They are walking along the street that leads to Henry’s school when it touches him.
The touch is light, almost a caress, to his hand but when he looks down to the spot where he felt it, he sees nothing.
But it strikes him again a few seconds later, this time more concrete, bouncing against his neck and leaving tiny, cold droplets in its wake.
He is about to alarm Emma, thinking some sort of magic must be coming at play when he sees them, growing in numbers as he and Emma grow closer to the school.
He laughs and Emma glances at him curiously.
“What?” She asks and he points towards the gate of Henry’s school with a wide grin on his face.
She looks at the direction he is gesturing to and indeed sees a little girl, probably third grade, blowing bubbles into the air through a round shaped bubble wand while clutching a pink container that no doubt, holds the liquid soap.
She looks back at Hook in confusion. “Yeah, what about them?”
He smiles wider and shakes his head in wonder. “It’s just been… a very long time since I’ve been around bubbles.”
She ‘hums’ in amusement as they halt by the gates, right beside the girl, waiting for Henry’s arrival. She keeps an eye out for her son, but notices her pirate remains fixed on the little girl and the way she creates a magnificent group of bubbles from a single blow. He pops one that makes its way in front of him before he turns to her, eyes wide with an almost child-like excitement.
“Can I get one too?”
She rolls her eyes and mutters, “Idiot.” And he just shrugs and smiles, one corner of his mouth tugging up in that charming way of his before dropping it and looking out for her son as well.
When Henry arrives a few minutes later, greeting the both of them with hugs, she tells her two boys to go ahead because she has to run an errand and promises to grab some dinner on the way.
Killian eyes her and starts to ask if she must insist on doing it on her own but when he opens his mouth she is already walking towards the opposite direction.
She arrives at the apartment, (where Emma, Henry and – three months later – Killian, live together) an hour after they do with the promised purchase of dinner…
…and not much else.
So he questions her about this so called errand she had to so urgently run as Henry goes about to set the table and all she does is give him this mischievous, little smile – gesturing towards the edge of the island counter (not unlike the one in Mary Margaret’s and David’s place).
There, sat right beside the bags of takeaway, is a bottle.
And on this bottle, reads–
She smiles wider when he quickly approaches her to plant a big, fat, kiss on her lips.
“You’re amazing Swan, bloody brilliant.”
“Hmm, where have I heard that one before?” She says teasingly. “Now let’s go finding Nemo–”
She rolls her eyes, thoughts of ‘my awesome pop culture references are a waste on this man’ and ‘why do I even bother’ circulating her head before dragging him to the table with one hand then grabbing the two bags of dinner with her other.
“Food’s getting cold and I’m starving so if you want to get started on those bubbles, I suggest you get started on eating.”
He grins and does what he’s told but not without muttering a cheeky, “Aye aye, Captain.”
They all settle down and help themselves, Henry entertaining them with stories about his day from school and Emma watching her pirate delightedly as he divides his attention between listening to her son and eye-balling the blue bottle of bubbles.
She wakes before him, which is a first because he always rises with the sun, but it doesn’t concern her. If her pirate wants to sleep in then who is she to begrudge him that right? In fact, she is more than happy to join him were it not for the tiny detail that it is a weekday, therefore she must take Henry to school and get her ass off to work.
However, she is curious as to the reason for Killian’s late start and resolves to ask him when he wakes.
Her questions settle though when she spots it, just as she grabs Henry’s lunch on the kitchen counter, right next to her son’s pack and right where she left it.
Henry calls for her, impatient as ever to leave for school but she takes a moment to lift it and lets out a huff of amusement.
She taps the bottle of bubbles she bought for Killian with a raised eyebrow and a smirk etched on her lips.
It is empty.
She comes home later that day, after having her shift at the station and dropping Henry off at Regina’s, with an entire box of bottles of bubbles.
Killian’s smile is so wide and effervescent, she can’t help but return it as she places it on the coffee table in front of him.
His expression – wide-eyed and enchanted – is thank you enough for her as she leaves him to begin making dinner, but not before glancing back and seeing him gently run his fingers along the rows of neatly aligned bottles.
She is endlessly tickled by the amount of time he takes just admiring the bubbles.
It is some time later, when she places their nearly cooked dinner of chicken in the oven to bake and sets the timer to 10 minutes, that he finally lifts one bottle and places it between the crook of his elbow on his left arm and his stomach to give way for his right hand to open it. The bottle is slippery and the cap firm so he drops it accidentally and makes a move to get it, but it rolls towards her feet as she approaches him from the kitchen.
She turns the cap successfully and hands it back to him just as she takes a seat next to him on their sofa.
He smiles gratefully when she places the bottle in his hand.
“Thank you, love.”
She smirks. “No problem.”
Silence descends upon them and she is content to watch him fiddle with the object of his fascination when a thought suddenly occurs to her.
“Wait. How did you even manage to finish that bottle last night?”
He scratches his ear in that nervous yet totally adorable, she finds, way of his as he replies.
“Well, Henry was just as excited as I was to play with it once he saw me fiddling with it. The lad may be growing physically but he is a child at heart.”
“Much like you are, I see.”
He just grins.
“Aye, he opened the bottle and began blowing bubbles before I could even request him to do so. We fumbled around with it as you washed the dishes, then I asked him not to close the cap when you called him for bed.”
“Speaking of, you went to bed with me last night. Don’t tell me the both of you finished the entire bottle in the 10 minutes it took me to wash the dishes?”
This time, his smile is sheepish and he tugs at his earlobe in that way of his that tells her he is maybe feeling a tad self-conscious. She raises an eyebrow at him in question. He huffs an embarrassed chuckle.
“I may have… snuck out under the cover of darkness to finish the rest…”
Her mouth drops open in shock. “You left our bed in the middle of the night to play with bubbles?”
“But I came back before you could even notice my absence!”
She shakes her head and is about to tease him more when she notes the flush that has overtaken his face and the serious look in his eyes as he turns them downcast, something like shame graces his features just as something like guilt settles on her shoulders.
It seems to her that there is more to this bubble story that he isn’t telling her.
So she takes his chin between her forefinger and her thumb, raising it so that their eyes can meet and there is no way he can doubt her sincerity.
“These bubbles… they’re important to you.”
She says it straightforwardly, not interrogatively, so as not to seem angered by the thought cause she really isn’t. He nods, his eyes softening, removing some of the embarrassment that plagues his gaze at the genuineness he sees in Emma’s.
He doesn’t elaborate, but that’s okay, she thinks. He will tell her when he is good and ready and that is just fine with her.
The timer rings indicating that the chicken needs to be turned over and baked for another 10 minutes. She stands but not before she rubs her thumb across his cheek and plants a gentle kiss on it, his scruff tickling her lips.
And just like that, he knows, she understands.
She can tell it is very early in the morning by the way the room is bathed in a deep orange. Disgruntled by the premature hour, she is about to go back to sleep when she notices how cold and quiteempty Killian’s side of the bed is.
Concerned, awake and – if she is being honest with herself – a tad bit panicked, she hastily throws the covers off her body and makes her way down the stairs. With rushed but quiet steps, she heads for the phone in the living room, determined to call her father despite the ungodly hour when the figure on her sofa stops her in her tracks.
Killian lays draped across her couch, his left arm tucked behind his head and his right hand loosely clutching the bottle of bubbles she has purchased for him (it has been a month since she bought him that first box of bottles of bubbles and the conversation that ensued and she has not stopped buying them ever since, a new box for every week).
She breathes a sigh of relief to see that he is unharmed before a smile of amusement crosses her face. She shakes her head and it is then that she notices the smell of liquid soap strongly permeating the air.
With less alarm to her movements, she crosses and kneels in front of her pirate to take the considerably empty bubble bottle when he stirs. Bleary eyes and a lazy smile greet her when she meets his face.
“Hey beautiful.” He murmurs, voice low and husky from sleep and, she thinks with a blush, attractive all the same.
She giggles softly. “Good morning.”
“What time is it? Why are you up?” He yawns and nearly falls off the couch when he stretches since it is too small to accommodate his body. He jerks off the side in confusion to avoid falling over. “Where am I?”
She runs her fingers through his hair and plants a kiss on his forehead.
“It’s early and I’m up because I was worried about you. You weren’t in bed when I woke up, which brings me to your third question. You’re in the living room honey.”
He sighs contentedly as she continues her ministrations with his hair, but he catches her hand with his own in order to place a tender kiss to her palm.
“I’m sorry my love, I did not mean for you to fret.”
He raises his head to glance at the window across their living room and frowns.
“By Gods Emma, you’re right. It is early, the sun isn’t even up yet.” He sits up and cups her face, rubbing their noses affectionately in apology. “Let’s go back to bed love.”
Emma is kneeling between his legs and so sets her hands on his knees to stop him from getting up.
She smiles at him sheepishly and his eyebrows crease downwards in concern.
“What is it lass? Something troubling you?”
She breathes out a tiny laugh. “No, the opposite actually. I just… I have something to show you and… I’m not really sure if I should do it. I don’t know how you’ll react.”
“Whatever it is, I’m sure I will love it. You could do no wrong in my eyes, Swan, even if you tried.”
The words send a rush of warmth throughout her body and just like that her courage is restored. She nods, albeit a tad nervously, and intertwines their fingers.
She leads him upstairs to their private bathroom and Emma tells him to strip as she prepares them a bath in their tub.
She takes off her clothes when she is finished running the bath and turns to find Killian naked as the day he was born and his gaze heated as he runs his eyes up and down the length of her body.
Emma feels hot and she’s pretty sure it isn’t from the steam of the tub.
“Well if this is what you wanted to show me lass, I can assure you, my reaction to this set-up is quite favorable.”
He punctuates this statement by closing the distance between them and capturing her lips in a languid but passionate kiss. The feel of his chest pressed up against her breasts, his tongue engaging her own in a playful dance and his length – pulsing and hard – along the gap between her thighs has her almost forgetting the purpose of their little bath.
She moans before breaking their kiss, panting and breathless and a little dazed.
She should be embarrassed but his chest is heaving just as much as hers is and he is gently jutting his hips against hers, desperate for a little friction to relieve the pressure and knowing he is just as wrecked as she is is enough for her to draw a little strength and push him away.
“Slow down, pirate. We’ll get to that later.”
He is confused, rightly so and she wants to giggle at the frustration etched on his face and the pout that is firm on his lips.
“Get in the tub.”
Instead, she juts her chin towards the direction of the tub and he does as he is told with a cheeky, “Aye, aye Captain,” from him (as always, she swears he has a thing for being the subordinate) and an eye roll from her. Not long after, when he is settled with his arms outstretched comfortably against the edge of the tub and legs outstretched before him, she joins him, her legs resting on either side of his thighs as she faces him.
“So Swan, did you really just seduce me here for a bath? Or are we here to participate in decidedly more pleasurable and not entirelyclean activities?”
The words drip like honey from his lips as he wiggles his eyebrows suggestively and it takes all her will power not to reach between their bodies and take his length in her hands and just drive, drive, drive into him and–
She shakes her head.
There is time for that later, Emma, this is a serious matter, she says to herself. So to quell the desire, she takes his face between her hands.
“A month ago, I asked you if the bubbles were important to you and you said yes.”
Suddenly, the playfulness in his face is gone, replaced by something solemn and tragic and he gulps, feeling nervous all of a sudden for a confrontation he might not be entirely ready to face and–
The anxious thoughts that filter through his head are silenced when she kisses him. It is chaste but he feels the love that emanates from between them and instantly, he is relaxed.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me now.”
He lets out a breath and the smile she gives him is bright and excited and gods above, the sun is nothing compared to the light that radiates from his Swan’s smile alone.
“I told you earlier, I just have something to show you so,” and she takes a deep breath, “here goes.”
Her hands, which had been resting lightly on his shoulders, are now open in front of him, palm facing upwards as she closes her eyes. Emma thinks of Killian’s wide-eyed and childlike gaze as he sees the bubbles for the first time, of his excitement at her bringing home that first bottle of bubbles, of the contentment on his face each time he is surrounded by them, the serious gaze he wears when he is in the middle of his soapy creations, unaware of anything around him and the peace but at the same time loss that seems to burden his shoulders when he thinks no one is looking at him and finally, Emma thinks of the love she has for that man, of her desire to eradicate that lost look in his eyes and from there she draws her power.
She feels rather than hears Killian’s shocked gasp, feels him trembling beneath her and it is how she knows she has succeeded.
“Emma,” he whispers, and she can hear the awe tinged in that hushed tone, the reverence and wonder and it is then she has the courage to open her eyes.
She looks around her, happy that it worked perfectly just as she had practiced, and lets out a childish giggle.
The bathroom is filled with bubbles, bubbles of Emma’s hand and Killian is jaw-slacked and Emma is smiling and it is amazing and beautiful and magical.
“Emma,” he says again, unable to say much of anything else. He is in a stupor because this woman… this woman, how could he have deserved such a woman?
“How…? Why…?” It is difficult to articulate the words, the gratefulness and the love he feels, the words seemingly to small to describe his sensations. She places a finger against his lips.
“You said it was important to you. I wanted to show you that whatever is important to you, matters to me too. That this burden you seemed to have taken on your shoulders… you don’t have to share alone.”
He opens his mouth to speak but Emma isn’t done. “Like I said, you don’t have to tell me now, Killian. I just want you to know that you have the option to. Whatever it is, you don’t have to hide from me.”
He kisses her then, slow and long and lovingly. He rests his forehead atop hers, breathing her in, placing a kiss on her forehead, her closed eyelids, her cheeks, her nose, the corner of her mouth…
He can’t tell her how grateful he is but he can show her, and it is then he begins his tale.
“Liam was 14 when he was called to the Navy. I was seven. It was a painful affair, after all it was just him, our da and me. But he assured me he would return once his initial training was completed. I made him swear to me on our mother’s grave even, that he would come back and he ruffled my hair and on his honor promised he would come home when he could. He told me our father would take great care of me, just as he always did and we would write to each other frequently. It was the last I saw of him for a very long time.”
Emma gulps. Killian never spoke of Liam in such great detail before. She knows it must be hurting him and so she says, “Killian, it’s okay. Like I said, you don’t have to tell me now. I understand–”
“It’s alright lass.” He intertwines their fingers and kisses her knuckles. “I want to. I haven’t been around many people who cared to listen in a long while. This probably attributed to the wounds in my heart that have not healed properly. Now I have you and Henry and your family. I believe it’s time I changed that and… opened myself again. Perhaps the scars in my battered heart will heal the right way this time.”
Her smile is watery but she takes a breath to be strong for him.
She nods. “Okay.”
So he tells her how his brother left that day, how his absence drove his father mad because at the time, he wasn’t to know but, his brother unconsciously acted as a buffer for their father seeing as Killian reminded him too much of their mother and without his presence, their father couldn’t stand the image of Killian.
“So, under the guise of going on an adventure, my father and I boarded a cargo ship. It was there that my love for the sea was found… and my love for my father lost.”
Emma knows that Killian is an orphan, after all, it is one of the many traits they share. But Emma was abandoned for the greater good and though it isn’t any less painful, it is understandable and regardless, she found her parents – who love her more than anything in the world, she knows that now.
They abandoned her but not of their own volition.
Killian smiles, but she can see the lines in his eyes and his mouth that betray his hurt, the pain that laces the easygoing nature of his orbs and she feels bile rise to her throat because she can now clearly see where this story is going and no, no, no.
“You see, I woke the next morning and he was gone. Abandoned me, you could say. The ship that took me did not want anything to do with me, what use was a seven year old child to them? So at next port they kicked me off and for the next seven years… I was alone. A street rat, scrambling for food in order to survive.”
He pauses and takes a deep breath, a frown burying itself on his lips. “The last person I shared this tale with left me.”
Then Emma is kissing him with all her passion and her might, willing to absorb his pain in that one kiss though she knows it is impossible.
When they break apart, she is clutching his face like it is a lifeline, a crack in her voice as she vows, “I’m not going anywhere, Jones. You better believe it.”
He smiles. It is not bright but it is there and for now it is enough. “Aye, I do.”
He goes on to say that for the next seven years, that is how he lives his life. Barely getting by to survive, that is, by happenstance, Liam finds him again. Never once believing he couldn’t ever be reunited with his little brother until the day that they were, Killian stealing from a naval officer who so happened to be his brother.
“You were trying to steal from your brother?” She asks amusedly.
“In my defense, I did not know it was him!” He laughs and his eyes soften, “But what a blessed day it was for we found each other. He never let me out of his sight again, convinced the captain to take me on as a cabin boy. And, being the talented man that I am of course,”
She rolls her eyes but matches his playful tone, “Of course.”
“I worked my way up the ranks until Liam became Captain and I his Lieutenant.” He sighs, closing his eyes momentarily as the memories bombard him. He lets it play behind his eyelids like those moving pictures in that box which rests in their living room that Henry loves so much and for the first time in 300 years, since sharing this with Emma, he relives each memory with a quiet sort of content instead of that bubbling rage and hurt he used to.
When he opens his eyes, it is to Emma smoothing the last of the creases that line his forehead, tracing her finger down the length of his nose to the shape of his lips till the tip of her finger rests upon them. He gives it a kiss and a light nip before continuing.
“But being that cabin boy, at 14, even if technically I was on my way to becoming a man, it was the youngest I ever felt in years. These bubbles,” at the reminder he pops one that was hovering near Emma’s ear and they both giggle, “reminded me of days spent scrubbing the decks and how whenever I doused the brush in a pail of water bubbles would emerge and tickle me in the face. The last seven years of pain and loneliness I endured instead of being a proper child, prior to finding Liam, faded away. At 14, my childhood really began and it would have gone on and on, what with the adventures my brother and I had, until that final one…”
He grows quiet and she knows they’ve reached the end of the story. She takes the time to process everything she has heard, connects it to his fascination with bubbles and once again, they are connected in more ways than one.
She places herself in his shoes (which is easy considering they are so alike) and is reminded that, like her, Killian didn’t have many an opportunity to act like a child, bypassing his childhood as a necessity to survive, as orphans were wont to do and of course she understands.
She understands completely.
So Emma closes her eyes once more as light fills the room and when she opens them, it is to Killian’s beautiful face looking upwards in enrapture and it is the youngest she’s ever seen him.
Their laughs echo around the tiles of the bathroom as Emma continues to fill the space with bubbles, Killian popping them in their wake, the both of them giggling like school children when the bubbles cling to their hair and their faces are sticky from the soapy concoctions sticking to their face and their fingers are wrinkly from spending so much time in the bath but neither one cares because they are free and young – they’re the youngest they’ve ever been.
“Who needs eternal youth?” He pushes a strand of her hair away from her face and tucks it behind her ear so he can see the entirety of her face, absolutely nothing obscuring him from her beauty. “I’ve got my Neverland right here. I’ve got you.”
Emma wants to smack him because God he’s cheesy.
But it gets her.
It gets her, so bad.
So she settles for rolling her eyes, then kissing him.
And Killian… Killian knows he’ll never get enough of this woman. He means every word, bubbles could not compare to the wonder that is Emma Swan so he finds he doesn’t have much use for bubbles after all.
With Emma by his side, it’s impossible for them to ever grow old. Physically, sure. But in his heart, his broken, battered heart, he is timeless.
They are timeless.
So when she kisses him, emotions are running high and he feels the raw power of her magic engulfing them until they are nothing but warmth and light and he can feel his words matching the way he feels.
His heart begins to heal the proper way and a new tattoo brands itself, not in his arm, but in his chest where his beating organ lies.
And it’s got Emma’s name written on it.
When they part for breath, his eyes take on a lusty look and his voice drops to a husky whisper, the evidence of his arousal already making itself known to her between her legs.
"So… about those decidedly more pleasurable activities?”
She laughs until he’s swallowing them up with his kisses and they giggle and run to the bedroom where they proceed to do not-so-childlike pursuits.