for you losing yours? And for, you know, helping me out? I can’t – I can’t really repay you.”

 

“No, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad Henry is back with his family.”

 

“Really, Killian,” she sighs, her lips curling into a soft smile while she props Henry up on her hip. He’s getting a glimpse of her soft side. She’s scared him to death several times, but he can tell that she’s also soft, that she’s got dimensions like every human being. It’s just not something that he was expecting. “Let me buy you a sandwich. I’m going to get Henry a cookie even though he ran away from me.”



So Emma Swan, mysterious woman that she is, buys him a sandwich and Henry a cookie. She’s a bail bondsperson, apparently, who leans more into the bounty hunter territory, and that’s why she’s often at O’Pry’s bar. It’s not for fun. It’s for work. Her son is four, not five, but he’s turning five next month as well as starting kindergarten, which he is extremely excited about if the way he speaks is any indication. The two of them are breaths of fresh air when all of New York smells awful, the heat bringing out the putrid smells, and for the fifteen minutes that he talks to them, he forgets about all of that and every other negative thing in his life.

 

He gives her his number on the off chance that she might want it. As far as he can tell she’s not married and Henry doesn’t mention his father, so he makes the assumption that it’s not wrong for him to offer a way for her to contact him. It’s a bold assumption, but he figures the third time is the charm. Emma doesn’t say no to it either. She simply takes the napkin he wrote it down on (he’s going old school) and puts it in her purse before they part ways.

 

She doesn’t call the first day, but she does send him a text ten days later.

 

Emma Swan: How do you feel about meeting me while I’m on a date with another man?

 

Her date turns out to be work, something called a honeytrap, and even though he’s not quite sure that he’s on a date, it may be one of the best dates he’s had in the entirety of his life. He’s always had a bit of a thing for powerful women who could likely kick his ass. There are a lot of wonderful things about women who don’t take shit, and if he’s ever met a woman who doesn’t take shit, it’s Emma.

 

He thinks spitfire isn’t a good enough to describe her, fierce too light, wonderful not encompassing enough. Really, he’s not sure how he should describe her. He’s not sure that he can. All that he knows after one night of watching her put a man in handcuffs and then eat three slices of pizza while rambling on and on about how much she loves The West Wing is that he likes her. He likes her and the crass sense of humor that she is, the way she can spit out the dirtiest joke he’s ever heard and then blush when he tells her something far less dirty. He likes that she obviously loves her son more than anything in the world, that she’d take a bullet for him without question. And he likes that at the end of the night, somewhere near two in the morning, she kisses his cheek, his lips soft and warm against his skin.

 

They don’t see each for a while after that, but they do become avid texters. He’s thirty-four years old, and he’s texting a woman he has a crush on like he’s a teenager.

 

Emma Swan: Did you know that birdwatches have seen over 275 species of birds in central park?

 

Killian Jones: I didn’t. Why do you know that?

 

Emma Swan: I’m at the park with Henry, and this woman next to me is telling me all about it.

 

Killian Jones: Well if you count you and Henry then that woman has seen at least 276 species because you’re both special Swans.

 

Emma Swan: That is the cheesiest thing I’ve ever read.

 

Killian Jones: You should read more. Or eat more cheese.

 

Emma Swan: You should come up with better ways to flatter a woman.

 

Killian Jones: That’s cute that you think I’m trying to flatter you.

 

It goes on like that for weeks, the texting and occasional phone call, and as summer fades into the depth of fall, he finds that he has a friend in Emma Swan. A friend who he likes and who his mates tease him about every time they catch him staring down at his phone with a smile on his face.

 

It’s like an endless cycle.

 

But a cycle that goes by one day at a time.

 

But they don’t see each other. They’re friends, and they don’t see each other, not even at the bar. It bothers him that she never asks. Then again, he doesn’t either. He doesn’t bring it up. He continues to torture himself by liking this woman who is likely stringing him along, which is the absolutely last thing that he needs. He knows better than to get attached to people who can leave him and break him again, and yet here he is doing that exact thing.

 

Sometimes he can’t help himself. He must be a glutton for punishment. It doesn’t matter. Heartbreak seems to find him regardless of what he does. He might as well dive into something that’s bringing him happiness for now.

 

Emma Swan: Do you want to come over for dinner tonight?

 

He nearly drops his phone on his desk. He nearly drops it into his salad and into his glass of water, which would be the ultimate disaster. For a moment he wonders if Henry has taken hold of Emma’s phone, but Henry’s at school. Henry also doesn’t have grammar or spelling skills like that. He’s five. So this is Emma. This has to be Emma.

 

Killian Jones: I’d love that.

 

So he meets Emma for dinner at her apartment, something she allows him into with that soft smile of hers that he’s missed, and he’s bombarded by Henry so much like the first time they met. Except this time he’s prepared for it. He’s prepared for the collision and for the excitement of the lad who can’t wait to tell him about everything he’s done at school. Sometimes Emma lets him talk to Henry when they chat, and Henry tells him about his day. But that’s rare. He can tell that she doesn’t want Henry to get attached. He can tell that she doesn’t want to get attached. It’s why she’s kept them separated, he believes.

 

It’s also why hope is filling every inch of him as they eat lasagna and talk, even after Henry goes to bed, protesting that he wants to stay up to talk to Killian. It was cute, but he knew that Henry was already up past his bedtime.

 

“So I’m going to talk, and I need you to listen, okay?” Emma begins, sitting down on the couch across from him and taking a sip of her wine.

 

“I can do that.”

 

“Good,” she smiles, though something seems off about it. And he recognizes it. It’s a smile of loss. Everyone who has lost something or someone shares it. “I like you. I think you know that I’m a pretty straight shooter. I don’t like skirting around things, so I like you. I’m just – I’m a mom. I’m a mom to a young kid who has a dad who screwed us both over. He left in the middle of the night when I was six months pregnant, and I haven’t heard from him since. I don’t want to. He doesn’t deserve a part in our loves. So my kid doesn’t have a dad, I’ve never had parents, and I don’t trust easily because of shit like that. But I like you, my kid likes you, and I feel like I know you well enough to try something. If you want to, of course. I guess this is all pretty pointless if you don’t want the same thing.”

 

“Oh I do,” he promises even as his heart breaks for her. “And I’m sorry about all of that. You don’t deserve the cards life has dealt you.”

 

She shrugs. “I get through it all one day at a time.”

 

And it’s her use of that phrase that has him spilling some of his dark secrets too, ones he hasn’t shared in years, and after it’s all said, he feels lighter, like someone else is carrying the weight of his burdens with him instead of him doing it alone.

 

When he leaves that night, Emma’s lips brush over his, and it’s the sweetest, softest thing he’s felt in a long time, if not ever.

 

He wants to do it again.

 

And he does. They start seeing each other pretty regularly, which mostly involves him staying out far too late so he can go on stakeouts with her on weeknights or waking up far too early on weekends so he can go to the park with she and Henry. Their schedules don’t match up in the slightest, but they manage to make it work. The two of them work well together, and he thinks that helps.

 

He knows that it helps.

 

Slowly but surely his one day at a time morphs into making plans days and weeks ahead, and he looks forward to more than just what he’s going to do tomorrow. He looks forward to going to work or spending time with his roommates afterwards, but mostly he looks forward to dates with Emma that can only take place after arranging a babysitter and work schedules, which is more difficult than he ever thought possible. He also looks forward to their dates where they don’t need a babysitter because Henry joins them to go to a museum or a hockey game, a large Rangers jersey draping his small frame.

 

When Emma tells him that she loves him for the first time when they’re going on a walk, Henry between them with a hand holding onto each of them, he nearly loses the strength in his legs hearing the words he’s known about Emma for months. He stops their walk to kiss her far too indecently for public, and when Henry tells them they’re gross, he wonders if his life can get any better.

 

It can. But it can also get worse.

 

There’s a fight, and it leaves him with his stomach in his throat and his heart somewhere in Queens likely getting stomped on by tourists who can’t find the seven train even though it’s right there. It’s all about trust. He knows that. They’ve had people screw them up for their entire lives, and who are two screwed up people to try to be together and work past all of those flaws? They’re crazy, obviously, and it’s why him running late one day to pick Henry up from his soccer practice triggered something in Emma that he never wanted to trigger. She was frantic and terrified that he was going to hurt Henry by not showing up enough, by not being there when he says that he’s going to be. He was just late is all. It wasn’t a big deal, but things escalated, words were said, and now he’s sitting in the darkness of his bedroom alone, the picture of he, Emma, and Henry that he keeps on his bedside table the only bit of light.

 

Light is light, but light can still be extinguished.

 

He hasn’t felt pain like this in a long damn time, and after a little bit of time, he doesn’t feel it anymore. He feels numb. He opened his heart up again, he let the shattered, sewed together pieces feel something, and he doesn’t know what to do now that the threads are loosening, well on their way to unraveling.

 

He spent so long learning how to grieve his losses, but it seems he’s forgotten how.

 

One day at a time he healed, and it seems the he strung enough days together for the pieces of his heart to become a part of something again.

 

He wonders if he can sew it back together this time or if something stronger will be needed.

 

For weeks he’s dulled, his senses and his wants. He doesn’t want to eat his regular meals or go on runs when he wakes up in the morning. Work doesn’t seem as rosy. Nothing does. All he wants is for Emma to talk to him, for them to work things out. He loves her. He loves them, and never in a million years would he abandon them. It was a mistake, a misstep really, and he’s trying to get back on track.

 

She finally calls on a rainy day in April, the water covering every inch of concrete in the concrete jungle, and it’s to tell him that Henry has a play at school. He doesn’t have any lines. He’s just dressing up as the green crayon, and since Henry knows that Killian’s favorite color is green, he wants him to be there.

 

So he is.

 

He sits next to Emma in the audience, and they exchange only the barest of pleasantries. In the middle of a kindergarten play is likely not the right time to try to work out decades worth of emotional problems, but if a dog and a green crayon can get along, he thinks that they can work this out.

 

This play is an olive branch, and once again, he allows a little bit of hope back into himself.

 

“I’d never leave you, you know.”

 

It’s not a question. He phrases it that way on purpose.

 

“Neal said that too, and he did.”

 

“I’m not Neal.”

 

“I know, and I think that’s what scares me most of all.”

 

“Emma.”

 

“You’re not him. You’re so much better. Scum of the earth like him, well, I don’t want him in my life, but if a crappy guy like him isn’t going to stay with me and with Henry, why would someone as wonderful as you stay?”

 

He shrugs, but it’s not because he doesn’t know. It’s because he doesn’t know the words to describe it to Emma, just like she’s never known the words to describe her.

 

“Because I love you, and I love that green crayon up there. I’ve been left so many times, Swan. You know this. I’ve been left, and it messed me up. But it also taught me to fight for the things and for the people I can hold onto. You and Henry are the people who make me excited to live my life more than just one day at a time, and I want to be with you two for as long as I’m able.”

 

For forever, he thinks.

 

“And you don’t hate me for being crazy?” she asks timidly, her words whispered quietly enough that he wonders if even she heard them.

 

“I understand you, Emma. You’re not crazy. You’ve been so open with me from the beginning, and I knew all of this going in. You got spooked. It’s natural.”

 

He wishes that it hadn’t happened, but he understands. He’s always understood. They’ve always understood each other.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“I am too.”

 

“I still love you, you know.”

 

It’s not a question. He thinks she phrases it that way on purpose.

 

“I’ll always love you.”

 

So one day at a time starts again with the two of them. It’s what’s always worked for them both, but as the story goes, one day turns to two and two turns into three. And eventually one day at a time because a promise of forever through documents and two different court dates, one to marry Emma, another to adopt Henry as his own.

 

A family of one becomes a family of two. A family of two becomes a family of three. And eventually, a family of three becomes a family of four.

 

It’s another cycle, really. The family he lost can’t be replaced. He wouldn’t want them to be. It’s just that, well, one day at a time, without him every truly realizing it, he found a family for himself that mended the broken pieces of his heart by adding theirs to his and creating something entirely new together.

 

And like every lesson in his life, he doesn’t always get the message straight away. Sometimes it takes some trial and error. But eventually he learns that one day at a time doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can actually be a damn good thing.

 

Because he savors the life he’s built and the love he’s found.

 

One day at a time.

Chapter Text

He bought a house. He bought a damn house. It’s a bit of a fixer upper, which he definitely spends his weekdays and weekends and occasionally late nights (see: early mornings) fixing up, but he takes pride in watching the rotting siding replaced with fresh white panels and the small windows taken out only to be swapped with large floor to ceiling windows that allow him to look out at the neighborhood park that’s behind his house, children running and people walking their dogs always in his view but just out of grasp for his own life. Just outside the door really.

 

(Eventually he gets around to replacing the doors, French paneling with brass knobs that match the hanging lamps that grace the porch’s ceiling.)

 

He probably should have started with the interior, but something about being able to get the outside done in the spring and the summer called to him, not wanting to freeze to death building the porch railing when fall and winter come to pass.

 

That’s how he finds himself sitting on his mattress, which is decidedly not on a bed frame, in a room that’s covered in dust from construction with three different colors of paint sitting in gallon cans in front of him.

 

“Well bloody hell,” Killian says to himself, because he most definitely lives by himself, “I hate all of these. Who knew I cared so much about damn paint colors?”

 

Because he does care about paint colors, he rises from his mattress and throws on his black leather jacket over his plaid button up so that he can go to Home Depot to peruse their selection. He’s pretty sure the guy at the paint counter knows him by name at this point.

 

He’s pretty sure that he knows all of the paint colors by name now.

 

It’s only the slightest bit pathetic.

 

A slight chill catches in the air when he walks out of the door, but he doesn’t mind. October is the best time of the year to him, and just because he doesn’t want to freeze to death while working on the exterior of his house doesn’t mean he hates the briskness of the air as he walks outside or goes for runs in the morning.

 

Three hours later he’s returning home with a simple light gray gallon of paint, just anxious to put something down and finally be able to have a bedroom that’s more than just a mattress with some sheets. It’s unfinished, and that bothers him more than he’s willing to admit. He’s tired of things in his life being unfinished, incomplete, and unsatisfactory.

 

He’s Killian Jones, a currently self-employed architect who’s also a thirty-four year old British expat now living in a seaside town in Maine because he couldn’t stomach the thought of living in England anymore. That’s where his girlfriend died in a car accident and where his brother died serving in the Royal Navy three months later. It’s like the entire country went dark after that, even the brightest of lights fading into a dreary gray that he saw even when looking out at the vibrant blue of the ocean.

 

He’s not proud of himself for how he acted after their deaths, not proud of the drinking or the women or how he’d hole himself up in his flat and not bother to shower for days, only bothering to when the smell of rum became too much for even him.

 

His mourning period didn’t last for long…well, that’s a lie. He’s still in mourning, but his feeling sorry for himself didn’t last long. Milah and Liam wouldn’t want him to be some despondent shell of a man, so he decided to move on. He just had to do that by actually moving.

 

So after a hell of a lot of paperwork, he’s settled down in a small town in Maine with a name straight out of a children’s book. Storybrooke. It’s the oddest little place, and he’s not sure how he found it. He was looking in Portland, but then he found this place that was right over the water and small enough to be quaint but large enough that it wouldn’t be overwhelming for him.

 

He’s been here for a few months and eventually he has to find a job, but right now he’s living on settlement money from Liam and savings that he had been hoarding away in the hopes that he and Milah would find a home together. It didn’t happen.

 

They’ve left him with money and memories, but all he really does is miss them.

 

A job would likely help that, a steady career to get back to designing houses and focusing on the mathematics of it all, but for now, he’s fine simply focusing on his own house and making it a home.

 

It means that he doesn’t have to leave his house much, which means that the only people he really knows are the employees at the Home Depot right outside of town.

 

Sad? Yes.

 

Pathetic? Yes.

 

Does he mind? No.

 

Oh, that’s kind of a lie though. He knows his neighbors, David and Mary Margaret Nolan, who are basically the poster couple for what neighbors should be. They don’t make too much noise, even when they have their weekly dinners with friends that he’s discovered are on Wednesdays (but not this previous Wednesday oddly enough), and Mary Margaret brings him leftovers while David offers to help with some of his construction projects when the two of them are tending the lawn at the same time he is.

 

That’s where he finds them this morning as he walks back to the house, Mary Margaret with a sun hat and gloves on as she pulls weeds while David mows the grass. He gives them a nod and a smile, thinking that he can just slip away and into his house without much else, but Mary Margaret Nolan is nothing if not persistent.

 

“Killian,” she calls, slipping off her gloves and standing from the ground, wiping her hands on her jeans before walking over to where he’s placing his paint cans down.

 

“Good morning, milady,” he greets, and like clockwork the woman giggles as blush paints her pale cheeks a rosy red.

 

She’s rather fond of when he calls her that. David is not.

 

“Good morning, Killian. I know that this is last minute, and I’m sure you’ve got Saturday plans, but David and I are having friends over for David’s birthday tonight and we’d really like for you to come.”

 

“Oh,” he reaches to scratch behind his ear, polite smile forced on his lips, “that’s very kind of you, but I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

 

“But we want you there! It’s just a dinner. I’m cooking the lasagna you said you liked so much last time, so if for nothing else, you have to come for the food.”

 

She’s looking at him with a smile and wide green eyes that are practically pleading for him to say yes, and he’s really got no reason to say no. He should have friends. He should branch out. There’s no harm in talking to others, he reminds himself. He’s fine living his life alone after so much loss, but he can’t. He’s experienced great love in his life, and as much as it’s cost him, he knows that something is missing without it.

 

It’s just dinner. He can do this. After all, he did come here to start a new life, didn’t he?

 

“If you insist, lass. I’d love to come.”

 

“Perfect,” she claps her hands, “and don’t worry about bringing a gift. Just bring yourself around six thirty, okay?”

 

He nods his head in agreement before lifting the paint cans and walking into his own home, so empty compared to the brightness of the Nolan’s. He’s getting there. He really is. It’s simply going slowly.

 

He finds himself not thinking about the party as the day progresses, getting lost in the repetitive motions of rolling paint on the walls and the sounds of the music emanating from his phone’s speakers. But then his phone is ringing to let him know that it’s now six in the evening, and he needs to shower and find something to wear that’s better than the paint covered sweatpants he has on.

 

Deciding on just his trusty black jeans and a t-shirt, plaid button down left open because that’s all he’s really comfortable with, he gets dressed and runs his hands through his hair, making it stick up instead of laying flat on his head. Mary Margaret said not to bring anything, but that feels wrong, so he grabs a potted plant that he was going to put in his yard tomorrow and takes it with him as he walks next door.

 

Their front door is open, so he walks in, hearing the noise of people chatting and laughing in what he soon discovers is the kitchen. He doesn’t know how to interrupt and make his presence known, everyone in the room obviously well acquainted with each other. He definitely shouldn’t even be here.

 

“They don’t bite,” a female voice says next to him, and he whips his head around to, and he’s not exaggerating here, see one of the most attractive women he’s ever seen smiling up at him. She’s got blonde hair that runs all the way down her back and green eyes that remind him of his mother’s. He’s immediately taken by her, and that hasn’t happened since…it hasn’t happened in awhile. “But I understand. It can be kind of intimidating if it’s your first time at a Nolan house party.”

 

“Is it that obvious?”

 

“There might as well be a sign that says ‘it’s my first time’ flashing on your forehead. But don’t worry, we’ll be gentle.”

 

He can’t help but laugh at her innuendo, his eyes lighting up for the first time in a long time, as he snakes his free hand around to offer it in greeting. “Killian Jones, neighbor.”

 

Her eyes seem to light in recognition, but he’s not sure why. Maybe the Nolans have talked about him before. “Emma Swan,” she takes his hand, shaking it twice before releasing it, “friend.”

 

“Well it’s a pleasure to meet you, Emma Swan, friend.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Killian Jones, neighbor.”

 

He’s not sure what else to say, his conversational skills sorely lacking as of late, but he’s saved by the metaphorical bell when Mary Margaret spots them, hugging both of their necks before taking the plant out of his hands and the gift he didn’t notice out of Emma’s and leading the two of them further into the house, Emma veering off on her own to kiss a short middle-aged man on his cheek, throwing her head back in laughter at whatever the man said. He has no right to know her relationships with the people in this house, but he finds himself watching her for the rest of the evening.

 

She’s vibrant, obviously full of joy and fervor, things he’s sorely lacking in his own life, and he’s fascinated by her. He’s fascinated by the way she throws her entire head back when laughing, hair cascading down her back as snorts (she snorts) pass through her lips. He’s fascinated by how she seems to be the life of the party, always telling some kind of story, her hands wildly gesturing as she speaks, captivating the room. Or maybe that’s just him. He’s not really sure because he’s so distracted by her that he has to make a pointed effort of not paying her any attention just so he doesn’t seem like some kind of creep.

 

The last thing he needs is to be painted as the town creep when he’s trying to branch out a little bit.

 

It’s a nice night, the lasagna is as good as he remembers, and he finds that he likes spending time with a large group of people after spending so much time alone. It does get to be too much for him at one point, but instead of excusing himself from the party entirely, he just slips out to sit on the Nolan’s front porch swing, fall air surrounding him as he takes a moment to breathe.

 

“Hey,” Emma greets, seemingly having popped up from nowhere. “Are you okay, Killian Jones, neighbor?”

 

“Aye, just getting some air.” He nods at the empty seat next to him before he can even consider his actions. “Would you like to sit?”

 

She tilts her head as a soft smile graces her face, silently accepting his invitation before she sits down, her thigh lightly brushing his. That’s not distracting at all.

 

“So your first time around a big crowd in awhile, huh?”

 

How the hell could she possibly know that? He can’t help but scratch his beard, trying to figure out how to answer that question without delving into some kind of deep, emotional territory.

 

“You seem to be very perceptive of my first times tonight, lass.”

 

“Well, you do have the look of a virgin.”

 

Like hell he does. He’s about to say something about it, but then he looks over to her and she’s smiling at him, a full grin that causes the dimple in her chin to be more prominent. She’s beautiful and kind and…light, and he’s out of his league just by sharing this porch swing with her.

 

“I understand what it’s like to be new to a crowd.” She’s staring over at his house, the porch lights flickering on with the timer, and he wonders if she knows that’s his house and what she thinks of it. Why would he even care? “Let’s just say that I was going through a horrendous break up when Marg and David came into my life, and it’s terrifying coming into their house and being surrounded by people who know each other and are disgustingly happy with their lives.”

 

He doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know why she’s offering up this information to him. So he doesn’t respond, just continues to stare straight ahead as the swing lightly sways, their feet pushing them at the same pace.

 

“So that’s your house right there?”

 

Apparently she does know that’s his house.

 

“Aye.”

 

“It’s nice. You’ve made fast progress on the upgrades.”

 

He nudges her thigh with his own, a surge of playfulness coursing through him. “So you’ve been watching me, Swan?”

 

She nudges his thigh back. “I’ve been watching your house. I’m an interior designer, so I’ve got an unnatural obsession with how houses look.”

 

“Huh,” he scoffs, laughing a bit to himself at the similarities. “I’m an architect, so I understand. The obsession with how houses look, I mean. That place is basically my baby.”

 

“It’s beautiful. I’d love to know the rest of your plans for it.”

 

The words are out of his mouth before he even has a chance to stop them. “Would you like to see?”

 

She tilts her head to look at him. “If you murder me in there, David and Mary Margaret will hear my screams.”

 

“Damn. I’ll have to think of other nefarious plans.”

 

“Alright Jones, take me to your humble abode.”

 

So by some weird happenstance or miracle he ends up in his kitchen/dining room/living room (it’s an open floor plan, okay?) with a woman he just met who’s inspecting his fireplace, her hands tucked into the back pocket of her rather delightful jeans as she stands on her tiptoes to give her enough height to look above the mantle.

 

“Killian, this place is fantastic. I mean, it’s still totally bare bones, but you’re doing a great job. I just can’t believe you’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for months. My bedframe was the first thing I had moved into my apartment.”

 

“I just hadn’t found the right bedframe yet. I haven’t figured out what I want. This is the first time I’m designing a home that’s for me instead of someone else, and I want it to be perfect.”

 

“Do you want help?”

 

“Help?”

 

“Yeah, like, I decorate homes for people for a living. I can help you find the things that are right for you.”

 

“Lass, I don’t really want to be paying extra for anything, as great as I’m sure you are.”

 

“I’d do it for free.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I’m going to bump Killian Jones, neighbor, up to Killian Jones, friend. Plus, no man your age should be sleeping on the floor.”

 

“How do you know how old I am?”

 

“I mean, I don’t, but I’d have to guess you’re at least my age.”

 

“And how old are you?”

 

“Twenty eight.”

 

He laughs, swaying just the slightest bit closer to her. “I wish I was twenty eight. I’m thirty four.”

 

“Oh damn,” she chuckles, “then you really shouldn’t be sleeping on the floor. Your back could go out any minute.”

 

He reaches to scratch behind his ear because her laugh, even when she’s not snorting, is one of the most adorable sounds he’s ever heard. He told himself he wouldn’t fall for another woman, not after the last one, but he can already tell he’s in trouble here. But no, he won’t be charmed by one night. he won’t let himself fall. They can be acquaintances, friends maybe if what Emma says is true.

 

He can simply let himself talk to people again without the fear of having them ripped away from him.

 

“We should go back to the party. Wouldn’t want to miss the cake.”

 

“Oh it won’t be a cake. It’ll be this nasty pie that Marg makes.”

 

“If it’s so nasty,” he starts, he locking his front door behind the two of them and ghosting his hand over the small of her back as they make their way down the front porch steps, “then why does she make it?”

 

“Because she made it for David for his birthday the first year they were together and because Prince Charming over there can’t hurt a fly, he told her that he loved it. So now we’re all subjected to it every year.”

 

“Wow,” he whistles as they step around Mary Margaret’s rose bushes, “that’s either decidedly romantic or decidedly stupid.”

 

“I like to think you can’t be romantic without a little bit of stupidity.”

 

“Are you a romantic, Swan?”

 

They’ve now reached the Nolan’s front porch, and she stops at the step above him, making them eye level with each other.

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

 

And then she’s walking away and into the house while he’s left saying, “perhaps I would,” to the flowers in the garden.

 

It’s not until the next day that he realizes he never got Emma’s number. For the help decorating and designing his home, of course. Not for anything else. But despite that fact, he can’t bring himself to ask either David or Mary Margaret for it, not wanting them to get the wrong impression about him. He thinks about it, though, every day that he sees them that week, but the words never pass through his lips.

 

So he spends his week as he normally does, working from what’s supposed to be the guest bedroom but is instead his office and the only fully completed room of the house. In the evenings he finishes painting the rest of the walls and moves onto applying backsplash in the kitchen. He’s waiting for someone to come in with his new marble countertops. That’s one of the few things he can’t install himself, but he figures he can at least work on the backsplash.

 

Things are the way they are in his life, and he doesn’t expect anything about that to change and that’s exactly where he goes wrong. Friday evening he’s sitting on his couch watching television (yes, he does at least have those two things) when there’s a knock at his door. He’s not yet got curtains on the windows so he can clearly see that Emma Swan is standing outside of his front door with her bottom lip between her teeth and a box of pizza in her hands.

 

What in the world?

 

“Hi,” she squeaks when he opens the door, and it’s possible that he’s even more smitten with her than he was last week because the beanie gracing her head has a pom pom bigger than her face attached to the top.

 

He is not supposed to be smitten with her. He can’t be. He can’t get hurt again.

 

He is undoubtedly charmed by her.

 

But not smitten.

 

“To what do I owe the pleasure, Swan?”

 

“I’m sure you have plans or whatever, but I was just bringing David and Mary Margaret some pizza from the shop next to me while I was on my way home from work and I wanted to check in with you, see if you were still interested in my services.”

 

He cocks his eyebrow, and he’s not even ashamed when he says it the way he does, voice deep and low as he enunciates all the right words. “I’m most definitely interested in your services.”

 

She snorts, and he really likes that snort, and he’s glad he didn’t just come off as a creep because he definitely could have. “I’m not that kind of pizza delivery service, but I see where your mind is, Jones.”

 

“Would you like to come in and discuss your very wholesome services?”

 

“Well, that’s what I was aiming for.”

 

He doesn’t quite know how he got to the point of Emma Swan, this woman who he met not a week ago, sitting on his kitchen counter talking about crown molding and window features and if he prefers modern versus classic design, but here he is answering all of her questions and putting in more effort into decorating this house than he was ever planning on (and he was planning on a lot). It’s nice getting to go back and forth in what is obviously both of their elements, the two of them bouncing ideas off of each other while they eat the pizza she brought over and drink the water he had in his fridge. He wishes that he had something else to offer her, but he hasn’t been to the grocery store in two weeks. Sometimes things like that get away from him when he’s focusing on his projects.

 

Emma is just as charming as she was the first time he met her, even if he adamantly does not agree with her on her light fixture choices, something she’s sure to let him know. But it’s easy to get caught up in the simplicity and ease of it all. It’s been a long time since he was comfortable talking to someone with no awkward gaps in conversation, and he lets himself get carried away as they make all kinds of plans, some of which he knows he can’t afford until he gets a job again, but he lets Emma take notes, her sprawling handwriting littering a notebook that she leaves on the countertop before she eventually goes home that night.

 

And right at the top is her number with a note to meet him at Geppetto’s Furniture at ten in the morning on Monday.

 


 

“So do you like this frame?” Emma asks him while he sips on his coffee, eyes scanning over all of the bedframes in front of him.

 

“I like the color, but I worry about the headboard.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I don’t want to knock my head on wood.”

 

Emma runs her tongue over her bottom lip, words very obviously on the tip of her tongue, but instead of she holds her tongue and doesn’t take the bait. He was kind of hoping she would. She’s amusing when she gets a little flustered.

 

“Okay, so beds where you can knock your hard head against them are a no go, so I’m thinking a fabric covered headboard.”

 

“Swan,” he protests as she takes off to a different part of the store, the heels of her boots clicking on the ground, “I really don’t need a frame right now.”

 

“You are a grown ass man. You cannot keep sleeping on the floor. You need a bed.”

 

For hours, Emma guides him around this store, the two of them testing out frames and dining chairs even though he doesn’t have a table yet. But they look at tables too, the ones already made and the book of customized ones that the owner of the store apparently handcrafts with his son. And as if it’s not overwhelming enough, Emma guides him to the backroom of the store where he meets Marco and his son August, the two of them more than excited to see Emma. He thinks they must work together frequently for how well they know each other, but if the look in August’s eyes is any indication, he and Emma either dated or August wants them to date. He’s always been good at reading people, and from what he can tell, August is not happy that he’s there.

 

But he is there, and he sits and talks to Marco about the house and his plans, letting Emma interrupt with her visions that immediately gets the two of them off on their own little tangents about things to do. Somehow by the end of it he’s bought a bedframe, ordered a customized table and chairs, and he’s getting a swing to put on his back deck so that he can spend some time in his yard even though it’s mostly the public park.

 

He most likely needs a fence sometime, but that would hamper with the view.

 

Marco will most likely end up making one for him.

 

All of that is after one day with Emma and as the weeks go by, he ends up accumulating more and more things, his house suddenly full of furniture even if some of the walls still need a second coat of paint from his original painting. It’s the weirdest thing to have life brought back into this home, even if it’s little by little, but it’s even more strange to feel and see the changes in himself and his openness to talking and spending time with more people.

 

It happens slowly, really. He knows that he’s charmed by Emma, that he thinks she’s witty and someone nice to talk to, but he keeps it mostly professional, a few little jabs every now and then. Life would be utterly boring without  jokes. But as the weeks pass, October chilling into November and November freezing into December, he realizes that he might have made a friend for the first time in a long time. He still speaks to a few of his mates back home, but he can feel the distance between them. And not just the physical one.

 

And in becoming friends with Emma, he learns that she likes margherita pizza and prefers whiskey over wine. She’s got an unhealthy obsession with watching HGTV, mostly so that she can point out everything that they do wrong, but when she’s not watching it, she’s usually watching documentaries about literally anything and everything. They watch one on the ocean one day. She’d been over late helping him install his bookshelves into his wall, and instead of going home afterward, she’d put on Netflix and sat with him, stretching her feet out on his coffee table and wiggling her socked feet whenever a shark swam across the screen.

 

She’s bloody terrified of the creatures, and if he changed her ringtone to the Jaws theme song, well, no one has to know that but him. He’s not sure if she’s heard it yet, but sometimes he’s tempted to call her while they’re in the same place simply to see the look on her face.

 

That night is also the night that he learns that she’s never been sailing despite the fact that she’s lived in Maine for her entire life, and he promises to take her when spring comes. It’s a simple statement, one that really doesn’t mean anything, but he realizes that he’s making plans for the future. He’s been doing it this entire time, but this one seems different.

 

So being friends with Emma has brought a lot of changes to his life, but the most notable is that she drags him along to Wednesday night dinners with the Nolans. Even though he went to David’s birthday dinner, it’s a bit odd to be back in this place that’s so full of life and conversation. He’s introduced to at least ten different people, all of them kind except for Leroy. Emma swears that he’s prickly but sweet, but he’s not entirely sure if that’s true. Maybe if he keeps coming around, it will be.

 

He realizes that he wants to keep coming around. He wants to be around people, wants to have friends, and it’s that same reasoning that has him applying for a job at the only local architecture firm in Storybrooke. He’s not sure how much business they get that’s not commercial for the local businesses that attract tourism in the summers, but they’re hiring…and they hire him.

 

Emma: Are you leaving your humble abode tonight or am I going to have to drag you to Marg’s to celebrate Christmas?

 

He laughs at the message on his phone before he looks up around the office to make sure no one is looking. He doesn’t think they really care that he uses his phone, but it’s his first week and he wants to make a good impression.

 

Killian: I’ll be there with my figgy pudding.

 

Emma: Are you actually making figgy pudding?

 

Emma: You’re very British.

 

Killian: Nah, I made a coffee cake. It’s sitting in the fridge.

 

Killian: That does not mean you can break in and eat it before the party.

 

Emma: Wasn’t planning on it, but now the seed is planted.

 

“Jones,” Jefferson calls out, making him look up from his cubicle, “you’ve got a client wanting to talk to you about building a secondary house for his mother-in-law.”

 

Oh the joys of his job.

 


 

“Hey,” Emma greets him when he opens his front door, still buttoning up his shirt. He was half dressed when she started ringing the doorbell, and she wouldn’t stop until he came down. He should have never installed the thing. “You ready to go?”

 

“I’m still getting dressed, love,” he sighs, finishing the button he’s working on while his eyes flicker up and down her body. She looks different tonight, and it only takes him a moment to pinpoint that it’s the black eyeliner on her lid that makes her eyes look impossibly bigger. Everything else is the same, tight skinny jeans and boots with a sweater. This one hugs her curves instead of draping over her body, and he has to keep himself from looking too long. “You were being bloody obnoxious.”

 

“You’re old, so sometimes you’re hard of hearing.”

 

“So funny.” He rolls his eyes at her, but he lets her in the house anyways. It’s mostly put together, colors coating all of the walls and furniture filling the place. He knows that mostly he’s lacking the personal touch, and Emma has encouraged him to put up photographs, but he’s not sure that he can quite yet. “If you’ll get the cake out of the fridge, I’ll go get my shoes and we can make our long journey over.”

 

“I was only here for the cake, not for you.”

 

“I would have expected nothing less.”

 

They’re out of the house in five minutes, and when they walk into the Nolans’, it’s a complete contrast. They have Christmas decorations everywhere, almost to the point of tackiness, but with how much Mary Margaret seems to love the season, he knew to expect this. It’s nice in a way. These are people who welcome what he’s come to realize are misfits and stragglers into their home, and if they want to have a stuffed Santa that hangs from the ceiling, they can.

 

“How’s your first week at work?” David asks him once everyone has settled down into the living room, plates of food on their laps as he can hear nothing but the dull roar of conversation and music in the background.

 

“It’s good, a bit slow paced, but it’s nice to have something to focus on besides the house.”

 

“Are you going home to see your family for Christmas next week?”

 

In all of his busyness, in getting caught up with work and his house and living a life that was more than moping, he somehow didn’t think about this. He didn’t think about the questions that would be asked of him now that the holidays are here. It’s weird to have friends, to have people who know him without actually knowing him, and his stomach churns and twists as he tries to keep the tears from stinging behind his eyes. It’s only been two years since Liam and Milah died, and he’s avoided people around the holidays. This is the first time he’s ever really been asked.

 

“I decided to stay here,” he tells David as his eyes glance across the room to see Emma talking to Graham, their bodies close to each other as Emma laughs at whatever it is he’s saying. His stomach twists again, flames flickering across his skin, and he needs to get out of here before he vomits. “I’m going to go get some fresh air,” he tells David, ignoring the look of confusion on his face. It’s probably because it’s far too cold for anyone to be out there, but he can’t be inside anymore.

 

It’s too suffocating.

 

He doesn’t know where to go, though. He could stay here, could simply take a minute to calm himself down, but the swing on his back deck is calling his name. It’s close enough that he could still come back to the party without anyone noticing, but it’s far enough away that he can be by himself for a few moments.

 

He needs to be by himself.

 

His brother was the most important person in his life. He was there when their dad left, when their mum died, and through every good and bad situation in between. Liam went into the Navy to support him, to make sure that he had a place to sleep and food to eat, and even when Killian turned eighteen, Liam stayed so that Killian could go to university. Liam stayed for him, always, and the niggling voice that always tells him that Liam died for him starts to make its way past the layers of doors and windows that he’s locked to keep those thoughts away.

 

And Milah…God, he’d loved her.

 

He still can’t believe they’re gone.

 

“You’re going to lose your elf ears, Jones.”

 

He looks up from his lap to see Emma walking toward him with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders and her beanie with the tufts on her head. She’s bundled up like a burrito, and it warms him a bit, especially when he sees that she’s holding two plates of cake.

 

“I’m tougher than you when it comes to the cold.”

 

“That’s because you’re crazy.” She quickly walks up the steps and sits down next to him, making the swing sway a bit more as she hands him the plates so that she can spread the blanket out over their legs. It doesn’t quite reach his toes, but he doesn’t have to point that out to Emma. “So you want to talk about what’s got you all broody?”

 

“I am not.”

 

“You are,” she promises, nudging his shoulder and taking her cake back from him. He notices that she takes the bigger piece. “I saw you stalk off after talking to David. Did he say something dumb?”

 

“No, Swan, he didn’t. I, um, I – the holidays are hard for me, and I guess I didn’t really think about it until now.”

 

She hums next to him while she pops her fork in her mouth. “I kind of figured.”

 

“How?”


“You’re almost thirty-five years old, you live alone, and you never talk about friends or family. You’re obviously not from here, which makes me think that maybe you were running away from something.”

“Perceptive, aren’t we?”

 

“I am.” She twists a bit, the swing moving with her, and then he’s looking into wide, beautiful green eyes that brim with understanding. “Look, I like to think we’re friends. I’ve seen your bedsheets and your underwear drawer.”

 

“Does that make us friends?”

 

“It does. It’s on the list of how to make friends or whatever.” She flashes him a bright smile, and the tightness in his stomach lessens while he returns it. “I think we’re friends, but I also know that you hide things from me. I don’t know what because I don’t believe in making people talk when they’re not ready to, but I also know what it’s like to be alone. I’m an orphan, and it’s not a dirty word. I don’t have parents or siblings, and if I do, I don’t care about them anymore. I’ve spent more holidays alone than with people, so I know how much it sucks, how hard it is. So I don’t know exactly what your story is, but if you don’t want to be alone on Christmas, you don’t have to be.”

 

He should have known that Emma doesn’t have any family. She never talks about her family either, never talks about her past except for when they first met, and it clicks with him that maybe they’re more similar than he thought. Maybe she understands him in a way that’s more than simply how to decorate his house.

 

“Thank you, love,” he mumbles, wrapping his arm around her shoulder without thinking about it. “I don’t – my brother was my best friend, and he died two years ago in an accident on his ship at sea. Three months before that my girlfriend died in a car accident that she was only in because we’d gotten into an argument and she’d decided to go home. It’s crazy because I don’t even remember what the argument was about. It was that small. But I had this full life, one marked by a shitty childhood, but I had a full life. And then I didn’t.”

 

It’s not saying a lot, just the bare minimum, but he’s not sure that he can say more without completely losing himself.

 

“Thank you for sharing that with me, Killian,” Emma whispers, scooting her body a little closer as they continue to sway. “You’re – I’m…”

 

“- I know. I am too. So, yeah, holidays are hard for me, and you’re – you’re the first friend I’ve had since then. I’m sorry that I’m not always great company.”

 

“Nah, you’re wonderful company. Who else tells me their deepest darkest secrets with the plan to let me die of frostbite when there’s a fun party going on thirty feet away?”

 

“Well, I do strive to always provide a unique experience.”

 

“That you do.”

 

Something changes after that night, and like most things in his life recently, he doesn’t really notice until the changes have established themselves into his daily routines. Emma makes an effort to talk to him far more often, even though his house is mostly done, and they’re more open and honest with each other, even when it’s hard. It’s still mostly lighthearted teasing and jokes, but there are nights when Emma comes over or when he goes to her place where they have conversations more like the one out on his back deck.

 

She tells him that she got into interior design because it’s important to her for people to have a home that they feel comfortable in. She could have gone into something like social work, but it was just too hard for her, too many bad memories tainting it. She likes the brightness of homes, of watching people get excited over the smallest things. She likes giving people the homes that she never had, even if it’s in the most roundabout way.

 

Emma is light when she should be dark, and even though he can see the hardened edges in her occasional defensiveness, he wonders just how she’s managed to drag him into her light as well.

 

He wonders about it even more when she tells him about Neal one night when they’ve had a little too much to drink. They’d been together when she was a teenager and all throughout university, and when she had a pregnancy scare, he bolted in the middle of the night never to be heard of again. It breaks his heart a little more for her, but it also endears him to her even more. Emma’s been left by everyone who should love her. They’ve all left on their own, and while his father did leave on his own, everyone else was taken from him far too soon.

 

They’ve both been left, no matter the circumstances, but Emma makes him feel hope that maybe scars don’t always have to stay fresh. He can keep them, wear them proudly, but they don’t have to define every decision he makes for the rest of his life.

 

And six months into knowing Emma Swan while she’s helping him plant some shrubs in his front yard, he realized that he is absolutely falling in love with her. The initial attraction was always there. He’s never denied that he was charmed by her. He’d simply avoided the fact that it could ever evolve into something more.

 

It has, and he’s got no bloody clue what to do with that information. If anything that David says is correct, she’s been dating Graham for the past two months. She’s never said anything, and he realizes now as he watches her try to get dirt out of her hair, that he didn’t ask because he was terrified to know the answer.

 

It makes his flesh heat and his stomach twist into knots that will never come untied. He’s jealous. Logically he knows this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, especially because Emma is his friend. She doesn’t owe him anything. She should be happy.

 

He wants to rip the curls off of Graham’s head.

 

He should probably go running or something to work out his frustration.

 

A marathon or two sounds good.

 

Maybe three.

 

Maybe he’ll take up boxing.

 

Maybe he’ll try to be a grown man and deal with it.

 

“Can we eat lunch soon?” Emma whines, standing up from the ground and taking her gloves off before she wipes her hands on her leggings. “As fun as this is and all, I’m dying to eat something.”

 

“Why don’t you go order something while I finish up here?”

 

“What do you want.”

 

He winks. “Surprise me.”

 

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Emma orders them pizza, the delivery guy showing up while he’s finishing up planting some lilies. He pays the man and takes the box inside, plopping it down on the coffee table in the living room where Emma is watching a documentary on what he believes is music in the seventies.

 

“Did you pay John?”

 

“I did. Do you know the name of every pizza delivery man in town?”

 

“You bet I do,” she laughs, leaning forward and opening up the box before she grabs a slice. “I find that making friends with the people who deliver you food is the best way to make sure they give you good pizza.”

 

“You are the most brilliant woman I’ve ever known.”

 

“Don’t appreciate the sarcasm there, Jones.”

 

“Didn’t think you would,” he chuckles as he takes the few steps over into his kitchen and washes his hands, letting the sound of the water fill the room. His house is so full of life when it was once nothing, and that still surprises him sometimes. “Do you need a plate?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Don’t mess up my furniture.”



“I would never.”

 

He and Emma never make it back out to his front yard, getting lost in lounging around in front of the television and flipping through the channels, not really caring what’s on the screen. It’s a lazy day, even when it started out as productive, and by the time ten at night rolls around and Emma’s still there, the question that’s been on his mind for weeks now practically rolls off of his tongue.

 

“Why are you here?”

 

He regrets it immediately, but he regrets it even more when Emma mutes the television and turns to him with her eyebrows practically in her hairline and her mouth gaping open.

 

“Because this is what we do on Saturdays?” she questions, the confusion obvious in her voice as the lines on her forehead increase. “Do you want me to leave? Because, I mean, I can, but that’s kind of a jackass move.”

 

“No, no, no,” he protests, raising his hands in the air before clicking his tongue. Hell, he might as well just ask. He’ll rip of the band-aid and then need about ten new ones after the answer. “I just, ah, did you not have plans with Graham tonight?”

 

“Graham? Why would I have plans with – oh my God,” she groans, throwing her head back before sitting up, her bun bouncing the slightest big. “You’ve been talking to David, haven’t you? I’m going to kill him.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I went on three dates with Graham,” she mumbles, continuously readjusting on the couch while his stomach continues to flip, “and he’s a super nice guy. Like, there’s nothing wrong with him and we’ll probably always be friends, but I don’t like him in a way that makes me want to date him. But Mary Margaret has been pushing us together for years, so she and David were likely already planning the wedding.”



He shouldn’t be relieved, but he is. Most definitely.

 

Maybe he’s a bit of an asshole.

 

He should punish himself a little by running that marathon.

 

“That makes sense. They’re great, but they can be a bit intense when it comes to romance.”

 

“True love and all that.”

 

“Aye.”

 

“Wait,” Emma starts, the corners of her lips curling up into a smile, “are you jealous?”

 

“I’m too old to get jealous,” he huffs, trying to control the clench in his jaw.



“That is so not true. Killian Jones, do you have a crush on me?”

 

She’s teasing him. He knows that she is. No part of her is being serious. If she thought he was actually jealous, thought that he actually may like her in some kind of school boy type of way, she wouldn’t be teasing like this. Logically he knows this, knows that he could simply tease her back and this would go down as nothing more than a conversation, but now that he has the opportunity, he realizes that he doesn’t want to mess around. He’s old enough to be over these types of games.

 

“Aye.”

 

He doesn’t feel any kind of relief saying the word out loud, but it’s mostly likely because all of his focus is on the way that Emma’s lips part and press together, a repetitive motion that he can tell she’s trying to control. He’s most likely shocked her, and he knows that moment she collects her thoughts because her eyes bulge the slightest bit before her face goes back to normal, shoulders only shaking the slightest bit.

 

“I’m sorry – what? Did you just say that you have a crush on me?”

 

“I wouldn’t use the word crush. I’d say I have feelings for you, but yeah, crush can work.”

 

“You don’t…I don’t – I…do you…oh damn. I was not expecting that tonight.”

 

“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable, love,” he promises, flashing her a feeble smile while his heart finally begins to pound against his ribcage, contrasting feelings of hopefulness and despair making everything the slightest bit uncomfortable. It’s just that I, uh,” he stutters as he scratches behind is ear, “don’t see any point in lying to you when I do have feelings for you, when I’m fond of you whether you’re yelling at me for my choice of light fixture or not.”

 

Her lips press together in a genuine smile then, and before he can gather himself, Emma is scooting closer on the couch, inching as close to him as possible without actually touching him. He can feel the heat of her breath on his skin, and gooseflesh breaks out across his arms. It only gets worse when Emma’s hand reaches up to caress his face, soft fingertips tracing just under his eyes.

 

“I’m not going to write it on my notebook or anything, but I have a crush on you too.”

 

She captures his laugh with her lips, their smiles pressing together, and even though it’s only the briefest of slides of their lips, it is everything that he’s secretly wanted for months now. It’s comfort and pent up feelings and a sense of belonging when he hasn’t belonged anywhere in so damn long.

 

He belongs.

 

“You taste like pizza,” Emma says when she pulls back, their foreheads still pressed together and all of her usual eloquence on full display.

 

“Is that why you kissed me?”

 

“Yeah, and I think I’ll only keep kissing you when you taste like pizza.”

 

“I best sell this house and go live in a gym so that I can eat pizza for every meal.”

 

“That’s cheesy.”

 

“Literally.”

 

He doesn’t sell the house or live in a gym or eat pizza for every meal, but Emma does spend more time in his house after they go out to dinner and the movies and ballgames and any type of date he can think of. It’s exactly like it was before, but it’s different, more intimate, and as weeks and months go by, he falls a little more in love with Emma than he ever thought possible. It’s not easy, especially because the more time they spend together, the more he learns of the darkness that Emma tries to stay away from. He’s always known it was there, but she trusts him enough to let him see more of it now.

 

He does the same to her.

 

Emma knows all about his dark days with the anniversaries of the deaths of his loved ones, but for the first time, he has someone to help him through both days. And he realizes on the second go round, when Emma listens to him tell stories of Milah and how she used to love to sing in the car even if she didn’t know the words to the songs, he realizes that he wants her by his side for the rest of his life.

 

And as pictures finally get put in the frames of his home, ones of Liam and Milah, of David and Mary Margaret, of Rob and Roland and all of his friends at work, he realizes that there was no reason to be scared of life when it feels this good to live.

 

His favorite picture, though, is the one of he, Emma, and their son that sits on his bedside table.

 

He bought a house, and it became a home.