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Booty Call

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“Dating,” Mary Margaret says, setting down her wine glass. “So much easier back home.”

Ruby shoots her a doubtful look. “You mean when your parents find you a match?”

“That’s not how David and I got together,” Mary Margaret protests. “That’s not how it works for most people.”

“Right, you hit him in the face with a rock,” Ruby says, snickering. “So much easier than asking him out.”

Emma leans back, trying to hold back her laughter as Mary Margaret struggles to explain. She’s still not sure where she falls on the “Enchanted Forest vs Storybrooke” debate; her experience in the Enchanted Forest wasn’t exactly rosy.

Though it did admittedly have its good sides.

And it does sound kind of nice, the way Mary Margaret describes courting. Less predatory than Emma is used to. She’s under no illusion that the men of the Enchanted Forest are all perfect gentlemen, but not having to worry about how many days to wait until calling sounds like a definite plus.

Or it would, if she was the kind of woman to call.

 

*  *  *

 

“Hello there,” he said, smirk already in place on his features as she walked up the gangplank. “What brings you out here tonight?”

“Oh, you know.” She walked towards him, purposely casual. “Nothing on Netflix, had some time on my hands...”

“Nothing better to do than me?” he suggested.

She laughed and rolled her eyes, as if that wasn’t what she was here for. Pointless, really. He already knew what she was here for. There was nothing else out here but him.

“Something like that.”

She hadn’t called him. He didn’t have a phone. Even if he did, she probably wouldn’t have used it. Better to just show up, so she could see his reaction when she didn’t deny why she was here, when she stepped right up to him and put her hands on his shoulders. She’d spent enough time beating herself up about wanting him, wanting this. It all got a lot easier when she could see that it wasn’t just her. He wanted, too.

And once she kissed him, he proceeded to show her how much.

It was a lot.

*  *  *

 

“Cars, though,” Ruby says. “So handy. So much better for booty calls.”

Mary Margaret gives her a look.

“Oh come on,” Ruby says, “don’t tell me you wouldn’t have liked a car to get to David sometimes, rather than having to saddle up the horse, or just wait.”

Emma isn’t sure she wants to hear about her parents in the context of booty calls. But Mary Margaret is already nodding. “Yeah, all right, that’s fair. And, I mean, you can’t do anything on a horse, but in a car is another matter...”

“La la la,” Emma says sharply. “We don’t need to know what you guys get up to in the car.”

Mary Margaret blushes. “I wasn’t saying—well...” She turns pensive.

“Oh god,” Emma groans.

“The men,” Ruby declares, taking another sip of her drink. “The men are better.”

“Where?” Emma asks.

“Back home,” Ruby says. “In the Enchanted Forest. Better men.”

“Well, okay, that’s—” Emma frowns. “Wait, you haven’t met anyone else, have you? Everyone in Storybrooke is originally from the Enchanted Forest, Regina brought them all over.”

“Not that Greg guy, and he was terrible,” Ruby says.

“Whale’s not from the Enchanted Forest, either,” Mary Margaret says.

“Right, and I’ve watched TV, I’ve read stuff online, I know what they’re like,” Ruby says, waving a negligent hand. “Eww. And on the other hand, you’ve got guys like David, Thomas, Eric, Hook...”

“Hook?” Mary Margaret echoes, eyebrows raised.

Ruby shrugs. “You’ve gotta admit he’s good-looking. They don’t make them like that around here. Do they, Emma?”

Emma shrugs, too. Ruby has a point—she has never met anyone like Hook before, despite meeting a lot of people in her life, including plenty of criminals. But she’s not about to admit that.

She’s also not about to admit that having a car to get around town for clandestine meet-ups is an advantage she regularly uses. Her booty calls aren’t anyone else’s business, and even if she was the type to discuss them, she wouldn’t do so with her mother.

 

*  *  *

 

“Booty call?” Hook frowned down at her as he echoed the phrase, the light from the cabin’s lantern throwing stark shadows across his face. “What is that?”

“Oh. You know.” Emma tapped him on the chest and gestured at herself, at the bed they were sharing. “This.”

He was still frowning. “I fail to see what any of this has to do with booty, love.”

Emma laughed. “It’s slang. For, uh. Your butt.”

He pulled away a little so he could look at her better. “Emma, darling, I believe you are making that up.”

“I’m not,” she protested. “Ask anyone.”

“I don’t want to ask anyone,” he said, and then, hurriedly, as if he’d said too much: “You’re serious.”

“Yep. Yeah. Booty call is slang for, you know. Meeting up like this.”

“Ah.” He smirked down at her. “Well, you’re welcome to booty call with me anytime, darling.”

She didn’t bother to correct his usage. Not that it was endearing when he tried and failed to use this realm’s slang, no, it was just... it was close enough.

She leaned over to kiss him. And tried to forget about the fact that she didn’t do booty calls, at least not repeated ones, and that this was technically rendezvous number four, five if you counted Neverland, and she might be in trouble.

She didn’t want to think about it. Not when trouble felt so damn good.

 

*  *  *

 

“Do you even have booty calls?” Emma asks. “In the Enchanted Forest? I thought it was all... you know. Proper.”

“That’s ‘cause you watched Disney movies,” Ruby says with a laugh.

“Hey, one-night stands are more a thing of this realm,” Mary Margaret protests.

“Says the girl who once rode ten miles just to ride her—”

“That was different,” Mary Margaret insists, blushing again. “That wasn’t a one-night stand, that was David. We were in love. Not that there’s anything wrong with it if you’re not in love,” she adds hurriedly, with a glance at Emma.

Emma is caught between curiosity and a deep desire to not hear any more about her parents’ sexual escapades. “Right. I can see where a car would be handy.”

“Especially since everyone’s gonna know about it if the princess saddles up her horse in the middle of the night,” Ruby says with a wicked grin.

Mary Margaret gives her a friendly shove on the arm. “Stop. That wasn’t a booty call.”

“Close enough.”

“It’s not a booty call if it’s always the same person.”

“It can be,” Emma says, and then, quickly, “Not that I need to hear any more about that.”

“You just didn’t call it that because we didn’t have that term,” Ruby says, grinning.

Mary Margaret huffs. “It was different.”

Ruby shakes her head at her friend, as if Mary Margaret’s protestations are ridiculous. They kind of are. She and David are married with a kid, for crying out loud.

“You can’t tell me that people were hooking up in your village like they do here,” Mary Margaret insists.

“Well... okay. I guess it might get kinda awkward,” Ruby says thoughtfully. “You know. One-night stands, when you’re kinda restricted to the locals. Hard to avoid people. Or... you get them to saddle up your horse, and everyone will know.”

Stop it,” Mary Margaret says, slapping her arm with the back of her hand this time.

Ruby laughs.

“That’s not really any different here,” Emma says, before she can think it through. “In Storybrooke, I mean. You can’t exactly avoid someone after you—if you sleep with them.”

She should know. She runs into Hook constantly—in Granny’s, at the docks, in the sheriff station, on the street. In crisis meetings. On patrol.

Okay, so she invited him to go with her. Because he’s good at tracking, and always seems to know where they are and which direction they’re headed.

She’d be an idiot to pass that up.

“True. Downside to a small town.” Ruby makes a face. “Awkward.”

“Tell me about it,” Mary Margaret mutters.

“Not nece—” Emma cuts off as she realises that it should be awkward. It would have been, with literally every other person she’s ever been with. And it was, for about two minutes.

 

*  *  *

 

She’d tried to avoid him. He was hard to miss, though, leaning against the counter in Granny’s, and Emma debated turning around, but the bell had already rung and it would be really damn noticeable if she just turned around and left again.

She wasn’t sure what to say, how to act, whether to ignore him or—

“Swan,” he said, turning towards her, eyes searching her face. “Not another crisis, is it?”

“What? No, just...” She gestured vaguely towards the menu up on the wall.

“Ah, decision-making. A more benign crisis.” His eyes sparkled. “Well, I’m afraid I can’t recommend the omelette—”

“Hey,” Granny called over. “You bad-mouth my food, I’ll kick you out, don’t think I won’t.”

Hook made an exaggerated sort of grimace, and Emma laughed, feeling the tension in her belly dissipate. It was just Hook. He knew her; she knew him. No big deal.

“I’d be careful, she’ll do it,” she told him.

He cocked his head to the side, blue eyes wide. “Do you reckon the sheriff might put in a good word for me?”

It should have been awkward, him flirting with her after everything. She certainly shouldn’t have been grinning back at him. But by the time she remembered that, it was already far too late.

“You are pushing your luck today, aren’t you?”

He winked. “Always, love.”

 

*  *  *

 

“Take it from me,” Mary Margaret says wryly, “it’s definitely awkward. Especially when the whole town finds out that you slept with a married man and the local womaniser.”

Emma swallows. “Right. Yeah. I guess it would be.”

Hook isn’t married, and he’s not a local anything. He lives on a ship; he’s temporary. That’s what made it so easy to give in to the electric pull she felt towards him. To explore and ease that tension between them.

It’s also what makes her stomach squirm whenever she thinks about it, because for all she knows, he might be gone tomorrow. And being determined not to miss him doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t.

Because she realised almost immediately that one night isn’t enough. The fire hasn’t gone out; it didn’t even dim. She should probably have stopped after one night anyway, but then he looked at her, smiling that dumb smile, making some dumb comment, and it was so damn easy.

And it felt too damn good.

 “You were cursed, that was different,” Ruby says. “We all had bad judgement under the curse.”

“There’s nothing wrong with one-night stands,” Emma says, reaching for her drink.

“Oh, I know.” Ruby nods. “I meant, no one’s judging her for it now.”

“Oh. Right.”

“What would we call it?” Ruby wonders. “I’m trying to think of a word.”

“A dalliance,” Mary Margaret suggests.

Ruby shakes her head. “I feel like that’s still more serious than a booty call.”

Emma has to bite her tongue.

 

*  *  *

 

“When do they expect you back, love?”

“I don’t know.” Emma stretched a little, arching her back, feeling sated and lazy and content in a way she hadn’t felt in a long time. “I don’t think they do. I mean, this evening,” she amended quickly, “but not any specific time. Not like I have a curfew.”

“No?” Hook feigned surprise, looking as languidly comfortable as she felt. “No bed time, no chaperone... rather scandalous, really.”

She swatted lightly at his chest, letting her hand rest there as she curled into him. “You complaining?”

“Most definitely not.” His arm around her tightened a little, and he turned his head; she couldn’t see from where she lay curled against him, but she thought that he brushed a kiss over her hair.

She swallowed back the rush of emotion that wanted to rise up, warm and heavy and too much. It was these moments, these little gestures, that made her want more.

But she knew what this was, what they had. She wasn’t expecting anything else from him. That would have been stupid, and unfair, not to mention dangerous. It was bad enough that she wanted it.

“I should probably head back soon, though,” she said, relieved when her voice came out normal. “Before anyone figures out I’m...” She gestured vaguely, at the cabin, the bed, the man beside her.

“Consorting with pirates,” he finished, and she could hear him smirking.

“One pirate,” she corrected before she could think better of it, and immediately panicked. He was going to think this meant something. She pulled away enough to see his face again. “And I’m not consorting.”

“You are most definitely consorting,” he said, one eyebrow shooting upwards as he ran the curve of his hook along her back, making her shiver. “Quite thoroughly.”

“Is that what you call it?” She shifted just a little closer to him, unable to help herself.

“What do you call it?” he asked, his leather brace pressing into the curve of her waist.

“I don’t know.” Her hand was trailing a lazy path through the hair on his chest, and she didn’t seem to have the will—or rather, a reason—to stop it. “Sleeping with? Sleeping with pirates.”

“One pirate,” he reminded her with a lazy grin. “Or so I hope.”

Okay. He wouldn’t have brought it up again if it had bothered him. It was okay. No big deal. She grinned back. “Well, there aren’t any others around, so I guess you’ll have to do.”

That’s why you’re here.”

“Mhmm.”

 

*  *  *

 

“What happened to waiting until marriage, anyway?” Emma asks, both to change the subject and because she’s genuinely curious. It’s something that’s been weighing on her mind; not that she feels guilty for her past, but it isn’t exactly fairytale-princess material.

“Disney again,” Mary Margaret says. “I mean, okay, technically... but I wasn’t exactly a princess anymore, I was an outlaw. Propriety kind of goes out the window at that point. I didn’t know if I’d ever marry at all.”

It’s kind of a relief, to hear she’s not so different from everyone else after all. Emma often feels like her life went the non-fairytale way in every way it could. It’s kind of nice to hear that the fairytale way isn’t all that straight-and-narrow, either.

“That’s only for royalty, anyway,” Ruby says.

“Really?” Emma has never heard of that.

“Yeah.” Ruby shoots Mary Margaret a grin. “Everyone else is more sensible. And less prudish.”

“I’m not prudish!”

“I’m just saying, it happens. Sometimes two people just...” Ruby bumps her fists together and mimes an explosion, complete with sound effects. “Meant to be. Nothing you can do.”

“Yeah.” Emma takes a long draught of her drink.

Sometimes you just... kiss a pirate in the heat of the moment. Or let him push you against the wheelhouse of his ship, fingers questing between your legs, until you see stars and whisper-scream his name and kiss your way along his collarbone to keep yourself from saying any more. Or drag him to his cabin and onto his bed and stay there for a few blissful, glorious hours, before sneaking out in the morning with far less of a guilty conscience than you tell yourself you should have.

Nothing you can do.

 

*  *  *

 

Not two weeks later, Emma finds herself back in the Enchanted Forest, whisked away from the land of cars and cell phones by yet another curse.

Life in her parents’ castle—an actual castle—takes some getting used to. The last and only time she saw it, it was in ruins, but once Regina restores it to most of its former glory, it’s kind of incredible. She’s a fan. Her room is amazing, and she can admit that there’s some part of her that has always wanted to sweep down a grand castle hallway in a long dress.

The downside is that the port is very far away.

Well, not very. She can see the water from her bedroom window. She can’t see the masts of the Jolly Roger, but she can see the trees behind which she’d see it if they weren’t there.

She has maybe spent too much time thinking about that.

She hasn’t seen much of Hook. He’s been up at the castle a few times, and she gathers that he’s busy settling back into life here, but there are always dozens of people around. No quiet walks along the pier. No accidental meetings on the way to Granny’s. Just the bustle and noise of the castle, and too many people asking her questions and wanting her attention.

She half-expects him to leave when his crew rejoins him, to get back to his life of piracy now that he’s back home. She’s trying to ignore how that makes her feel.

“We’ll have to give one of these flags to Hook,” David says as they walk across the courtyard, past the royal standards flying in the breeze.

Emma ignores the jolt the name gives her. “Why?”

“For when he goes on a supply run or some other mission,” David says. “You can avoid a lot of trouble by sailing under a royal flag, so your mother promised him one. It’s only fair, after all he’s done.”

“Right.” That sounds like he’s sticking around, if he’s been talking to her parents about supply runs.

“What?” David asks, and Emma realises that she’s smiling.

She shakes her head. “Nothing.”

 

*  *  *

 

A little over two weeks after the curse hits, Snow deems it time for a proper banquet, to thank everyone for their hard work. Hook shows up with Smee and several others of his crew, standing out like the pirates they are among everyone else dressed in their finest. Emma tries and fails not to grin at him when he catches her eye and winks at her.

His seat is at the top table with her and her parents. He’s seated across from her and a few seats down, between Ruby and Gepetto, and over the next hour or so, Emma discovers a new kind of hell.

It consists of sitting within view of Killian Jones, several feet of heavy oak slabs between them, and feeling his heated gaze on her. Every now and again, she sneaks a look. Once or twice, their eyes meet, clash, and she swears she feels the spark and the ensuing fire run through every one of her veins.

It’s been almost four weeks since the last time she kissed him. Almost four weeks since she’s been alone with him, felt his body against hers, his whispered words in her ear.

She wishes he was closer. Across from her, or beside her. She wants touches instead of just looks. She wants to find out whether his kiss is as good as she remembers, or whether she’s been playing it up in her mind.

Knowing that it’s almost definitely better than anything her mind can manage alone really doesn’t help.

After dinner, Emma meanders through the crowd, as if she has no particular aim in mind. As if it’s pure coincidence when she finds herself face to face with Hook.

“Milady.” He dips his head in the barest of bows, that damned smirk on his lips.

“Not a lady,” she warns him, fighting back her smile.

“Apologies, your Highness.”

It’s technically the right title, but so not what she was getting at. She narrows her eyes at him. “Fine. Good evening, Captain.”

He grins, unapologetic. “I trust I find you well?”

“Delightfully well,” she says, as sarcastically as she can. “And you? You wanna talk about the weather, too, while you’re at it?”

He laughs. “Looks like a storm, headed right for me.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I was being quite serious, though,” he says, shifting his weight to his other foot, hips swaying with the movement. “I’ve not seen much of you. How are you settling in? It must be rather a change for you.”

“It’s okay.” She shrugs. “A little different, but the whole castle thing is... you know, I could get used to it.”

“Aye.” He looks her up and down, blue eyes sweeping over her and taking in her tumbled curls, the long dress, the glittering necklace. “You look the part, I must say.”

She does her best to ignore the familiarity in those eyes—he has seen all of her, and it’s hard to forget it. “Yeah, you know, when in Rome...” She notices his slight frown, and adds, “I’m trying to fit in. Still kinda working on it.”

“Well, you look stunning.” He cocks his head, still taking in the sight of her, and she can’t say she hates the way his eyes rake over her. “Though it’s an awful temptation, really.”

She feels her eyes widen, her cheeks warm. They’ve never talked about it. He’s never so much as alluded to it in public. “Hook...”

“The jewels,” he says, gesturing, expression as innocent as he can make it—which isn’t very. “Do you have any idea what they’d fetch in Glowerhaven?”

She glowers at him, partly to cover the blush she can still feel on her cheeks, partly to recover her balance. “No, and you aren’t gonna find out.”

He grins and hoists himself up onto the now-empty table, booted feet on the bench, the picture of irreverence. “I was just making an observation.”

“Yeah?” she challenges. “Here’s an observation for you: this place has a dungeon. For thieves, and pirates, and all kinds of scoundrels. No one there right now, so we’ve got lots of room.”

His tongue peeks out, running over his bottom lip. She hates it when he does that. She always wants to copy him, trace that path over his lip herself. “If you want to lock me up, love, just say the word.”

“And you’ll come quietly?” she challenges, and this time it’s his eyes that widen just a fraction, memory flashing across his face. Her turn to smirk. “That’d be a first.”

He has to clear his throat, and she gives herself a mental high five. “Is that a challenge? Because I’m up for it.”

Luckily, or unluckily, Snow chooses that moment to show up and thank Hook for—yep—coming. There’s a moment where he and Emma look at each other, both thinking the same thing, neither of them saying it, both fighting not to laugh as the tension between them seems to implode and drain away.

Emma spends the rest of the evening chatting to her mother and Hook, and Ruby and David when they join them. It’s the first time she’s really felt at home here, and it’s nice.

Even if her entire body is still humming.

When she goes to bed, she already knows she won’t sleep. She’s too keyed up, almost giddy with a feeling she can’t quite name.

Her thoughts keep circling back around to Hook. The way he looked at her. The way he talked to her. Even the way he just accepted her royal status without bowing and scraping—or jeering. She knows that he doesn’t like royalty, or any kind of authority, but he never tries to undermine hers.

She really, really, wanted to keep talking to him. But the evening drew to a close, and everyone dispersed, and there just wasn’t any excuse. Not for him to stay, not for her to ask him to.

If they had phones, she knows, she’d be texting him now. Or calling, just to hear his voice.

Stupid. Beyond stupid. It’s not like that between them.

Except that he definitely lingered while saying goodbye, every movement towards the door reluctant. Trying to make the moment last just a little longer. It’s not news to her, or anyone really, that he seeks out her company when he can. She tries not to acknowledge it, but that doesn’t change the truth. It’s written all over his face, and she’s pretty good at reading people.

If she’s honest, that’s why he’s so damn hard to stay away from. He’s a good-looking man, sure, but she’s met good-looking men before. None of them made her feel like he does. He’s got a way of making her feel safe, cherished, and like the most irresistible woman in the world. She has a suspicion that it’s because with him, to him, she is.

Turning onto her other side, she curls herself into the pillows and blankets and tries to get comfortable. Tries to get her mind off—everything. She doesn’t want to think about any of it. She wants to go down to the Jolly Roger and just feel. No thinking. No analysing. Just his arms around her and his body against hers and his mouth and...

She really wishes she had her car. The only way of getting down to the docks is on horseback, and she is not going down to the stables and saddling up a horse at this hour. It’d be the talk of the entire damn castle by morning, and that wouldn’t bother her, but... she’s not that desperate. She’s not.

She’s in the middle of telling herself so for the fourth time when there’s a noise outside her window.

Emma sits bolt upright, hand reaching for the dagger on her bedside table. It’s dark, but the moon is waxing, and she can see the window clearly. It’s open; she’s on the second floor, and it’s so quiet here that she has taken to leaving the window open, to tempt in the summer breeze and keep the room cool.

Moments later, she sees movement: a figure edges carefully out onto her windowsill. A male figure. Emma’s heart leaps into her throat before she recognises the movements, the boots, the sword belt. The hook.

He crouches down, still on the windowsill, and leans in to the room. “Swan? Hey. Psst. Emma.”

“Hook, what the hell are you—” She wants to go over and grab him before he falls, but she stops herself, because the last thing she wants to do is give him a fright. Trying to keep her voice down, she whisper-yells at him, “Get in here!”

“In a hurry, are we?” She can hear the grin. But he obeys, ducking through the window and leaping to the ground with surprising grace. Any thoughts she had that this might be some kind of emergency evaporate when he straightens with a swagger and says, “Hello again, darling.”

Emma lights the candelabra on her desk with a wave of her hand, and swings her legs out of the bed, facing him. “What the hell are you doing here? How did you even get up here?”

“I climbed.” He says it like it’s obvious. “I wanted to—”

“You’re crazy,” she hisses. “You climbed? It’s like twenty feet up!”

“No one saw me, I assure you—”

“That’s not the—it’s high. If you fall even halfway up...”

He gives her a look, like he’s not quite sure what the problem is. “I’m a sailor, I’m not going to fall.”

He says it like the mere idea of it is ridiculous. He’s still breathing hard, windswept and flushed, looking a little too pleased with himself. It’s a good look.

“What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to see you.”

She stares at him. He looks away after a moment, eyes sweeping around the room before returning to hers. “I apologise if I’m not welcome, but I had to—it’s been—I just wanted to see you.”

There’s a lot in those words. In that tone. He looks a little embarrassed, and the smirk is still lingering, but most of all, he looks like he means it.

“You saw me earlier,” is all she can come up with.

He shoots her a rueful smile. “Aye, that made it worse.”

She doesn’t know what to say. She’s still trying to adjust to the fact that he’s here. She was just trying to talk herself out of going to see him, and now here he is. Thinking what she’s thinking, yet again.

Looking at her like he wants her every bit as much as she wants him.

“I can’t believe you just...” She shakes her head again. A pirate just climbed through her bedroom window, like something out of a story. This doesn’t happen in real life.

“Well, I was motivated,” he says, with another smirk. Trying to play it casual, because that’s what they do. Trying to cover up the fear beneath it all, the one she knows all too well. The one she’s swallowed down every time she set foot on his ship.

Except that he’s always given her far more reason to assume that she can stay. For all he knows, he’s about to climb straight back down. She can see it in his eyes.

But he came all the way up anyway.

“Okay,” she says, getting up out of bed and taking a step towards him. “Okay. Honestly?”

“Hmm?” He’s watching her like she’s a deer or a rabbit or something, liable to run away at any sudden movement. She hates it when he looks at her like that. She hates knowing that she’s given him reason to.

It makes saying the next words a lot easier. “I was just talking myself out of going to see you.”

His eyebrows jump up. “Oh?”

“Yeah.”

“Good thing you didn’t,” he says, swaying towards her as she closes the distance between them. “We’d have missed each other.”

“Yeah.” She swallows and puts her hands on his shoulders, running her fingers over the smooth velvet of his waistcoat. “That would’ve sucked, huh?”

His voice is husky as he bends his head toward hers. “Very much so.”

Cars be damned, she thinks as she leans up to kiss him. If this how things work in the Enchanted Forest, she might just consider it an upgrade.

 

*  *  *

 

Four weeks are too long. She hasn’t forgotten how his kiss feels, but as suspected, it’s better than she remembers, waking that yearning deep inside her with a speed that’s almost scary. She presses closer to him, feeling the thin material of her night shift bunch against his waistcoat, snagging on the buttons.

“’s been too long,” he breathes when they drift apart.

“Yeah?” She means to agree, but it turns into a question.

“Yeah.” He bends his head, kisses down along her jaw, to her neck. “Four weeks. I suppose you didn’t notice?”

She swallows, hard. Of course she noticed. And she kind of wants to tell him so, wants to tell him that she did miss him, see his reaction to that...

“Three weeks, five days,” she says, sliding her hand between their bodies so she can get to the buttons on his waistcoat. “Technically.”

He hums against her skin. “It felt like four weeks.”

And she laughs, and so does he, pulling back to look down at her, eyes bright in the low light. He shouldn’t be allowed to look at her like that. Or to be like that, stubborn and glib and never short of a smart answer, climbing up two storeys uninvited while she’s lying here trying to think of a way to get to him.

“I thought you were busy,” she says, one hand stroking over his cheek.

He turns his head into the touch, a small, rueful smile tugging at his lips. “Not busy enough.”

She swallows again. “Me neither.”

He leans into her, his arms around her, his forehead against hers. “Emma.”

He really shouldn’t be allowed to do that, to sound like that when he says her name. All reverence and longing, like he really did miss her.

His waistcoat is hanging open, and so is his shirt, half the buttons undone as usual. Emma slides her hands underneath the fabric, tugging it out of the way so she can kiss his chest, his collarbone, the little dip just below his throat.

It’s been way too long. “Come to bed?”

“Aye.”

They make it to the bed in a slightly chaotic meander, pausing so he can take off his boots and step out of his pants, help her tug her shift over her head, run a reverent hand along the curve of her waist, kiss her again. His shirt is the last thing to go, landing somewhere on the floor as Emma pushes him onto the bed and straddles him.

He nuzzles into her neck, hand caressing her waist, and she has to bite back a whimper at how good it feels just to have him this close again. His breath on her skin, his warmth seeping into her.

“You missed me a little,” he says, in between kisses pressed below her ear. “Didn’t you? Thought about me? Maybe just once?”

“Maybe,” she whispers. It’s easier to say it when they’re like this, when he’s so close, when she isn’t looking him in the eye.

He moves in to kiss her, desperate and a little rough, like ‘maybe’ was some kind of promise.

It wasn’t. But it might be more than she’s ever given him, and she’s starting to feel like that’s not enough.

“Hook...”

“A favour, love,” he says, pulling away just a little. “Call me Killian. Just for tonight, if that’s—please.”

His voice is cracking, and he’s not quite looking at her. She’s never called him by his name before; wanted to, yes, but it always felt too... close. Presumptuous. Personal. She presses her lips together, and nods. “Killian.” It feels new, and almost weighty. She likes the sound of it. “I, uh...”

But she gets distracted as he kisses her again, hard, his hand questing down along her body. She wraps her arms around him and pulls him closer, and he doesn’t resist, a growl in his throat as he deepens the kiss.

It’s good, but it’s not enough. She can feel his cock nudging against her skin, below her belly where she’s pressed up against him, hot and hard.

His hand slips between their bodies, down to where she’s wet and aching, and she whimpers as he slides a finger down along her folds. “That’s—fuck, yes...”

“Like this?” he breathes, mouth still close to hers.

She can only nod. “Uh-huh.”

But she still needs more. She knows by now that Killian likes to take his time, using his fingers or his mouth or both to pleasure her until she’s gasping and shaking...

But she’s already half-frantic, desperate to feel him inside her. It’s been weeks. Taking his time can damn well wait.

She pulls back, missing his touch the moment she clambers off his lap. “C’mere.”

He gets the hint as she tugs at his arm and lies back. He turns and follows her, lying half on top of her, his left leg nudging hers apart and settling there. It’s not nearly the friction she craves, but she moves her hips anyway, seeking more.

“What do you need, darling?” he asks on a gasp, voice rough.

“Just you,” she whispers, pushing up against him. “Just you.”

She has a brief thought for condoms—but they don’t have those here, and she doesn’t need them. There are potions to prevent pregnancy, and she hasn’t been with anyone else in ages, and neither has Killian, and that thought is a little scary, but she can’t bring herself to care right now.

He moves again, his breath coming fast and hard as he lines himself up. She reaches for him, strokes along his hard length with one hand, enjoys the way he squeezes his eyes shut at the touch. “Have some mercy, love.”

“Get inside me, then.” It comes out a lot more needy than she intended, but he obeys at once.

The first slow slide of his cock is everything she’s been craving. She watches him, the look on his face as he enters her almost overwhelming. Almost.

They settle into a slower rhythm than she envisioned, but it’s perfect. Thorough. Deep. He grinds his hips into her with every thrust, right where she needs it, sending wave after wave of pleasure through her.

“I did—mhmm—did miss you,” she admits between thrusts, driven to say something in response to the way he’s looking at her. “God, that’s good...”

“I missed you, too.” He’s glorious in the candle light, his hair a mess, his eyes dark, muscles flexing as he moves slowly, surely. “It’s rather hard to—get you out of my head, as it turns out.”

He means that. The idea of it—that she’s the one he thinks about, that she’s the one who has him looking like that, earnest and wrecked and full of longing—still feels too big to wrap her head around. But she can feel it settling into her bones, her chest, her heart.

His hips slide into hers again, the delicious drag of his cock making her blood hum. She feels light-headed, her words and actions slipping away from her, lost in the moment.

“Maybe I don’t want to leave,” she whispers, the words leaving her lips of their own accord.

Killian bows his head, his hips stilling for a moment as he leans down, closer, his body covering hers. “Emma,” he says, and then he’s kissing her, and kissing her, and she winds her arms around him and wants to cry because she can’t get him close enough.

“I’ve wanted you, love,” he says when he pulls away, his voice cracking again, low and rough. “I’ve spent so long wanting you.”

“Killian...” It’s more a sigh than a word.

He groans into her neck, and it sends another jolt of desire through her. “I love how you say my name.”

He’s literally inside her, as close as he can get, and she’s still longing for him. It’s too much, and it’s not enough, and she digs her fingers into his shoulders and tugs. “I need you, okay, just—”

He draws back just enough to get some more leverage and picks up the pace a little. “Like that?”

“Hell yes.” Emma wraps her legs around him, clinging to him, lost in sensation.

“So beautiful,” Killian murmurs, breathless, eyes intense in the low light. “I’ve missed you so much, love. Thought of you... dreamed of you... oh, love...”

Her blood feels like it’s humming, her thoughts and actions not quite her own. She feels undone, wild, free, nothing to hold her back. The pressure inside her builds, heavy and heady and so good, so good. Words tumble from her lips—Killian and fuck and so good and Killian, Killian, Killian—

The pressure shatters, her muscles convulsing around Killian as she arches her back, bucks her hips against his.

“Emma,” he breathes, his thrusts erratic now, a moan escaping his lips. “Oh, my love...”

When she comes down, her blood quietening, her breath calming, he’s pulling out of her and turning away, onto his back. Still half-lost in that storm of feelings, she follows, curling into him.

His arm goes around her and he reaches for her hand, pulling it up to his chest.

To her horror, she feels tears sting behind her eyelids, and squeezes them shut against the swell of emotion. It’s always been good, with him, but this... this was something new.

A few months ago, she would have been tempted to run. Now, all she wants to do is hold onto him. She wants this—the intimacy, the feeling that she can just let go and he’ll be right there with her.

They lie in silence for a while, in the gentle golden candle light, and Emma kind of wants to drift off to sleep, but she stops herself. Sleeping means missing this.

Eventually, Killian stirs, and lets out a sigh. “I should probably take my leave.”

“What?” It hadn’t occurred to her that he might leave. “Wait, you mean—you’re not climbing back down there in the dark.”

“If I wait till light, I’m afraid someone would definitely notice. In fact, everyone would definitely notice.”

“You really need to go?” She hates how the question sounds the moment she asks. She doesn’t need him to stay.

He pulls away from her a little, the better to see her. “I don’t need to, no. Nor do I want to, but I was under the impression that you’d rather I be gone by morning.”

There’s no judgement in it. Just a gentle, wistful sort of sadness. And maybe a hint of a question.

She presses her lips together, holds them between her teeth. She doesn’t want him to leave. He doesn’t sound like he wants to, either.

She can feel his brace pressing against her ribs, and it feels wrong. Not that she minds the brace, or the hook, it’s all part of him, but... he never takes it off. And she knows why. He’s just as guarded as she is, in a way.

She doesn’t want that anymore.

“Killian?”

“Yes?”

“What is... what are we doing?”

“Hmm?” He adjusts his arm, soft leather  pressing against her back. “I believe it’s called cuddling, love.”

She taps his chest using their entwined hands, a very half-hearted swat. “No, I mean... this—we—this doesn’t really feel like a, a booty call, anymore.”

“I wouldn’t know,” he says carefully. “This is my only experience of such a thing.”

She swallows. She’s not good at this. She has no idea how to have this conversation, and she doesn’t know how he feels, and she doesn’t want to ruin what she’s got, but...

But he missed her. And he’s holding her hand, holding her, like he doesn’t want to let her go.

“Right,” she murmurs. “You don’t have those here.”

She wants more. And she’s pretty sure she’s not the only one. It’s not about expectations, or pressure; it’s ridiculous to worry about scaring him off by wanting more, and she knows it. She just doesn’t know how to say it.

An idea strikes, and she untangles her hand from his and props herself up on one elbow, looking down at him while her hand strokes idle patterns over his chest. “How about this, then. Back home—in Storybrooke, I mean, it was... what I called it. Now we’re here, it’s whatever you want to call it.”

His eyebrows shoot up, and the hope that flashes in his eyes is almost painful. What the hell was she thinking, denying herself this? “Emma. You know I—I might have something rather different in mind.”

“Yeah?” She tries a smile.

His eyes are intent on hers, and the smile that blossoms on his face is soft, hesitant... “Aye. I know you never intended it to be serious, or mean anything, and I’ve been content to go along with that, but I can’t pretend that it’s all I want.”

Her heart gives a kind of leap at that, warmth suffusing her chest. On one level, she’s known for a while that he feels more than a passing attraction for her, but on another...

On another is the girl who was always left behind, the one who was never enough, the one who struggles to believe she’s worth staying around for.

She knows it’s holding her back. And she’s sick of it. She doesn’t want to hold back anymore, not when she’s got Killian looking at her like he can’t get enough, not when she knows how it feels to miss him, not when she can just have this.

Not when she knows that he feels much like she does about being rejected and left behind. And yet he’s here anyway, wearing his heart on his sleeve more often than not. It’s about time she starts being brave, too.

Besides, after what they just did, after everything she just said... it’s kind of ridiculous to go on pretending like none of it matters.

“So don’t?” she says. “No more pretending. I, uh...” It’s hard to go on, but she’s fought a dragon, damn it. “It’s not all I want, either. Not really. It’s just all I let myself want. It was easier, but now...”

“It’s not?” he suggests, when she doesn’t finish.

“Yeah. I really did miss you, you know.”

He reaches up to stroke her cheek, looking into her eyes like he’s been searching for something and can’t quite believe that he’s found it. “It’s been so hard to let you go,” he whispers. “Harder every time. I don’t know how I’ll ever manage it now.”

“So don’t,” she says again, leaning over to kiss him and lingering there, brushing his hair back. “Stay.”

“That might be quite the scandal,” he murmurs. “The princess in her chambers with a pirate, unchaperoned?”

The words send a shiver down her back. “Hmm. Your reputation might be ruined.”

He laughs at that, eyes shining in a way that she’s rarely seen. She’s seen him laugh before, but this might be the first time she’s seen him truly happy.

Yeah, there’s no way she’s walking away from this.

“So, uh,” she says, “you still haven’t really answered the question. About what this is. Consorting?”

He chuckles and takes her hand again, caresses it with his thumb. “How about courting?”

That sounds a little more serious. “Courting” is how her parents describe their relationship. Her father always refers to it as a “rocky courtship” while rubbing at the scar on his chin.

It also sounds... nice. Really nice. Like spending the night and sharing a dance and walking through the gardens together—or maybe sparring down in the yard, to make things more interesting.

Emma grins at him. “Okay.”

“Okay?” He looks like he’s not quite sure he believes his luck. She knows how he feels. She’s not sure she believes hers, either.

“Uh-huh,” she says. “But I have one condition.”

He lifts her hand to his mouth so he can kiss her knuckles. “Anything.”

“No chaperones or anything like that.”

His smile becomes an answering grin, wide and happy and a little bit wicked. “That sounds perfect.”