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one.

wedding day. emma’s hotel room, NYC.

Emma Swan is nervous.

Her fingers are trembling and her stomach is churning. She can’t keep any food down if she even wanted to and she keeps turning on her phone to check the time.

“Emma, it’s still ten fifteen,” Mary Margaret says to her, reaching out to take both of her hands as she leans down to be eye to eye with her. “And you, my dear, need to be getting ready.”

She takes a deep breath and nods.

“Right. Wedding. Marriage. Today.” Emma huffs a breath. “Why did I ever let you talk me into going to see what this experiment was all about?”

Mary Margaret smiles.

“You’re twenty-eight, Emma, and it’s been ten years since your last real relationship. It’s about time that you settle down and have that honest connection you’ve been waiting for your entire life.”

Emma manages a soft smile, though her stomach is clenching and her heart is racing. She’s feeling only the slightest bit light headed and she knows that it will get worse as the day progresses.

“Okay, then help me get ready.”

Mary Margaret’s smile widens and she rises back to her feet, letting go of her hands and turning to the bustle of the bridesmaids. “Ruby, Emma’s ready for makeup, I think.”

The makeup artist grins and raises her eyebrows excitedly as she approaches Emma, who is, and has been, sitting in the chair in front of the mirror and her laptop. She doesn’t know what she’sdoing. This is insane.

“Okay, let’s make you into a princess, sweet cheeks.” Ruby sets down her makeup bags and Emma nods, smiling weakly through closed lips.

She turns up the sounds of calming music on her laptop and allows her friend to start preparing her face for the most intense day of her life.

Which, by the way, is saying a lot for a New York City police officer. She’s had days where she’s been in tight spots with criminals with guns pointed to her head, and she’s more afraid for what she’s about to do today.

She hasn’t met her groom. She hasn’t seen his face. She hasn’t learned his name. She doesn’t even know if they have any common interests or if he’s attractive. She doesn’t know if he’s her perfect match. The experts say he should be her perfect match, and she’s inclined to believe them, based on the various tests and questionnaires and interviews she’s had to do in order to get to this point.

She’s been assured several times by Doctor Hopper, a psychologist, that this marriage should work, that they’re compatible, and that’s why this little experiment exists. To see if it’s possible to match two people up based on science.

First is the wedding, which is simple and small, taking place in this hotel she’s staying in with her friends. Then, they’ll have the reception and she’s going to have to dance and take wedding pictures with him and there will be toasts and all she can think is: awkward. Because she doesn’t know him. She’s marrying a complete stranger.

“Emma, he’s gonna be hot, like, some sexy, muscle-y, gritty, guitar player with a beard,” Ruby tells her as she applies foundation. “Oh my God, and what if he has an accent?”

“He’s not going to have an accent.” Emma rolls her eyes, trying to comfort herself. Because noshe’s not getting any ideas in her head to have them shattered at the altar.

“Oh, so you’ve thought about him, then? This Future Husband of yours.”

Emma sighs and holds in a smile.

“Maybe,” Emma reaches over to grab the envelope with the message she’s planned to send him before they have to even think about going downstairs. “I’m going to have this sent to his room.”

Ruby peels back a grin and sets down her brush so she can open it up and read it.

After the reception is the honeymoon. God, she hopes he doesn’t want anything from her. She’s been contemplating it all day and she’s serious. She isn’t going to sleep with him, even if he’s this accented bearded sexy man Ruby thinks he is.

And after their honeymoon, which was his decision in the wedding planning, they’re going to move in together for a month. After that month, they’ll have to decide if they want to stay together or if it just doesn’t work.

Mary Margaret is certain this guy is going to be her True Love and that she’s going to want to stay with him for all of eternity.

But, Emma is only doing this because of the money she’s getting from the network that’s having her do this experiment for television. College had run her dry and working and living in New York City isn’t helping much.

And, if she’s being honest, she’s doing it because she’s done with dealing with life alone.

Neal had wrecked her and broken her from ever wanting this type of relationship again. Ever since him, it’d been one night stands when she was feeling lonely and sometimes not even that. She never shared her name, she never got theirs.

So maybe a little part of her is a hopeless romantic thinking that giving this experiment a try will be her One and Done solution to her love life issues. She needs someone that’s going to be there for her and that won’t try to pull what Neal did. She needs to get out of the past and think about her future.

At least, that’s how Mary Margaret got her to do this.

“It’s cute,” Ruby says, handing the card back to her. “You think he’ll like it?”

Emma shrugs. “I just figured that I should put it out on the table that I’m thinking about him and that I know he’s probably as nervous as I am.”

Ruby smiles. “Well, sweet pea, I’m here for you. Mary Margaret’s here, David’s here, Belle should be back soon-” Ruby spins around, searching for the girl who had gone out for hot chocolate to calm Emma down. “And you know, if the guy isn’t what you want, then it’s just a month.”

“Right,” Emma nods in agreement. “Just a month.”

///

wedding day. killian’s hotel room, NYC.

Killian Jones is a mess.

He’s never been so nervous in his life. His stomach is in knots and he keeps pacing around in his hotel room, running his fingers through his hair like it’ll make a difference in helping how he’s feeling.

Liam, Will, and Robin have been watching him from the bed and he finally plops down in the chair at the desk, swiveling a bit as he bites down on his tongue.

He tosses his head back and presses his hands to his face. “Why the hell am I doing this again?”

“‘Cos you’re an idiot.” Will says, making Killian sigh into his hands.

“Come on, little brother, it’s just a month.” Liam says. Killian drops his hands and rolls his head down to look at his older brother. There’s a warmth in his eyes that makes this just a little bit easier to do.

They’d been mostly supportive when he’d told them that he was taking part of a paying experiment that would have him marry a stranger that was somehow perfectly matched to him.

He’d been grieving for far too long over Milah, and they’d tried to get him out there. He’d signed up for online dating, but it never made sense to him and he ended up deleting the account after this woman sent him an inappropriate photograph of herself.

Robin had tried setting him up with a cousin but that didn’t work out. He’d tried even going out some nights after playing a show, thinking his devilishly good looks would land him a woman, but the girls he picked were never quite right and he always regretted it.

He’s mostly doing this for the money. The band has been struggling a bit lately and with what he’s going to be earning, they’ll have enough to put out an extended play at the very least. They’ve a good enough fan base for it.

“A month,” Killian nods in agreement. He leans forward with his elbows on his knees, cupping the back of his neck with his hands. “Alright. Someone help me get dressed.”

He forces himself to stand and his groomsmen all sigh.

“Where’s Jefferson?” Will asks. “I thought he was getting us rum.”

As if on cue, the door opens and Jefferson stumbles in with a wide grin on his lips.

“Rum,” he says, holding out the bottle. “And, I was given direct orders to hand this to thegroom.”

He holds out the white envelope and Killian takes it with curiously quirked eyebrows.

“Who’s it from?” Killian asks, stupidly, before his eyes read the delicate print on the front. Future Husband.

“Oh,” he says as he flips it over and pulls the card out. He can’t help but think that she must be quite thoughtful if she’s sent this. He never even considered it. He wasn’t sure it was allowed, actually.

Inside, she’s written him a small message, which he’s prompted to read aloud by the petite producer lady who stands beside the camera man with her clipboard in hand. He gives the camera a little look as his groomsmen all surround him.

“Dear Husband,” he reads, his voice wavering slightly with nerves. He literally has never been this nervous in his life. “Today is the start of something new, and while we haven’t met yet, I’m excited to see where our lives will go. I’m so nervous,” He laughs a little. “and I’m sure you are as well. So I promise I won’t scream or run away or throw up all over you, no matter how badly I think I might want to with how my stomach feels right now. Let’s go on this adventure together and forget that we’re both criminally insane for thinking this will work.” He’s smiling now. “Signed, your wife-to-be.”

His groomsmen all clap him on the back and he can’t wipe the smile off of his lips. She’s a little firecracker, his wife.

///

wedding day. emma’s hotel room, NYC.

“Emma, you’re so beautiful,” Mary Margaret says with her hands clasped over her heart.

Emma has to smile a little, twirling around in the dress they’d shopped for and purchased just about a week ago. It makes her feel like she’s a princess.

And no, she’s not completely hardened that she doesn’t think so. When she was a little girl, she dreamt about her wedding day just like any normal girl should. Except her dreams were always dreamt from the bunk in a foster home or orphanage.

And they didn’t involve marrying a perfect stranger.

“Thanks, Mary Margaret.” Emma smiles softly.

She takes a deep breath before she embraces with the woman who had become not just her closest friend, but more of a mother figure than anyone she’s ever lived with in her entire life.

David pokes his head in through the hotel door and Emma beams more when he sees her.

“Hey! Can I come in?”

Emma nods and the man enters her room wearing his tuxedo. He slides past the camera man and the producer carefully so he can give her a warm hug. She closes her eyes and wraps her arms around his neck, holding him as tightly as he’ll allow.

David is Mary Margaret’s husband, and he also happens to be the lead detective of her unit at work. He’s going to be walking her down the aisle. He pulls back from her embrace and looks her over.

“You’re absolutely stunning, Emma.” 

She laughs, tears forming in her eyes. The man who she’s considered a father actually thinks she’s worth something, and that’s been hard to accept. He reaches out and brushes the stray tears away. 

“And you know what? I think this whole wedding thing might actually be good for you. It’ll help you find what you want in life.”

Emma nods. “Thank you.”

David smiles at her and Ruby comes bursting in, nearly knocking over the cameraman on her way in.

“Emma! The wedding planner says that everything is in order.” Emma nods.

“Okay. So we’re going to let him go down first, then?” she asks the producer.

The woman nods. “We’ll give him about twenty minutes to get down there and to get some footage of him and his groomsmen waiting. Then I’ll bring you guys down.”

Emma nods, letting out a sigh. “Alright.”

She looks at David and Mary Margaret and she swears her heart has never felt like collapsing out of pure fear or screaming with excitement all at once before. She can’t sit down again. She thinks she’ll probably never get up if she does.

Belle had given her the hot cocoa, which had helped, but now it’s gone and all that remains is the hushed vocals and acoustic guitar coming from her laptop speakers, and the comfort of her closest friends. She bites on her lip and goes to the window, listening to the song and mouthing the words as she stares down at the city below.

She doesn’t know if this experiment is going to be worth all of this anxiety or stress. The week to plan the wedding had barely been enough, but the producers basically had everything pulled together already for the two other weddings happening at some point today or tomorrow.

Her breaths are coming quickly and she closes her eyes, slowing her breaths as she’d been taught to in the academy under intense situations, and opens her eyes again. It’s going to be okay.

It’s just going to be weird and awkward and… she doesn’t know why on Earth she ever agreed to do this.

///

casting day. conference center, NYC.

“I mean, you’ll spend your life wondering what could’ve happened,” the girl beside her is saying. “If you had stayed and went through with it.”

Emma stares at the girl and hums, nodding slightly.

“That’s true.” She whispers.

The executive producer at the front looks at them hesitantly, waiting for the last of the women who don’t want anything to do with this experiment to leave.

“It’s not guaranteed you’ll be selected to marry anyone,” the producer says to the girls that remain, Emma included. She’s not sure why she’s still here. Maybe it’s what this girl beside her is saying. Maybe she’s just crazy and needy. “We’ll have you all interviewed and questioned and there’s the possibility that some of you will be matched up with who we deem to be your True Love match.”

Emma can’t help but think about how insane it sounds. But it also kind of interests her. She wants to know if there’s a guy that could match up perfectly with her. She wants to know that kind of relationship.

And, as this woman says, there’s no guarantee it’ll happen. Maybe her True Love doesn’t exist. Maybe she’ll fill out the questionnaires and answer questions and go to interviews and find out that there’s no one for her. She’ll get her money and be on the way, either way.

It’s enough to make her stay.

///

wedding day. conference room in the hotel, NYC.

Killian licks his lip nervously before he enters the conference room.

On either side of the aisle, there are a few rows of chairs. He sees the few distant family members of his that managed to make it sitting in the row behind his groomsmen, and in the row behind them a few extra friends. Liam smiles at him when he sees him and it calms him only slightly.

His hands are shaking still and he’s probably going to end up stuttering around like an idiot when it comes time to say the vows and such, but that’s not happening yet.

He manages to smile a little at the people gathered on the other side of the aisle, his bride’s side, and they smile right back at him. There are only a few people and it makes him slightly saddened for his bride-to-be.

He shakes hands with them politely. A grandmotherly figure who smiles at him, a dark haired man around his age that gives him a curious once over, a blonde that grins widely at him, and a young boy, probably five or six, whose eyes are vivid and excited when he shakes his hand.

He figures her bridesmaids will occupy the front row as his groomsmen have and itches at his ear nervously as he paces up to the officiant.

“It’s rather warm.” he says, trying to make small talk with him.

He chuckles. “Yes, it is quite warm in here.”

Killian takes a deep breath and turns to look at his bandmates, then at Liam, who looks prouder than anything.

“Let’s get this thing over with.” Killian says, trying to ignore the buzzing in his body.

The rum had dampened the stomach churning and the heart racing, but he still feels like he’s going to, well, throw up all over the place, as his wife-to-be had so delicately expressed in the note.

It’s probably the only thing that gives him the slightest bit of comfort as he nervously rocks in place, rubbing his fingers over his lips and taking repeated deep breaths.

///

wedding day. outside hallway, NYC.

She has her headphones in and she’s closing her eyes, pacing around in small circles for as long as she’s allowed. The cameras are trained on her, she knows it, but this music is the only thing that’s keeping her from melting down and running out and away from this stupid, stupid experiment.

She feels a warm hand on her arm and she opens her eyes, plucking the headphones from her ears as she stares with a soft expression at David.

“It’s normal to be nervous,” he tells her, “just remember that we’re all here for you, alright?”

She nods firmly.

Her bridesmaids are all chatting and mingling to her right and Mary Margaret breaks away after a producer speaks with them. She comes up to she and David and smiles, letting out a breath before speaking, “Okay, Emma, they’re ready for us in there.”

Emma nods. “Okay.”

Mary Margaret takes the phone from her hands when she holds it out for her and she goes to grab the little clutch purse she’ll carry in with the flowers.

It seems like no time has passed at all when her bridesmaids, who each give her a kiss to the cheek and an excited hug beforehand, start chaining into the room. There’s a bit of a timed delay, given to her by the producer, so that the cameras can capture the girls and give a little bit of tension to her anxious groom.

Then, the woman nods, and David walks her in through the door.

She’s kind of surprised to see that his side is about as empty as hers, but she’s comforted to see her guests, especially little Leo, Mary Margaret and David’s small son, who is beaming and waves at them. Emma has to smile and wave back, before she finally, finally turns to see the man who she’d been waiting to see for a week since learning that she has a match.

Her heart skips a beat and her eyes widen slightly, her smile from Leo widening a little more at the sight of how completely nervous he looks.

Damn that Ruby. She was right. He’s hot.

He has a scruffy beard and his brown hair seems to be nervously combed through a few too many times, but still maintains a good form. His eyes, oh his eyes, they’re a shimmering blue. She can see them from where she’s standing in the middle of the room.

She wonders how he thinks of her. His smile, almost relief filled, makes her think he’s glad to see her, rather than someone else, and she feels oddly at home knowing she’s about to marry him.

David kisses her cheek and releases her arm when she’s close enough and Emma bites at her lip slightly when she steps over to this man.

His eyes search hers and she feels like she’s going to collapse. She’s not sure why. Maybe the nerves, maybe the fact that she hasn’t really eaten all day, or maybe the fact that she’s sorelieved that he’s… him.

Not that it would’ve mattered. She likes to judge people on their character, especially now after Neal. Maybe it’s just instinct. One night stands with men she thought attractive kinda did a number on her.

“Hey,” she says softly, making his eyes warm. “I’m Emma.“

“I’m Killian,” he tells her.

Damn that Ruby again. He has an accent.

Chapter Text

two.

wedding day. hotel green room, NYC.

Everything happens so fast.

The whole wedding takes but a few minutes and, just like that, she’s married to a complete stranger. A complete stranger who has a smile more dazzling than the sun and a warm glow behind his eyes.

She’s surprised that she was able to get her words out normally, that she didn’t completely pass out listening to him deliver his dialogue back to her. She was kind of dazed through the whole thing, to be honest, caught up staring at her partner, struggling with whether or not she should go through with it up until the very last second.

She’s not sure why she said, “I do.” She thinks she said it because she didn’t want to make a scene, because she didn’t want her friends, particularly Mary Margaret and David, thinking that she’s still incredibly broken and easily scared. She did, after all, sign up to do this ridiculous experiment.

Immediately after being announced as husband and wife, they’re taken to a green room of a sort, just the two of them, well, and a camera crew, so they can get their thoughts in order. Despite having just got married, she now has to actually talk to him as one stranger meeting another. Incredibly weird.

She bites on her lip and briefly recalls the moment he’d kissed her at the altar. All gentle and soft, as if he hadn’t wanted to kiss her at all. But she knows that look she’d seen in his eyes after. He’d liked her lips.

And she liked his, but she’s not going to tell anyone that.

“Wow,” he says.

He’s all smiles and rosy cheeks, and she’s just breathless, trying not to run, because everything about this scenario screams at her to.

Emma can’t laugh, because she just feels sheer panic rising up in her chest.

“Yeah. Wow.” Emma reaches for a flute of champagne set out for them and has a generous sip. She’s going to need something stronger, but she can’t exactly ask for hard liquor at her televised wedding. “I can’t believe it’s done.”

Killian smiles at her, obviously content in soaking in her features.

“Aye,” he says, nodding. He grabs a glass for himself and sips. “We’re married.”

She’d laughs out of disbelief. “Yeah. Married. I never thought I’d say that.”

He shrugs. “Well, we’re on the same boat, then.” He studies her for a moment. “I got your note.”

Emma’s eyes widen. In all of the chaos and craziness she’d forgotten she’d even sent it to him. “Oh?”

He hums, smirking. “Aye. I’m glad you didn’t throw up. Or run away. That would’ve been quite the interesting start to my afternoon.”

She sighs a laugh and has another sip of her drink. “Yeah. I think that definitely would’ve been interesting.”

They stand there quietly and Emma looks down at herself, finding the dress still beautiful and her fingers still quivering at her middle where she holds them. She pulls her gaze up to Killian then, determined to at least try, because Mary Margaret will have her head if she doesn’t at least try to get along with this guy.

“Um. So I’m sure you noticed how empty my side was. I don’t exactly have a lot of family.”

Killian nods. “Aye. Neither do I.”

A surge of hope goes through her, despite her anxiety, and she manages to smile. He doesn’t have to know her whole story, not yet, so she holds onto it, instead looking at him while she swallows the rock in her throat.

“Check one for the experts, then,” she jokes.

Her new husband chuckles deep and low, his eyes soft as he stares at her. “I’m sure we’ve got more in common than you think.”

Part of her is afraid of that, because she desperately doesn’t want to be broken again. If he’s easy to fall in love with, it’ll be even easier for her to feel that way all over again.

So she’s thankful when the producer tells them that the photographer is ready for them outside. It gives her an opportunity to breathe for a few minutes without having to necessarily talk to this man who has been matched to her.

She starts going through the reasons why this was a stupid decision, because it definitely was, and as they walk outside, she decides that even though they don’t know each other at all, even though she feels nothing but anxiety over her decision to do this thing so impulsively, at least it’s over and at least they’re in it together.

///

wedding day. hotel gardens, NYC.

Emma’s smile is tentative and gentle and she keeps giving Killian sideways glances, sneaking them as he sneaks his own. They’re both staring and while she’s supposed to be good at profiling people, she’s having a hard time getting a read on him.

“What do you want to know?” he asks as they walk with the photographer to the next spot. She gives him a confused look and he chuckles. “Come on, we’re both curious about each other.”

“Okay,” she says, tucking back a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She wonders what she should ask him. She knows his name. Killian Jones. That’s all she knows. Well, that, and he has an accent. “You’re from England?”

He quirks an eyebrow at her as he shrugs. “Born in England, then came here.”

Emma hums and nods.

The photographer has them stop at a fountain and has them sit down in front of it. He takes his time setting up the tripod and readjusting the camera settings, so Emma turns to him- herhusband, the stranger, Killian Jones.

They’re close. He’s got his hand propped up behind her, as if he’s trying to make sure she stays out of the water, and his face is almost too close to hers.

“And what do you do?” she asks, igniting a passionate flame in his eyes.

“I’m a musician,” he says. “Guitar and vocals for a little band with my friends.”

She smiles a little more. Damn that Ruby. She briefly wonders if she somehow found out who she’d been matched with.

“I’ll have to ask you to play something for me sometime,” she says, making him hum.

“Aye.” She bites on her lower lip for a moment, looking down at the stone she sits upon, all dressed up in her wedding gown. He’s still staring at her, this much she can tell. “And just what do you do, Emma?”

Hearing him say her name makes her stomach tingle. God, he’s something else.

“I… am a cop,” she says proudly, tilting her head a little to make him follow her gaze. “NYPD.”

Killian smirks at her, clearly finding her job interesting. “Really?”

Emma nods. “Yep.” Emma watches as he flicks his tongue over his lower lip. “And, yeah, I have handcuffs,”

His eyes go a little wider and darken a touch. “I wasn’t going to ask about that.”

Emma hums skeptically. “Most guys do.”

“Maybe I’m not most guys,” he says thickly.

Emma’s smile fades as her jaw falls open slightly. She doesn’t know what he’s doing, but she’s not sure she likes it.

“Maybe,” she finally says softly. The problem with Killian is that he’s too attractive and a little too cocky- this much she can tell already- for his own good. “Or maybe you are.”

He looks as if he’s about to say something, but the photographer interrupts them to tell them how to pose.

Her nerves are on edge and she starts to realize that maybe, no definitely, this was a bad idea and she should probably get out of this as quickly as she possibly can.

///

wedding day. hotel dining room, NYC.

Killian is interested.

Emma is something of a puzzle to him. He knows bits and pieces. He knows her name: Emma Swan. And he knows she’s a police officer in the city.

He knows she likes chocolate and music. He’d seen her when she’d opened up her clutch at the table. Chocolate bar wrappers and her phone with the headphones connected and a case with its retro artwork on it.

Well, at least they connect there. Music is and has been his passion from a very young age.

Her eyes are green and her lips are soft. He likes the way she smiles and it makes him feel a little better about the idea of being married to her.

He can only imagine what she’s like when she’s unguarded and not focusing on making sure she does all the right things for him or for the people that have come or for the cameras.

He knows she’s probably doing this for the money too. She’d be insane not to. Besides, a beautiful woman like her could land a husband at the flick of her small wrist and a flash of her extraordinarily bright smile.

“Hey,” Emma says to him, her hands in the middle of the fluff of her wedding gown. “I think the first dance is happening soon. They wanted to fill in the room a little, I guess.”

She sighs, and he sees a flicker of upset in her eyes.

“Oh,” he says. He looks around and sees that the red camera light isn’t on, meaning they aren’t recording right now, and they won’t catch what they’re discussing. “Emma, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you why you signed up to do this.”

She smiles a little and looks down at her hands.

“Listen, Killian, you don’t need to think anything will happen between us. We can just act for the cameras and get our checks at the end of the month and go our separate ways. I’m in debt and I needed the extra cash-flow. That’s the reason I’m really here.” Emma pauses and he thinks his heart couldn’t possibly feel heavier, nor his palms sweatier. “You’re great and everything, but I just feel like we should be real with you now to save you the heartache later. I’m not… good at relationships and it was stupid of me to do this to begin with.”  

Killian swallows and nods. Her reaction to this whole thing- the arranged marriage- it’s understandable. But she’s running from him and he’s only just met her, so it feel as if he has no choice but to agree.

“Right.” He shrugs. “Okay. I can do that.”

He smiles and she returns it, a little happier and seemingly less weighed down now that he’s agreed to her ducking out of this on the very first day.

“Good,” she says, rubbing her hands over her legs. “Thank you.”

The way she stares at him, like she’s relieved that he won’t want this marriage to work, makes him ache just a little.

“If I’m anything, it’s a gentleman,” he replies swiftly, pulling on a grin for her as he turns to take a drink of his champagne.

///

Emma is impressed with how well Killian dances.

He holds her gently, his eyes equally as such, and they sway alone on the ballroom floor to a song the producers selected. There are two cameras trained on them as they dance and Emma feels as if she needs to say something.

“Where’d you learn to dance?” she asks, drawing out a chuckle from him.

“I may’ve taken a few classes as a teenager.” Emma hums, smiling sweetly at him. “But, dear Emma, I happen to believe that it is the dancing partner that brings the best out of me.”

She flits her eyes away from him for half a second, trying to avoid how absurdly sweet he is, because she’d just barely told him she’s not in this relationship to be in it- how could she be?

It’s insanity to her that she’s even here, with this man, this man who is now legally her husband, after she swore off men ten years ago.

Mary Margaret would have so much to say about her rash decision to just keep up appearances for sake of a sizable check, but Emma doesn’t intend on telling her. She is an adult and she’s now a married adult, so technically she’s all grown up, right?

And anyway, she’s just doing what she’s done best her whole life. She’s running from her mistakes. At least she doesn’t know Killian well enough that it’ll hurt either of them.

“You flatter me, Jones,” she says, straightening a little, looking him in the eye again. His jaw opens a bit and his eyes read curiosity and interest, a quip working its way onto his tongue, no doubt. “So, where do you plan on bringing me tonight? You were in charge of planning the honeymoon.”

He nods. “I’ve a ship,” he says, searching her eyes for a moment. “I inherited it from my father. I thought we’d take her up to a small town in Maine I know of.”

“That sounds good to me,” she agrees with a warm smile.

“It’ll only be for the weekend,” he says softly. “I realize you may have work to get back to.”

Emma nods. “I go back Tuesday.”

His eyes flirt for a moment with hers and she swears she’s breathless because of it, but she can’t let herself be, so she averts her gaze.

“Tell me something, Swan,” Killian tightens his grasp on her slightly. “Since when does a police officer know how to dance like this?”

She bites her lip and laughs dryly, allowing him to twirl her before she looks up into his eyes.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

///

If he knows one thing now, it’s that Emma Swan is indeed a firecracker.

She knows just what to say and how to act in the moment. If the whole police officer routine didn’t work out, she’d be a marvelous actress. She laughs with him and dances with him, allows herself to mingle with family and his band mates, who absolutely drool over her. She keeps her cool, though, and returns their advances with a warning glare and the reminder of the fact that she’s an armed officer at all times.

There’s a few moments in the evening where he thinks that she doesn’t just want the money out of this experience. The more he gets to talk with her and her friends, the more he begins to understand that Emma has a rough past that she’d rather put behind her.

Mary Margaret and David seem to think he’s the savior of their almost-daughter, who has lived for ten years going from guy to guy, night to night, without finding a committed relationship anywhere.

Emma’s across the room while Mary Margaret explains her somewhat dark and dreary past, and he can’t help but feel sorry and as if he completely understands. It’s been about the same for him, after all.

“So you’ll take her for the weekend, then?” Mary Margaret asks him, changing topics abruptly.

He nods. “Aye. I’ll have her back by Monday evening if the weather holds as it should. I’ve got a few shows coming up this week with the band anyway, so we can’t be spending too long gone.”

Mary Margaret smiles and nods in understanding. “Well, Killian, I have to say, I’m impressed. You’re quite the gentleman. Emma is very lucky.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Nolan, I appreciate your company this evening.”

The petite woman’s grin widens and he sees a little blush. She giggles a little.

“We’ll be seeing you soon, I guess. I should go say goodbye to Emma. I need to get the little one to bed.”

She tosses a hand over to David, who is holding the five-year-old lad in his arms.

Killian chuckles at the sight of the sleeping boy and nods. Mary Margaret gives his arm a quick, gentle squeeze before moving across the room to where Emma sits in discussion with her friend, Ruby, he thinks, with drinks in their hands and laughter that makes his stomach churn even from all the way over here.

“Killian,” Liam approaches him. He claps him on the shoulder. “Very well done, brother. Your bride is beautiful.”

Killian shrugs. “I was lucky to have been matched to her.”

Liam nods, smiling as he glances over at Emma, who now is hugging Mary Margaret.

“And you were worried,” Liam chuckles. “Just remember that she’s probably got the same concerns as you do for this whole thing. Don’t feel as if you need to do anything you aren’t ready for.”

Killian sighs, rolling his eyes a bit at his brother. “Brother, I’ve been nothing short of a gentleman from the start of this ordeal. I’m not going to do anything unless I know for certain it’s desired.”

Liam’s lips curve up slightly and Killian can’t help but see their father in him.

“Tell me the truth, Killian,” Liam tells him. “What are you feeling? Anxious? Upset? She’s beautiful, but I’ve never seen you date a blonde before.”

Killian groans a little, a smile finding his lips. “Liam, you are impossible.”

His brother laughs. “I’m just telling the truth. Tell me what’s bothering you. I can tell you’re not content.”

For a beat, Killian considers not telling his elder brother what’s bothering him. He looks toward Emma and his heart squeezes tightly. “She’s wonderful,” he explains, “but she wants to do this simply for the money. Our relationship isn’t a factor for her.”

Liam takes a soft breath. “Ah.” He glances over at Emma, who laughs at something Ruby says, and she briefly meets Killian’s eyes before blushing and looking away. “Perhaps… she just needs time. She’s still here, isn’t she?”

Killian takes solace in his brother’s words and nods. “Aye. I suppose she is.”

Liam shrugs. “After a few days together, perhaps she’ll see it isn’t all that bad, being married to you. Unless you leave your underwear on the floor and snore too loudly. Then I might understand her keeping you at a distance.”

Killian shakes his head slightly, laughing. “I may have been a bachelor yesterday, but I do know my boundaries. I’m a married man now, after all.”

Liam chuckles softly. “Aye. That you are, brother.”

Killian holds open his arms for Liam to give him the hug he’d come to him for. It’s comforting to know Liam approves of this thing. He’s always been supportive, from the very first day when Killian had thought he could just do this for the money, and the chance of a relationship that lasts.

It’s starting to feel like he’s not going to get that opportunity after all the thought and effort he’d put into this experiment.

“I’ll see you when you return from your honeymoon.”

Killian nods when Liam pulls away, his hands on his arms. “Of course.”

Liam’s gaze lingers for a moment before he nods once and steps back. “I love you, brother.”

Killian smiles softly. “I love you too, Liam.”

Liam’s smile is equally as soft and he gives him a final nod before he takes his leave to chat with the band that’s hovering by the food table.

It’s getting late. The random extras have been leaving for the past few minutes and he figures it’s about time they do as well. His watch tells him that it’s about ten at night and he’s sure Emma’s exhausted if she’d had a sleep as he had last night.

He walks across the room to her, smiling slightly when Emma glances over at him. Ruby is long since gone.

“Hey,” he says to her. “Are you ready to go?”

Emma nods and rises, grabbing her clutch and flashing him a smile. She reaches for his hand and he allows her to take it for sake of the cameras.

“Bye bye Emmie!” Leopold, the little lad in David’s arms, calls.

She laughs and releases Killian’s hand for a moment so she can blow the boy a kiss and wave to him.

“Bye bye Leo!” she calls back, making the boy smile and nuzzle his face into his father’s neck. She still smiles when she looks to him and he can’t help but completely love how she treats the boy. “Ready to go, Killian?”

He nods. “Aye.”

///

wedding night. the jewel of the realm, NYC.

The camera crew has them set up for an interview to discuss how they think the wedding went, what their initial thoughts were of each other, and what they think to expect from the honeymoon.

Emma goes first and Killian resorts to the inside of his ship, which is a quaint vessel with room for a small crew. She sits on a stool and the camera is perched in front of her, lights from the pier apparently not bright enough to light her, and a microphone awkwardly clinging under the leather jacket Killian had offered her upon realizing it was getting cold.

The interviewer, Elsa, smiles at her and she smiles back. “So, what did you think of the wedding? How did you feel when you first saw Killian?”

She contorts her lips in thought for a moment. Emma shrugs slightly. “I guess I wasn’t sure what I expected to find when I walked into the room and I was surprised. But he’s nice and he’s sweet, so I think we’ll get along.”

“And what do you think of his honeymoon plans?”

Emma glances over at the boat behind her and then back into the lens. “He certainly is interesting, isn’t he?” Emma asks the camera. “I don’t know what to think of this plan. I think it’s different and kind of cool. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about him and that will be good.” She shrugs. “I’m not the kind of person that likes big vacations or huge romantic gestures, so I think what Killian’s planning is going to be just the kind of break I prefer.”

“So, do you think the experts did a good job matching the two of you?”

Emma laughs, raising her eyebrows a little in thought. “Um. I don’t know much about him yet but I look forward to getting to know him.”

Elsa nods at the cameraman after a few more questions and then addresses her as she helps her get the microphone off, “Thank you for taking a few minutes. I know you’ve had such a long day.”

“You can say that again,” Emma sighs. “And it’s not over yet.”

Elsa hums. “Well, it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out, right?”

Emma laughs at the wry look on Elsa’s face as she pulls the wired cord from Emma’s jacket. “He’s sweet. I think he’ll be good for you, Emma. I know we don’t know one another very well, but I think I have a good idea.”

She pauses and leans back, studying Emma. “You don’t look happy, Emma. Cheer up, okay? It’s your wedding day. You’re so beautiful and you’re so lucky. He’s a great guy.”

Emma manages a smile, closing her eyes as tears threaten the surface. She’s had such a long past few days, battling within herself about whether or not she should even do this, and now that she has, she just wants to run.

But she can’t tell Elsa that horrible truth, so Emma shrugs and smiles a little more. “Yeah. I’m sure I just need to get some sleep.”

She knows deep down that she won’t be any happier come the morning, but she knows she owes it to so many people, including herself, to at least pretend she is.

///

Killian has a watchful eye on Emma as she takes his hand and steps up onto his ship. He smiles softly at her.

“Welcome aboard, Swan.”

Emma returns his smile with one of her own and he realizes that she’s lost the light from her eyes. Her fingers grip his as she steps down onto the deck and he only releases her hand when she’s stable again. She tucks her hair behind her ears and he tips his head to the side.

“I’ll show you to our cabin, then.”

It’s for the cameras, but he takes her to his quarters and when he stands before it, he turns to her, smirking with his eyebrow lifted. She gives him a look, her jaw hanging open, and he holds his arms out.

“Well, this is it,” he says.

Emma relents, dropping her shoulders as a small smile edges at the corners of her lips. “You going to carry me over the threshold or not?”

Killian takes Emma into his arms with a heavy, “Oof!”

She smacks the back of his head as she laughs, much to his delight, and he chuckles as he gets the door open, walking her inside, careful with her head. He kicks the door closed and a moment afterwards, he sets her down again, their smiles still on their faces.

“It was lovely meeting you, Emma,” Killian says, his expression softening when hers goes away completely at the realization of it all. “And I hope you’ll let me at least be your friend.”

He manages to catch her gaze and she takes a steadying breath before she nods. “Yeah. I think we can be friends.”

Killian grins. “Brilliant.”

Chapter Text

three.

honeymoon day 1. the jewel of the realm. Boston Harbor.

He wakes to the rising sun, the beams sliding in through the windows of his cabin and bathing him in a glorious gentle warmth. He sighs as he opens his eyes, stretching his legs out under his sheets until he feels a body curling up against his back. He sighs again. Right.

He presses his hands to his face and then shifts to move her away from him so he can lie on his back.

She’s wearing a tank top and sweats, her hair somewhat adorably mussed and tossed all around her as she slumbers quite peacefully next to him.

She’d admitted to him that she’d only gotten a whole of three hours of sleep the night before. He can’t blame her for being so tired last night and collapsing next to him. She’d intended to go find another bed in another cabin after he’d led her into the room for the cameras, but then she must’ve come back to him after he’d fallen into his sheets.

Killian can’t stare at her any longer. He might find himself garnering feelings if he lingers too long.

He slings his legs over the side of his bed and slides into his shoes, grabbing two cups and firing up the coffee machine at the countertop on the other side of the room. He runs his hand through his hair and then over his face, blinking a few times to get his eyes used to the fact that he is in fact awake, on this ship, with a woman whom he’d married without even knowing first.

A woman who is so afraid of relationships that she’s running from him without giving him a chance. A woman who has agreed to be friends, but won’t commit to this relationship as his wife, even though she is his wife.

Sailing will make this better.

When his coffee machine gives him what he wants, he takes his cup and brings it with him out of the cabin, where Emma still sleeps with a soundness of that of a rock, and out on deck.

He’d docked them in Boston at about midnight last night. No use keeping it that way.

He sips at his coffee as he does his duties to get them out of the harbor and follows procedure, just as his father and Liam had taught him.

The sun beams tickle his skin, but aren’t yet high enough that they bother his eyes. He takes the wheel in one hand and sips at his coffee with the other before setting it down on the deck and using both hands to steer his vessel out into the Atlantic.

He’s not sure how long he’s been out here in the cool morning air, but he hears his cabin door open and he watches as Emma comes into view.

He smiles a little at the sight of her still in her tank top and sweats. She’s pulled her hair up into a sloppy bun above her head and, to his complete delight, she’s even found the cup of coffee he’d intended for her.

“Swan!” he calls, raising his mug to her.

She smiles at him, raising her own back at him before she makes her way over to the helm.

“Good morning,” she says.

Her hands are wrapped tight around the mug and he realizes she must be feeling the breeze, what with the way she’s hunching her shoulders forward. With the sun not at its warmest, it is a bit chilly.

She reaches him and stands with her gaze set on the horizon he’s focused on.

“Has the camera man woken yet?”

Emma chuckles, shrugging when she looks at him, her eyebrow raised in a way that complements her shoulder.

“I’m sure we’ll know when he has. He must have thought you’d start leaving port at a more reasonable hour.”

He quirks an eyebrow at her. “Am I sensing a little resentment there, Swan?”

She shrugs again, not saying anything as she sips at her coffee.

“So what’s our wedding night story?” she asks him, eyeing him tentatively. “When they interview us and ask how the first night was together. What are we going to say?”

He shakes his head, squinting a little at the sun.

“That we were tired and fell asleep immediately,” he says. “No need exaggerate.”

Emma hums, her eyes lilting in a smile as she hides her lips into her mug.

He likes how she looks with the sun creating a silhouette of her. She’s glowing orange and she’s still perfectly visible to him. He quite likes Emma, but he knows she just wants this to be a business transaction, so he’s willing to comply.

But, maybe, with time, as Liam had suggested, she’ll open up to him.

It’s probably foolish to cling to that hope, but he can’t help himself because when he looks at her, all he can see is his future.

“How long until we’re in Maine?”

Killian shrugs. “When we get there, I’ll let you know. Shouldn’t be more than a few hours.” Emma gives him a gentle nod. “I think the film team is going to be there when we arrive, so if you need to ready yourself for that, you should do that.”

Emma laughs and it’s literally like hearing music. “I’m gonna go grab my phone and read a book.”

Her eyes linger on him for a moment before she slips away from the helm with her coffee mug comfortably folded in one hand as she makes her way back toward the captain’s quarters.

///

Emma pulls her phone out of her bag and her sunglasses, sliding them over her head, and slips out of her sweats to change into some shorts.

Ruby definitely packed her bag- mostly short and revealing stuff that she’s fairly certain she never purchased for herself. The girl must’ve thought she was doing her a service. She laughs at that as she untangles her headphones.

Killian is nice enough, but she doesn’t want to really commit to this. It’s insane. She was insane for following through with it from day one. And being friends won’t be so bad, as long as feelings don’t get too confusing.

It might not be fair to him, but she doesn’t know him and he doesn’t know her or what she’s been through in her lifetime.

She grabs the coffee mug with one hand and grips the phone and headphones in her other, starting back up the ladder in her bare feet. May as well show off that pedicure Mary Margaret had splurged on with her.

Emma, you’re getting married. You need to have good looking feet. What if he looks at them and gets second thoughts?

Emma shakes her head a little, smiling at the memory as she pulls herself on deck again.

Killian is still at the helm, steering his ship with one hand and sipping at his coffee with the other. He’s at his element here and she kind of wants to talk about it with him. Maybe when the camera guy finally figures out it’s time to start filming for the day.

She sits on the deck, resting her back against the mast, her knees almost against her chest but not quite. She plugs her headphones into her phone and turns it on, a smile finding her lips at the image of Leo and David as her background.

They’re both dressed up in their suits, ready for her wedding. They both have sunglasses on and David has his arms crossed all professionally and Leo’s looking up at his father as he tries to copy him, but his tongue sticking out of his mouth in concentration gives him away.

She has a few messages from Mary Margaret and Ruby, a phone call from the department, and she’s sure a couple dozen emails, but she ignores them for the time being and slips the earbuds into her ears and turns on the soothing tones of her favorite artist.

It’s a little indie band that Ruby turned her onto several years ago. She’s not up to speed on hardly anything other than owning all three albums and listening to them on repeat. She hasn’t even been to a show, even though she’d kill to see them. She’s just never had time to with her schedule and she hasn’t even told anyone of her obsession with them, though she’s sure they’ve found her out. She’s constantly listening to their music in her apartment when people come over.

Emma closes her eyes as she listens to the lead singer’s gritty vocals overlaid against the strum of an electric and acoustic guitar.

She’s reminded of the fact that Killian plays in a band and smiles slightly, wondering if she’ll get to hear the band play ever. She wants to. The guys were passionate about their instruments and they were all kind of hilarious.

She supposes that’ll be a piece of the story they’ll tell this television crew and the audience that watches. If anyone ever watches them. She hasn’t even heard of the network they’re supposedly going to be on, called Enchanted TV.

She finds herself humming gently along with the singer as she opens her eyes again, sliding her sunglasses over her eyes and pulling the coffee cup to her lips.

She’d slept very well last night, actually, even if it was for only about six and a half hours. It was better than three, and far better than the even fewer she gets sometimes before she’s called into work because of some investigation.

She grimaces slightly thinking about what’ll happen when they return to New York and she has to go back to those hours with Killian sharing if not a bed, but at least an apartment, with her. The poor guy has no idea what’s coming.

Emma clicks on her phone again, quickly typing her passcode in before she taps into the app to read a book Mary Margaret had been begging her to get into so they could talk about something other than police stuff and Leo and the news.

///

Killian shifts a bit uncomfortably as he stands in front of the wheel with the cameraman standing in front of him.

He’s asking him some questions the producer left for him- there hadn’t been a single other person willing to go with the guy in fear of getting sea sick, apparently, and he honestly doesn’t care all too much. The less television crew here the better.

“How are things going with Emma?” the man asks.

Killian smiles a little.

“Emma’s great,” Killian says. “She’s been very gracious with me and this sailing venture. I think we’ve bonded a bit over the course of these past few hours.”

“How was the wedding night?”

Killian sighs. He’d known this question would come. “Honestly, we both fell straight asleep. It’s been an exhausting few days and we both needed a well-earned rest.”

“Okay,” the camera guy shifts, paging through the clipboard with the questions for a moment before he finds another question. “Do you see yourself falling in love with her? Is what you’ve seen of her at all compatible to you?”

“Um,” Killian pulls his lips into his mouth and thinks for a moment before shifting his eyes back into the lens of the camera. “Emma and I are a lot alike in some ways. I think I’d need more time to talk with her and discover what she’s like and the like before I could decide if she’s the perfect match for me. She’s lovely and I do enjoy speaking with her, though, so there’s a start.” Killian smiles.

The camera guy looks at the clipboard again. “Alright, last question for now: how are you feeling about the experiment now that you’re into your second day with a wife?”

Killian laughs at that slightly and shrugs. “It’s a different feeling waking up knowing I’m legally bound to someone else, that’s for certain. Um… but I think that the experiment itself is showing me that there is at least one person that has the ability to kind of understand me in a sense that no one’s really ever been able to grasp.”

///

Now that the camera guy is awake and moving about, Emma has to stop reading the mystery novel and pull her headphones out in order to go interact with Killian.

He’s already done an interview. The camera guy has told her that maybe when they’re docked, she’ll do her interview, and she agrees as she sticks her phone into her pocket and wraps the headphone cord around her fingers into a circle to place into her other pocket.

She crosses the deck with her coffee mug in her hands, now empty and ready to be cleaned, and she goes up to Killian with a smile.

“Hey, you finished with that cup? I’m gonna go clean mine.”

Killian hums and reaches down to take it from the deck. He hands it to her, squinting a little as he looks to her.

“Thanks,” he says.

She smiles. “How close are we to docking, Captain?”

He grins a little at that, slightly embarrassed as he looks to the GPS. “Still another hour.”

Emma hums and searches his eyes for a moment before she says, “Maybe you could teach me how this whole Captain-ing thing works when I get back.”

He shrugs with a coy smile. “Maybe.”

Emma feels her teeth over her lower lip and she’s so tempted to drop the facade and let the guy in, because he’s stupidly attractive and kind and he’s incredibly strong. Her decision to make this into something other than a marriage is starting to feel kind of ridiculous.

But she doesn’t know him well enough and she’s scared that if she does, she’ll realize he’s eitherperfect or a nightmare.

With her fears ringing in her ears, Emma leaves him there and walks over to the hatch leading to Killian’s sleeping quarters again.

When she’s cleaning the mugs in the small sink, she takes a breath and stares at the ring over her finger. It’s so foreign. She’d never once thought she’d be putting a ring on that finger. Especially not for what could very well be considered an arranged marriage.

Her phone chirps in her pocket and she turns the sink water off, pulling open a drawer to find a cloth to dry these cups off quickly with. She puts them in a cabinet where she thinks they belong- there are other glasses there- and she closes it, leaning against the cabinet as she pulls the phone from her pocket.

It’s a text message from one of the producers. Hi Emma, this is Elsa. Our camera guy has been updating us on your trip and we were wondering if you could spark up some kind of conversation before you two get to ME?

Emma lets out a harsh breath as she types a response. I’ll see what I can do.

She bites on her lip as she shifts her eyes to the bed she’d crawled into last night. Killian hadn’t known until this morning that she’d done it. It had been really dark and she’d been super tired, so tired she couldn’t think right. She figured he wouldn’t mind too much.

Her phone chirps once again. Be natural, Emma.

Emma grits her teeth. She doesn’t know how she’s going to do that. She slides her phone back into her pocket and goes back up onto the deck.

The sun is relatively high in the sky now and the earlier chill is replaced with a pleasant breeze coming off of the waters surrounding them. She likes sailing, now that she’s thinking about it. There’s something to be said about the seclusion and the way the water so gently cuts beneath them.

She goes up to the helm, where Killian has his face buried in a map of some sort, and she tilts her head curiously at him. “What’s that about?”

He jumps slightly at her voice and drops the map from his face, his cheeks reddening slightly. “Emma,”

She can’t keep the amused smile from her lips. “Hey, you okay?”

He raises his eyebrows momentarily and folds the map down.

“Never better, darling,” He sets the map into a shelf. “Just checking the coordinates to be sure. It was rather late last night when I’d put them in.”

She bobs her head in understanding and shifts her gaze momentarily out onto the water. “So when did you start sailing?”

He grins ear to ear, chuckling a little. “All my life I’ve been a sailor, lass. Born on this very vessel.”

Emma laughs. “Really? That’s pretty cool.” Killian shrugs it off. “Come on, not very many people can say they were born on a boat.”

He shrugs again. “I suppose.”

He offers her a small smile and Emma takes a small breath.

“So your dad must’ve taught you. You said it was his and he gave it to you.”

Killian nods. “Aye. He was a fisherman. Taught both Liam and myself the ways of the sea.”

Emma smiles. She likes how he cares so much for his family. She can see it in the way his eyes have lit up. She purposefully stares at him for a moment in thought before she looks to the wheel.

“You think you could teach me how?”

He snorts, laughing as if saying of course, and she can’t help but laugh a little along with him.

“Are you kidding me, Swan? I’m the best bloody teacher there is.” He takes a half step away from the wheel. “Come. Set your hands as you would driving a car. Ten and two or whatever the hell it is.”

Emma laughs genuinely at that and steps in between him and the wheel, setting her hands cautiously on it, as if she’s afraid she’ll break it or something.

“Is this right?” she asks, biting at her lip and looking over her shoulder at him.

He nods. “Aye. Now, just have a look at the navigation, and keep on course. It’s pretty similar to driving a car, but the steering is backwards. Be gentle, though. She’s a bit jumpy sometimes.”

Emma nods and looks ahead with determination in her eyes and her tongue sticking out of her mouth as she concentrates on steering the vessel.

She sees the camera guy and the red light and hopes he caught that moment, because she can feel Killian warm behind her and her heart is stuttering within her chest, despite everything in her that says she shouldn’t be feeling this way.

Chapter Text

four.

honeymoon day 1. the jewel of the realm. the coast of Maine.

Emma likes how Killian blushes at the very fact that she’s teasing him over his training methods. She won’t admit it ever, but she also likes that his hands are set over hers, as if he doesn’t trust her to dock the vessel on her own.

“Come on, Jones, I’m a natural,” she laughs. “Said so yourself.”

Killian looks at her wearily and she bites on her tongue, turning around so she’s trapped between him and the wheel. If she’s not mistaken, his breath catches.

“Fine. I’ll go…” Emma glances over her shoulder. “Stand by the mast and watch your masterful docking skills, husband.”

He swallows and she peels his hand away from the wheel so she can get out and do what she said she would.

He’d been good about letting her sail the ship for a long time. But, when the coordinates had come close, he’d started sweating and muttering worried words over her, his protective hands twitching anxiously by his side as they drew ever closer. He’d finally just told her that while she was a good student, he really needed to dock the ship, and put his hands over hers in an attempt to gain some control.

She watches him with a smile teasing the corners of her lips. He’s not having it right now, though. He sort of scowls a little at her and works like the most professional ship’s captain she’s ever seen, moving levers and the wheel just right, his eyes never coming to her unnecessarily.

Emma finds herself going to the stern of the ship and watching his progress, her gaze set upon the tiny town they’re approaching ever closer.

It’s cute and quaint; the stereotypical small Maine town complete with a lighthouse and cape cods lining neighborhoods.

She wonders why he’s brought her here. What does he want them to do here?

Emma bites on her lip in thought for a second before Killian calls over to her. “Swan! If you want to help make dock, you should come quickly!”

She spins and quickly rushes down to where he’s standing with this smirk on his lips like the cocky bastard he is.

They’re right up against the dock now and Emma eyes him curiously.

“I’ve already set the anchor down. I need you to take this-” He hands her a rope. “-and bring it out onto the deck. At the front of the ship there’s a post. Wrap this around the post and chain it to the dock.”

“This seems kind of flimsy,” she says.

Killian shrugs. “It’s what we do, Swan. Get to work or I’ll have you sent to the brig without a meal.”

Emma snorts, shaking her head slightly before pressing her hand to her head. “Aye aye, Captain.”

She tosses him this stupidly coy smile and brings the rope he’d given her out of the ship, careful not to do something that will push the ship away from the dock when she jumps out.

After she does her task, she pulls herself back onto the ship and Killian grins at her from the helm as he finishes whatever he’s doing.

“Very nicely done, Swan.”

Emma shrugs, rolling her eyes a bit. “Are we finished?”

He licks at his lower lip and then pushes on a lever. “Yes. We have officially docked.”

He wriggles his eyebrows at her and she goes up to him.

“What are we going to do here?”

He steps away from the helm and she follows his lead as he goes toward his cabin door.

“We’ll stay at a hotel in town. I know a few sights I’d like to show you while we’re here.”

She smiles slightly. “Okay.”

///

honeymoon day 1. bed and breakfast, someplace in Maine.

Killian carries both of their bags, which Emma thinks is sweet.

The town’s hotel is small, fitting right in with the rest of the town. It’s so quaint that everyone seems to know everyone, meaning that their presence here is very well known.

The camera guy follows them through town, recording their every move, and Emma has to keep appearances, flashing shy smiles to Killian and moving close to him so she can brush against him every so often.

There’s a silence that falls over them as they walk through the hotel’s small lobby up to the desk. She’s approached by Elsa and she turns to smile at her while Killian takes care of the room.

“Hey, Elsa,” Emma smiles at the blonde girl.

“Hi Emma. How was your night?”

“It was good,” Emma replies. She puts her hands together in front of her, not knowing what else to say.

“Good,” Elsa grins. “So apart of our plan for the rest of your time together is that you’ll film little video diaries whenever you feel like you have something to say, because sometimes our cameras won’t be with you.”

Elsa pulls out a small black camera and holds it out to her. Emma takes it hesitantly.

“Okay. So is there any particular thing you want to see from us tonight?”

Elsa shrugs. “Nope. Just be yourselves. We need this to be natural and real.” Elsa gives her a gentle smile. “You’re not acting, remember, Emma. Just get more comfortable with each other.”

Emma glances over at Killian, at his tousled hair and his relaxed shoulders, and returns Elsa’s smile.

“Right. Okay.” She looks down at the camera in her hands. “I’ll let him know.”

She looks up at Elsa and takes a deep breath.

“You know, Emma, if you’re not comfortable in this marriage, that’s okay. I can get one of the experts on the phone if you need to talk to someone about it. Or if you want to talk to me, I’m here. I know I’m not an expert, but I can try.”

Emma forces a smile. “No, I’m fine.” She can tell Elsa isn’t buying it. “Seriously. It’s just all really new and I need some time to adjust.”

Elsa stares at her thoughtfully. “Emma, don’t let your past ruin the present.” When Emma doesn’t reply, instead hit with a twist in her gut, Elsa smiles and sets her hand on Emma’s arm as she continues, “Alright, so we’ll probably see you tomorrow. We’ll send a camera up for some quick shots at the start, but then we’ll leave you be for a little while. Catch up with you then?”

Emma hums and nods.

///

It’s hard to tell when Emma is acting sometimes but he knows she isn’t when they enter their hotel room.

It’s a cozy place, a bed and breakfast run by an old friend of his. He opens the door and allows her to go first. The camera crew is behind them, causing for unnecessary crowding and stress. He’s not sure he’ll ever get used to the fact that he’s allowed a crew to document this experience with Emma.

He still carries the bags, because he’s a gentleman and Emma deserves nothing short of one, and sets them down when he enters the room after her.

She doesn’t speak for a moment. The room is quaint and there’s hardly anything wrong with it except, well, there’s a single bed. The walls are a soft yellow and there’s furniture crafted by the local carpenter. There are watercolor paintings on the walls, of the picturesque town itself, and the floor is hardwood covered by a floral-patterned rug.

Emma takes a breath, turning to him. “It's… nice.”

Killian nods. “Aye. I thought so.”

She seems distracted by the bed and he clears his throat, speaking lowly because the camera crew is right there, “I can sleep on the floor if you’d prefer.”

Her eyes widen and she shakes her head. “No way. I’m not that mean.”

Killian smiles softly. He reaches up to scratch by his ear. “I never thought you were.”

Emma tosses him a wry look before she looks toward the windows. He watches her, unable to do much else, and smiles when she reaches the window and says, “It has a view of the water.”

“Aye.” He replies, stepping toward the window beside her. Killian eyes her warily after a beat. “Do you like it?”

Emma is quiet for a second and then she meets his gaze. “Yeah. It’s calming.”

If there’s anything that can make him feel even a little better about this day, or his life’s choices for that matter, it’s probably that statement, followed by the way she presses her fingers against the curtain to hold it back, keeping her attention softly focused on the horizon.

///

It’s roughly eleven thirty when Emma pulls her headphones out of her ears and sets her phone on the nightstand.

They’d done some light sightseeing earlier. He’d taken her through the town and they had an early dinner at this local comfort food place that happened to be run by a woman Killian knew.

She found it kind of interesting that he’d bring her to a place like this, where there’s hardly anything to do but sleep. She could use sleep, so she’s not complaining in the least.

Killian is lying in the bed beside her, his laptop in his lap while he types up emails or does whatever he’s up to.

She doesn’t really know what to do, because since they’ve been alone, things have been platonic as all get out. Not that she wants it to escalate. She doesn’t know him well enough to even feel comfortable touching him.

Despite her conversation with Elsa earlier, she will not admit that she’s afraid of crossing any boundaries with him in fear of him turning into Neal. She will not. This thing with Killian is a friendship at best and a game at worst.

She tugs the blankets closer to her chest and curls over so she’s facing the nightstand. Her light is off, but Killian’s is on.

“You’re going to sleep?” he asks.

Emma feels a smile on her lips, but pulls it off when she speaks to him. “I’m a cop. I don’t get good sleeping hours.”

He’s quiet for a moment. “Oh.”

She hears his laptop close and then a moment later, the clink of the light. He wiggles into the bed beside her and she feels his leg warm against hers.

She sighs. “I think you’re overstepping a boundary there, Captain.”

He breathes a laugh and she feels his leg pull away. “Apologies, love.”

Emma rolls over and faces him, finding his eyes immediately.

“What kind of a sleeper are you?” she asks. “Last night we were both too tired and I’m assuming were like rocks in that bed.”

He chuckles. “I’ve been made aware that I do move around quite a bit.”

Emma hums.

“And what can I expect from you, love?”

Emma takes a soft breath. “I can’t say. Sometimes I stay still, but other times I’m on the other side of the bed in the morning.”

He bites on his lip gently. “Well, I’m sure we’ll work it out.”

She smiles. “Yeah.” She’s taken all of a sudden by the way his eyes are sparkling at her. This is her husband. The guy she’s apparently a perfect match for. And despite everything telling her to run, she’s here with him now and he’s being a perfect gentleman. “Hey, how old are you?”

He laughs. “What?”

“I just realized I don’t know how old you are. I’m twenty-eight. It’ll be my birthday again in two months, so I’m almost twenty-nine.”

“Thirty-two,” he says. “Just had my birthday in June.” Emma hums. He slides a hand up between them and she sees the shimmer of his watch. “Liam bought me a fancy watch with a compass in it.”

She watches him hit a button and it suddenly illuminates. He gets a dorky smile on his face as he studies the greenish glow, his eyebrows going toward his hairline.

She laughs. “Wow. Super fancy.”

He still has a smile on his face as he examines it and then as he looks up at her. “Aye.” Emma can’t help but chuckle at the look on his face. “So you and the Nolan’s are close, hm?”

She nods against the pillow.

“Yeah. Mary Margaret’s been my closest friend since I turned seventeen. She and David took me out of the foster system and let me live with them. They were twenty and madly in love.”

Emma smiles. “They got married just so they’d have credibility with the court when they wanted to take me in. And five years ago, Leo was born. I moved out when they found out. I’d just gotten out of the police academy anyway and I found a cheap place to rent in their building.”

She takes a breath and searches his eyes for a moment. “Where do you live?”

He chuckles. “I’ve been boarding with Jefferson and Will for the past year in the city as well.”

Emma considers his statement for a moment, thinking about the future, when they’ll have to move in together and do life together. “I guess we’ll be living at my place, then, right?”

Killian fakes upset, his jaw dropping and his eyes bright. “What? You take issue with living with three men?”

Emma rolls her eyes. “I have an issue living with my husband and two of his roommates.” She chews on her inner lip. Killian’s eyes brighten and a blush fills her cheeks and creeps along her neck. She averts her eyes. “Besides, my place is closer to work and I have to usually get up and go to sleep at ungodly hours anyway.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Killian says with a wink. “And don’t worry about me hogging your closet. I’ve only enough clothes for a drawer, if you’ll permit me.”

Emma laughs. “I don’t take up much space. I’ll let you have a drawer, Jones. And maybe I’ll even let you cook for me.”

He raises both eyebrows. “Ooh, tempting, darling. I’ll have to take you up on that offer, I think.”

Emma laughs again and it makes him smile wide at her.

“So you cook, then? Because Mary Margaret is notorious for coming over to clean up all of my takeout and fill my fridge with healthier options. Sometimes she pre-cooks dinners and freezes them. And then she cleans the place and I can’t ever find anything.”

Emma scrunches her nose in disgust at the memories of her friend’s behaviors and Killian laughs.

“Sounds like police life has been a bit rough on you.” He pauses for a moment, their eyes meeting intently. “Here’s what I can do for you, Emma. I’m a self-proclaimed food connoisseur myself,” She chuckles as he presses his hand to his chest. “And I’ll make sure you’re well fed and that the place is ship shape.”

Emma’s lips press together in a sweet smile. “And what will I do for you?”

She swears there’s a darkening in his eyes as his tongue swipes over that damn lip of his again.

“That- I-“ He shrugs. “I don’t know. What do you like doing?”

Emma loves the way his ears redden. She can see the tip of his right ear quite clearly even in the moonlight that’s pouring in through the window.

“Laundry,” she says. “I’ll do laundry. And I’ll come to your shows. At least the ones I’m not on duty during.” He becomes less tense and he lets out a deep breath, a chuckle coming from deep within his chest. “And I can do the dishes if you let me.”

“Alright, Swan. We’ve a deal.” He eyes her for a moment before he sticks the watch-wristed hand out to shake. She laughs a little before she nods and shakes it.

His hand is warm and rough, calloused from working and playing his guitar. It’s stupidly attractive, the same as the way he’s tossing her this boyish grin, and how his hair is already mussed a little.

“Try to keep on your side,” she adds before he slips his hand away. “I have a problem cuddling with strangers.”

“I’ll see if I’m able to oblige.” He says simply, sliding his hand under the sheets again and rolling over onto his back.

Emma bites on her lip and rolls over to face the nightstand again. “Good night, Killian,” she whispers.

He’s silent for a long moment and she thinks he may already be asleep. “Good night, Emma.”

Chapter Text

five.

honeymoon day 2. bed and breakfast, someplace in Maine.

“Is this how you turn it on?” Killian asks as he toys with the little camera in his hand. It’d made a noise and looking at the screen, it says it’s recording. “Oh.”

He spins it around so the lens is pointed at his face.

Emma is still asleep beside him, her body burrowed into the cocoon of the sheets and her blonde wild mess of hair sticks out at the top. He doesn’t really know why he’s turned the device on or what he’s going to say to it.

He smiles a little and then glances down at Emma again, panning the camera over to her.

“Still sound asleep,” he whispers at the camera. “It’s seven in the morning and it’s our second day of the honeymoon. I was planning on an early start, but I somehow doubt it’ll happen with this one still out cold.”

She pushes her head out suddenly, squinting her eyes at him and furrowing her brow. Her hair is a wild mess, even more so than it’d originally looked. It’s all piled up on her head and her bangs are knotted and curling on her forehead. She stares for a moment at the camera and then her eyes widen.

“What are you doing?” she reaches for the camera, but he pulls it away, his arm going high above them. She gives him this partially angry look. “Killian, I just woke up. Come on.”

He laughs when she tries to reach for it again, sitting up and practically crawling up him.

“You look delightful in the morning, by the way.”

She rolls her eyes, sighing as she crosses her legs on top of the sheets. She sets her hands in her lap. She looks absolutely lovely in the morning, especially after having just barely woken up.

He tentatively brings his arm down, holding the camera so they’re both in the shot. He looks over at her and she looks at him.

“Do you think you’ll be willing to leave in half an hour?”

She sighs softly, stretching out her arms a bit, giving him a taste of just how strong she is when he catches a glimpse of how her muscles flex. He probably should’ve known- she is an officer, after all.

“I guess so.” Emma says. “Where are you taking me?”

“There’s a view I’d like for you to see. It overlooks the town and the ocean. I think you’ll like it.”

Emma smiles slightly at him, something that’s happened a lot more lately. He really likes it when she smiles.

“And how would you know what I’ll like?”

He hums, leaning closer to her so she has to pay him mind. “I saw you on my ship. How you seemed to relax a whole lot more than usual. You like simple, quiet things, aye?”

Emma blinks a few times and then she sighs. “I guess you read right into me.”

He shrugs. “You’re something of an open book, love.”

She searches his eyes for a long moment before she nods, a soft smile on those sweet lips of hers. “I’m starting to think there might be something to the science that matched us up after all.”

It feels more like that something he’s been waiting for than anything has in the past few days.

///

honeymoon day 2. hilltop, someplace in Maine.

Emma loves the view.

They’re sitting under a big tree, staring down at the town and the ocean. She can even see Killian’s ship from here, which she points out to him.

He tosses her a smile at that and Emma laughs a little, still trying to catch her breath from having run up the hill in an attempt to prove a point to Killian that a police officer like her is capable of much more than a musician-slash-sailor-type, which he’d grinned devilishly at and then barked a laugh, tossing his hand at the mountainous terrain. A race, then, Swan?

She’d complied. And she won.

“You were right,” she tells him, lolling her head over to look at him. “I do like the view.”

He cracks a small smile. “I told you, you’re an open book.”

She bites on her lip. “Then I guess you wouldn’t mind if I asked you some questions, because I can’t read you like a book.”

He shrugs. “What would you ask me?”

Emma thinks for a moment. She wonders if there’s anything she could ask. She’d been sort of lying when she’d said that. She feels as if their relationship is easier now. She finds friendship easy with him, despite the fact that she’s nervous about all of the things that might happen or could be.

“Did you bring your guitar?”

He sends an eyebrow skyward and a cocky little grin peels across his face. “Aye. It’s aboard my ship still.”

Emma hums, nodding for a moment before she takes a breath.

He chuckles as he looks out at the view in front of them. “Would you like a private set?”

Emma laughs. “Not unless you’re willing to give one to me.”

He flicks his tongue over his lower lip. “Perhaps later, after we’ve had a little exploration time.”

Emma nods and returns his promise filled gaze and smile with a smile of her own. She’s giving it to him now, not just for the sake of the cameras and the show. She hopes he can see that.

Her phone chirps from within her pocket and she’s hesitant to break away from his eyes, but she does it, and she pulls the device out.

Mary Margaret: I want you to know that I did a cleaning of your apartment for when you come back.

Emma can’t keep herself from smiling. Emma: Ok. Did you put everything back where it belongs? I can never find the stupid remote after you clean.

Mary Margaret: I’ll go move it someplace you’ll be able to see it later. And you should be enjoying your honeymoon. Stop talking to me!

Emma: Ok. Love you.

Mary Margaret: Love you too! xoxo

Emma hums a little, happily, and clicks off her phone, slipping it into her pocket.

“Oh,” she turns to Killian. “I just realized I don’t have your phone number.”

He smirks. “My, Swan, you must like my company. Two days into this and you’re already asking for a way to contact me.”

Emma rolls her eyes a bit and slides her phone out of her pocket. “You never know what could happen.”

She watches him pull his phone free from his own pocket and they both enter their passcodes before opening their contacts and starting to fill out each other’s information.

After she has his phone number, which he gives to her with a little blush and an embarrassed little scratch behind the ear, as if he’s never given it out before, she wonders if she should have a picture for his contact.

“Say cheese, Swan,” Killian says, holding his phone up at her.

She makes a face of confusion at first and then she relents, giving him a genuine grin, knowing full well that she looks like a maniac at the moment. Her hair is messily thrown up again and she’s sure she’s sweaty from the run, but he looks satisfied when he’s snapped the photo.

He spins the phone around so she can see and she nods. “Now you.”

She lets him save the information before she starts holding her phone up to capture him, and he immediately makes a face that makes him appear his full-blown cockiest, as if he’s hitting on her at a bar with a drink too many on board.

His eyebrow is raised and he’s smoldering at her, his lip is slightly pouted, as if he’s asking for a kiss, and she breaks into a laughing fit, which causes him to lose the expression. He fades into something a little more like him, all sweet smiles and fluffed up, wild hair, and warm blue eyes.

She smiles proudly at the image she’s managed to capture of him and spins it around so he can see. “There. I like you better when you’re not trying so hard.”

He doesn’t say anything about the image. His eyes quickly bounce away from it and meet hers.

“Aye,” he agrees. “The same could be said about you.”

///

honeymoon day 2. docks, someplace in Maine.

She’s interviewed sometime around sunset. She has changed into a dress that Ruby most certainly packed for her, and she’s wearing her sunglasses on her head while she watches the crew set up for her.

Killian has gone into the cabin below deck, saying he needed to grab a few things for their datetonight. He’s too sweet and idiotic for his own good. Emma shakes her head a little even at the thought of that little embarrassed ear scratch he’d done as he explained what he’d be doing.

It’s probably a good thing they don’t have to be all hands-y around the crew. Because she’s not about to start doing that.

It’s still only about one thing. To get the money.

She can’t really allow herself to risk things with Killian, even if he is the hottest piece of man on this side of the world and she has him all to herself. She likes him, sure, and it’s nice being with him, but she can’t let herself go too easily.

It’s already happening, though. They’re being filmed almost every hour every day of the week and she can’t just walk away from this. Not if she wants a good chunk of change to fix her money problems.

And she can’t walk away if Killian’s still here with her, not about to leave just because she’s afraid. He doesn’t even know about her past yet and that’s what scares her about the whole thing. If he knows everything she’s been through, maybe he won’t want to stay with her.

It’s the one thing keeping her from committing to anything regarding this show or their marriage.

Sometimes, she forgets that they’re married, that she has a responsibility to not just him, but to herself, that she’ll try to make it work despite their deal with each other.

“So, Emma,” Elsa says to her after everything is finally all set up. “Let’s talk about the compatibility we’re seeing between the two of you. What do you think about it? Where do you think it comes from?”

Emma thinks for a moment with her eyes on her lap.

She looks at Elsa when she answers, “I think sometimes there’s just an immediate chemistry you have with another person. I mean, we never met, but he made me feel comfortable just knowing he was equally as nervous on that first day. And we bonded over that.” Emma pauses for a moment. “And maybe it’s because he’s so easy to talk to and get along with that I let myself click with him. Why waste a good thing if you have it, right?”

Elsa smiles sweetly, “And what do you think about Killian now that you’ve had some time to get to know him? Is he someone that fulfills that hole in your life that you spoke about in those earlier interviews? Can he be that for you?”

Emma hums as she thinks of a well thought out answer.

“I think I need some more time with him, but I do know that there certainly is something about him that I’m comfortable with. I like how he treats me and how caring he is when we talk. I feel like he’s getting everything I’m saying and that means a lot. I never had that before in relationships.”

///

honeymoon day 2. restaurant. someplace in Maine.

She’s nervous, oddly enough, for her first date with Killian.

She’s shared a bed with him and she’s married him, but she’s nervous to sit across from him at a dinner table and share a proper meal. He’s dressed up, too, with his nice suit, his hair brushed, and his smile gentle.

He takes her to this little Italian place by the water and he’s a proper gentleman, pulling out her chair before he has a seat across from her. Emma has to admit, it’s rather sweet.

She doesn’t know what to do because they’re friends now and while they’re both on the same page, that they’re doing this for the money at the end of the experiment, a date feels real. There are cameras, but they’re thankfully distant enough that she can’t see them.

“So,” she says, speaking up because it’s awkward. They’re married and this is their first date. “It’s our first date.”

He chuckles, raising his eyebrows. “Aye. I suppose it is.”

Emma glances down at the menu anxiously. She doesn’t know what to do. Killian Jones isn’t supposed to mean anything to her and here he is, looking dapper as hell, meaning something.

It’s awkward until they order. Then again until Killian clears his throat and shifts in his seat. “Well, it’ll do us no good to spend our first date in silence.”

Emma draws her gaze up to him and shrugs. “I guess not.”

It’s moments like these that remind Emma that they’re perfect strangers. That they’re married and on a honeymoon, but they don’t know each other at all.

“Why did you sign up for this?” She asks.

Killian hesitates, running his fingers along the tablecloth as he tilts his head. “Erm… I’ve been on my own for quite a long time and I grew tired of it, I suppose.” He pauses. “I wanted to be married because I’m ready for it. I’m ready to be a home for, well, you, Emma.”

Her heart squeezes tight and she tilts her head to rest on her shoulder. Even if his words are for the cameras, she believes them. She can’t see a lie in his eyes.

He shrugs, pulling on a smirk. “Anyway. I didn’t have the greatest example of marriage in the world. My mother passed when I was a young lad and my father left us when I was ten.” Killian shakes his head. “That’s why they weren’t at the wedding.”

Emma nods. “Yeah. I wondered.”

“I guess I want to prove to myself that I can do it,” he explains. “Because I’m ready for it. Have been for a while.” He pauses, studying her, before his gaze falls to the tablecloth.

She stares at him, finding that she trusts him a little more now that he’s told her about his broken past, one similar to hers. As much as she doesn’t want to share her past with him in fear of making it all too real so quickly, she feels like the timing could probably never be better for it.

Besides, he spilled his truth so easily, and he’s avoiding eye contact like the plague. It’s easy to tell that he needs her to.

“My birth parents, um… when I was a baby, I was found on the side of the freeway in Maine, actually.” She laughs spitefully, glancing around. “They wrapped me in a blanket with my name on it and just left me there. I was found a few hours later. Then I bounced around the system for a while.”

The memories come back to her in a giant wave and she blinks quickly, a frown filling her lips as she reaches for her drink.

When she sets it down again, Killian frowns, his brow creased. “That’s no way to grow up.”

“No,” she agrees softly. “But, I’m here now, and I like to think I did okay.”

Killian smiles a little and nods. “Well, I don’t know you very well, but I think, for the most part, you’ve done well.”

Emma’s heart feels heavy and she aches because he’s being so caring and thoughtful. She isn’t sure if she’s glad she just shared as much as she did, or if she’ll regret it later, but for now, she’s at ease.

Killian reaches over to take her hand and his thumb caresses over the back of her knuckles. “Thank you for sharing. I know it must be hard on you.”

Emma nods. “Yeah.” She reaches up to wipe at her teary eyes and sniffles, straightening out. “Um… can we talk about something else?”

Her companion nods. “Of course.” He pauses for a thoughtful second. “What’s your favorite movie?”

///

honeymoon day 2. downtown street, someplace in Maine.

“Oh my God!” Emma laughs, tears threatening to slip from her eyes.

Their date had actually turned out good, after all of that depressing talk of their pasts.

They talked about their favorite movies and books and hobbies. They shared stories of their childhoods.

She told him about the time she walked in on David and Mary Margaret (how embarrassing— not as bad as the time I walked in on my brother and his ex-girlfriend, though) He told her about the time Liam made him think he was late for school on a Saturday morning. It’s what has her laughing so hard.

He’s laughing too, admiration and disbelief in his eyes as he stares at her on the sidewalk they’re traveling down slowly. She has to stop, she’s laughing so hard, and her hand goes to his arm after she manages to calm herself down.

“Sorry, that was just- hilarious- picturing you in your little inside out and backwards uniform, toothpaste dripping from your mouth and your hair-“

She snorts, laughing again at the mental image she has in her mind of a seven year old Killian. He chuckles.

“It’s a horrifying memory, Swan, how dare you laugh about this.”

But she sees his teasing in his smile and she nods, taking deep breaths. “I’m sorry,” she sticks her tongue between her teeth and manages to keep her laughter from continuing. “Okay. Your turn. Ask away.”

They continue walking for a moment and she glances over at him. He’s staring at her already. “Might I hold your hand?”

A somewhat shy smile pulls at her lips and she glances down at the hand in question, instantly pushing it over to his, their fingers tickling at each other flirtatiously for a moment, his fingers tugging at hers as if he’s hesitant to even do what he wants to. He slides so gently into her hand and it feels so stupidly perfect that she avoids his eyes.

She’s blushing and she doesn’t want to be blushing, but it is happening and there’s no stopping it. It’s the wine. It’s the wine. It’s definitely the wine.

“Do you like ice cream, Emma?”

“Of course I do,” she says, finally looking at him again.

He gives her hand a squeeze. “Good. Because that’s our next stop.”

///

honeymoon day 2. beach, someplace in Maine.

The sand feels good under her toes. She’s taken her shoes off just so she can step around in the sand, to Killian’s complete amusement. He stands about five feet back from her, watching her with those sex eyes and she honestly wishes he wasn’t so attractive right now.

“What’s the matter, Captain, afraid of a little water?” she teases as her toes go to the shoreline.

She’s washed over in a matter of seconds and it chills her, but she simply grits her teeth at the sensation and spins around, putting her arms across her chest.

He takes a few steps toward her and stops when he’s standing right there, right in front of her. “I’m not privy to cold water, Swan.”

She laughs, jumping a little when the water hits her heels. It makes him smirk as if he’s won a small victory.

“A bit chilly, love?”

Emma rolls her eyes. “No way.”

He hums. She stares at him quietly, thinking over how they’ve landed here, on the shore of a small beach, after a night together.

“I wish we were alone,” she says, searching his eyes for a moment.

There are exactly three cameras on them at the moment and she feels each one burning into her.

“We are alone,” he says.

Emma shakes her head. “No. Without the cameras and- everything.”

His eyes seem to darken a bit and he drops his voice for her. “And if we were alone, what would happen?”

“I’d feel less like I’m obligated to do something,” she tells him softly. He swallows, looking down. “I haven’t enjoyed spending time with a guy as much as I have tonight in such a long time and- I guess… I’m scared.”

The truth makes her drop her gaze as well and she shuts her eyes.

For a moment, all that she feels is the cold water on her heels, tickling up onto her ankles, and the sound of splashing water and her own heartbeat. Then, he takes her hand and it’s so much warmer in contrast to the water at her feet.

“We’re in this together,” he reminds her softly.

She finds his eyes again and he’s so purely honest that she has to nod, a sad little smile pressed against her lips. “Yeah. I guess we are.”

He leans toward her, suddenly so much taller than her, and presses his lips against her forehead, making her eyes close for the five whole seconds that he lingers there.

She wonders if this is them playing for the cameras or if it’s real.

Because it’s real to her.

Chapter Text

six.

honeymoon day 3. bed and breakfast, someplace in Maine.

They are both awake.

It’s two in the morning according to Killian’s watch and they are both wide awake.

She sighs and turns onto her side to face him again. She reaches for his arm and traces her fingers over the tattoo for a second. It’s been a question on the tip of her tongue since she’d first noticed it on his boat, but she wasn’t going to ask him about it until she felt like it was the right time.

“Who was she?”

Killian shakes his head, biting on his lower lip. She sees a flicker of anger in his pupils and she realizes she’s hit on something as his body tenses slightly. “Someone from long ago.”

“I get that.” She whispers. “I had someone who wrecked me too.” She stares at him for a long while. “His name was Neal. He- he was a real son of a bitch.” She shakes her head. “He promised me everything and then took it all away from me. Stole my money and my heart and never came back like he said he would.”

Killian’s eyes soften. “I’m sorry.”

Emma shrugs. “It’s nothing that I can change now.”

Killian nods. “Aye.” He’s quiet for a moment and they just stare at each other. “Milah was her name.” He bites down on his lip. “And she was taken from me in a car accident.”

Now her eyes soften. She aches for him. Her heart squeezes and her eyebrows dip down.

He’s been through a lot in his life, a lot more than he’s even told her, and she knows this isn’t something he’s giving to her because they’re supposed to talk, or whatever, because the cameras aren’t here, and it’s two in the morning. He’s telling her this because he wants to.

“Oh, wow, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s nothing that I can change now.” Killian sighs, copying her words.

She nods somberly. “Yeah.”

They’re quiet again and Killian rolls onto his back, taking a deep breath.

Emma holds her breath for a second before she does something she never, ever, ever, does. She slides closer to him and places her ear down against his chest and her hand tentatively over a spot nearby.

It takes him a few seconds of processing to understand what’s going on and it almost is enough for her to roll away and hide herself under the covers of the bed until morning comes.

But his arm comes around her and he holds her like she’s glass.

“I thought you didn’t cuddle with strangers,” he says teasingly.

Emma sighs into the gray tee shirt he’s wearing. “You’re not a stranger anymore.”

///

The camera makes a noise when he turns it on and he’s almost hesitant to even record himself at the moment, because Emma is sleeping with her head on his chest.

The idea had been so foreign to him that when she’d gone and done it, he wasn’t sure if it was actually happening. But it is. It still is. Its morning and she’s stayed here all night.

She’s so peaceful sleeping on his chest, her breaths coming out in light tufts, warming his skin a little under his shirt. Her fingers have curled slightly and he swears she’s trying to make this difficult for him. But she can’t help it from within sleep.

Her hair is gentle and smooth against his arm and shoulder and he wishes this wasn’t just for money, because she’s making him crave her dearly.

He hits the record button on the device and holds the camera up with one arm above them. He smiles with how he’s feeling, and gods does he feel good right now.

“Day three,” he whispers, “and things are going very well.” He looks down at her and ghosts his fingers along her side. He takes a deep breath and shakes his head in disbelief for the camera. “I feel like I’m dreaming.”

Emma’s fingers curl a little more into his shirt and she lets out a sigh. He quickly turns the camera off and puts it back onto the nightstand.

She sighs again, this time softer.

She hums a little and it makes him shiver, because she’s beautiful and enchanting and everything he wants, but he knows he’s not going to get her because she’s not going to subscribe to that service.

It’s so strange feeling how he does. He used to be so closed off to relationships and now, he’s mad for her even after three days. He’s delusional, probably.

“What time is it?” she asks, her voice laced with sleep. He checks the watch on his wrist.

“Nearly eight,” he tells her softly.

She hums again, the noise vibrating pleasantly against him. She stays there for a moment longer before she pulls herself off of him and down onto her pillow again.

He lets out a sigh, flitting his eyes over to her, finding her grabbing for her phone and rolling onto her side facing him again.

He watches her as she analyzes her screen, a little smile finding her lips after a moment, and he just wishes he could stare at it all day.

She giggles and he quirks his eyebrow at her when she looks up at him, her lips pulled into her mouth.

“What?”

Emma shakes her head, sticking her tongue between her teeth. “My friend Ruby.” She pounds her thumbs against the device quickly and then she turns it off and holds it in her hands. “What are we doing today?”

He shrugs. “Hiding.”

“Hiding?” she laughs, scrunching her nose in that adorable, sweet way. “From what?”

He rolls onto his side so they’re facing each other. “The world.” She’s still smiling at him and he thinks she’s perfect. “We’ve only a few hours here today if we’re to get back to New York in time.”

Emma nods. “Yeah,”

///

honeymoon day 3. docks, someplace in Maine.

He raises his eyebrows at the question Elsa asks him.

“Pardon?” he leans forward a little on his stool.

It’s still early enough that the sun doesn’t beat down on him, and he’s only doing this because Emma had insisted that she wanted to spend some time shopping, which he would have loved to do with her, but Elsa thought he needed another interview.

Elsa gives him a small smile. “Are you attracted to Emma?”

He bites down on his lip for a long few seconds.

“I’d be a fool to say I’m not attracted to her.” He feels his blush and it’s embarrassing and he hopes this interview is just in voice over- please. “She’s a gorgeously stunning woman.”

“And is there a reason you’ve limited your physical response to that?”

What is it with this woman today? Usually they ask him questions that are easy and are about talking and getting to know her.

“Erm,” Killian clears his throat, looking down at his feet and quirking a brow for a moment in embarrassment before he looks at the lens again. He lets out a laugh, shaking his head. “I’m trying to be intentional and give Emma a chance to want me before I give myself over to her in the physical sense. She and I have grown together quite a bit lately and I don’t want to risk anything.”

///

Her fingers tighten around the cup of hot chocolate in her hands. Killian had given it to her after he’d come to find her in one of the stores. She’d found something for Leo- he’d asked her to bring him something- and now, Killian is bringing it back to their room.

“Um,” Emma blinks harshly and shakes her head. “Um, repeat that please?”

Elsa nods. “Are you attracted to Killian?”

She swallows. They must be trying to do something. She can sense it in the air. Emma takes a deep breath and tries to think of a diplomatic answer to the question, but honestly? Ugh.

“Killian is certainly not hard to look at.”

Elsa smiles a little. “Are there are any reasons that you’re limiting your physical response to that?”

Emma bites on the inside of her cheek to prevent another awkward outburst and she takes a sharp breath through her nose. Dammit. What is she supposed to say to that?

“I…” Emma swallows again. “It’s only been a few days since we met. I feel like I would be cheating myself if I acted on any initial feelings right away. I need time to know him and maybe after I feel comfortable with him, if I feel safe with him, I’ll start acting on any feelings I might have toward him.”

Elsa flips through the papers on her clipboard and asks, “What did you think of the date he brought you on last night?”

Emma smiles a little at the memory. “It was fun. I liked getting to talk like friends and exchange stories.”

“What was going through your head when Killian kissed your forehead last night?”

She sighs. “I just thought he was someone I could trust. It’s difficult for me because I have a really tough past and-“ Emma shakes her head, tears threatening her eyes. “I just- guys aren’t supposed to want to care like that. And Killian does, so… I don’t know. I really needed that reminder that this is real, and it’s happening, and that I’m spending time with someone that actually appreciates me instead of their own selfish agenda.”

Elsa gives her a sympathetic smile. “I told you he was a good guy, didn’t I?”

“Yeah,” Emma sighs. “You did.”

///

honeymoon day 3. the jewel of the realm, someplace in Maine.

She’s sitting on the deck of his ship with her phone in her hands. The breeze gusts up her shirt and through her hair.

Killian sits next to her, plucking and picking at his guitar lazily, and she wonders if he’ll ever play something real for her, but they’ve both been really quiet since their interviews this morning.

She dares a glance over at him and he’s looking down at the deck as his fingers continue to move. She tries to ignore the fact that his freaking bicep is so stupidly flexed, and then quickly moves her eyes back onto her phone, where Ruby has been pestering her for information.

Ruby: Come onnnn! I want to know!

Emma: Nothing has happened. We’re getting to know each other and I think that’s all this thing is gonna be.

Ruby: Shut up. I saw how both of you looked at each other. Kiss him or something.

Emma: No.

Ruby: Yes.

Emma: I’m not arguing with you anymore. Goodbye until I make time to see you.

She stuffs the phone into her pocket and leans back against the mast, looking over at him. “Are you going to play anything?”

He looks up at her, offended. “What do you think I’ve been doing?”

She has to laugh at the expression he’s making as her cheeks flush slightly. “Sorry.”  

He smirks a bit at her and she slides her sunglasses over her eyes, looking back out onto the water the ship is bobbing in.

She closes her eyes, and for a while she forgets where she is.

All that she hears is the peaceful melodies coming from her favorite artist in an oddly fresh, live, raw sound. She hasn’t ever heard this version of the song. When did she get it?

Oh.

Emma’s eyes open and her jaw hangs open as she looks over at Killian, who is still strumming and singing and oh God.

It’s his band. It’s him. He’s the singer she’s been obsessed with for like five years.

She’s not sure what she should do or say or think anymore.

She gapes at him for a few moments until he looks over at her mid-song and she feels like a freaking codfish or something, so she snaps her mouth together and swallows.

“You’re- um… your band is-“ She stumbles over her words and Killian’s eyes narrow at her.

“So you’ve heard of me,” he says with a stupid smirk.

Emma shoves her sunglasses back up on top of her head and nods, her eyes wide.

“Um, yeah,” she shakes her head. “You’re basically all I listen to.”

Killian laughs, as if he can’t believe for one second that she’s a fan of his music. His eyebrows knit inward. “You’re not serious.”

Emma nods again with enthusiasm and laughs. “Yeah. I own all of your albums.”

Killian looks at her curiously. “Even the first one? That was a limited release.”

Emma bobs her head. “Even the first one. Had to dig to find a copy, but yeah. I have it.”

“Gods,” he says under his breath, shaking his head slightly.

He puts his guitar back into the open case and locks it up, moving so he’s standing. Emma pops up too and they step closer to each other.

Disbelief is in his eyes and Emma is just as shocked, because how on Earth is this possible?

“I’ve never seen you at any of the shows,” he says, somewhat offended, but teasing nonetheless. Emma laughs.

“Cop, remember? I don’t have a lot of time to spend on going to shows. Plus, I wouldn’t have anyone to go with. What fun is going to a concert by yourself?”

Killian shrugs, seeming to be debating the idea in his mind. “Eh. You’re right on that one.” She smiles victoriously. “But there shall be no excuse now. You’ll be coming to the first show you can make it to. Front row, right where I can keep an eye on you.”

Emma beams at him, her heart filled with warmth for him.

It’s like some weird fantasy dream, right? She’s going to wake up and she’s not going to bemarried to this stupidly attractive man who happens to be the lead singer for the band she’s in love with.

“And, if you’re behaved,” Killian shrugs flirtatiously, his smirk smug, “Maybe I’ll sign an autograph.”

Emma can’t help but laugh. “Really? That’s what you’re going with?”

He licks his lip and raises his eyebrows. “What did you have in mind, then?” Emma’s eyes fall to his lips and he smirks. He taps his fingers over the item in question. “Perhaps a little something else instead?”

“A little something else, huh?” she asks, allowing him to take a small step closer to her.

“Aye. I am your favorite singer after all.”

Emma watches his eyes linger on her lips and she bites down on her lower lip. She’d be mad at his attempt at getting a kiss from her, but they have been getting close these past few days, and she’s feeling good about where they stand now.

Part of her is screaming at her, of course, screaming that she’s about to do something incredibly impulsive and reckless, that she’ll regret it because they’re not supposed to stay together- they’re doing this friendship thing pretty well.

“Please,” she shakes her head, a coy smile finding her lips. “You couldn’t handle it.”

His gaze on her is taunting and teasing and that smolder is back again- damn him. He stares for a long second just like that with his eyes dark and his cockiness just overflowing. “Perhaps you’rethe one who couldn’t handle it.”

Emma’s jaw loosens and she contemplates the situation for a second. Things have been good so far- why would she kiss him now?

But now it’s a set up. The cameras are no doubt getting their angles all right and she knows Killian isn’t trying to force her to kiss him. It’s all part of the banter.

She knows him better than this, she thinks.

She feels good, though, and that’s the thing. She kind of wants this to happen. Because they’d been doing so well together. They get along, he’s not trying to pressure her, and she knows that if she were to walk away from him now, they’d be none the wiser.

Emma takes the step that separates their bodies from each other and her hands take their hold on his tee shirt, pulling him straight to her.

Their lips come crashing together like they’ve been drawn there themselves and Emma’s left hand goes into his hair, gripping it so she has a steadier hold of him. His hair is softer than she thought and she only remembers how smooth his lips are with them pressed against hers.

Her head is turned so her nose is against his cheek and she immediately hears him let out a soft groan at the fact that this is indeed happening.

She is kissing him and it feels more like her life has been changed than anything ever has before.

Their breaths are fast and through the nose, and her heart is pounding wildly as she barely hears their lips break and then reconnect. He sighs against her as he strings his hand up into her hair, using it as his own leverage.

Their bodies heave against each other as their lips do all the talking, his eventually wanting to talk and dominate the conversation for a small while.

She has the faint thought that he’s almost too good at this, but then the thought flies straight out of her head because she’s kissing her husband for the first time since their wedding day.

She’s the one that forcibly breaks away, though her nose lingers near his, her hand is still in his hair, and their foreheads are touching as they rock unsteadily from the sheer passion that had just flooded through and over them.

She wants to kiss him more, but she also knows that this right here is something she really shouldn’t be doing. Kissing a guy she’s going to end up leaving, for money, is wrong.

They take a breath together.

“That was…” he mutters first.

They exchange more breath as her mouth drifts back toward his on its own- stupid idea for kissing him in the first place, now she’s putty in his hands- and she immediately has an answer for him while her eyes stare at those lips of his.

“A one-time thing,” she says, “for the cameras.”

///

Bloody buggering hell.

He has never been kissed like that and been walked away from. He has never really been kissed like that, ever, if he’s honest. She had just… kissed him.

It’s all he can think about now. He presses his fingers to his lips and sighs, looking over at where she’s going- to the quarters below deck. He doesn’t blame her for wanting to run.

He hadn’t expected her to actually kiss him. He thought, stupidly, that if anything she’d laugh it off and call him some name before asking to go do something else before they leave dock in an hour.

But no. She kissed him instead.

Killian runs a hand through his hair and takes another breath. What on Earth is he supposed to do now?

She’s so different. She’s so vibrant and real and stunning. And that kiss- gods, that kiss- made him realize that there are real sparks between them. They do have something. He’s able to let go of Milah and he can find love elsewhere. In Emma.

He’s never going to want anyone else. He knows for certain he won’t. Because Emma is all he can think about as he paces around his ship and he’s certain he’ll never stop. He doesn’t want to.

Damn those walls of hers to hell- he’s in this to win her heart now.

His phone vibrates from within his pocket when he’s sitting at the stern, his eyes in the water, but his mind on the way she’d felt against him. So right.

He pulls the phone free and looks at the screen.

Emma: We should talk without the cameras. Come down please.

Killian: Okay.

///

“Shit,” she hisses as she slams her hands against the countertop. “Shit, shit, shit.”

She really shouldn’t have done that. Kissing him had felt right in the moment, but now it’s justwrong and she can’t get the feeling of the way they’d been so delicately connected from her mind.

Emma sighs and throws her head back, staring up at the ceiling.

It was good. He was good. They were good together.

And now irrational fear sets in. She begins to panic.

What if she lets him in and lets him kiss her and he takes off at the end of this? What if he’s not what he seems? What if he’s going to wreck her just like Neal did?

She can’t get close to him. No. If she does, it’ll be hell for her in the long run and she’s never going to have a relationship with a guy as good and pure as this one had seemed to be for so long.

Emma heaves a sigh and turns around, eyes darting around the room. There aren’t any cameras in here.

Good. She needs to talk to him without worrying about being recorded and documented for science.

She pulls her phone out and sends him a text. He responds moments later and, soon enough, the door opens and he enters.

They’re both really quiet for a moment after he enters, his eyes on anything but her, and Emma closes her eyes as she bites down on her tongue, head tilted to the floor.

“We can’t do that again,” she says, breaking the tense quietness. They each look at each other then and Emma sees that she has absolutely wrecked him. He’s staring with sad, warm, aching eyes, and she just feels like dying for it. “It was stupid. I shouldn’t have done it. I was just…“ She shakes her head. "Being impulsive.”

Killian stares silently at her. "Shouldn’t have said what I did.”

Emma takes a breath and relief fills her chest for a fraction of a second before a great pain settles in. It’s conflicting and all she sees is Neal and she wants-needs- to run.

“No. You shouldn’t have.” She tells him, tears burning behind her eyes. He looks hurt but she doesn’t care. “Let’s just… perform for the cameras and not let a relationship get in the way. Even as friends.”

Still, he looks wounded. But, he straightens out and clenches his jaw. “As you wish.”

Chapter Text

seven.

day 4. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma is quiet.

Her alarm had gone off five minutes ago and Killian had stirred, moving slightly beside her.

She probably shouldn’t even be lying in her bed beside him, not after what had happened yesterday on his ship. But, the camera crew filmed them last night and they’re here in time to catch them during their first morning back in the city.

She can hear them, eyes and lenses and a microphone listening in like them in bed is the most important thing they’ll ever see.

It’s still dark out and she has to be at the station by seven. Her first day back and she’s allowed to have some semblance of normalcy, thankfully.

Killian’s hand comes up to press beneath his pillow after she turns on her side to face him.

He sighs. “Time is it?”

She groans softly. “Six,”

“Mm. Sounds about right.”

She laughs tiredly and he tosses his arm over his forehead and closes his eyes, taking a deep breath.

“Go ahead, Swan. I’m ready for the light.”

Emma hums. “I don’t think I am.”

His eyes open and he turns onto his side so he faces her. “You have work.”

She nods. “Yeah,”

Killian peels back a small smirk, as if they banter like this all the time, as if nothing between them is any different. “It’s a nine hour day, yeah?”

She huffs a sigh. “Yes,”

“I’ll be here when you get back. No need stay on account of me.”

Emma closes her eyes for a second and she remembers what it had felt like kissing him, all weak knees and pressure between her thighs, and she imagines kissing him now, just because she needs the reminder of why things are the way they are.

“Promise?” she asks for the cameras, her voice soft.

He slides his hand up, putting two fingers in the air between them. “Scouts honor, Swan. I’ll be here.”

She bites back from smiling too much at him and it makes him smile.

“Good,” she says, lingering for a moment before she sits up.

///

He spends his day getting acquainted with Emma’s apartment.

When she’d left him to ready herself for work, he’d allowed himself to sleep a while longer. He hadn’t expected her to come back to his side, and she hadn’t.

Things between them aren’t the happiest. Every happy moment he’s had with her since his ship has been solely for the cameras, including the moment they’d just shared when she told him she had to go to work.

Had he known his wife would be such a tough shell to crack, he might have never done this experiment. They’ve only got a month to figure this whole thing out and already he’s finding it just the tiniest bit impossible.

But, then again, he’s always loved a challenge.

He makes the bed after he goes into her kitchen and figures out how her coffee machine works and where her cups are.

Then he goes into the apartment’s only bathroom, which is off of the bedroom. It’s a small place altogether, so the fact that when he takes a shower he’s tall enough that he hits the showerhead with his forehead doesn’t surprise him.

He just groans a little and leans down when it’s time to wash off the shampoo. Hers is cherry blossom and when he smells it, it reminds him of her.

She has a small living area that connects through two doors to her bedroom area and her television is sitting on a stand across from a sofa and coffee table. The remote control is sitting in the center of it, along with a post-it note, that when he lifts it, he has to chuckle.

Welcome back! I won’t say I didn’t put the remote in that drawer I usually do before I came back to fix it. ;) There are some meals in your freezer and don’t forget that I’m going to stop by Tuesday! Love you! -MM

Mary Margaret must’ve left the note. He likes the woman. She’s very sweet and kind, to both him and Emma.

He looks over at the kitchen to his left and the front door that’s right beside it, and goes to grab his coffee cup from where he’d left it on the counter. Having a sip, he decides to see what kinds of foods she has stocked, and discovers Mary Margaret’s meals wrapped in tinfoil in the freezer. Another post-it note details how they should be cooked.

He briefly wonders if Mary Margaret will be walking in on him today. She must have a key if she’s coming over all the time to clean and leave food.

He goes to the closet door that is in the enclosure that the front door resides and pulls it open. Inside are Emma’s shoes and some dresses and dress suits and coats, one of which is his, snuggled up against a dark red leather jacket of hers, and he smiles slightly at how well he’s already started to fit straight in with her.

He nurses his coffee while he goes back into her bedroom and stares out the windows that hang over the bed. It’s relatively bright now and it’s what gives life to this part of the apartment.

She has a dresser, a nightstand, a bookshelf, and her bed in the room, along with an old looking cushioned chair, which he slumps down in. He’d set his guitar down next to it last night and his duffle bag with the majority of what he’d intended to bring over is still waiting for him on the dresser.

After a while, when he’s finished his coffee and skimmed his fingers over the dust jackets of all of her books and found a photo album of sorts that mainly contains photos from Mary Margaret and David’s place- birthdays and Christmases where she’s laughing and smiling and perfectly content- Killian pulls out his laptop and his phone and goes out into the living area, to the circular dining table that seems eerily unused.

At lunch, he discovers a plastic container in the refrigerator that Mary Margaret must have left for Emma, with the label that says, leftover stir fry- microwavable, and he locates her plates. There are four of them above the coffee machine.

The silverware takes him a little while to find- they’re in the drawer to the right of the sink- and he brings his meal to the table and the computer that plays a demo the guys had put together while he was gone, recorded from Robin’s phone.

He’s in the middle of reading an email Whale had sent to the band about practice today around seven when there is an incessant knocking at the door. He sighs and puts the fork down, then takes quick strides to the front door.

When he opens it, two women are standing on the other side. Mary Margaret and Ruby. They beam at him with their lips practically stretched to their ears and he manages a smile in response.

“To what do I owe the pleasure, ladies?”

Mary Margaret makes motion to speak first. “Well, we just thought you might like some company.”

Ruby nods in agreement. “Emma’s gone pretty much all day and we happened to be in the neighborhood-“

“And we brought cookies!” Mary Margaret holds up a plate of chocolate chip cookies and he can’t help but salivate at the smell.

He shifts his eyes from the cookies to their anxious faces and he cracks a grin. “I could never pass up on a chocolate chip cookie.”

They light up and cheer slightly as he takes a step back to let them into the place.

///

day 4. emma’s work desk, NYC.

Emma is bored.

She’s been doing paperwork for the past five hours and everyone has been coming up to ask her about her time off- how her wedding day was, how the honeymoon was as well. She’s tired of answering them all in the same way.

It was good. He was sweet. He brought her sailing and it was fun.

She sighs as she fingers through another file. She’s tired of this day already. Usually she’s out on patrol, but since she’d taken a few days off and since she’s already behind on paperwork, she’s taking the day to catch up.

Her phone vibrates on the desk and she bites on her lip as she goes to grab it.

Ruby: Your husband is hotter than hades, cupcake.

Emma: What are you talking about?

Ruby: MM and I are visiting him. He’s a keeper. Keeps asking about you.

Emma bites on her lip and tries to hold in a smile, but it beats her out. He’s asking about her. What about?

Ruby: He’s so cute when he’s embarrassed.

She rolls her eyes and laughs a little, sucking her lower lip back into her mouth. She’s thinking about that look he gets, how his cheeks become just a touch rosy, and how he scratches at his ear. And how he plays with his mouth subconsciously.

Ruby: Omg did you know he’s a barista on the side? Tomorrow he goes back. HE CAN SCORE US COFFEE.

She snorts. Emma: He didn’t tell me that. Guess it makes sense.

Ruby: I want coffee. Give me free coffee.

Emma: Shouldn’t you be talking to him instead of bothering me?

Ruby: He doesn’t know what I’m doing. MM is doing all the talking.

Emma: She brought him food didn’t she?

Ruby: Yup. Cookies. He’s basically moaning.

Ruby: Did I mention how HOT he is??

Emma shakes her head slightly at her friend and puts her phone back down so she can continue her job. She’s not about to get a reputation for having her head in her phone all day.

Her phone buzzes a few minutes later and she ignores it until it buzzes again.

Ruby: YOU KISSED HIM???

Mary Margaret: Why didn’t you tell me you kissed him?

She’s going to kill him.

///

day 4. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma sighs as she stands at the apartment door and sticks her key into the lock habitually, not realizing that the door is already unlocked. She ends up locking and unlocking it again before she finally pushes the door open and stumbles inside.

It smells like Mary Margaret’s lasagna and garlic bread and she hears guitar, live guitar, coming from her bedroom. Then it stops, along with the familiar, soothing sound of Killian’s voice.

She closes the door and locks it before she kicks off her shoes haphazardly at the door. She’d gone to get the mail, but it wasn’t in, and when she stands in the kitchen, she sees it sitting on the countertop.

She sighs softly and runs her fingers up so she can pull her hair out of the bun it’s in and pulls the elastic around her wrist before she goes toward her bedroom.

She stops when she sees Killian standing in the doorframe.

Dammit. He’s showing off his muscles in the tee shirt he’s wearing. No wonder Ruby kept telling her all day how hot her husband is.

“Hey,” she says.

He smiles at her. “Hey,”

Emma continues her path to her bedroom and Killian takes a step back so she can enter.

“How was work?”

She shakes her head, rolling her eyes slightly at him as she goes to her dresser for her lazy clothes. His duffle bag is gone. She wonders if he put his clothes in the dresser like they’d talked about.

“Boring,” she answers as she tugs her go-to sweats and tank top from the second drawer. “Sat at my desk all day.”

She gnaws on her lip for a moment as they stand there awkwardly.

“How was your day?” she asks after catching a glimpse of the cameraman trained on her.

He shrugs. “Interesting, to say the least. Your friends Mary Margaret and Ruby came for a rather extended visit earlier.”

Emma chuckles. “Yeah. They gave me a play by play.”

He quirks his eyebrow. “Really?”

Emma nods and starts to walk toward her bathroom. He’s standing right across from it.

“Ruby kept telling me how hot you were.” Emma eyes him for a second and he has a stupid smirk on his face. She rolls her eyes. “Really? Ruby got to you?”

He makes a face. “No. Of course not.”

Emma steps into the bathroom and hovers in the doorframe for a moment, staring at him with her clothes pressed to her chest.

She hums. “I’m sure.”

Emma turns the bathroom light on and eyes him for a moment before she closes the door.

She peels off the stupid dress pants and she eyes the sink for a moment. He’s certainly made himself comfortable.

“Hey, Killian?” she asks, hesitantly.

“Yes, Swan?”

“Why did you tell them about the kiss?”

He’s quiet and she holds her breath as she shimmies into her sweats and then as she gets out of the ridiculous suit jacket Mary Margaret had insisted on buying her- sweet, but still ridiculous.

“I- it-“ He sighs and she thinks she hears something hit the door with a gentle thump.

She pulls her tank top on quickly and takes her clothes and holds them against her chest, going to open the door.

He nearly falls into her. It had been his forehead against the door.

His eyes are soft, yet wide, and she somehow ducks around him to go put these clothes into the hamper by the bookshelf.

She turns and he’s still staring like that.

He lets out a sigh before continuing, “Believe me when I say it wasn’t my finest moment, alright?” he finally tells her, a little frustration in his tone. “They talked me into a corner and I had no choice but to admit to it.”

She knows how they can be, so yes, she believes him. She sighs. “Okay.”

“You’re not angry?” he asks.

Emma laughs. “Of course not. I’m their friend, remember? I know how they are.” She looks at her bed and smiles a little. “You made the bed.”

Her eyes go up to him and he’s embarrassed and stupidly cute and she feels her eyes lifting as she smiles at him.

He rubs the back of his head. “Aye,” he says. “Do you not make your bed?”

Emma shrugs. “I mean, it’s just me, so I don’t see any reason to make a bed I’m just going to get right back into.” She takes a few steps toward him. “But I don’t mind it being made. Thank you.”

He gives her a smile and she finds herself staring too much at him.

“Is that dinner I’m smelling?” she asks, trying to shake off the feelings bubbling up in her chest.

She hates that she can’t be flat out angry with him, because he’s being sweet, and they’re still married for sake of the show.

He grins, ear to ear, and nods. “That it is. Mary Margaret left several meals in your freezer. It should be about finished now if you’d like to eat.”

Emma nods. “I’m starving. Please.”

///

They’re sitting on the couch and Killian is quoting word for word lines from his favorite TV show while they watch it and eat their dinner.

He’s so clearly proud of his unusual talent, smiling at her like she’s all the audience he needs to keep going when she even laughs once.

She shakes her head. “How many times have you watched this?”

He shrugs, his eyebrow going up and his eyes going wide in the dorkiest way ever, and he takes the fork out of his mouth.

“Lost count after re-watch number four, I believe,” he says. “I think I’ve seen this episode too many times.”

She snorts. “I think you’ve seen the show too many times.”

He makes a disgusted, hilarious face, and Emma bites on her cheek to keep from laughing. “No way, Swan. You can never see this show too many times. I own every season, actually. Forgot to grab them last night when we stopped off at the apartment.”

Emma hums. “Maybe you should go back and get some more of your stuff.”

He shrugs. “Don’t know about that, Swan,” he takes a bite of his garlic bread. “It’s only for a month. It may be too much effort.”

It’s the first time they’ve really talked about that in front of the cameras. Emma doesn’t know what to say, because she agrees that it probably would be too much effort, considering that they’re not even really trying to be friends at the moment.

“I have to leave for practice at six thirty.”

Emma nods, pulling a sweet smile onto her lips for the cameras. “Okay.”

///

day 4. rehearsal space, NYC.

“Hey! There he is! Mister Husband of the Year.”

Killian rolls his eyes and lugs his guitar into the room, setting it down at the chair he’ll be occupying. “Jeff, it’s been four days.”

Jefferson shrugs and Robin pulls on a wide grin before saying, “We’ve been on the edge of our seats, Killian. Tell us how the honeymoon was.”

Killian sits down in the chair and wraps his hands around the hard case his guitar is in. He eyes them for a moment.

“She’s lovely,” he tells them. “But nothing happened between us.”

Will scoffs from his seat at the drums and Jefferson fidgets with the amplifier his guitar is connected to.

“Shut up,” Jefferson shakes his head. “You didn’t even kiss her?”

Killian bites down on his tongue and looks down with a ghost of a smile on his open mouth as he works to get his guitar out of the case.

“You did!” Robin exclaims from his spot with the bass guitar. “You kissed her.”

Killian can’t keep the smile from invading his face as he looks up at his band mates and he sighs. “Aye. I kissed her.”

They all give him approving sentiments and cheers. Killian settles his guitar onto his lap and exhales, nodding off their excitement.

“You can all count on this being the only announcement of any progress made in our relationship, mates. I’m not privy to kiss and tell.” They all give him a look. “What? I’m not going to.”

“She’s hot,” Jefferson says, giving him a look. “And you’re not going to try anything with her?”

“No,” Killian says sternly. “I’m a gentleman. I wait for her.” Robin nods approvingly and Will just shakes his head, muttering some disapproval under his breath as he reaches for his water bottle. “Is Whale coming?”

“Again?” Jefferson asks. “He’s never here. Why is he even part of the band?”

“Because he manages us and he plays guitar.” Killian shrugs, starting to pick on his strings. “Well then, are we ready to begin or are we going to talk some more?”

“Ready when you are,” Robin says.

Killian nods and smiles. “Then I want to start with the usual set before I introduce something I’ve pulled together today. And I want to discuss that demo.”

They nod in agreement and Killian is about to start when the door swings open and Victor Whale bursts in, still dressed in his scrubs.

“Hey, guys,” he takes a deep breath, holding up his guitar case. “So sorry I’m late. Traffic was crazy and I literally ran like ten blocks to get here. But I’m here now and I swear I’ll make the show tomorrow.”

Killian nods, gesturing out to the room. “We were just about to begin.”

Whale bobs his head and goes to stand by Robin. Killian’s phone suddenly vibrates from his pocket and he reaches in to get it.

Emma: Liam just came by and he's showing me some baby pictures. 

His heart swells at the idea that his older brother would even think to visit Emma, and he’s glad, because he wants Emma to get along with Liam.

Killian: Seriously? I’m mortified.

Emma: You and Liam were cute kids.

Killian: I was cute. Liam was a nuisance. 

Emma: How’s practice going?

Killian: Miss me already Swan?

Emma: Ha ha, funny man.

Killian: Come on Swan. You can miss me.

Emma: Maybe a little bit.

He has a big grin on his face and it’s not until he glances up that he realizes that everyone’s looking at him.

“Oh, you have it bad for her, don’t you?” Jefferson teases.

Killian sighs, setting his phone back into his pocket.

“You like her,” Robin joins the teasing. They laugh and Killian feels his ears reddening.

“So what if I like her?” he asks, earning a look from Robin. “She’s my wife, isn’t she?”

So… it’s been impossible for you to even crack a smile at the girls you go out with. Mostly it’s all business and fake smiles. This is real.”

Killian sighs, giving his friend a look. “Listen, she’s not aware of any feelings I have toward her. And I’d rather keep it that way, so if any of you speak with her, do not, under any circumstances, tell her.”

“Fine,” Robin says with a knowing smile that tells him that he’s not going to uphold the deal. “As long as you tell us what on Earth has your mind changed toward the female species.”

Killian shrugs and a smile fills his lips, a twinkle in his eyes. “Emma.”

///

day 4. emma’s apartment, NYC.

When Liam had come over, it had been a surprise. She’d been glad to see him, though, smiling as she let him inside.

“It’s an older brother’s duty to embarrass his little brother,” Liam had said, winking as he held out two thick scrapbooks.

And that’s how she ends up curled up on the couch with the books in her lap, Liam sitting beside her, providing the commentary as he describes moments from Killian’s childhood. He points at a picture of little Killian dressed as a pirate one Halloween, his hand in a hook prop, his scowl dark.

She has to laugh, because Killian Jones was a cute kid, with his messy hair and his sharp blue eyes, so full of hope for a future.

“Captain Hook, huh?” she asks, making Liam nod.

“Aye. He’s always had a thing for pirates, I guess.”

Emma chuckles, running her finger along the edge of the scrapbook. She soaks in the pictures for a moment more before turning the page.

She discovers a handful of baby pictures on this page, something that unexpectedly makes her heart squeeze impossibly tight, her smile fading as she starts thinking of how this little baby grew up to get hurt time and time again.

“Papa took these pictures,” Liam says of their father, pointing to the shot of the man holding baby Killian on the opposite page.

Emma smiles a little, looking up at the older Jones boy. “You look like him. You both do.”

Liam smiles, his eyes on the page. He has memories in his gaze and she drops her eyes to the page to find a photograph of a young Liam holding his new brother, his smile wide, curls unruly.

“Killian was a good boy,” Liam says softly. “He’s always been good. Even when things haven’t been for him.”

Emma meets Liam’s eyes and he smiles gently, reaching out to squeeze her hand. “That’s why I’m glad he’s been matched to you, Emma. I think you’ll be a good balance for him. I’ve never met such a headstrong lass as you. But with you, I think he can finally have goodness in his life without fear of brokenness.”

She blushes a little, tilting her head as she laughs. She can’t help but feel bad, because Liam truly thinks they’ll make it, and here she is, working so hard against Killian- this little boy she’s been learning about that doesn’t deserve to be hurt. Not again.

“Well, I’m glad I was matched to him, too.”

Liam grins, releasing her hand. “That’s wonderful to hear, Emma. Truly. I’ve worried long and hard for my brother. He’s had enough heartache in his life. I just want him to be happy again.”

Emma takes a breath, forcing a smile for sake of the intensity of this moment. She has tears burning behind her eyes and she has a lump in her throat.

“Well, I’ll do my best to be a good wife for him.”

Liam stares at her for a moment. “He doesn’t need perfection. He just needs you to try. I think that’s all anyone could ask for in the scenario you’re in.”

Emma nods, smiling a little more. “Yeah.”

After a few moments, Emma drops her eyes to the scrapbook again and turns the page. She laughs at the picture of Killian as a five-year-old, playing a toy guitar.

“Has he always loved music?”

“Always,” Liam replies, smiling widely. “Always. I remember carting him to the music store for lessons when we could afford it every Friday after school and hating it. But he eventually learned enough that he could teach himself.”

Looking at the opposite page, she finds an older Killian, maybe high school aged, playing his guitar in a coffee shop someplace.

“That was his first gig,” Liam chuckles. “You should have heard his voice. He was so nervous. He kept asking me to get him water.”

Emma laughs along with him. “I can’t imagine him being nervous.”

“Ah,” Liam nods. “He’s good at hiding it now. Comes with age.”

As Emma turns the page, she finds photographs of Killian at the helm of the ship- the very one they had taken on their honeymoon. She can’t help but smile, because he has wind-strewn hair, and he’s so clearly in his element.

His happiness is almost contagious and she finds herself wondering if she could ever get him to smile that way again.

Maybe she could, if she ever truly wanted this, and right now, she’s still not sure if she does, despite everything she’s seen and heard, despite his kindness and Liam’s stories.

Her heart battles with what to feel- torn between fear of heartbreak and just freefalling. If she let him in, there is so much that could go wrong. But looking at this pre-facial hair version of her husband, she finds herself looking at a wild heart, a man wanting to love and to be loved.

It’s something she can relate to, probably in her past more than now, but in it she can see heartbreak, because she knows what he’d looked like earlier when he was here with her, his eyes sad and his words careful. He’d had a crease in his brow and he was cautious with his smile. Not at all like the Killian she sees in the photograph in the book.

Part of her wants to be the one that helps get that look in his eyes again, and while she had woken up thinking that they can’t be friends, she feels a pull at her heart now that says that they have to be.

At the very least, she wants to let him smile like this again without feeling like he has to walk on pins and needles around her. She just hopes letting him in even a little won’t hurt her.

Chapter Text

eight.

day 5. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Killian had gotten back late. Emma only knows this because she woke up when he accidentally bumped into the corner of the bed on his way to lie down. He hadn’t realized she woke up, and she hadn’t wanted him to.

He’d been hesitant. Because, without the cameras here to dictate whether or not they sleep in the same bed, apparently he’d been uncertain about where he should sleep.

Their relationship is confusing, so she can’t blame him.

However, he had ultimately decided to lie beside her, his body warm and his sigh of relief something to behold. He’d pressed his hands over his face and then turned to look at her, but she’d closed her eyes before he could catch her awake and staring.

She tries to be quiet when she answers her phone a few hours later, but Killian stirs and she feels his leg move against hers, which makes her smile a little as she’s telling David that she’ll meet him in thirty.

She sighs as she sets the phone down and turns to hear Killian sigh.

“Hey,” she whispers, reaching over to card her fingers through his hair gently. “I have to go.”

“Okay,” He sighs again and Emma smiles at the way his eyes barely open for her. “I’ll be at work until three and I should be here when you return.”

She nods. “Okay.” He gives her a smile with his eyes closed and she chuckles under her breath. She’s not usually a morning person, but with Killian Jones so sleepy in bed beside her, she can’t help but feel a little more optimistic about the day ahead. “Get some sleep. You’re so tired.”

She gets out of bed as he hums in agreement.

After she’s showered and dressed in record time, she goes to collect her keys and her phone, only to find that Killian has gone into the kitchen.

She sneaks out tentatively, a small smile finding her lips at the sight of him.

His hair is super tousled, sticking up like crazy, and only one eye is open, partially, while he stands leaning against the counter with a to go cup of coffee waiting in his hand. His shoulders are hunched a bit and he has an overwhelming tiredness in the way he breathes so heavily.

She bites on her lip and he holds it out for her. She takes it. “You didn’t need to do this.”

He sighs, opening up his other eye and wincing a little at the lights in the kitchen. He peels back a smile. “To stay awake,” he tells her thickly, eyes going to the cup in her hand.

“Thank you,” She flashes him an overwhelmed smile. “Get some rest before you go to work.”

Killian hums. “Okay.”

She stares at him for a few moments, the cup of coffee warming her hands, and she almost wants to kiss him for being so impossibly thoughtful- an absurd thought that she promptly shakes off as she grabs the rest of her things to go.

As she stands with the door to the apartment open, she gives him one last look. He tosses his hand up at her, his eyes still half opened and his hair a wild mess, his smile soft and sleepy, and she waves back.

The thing is, the cameras aren’t here to witness any of this, and the domesticity of an early morning kind of just fell into place. She hasn’t ever had anyone to experience the awful reality of being on-call and she hopes it isn’t going to scare him off, because honestly, she hasn’t been the greatest person to deal with these past few days to begin with.

Tonight, she thinks, she’ll try to make things right again. Or, at least she’ll try to.

///

day 5. mary margaret and david’s apartment, NYC.

“Emma,” Mary Margaret scolds. “You really need to be more careful when you’re chasing down criminals.”

She hisses as the petite woman pulls taut the stitch in her forehead. “There was no way I could have anticipated that wall.”

Mary Margaret sighs and takes a small step back, her eyes on the nurse work on her forehead. “Does Killian know?”

Emma makes a face. “No. Why would I tell him about this?”

She grimaces a little when Mary Margaret takes her scissors and cuts the string.

“Because he’s your husband?” Mary Margaret offers with a shrug.

Emma frowns a little and gets out of the chair to stand. “Just because we’re married doesn’t mean we’re at the stage you and David are- telling every little detail to each other as it happens. I’ll tell him when I get home.”

She watches Mary Margaret clean up her materials from the table.

“Emma, you have a black eye and you have a gash in your forehead,” Mary Margaret says, her expression firm and her voice borderline weary. “A little warning might be nice.”

Mary Margaret hands her an ice pack and Emma sets it onto her swelling eye, groaning a little at the feeling. Not only does her head ache so much that she can practically hear it, her eye is still so tender.

Getting hurt on the job isn’t her favorite thing in the world, and it has happened quite a bit to her.

She follows Mary Margaret into the living room and sits down while her friend takes the equipment into the little office.

Ever since she’s started nursing classes, Mary Margaret has insisted on being the go-to help whenever she’s injured in any way. She apparently thinks it’ll be helpful in learning techniques.

“I live two floors down,” Emma complains. “I’ll just walk in and show him.”

Mary Margaret emerges from the office and gives her an exasperated look. “Emma, have you ever thought that maybe being a police officer isn’t a very good job for a married woman to have?”

She sits down gently on the couch beside her and Emma tilts her head, thinking she knows exactly where this is going, because it’s gone there a few times before.

“I mean, things might not work out with Killian, but think of the day when you do have a man you really care about. You’re risking your life all the time. Don’t you think it could end up hurting him eventually?”

Emma frowns. She does know what Mary Margaret is talking about, but this is and has been essentially her dream from a young age.

“And, what if you have children?” Mary Margaret asks, worry in her forehead and her hands jumping a little out of her lap. “You can’t want to give them that relationship you had with your birth parents.”

Emma gives Mary Margaret a look. “They abandoned me, Mary Margaret. I wouldn’t abandon my kids.”

The woman’s stare turns pointed.  “It’s not always up to you, Emma.”

She sighs. “I know.”

Mary Margaret gives her a hesitant smile and presses her hand against her arm. “Think about it, okay? For me at least.”

Emma nods, albeit reluctantly, because she’s not about to leave her job for a half-assed marriage, and her friend smiles.

“So how are things in the Swan-Jones household?” Mary Margaret raises a mischievous eyebrow and Emma laughs softly.

She looks down at the couch between them and smiles gently.

“Things are fine.” Mary Margaret gives her a look and Emma sighs. “It’s… it’s still really new, okay? We just got married less than a week ago.”

Mary Margaret nods furiously, her eyes wide as she listens. Knowing full well that there’s a camera on her, Emma feels as if she should gush a little. For keeping up her image, at the very least.

Emma smiles, unable to help it, “This morning he made me coffee while I was in the shower even though it was so early and he’d only gotten like four hours of sleep.”

“Four hours?” Mary Margaret’s eyes go confused and a touch accusational.

Emma sighs. “He was out late because of practice last night.” Mary Margaret gets a concerned look on her face. “What?”

“Nothing,” Mary Margaret says, shrugging. “It’s just that you’re both so busy. How are you going to keep this marriage afloat if you’re hardly together?”

Emma takes a soft breath and glances down at her left hand, at the spot where her wedding band fits so snugly. “We’re going to be fine.”

Mary Margaret gives her a look when Emma returns her gaze to her. She sighs. “Well, I’m just thinking about what happened when Ruby and I went to visit and-”

Emma’s eyes go wide and her mouth falls open, quick to want to dismantle any presuppositions her friend might have about what happened between she and Killian. “If this is about the kiss-“

Mary Margaret shakes her head. “This is about you and Killian Jones being in like with each other, Emma.” She grins all-knowingly. Emma rolls her good eye. “You can’t deny the chemistry! It’s there. Everyone can see it.”

Emma hums skeptically. “Okay.”

“It’s true.” Mary Margaret says, pointing at her with a no-take-backs kind of stare. “And I’m thinking you see it too. You see that he likes you.”

Emma bites on her lip and looks away from the woman.

“Listen, Emma, I’m not saying that you need to profess your feelings or anything, but… maybe you should start showing him that you care for him. Update him on things that happen at work. Tell him secrets about yourself. Be open and willing towards him. Honesty is what makes a marriage work.”

She pauses, and then adds, “I can only imagine what it’s like, having to decide if it’s worth staying married to him after a month. That’s why it’s so important you don’t hold back right now.”

Emma wants to tell Mary Margaret that this isn’t a marriage, that it’s a relationship with that title for a television show, but there’s a camera guy basically standing on top of them and she can’t.

So, she nods.

“Alright, fine,” Emma pulls her phone out from her pocket. “I’ll text him and give him ten minutes to mentally prepare himself for this disaster.”

She removes the ice pack and Mary Margaret stifles a giggle. Emma shoots her a dirty look.

“You ran into a wall, Sweetie. It’s hard not to laugh.”

She sighs and shakes her head at the woman.

///

day 5. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma takes a deep breath as she stands at the front door. Killian hasn’t texted her back yet and she wonders if he’s okay, or if maybe his phone is just distanced from him.

She opens the door easily, this time being welcomed by the scent of chicken, if she’s not mistaken, and the sound of the television playing a show quietly.

She narrows her eye and holds tighter the ice pack on the swollen one, before she realizes that Killian is humming along with the theme song in the kitchen.

“Hey, I’m back,” she says, kicking off her shoes.

“Welcome back,” he says distractedly.

She sighs a little as she goes into the kitchen, immediately leaning her elbow that helps her hand hold the ice pack up on the counter as she leans down.

He’s in the middle of stirring a pot of something, so he doesn’t turn immediately, but when he does, it’s clear the message she’d sent had gone unread.

“Bloody hell, Swan, what happened?”

She sighs and stands upright when he takes a step up to her. “I was chasing down this guy and I rounded a corner too soon, I guess, because I collided with not just the wall, but also the guy’s fist a few seconds later.”

She pulls the ice pack off of her eye to show him and he grimaces slightly. He reaches out to hold her face, angling it so he can examine her bruising with knitted eyebrows and a scowl on his lips, as if cursing the whole situation.

“Well, did you get him?”

She nods, readjusting the ice to the swelling when his hand falls away. “Yeah. I got him.”

Killian hums, his frustrated look falling away, a little bit of a smirk finding its way onto his lips instead. “When we tell people what happened, we’re leaving out the fact that you ran into the wall.”

She laughs, for the first time all day. “Okay. I think I can go along with that.”

His eyes light up with a smile, but then it fades. He glances over at the kitchen behind him. “Made dinner early, if that’s okay.”

Emma nods. “Yeah. I didn’t get to eat today. Kind of busy.”

She gestures to her eye and he chuckles, shaking his head. Emma sighs and presses the ice back against it before she steps back further, turning to go to her bedroom.

When she’s at her dresser, he calls out, “Perhaps we should get you an eye patch.”

She laughs. “What?”

She pulls her evening wear out and goes to her bathroom, standing in the doorway to the kitchen for a moment.

“Cover up that eye,” he says with a shrug and a smirk.

Emma gives him an unamused look, slacking her shoulders. “What, so I can look ridiculous?”

“No. You’d be like a mascot for the band.” He says playfully, fidgeting with something quickly at the stove. “You know, since we’re-”

“The Pirates,” she supplies with a roll of her eye. “I get it.”

He wears a dopey grin on his face, his one eyebrow arched high on his forehead as he grins. “Come on, Swan. It’s a good idea, admit it.”

She shakes her head and steps into her bathroom.

“I’m not indulging that fantasy!” She calls through the door with a small smirk.

He doesn’t respond and Emma sighs. She sets the ice pack down on the sink counter and looks at the damage in the mirror.

It’s pretty bad. But she also kind of likes the effect of the gash on her forehead. Looks tough. The black eye, on the other hand, makes her look miserable. Which she is. It hurts.

She presses her finger to it gently and gasps at the ache. How long had Mary Margaret told her it would stay like this? Only a few days?

She makes good time changing into her clothes and she takes another look at herself in the mirror before she goes out into the kitchen again.

Emma flops down on the sofa and sighs as she sets her feet onto the coffee table. The show Killian had going is still on and she has to smile a little at the antics before her.

“Chicken and potatoes,” Killian says as he holds out a plate for her.

She takes it and smiles thankfully before setting it onto her lap and removing her ice so she can concentrate on eating.

Killian sits beside her and it’s slightly awkward, mostly because there’s a conversation to be had hovering in the air between them, and she knows it’s only a matter of time before they have to have it. But they don’t have to yet, so they’re not.

“Now, Swan, just so you’re aware,” Killian says as he sets his plate onto the coffee table. She turns her attention to him. “Tonight the band has a show and I usually don’t get home until very late.”

Emma nods, her heart sinking slightly because she’d thought they might get to have a little more time together. She’d wanted to tease him about his baby pictures, or ask him to play his guitar for her- something that would show she’s not entirely against him.

“Okay.” She gives him a small smile. “I won’t wait up.”

He reaches for his plate and then turns to her, taking it when she hands it to him. Then he goes into the kitchen and runs the water as he cleans.

She can’t help but feel a little bad, because she should be helping and she’s not.

Emma sighs at the pressure in her chest and stands, leaving her ice pack at the coffee table, before she goes into the kitchen.

“Hey, I can do the dishes if you want.”

Killian looks at her like she’s crazy. “Emma, you’re very thoughtful, but you’ve clearly had a rough day and I think I can manage a few dishes.”

He’s trying to take care of her.

The thought hits her as she relents, watching him turn back to the dishes with his plaid sleeves rolled up past his elbows and his brow slightly furrowed at the task at hand.

She’s never had this in her life, other than with David and Mary Margaret for those few years, and it’s like an awakening in her that this is how she has always supposed to have been treated.

Those foster homes and orphanages and Neal had never treated her like she was worth anything at all. She’s always felt alone, abandoned, left to do everything for herself and un-allowed to even try letting someone else take her hand and do things for her.

Sure, she’d had a taste of it with Mary Margaret. The woman was adamant on making sure she felt at home and loved as soon as they became friends.

But this is so different. Because it’s a whole other thing coming from a man. A man who she’s formed a bond with, a man that she’s married to, and that she’s supposedly perfectly matched to.

She bites on her lip and takes a sharp breath before she spins around to return to her spot on the sofa.

After a short while, Killian goes to grab his things for the show and she’s watching the news with one eye and it’s so miserable that she would rather just sleep.

He comes to the side of the couch where she’s sitting and kneels down, setting his things down on the floor beside him. She gives him a gentle smile when he props his arms up on the couch arm and presses his head into them.

“I wish I could be there tonight,” she says, somewhat sorrowfully.

He shakes his head. “No, Swan, you need to stay here tonight. Give yourself some rest and get to healing that eye. You’ll come to another show.”

She nods and he stares at her for a few lingering seconds before he stands to go. Emma watches him, feeling as if there should be more, and her teeth run along her lower lip.

“Killian?”

He turns back to her and hums, lifting his eyebrows. “Yes, love?”

She smiles a little at him. “Good luck tonight. Have fun.”

Killian smiles in return, his dimples popping before he winks at her. “I’ll try.”

///

day 6. emma’s apartment, NYC.

He’s weary when he returns.

It had been a great show. There were a lot of fans that showed up. He got to spend some more time with the band and it was, generally, fun, as shows most often are. They drank rum and took photographs with fans. They sang acapella backstage for a video they posted on their Facebook.

But throughout the night, he thought only of her, with her black and blue eye, gash in her forehead, and her soft goodbye.

He couldn’t spend as long as he usually does after the show. He told Robin he had to get going and his friend gave him a teasing look, but didn’t say anything to contradict him.

The show had been at nine and it’s close to two in the morning when he gets back, disregarding his shoes at the door and blindly searching through the darkness to place his keys on the kitchen counter.

He runs into the wall with a thump and a grunt and grimaces as he enters the bedroom. Emma’s asleep, curled up on her side with the sheets clinging to her chest and her hair splayed out behind her.

He smiles as he goes to the dresser and opens his drawer to remove the sleep clothes he’s been using. He sets his guitar up against it, making a reminder to himself that he’ll move it in the morning before he goes to work.

When he returns from the bathroom after changing and brushing his teeth, Emma hasn’t moved an inch.

He’s careful when he peels back the covers to his side, using every measure to avoid waking her.

He lies on his back and sighs, relaxing into her comfortable mattress, and turning his head to look at her. If only she knew how much he completely craves her.

She was all he could think about the entire show. Immediately before and after, he could turn his mind to tasks at hand. Putting the equipment away and drinking and talking to the band, mingling with some of the fans- but when he was quiet for long enough, he’d see blonde hair and a bright smile and his heart would ache for her.

It’s strange to him. Knowing he has a wife, a woman that is completely, legally his, but isn’t his, it’s so strange. It’s all for the cameras. He needs to remember the money that comes at the end of the road.

But, things have changed somewhat between them. He isn’t sure if she’s only in this for the money anymore. Could it be possible she’s gone soft on him as he has on her?

No. Surely not. He’s unlovable and he always has been.

He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, placing his hands over them. He’s nothing but a bloody villain. No woman ever wants him to the extent that his Milah had and surely Emma couldn’t want him in that way either.

She releases a sigh in her sleep and he opens his eyes to see her turn over and face him. She sighs again and peels open her eye a little.

“You’re here,” she whispers, a ghost of a smile finding her lips.

“Aye,”

Killian turns to face her and she presses her hand against his cheek. His heart squeezes tight at the feeling, practically willing to melt him into a puddle.

“I’m glad.”

She closes her eye again and her fingers stroke a soft circle across his skin. He can hardly breathe at the feeling, his heart in his throat, pulsing loudly in his ears, even louder than the ringing that comes from the show.

He closes his eyes at the loss of the tender contact when she slides her hand down to her pillow again.

“I missed you.” She whispers.

“Aye.” She smells like flowers and all things beautiful in the world and it makes him realize that he’s a fool for thinking he could ever make it a month without falling in love with her. “I missed you as well.”

She hums, and soon she’s sleeping beside him and all he can think is that it isn’t fair that she be so distant during the day but so warm and close at night, in the quiet safety of this room.

Chapter Text

nine.

day 8. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma is very content.

She’s lying in her bed, her sheets warm and soft all around her, and her eyes are so peacefully closed. It’s the weekend and she doesn’t have to go to work. She stretches, wiggling her toes, and peels back a satisfied smile.

She’d slept really well and it’s the weekend. Two pluses that will help this day go better than she feels like it will.

She hears the shower running and she turns, running her hand over the warmth of the bed beside her.

She takes a deep breath and shakes her head against her pillow. She can’t miss him when he’s not even fifteen feet away.

Emma grabs her phone sighs at the several messages from Mary Margaret and Ruby, all buzzing and excited about today.

They’re going to be spending a lot of time with friends today, for the sake of the show. Apparently the producers have this idea that a segment in the show will be getting to know family and friends, seeing if there’s approval, or something.

She’s really excited to see Liam again. They bonded quite a bit the other night when he came over with the scrapbooks. He’s a fun older brother and she can understand why Killian is so in love with him, and part of her wonders if he could kind of be her older brother, too.

The shower turns off and a few moments later, Killian steps out, all dripping and wet, not wearing any clothes whatsoever, or a towel.

Her eyes go wide for a second, and nope she’s not staring right there, and his eyes are equally as wide until recognition of the issue at hand hits like a tidal wave.

“Oh my God! Oh my God.” Emma squeezes her eyes shut and squeaks as she ducks under the sheets.

She tries so hard to erase the image of him standing there without his clothes on and fails. Emma bites down on her lip as hard as she can in her attempts to not scream. Her husband is naked in her bedroom.

“Oh, gods, Emma,” She hears the agony in his voice and then the dresser drawer opens. “I am so sorry.”

Her heart is racing and her face is flushed. Her stomach is in knots. She won’t ever be able to look him in the eye again. It’s just not going to happen.

All she can see even now is his… junk and nothing is right in her world. Or, maybe it’s right? She doesn’t know. She’s panicking, and that’s all she knows for certain.

It’s not like she’s never seen the male body before, but this is so awkward. They’re not supposed to see each other like this. They’re hardly even friends, and she doesn’t even know if she can firmly say Killian is in fact her friend, so seeing him like this is impossibly disastrous.

She groans. “Are you at least wearing pants now?”

“Yes,” he sighs. She can hear the embarrassment in his voice and she knows he feels quite possibly worse than she does about the whole thing.

Emma takes a deep breath before she peels back the sheets slowly.

He’s standing at the dresser and he’s wearing all of his clothes now. His eyes awkwardly shift from the floor to the wall and she can’t really blame him. He scratches the back of his head.

“I’m not sure if I should ask or not,” Emma says, making him look at her.

He’s rosy cheeked and red eared and it’s clear he hadn’t intended to just show her the muscles of his stomach or the other things.

“Probably not,” he says.

Emma nods and takes her phone from where she’d left it under the sheets before she slings her legs over the side of the bed.

She watches him as she stands. She twists her lip in thought and folds her arms to her chest.

“I’m not going to.” He looks up at her through sorrowfully darkened eyes. “But promise it won’t happen again.”

“It won’t,” he swears.

She nods. “Good.”

///

day 8. mary margaret and david’s apartment, NYC.

What?” Ruby practically yells.

Emma’s eyes widen and she stuffs her hand over her friend’s mouth, glancing over her shoulder at the two brothers talking on the sofa in the living room.

“Shh!”

Ruby pushes her hand away and Emma tugs her further into the kitchen so she won’t be seen.

“I saw him naked.” Emma repeats, calmly and lowly, so that Mary Margaret doesn’t somehow hear from Leo’s room down the hall. “On accident. He apparently forgot to bring his clothes to the bathroom and he came stepping out like it was no big deal.” Emma cringes. “What do I do, Ruby? I can’t stop thinking about… it.

Ruby smirks at her and Emma shoots her a pointed look.

“What do you do?” Ruby asks, giving her a suggestive stare. She drops the facade and shakes her head. “Look, Emma, he’s a gorgeous hunk of man. I can only imagine what it looks like. You get with the program and you hop that man as quickly as you can.”

Emma shakes her head. “No. That’s not an option right now, Ruby.”

“What’s not an option right now?” Mary Margaret asks, walking into the kitchen.

Emma sighs, turning to her other friend.

“Emma saw Killian naked,” Ruby says with a smug look, folding her arms.

Mary Margaret’s eyes go wide and Emma shakes her head quickly.

“It wasn’t anything like what you’re thinking. It was this morning. I was sleeping and he took a shower,” Emma sighs, lowering her voice even more. “And I woke up and he came out without any clothes on and we both kind of freaked out.”

Mary Margaret’s eyes are still wide. “Wow. What are you going to do now?”

“That’s why I’m asking for help.” Emma says. “Now I know what it looks like and it’s in my head every time I look at him.”

She shakes her head and Mary Margaret and Ruby grin at each other.

“Oh, okay.” Mary Margaret says with a smug smile. “So you saw your husband naked-”

“Hey, could you lower your voice?” Emma hisses pleadingly. “He’s in the other room and I really don’t want him to know I’m still freaking out about this.”

“Here’s what you do,” Ruby says, smiling a little. “You give him a taste of his own medicine. He showed you his. You show him yours.”

Emma gapes at her. “What? No!”

Mary Margaret sighs. “You don’t need to do that, Emma,” The woman places her hands over her arms. “You should talk about it.”

Emma’s eyes widen and she shakes her head. “What? No. I can’t just talk to him about it. How would that conversation go?”

Ruby shrugs and Mary Margaret sighs.

“Emma, I know how you used to be.” Mary Margaret says. “You used to sleep with guys without even knowing their names.”

“What harm would come from doing it with Killian?”

Mary Margaret gets a look on her face at Ruby’s quickly spoken words.

Emma’s jaw opens and she folds her arms defensively. “Are you serious?” Her eyebrows raise. “I’m opening up to him. I don’t do that to people. I can’t let him break me.”

Both of the girls’ eyes soften and Mary Margaret gives her a sad smile. “Oh, Sweetie. You know he’s not going to do what Neal did to you.”

“I know.” Emma sighs. “But you know what? It’s only been like a week since we even met. There are still three weeks left of the experiment.”

“Well,” Ruby says with a hand on her shoulder and her eyes searching hers. “I wouldn’t save all the action for the last day if I were you. He is some fine piece of man.”

Emma rolls her eyes and Mary Margaret gives Ruby a look.

“Just do what feels right, when the time is right,” Mary Margaret says. “And don’t let it be awkward or weird around him just because you saw what you did. Just… act naturally and if you can’t do that, maybe talking about it will help.”

Emma takes a breath and glances over at the camera guy that’s been recording their conversation. She briefly thinks about their conversation at the wedding about just doing this for the money and a small amount of doubt fills her gut.

“Now, we should go talk with your husband and his brother,” Mary Margaret says cheerfully. “I’m excited to get to know them. David should be back any second with lunch.”

///

It’s awkward as all get out, sitting in the same room as Killian, while trying to get to know his brother. All she keeps thinking about is what happened and she knows all he’s thinking about is what happened, no matter how little he actually looks at her.

Liam seems oblivious to the fact, smiling as he tells the room about the time a three-year-old Killian decided to run out of the house in nothing but a pair of socks, something that hits fairly close to home.

Killian’s blushing fiercely, and he keeps rubbing at the back of his head, and Emma wants to close her eyes, but the best she can do is look down at her lap, or at the wall behind Liam’s head, to avoid looking at the man in discussion.

Killian gives his older brother a look finally, shaking his head as he pulls on a weary grin, “We shouldn’t discuss embarrassing stories, Liam. Can we move on?”

Liam chuckles, winking at his brother. “Apologies, Killian.”

It’s then that their eyes meet and Emma manages a tiny smile before averting her gaze as Mary Margaret changes the subject.

“So, Liam, what do you do for work?”

Liam grins. “I work for a tourist cruise here in the city. Gives me the chance to be at sea most days.”

“I would’ve done that, too, but they hadn’t any openings,” Killian explains. “That, and the band has a wild schedule. We’ve actually got a show coming up at the end of the month that we’ve had booked for a while now. It should be fairly big.”

“Really?” Mary Margaret grins. “How interesting.”

“We should come see you guys play sometime.” David speaks up, making Emma roll her eyes slightly.

“That’d be grand, mate. I’d love that.”

///

day 8. rehearsal space, NYC.

He sighs and runs his hand through his hair. “How do I handle this?”

His band mates all stare at him for a moment, contemplating his issue, and then Whale speaks up, “She didn’t seem like she was disgusted, did she?”

Killian gives him a look. “What? No. Of course not.”

Whale hums and nods. “Alright, rules out my theories.”

Jefferson folds his arms and tilts his head at him from his seat on the ratty old couch. “Can you talk us through what happened again? Just to be sure.”

Killian heaves a sigh, dropping his arms by his legs as he paces around a little in front of the group.

“I’ve already told you twice what happened.” He bites on his tongue. “She was asleep when I went to have a shower and when I came out, I realized I’d forgotten my clothes, and I assumed she’d still be asleep, so I went to go get them and-“ Killian takes a breath. “She panicked and hid under the covers.”

Robin scrunches his face up in thought and Whale just shakes his head. Scarlet seems to be in thought about the problem and Jefferson nods slowly, eyes concentrated a little more on the guitar in his lap.

“What do I do?” Killian asks.

“Well, you sure as hell don’t want to talk about it.” Robin says. “That’d be awkward.”

“Aye,” Killian agrees.

“Just ignore it,” Will tells him, hitting the kick drum a few times. “Pretend it didn’t happen, and, if she wants to talk about it, let her bring it up. I see no problems here. She saw you naked, so what?”

So,” Killian shakes his head, eyes widening slightly. “So she freaked out. Am I to assume that-“ He cuts himself off and makes a fist, sinking down onto the couch.

“Uh oh, Killy’s worried about his sex liiife,” Jefferson sing-songs.

Killian shoots him a dirty look. Robin sits up and leans forward.

“Listen, Killian, I’m sure she was just caught off guard. There’s absolutely nothing to be worried about. I’m sure before long you’ll have no reason to doubt that she approves.”

Killian sighs. He’s only concerned about it because he doesn’t want it to spoil any distance they’ve covered in these few days they’ve known one another. She’s a hard enough shell to crack without having an incident like this happen so suddenly.

“‘sides, it’s been a week. I’m sure she’ll give it a shot at least once.” Will says, giving him a shrug.

Killian buries his face in his hands for a minute and sighs. “Okay. I’m finished discussing this. We should practice the new one for a while.”

He stands up and claps his hands together. The guys look at him and he tilts his head to the side, his eyes going wide. “C’mon. We’ve got a few big shows coming up and I want this one to be polished.”

“Fine,” Jefferson sighs. “Let’s play.”

///

day 8. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma licks her finger as she sets the spoon down in the bowl in her arms.

Stress baking has been her go to for about five years- since she’d left Mary Margaret’s and she wasn’t there to already have made some unhealthy dessert item for her. She’s already made two batches of these cookies and she cannot get her finger out of the bowl. It’s Mary Margaret’s recipe and it is absolutely killer.

It really shouldn’t be bothering her so stinking much that she saw him naked. It shouldn’t. Because she’s seen all kinds of guys without clothing on and she’s never once blushed about it. (Okay, maybe the first time she did. But she’s freaking twenty eight. Not sixteen.)

And anyway, Killian is an idiot and she doesn’t like him. Not in a way that would get them anywhere. At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself as she slaves away over batches of cookies.

She’s in the middle of listening to some calming music, Killian’s band of course, and she’s putting her next batch into the oven when the door opens. She spins around as soon as the stove door closes and listens as a pair of boots are kicked off.

“Are those cookies?” he asks as he enters the room. Emma shrugs shyly and points to the plate on the counter by the sink. “Ahh chocolate chip.”

He smiles and sets his guitar down by the couch before he goes up to the plate.

Emma watches him in silence as he goes up to the cookies with an excited grin on his face. He takes a cookie and takes a bite.

“I think you two are trying to fatten me up.” He tells her as he chews. Emma hunches an eyebrow in confusion. “You and Mary Margaret, I mean.”

Emma opens her mouth in understanding and nods. “Right. Yeah, I was just… baking.”

She glances over to the bowl and decides to officially clean it now that her last batch is in. She puts it into the sink and runs the water into it, taking the soap and pouring it in the bowl before she grabs the sponge.

She realizes that she sounds like an idiot. What is she saying to him? She bites down on her lip and looks at him.

“I mean, I’m not trying to fatten you up,” she clarifies, scrunching up her nose a little. “I just felt like baking.” He stares at her for a second and nods slowly. “Not that you look like you’ve gained any weight from what Mary Margaret’s been feeding you or anything anyway.”

Nope. That did not just happen.

He hums curiously for a second and then she hears him take another cookie before he leaves the room. She takes hold of the sink and leans in toward it, biting down on her tongue. She’s so stupidly flustered by him that it’s ridiculous.

“Okay,” she calls out. “I am going to ramble on out loud about what is going on in my head and I don’t want you to say anything and you need to stay over there, because I can’t look at you and ramble.”

Killian doesn’t respond for a second and she looks over to make sure she can’t even see him. “Okay.”

Emma takes a deep breath. “When you came out of the shower and I saw you, I was embarrassed and weird because you’re… different than other guys I’ve been in relationships with.”

Her eyes fall to her wedding ring and she bites on her lip, her heart racing faster. She’s already become vulnerable enough, so she feels as if he doesn’t need much more from her. She glances up at the ceiling.

“And of course I saw it, so don’t ask me about that, because of course I did. What do you think I hid myself for?”

She sighs. “And don’t worry, I think you’re… perfectly proportioned.” She winces a little at her words. “God, I just have been fighting talking about this and that’s why I’ve been stress baking and eating cookie dough.”

Emma takes another breath. “Now, if you swear you won’t ever ask me to talk about this embarrassing moment or the one earlier today, I’ll let you come back and get another cookie.”

They’re both quiet for a long while and Emma isn’t sure what to think about it. Maybe he doesn’t know how to respond to how open she’s finally being with him. Maybe she shouldn’t have said as much as she did.

She sighs and turns the sink water on again and begins to scrub the dishes in preparation for the dishwasher.

She sees him from the corner of her eye and somewhat nervously looks over at him. This could go in any number of ways.

He gives her a somewhat cocky smile and rubs the back of his head for a second before coming to a stop right in front of the plate of cookies.

“I swear I won’t.”

She watches him lick his lip as he reaches in for the cookie. It’s like he’s trying to do something. He takes a slow bite of the cookie and she flits her eyes from his lips to his eyes. He’s looking at her, all smolder and dark, hooded eyes.

He smirks. “Perfectly delicious.”

Emma bites down on the inside of her cheek and takes a breath before turning around to put the dishes into the dishwasher.

He is going to be the death of her.

///

“So, talk about sexual tension,” Elsa says to her as she sits on the couch. “You saw him naked today.”

Emma feels her face flush and she looks down at her lap. Thankfully Killian went out to see if the store on the corner has any rum, because she couldn’t handle him hearing any more about this.

“Yes, I saw him naked today.” Emma says, tracing her fingers along her knee as she looks into the camera. “I mean, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I’ve seen guys naked before. I guess it was a big deal because it’s him and I feel comfortable with him. But I was able to talk it out and I think we’re back to normal, whatever that means. Hopefully.”

Elsa hums thoughtfully. “You two have been really getting close. You’re getting along more and more as the days go on. Anything you have to say about that?”

Emma shrugs. “It’s good that I’m getting along with him. I guess it’s important to have a good relationship with someone you’re married to, right?”

Elsa laughs a little and it eases Emma only slightly.

“I think so. In what ways does this feel like a marriage to you? Or does it just feel like a friendship to you? Because you seem to treat it as just that.”

Emma bites on her lip, considering everything she and Killian have been through.

It’s difficult, because she isn’t sure where they stand at the moment. A few days ago, she would have liked to think they were friends, or at least on their way to friendship. Now… she isn’t sure.

“I don’t know,” Emma says simply.

///

Killian enters the apartment to discover Emma standing in her bedroom, and she emerges, her brows knitted and her teeth nibbling on her lip.

He stands there awkwardly, stepping out of his shoes in the doorway. There’s a camera trained on him and he just wants them gone so he can have a real conversation with her. Things have been weird today and he knows it’s going to be at least a little jilting to their relationship.

Killian sets the bottle of rum on the counter. “That was all they had.”

She nods as he takes his leather jacket off. He sets it in the closet and turns back to Emma, taking a breath.

“So how did the interview go?”

She shrugs. “It was okay. Elsa said she’d get you later tomorrow or something. She apparently had something important to do tonight.”

He hums. For a moment, they stand there in silence, something that’s happened quite a bit lately.

“Um…” Emma speaks up, “I know we talked about it earlier, but it kind of feels weird still.”

He releases a breath and rakes his fingers through his hair, raising his eyebrows. “Don’t I know it.”

Emma doesn’t smile and instead, folds her arms to her chest. “Maybe you should sleep out on the couch tonight.”

His heart sinks, but he totally, completely understands. He nods slowly. “Aye. I could do that. If you’d feel better.”

She simply nods.

///

It doesn’t take long for the camera crew to leave after they have dinner in a completely awkward silence, and when they do, Emma has Killian set up on the couch with a couple of spare blankets and his pillow from her bed.

She feels bad about it, but she can’t really picture sleeping next to him after the weird day they’ve had.

“Um…” Emma says, watching him sit down on the couch. “If you need more blankets I think I could ask Mary Margaret for some.”

He shakes his head. “It’s fine, Swan.”

Their eyes meet tensely and she averts her gaze, folding her arms again. “So I was thinking we could try being friends again.”

He raises an eyebrow. “Friends?”

She nods. “Yeah. It feels weird doing all of this… living together and getting close to each others families without being friends, doesn’t it?”

He shrugs. “I suppose.”

He glances down at the pillow beside him and Emma swallows the lump in her throat, because she really shouldn’t feel bad for telling her friend to sleep on the couch after accidentally seeing him naked.

Emma shakes the feeling and waves by lifting her hand from her folded arms when he looks up at her again. “Goodnight.”

He’s quiet for a moment, so she turns away, and then he speaks up, voice quiet, “Goodnight, Emma.”

Chapter Text

ten.

day 9. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Killian is uncomfortable.

Emma had made things abundantly clear in regards to their semi-temporary sleeping arrangements after they’d had their little incident yesterday.

He can’t blame her for what happened, but it’s been a week together and they’re not getting much closer. He wonders if she knows how much he desires nothing but her companionship.

Things have to change if they’re going to stay married. Her walls have to come down, but he isn’t sure how he’ll help that happen if she won’t spend very much time trying with him.

He’d slept roughly on her couch, most of his night spent staring up at the ceiling, or listening to Emma sleep. She’s a very quiet sleeper, the occasional shift in the sheets signifying that she’s still alive.

It’s morning now, but it’s dreadfully quiet, and Emma hasn’t stirred yet.

It’s unfortunate that this is the weekend, otherwise she’d already be gone and he wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not it would be acceptable for him to watch television or, dare he even think it, have a shower. He wonders if she’d want to come to the show tonight if he asked.

He thinks he hears Emma’s phone going off. “Hello?” Emma’s voice is tired. He stretches his arm over his forehead and listens to her. “Oh. Um, I-“ She pauses. “Okay. Alright. I’ll watch him. Yes, it’s fine. I’ll be down in a few minutes. Okay. Love you too. Bye.”

He hears her set the phone down and then he hears her get up. Moments later, he hears the dresser open and then the bathroom light turns on.

He sees her then, all gentle and graceful even in the earliness of the morning. Her hair’s a bit of a tangled mess, bouncing down along her shoulders and back, but it’s still bright as the sun to him even as she whisks the door shut.

Killian figures that he should get up if he’s going to seem even moderately interested in starting the day properly with her, so he stands and gets the coffee machine started as he listens to the sink running in the bathroom.

It’s odd, how they’ve somehow fallen into a rhythm together. He’s used to her and everything she does, pretty much, and it’s only been a little over a week.

By the time the bathroom door opens again, he’s sipping at his coffee and he’s dressed without having a shower, standing in the kitchen with his phone out so he can check his messages.

“Oh,” Emma’s voice is surprised. He glances away from his phone and up at her. Her eyes are wide and she looks lovely, with her hair half up. “You’re up.”

“Good morning,” She smiles at him a little and Killian tips his head over to the mug he’d left out for her. “Coffee?”

Her little smile warms her cheeks and she reaches over for it eagerly. After she has a sip, she wraps her fingers around it and holds it by her waist.

“Um, Mary Margaret has an emergency thing and David’s on call today, so he’s out, and she asked if I could watch Leo for a while.” Emma stares at him for a second. “If you want, you can come. I don’t know how you feel about… kids.”

She looks at the floor and Killian can’t help but smile.

“I’d be glad to accompany you, Swan.”

She jerks her head upward again, her eyes big and bright as she stares at him, obviously not expecting his reaction. “Okay. Then we should go.”

///

day 9. mary margaret and david’s apartment, NYC.

Emma smiles as she sits on the couch.

Leo and Killian are sword fighting with lightsabers in front of her, laughing and giggling. She can’t help but feel her heart warm at the sound the two boys are making. Killian is completely throwing the battle so that Leo can win, obviously, and Leo spins around, swinging his plastic weapon around above his head.

He lets out a yell and pops Killian’s shoulder, causing him to groan and clutch at it as he stumbles down to his knees on the rug.

“Prince Leopold,” Killian begs. “Your mercies, sire.”

He’s breathless and wincing, making Leo giggle again. Emma rolls her eyes when Killian winks at her.

“Never!” Leo takes his lightsaber and slides it under Killian’s arm until Killian lies flat on his back, his breaths coming thickly and heavily.

“Give my love to my family,” Killian chokes out when Leo leans over him. Then he rolls his head to the side and closes his eyes, sticking his tongue out to the side.

Leo cheers victoriously. “Yes! I win!” He jumps up and down and turns to Emma, his smile wide. “Emmie, did you see me win?”

Emma nods. “I did.”

Leo comes running up to her after dropping his toy to the floor with a clatter, and she laughs when he jumps up into her lap, wrapping his arms immediately over her neck. He gives her cheek a sloppy kiss and she giggles at the feeling.

“Hey, Leo, do you want to show Killian your room?”

Leo smiles at her and pushes his fingers through her hair. “I like Killian,” he says, as if Killian can’t hear. “Is he gonna be here for my birthday?”

Emma’s eyes widen and she feels her face warming.

“I-“ Emma shakes her head. “Um…”

“Of course I’ll be there for your birthday, lad.” Killian says from the floor.

She glances over and he pushes himself up to stand. He slides his lightsaber back down to carrying size.

“Really?” he asks Killian.

He nods. His eyes are warmer than she’s ever seen them and it does things to her heart that stutters in her chest. “Aye. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Leo beams at him and jumps out of Emma’s lap. He rushes up to Killian’s leg and wraps his arms around it.

“Yay!” Leo pulls away after Killian presses a hand into his blonde curls. “Come to my room, Killian! I want to show you my Legos.”

And just like that, Leo bolts away from the living room and down the hallway, leaving Killian to stare at Emma with a look of apology on his face that she shakes her head at.

“It’s fine, Killian. He’s five. He won’t know the difference anyway.”

He nods and tucks his thumbs into his jeans. “Right,” he sighs. “Erm…”

He smiles weakly at her and she stands, leaning over to pick up the discarded lightsaber before she goes up to him.

“You’re really good with him.” She smiles a little. “Thank you for coming with me. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Killian shakes his head. “What do you mean? The boy loves you.”

She feels her cheeks warming again and she looks down at the lightsaber in her hand. “Yeah. He’s technically my brother, so-”

She sighs and looks back up at him. She had missed him, inexplicably, last night when he slept on the couch. But she couldn’t share a bed with him after what had happened. No way.

“Killian!”

He whips his head around at the sound of Leo’s voice and then back to her. “I suppose the lad wishes to see me now.”

She chuckles and nods. “Yeah.”

Killian stares at her for a second before he bops her nose with the barrel of the light saber. She laughs and he peels back a proud, happy grin.

“Would you… uh… like to come to the show tonight?” he asks.

Her heart squeezes at the way he asks the question. It’s like he’s asking her on a date. It’s like the rest of what she knows about him is all gone and all she knows of him is this sweet, smiling man before her.

“Okay,” she gives him a smile.

His grin spreads to his crinkling eyes and his dimpling cheeks and she has the sudden urge to kiss those lips of his, but then he starts to slide back, still looking at her so happily that she thinks he’ll never stop.

“Good,” he says. “Good.”

She can’t help but smile when he spins around and starts down the hall with red tipped ears.

///

Mary Margaret doesn’t come back to the apartment until about two in the afternoon, apologizing profusely as soon as she enters the front door.

She and Killian are sitting in the living room watching what’s left of Peter Pan while Leo sleeps with his head on Killian’s shoulder between them. She likes the way Killian has been with Leo. He’s obviously had experience with children before, because he knows how to handle himself around him.

“Oh,” Mary Margaret comes into the living room and immediately smiles at the sight of the three of them sitting on the sofa. “Good. He’s sleeping. I was worried he wouldn’t be able to take his nap.”

She sighs and presses her hands to her heart for a moment before she goes to put her things down in the kitchen.

Emma glances over at Killian and subsequently Leo, a soft smile finding her lips. She really likes this. She hates to admit it, but she wants this someday. Kids and napping and watching cartoons and playing with Lego’s and eating macaroni and cheese.

“How was he? He didn’t try anything, did he?” Mary Margaret asks in a quiet voice as soon as she comes back from the kitchen.

Emma looks up at her and shakes her head, still smiling. “No. He was great. How was the thing?”

She shrugs. “Oh, it was less than an emergency. Granny asked if I could help her while Ruby went to see an old friend. She thinks I should take a shift at the diner.” Mary Margaret shrugs again. “But we’ll see. I’d be just as happy here with another baby as I would working.”

Emma nods. She hadn’t known that Mary Margaret wanted a second baby. But it makes sense. Mary Margaret has always been maternal in nature, always wanting to give until there’s nothing left to hand out.

“Well, if you’d like, you can go. I’m sure you’ve had your fill of Leo for the day.”

Emma looks over at Killian and he nods. He carefully gets up and eases Leo’s head down onto a pillow. Emma lifts his legs and he twitches a little, but otherwise remains peaceful in his sleep. She smiles over at Killian.

“Are you ready to go?” she asks.

He nods again. “Yes.”

“Killian?” Leo mumbles, his eyes only a little open.

Emma sighs, but Killian squats down beside the couch and indulges him. Emma goes to the kitchen, where Mary Margaret stops her.

“So, how are things going?”

Emma raises an eyebrow. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Mary Margaret smiles. “You and Killian look… happy.”

Emma sighs and gives the woman a look. “He slept on the couch last night. We’re barely friends.”

Mary Margaret hums curiously and folds her arms to her chest, tipping her head as if she knows what’s going on.

“Alright. You two just seemed to fit right in with Leo. Like a couple.”

Emma opens her mouth to say something, but she finds she has nothing to say.

“Alright,” Killian approaches from the living room. “Leopold has said his goodbyes and I believe he’s expecting us to come babysit him again next week, but we’ll see about that.” He smiles at her warmly, as if he’s always looked at her like this and has always been comfortable with her. “You ready to go, love?”

Emma looks briefly over at Mary Margaret, who raises her eyebrow. Emma reaches in and hugs her. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Mary Margaret says as soon as she pulls back.

Emma turns back to Killian and smiles slightly. “Okay. Let me grab my coffee mug.” Killian lifts both hands and she widens her eyes. “Oh. Very thoughtful. Thank you. I-“ She turns back to Mary Margaret and back again, suddenly flustered for absolutely no reason. “Okay. Let’s go.”

///

day 9. bar downtown, NYC.

Killian feels lighter than air.

He and Emma had gone back to her apartment after babysitting Leo and had spent some time doing normal, everyday type activities.

She brought him down to the laundry room and they did a few loads before they watched some television in the living room while folding it up. He can tell that she’s growing a little bit warmer towards him, despite the fact that she’s a little on edge from seeing him in his birthday suit.

She laughs more today than she has before, which has his heart racing and all abandon out the window.

He really cares for her, more than he thinks he’s really ever cared for anyone. He isn’t sure when it started, or if it’ll ever fade away, but he doubts it could, not when the very sound of her laughter makes his heart race.

And that’s why he has decided that tonight, the band will pull out the song they’d been working for the past few practice sessions- the one he’d written about Emma after their first kiss.

He has never felt more inspired to write a song than he did when he realized that Emma gives him abundant hope for his future. Of course, he desperately hopes it’s with her, but only time and patience will tell if he’s able to win her heart.

She’s smiling proudly at him as they walk into the bar where they’ll be performing tonight and he can’t wipe the stupid grin off of his own face. It’s ridiculous what she does to him with every little thing she does.

“I feel like the world’s worst groupie,” Emma confesses quietly.

He furrows his brows at her and they stop at the open backstage door. “Why?”

She shrugs, her eyes a little embarrassed as she glances down.

“I don’t know,” she sighs. “I’ve never been to a show and I’m only here because you’re bringing me?”

He chuckles, lifting his hand to brush back her hair. Gods, she’s beautiful.

“There’s a first time for everything.”

She smiles a little and glances over into the backstage area.

“Hey! Emma’s here!” Robin says, breaking them apart as he comes up to the door. “Hi Emma, how’ve you been?”

She grins at his friend. “Good! How are you?”

Robin laughs. “I’m wonderful.” Robin looks at Killian and claps him in the arm. “So you’ve finally brought your lady to a show.”

Killian chuckles and nods, looking over at Emma. She smiles at him.

“She’s been wanting to come along for a while. Today just seemed to be right.”

Robin grins. “Well, we’re happy to have you, Emma.” She nods at him. “Killian, Whale is here and he’s got some news before we get to setting up.”

Killian nods and Robin starts back for the rest of the group, who he can see are already drinking a bit and joking with each other. “Erm,” Killian looks at Emma. “I don’t know if you want to come back and watch us set up-“

She smiles. “No, it’s alright. I asked Ruby to meet me here so I’m not by myself.”

Killian chuckles. “Very well.” They stare at each other for a long moment. He shifts the guitar in his hand and then takes a deep breath. “I suppose I’d best get to it. Make sure you’re in the front. I want to see you.”

Emma grins and nods. “Of course. I’ll be the one who cheers the loudest.”

He loves that she’s so proud of him. It’s much different than the girls he used to see. They weren’t nearly as proud.

Killian takes a chance and presses a kiss to her forehead. “I’ll see you soon.”

He smirks at her, watching the way the corners of her lips curve so perfectly into her cheeks. She has a bit of an embarrassed blush in her cheeks, but she doesn’t say anything, instead just turning to go.

“Boy, you are wrecked, aren’t you, Jones?” Jefferson asks, clapping him on the shoulder, his arm draped across his neck.

Killian gives him a look. “When you’re married to the woman of your dreams and she won’t let you in past her walls, you let me know so I can mock you mercilessly.”

///

Emma is happy.

She and Ruby have been sitting at the bar with drinks, chatting about life and work and everything in between. It feels good to be out with her friend. Ever since the whole wedding and experiment thing, they haven’t had as much time to spend together alone.

“So, when’s this show going to start?” Ruby asks.

Emma smiles. “He told me eight thirty.”

She glances over at the stage, where the guys have been bustling around for a little while. She looks at Ruby again. The girl is giving her a wolfish grin.

“How was he last night?”

Emma widens her eyes and lowers her voice. “Are you serious? He slept on the couch.”

Ruby hums. “Right.”

Emma sags her shoulders and shakes her head, looking over when she sees Killian strapping on his guitar. He’s so focused on his task that his brow furrows and his lower lip disappears into his mouth.

She likes that he’s wearing a plaid button-up, with sleeves that roll past his elbows. He’d told her it was his lucky shirt before they left the apartment, which had provided her with endless woodsman jokes until he got back at her and teased that she must have a thing for a gentleman in plaid.

That had promptly made her stutter like an idiot for what felt like a minute before telling him she just thought it looked good on him.

As if she needs more reasons to make it awkward between them.

Emma smiles as she looks at Ruby, reaching out with one hand to take her friends. “Come on, front row. I promised him that’s where I’d be.”

Ruby follows her along to the front, at the stage. Killian’s still standing there, all alone, with his guitar around his body. The moment he sees her, he smiles widely.

“Hey, there she is.”

Emma grins. “Are you going to start soon?”

He nods and moves so he’s standing in front of her. “Great news, Swan. There’s a rep from a record label. He’s come to see if we’re worth signing on.”

Emma’s face brightens up with excitement and she laughs. “What? That’s awesome! Don’t let me get in your head. I love you no matter what you play.” He smirks at her and Emma cringes. “No, I mean- the band-”

Killian chuckles warmly. “You’re my good luck charm, Swan. Don’t worry about getting in my head. It’s better that way.”

He winks at her and if she were a teenager, she’d probably squeal and feel weak at the knees, but since she’s almost thirty, she simply laughs a little as he takes a few steps back. He turns around when Jefferson and Robin come up to him and Emma’s attention falls away from him.

“God, you two need sex.” Ruby groans from beside her.

Emma gives her friend a look. Ruby takes a sip of her drink.

“Ruby, please. Just for one day, don’t remind me.”

Ruby laughs and Emma sips at her drink while she eyes Killian’s rear end.

Okay, she’s had a few drinks, and she’s feeling really good right now. Plus, he’s her husband. She should get ogling rights.

“He does have a nice ass.” Ruby comments, earning a side glare for a mere second before Emma can’t help but giggle.

“He does.”

Chapter Text

eleven.

day 9. bar downtown, NYC.

The second Killian introduces the band Emma can’t keep the smile off of her face.

She’s so excited and so proud of his entire band. She really wants this to work for them. She knows that Killian works hard to make the band its absolute best every single day. Sometimes she wakes up and he’s humming in his sleep.

There’s something vivid and wild and emotional that comes with seeing a band live. The music vibrates from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, and it entangles itself to the rhythm of her heart. She feels as if she’s floating in the rise and flow of each song.

Every moment is real and powerful, and it’s so much different than listening in private when everyone around her is equally as excited to see the band play.

She knows every word, so she’s singing and dancing, and honestly, she feels lighter than she has in such a long time.

Killian meets her eyes every so often and it encourages him to smile, his lips against the microphone as he strums his guitar. He winks at her once or twice, his grin spreading in mirror to hers, and he seems just as in his element here as he was on his ship.

In the middle of the first song, Ruby informs her that the electric guitar player is hot and that she wants her to set them up, to which Emma rolls her eyes and agrees.

After the band plays its more upbeat songs, Killian practically serenades her and her alone, finger picking his strings as his vocals fill the room. It makes her blush, knowing full well that there are other people behind her and around her that are fans and aren’t here to see him singing to her like he is. He winks at her about a minute of the way through the song and closes his eyes.

She never realized how emotional the songs are until this moment, watching him sing about heartbreak and feeling a void in his heart, about missing love and wanting so much for it. She knew all of this about him, knew the words to the songs, but hearing them now, with the context of their confusing and messed up marriage, she feels as if everything carries so much more meaning.

And then the doozy.

It’s the last song they do, and Killian says a quick farewell, that they’ll be hanging out after the show for a while if anyone wants to say hello, and, “This is a song I wrote for my wife, Emma.”

Then he’s strumming and the guys are doing their thing, and it’s as if it’s the most normal thing in the entire world, writing songs for his wife.

Of course, now she’s blushing and her stomach is twisting and her heart is thumping wildly against her ribcage, somehow in time with the beat, and all she can think is: he wrote a song for her.

He wrote a song for her in less than nine days.

His song is stunning, of course, and she can’t help but fall in love with it. It’s about second chances at love and recognizing hope for a future.

And the chorus, she swears it’ll be the sound of her heart beat for the next fifty years. It’s like he’s begging her to open up for him, begging her to be that chance for him.

She can’t keep her eyes off of him, no matter how loud her inner voice is screaming at her to run. Run, because it’s getting real now- he has feelings for her, very real feelings.

She somehow manages to keep calm as soon as the show is officially over, after all of the room erupts into clapping and cheering and whistling. She loves that his band is becoming so recognized and popular. The room is essentially full of people who want to hear them play.

“He wrote a song for you,” Ruby says with wide, incredulous eyes.

Emma just laughs, because she still can’t believe it. Not even a little.

She thinks it’s sweet and beautiful, but then she thinks he’s just making some kind of play for the sake of the show. Or maybe he’s just trying to get her to sleep with him. Maybe he writes songs for all kinds of women.

But she knows, somehow, that’s not true.

“Yeah, he did.” She bites on her lip and looks over at the stage again before walking with Ruby. “Hey, I think I’m gonna go backstage. I want to talk to them.”

Ruby smiles. “Can I come with? I’d like a shot at Mr. Hottie Guitar guy.”

Emma laughs. “Okay. This way.”

Emma shows her to the stage door and opens it to the raucous noise of five men all laughing and practically yelling with post-show buzz.

She picks Killian out almost immediately. His laugh is deep and comes straight from his stomach, a rather pleasant sound.

She sees him standing beside Robin, his back to her as the band all kind of is circled around some backstage equipment. Emma bites her lip as she approaches him from behind, trying to decide the best way to greet him after probably the best night of her life, dedicated song and all.

Emma decides to press a hand to his shoulder, which causes him to immediately whip his head around and he beams at her, turning around entirely to face her.

“Swan,”

“Jones,” she smirks coyly at him.

They stand there in silence for a few moments. He’s clearly nervous about what she’d thought of the whole thing, but Emma feels somewhat star struck.

He’s her husband and he wrote a song for her about their marriage.

Emma finally feels the need to speak, “Thank you for the song. I loved it.”

He smiles softly. “I’m glad you didn’t hate it,” he murmurs. “I was worried-“

Emma shakes her head and he stops talking. She laughs. “It was great. The whole show was incredible, Killian.” She pauses. “I’m glad I came tonight.”

Killian’s smile spreads, as does the red in his cheeks. “Yeah?”

Emma nods. “Yeah.” She keeps her voice gentle, because if this night is anything, it’s changing her mind about Killian Jones and his ability to penetrate her walls. “When can we get out of here?”

He stares at her for a second and his mouth opens as he bites down on his tongue, as if he’s in pain, before he glances over at his band mates.

Ruby has helped herself to chatting with them, and has them practically eating out of her hand.

“Erm,” Killian rubs at his ear nervously. “I- I need to stay at least an hour more. The rep will want to speak with us and I want to be free to speak with fans for a bit.” He looks at her for a long moment, seeming to be in thought about the whole thing. “But I suppose I could leave sooner-“

Emma shakes her head. “No, it’s fine. I’ll wait.”

Killian peels back a smile. His voice is breathy and she finds it a little too attractive for her own good, “Okay.”

She bites on her lip. “I’ll see you soon.”

His jaw clenches a bit as he holds his mouth open in a smile, his fingers going up to his hair. “Aye.”

///

Killian is elated.

The show had been incredible. He’s never felt more alive than when he’d watched Emma singing along with him as he sang just for her.

The entire show, she seemed happier than he’s ever seen her. Watching her sing along with him is probably his favorite sight, right next to watching her hips sway and her smile spread when he met her eyes.

But when he’d sung the song he’d written for her, he knew everything was forever changed between them. She seemed to like it. She swayed and smiled and she didn’t run from the room, something he had feared could happen, due to the nature of their confusing relationship.

The moment she came to him backstage he could see that she changed the way she looks at him. He couldn’t be more pleased with this development.

It means so much can happen now. Maybe things will be real now. Not that they haven’t been. She’s just been keeping so much from him because of her emotional walls and they haven’t established what they want from this relationship. Is it money or is it love? He hopes, more than anything, that she’s changed her mind.

The representative from the label comes back shortly after Emma retreats back into the bar, and Killian greets him with a smile and a handshake.

“Killian Jones?” the man asks.

He nods, dropping his hand. “Aye. And you must be-“

“Neal,” the man says. “Neal Cassidy. I’m the representative from Gold Records.”

He nods and takes a breath before turning to the now silent band. “Erm, this is Robin Locksley, our bass guitarist.”

Neal nods and shakes hands with Robin before Killian introduces Jefferson and Will to the man, then Whale.

“Gentlemen,” Neal says, clasping his hands together in front of him. “Um, I have to say you’re exactly the sound we’re looking for at Gold and I’d be insane not to offer you guys a deal.”

He feels like he’s flying higher than the clouds. He has never been so excited in his life before this moment.

“Wow!” Robin is the first to break the silence.

Laughter befalls the group and Killian thinks his cheeks might fall off he’s smiling so wide.

He can’t wait to tell Emma.

///

“So, you and the hubs looked mighty chummy back there,” Ruby comments as they stand at the bar about ten minutes after they meet up again.

Emma smiles shyly and sips at her drink. “What can I say? I’m a sucker for a guy that can write a sweet love song.”

Ruby laughs and Emma finds herself gazing off in the direction of the stage.

“Well, it looks like you’re going to be getting lucky tonight.”

She rolls her eyes and is about to respond when she sees the door open and a familiar face steps out.

She stiffens and her heart skips a beat. No. No. No. Not now.

“What is it?” Ruby asks, whipping around to look at the man making his quick way to the front door.

She feels like she can’t breathe.

He’s here. He’s here, in the same exact room as she is. He’s in New York City.

She practically bounds after him, her mind filling with millions of thoughts, her heart squeezing in agonizing pain as she recalls all of the emotions he left her with, her stomach lurching.

“Hey!” she calls after him. She’s standing outside now and he’s probably about a yard away from her. He doesn’t react, so Emma runs through the light crowd up to him in the pale yellow glow of the city lights. “Neal!”

He spins around at that and she takes several deep breaths when she stands close enough to him.

“What the hell?” he asks. “Emma?”

She grits her teeth, a pain in her chest causing tears to well up in her eyes.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“Business,” he states, shaking his head slightly.

Emma shakes her own head. “Business. How long have you been here?”

Neal laughs. “I live here. Six years, I think?” He runs his left hand up into his hair and she can’t miss the wedding ring on his finger. Married. Of course. “What about you? What are you doing here?”

Emma stares at him with her jaw hanging open for a few seconds. “I- I was at the show.”

He smiles. “Really? That’s awesome. I just signed those guys. Weren’t they incredible?”

Emma’s eyes widen and her heart rate picks up. “You signed them? You- you’re the rep from the label?”

Neal gives her a curious look before nodding. “Yeah, well, we’re going to do the paperwork next week, but it’s all but a done deal.” She sighs and blinks a few times, trying to comprehend the weight of the issue at hand. “You okay there? It’s… weird running into you like this after all these years.”

Emma shakes her head. How can he be so nonchalant about this?

“No, Neal, I’m not okay,” she’s frantic all of a sudden, her words coming out unintentionally loud. “I’m- God- who the hell do you think you are? You left me all alone and you stole everything I had.” She blinks out a few tears. “And now, come to find out, you’ve been here for six years? I waited for you.”

Emma takes a few stumbling steps backward.

“Ems, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.” He shrugs, taking his hand to his hair. “I’ve moved on. Maybe you should too. We were kids then. You know? I was stupid and I’m sorry but it’s over now. I’m all cleaned up.”

She growls a little and she knows the cameraman must have followed her out of the bar, because Neal’s eyes drift back, and she’s suddenly self conscious.

“What about you?” He asks, stepping forward. “How are you? What are you up to?”

Emma licks her lips and shakes her head. “I-” she pauses, staring at him, and she realizes that while he’s the reason she can’t move on, it’s stupid of her to keep holding onto that. He’s an idiot and her love for him had been real once upon a time, but it’s all over now. Emma swallows. “I’m married now too.”

He smiles, “Really?”

Emma nods. “Yeah.”

Neal stares at her for a moment, as if thinking about her response. “Well, that’s great, Emma. I’m glad you’re happy.”

For a beat, they stand there, and she swallows, trying to get rid of the lump in her throat.

She spins around without any other words and takes a few breaths, glancing into the lens of the camera while she folds her arms to her chest and marches down the sidewalk toward who knows where.

///

day 10. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma sits on the floor of her bathroom with an empty plate of cookies and a half empty bottle of rum. She leans back against the bathroom door and frustratedly beats her head against the wood.

Neal freaking Cassidy is ruining her life to this day.

She doesn’t really care about what happened to Ruby or Killian, because all she wants to do is cry and drink and forget about this stupid night.

“Emma?” Killian’s voice comes from behind the door. She sighs and stills her head. “Love, are you alright?”

She shakes her head, tears streaking down her cheeks. “Nope.”

He’s quiet and Emma lifts the rum to her lips. She hates Neal. She hates him. He hurt her and he doesn’t seem to have any trouble with that.

“Would you care to talk about it?”

Emma sighs and lifts the rum and the plate, then turns around and opens the door.

“Neal was at the show tonight and I talked to him,” she says.

He’s standing there, his eyes full of concern, and Emma shakes her head. She forces herself to walk past Killian and into the kitchen. She sticks the plate into the sink and the rum goes back to her lips.

“He’s married now. And I’m doing this and-“ Emma sighs, “and your band is signing onto his label.”

Killian stares at her for a long time from where she left him and he finally steps toward her. “Emma, I didn’t know.”

She shoves the bottle down onto the counter and Killian reaches her just as she turns to go back into her bedroom. Her eyes are all watery and she can barely see, so she reaches up to wipe them, a sob coming from her throat out of nowhere.

She hates it. She hates it all. She wants it to be over.

Killian wraps his arms around her and she falls into them easily, turning her head to the side so she can breathe. His hand comes up to her shoulder blade and his lips press against her scalp.

“I’m so stupid. Why did I talk to him?” Emma berates herself.

Killian slides her away from him and holds her by the shoulders, forcing her to look him in the eye.

“You’re not stupid, Emma,” he tells her.

“I am.” Killian shakes his head. “I’m so stupid. I went after him and I-“ Emma bites her tongue. “And I wanted to move on before. I wanted to believe that this could work and I wanted to let myself go. But he screwed me over and he doesn’t care that what he did hurt me and that hurts even more than dwelling over what he did for ten years.”

She can feel her pain written on her face and she slips away from Killian.

“I’m so sorry, Killian. I’m so sorry I can’t do this. I-“ She closes her eyes. “I’m realizing that I’m too screwed up for a relationship or love and you’re… you’re so good.”

Killian looks equally as pained by her statements. “Emma,”

She shakes her head and tries to go forward, but he stops her by holding her arm.

“Emma, I like you.” He tells her, those eyes all dark and hooded and puppy-dog-like sad. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m glad this happened.”

She shakes her head, confused. “You’re glad I got my heart broken?”

He searches her eyes for a moment. “If it can be broken, that means it still works.”

Her breath catches a little and she finds herself transfixed on his eyes. They’re so gentle and blue. She wonders if he knows what they do to her.

Emma swallows, blinking a few times before she looks down at her feet. “I’m guarded because I don’t want to hurt like I did before. Like I am right now.”

She feels tears in her eyes again as she tips her chin up so she can find his comforting expression.

He takes a sharp breath through the nose and lifts his hand, so masculine and warm, and cups her cheek. Emma leans into the heat with a stuttering heart rate.

This man really does care for her. She sees it in his eyes, how sympathetic they are.

She feels his free set of fingers tickling at hers with hesitance, his eyes dropping to the union briefly before finding her eyes and speaking, “Emma, why don’t you trust me?”

Emma’s gaze hardens. “I do trust you.”

“Then why do you keep pulling away from me?” He asks as his hand leaves her face.

Her fingers fall away from his. She steps backward. “I’m a mess. Why would you want me to be your wife? Why would anyone want me? No one ever has. Everyone I’ve ever been with has left me.”

He stares at her silently and shakes his head. “I’m not leaving. I’m here.”

Emma scoffs. “Yeah, well, it’s only a matter of time before you do.”

She steps toward her bedroom and feels his eyes on her.

“You’re not being fair,” he says. “You’re not giving me the chance to prove you wrong.”

She turns back around and meets his eyes. “Okay. Then give me a reason to let you.”

Killian steps closer to her. “Because I married you and I believe in us. No matter the circumstances of our relationship. I didn’t sign up to do this because I wanted to spend a month fighting with my wife about whether or not I truly wanted our relationship. Because I do.”

Tears burn at her eyes and she licks her lips, averting her gaze. “I don’t know if I’m cut out for this.”

Killian swallows and she sees tears in his eyes. “Have you felt anything for me at all, Emma?”

For a second, she stares at him. “Yes. Of course I have.”

A small smile inches at his lips and he shakes his head. “Then, please, don’t give up on us. I know it hasn’t always been about us, but I saw something change in you tonight at the show.”

There’s a beat, and he continues, “And I’ll have you know that I’m not perfect. I’m a bit of a mess myself.” He smiles spitefully. “I’m afraid I’ll mess it up as much as you are. Marriage was a dangerous step for me, for both of us, but we’re in it now, Emma. Whether you want to believe it’s real or not.”

She swallows. “Yeah.”

Killian studies her face. “It’s always been real to me.”

Her heart aches heavily and she tilts her head to the side, eyebrows dipping inward. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you got stuck with me. You deserve someone who will love you with their whole heart. Not a broken one.”

He shakes his head, a smile ghosting his lips. “Oh, Emma,” he whispers, “I don’t want anyone else.”

His admission feels heavy on her chest for a few seconds and she blinks out tears, because he’s denying her the walls and denying her the pain of her past and instead, he’s showing her that he’s more than that part of her she’d rather forget.

It’s just a question of if she wants him to now. Does she want him to love her? Does she want to love him in return?

He smiles softly, wearily, and tips his head back toward the couch. “I’ll sleep out here again.”

Emma nods. “Okay.”

The tension between them somewhat fizzled, Emma goes to bed staring at the spot Killian had once slept in. She can almost smell him as she buries her face in the comforter and her heart rests knowing at least that he’ll be here in the morning.

Chapter Text

twelve.

day 10. rehearsal space, NYC.

Killian has a ton on his mind as he enters the rehearsal space with his guitar. The guys are all gathered waiting for him and he runs his fingers through his hair as he sits in a chair.

“Hey, there he is,” Robin cheers. “How’s the wife? Did she enjoy the show last night?”

Killian holds open his mouth as he looks up at his band mates and sighs, shaking his head. “We can’t sign with the label.”

Everyone immediately becomes defensive, their voices all chorusing essentially the same complaint, “Why?”

Killian holds his hand up to quiet them and shakes his head again. “We’re not doing it because Emma’s ex was the rep and I don’t want to put my marriage at risk by mixing my personal life with my professional one.”

“Bloody hell,” Will groans. “We get one record company finally after us and we can’t sign because of your phony TV show girlfriend.”

Killian scowls at Will. “Don’t talk about my wife like that, mate.”

“Hey, hey,” Robin speaks up for Killian. “Killian’s got a fair point. Listen, I’m fine waiting for another label. This one almost seemed too good to be true to begin with anyway.”

“Yeah. I agree.” Whale speaks up.

“Me too.” Jefferson agrees. “I’m sure we’ll get more attention when the show airs, right, Killian?”

Killian shrugs. “Perhaps.”

“We need to get practicing,” Whale announces. “Because Boston is a few weeks away and we need to figure out a good set list.”

///

day 10. emma’s apartment, NYC.

“Thank you guys for coming.” Emma says with a thin smile.

Mary Margaret, Ruby, Belle, and Tink all smile back, as if sorry for her. Mary Margaret lunges forward and wraps her up in an incredibly tight hug, making Emma smile a little more as she relaxes into the embrace.

“Oh, Emma, it’s okay,” Mary Margaret says soothingly. “We’re here for you.”

Emma nods and Mary Margaret takes a step back. Emma allows her friends into the apartment and they all trickle in, setting their shoes at the door.

Emma is grateful for the fact that Killian has gone out for the night, to practice with the band. But he’s been oddly supportive and helpful in face of all of this drama and weirdness.

“Is Killian out tonight?” Mary Margaret asks.

Emma nods and sits on her couch with the girls.

Ruby has a seat on one side of her and Mary Margaret on the other. Tink goes to grab the chair she’s accustomed to using from her bedroom, and when she returns she smiles at her. Belle takes a chair from the dining table and sets it over by Mary Margaret.

“Wow, Killian keeps the place clean, doesn’t he?” Tink notes.

Emma has to smile a little as she nods at Tink. “Yeah. He does.”

Mary Margaret reaches to hold her hand and Emma takes it.

“Okay. We need to talk this thing through,” Mary Margaret says. “Ruby, you know what, we forgot to bring the girls night basket. Could you go grab it?”

Ruby pops up immediately, nodding in agreement.

“Of course. I’ll be right back. Don’t make any life altering decisions without me!”

Ruby skips out of the apartment and Emma releases a heavy sigh. The whole day had been completely miserable. She’s in the middle of a life crisis, according to Mary Margaret, and she needs to gain clarity.

“How do we start?” Emma asks, looking at Mary Margaret with her brows furrowed.

The woman squeezes her hand and reaches into her purse. She pulls out a notebook and a pen.

“Let’s talk through it. That way we can figure out what exactly you need to do.”

Emma nods.

“Okay.” Emma takes a deep breath. “We all know what happened with Neal ten years ago. We were in love for three years and I thought he was the one and then he stole my money and the necklace my birth parents left with me and he left me in the middle of the night without saying a single thing to me.” Her friends nod sadly, a touch of anger in the action. “And then I got arrested for something he blamed on me, but I was immediately released because it wasn’t my fault.”

“Bastard,” Tink says with a scoff.

Emma laughs dryly. “Yeah.”

Mary Margaret gives a little sigh. “Tell me what happened yesterday.”

Emma bites her lip, thinking back and closing her eyes.

“Well, it started out incredible,” she smiles a little. “Killian brought me to his show and he sang a song he wrote for me and it was so… perfect and amazing and I felt like I wanted to give him everything, because no one’s ever stared at me like he had been and no one’s ever sung to me, about me, in front of so many people before.” Emma sighs, a smile still on her lips. “And we’d just had a really simple day together and I was feeling better about him since the… incident.”

She rolls her eyes at that and Mary Margaret giggles.

“What incident?” Tink asks, drawing more laughter from the brunette.

“Emma saw him naked.”

Tink’s eyebrows go skyward and Belle’s shocked giggles make Emma shake her head quickly. “Onaccident!”

The girls all are laughing now and Emma sighs, her cheeks flushing as she pictures that moment all over again.

“Ugh! Stop reminding me. It was embarrassing and we talked it through.”

Her friends stop laughing and Emma sighs.

“Okay, okay,” Tink giggles. “Continue your story.”

Emma nods. “So after the show, I went back and he told me that the rep would be meeting with the band and we’d have to stick around for a little while. So I went out to the bar and spent some time with Ruby, and then I saw him. I followed him outside and it was just… weird seeing him again after all this time. He’s married and he’s obviously successful. He was the label representative that had come to see the show.”

Mary Margaret frowns and Belle looks sad for her. “Oh. That’s horrible, Emma.”

“Yeah,” Emma sighs.

“Okay.” Mary Margaret takes a breath. “What happened after you came home?”

Emma shakes her head. “I ate cookies and drank rum and then Killian came back and I told him what happened with Neal and he told me that he likes me and that he wants to be married to me…” Emma takes a deep breath. It hurts. “So that’s why I’m freaking out. Because Neal came back and he’s signing Killian’s band and every feeling I felt for all of those months ten years ago has come back all of a sudden and-“ She shakes her head. “And Killian’s here and it’s so real all of a sudden.”

Mary Margaret wraps her arms around her all of a sudden and Emma turns to accept her embrace. “Emma, I’m here for you, okay? And I love you more than anyone else. You’re like my own daughter, right?”

Emma laughs a little and nods. “Yeah.”

Mary Margaret rubs at her back. “Do you remember what it was like when we brought you home with us? You didn’t want to let David do very much with you because you were afraid of him.”

Emma pulls back and tears are in her eyes. Mary Margaret cups her face in her hands. “But do you remember what happened after a while? You found out that he wasn’t here to hurt you and burn you like Neal had. You could see his heart was pure.”

Mary Margaret gives her a hopeful smile and Emma hears the door open as Ruby comes back into the apartment.

Emma takes a shaky breath. “But David is different, Mary Margaret. He’s your husband. Of course I’m going to like him.”

Ruby takes a seat beside her, the weight of the couch shifting downward at the addition of her weight, and she sets a basket down onto the coffee table.

The girls are quiet for a moment and Emma turns to look at the basket. Mary Margaret has packed it full of sweets and little things like nail polish and DVDs. She’s sure they’ll get to using them eventually, but this conversation has to happen first.

“So let’s talk about Killian, then. How is he different than David?” Belle asks. “How do you feel about him?”

Emma sighs. “Killian was a stranger ten days ago,”

“And you’re perfectly compatible with him,” Ruby argues. “And he’s hot.”

Emma bites back a remark and simply nods instead. “Yeah. But, it’s-“

“It feels too good to be true?” Belle offers.

Emma contemplates her suggestion and then nods. “Yes. It does feel too good to be true. It feels like… I do like him, and I know he’s committed, but I can’t… I can’t lose him because he means too much to me already. And I feel like I could lose him because, I don’t know, there’s something real here and I might screw it up and he might… he might leave.”

///

day 10. practice space, NYC.

He’s a little disconcerted.

Things with Emma have been rocky since he came home early this morning and found her distraught and heavily emotional in the bathroom.

Thankfully practice has been helpful at putting his mind off of Emma. They’ve been at it pretty much all afternoon and have actually managed to piece together another song from lyrics he’d written a while back but had never put music to.

They’re in the middle of a break and the guys are all teasing him about Emma and how pleased she’d been with the show last night, a bit of a sore subject for him, when his phone rings from his pocket.

He excuses himself when he sees that it’s Emma and goes into another room where his conversation won’t be heard. “Hello?”

“Killian, hi, this is Mary Margaret. I’m sorry I’m calling you from Emma’s phone. I don’t have your number.”

Killian hums. “It’s alright. Is everything okay? Is Emma-?”

“She’s fine. Everything’s fine.” Mary Margaret insists quickly. “Um, but I wanted to talk to you about something important. It’s about Emma, actually.”

“Oh?”

“Yes.” Mary Margaret takes a breath. “I came over to talk to her after she came home from work and I think we’ve figured out why she’s been so hard to reach and so blocked off.”

Killian straightens out. “Well, then, I’m all ears, Mrs. Nolan.”

She breathes a soft laugh into the phone and he smiles. Has he mentioned how much he likes this woman?

“She thinks she’s not worthy. She thinks she doesn’t deserve to be loved and cared for and even though she might think that it’s about Neal and what he did to her, that’s only a small part of it. He abandoned her just like her parents did and just like those foster homes did again and again.”

Mary Margaret’s words make him ache for his poor Swan. And he thinks he knows her well enough to know that what Mary Margaret’s saying is indeed the truth.

“So, I guess what I’m saying is that we need to work on showing her that we care for her. We need to show her that she’s worth love and worth staying around for. Do you… do you think you want to do that?”

He nods. “Aye. Of course I do. I care for her a great deal already.”

“Good,” Mary Margaret says with an obvious smile. “I- I think I’ve thought of a few ways we can do this, but any ideas you have will be welcomed with open arms. Maybe we could meet up tonight after you’re done at practice?”

“Sure.” Killian smiles. “Uh, I can be out of practice any time. The guys and I have been going at it all afternoon.”

“Oh! Wonderful. I’ll see you soon, then. If I’m not at home, just text me. I’m at Emma’s and we’re watching movies. I’ll give you my number.”

“Alright. That should work nicely.”

///

day 10. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma lies on the couch with her PJs on and her pillow under her head.

The girls had left her with laughter still aching along her stomach muscles and happiness helping her feel lighter. They’d done a really good job of getting her mind off of her issues.

They’d told stories and laughed so much and then they’d thrown on some five dollar rom-com Mary Margaret found at the store while they painted their toenails and ate cupcakes and drank hot chocolate with cinnamon.

They made her feel loved and wanted, for however long as they’d been there with her, and that was what mattered most.

Emma sighs as she pulls the throw blanket over her body. She’s considering just falling asleep here on the couch while watching one of Killian’s favorite shows.

It’s oddly comforting, because it’s his favorite and he’s not here with her, but she’s wrapped in the blanket he was using for bed and his pillow is under her head.

It’s getting late and she hasn’t had the best sleep these past few days to begin with.

She jumps, heart pounding, when the door opens and moves so she can look and see Killian coming into the apartment with his guitar leading him in.

He’s so damn cute, it’s not even funny.

He looks like he’s trying to keep his volume down, like she’s already asleep, and then when he sees her, he peels back a smile and his dimples are enough to make her heart squeeze longingly.

“You’re still awake,” he states as he takes his shoes off. Emma hums and turns her attention back to the screen. After a moment, Killian comes to the side of the couch and leans over it, kissing her forehead as if it’s something he always does. “Figured you might be asleep.”

“I’m almost ready to go to bed,” she admits quietly.

He sets his guitar down and then slips around the couch to where her feet are. He lifts them and sets them over his lap as he sits there. His fingers knead into the arch of her foot and she sighs softly.

They’re quiet and the only noise is the TV’s quiet mumblings.

“How was practice?” she murmurs.

“Great,” he says with a smile. “Got another song for the extended play.”

She hums. “That’s good.”

He’s still massaging her foot and it feels so good. The only other person who has done this for her is David and she’s never had anyone put such care into one part of her that goes ignored by even herself most days.

“Aye,” They’re quiet for a few moments. “Emma, would you prefer we don’t sign with the label?”

Emma looks at him. “What? Why?”

He sighs, shaking his head as his fingers stop kneading. “It’s just- he’s your ex- and I feel awful about it.”

She shakes her head. “No. No, don’t feel awful. It’s fine. We’re adults. You can sign with his label. I want you to succeed, Killian. This is a really big step for the band.”

Killian releases a heavy sigh. “Aye. It is.” He smiles at her softly. “We’re not signing with them.”

“What? Killian-”

“I don’t want to sign with them because it’s bad business mixing personal life with professional. Our marriage is at stake if things go rocky with the label and you were so broken up about it last night that I realized it wouldn’t be fair of me to.”

Emma stares at him silently and her heart squeezes tight within her chest. No one has ever given up so much for her before. No one.

She doesn’t know what to say but Killian understands. “Would you like to go to bed now?”

Emma nods and Killian massages out her foot for a second before he lets it go. Emma sighs and sits up, starting to reach for the remote, but Killian grabs it before she can even think about the next step.

With a little smile of appreciation, Emma takes her pillow and drops the blanket onto the cushions before she drifts into her bedroom.

After she tucks herself under her covers and sets her alarm, Emma watches as the light turns off in the kitchen.

Killian shuffles into the room and turns the bathroom light on for illumination as he prepares for bed, grabbing his clothes and changing in the privacy of the small room.

She curls up onto her side and stares at the bookshelf along the wall while she waits for him. She has to admit that while spending time with her friends had been relieving, having Killian here is somehow even more comforting than they were.

Maybe it’s because she’s grown too attached to him for her own good.

The bathroom door opens, light illuminating the area as Killian stands in the doorway.

Emma bites on her lip. “You can… come to bed.”

Killian hesitates for a moment. “You’re sure?”

She nods. “Yeah.”

After he turns the light of, she hears Killian move around the room a little before he peels back the covers and slides into the bed with her.

She stays on her side for a while before she turns around to face him. He’s staring at her with softness in his eyes. “Would it be strange of me to ask you if I can come see you during your lunch break?”

She laughs once. “What? Why would you want to do that?”

“Because,” Killian says with a smile and a shrug. “I’d like to spend time with you during the week. It’s hard to do when I’m practicing and playing gigs and you’re on call.”

Emma hums in thought. “No, it wouldn’t be weird.” She smiles a little at him. “Are you asking if you can come see me tomorrow?”

He shrugs again. “Perhaps.”

Emma finds herself getting lost in the blue of his eyes all over again. She sees so much in him that she’s never seen in anyone else before.

“Why do you care so much?” she asks quietly.

He releases a sigh. His voice is warm and gentle and she’s reminded that he is so patient and calm in all things regarding her.

“When we kissed that first time on my ship,” he says after a moment. “I realized that I was capable of letting go of my first love, Milah.” He takes a breath. “And I believe with all of my heart that you’re the reason for that.” She finds herself breathless and warm. “So when I win your heart, Emma, and I will win it, it won’t be because of any trickery or because you aim to please anyone. It will be because you want me.”

She doesn’t know what to say. Never before has she been so both impressed and amazed because of something a man said to her. The fact that he believes that he can win her heart, that he believes that they will be together and really, truly be together, is a touch overwhelming. A man has never so aggressively pursued her before.

And she wants him to.

She presses her head under his chin and his heart under her ear and he holds her like he’s a pirate and she’s his treasure.

Chapter Text

thirteen.

day 11. emma’s workplace, NYC.

Emma is doing paperwork when a warm set of arms come around her waist and a scruffy cheek brushes against her ear. She bites down on her lip and smiles.

“Hello, love,” his words are whispered into her ear.

She feels chills running down her arms and she turns to look at him when he releases her.

“You came,” she laughs.

He hunches an eyebrow at her as if he’s offended. “Of course I came! I said I might.”

She glances over and sees David smiling widely at her. She hums at Killian.

“Did David put you up to this?”

Killian scoffs, then glances over at the man in question. “Perhaps.” He looks back at her and winks, making her smile. “But what matters is I’m here and I’ve got a meal.” He raises a bag in his hand. “And you have an hour lunch. So I’m taking you away from here.”

Emma glances over at her desk and grabs her things quickly before standing and pushing her chair back in. Killian beams at her and she feels the eyes of her desk mates all over them. August’s are, when she peeks back to give her partner an apologetic look.

He smiles. “Hey, it’s nice to see you again, Killian.”

Killian smiles back at her partner and shakes his hand. “Likewise, mate. I hope you don’t mind me taking her out for a bit.”

August chuckles. “Not in a million years. Emma works too hard. She could use the break.”

Emma rolls her eyes and August just grins as she turns back to Killian. He laughs softly. “Then we’d best be off.”

He reaches out for her hand and she takes it. His fingers lace between hers and he squeezes her hand slightly while he walks her past David, who keeps smiling at them like he knows, and out through the doors.

“Where are you taking me?” Emma asks when they’re standing outside, hands still entwined.

Killian looks over at her. He’s so unaware of how unattainably attractive he is. “That’s a surprise, love.”

She bites on her lip while she smiles. “Okay.”

///

day 11. central park, NYC.

He brings Emma to a park bench in Central Park and he can tell that she’s even a little more relaxed than she had been when he’d first set eyes on her from Dave’s desk at the station.

She has a permanent smile on her lips and she’s still holding his hand while they sit down. Her shoulders are less tense and she seems to be attempting to allow him to win her advances. Quite frankly, he’s amazed at how well she’s doing so far.

He releases her hand to open up the bag with their lunch inside of it. “Mary Margaret told me your order.”

Killian hands her the tinfoil wrapped burger and she takes it with a curious eyebrow raised.

“She did?” she asks.

He nods. “Aye. She told me it’s your favorite meal.”

“Well, that’s not entirely true. I do like grilled cheese quite a bit.”

Killian smirks. “I’ll have to keep that in mind.”

Emma unwraps the burger and examines it for a moment. “Okay,” she says suddenly, looking at him.

“Did I do you right?”

She laughs. “Yes. You did me right.”

Now it’s his turn to relax.

They eat and talk about nothing in particular. Work, plans, and he tells her about the odd cab driver he’d driven with to come see her.

And then they fight over the last of the fries from the bottom of the bag. Emma wins- he lets her- and she chews on it triumphantly before she dusts her hands off away from her legs.

He’s definitely glad that he worked the early shift at the coffee shop this morning so he could spend this hour with Emma.

“Care to walk, Swan?” he asks.

She nods and they rise. Killian tosses the bag into the trash bin and she takes his hand again, to his surprise, as they start a slow pace around the park.

It’s a nice day for a walk. There’s a breeze and the sun is delicately warm against his skin. It makes Emma’s hair glow and he thinks even higher of the color than before.

They walk past children playing and elderly persons reading newspapers and he’s reminded of the camera crew when he sees one camera guy standing by a tree inconspicuously.

“Do you want kids?” Emma asks out of nowhere.

Killian shrugs, trying to keep cool. After all, he’s imagining those children with Emma.

“Ah… I suppose so. D'you?“

Emma is quiet for a moment and he can’t keep his eyes off of her. She’s so beautiful, even in her work uniform with her hair up all proper.

“I think so,” she says, glancing over at him and then back ahead of her. “When Leo was born, Mary Margaret made me watch him and hold him and change his diaper all the time. You’d think she was trying to give him to me to keep.” She laughs. She is so beautiful. “But I love watching him. I’d love to have a few of my own.”

“A few,” Killian says, raising his eyebrows.

Emma laughs and it makes him do the same and he’s suddenly self aware and embarrassed because he’s supposed to be treating her like a lady, like a princess, and they’re talking about children and now he’s thinking about the complicated mess that he and Emma are right now.

How he wishes it wasn’t a mess. She’s still guarded and he’s still holding back because of it. They only have a few weeks left to decide if they want to stay married or if it’ll be best for them to divorce.

At the moment, as much as he adores spending time with Emma, he’s leaning toward ending it.

“I’m sorry. I brought it up. I shouldn’t have. Kids are a conversation for later.”

His thumb swipes over her knuckle at her response and she stops walking. They turn to face each other.

“I’d ask you out for dinner tonight, but unfortunately, I’ve got to bring home the bacon.” He sighs, making her laugh and squeeze his hand a bit, swinging their joined limbs a little with her teeth running over her lip and her eyes shining.

“Yeah? The bacon?”

Killian nods, shrugging as if he doesn’t know what can be done.

“You can…” She bites on her lip and sways a little on her feet. “Bring me to dinner tomorrow night?”

Killian hums curiously, flicking his tongue over his lip, and he pretends to think it over for a minute. “I suppose I could. I was planning on eating dinner tomorrow anyway.”

She hums in the same manner he had before. “Well, then I suppose if we both happened to be going to dinner at the same time tomorrow, that could be considered a date.”

He shrugs. “Perhaps.”

She taps her chin with her free hand and slides closer to him. He swaggers toward her as well and they’re standing so close that when she presses her left hand against his chest, she hardly has to move it.

He glances down at the hand, admiring her wedding ring for a second, before flitting his eyes up to her. She’s so unaware of how beautiful she is. He’s only known her for eleven days now, but they’ve been the absolute best eleven days of his life.

“Thank you for coming to see me and taking me out of the office and feeding me.”

Killian smiles softly. He knows all about her special thing with food. Mary Margaret told him stories about how she’d sometimes be forced to eat plain bread and cheese for an entire day’s worth of food. She won’t go hungry with him. He won’t let her feel that void anymore.

“You’re very welcome, Emma. I rather enjoyed it myself.”

She nods. “Yeah.” Emma bites her lip. “Um… I don’t want you to think I’m… ungrateful for all you’re doing for me.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t.”

She takes a small breath.

“It’s just really hard,” she says quietly. “to figure out a balance. I mean, I didn’t- I didn’t really want to do this show and then Mary Margaret talked me into it and by the time I finished all of the tests and stuff I just figured nothing would happen, because I didn’t think anyone would match up to me.” Emma searches his eyes. “And then you did and I guess I didn’t really figure out what it meant until just recently. So I’m sorry if I’m making this difficult and hard on you, because I’m not the commitment type, but with you- it’s different.”

She has his heart racing and his breaths coming quicker, though he’s not sure if she’s picking up on that, because he’s trying his absolute hardest not to overreact.

“I want to try,” she says with determination. “I want to give you the chance to prove to me that you’re going to be the rock I need in my life and that you won’t be Neal and run off with everything-“

He cuts her off- he can’t handle it anymore- and lifts his hand to her cheek as he kisses her.

He’s wanted to know that she wants to try for nearly eleven days.

Emma’s fingers find their place in his hair and he feels her breath against his skin when they take a momentary pause before he slips his tongue into her mouth and shifts her more firmly against him all in one swift move. Her smile is evident against his lips and he can’t help but mirror her before they break.

“Okay,” he tells her.

“Okay,” she whispers, her fingers releasing his hair and traveling down his chest to the spot above his heart. “Walk me back to work?”

Killian is so happy he’d do anything for her right now. He nuzzles her nose and presses a quick kiss to her forehead.

“Aye.”

He isn’t nearly as surprised this time when she finds his hand and leans her head into his arm.

///

day 11. mary margaret and david’s apartment, NYC.

The door to Mary Margaret and David’s apartment whisks open just as Emma sets her knuckles against it for the first time.

“Emma!”

“Mary Margaret, how’d you know I was coming?” Emma asks with hunched eyebrows.

The woman smiles so widely, so happily, that Emma has to wonder if she already knows what she’s come to talk about.

“Mother’s instinct!” she chirps, already grabbing her arm and tugging her in a touch forcefully.

Mary Margaret closes the door and whisks her into the living room, where David is watching the news and playing some game on his tablet.

“Emma! Hey!” David greets.

She smiles. “Hey, David,” Mary Margaret releases her arm and stares at her for a moment. “Okay. What’s going on? Why did you know I was coming? What’s with the smiling and the gushing?”

Mary Margaret furrows her brow, frowning a touch. “I don’t know what you mean. I’m not gushing.”

Emma sighs and turns in time to see David pop up.

“I’ll go grab my shoes.” he says to Mary Margaret. She nods him off and then drags Emma to the couch, sitting her down on it before sitting herself down on the ottoman.

“Tell me! Tell me what happened.” Emma takes a breath and gives her a curious look for a second. “Oh, please, you think David didn’t tell me? Come on. Out with it.”

Emma laughs. “Okay. Fine.” She clasps her hands together over her lap. “We had lunch in the park and I told him what we talked about. I told him I wanted to try.”

Mary Margaret’s face lights up so excitedly that Emma can’t help but smile in return. The woman reaches over and wraps her arms around her neck.

“Emma, this is so fantastic! I am so proud of you and how you’re taking this first step. You can do this.” Mary Margaret slips back and looks her in the eye a little more seriously. “You can do this, right? You’re not going to heal overnight, but you’re going to put a little trust in him?”

Emma nods.

“Yeah,” she smiles a little.

Mary Margaret nods and reaches down to take her hands, squeezing them excitedly as she practically squeals.

“Oh, Emma, I’m so proud of you. I’m so glad you’re giving him this opportunity. I know it’s not going to be easy, but you were paired up because the experts think you’re a match, and that’s so far been going well, right?” Emma nods, though Mary Margaret keeps chattering away. “Oh, he’s your soulmate, Emma, I’m sure of it. He’s your truest love. I can tell.”

“Well, let’s not get carried away, Mary Margaret. I’m not sure I’m ready to even think about him like that.”

Mary Margaret nods. “Oh, right. Sorry. I just-“ The woman sighs, “I am so glad you’re doing this experiment and that Killian has been such a good example of a leading man and husband in your life. He’s perfect.

Emma smiles a little. “I wouldn’t say perfect. But he’s… he’s great.”

Mary Margaret gives her another hug. When she pulls back, David comes into the room wearing his shoes and a tee shirt and jeans.

“Oh, were you guys going out? I can watch Leo-“

Mary Margaret laughs and bites on her lip as she stands up, looking over at David.

Actually,” David says, smiling at her, “We were going to go see a certain band perform tonight.” His smile warms his eyes and Emma feels herself flushing for no reason. “And Leo is staying over with Granny and Ruby tonight, so you’re off the hook there.”

Emma nods and stands while she watches Mary Margaret bustle back to where her shoes and purse are awaiting her. Emma has to smile.

“But we were thinking you might like to come with us,” Mary Margaret suggests tentatively, shrugging a little while she steps into her shoes.

“Oh,” Emma is genuinely flattered. “Well, Killian didn’t say anything about wanting me to come earlier and-“

David frowns at her. “Come on, Emma. It’ll be fun.”

She sighs, her fingers twitching by her side as she contemplates the idea.

“Okay.”

///

day 11. bar downtown, NYC.

Killian looks nervous when she sees him backstage.

He’s focusing quite a bit on the strings of his guitar and his brows are furrowed so deeply that she thinks his eyes have disappeared. She comes up to him and almost as if he knew she’d be there, he looks up. His face lightens up at the sight of her.

“Swan,” he smiles. “You’re here.”

“I am,” she smiles back. She eyes him slightly. “Mary Margaret and David convinced me to come see you.”

“Ah,” he grins. “So you didn’t want to see me. They did.”

Emma gapes at him. “No, I did want to-”

He chuckles. “I know, Swan. I’m merely teasing.”

“Killian!” David cheers, entering the area with his smile wide. “How are you doing, mate?”

Killian chuckles, deep and happy, and smiles for a moment at Emma before looking at her friends.

“I’m great.” His smile brightens his eyes. “And how about the two of you? Taking the evening off for the show?”

“We thought we’d support you,” Mary Margaret says. “After all, you’re a very important friend of ours now.”

She swears Mary Margaret winks at him and she wants to bury herself in a hole. She’s never been so mortified by them. It’s honestly like they’re her parents- all the checking into Killian all the time and escorting her to a show.

Killian hums. “Well, I’m glad to have you.”

David grins and Emma thinks this is the end of her life, because her father is becoming friends with her husband and it’s so obvious he’s trying to impress him. He’s even wearing what he’d called “rocker shades” tucked into his shirt collar.

She keeps her head down when he speaks, “So, Killian, what kind of amplifiers are you using?”

As if he completely knows what he’s talking about. Emma gives Mary Margaret wide and frantic eyes, to which she nods and Emma is quick to rush out of the room.

“Why is he so in love with Killian?” Emma asks with a sigh.

Mary Margaret laughs. “I don’t know. He’s been excited to finally get to know him, so I guess when they started talking, they really clicked.”

Emma shakes her head, rolling her eyes as she guides her friend to the front, closest to the stage. “Well, I’m sure Killian will love having him as a friend.” Emma frowns. “I hope they don’t talk about anything too weird.”

Mary Margaret nods. “Right. I’m sure they’ll just talk about normal guy stuff. David could really use a friend. This is good for him.”

Emma nods in agreement. “Yeah. Right. Guy stuff.”

///

Killian laughs, clapping David on the back. “Mate, that’s fantastic. You should play with us sometime.”

David gives a humble shrug as he lifts the guitar off of his knee and hands it back to him. “Aw, well thanks. Maybe I’ll think about it when Mary Margaret finally lets me buy one of my own.”

Killian chuckles. “She’d be foolish not to if she knew you could play.”

David shrugs again, a smile on his lips. Killian straps his guitar back over his shoulder and checks his watch.

“Hey, Dave, I’d love to talk some more, but we’re about to start the show.”

David nods. “Right. Okay.” He claps his hands together. “Uh, I just- I wanted to ask you something.”

Killian shrugs. “Alright.”

“Do you think you could take me out on that ship of yours? I’ve never been sailing. I’d like to give it a shot.”

Killian laughs. “Well, I’ll have to check and see what we’ve got going this weekend, but I’d say Saturday I could bring you out for a few hours.”

David grins. “Great. I’ll just…” He glances toward the stage door. “Uh, could I get your cell phone number? And a picture too? For my contact list.”

Killian nods. “Of course, mate.”

///

day 11. emma’s apartment, NYC.

“He what?” Emma laughs, moving the toothbrush from her mouth and looking over at Killian who continues to scrub his teeth.

He pulls his out and spits out the white foam. “He took a selfie with me.”

Emma laughs again. “For your contact picture on his phone.”

She raises an eyebrow and he shrugs, raising his own eyebrow in return. Emma continues to brush her teeth and she shakes her head, a smile on her lips. Killian puts his toothbrush into his mouth and grins over at her.

This is the first time they’re brushing their teeth together and she feels oddly close to him. She likes that they’re so comfortable, standing there in their pajamas, brushing their teeth, talking about the day’s earlier events.

Emma spits out her toothpaste and runs the water again. “I think he’s in love with you.”

Killian chuckles, spitting out his toothpaste. He sets the brush down into the toothbrush holder.

“Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that.”

Emma places her toothbrush into the holder beside Killian’s and steps out into the bedroom. She turns around and gives him a suspicious look, her eyes widening when she sees him smirking.

You like him too?”

Killian throws his hands up. “Guilty as charged.”

Emma laughs and shakes her head as she goes to her side of the bed. She peels back the covers and Killian comes up to his side, slipping the covers back just as she starts to slide into them.

“Well, at least you don’t hate each other.” Emma resolves.

She reaches for her phone and finds several messages from David and Mary Margaret. Apparently they don’t get out nearly enough and they both are in love with Killian and the band’s music.

It’s relatively early for a show night.

Killian had excused himself early after hanging out for a few minutes after with the fans. She’d watched him with them, taking pictures and signing things. He’d been kind and every so often, he’d look at her, his smile spreading, his eyes softening. It’s clearer to her now that he truly does want this to work.

She sets the alarm and turns off the light after confirming that Killian doesn’t need it. She lies on her back, her ears still ringing from the music and her heart still warm from hearing her song all over again.

She knows Killian probably played it to impress Mary Margaret and David (more so the latter), but it doesn’t matter, because it makes her remember that Killian Jones cares deeply for her.

“You did great tonight,” she tells him, turning over onto her side.

He sighs and turns to her.

“Thanks, love,” he whispers. He smiles at her and brings his hand up to under the pillow. “You inspired me.”

She smiles softly. “You’re sweet.” Emma reaches over and brushes back his hair. “You know what I think you should do?” He hums, shaking his head. “I think you should have a merch table. And then I could wear your shirts.”

He raises an eyebrow suggestively. “Why, Emma, if you wanted to wear my shirts, all you had to do was ask.”

Emma rolls her eyes, but smiles anyway. She curls her hands up under her pillow. “I’m really proud of you, Killian. I hope you know that.”

He smiles sweetly at her. “Thank you.”

Emma sighs softly. “I think Elsa said tomorrow they’re coming for some interviews.”

Killian groans and rolls his nose into the pillow.

She chuckles. “It’s not so bad. They’ve actually left us alone for a few days.”

He hums and he reaches his hand out from under his pillow to set it on her hip. He pulls her to him and Emma laughs, “What are you doing?”

He shrugs. “Care to cuddle me, Swan?”

She laughs again and she sees it tug at the corners of his lips. “Yeah. Okay.”

And just like that, she allows herself to sleep with her back against his chest and his arms wrapped protectively around her waist.

And it’s good. It’s good being married to Killian Jones, because he’s warm and kind, and his patience runs deep.

Chapter Text

fourteen.

day 12. emma’s apartment, NYC.

By the time Emma gets back to the apartment, it is almost nine at night.

There had been a call last second before she was going to leave and they were sent down to a crime scene. A minor theft, thankfully, but David had been in charge of the case and he wanted her to be the one in charge of cataloging the missing items.

She’d texted Killian before they got into the building about being late tonight and she hopes that he’s not planning on bringing her out or anything of that sort, because she is just about finished with being out for the day.

Her stomach is pinching and gurgling hungrily as she opens the door, and when she steps inside, she’s met with pitch black silence. Narrowing her eyes, she fumbles for the light switch, and then discovers a piece of paper on the counter- a note from Killian.

Emma-

I’ve got practice tonight. The band is due to perform in a few weeks in Boston and we’re not quite ready for it yet, with the new songs and all. I’ll be home late. There’s pizza in the fridge and I recorded House Hunters if you’d like something to watch. I know it’s not terribly fair, but I’ll see you in the morning. We’ll have to reschedule our date for another night.

-Killian

Sighing, Emma sets the paper down on the counter and adds her things to it. She hadn’t thought they’d stumble into this problem so soon, but it does make sense. They’re both incredibly busy people, for good reason. And she doesn’t hold it against him that he’s at practice so much- he’s in a band.

It’s not really a big deal. She’d lived for years on her own before Killian and they’re barelytogether as it is, so she probably won’t miss him at all. She’ll just do what she did before this whole experiment even started. Maybe it’ll help clear her mind, after all.

Emma heats up something in the microwave while she changes into her sweats. Then, she goes back out into the kitchen to get her food and sits down on the couch with it.

House Hunters is one of Killian’s favorite shows, she’s discovered, so watching it without him is kind of… weird. She finds that she keeps looking over at his spot on the couch to see his reactions to decisions, finds herself wanting to talk out loud about the couple on screen’s choices, but because there’s a camera on her, she can’t quite do that.

Emma bites on her lip when she finishes her dinner, letting out a heavy sigh as she sets the plate onto the coffee table. She checks her phone to find nothing new and hesitates with her thumb over his name in her call log.

If she called him, it wouldn’t help this empty ache she has in her chest.

But she would hear his voice and get to at least say hello.

Emma hasn’t ever had to wonder about whether or not it’s appropriate to call a guy before and right now, she’s faced with the reality that yes, Killian Jones in fact does mean something to her.

///

day 12. rehearsal space, NYC.

They just finish practicing one of the new songs when his phone rings. Killian gives it one look before he smiles softly. “I’ll be back, mates, got to take this.”

HIs bandmates give him a unified look of disgust but Killian just ignores them, happily answering the phone as he walks into a quiet room.

“Swan, hey,”

“Hi,” her voice is quiet and he imagines she’s feeling the loss of his company just as much as he is.

“I apologize for not letting you know sooner. It was a last second decision and I know you were looking forward to having some time together tonight.”

Emma is quiet. “Yeah. It’s okay. We can do it later this week sometime.”

“Aye,” Killian sighs, taking his fingers through his hair.

He hates that their schedules are so different, that they’re essentially living together but not connecting at all. He hasn’t seen her in over fifteen hours and it’s the longest it’s been for him.

Emma’s silence tells him she’s probably thinking practically the same thing and he has a seat in a chair, putting his hand over his eyes. A headache starts throbbing in his temples and he feels tears burning behind his eyes.

There’s a camera crew here with him, one of the camera lenses trained right on him, and he suddenly wants nothing but privacy. It is, after all, his marriage he’s trying to work on.

But they signed up for this, so they have to deal with those consequences. The money at the end of it seemed much better when he didn’t have feelings mixed up in the True Love match he’s sitting in silence with over the phone.

“I started watching House Hunters but it’s not the same without you,” Emma remarks.

He smiles a little, looking down at his left hand on his knee. His wedding ring shines predominately. He’d like to tell Emma that lots of things are different without her- that he can hardly go anywhere without thinking of something she said or the sound of her laughter, but instead he sighs.

“We can watch it together tomorrow, perhaps,” he suggests.

Emma’s silence makes him regret it. “You have a show tomorrow night.”

“Aye,” he laughs spitefully. He tosses his head back, straightening out as he stares up at the ceiling. “Bloody hell, Emma, why is it that the day after we’ve decided to make a true go at it, we can’t even see each other?”

Emma laughs softly. “I don’t know. I guess sometimes things don’t go as planned, right?”

All he can think about is their wedding day now, seeing her floating down the aisle towards him. The moment he knew everything would be different. That his life would be forever devoted to this woman.

“Aye,” he agrees. He has a lump in his throat and he licks his lips as he swallows. “Swan, I don’t want to be the couple at the end of this month that doesn’t make it because we couldn’t make time for one another.”

“You make time for me,” she insists. “You came to work the other day.”

“But is that enough?” He asks. “Is it going to be enough for the rest of our lives? Five minute phone calls in the middle of practice?” He has a horrible feeling in his gut and he can’t shake the frustration. “And eventually, if the band goes touring-”

“If the band goes touring I’m okay with Skype dates and all day texting and surprise visits.”

“Emma, you can’t want that,” he sighs. “You deserve more than that.”

Emma is quiet again. “Then I guess the experts were wrong about us.”

If his heart didn’t ache before, it most certainly does now. He closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Emma…”

For a second, she’s silent, and he hears her sniffle. “I’ll let you get back to it.”

He so wishes they weren’t just talking on the phone. He’d like to wipe at the tears in her eyes, to kiss her, to rest his forehead against hers.

But instead, he listens to the sound of her broken breathing. Instead, he’s sitting in a cold chair in a room by himself, half-listening to a couple of idiots argue over chord progressions in the room over, tears in his eyes and a horrible lump in his throat.

“Bye,” she says weakly.

Killian clenches his hand into a fist and closes his eyes tighter. “Bye.”

///

day 13. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma wakes when the door to her apartment opens.

Glancing over at the alarm clock, she finds that it’s barely one in the morning, and Killian is finally home. However tired she is, Emma sits up and flicks on the lamp, squinting as he enters the bedroom.

He wears a soft, tired expression on his face, a hint of a smile pulling at his lips. “What’re you doing?”

Emma tucks her hair behind her ears as he sets his guitar down. He sits on his side of the bed and turns toward her after he removes his shoes.

Their conversation earlier had been rough to say the least. She still feels that ache beneath her breastbone and she isn’t sure how to treat him now that they’ve put all of this out on the table. She feels the need to protect herself, because if they’re not going to try to make it work any longer, why should she open up?

But he has creases in his forehead and tired eyes and his fingers tremble against his own fingers as he twists his wedding band.

“I wanted to see you,” Emma replies. “Is that a crime?”

Killian searches her face. “No.”

“I missed you,” she admits.

“Aye,” Killian agrees. They stare at one another for a few moments before Killian speaks again, “I’ve never wanted this with anyone else, Emma. I hope you can see that I’m all in for you.”

Emma swallows and nods. “I do see that. Everyday.” She looks down at the blankets of her bed. “No one has ever wanted to give me so much. With Neal it was… young, stupid love. He’d give me things, but he’d expect in return and he’d want me to do things that I was too blind to understand were wrong. Or he’d smother me in lies and I’d buy them because I wanted to trust him, and that’s how I got sent to jail for a day.”

He doesn’t really look too surprised when she manages to look him in the eye. He just looks sad.

He swallows. “I’m sorry.”

Emma shakes her head and takes a quaking breath. “You know, if your band does well, I could resign from the department and I could just travel the world with you guys and we could have a merch table and I could run it.”

Killian’s shoulders drop, his head tilting toward his shoulder. “You’d do that?”

Emma shrugs. “If you wanted me to.”

He’s quiet and his gaze falls to the bedspread.

“I do worry,” he admits softly, his forehead creasing. “That we’re both too busy. How are we going to be able to say for certain if we’re going to stay married after a month if we’re hardly together?”

Emma shakes her head. Tears burn in her eyes, same as they had when they spoke on the phone earlier that night. “I don’t know.”

They stare at one another and Killian’s eyes look glossy to her, as if he’s not happy about this relationship development, either.

“We’ll have to try just a little bit harder, then,” he says. “That’s all.”

Emma nods, forcing a smile. “Yeah.”

As she lies down with him beside her, she can’t help but worry that they won’t be able to, that every wall she’d had up before had its reason- because even at their best they can’t truly be together.

///

day 13. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Killian has woken every single morning since living with Emma when she had to leave the bed. However, when Killian wakes up this morning, she’s long gone.

He runs his hand over the sheets beside him and finds them impossibly cold, not even a little body heat to suggest she’d ever slept beside him. It hurts, most definitely, and he presses his hand over his eyes as an agitated groan escapes his lips.

Their discussion the day prior is firmly impressed in his brain as he gets up and goes about his routine. He doesn’t know how to fix it, and it’s what has him so afraid.

He’d worked so hard to get them to this point where he feels as if she’s going to be willing to be his wife, that she actually wants it as much as he does. It isn’t fair that all of that could be taken from him just because of schedules and poor timing.

Killian sits on the sofa with his phone in his hand, staring down at a picture of Emma, the one she’d allowed him to take for her contact information, and he sighs as he’s interrupted when his phone rings.

“Brother,” Killian says, trying his hardest to sound cheerful. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I was wondering if you’d like to go sailing this morning. It’s been awhile since we’ve had our morning chats over tea.”

“Aye,” Killian agrees. “Okay. I can meet you in a half hour.”

“I’ll see you soon.”

///

day 13. the jewel of the realm, NYC.

Killian smiles when he sees his brother. It’s been only a few days since they’d seen each other, but the last time they were together, it was fairly awkward due to the nature of the television show he’s on.

There is a camera crew on his heels now, but at least they don’t have to have any specific conversations.

Liam beams at him as he steps up toward him and when they’re close enough, they embrace. “It’s good to see you again, little brother.”

“Younger,” Killian corrects, arching an eyebrow as he steps back.

“Apologies,” Liam chuckles. “Younger brother.”

Within a moment, Liam seems to notice that there’s something up, because he straightens, pointing his chin toward him. “What’s wrong, Killian?”

Killian sighs. “Brother, I’m fine.”

“Like hell you are,” Liam scoffs. He examines him with a wary eye. “You’re losing sleep. What’s been going on? How is married life?”

Killian tries not to cringe, but he does, and Liam gives him a concerned frown. “Do we need to bring out the rum?”

“No, no,” Killian insists. “Emma’s great. She’s wonderful.” He pauses, searching his brother’s caring features. Liam doesn’t have experience in marriage, but he’s a smart man, one who Killian looks up to a good deal. “We’ve… we’ve come to a bit of an impasse. She says she wants to try but our schedules aren’t matching up any longer. We hardly see each other during the day. I didn’t even see her this morning, and I usually do.”

Liam stares at Killian thoughtfully. “That is a troubling problem.”

“Aye,” Killian snorts. He shakes his head. “You don’t have to tell me.”

Liam nods. “I’m sure you’ll figure it out. If you care for her as much as I know you do, you’ll find a way to make the time to be together.”

It does nothing to soothe the ache in his chest, but Killian nods. “Aye.”

///

day 13. emma’s apartment, NYC.

There is darkness when Emma enters the apartment after work. She’s carrying a bag of take-out and she has a sigh on her lips when she flips on the light and discovers another note on the counter.

She settles the food she’d picked up for both she and Killian down and reads his note:

Emma-

Words cannot accurately describe how awful I feel about this, but I’m with the band all day. Our paths just seem to be having a hard time crossing these past few days, don’t they? I promise it’s for a good reason tonight- we’re recording a handful of songs and getting ready for a viral campaign so, maybe it’ll be for the best in the end. I’ll see you when I get home after the show, or, I hope so.

-Killian

With a little smile on her lips, she can’t be too devastated with the fact that he isn’t here again. She wants his band to succeed, and that’s something that will never change for her. His music is what keeps her sane most days and honestly, she might not be here if she hadn’t discovered it.

Emma heads into the bedroom and finds a piece of paper on top of the dresser, a picture of them taken by the documentary crew she thinks, happy and walking through the park, hands entwined, smiles wide on their faces.

Her smile spreads a little as her heart warms up. She bites down on her lip as she flips it over to discover a note from Killian.

Elsa took this the other day. You’re beautiful here. -Killian

She can’t help the way her heart squeezes at his words and she grabs her clothes to change before heading into the bathroom.

When she flips on the light, she officially gets tears in her eyes at the sight of the writing on the mirror. It’s just a heart, with their initials inside, a plus sign connecting them, but it’s so endearing and goofy and so Killian that she can’t help but laugh and wish he were here so she could kiss the stupid smirk he would most definitely be wearing from his lips.

It doesn’t take her long to figure out that Killian spent a while leaving her little odds and ends around the apartment. He’d left a raw demo of him playing and singing her song in the DVD player and it starts playing as soon as she turns on her TV.

In her favorite coffee mug, he left Hershey’s Kisses, and there are a few more photographs from their time together here and there, with little notes about his thoughts about her.

Emma goes to bed and she ends up staring at the picture she has of them walking in the park, seeing how full of hope they had been that day. She remembers the weight of his hand in hers, the way he’d stared at her when she told him she wanted to try, and the press of his lips when he’d kissed her for the second first time.

Emma sighs, setting it down on her nightstand. It all seems like it had happened a lifetime ago, because all she knows is this quiet, cold apartment, despite the fact that her husband had tried his hardest to make it a little more bearable.

All she wants is to know him. She doesn’t want to stare at his pillow until she falls asleep and she doesn’t want to wake up to the sound of him coming home. She wants a relationship where they can explore and grow and change.

She doesn’t want this.

She definitely doesn’t want this.

///

day 14. emma’s apartment, NYC.

There isn’t much about this he likes, but at least it isn’t past three in the morning when he arrives home again.

He sets his guitar down in the living room and toes out of his shoes there before he goes for the bedroom. Emma’s awake, he knows because she turns onto her side and sighs softly.

“Hi,” she whispers.

“Hey.”

He goes to his side of the bed and stares over his shoulder at her as he sits there, his fingers reaching for hers. She easily takes his hand, sliding her thumb over his.

“How did it go?”

Killian grins at her, shaking his head. “It was great.” He pauses. “We recorded your song.”

She smiles a little bit, humming curiously. “Yeah?”

He nods. “Aye.” The silence between them speaks volumes and he heaves a sigh. “I’ll be right back. Got to shower.”

“Okay,” she replies softly.

Killian lingers for a moment, staring at her, and he leans down, pressing his lips to hers so that she reaches up to cup his cheek. His eyes squeeze closed tightly and his heart physically aches, wanting so badly for this to work.

He presses his forehead to hers and they don’t speak, not that he knows what he’d say.

He had tried something earlier- leaving notes and little things to tide her over, but being with her is different than thinking of her, and he knows his attempts aren’t nearly enough. The weight of the problem they’re facing is too heavy for sweet nothings to smother over.

He gets up from the bed and grabs his bedclothes before heading off for the shower.

It doesn’t surprise him at all when he returns to bed and she’s fast asleep, her body turned away from him.

And it doesn’t surprise him the next morning when she’s long gone.

But what does surprise him is the piece of paper she’d left on her pillow. It’s the photograph of them in the park, happy.

He flips it over and finds his note for her, but below that, she’s written: I want this again.

“Aye, love,” he says aloud, shutting his eyes again. “So do I.”

Chapter Text

fifteen

day 15. emma’s apartment, NYC.

The past few days being as difficult as they have been means that the weekend is something of a way to start new again.

When Emma wakes up, she has her head tucked under Killian’s chin, his arm wrapped tight around her, and she has to smile just a little into his chest, because he’s here and she’s here too.

The camera crew will be here any minute to film them during this weekend and she sighs because of it, burying her nose into Killian’s chest.

His hand slides down her arm and he squeezes at her elbow. “Morning, love,” he murmurs.

“Hey,” she replies, her words muffled by his shirt.

He chuckles and strokes at her arm a little. “What?”

Emma moves back so she can look at him, setting her head on her pillow beside his face. He smiles softly at her. “Hi.”

“Hi.”

For a second, Emma forgets that they’ve been having trouble at all. She takes her fingers through his hair and cups his cheek in her palm.

“We should probably talk about it,” Killian murmurs. “Before the cameras come and it’s too weird.”

Emma sighs and her hand falls away from him. “What if I just wanted to have a quiet moment with my husband?”

Killian smiles widely. “You still can. But we should discuss our intentions, Swan. I’m not certain you’d prefer doing that with a camera focusing on you.”

Emma hums. “Yeah. I guess.”

He glances down between them. “I’ve been thinking of ways we could manage and I think you could come to practice some nights if you wanted.”

She supposes it’s better than nothing. She sighs. “Yeah okay.”

Killian frowns. “What?”

Emma shakes her head. “Practice? I’d love to go but you’ll be practicing, Killian.”

He sighs, putting his hand over his face. “I’m just trying to make it work.”

“I know,” she insists. “I know you are.” He finally looks at her. “We can just do lunch breaks and dinner when you’re free. I think that’s the best scenario right now.”

Killian struggles with it. He shakes his head. “And what will we do if the band starts touring and we can’t see each other for lunch breaks any longer?”

She looks away from him. The fear of that is very real, but at the same time she believes in the band and she wants them to succeed. It’s an odd place to be.

“I don’t know.” Emma finally says. “Should we just drop the act and agree that it won’t work? Before one of us gets hurt?”

“No,” he insists. “No. Emma, we were matched for a reason and so far I think it’s right. We just have to balance our schedules to make the time for each other.”

“So when the band blows up and I’m just a memory,” Emma says, “will any of this matter?”

Killian clenches his jaw. “You’re never going to just be a memory, Emma.” He stares at her. “And our marriage matters more to me than anything ever has or ever will, so I don’t want to hear you question it. Not after all we’ve been through.”

Emma blinks. “Okay.”

///

“We need to go shopping,” Emma sighs as she stands in the kitchen.

Killian is beside her, flipping pancakes, and she has the fridge open until she closes it. She turns toward Killian and smiles a little when he meets her gaze.

“Then we’ll do some shopping. I prepared a list but I wasn’t sure when we could go.”

Her heart squeezes warmly. “You made a list?”

He grins as she steps beside him. “Aye.”

Emma starts to laugh.

“Is there something the matter with making a list?”

“No,” she promises. “I just love that you made a list to go grocery shopping.”

Emma bites on her lip as she stares at Killian, hope rising up in her that yes they’re going to be okay. Because they both want this to work. They both want a marriage.

It’s almost a shock for her to admit it to herself- that she wants a marriage, with Killian. He has been nothing short of wonderful in the time that they’ve been together and all she has ever done is try to get out of this.

It doesn’t make sense to her now, as she’s taking her plate of pancakes to the couch so they can watch that episode of House Hunters that she’d tried to watch on her own.

The cameras are rolling, but she only feels Killian at her side as they settle onto the couch in their pajamas with their pancakes in their laps and coffees on the table before them.

He’s sitting with his thigh against hers and she sighs as they watch it.

“They’re going to pick house two,” Killian announces when it comes time for the couple to make their decision.

She laughs, setting her plate down on the coffee table. “No, they’re picking the third one. The wife is too overbearing. She’ll force him into it.”

He chuckles and shrugs. “Very well. If I’m right I win one favor of my choosing from you.”

Emma furrows her brow a bit. “And if I win?”

He sighs. “You get a favor as well.”

Emma smiles smugly. “You’re on.”

It takes about three minutes for the verdict to be reached. The whole time through the commercial break, Killian tells her about his schedule for the week, about future plans with the band, and she listens, offering her unwavering support as both a fan of the band, and his wife.

The couple picks house number two and Killian is very good at keeping his pride from showing too much. She sighs heavily at the fact that she was wrong. “Did you watch this episode before?”

“No,” he insists. “I’ve just got a good eye.”

Emma rolls her eyes and shifts on the couch a little so she can face him. “Then what is this favoryou request of me?”

He smiles a little at her. “I don’t know yet. I’ll keep it for later.”

Emma can’t help but laugh a little before he stands up to grab the dishes.

“If you’d have won, what would you have asked of me?”

She thinks for a moment and watches him take the dishes to the sink. “Maybe I would have asked for a trip on your boat.”

Killian smiles softly at her response, a little coyly, and turns on the water, scrubbing their dirty plates. “Well, I did promise David a trip out today.”

Emma gapes at him, laughing as she hops up to join him in the kitchen. “You and David are going sailing, huh?”

“Well, it’s not exclusive, love,” he explains as she steps beside him.

“Mhm,” she hums teasingly.

Killian arches an eyebrow. “Would you like me to ask you to come along with me?”

Emma shrugs, reaching for the plate when he holds it out. She takes a towel to dry it. “I don’t know. If you’d rather spend your Saturday afternoon with David, I would completely understand. I’ll just be at home baking my feelings out.”

Killian rolls his eyes a bit, smiling as he gazes at her, a smile tugging at his lips. “Would you join me sailing?”

Emma gazes back up at him and keeps her smile faint before she nods. “Yes.”

///

day 15. grocery store, NYC.

Shopping with Killian Jones is as interesting as the fact that he makes shopping lists. It’s cute, she has to admit, because he knows exactly what he needs and he gets this look on his face that she’d seen when he’d been in control of his ship.

He smiles at her sometimes, when she asks him questions about what she can do to help, and he just shakes his head before he tells her, “Let’s do it together.”

She has to admit, doing things together is easy. Exceptionally easy, considering all of the relationships she’s ever been in.

He pushes the cart and he asks her opinion on items he wants to purchase and by the end of their time at the store, Emma is actually surprised to find that she hadn’t hated shopping as much as she thought she would.

After all, she hardly goes. Or, she used to hardly go. Before marriage, she’d taken the weekend shifts, and had been available to work whenever. Now, she’s finding that weekends off are quite wonderful.

Killian carries their groceries back to her Bug and she wraps her arm around his middle, pushing up on her toes to kiss his cheek.

“What’s that for?” He asks, grinning from ear-to-ear.

“Nothing. I’m just happy.”

His smile crinkles at his eyes and he nods once. “Aye. Me too.”

///

day 15. emma’s apartment, NYC.

After taking David sailing, which was an adventure in and of itself, with David wanting to learn all he could, and Killian trying his hardest to not get annoyed at every interruption, Emma and Killian return to the apartment.

“Well, that was… something,” Emma says of their outing.

Killian chuckles. “David is an interesting bloke, for certain. I think I’ve had my fill.”

Emma laughs. “He’s basically my dad, Killian. You can’t get away from him too easy.”

He hums, a bit sorrowfully, and Emma peels back a grin as he turns toward her in the middle of the kitchen. She doesn’t know how to do relationships, but with Killian, it’s simpler.

“I had fun today.”

“Yeah?” He asks, lifting his eyebrows.

Emma hums, tilting her head to the side. “I did.”

“I suppose having you there made it better,” he murmurs.

Her smile spreads. “Good. Then we’ll have to do it more often.”

She watches his expression fade fast, his gaze dropping to the floor between them. “About that, Emma-” He stops himself as he draws his eyes to hers again and she feels like every good thing about the day fades away again. They’re back to this questions of how and is it worth it? “I don’t know how to fix this without dropping out of the band.”

Emma’s jaw falls open. “What? No. Killian, you can’t do that.” She stares at him for a moment. “I don’t think I told you about how nervous I was on our wedding day.”

He smiles a little, lifting an eyebrow. “You did. You said you thought you may lose your breakfast.”

Emma laughs.

“Right,” she smiles, “but all day up until the ceremony, I listened to your music and it calmed me down to where I wasn’t panicking about how insane I was being, going to marry a complete stranger.” She bites down on her lip. “It’s not every band that can do that for me. Your music means something, Killian. It’s passionate and real and it resonates.”

There is silence for a moment and Emma feels tears in her eyes because she honestly does not want him to sacrifice his band for her. Their marriage is not worth him quitting- especially if they’re not going to make it past this month.

She takes a breath and releases it. “And you’re going to be insanely famous one day and you’re going to tour the world and forget all about me.”

“No,” he shakes his head. “I could never forget about you, Emma.”

Emma manages a smile, biting at the inside of her lip. “Killian, we might not make it at the end of the month. We can’t pretend we will.” Her voice is quiet and it shakes, like her fingers do at her sides. “And I know we both want to try to make it work, but what if we can’t? What if this is it?”

Killian sighs and takes his fingers into his hair. “Emma, please. Don’t do this. Not right now.”

“When are we going to have this conversation?” She asks, feeling weary.

“We’ve been having it practically all week, love,” he says in response, throwing his arms up. “And I know that you won’t leave the department and I don’t expect you to. And I won’t leave the band if it’s what you want. But… if time together is weekends and only some evenings I don’t think either of us want to pour any more into this if it’ll only end in heartache.”

Emma has tears in her eyes and she nods vigorously. “Yeah.” She swallows and shakes her head. “It’s just that we signed up for this thing and they told us we’re supposed to be a good match. Aperfect match. Are we? Are we a perfect match?”

Killian’s expression softens and he reaches out to wipe at her tears, his finger warm against her cheek. “I like to think we are.”

Emma sighs. “Then what do we do?”

Killian shakes his head, shrugging. “Let’s start by drying these eyes.” He smiles a little, wiping at her eyes. She melts at the way he stares at her. “And we can prepare dinner together. How does that sound?”

Emma peels back a smile. “It sounds great.”

///

Killian watches as Emma hums and sways beside him.

They’re supposed to be working on the salad, but they’re listening to the radio and now he’s caught up in the way her hips move, how her carefree expression feels so much lighter.

Her hair is tied up in a ponytail, looking more alive than she’s been in a while, and he thinks, maybe, he might love her already.

His phone rings and he grabs it, wiping his fingers on the dish towel first. “Hello?”

“Brother, I was just in the neighborhood and I was wondering if I might come see you and your bride.”

Killian can’t help but smile. He tips his phone downward and Emma turns to look at him, her eyebrow raised in curiosity. “Swan, if Liam were to come for a visit, would that be alright?”

She beams at him. “Yeah. That would be great. He can have dinner with us if he wants.”

Killian nods, bringing his phone back. “Come on over, brother. We’re having supper soon if you’re hungry.”

“Ah! That sounds lovely. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“We look forward to it.”

///

Emma’s laughter carries in the tight space of her apartment.

With a camera crew in addition to the three of them gathered at the table, there’s pretty much no room to breathe, but Killian finds it easier to ignore the lights and lenses when his Swan is so happy beside him.

Liam’s been telling her embarrassing tales of growing up together and Killian would be mortified, but Emma crinkles up her nose and presses her hand to his thigh under the table, comforting him as Liam’s stories weave on well through the evening.

By the time it’s midnight, Liam finally checks his watch for the time and his eyes go wide. “Bloody hell. Apologies for staying so late. I should definitely be getting home.”

Emma smiles warmly at his elder brother and shakes her head as the three of them stand up. “No. It’s fine. We should do this more often.”

Liam grins at Killian then, raising his eyebrows. “Well, if there’s anything I love, it’s making my little brother blush.”

Younger brother,” Killian insists. Emma laughs, squeezing his arm. “And you should hear the stories I’ve got on him.”

Emma hums skeptically. “I’m sure they’re just as riddled with sibling rivalry.”

Liam chuckles as he puts his coat on.

Emma and Killian walk him to the apartment door, stopping when Liam opens it. Killian rolls his eyes when Liam winks at him over Emma’s head when she steps forward to give him a quick hug goodbye.

Killian gives his brother a hug and his brother whispers, just for him to hear, “Don’t you dare ruin this, you git.”

Killian sighs, shaking his head as he steps back, giving his brother a pointed expression.

“Well, it’s been wonderful.” Liam says, more so to Emma. “I’ll see you both soon, I’m sure.”

“Definitely,” Emma says.

And with that, along with a wink to the camera crew, Liam leaves the apartment. Emma smiles when she turns to him.

“Oh, don’t you start,” Killian warns, a tiny smile on his lips as he heads to the table to clear the dishes.

“What?” Emma asks teasingly. “Afraid I’ll tease you about your elf ears?”

He gives her a look as he plucks up the wine glasses and she just smiles, grabbing the plates.

“I think your ears are cute.”

Her words make him blush just a little and she meets his gaze with a coy look on her face. He smirks wildly at her. “Wait a moment, what’s this? Do you think I’m cute, Emma?”

Now it’s Emma’s turn to blush as she sets the dishes into the sink. She turns on the water and bites down on her lip, shrugging. “Maybe.”

He hums as he steps in beside her. He sets the glasses down and then puts his hands on her hips, pressing a kiss to her temple. “Don’t worry, I think you’re quite cute as well.”

Their eyes meet and he sees her smile, a soft thing that fades with bittersweet realities weighing heavy over them.

Oh, how he wishes it could be easier. He’d move the world for her if he could.

“Emma,” he says, taking a plate from her to dry it.

“Hm?”

“If… if we moved,” he starts, knitting his brow, “If we moved, to a smaller town, perhaps we could manage better. You’d have decent hours at least.”

She gives him a look. “You’d still be quitting the band.”

He shrugs. “I wouldn’t have to.”

“If we moved somewhere, anywhere else, the whole band would have to follow us. I know you’re all friends, but, Killian, that’s a commitment.”

They’ve effectively stopped doing dishes, and now they’re just staring at one another. Killian shakes his head, a wild grin spreading across his face.

“And I know for certain that they want adventure. Life in the city can be monotony.”

“You have a fan base setup here, Killian,” Emma sighs, her shoulders dropping. “You’d trade all of that-”

“I’d trade anything for you, Emma.” Killian says, not hesitating. “I just want… I want a future with you.”

She stares at him quietly, nibbling at the inside of her lower lip as she considers his proposition. Her gaze falls to the dishes and she licks her lips before meeting his eyes again.

“All you have to do is trust me,” he whispers.

Softly, a smile spreads on her lips, and she has tears in her eyes. “I do.” Emma takes a deep breath and lifts her hand to his arm. “We can look. No promises.”

“Aye,” he breathes, smiling wider.

“And I want you to ask the guys what they think before we even start narrowing the search.”

Killian nods. “Of course.”

Emma hesitates. “But are you sure you even want to make this commitment? I mean, it’s a lot- we’d be moving all of our stuff to a new place and starting new jobs- and what if we decide it doesn’t work?”

He lowers his voice, happiness fading fast. “Do you think, after everything we’ve been through, you couldn’t see a future with me?”

Emma opens her mouth, shaking her head. “No. No, I can see a future with you.” She pauses. “But I’m- after this is over, the show, we’re going to be on our own. It’s going to be really real.”

Killian sees the worry in her gaze and he drops his gaze, shaking his head. “If you think for one second that anything will change between us for the negative when this is over, you’re absolutely mistaken. I intend to do nothing but care for you, Emma. For the rest of my life.”

Emma smiles a little, clearly overwhelmed, “Okay.”

“Okay?” She nods. “We’ll take it one step at a time. One day at a time. No need rush into things.”

She seems happier, he thinks, and he leans in on instinct, capturing her lips with his, her surprised laugh music to his ears as he grabs at her ponytail with one hand and cups her cheek with the other.

After they’re breathless, he leans his forehead into hers, murmuring, “I want this to work so badly, Emma.”

Emma’s fingers find the curls at the nape of his neck and she gives them a gentle tug. “Me too.”

And for the first time since their wedding, when he looks at her, he thinks he truly sees Emma. Honest, vulnerable, happy, and content. He’d done that. It’s a victory in and of itself, the feeling rising up in him like an anthem that he needs to pen words to, for her laughter when he scoops her up off of her feet is the music.

“What are you doing?” She laughs.

He flashes her a grin. “We’re going to call them right now.”

///

“Jones! Why’re you calling me right now?” Will asks, obviously in the middle of playing a videogame.

Emma has to laugh under her breath. She and Killian are sitting on the bed, backs against the headboard, lights on bright, and he’s holding his phone between them, the speaker on so she can hear.

“Hey, listen, Scarlet, I’ve got something serious to talk to you about.”

“Is it about that wife of yours? I swear to every god above-”

Killian rolls his eyes and she catches the pink hue his cheeks get. He shakes his head. “Shut up, you git. It’s about Emma and I, yes. We’re thinking of moving out of state.”

For a second, there’s silence. Then, Emma hears something click, and it’s suddenly quiet in the background.

“What the hell are you on about? It’s one in the morning, Jones.”

Emma can’t help but laugh. “We kind of just decided.”

“Oh! Emma! Lovely to hear your voice, lass. Hope this bastard isn’t keeping you up against your will.”

Emma rolls her eyes and Killian sighs, gritting his teeth.

“No,” Emma says, “we’re just working through something right now.”

Will hums. “Well. Moving out of state, huh? If you did that, what’d become of the band? We’re nothing without you, Jones. You know that better than I do.”

Killian grins. “Aye. I’m well aware. You’d fall apart without me there.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Will suddenly backs up. “That isn’t true in the slightest-”

“Scarlet! Who’re you talking to?”

“Oi! Robin. It’s Jones.”

“Is it? What’s he doing calling around right now? Doesn’t he have a wife to tend to?”

Emma can’t help but laugh again, burying her face in her knees as she bites on her lip. Killian groans a little.

“She’s on the line, you git,” Will says roughly.

Robin shouts. “Oi! You didn’t have to hit me!” There’s a shuffle on the other end. “Hey! Robin here. What’s all this about?”

Killian brings the phone closer to him. “Emma and I are thinking of moving.”

“Moving,” Robin repeats. He pauses. “Like, what, down the road? You need help? I can lend my truck but I’m afraid it’s not very big-”

“No, no,” Killian corrects, “we’re thinking of leaving New York.”

Robin and Will are silent for a second.

“Leaving New York,” Robin echoes. “I’m sorry- did you just say you want to leave New York City?”

Killian and Emma both laugh, looking at each other. Emma’s heart warms at the sight of Killian feeling relatively good about this. She does too, weirdly enough. It just makes sense.

“Aye,” Killian says. “We’ve been having a tough time getting our schedules to match up and we thought, maybe, if we changed our scenery, if Emma could get a dependable job, perhaps…”

He leaves the rest in the open air and Robin is quiet again.

“But the band-”

“The band would… come with us.” Killian says, and Emma holds her breath in anticipation for the reaction.

It takes a few moments for it to hit the guys on the other end.

“Jones, I don’t think leaving the city’d be smart.”

Killian sighs. “Well, here’s what I’m thinking, come the television series, the band’ll be nationally recognized. It won’t matter where we are. Record labels will come to us. And, listen, we don’t need a label. We can just self produce.”

“Yeah. We’ve done it for years. I don’t disagree with that.” Robin says.

“Aye, yeah.”

“But what I’m thinking about is our fan base. It’s here. It’s in the city.”

Killian’s expression is thoughtful. He takes his fingers through his hair. “Aye. I know. I just think it couldn’t hurt us now. We could come back for shows on occasion. We’d just start on a new fan base.”

Emma smiles reassuringly at him. She sets her hand on his knee and gives it a squeeze.

“I don’t know… uprooting from everything we’ve got here…” Robin trails off, clearly in thought.

“Well, I’m in. I’ve got nothing here.” Will finally speaks up. “I’m ninety-nine percent sure Jeff’s down, too. He’s sittin’ right here, listening. Say something, you arsehole.”

“Hey,” Jefferson calls. “Yeah, I’m down with moving. I kind of hate this apartment.”

“It’s a bloody pigsty,” Will confirms. “Hate it.”

“Hey, it’s only a mess because you lot won’t keep it up like I did.” Killian teases.

The guys groan.

“You’re an idiot,” Will mutters. Killian just grins.

“So that leaves you, Robbie,” Jefferson says. “What do you think?”

Robin takes a deep breath. “What state are you thinking of moving to, exactly?”

Killian meets Emma’s eyes and they both hesitate, opening their mouths and tilting their heads. Killian shakes his head. “We’re not quite sure yet.”

“I wanted to know it would be okay with you guys first,” Emma speaks up.

“Ah. Wise.” Robin says, making her smile. “Well, if you can tell me where, I’ll definitely consider it.”

“Okay.” Killian replies, taking his hand over his head. “Great. That’s all we needed to know.”

After goodbyes and arguing from the other end, Killian hangs up and sets his phone down before he turns to Emma.

She smiles warmly at him, feeling hope blossoming in her chest. She bites down on her lip as she slides her legs away from her chest and her fingers twist gently at her wedding ring as she stares at him.

“So… Emma,” Killian says, making her chuckle under her breath. “Will you move in with me?”

Emma stares at him and stops twisting her ring. “I think it’s smart,” she says, “and as long as the guys are all in and you’re all in, then… I think I could be all in too.”

Killian grins at her and she laughs when he surges forward to kiss her, his hands warm against her face as he rolls her onto her back, his knees settling on either side of hers.

She hums, laughing a little into his kiss, and when he stops, he whispers, “Wonderful.”

Chapter Text

sixteen.

day 16. emma’s apartment, NYC.

They’ve been awake for quite a while, lying in bed with a laptop between them as they look for places to live in outlandish locations. Neither of them are sure where they want to go yet and as their search lingers on, Emma bites down on her lip, turning to Killian.

“We need to decide where we’re going. For real. I know Ireland is nice, but it’s a little too far from friends and family.”

Killian meets her gaze, stretching his arm over his head, using his fingers to pull at his hair, and she sighs at the sight of his muscles flexing. He drops his arm and takes a deep breath.

“I’d like a place that won’t cost my life’s savings to keep my ship moored.”

Emma chuckles. “Okay. And where do you think that would be?”

He rests his head on his shoulder and Emma mirrors him, their smiles soft and shy. He takes a soft breath as his cheeks redden and the tips of his ears warm up.

“I was thinking, maybe, we could go to Maine?”

Emma’s breath catches in her throat and she shifts closer to him, leaning her head against his shoulder as she contemplates life in a sleepy town like the one they’d stayed in during their honeymoon.

She feels his lips in her hair, his nose breathing her in deep, and his voice is soft when he says, “We don’t have to go that far, though. We could probably find a nice place in New York, too. Stay close to everyone.”

Emma reaches for his hand, her fingers threading between his, and she bites down on her lip. “I think going to Maine might be nice. And affordable.”

He chuckles. “Aye.”

“And you could keep your ship near our place.” Emma says, and it’s all very surreal, because they’re talking about living together in a new state, with a new apartment, and she wants it.

He cares so much for her, and she so much for him, that it would almost be ridiculous of them to leave this all behind. It’s only been a few days since she finally let go of her reasons for holding back, but with the distance between them due to work, she can’t see any other clear solution.

Making it work with Killian is important to her because she married him two weeks ago and she doesn’t want to get a divorce because she wasn’t able to at least try to make things work.

Killian hums. “And you wouldn’t be as busy at work.”

“Assuming there’s an opening,” she sighs.

Killian squeezes her hand. “Well, let’s do some more research. We can’t quit unless it’s a bloody impossibility.”

Emma moves her head from his shoulder to meet his eyes and he smiles softly at her. She returns his smile as she leans in to kiss him, something she’s glad to finally do more thanks to their recent closeness, and when they part, her teeth run over her lower lip.

“I’m hungry. Let’s eat something and then we can figure this out.”

He hums. “Are you trying to get me to make you breakfast?”

“Maybe,” Emma says, leaning in for another kiss. He smiles against her lips and she can’t help but laugh a little, pressing her forehead into his. “Please?”

“As if I could ever deny you, my wife,” he murmurs happily. He kisses her again and then takes the lead for the kitchen.

///

They’re making pancakes and Killian’s band is playing through the speakers of Emma’s TV and she’s singing along as she pours the batter into the sizzling pan while Killian prepares to flip.

He has a permanent grin on his face, listening to her sing the songs he’d worked so hard to write, some of which came from heartache, most of which came from pain. But hearing her voice, so soft and sweet, makes him forget about the ache behind the lyrics.

Emma turns to him while she waits for the batter to cement and pulls her teeth over her lip. “You know, I think this is my favorite song.”

He lifts an eyebrow, smirking wildly. “Is it, now?”

She hums, wrapping her arms around his middle and propping her chin on his shoulder while she watches him flip the pancake flawlessly.

“It’s one of mine, too,” he says. He listens to the guitar for a moment, then turns his head a bit to press a kiss to her hair. “But my personal favorite is the one I wrote for you.”

His hand joins hers over his middle and she buries her nose into his shoulder, pressing a kiss to his shoulder blade. Her hum vibrates against him. “I love that one.”

Emma moves away from him, taking her hands from his middle, and smiles up at him as she stands beside him. “I never got to really thank you for it.”

He shakes his head, furrowing his brow. “No need thank me. I should be thanking you. You inspired it.” After a beat, he hesitates, “Do you mind? That I wrote a song for you?”

Emma laughs, shaking her head. “Are you kidding? It was the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me.”

His heart soars with pride and he sneaks a look at the pancake before leaning forward to kiss her, all but hauling her close as his tongue slides into her mouth. She hums into his kiss, cupping his cheek with haste, her smile matching his. He leans back afterwards, smiling with her as her fingers slide up his chest.

“I’m glad you liked it, then.”

Emma hums. She reaches up and brushes back his fringe. “I loved it.”

He turns back to the pancake and flips it onto a plate, then Emma pours more into the pan. There’s a knock at the door and Emma sighs, stepping away from him to answer.

“Elsa, hey,” she says as she opens up the door. “We’re making breakfast.”

“Oh! Well, I guess we’re just in time.”

Killian turns to find the crew entering the apartment. Emma’s expression fades a bit, but she manages a smile as she steps beside him.

“Actually, before we get started,” Elsa says, drawing their attention to her after Killian flops the pancake onto a plate. “Last night you guys seemed to come to a decision that you’re going to be moving and… I got word from up above that they’d like to see if you can’t do that while we’re still here. They think it’ll be good for your story.”

Emma meets his eyes and she hesitates, pulling at her lip with her teeth. “Uh…”

“I can see why you’d think that, but just this morning we decided on Maine, and that’s a day trip, if not a weekend-” Killian explains, shaking his head as he trails off.

Elsa stares at them, her brain clearly hard at work, and she sets her hands on her hips. “Then I guess it’s up to you. I’m just the messenger. I’m sure we can work with whatever you’ve got planned for the day.”

Killian turns to Emma and she takes a deep breath as she stares back at him. “I’ll leave it to you, love. If you’d like to go, we can do some hunting today.”

Emma smiles a little. “I think it could work.”

///

day 16. emma’s bug, storybrooke, maine.

She puts the parking brake on as they pull up to the next address on their list of available real estate and Emma looks up at the building.

“Well, this is it.” She turns to Killian and he has his attention on something up the road. She drags her eyes to it and can’t help but smile. “Storybrooke’s pretty small, huh?”

Killian grins as he looks to her. “Aye. Too small?”

Emma shakes her head, considering all that she’s seen. It’s a quiet town, a place where everyone knows everyone and close to nothing ever happens. “It’s cute. I like it.”

There’s a camera guy in her back seat and she avoids looking at him when Killian settles his hand on hers in her lap.

“If this is too much, Emma, we don’t have to keep going.”

She takes a deep breath, unable to keep from smiling a little. “No. I’m good.”

The thing about this ridiculous show is that it only lasts a month. It means there’s not enough time to panic, and she’s already done her fair share of panicking for the two of them. Besides, she told him a few days ago that she wants to try, and trying means that she wants to experience lifewith Killian.

She wants to go house hunting and she wants to go on road trips and she wants the lazy mornings and the late nights. If they stay in the city, they’re probably not going to get to spend as much time together as she’d like, and she’s afraid that it’ll mean an end to this relationship at the end of it all, despite what he says about being in it for keeps.

He could be the world’s biggest gentleman, but she would never make him stay if she couldn’t get her act together.

Part of her is still raw, feeling as if she can’t be cared for, or loved, by this man, but with his warm hand against hers, his smile soft, and his lips tasting like hot chocolate when he kisses her chastely, she can’t help but feel just a little bit healed.

They’re working with a realtor provided to them by the show and she’s a perky redhead named Ariel, who keeps smiling at them as she opens up the apartments to show them off.

“This is a loft apartment,” Ariel says as they enter the place.

Emma’s eyes go up, amused at the tall ceilings and the exposed beams that Ariel discusses. Killian’s holding her hand and he stays quiet as Ariel guides them through the place. It’s kind of small, but at the same time, quaint. Perfect.

There’s a wall of exposed brick and the appliances are old, but it adds to the vintage feel of the place. She can picture some of her things and she can see them in the kitchen, making meals and cleaning dishes, and it makes her heart warm.

Ariel shows them the bedroom, a section of the apartment that is open beside the kitchen, and she clasps her hands together. “Well, this is it. Do you have any questions?”

Emma looks up at Killian and he shakes his head, raising his eyebrows as he looks at her. “I don’t. Do you?”

She shakes her head. “No. I love it. It’s really nice.”

“Isn’t it?” Ariel asks, and Emma knows she’s being honest, because she is quite possibly the sweetest person she’s ever met. “Well, this is the last available apartment in your price range in Storybrooke, so why don’t we head outside and you guys can talk it over and when you come up with a decision, you can give me a call?”

///

day 16. docks, storybrooke, maine.

“I can’t believe we’re considering living in a town called Storybrooke,” Emma says, shifting closer to Killian on the bench. “It’s like we’re in a fairytale or something.”

He chuckles. “I think it’s a rather nice town.”

Emma hums.

They sit in silence, staring out at the water, where ships bob in the little bay. Killian’s arm is wrapped snugly around Emma and there are cameras on them, which makes for an awkward silence between them.

Despite the awkwardness of the show, he can almost picture his ship in the harbor here, tied off to the dock, ready to be taken out for early mornings to catch the sunrise, or on evenings for the sunset.

A soft smile presses onto his lips at the thought.

“I really liked the last place,” Emma says, finally. “And I asked the sheriff if there were any openings, and apparently, there are. He needs a deputy.”

Killian turns his head to look at her and she takes a shaky, steadying breath. “I think it’s all lining up.”

He reaches up to brush her hair behind her ears when the wind blows it astray and he shakes his head. “Are you certain you want to do this, love? I don’t want you to feel as if we have to do anything.”

Emma smiles a little, tilting her head. “I’m… scared, but I think this is what we need to do. I don’t want to only know what it’s like to have a few hours of my day with you. I kind of signed up for the rest of my life and that’s not enough for me.”

Her eyes are full of brutal honesty and he aches for her, because they’ve come so far in these past few days. He’s proud that he’s the reason for it, proud that they’re working through their issues, and he wants nothing but for them to be happy at the end of this experiment, with or without each other.

He hopes it’s together, but anything can happen.

Killian smiles and kisses her forehead. “That’s music to my ears.”

She tilts her head toward her shoulder and he reaches for her left hand, thumb stroking over her wedding ring.

“Shall we start making big decisions, then?” He asks. “Phone calls and moving boxes… telling our friends and the band?”

Emma sucks in a breath, glancing briefly over at the water, then at him again, looking certain. “Yeah. I’m ready. I’m ready for a life with you.”

///

day 17. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Archie Hopper, one of the experts, had come to interview them about how they felt the level of intimacy was between them right after they came home from their trip to Maine. It had been late, they had been exhausted, but Elsa had promised it would only take a few minutes of their time.

And it had. It had been about thirty minutes of excruciating awkwardness, questions regarding their love life making each of them awkward and fidgety on the couch during their one-on-one interviews, and again during the interview they had as a couple.

Archie had chuckled at the way they both avoided the tough questions, averting gazes, and shifting on the couch. They’re not doing much more than kiss, and it’s only because they’ve been together together for only a few days.

Killian had expressed his kindness and gentleman-like behavior, saying, “I’m willing to wait for Emma.”

And she’d felt butterflies at his words, daring to look at her husband, whose cheeks were flushed and his ears bright red. He’d smiled at her, meaning all of what he’d said, and she’d returned his smile with a soft one of her own.

Archie had offered them advice for making sure they keep getting closer. He wants them to try being honest with each other more often, something that she finds kind of funny because lately they’ve been being more honest than she’s ever seen shared in her whole life.

Looking down at the coffee table, she stares at the book Doctor Hopper had left behind before she takes it into her hands. Emma bites on her lip as she opens it, discovering pictures from the wedding, as they’d been told.

She smiles, rolling her eyes a bit at the first picture. It’s at the altar and they’re kissing.

She gently flips the page and it’s a picture of them dancing. They’re both all smiles and it’s so ridiculous. All she remembers from their wedding day in full detail is their promise to keep this about the money, and now it’s not. It’s a bit unsettling.

Pictures outside in the garden follow and they look dumb posing like they’re in love and like they’ve known each other their whole lives.

Killian points at her face in one of the shots of them sitting at the fountain, leaning in close with their noses brushing and laughter spilling from their lips, as evidenced in the way their eyes are crinkling. She remembers that he’d said something absolutely ridiculous just before the photographer snapped the shot.

“This is a good one of you,” he tells her. “It’s real.”

Emma stares at it for a second and hums. “I’m sorry not many of them are.”

He slides a little bit closer to her. “Then let’s take some to remedy that.”

Faster than she can open her mouth to ask what he means, he’s pulling out his phone and holding it out in front of them.

“Now, smile like you mean it, love.”

She laughs, looking over at him, and his smile widens to his eyes. It’s beautiful, the way he looks at her like she’s worth all of the gold under the sun and then some.

He’s always giving her looks like this, always admiring, and always amazed by her.

She thinks that if a man can look at her like this and still keep his relative distance from her physically, he must be surely longing by now. Come to think of it, he does sometimes cast lingering, longing looks at her when he thinks she’s not looking.

She kisses him then, because he thinks she’s worth everything and anything, and she knows he’s taking pictures when she opens her eyes and pats his cheek. He leans into her, nose and forehead pushing against hers, smiles wide.

“I am quite possibly the luckiest man on Earth,” he tells her.

She hums. “Why?”

“Because I’ve got you.” He says simply. He pecks her nose and she scrunches it up at him. “You’re my wife.”

Emma smiles a little shyly at him and strokes at his beard. Her heart squeezes tight because despite their ongoing struggles, he’s still pursuing her with a fiery passion.

This, she thinks, is what a marriage is supposed to be like.

“Hey, Killian?” she asks.

He smiles softly. “Yes, love?”

Emma swallows. “I want to apologize for kind of being terrible at this relationship thing.” He scoffs and opens his mouth to reply, but Emma silences him with her finger against his lips. “I’m sorry I haven’t tried harder. I need to if we’re going to know whether or not we’re going to stay together.”

Killian nods in agreement. “Aye.”

For a moment, Emma hesitates. She doesn’t know where to take this. “How are you feeling about our relationship?”

He shakes his head. “I think we’re in a good place now.” He studies her face. “Now that we’ve got a plan, we need to stick to it and really try and see where it goes.”

Emma nods, an easy smile filling her lips. “Yeah.”

Killian lifts his fingers to brush back her hair. He bites on his lip and hesitates. “And I know it can’t be easy on you, Emma. You’ve been so gracious in opening up for me. If you’re ever… if you think I’m pushing too hard, tell me and I’ll stop.”

Emma shakes her head. “No. You could never push me too hard. You’ve done everything right.” She smiles a little at him. “It’s just me I’m worried about. I want to be your wife and care for you just as much as you care for me.”

Killian’s gaze is soft. He smiles, dropping his eyes down a little. “Well, Emma, I feel very cared for by you.” He returns his eyes to her and takes a breath. “And I know you’re trying, so that means a lot to me.”

Emma manages a smile. “I do care a lot about you.” She shakes her head as she stares at him. “And its kind of insane to me because we barely know each other.”

“Well, we did get married to start out this relationship,” he says, tilting his head to the side.

Emma hums. “Yeah. We did.” She pauses. “And it’s not like we have a lot of time to figure anything out.”

He nods in agreement. “Aye.”

“So I’m sorry for what I was like at the beginning,” she tells him honestly. “I’m sorry I pushed you away and I’m sorry I tried to keep you from pursuing me because I know that’s all you wanted. You just wanted to know who I was and I-”

Killian shakes his head and smiles softly, reaching for her hand. He squeezes it tightly. “Emma, I don’t regret what happened so you shouldn’t either. If anything, it’s helped me understand who you are more deeply than I could have if you were honest with me from day one.”

Emma would like to hate him for how understanding he is, but she feels just the opposite of that as she presses her forehead to his and closes her eyes.

They don’t need to say anything, so she doesn’t, content in just resting with him.

Sometimes she wonders if he knows he’s captured her heart, because as they sit on the couch so intimately close, Emma feels her heart spreading warmth throughout her body, enticing her to believe that falling in love with Killian Jones is easier than she could have ever imagined.

///

She wakes up when her phone rings with a jolt.

It’s still pitch black and she’s wrapped up in the arms of her husband. She smiles a little against his chest and presses a fleeting kiss to the spot before reluctantly ripping away to answer the call.

He sighs loudly and turns, hand going to her hip. She allows him to tug her into him while she talks.

"Hello?”

“Hey, Emma, it’s David.”

She sighs. “Right,” Killian’s lips go to her shoulder and his hand only holds her tighter to him. “I’ll meet you in the hall as fast as I can.”

“Okay.”

“Okay. I’ll see you in a few minutes.“

"Mm.”

She hangs up and sighs again as she presses her hands over Killian’s.

“I have to go,” she murmurs. He sighs against her neck and she turns. Her fingers go to his hair and she meets his sad, tired blue eyes. “I wish I didn’t.”

He hums in agreement and lifts a hand to her cheek, dropping his forehead to hers. “I’ve got work this morning but we don’t have practice tonight. Whale’s got a night shift at the hospital.”

Emma nods. "Maybe tonight we can go out to dinner.”

Killian smiles at that, his eyes earning crinkles at the corners. “It’s well overdue.” His fingers rub circles into her side. She hums, wanting to close her eyes and rest with him for a little while longer, but she knows David’s waiting on her. “I’ll think of you all day, love.”

“Good,” she breathes, laughing a little.

Somehow she manages to pull away, and she smiles the entire time she’s in the shower. When she goes out into the kitchen, he’s standing there with sleepy eyes and insane hair and her mug all ready to go.

She smiles softly at him, not hesitating as she goes to kiss him goodbye. Emma laughs softly through her nose when they part, still standing quite close to him.

She meets his eyes. “I’ll see you tonight.”

He draws her back in lazily and they both sigh into each other. She parts abruptly and steps back, smiling at him coyly, her brows tilted pointedly.

“I’ll see you tonight.” Her promise is firm this time and he nods.

She makes sure that she smiles at him before she walks out and he copies her, waving at each other like complete idiots.

And as she stands in the hall, coffee on her tongue, she can’t help but think that she already does love him. It’s a terrifying thought, one that she’s quick to dismiss, but she isn’t as afraid of it as she could be, and that’s a start.

Chapter Text

seventeen.

day 17. emma’s apartment, NYC.

She’s grinning like an idiot and she doesn’t care.

As she punctures her ear with the earring and bites on her lip as she stares at her appearance in the mirror, her heart is squeezing excitedly and she swears she’s never been this excited to go on a date with a guy before.

She gives herself a quick once-over, twirling in her red dress, looking to make sure she’s not exposing too much or too little, and then she takes a small breath before she opens the bathroom door.

She’s immediately face to face with her dork of a husband, standing there with flowers in his hand and a slim-fitting suit on his ridiculous body.

They’ve been waiting to do this for a while, and she somehow was allowed to come home early, so she’s especially grateful for this opportunity.

He appears to be completely infatuated with her appearance, his eyes big and oozing with attraction. Clearly, red is a color he likes on her quite a bit.

She smiles wryly at him. “Evening, Captain.”

His eyes go back to hers, away from the particularly low-riding hemline, and she catches his smirk.

“Hey,” his voice is low and breathy and she can’t help but smirk, because she has officially reduced Killian Jones to single syllables.

Her eyes go to the bouquet in his hands and she raises an eyebrow.

“We’re standing in our bedroom. Couldn’t you have put them in a vase?” Killian stares down at the roses and Emma laughs gently, stepping closer as she takes them from him. She kisses him. “Thank you. They’re beautiful.”

“As are you, milady.”

Emma feels a blush, but doesn’t let him see it as she whisks the flowers into the kitchen.

She takes her time trimming the stems and finding a vase, knowing full well that Killian is watching her every movement. As soon as she sets them on the counter, she smiles, turning to him.

“Are flowers an every date type of thing?” she asks. “Because I don’t think we have enough vases.”

He stares at her for a few seconds, admiring her, and then crosses the room, setting his hands perfectly into her sides, their hips drawing together.

“I was taught to treat a woman properly with flowers and dinner,” he says, smiling as his eyes trace over her face. He skims his hand up her side and his fingers go to her jaw.

Emma tilts her head, smiling contentedly at him. “Thank you. I love them.”

He shrugs slightly, smile tugging a bit wider. “You deserve to have them.”

Emma bites her lip as her fingers slide up his chest and into his hair. She pulls him to her and they kiss.

She really likes him. More than anything, really. And it’s crazy that they’ve gotten so close in only a few weeks, but it’s real and it’s honest and every moment spent with him is electrifying to her very core.

She chases him when he pulls away and a smirk finds his lips as he lifts a finger to hers. “We’ve got reservations in twenty minutes, Swan.”

Emma sighs. “Fine.”

He chuckles lowly and she takes his hand, delighting in the simple touch. They’re still standing foot to foot and his hand is still on her hip.

“I’m excited that we’re going on a date tonight,” she says, earning a bigger smile from him.

“Me too.”

Emma takes a deep breath. “It feels like forever since I got to see you after work. I kind of love this.”

His eyebrows go higher on his forehead. “And when we move, it’ll be like this every day.”

Emma hums, kissing him again. “I think I could get used to that.”

They kiss again, deep and slow, noses bumping as he leans into her. She laughs when he lingers there, clearly wanting more but holding himself at bay.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to convince myself that you’re real.”

She tugs at his hair and meets his eyes. “I’m real. And I’m hungry. So you’re taking me to dinner and then we’re packing up some boxes and then we’re going to bed.”

He backs away from her with a proud smirk and pulls her hand to his lips. “I suppose we’ll see about that, darling.”

///

day 17. restaurant, NYC.

Killian pulls out her chair for her to sit and she has to bite back a huge grin, because for once, everything feels right. There’s nothing hanging over their heads, there are no exes, there are no walls… it’s just them.

They order and get drinks and Killian raises his eyebrows flirtatiously as soon as their waitress walks away. Emma smiles coyly, tilting her head to the side.

“I think this is our second official date,” Killian says.

Emma thinks about it for a second. “Yeah. I think you’re right.”

He hums. “Well, I’m delighted that we finally have the opportunity.”

“Me too,” she agrees, sipping at her drink. “What do we talk about on the second date? We’ve been married for two weeks and we’re living together.”

Killian laughs warmly, crinkles finding the corners of his eyes. “Aye. That is a good point.” Her heart skips a beat at the way he stares at her. “Do you know that Liam asked Elsa for her telephone number?”

Emma’s eyes go wide and she gasps. “No.”

“Well, he did.” Killian says, grinning. “And I believe that’s why she isn’t here right now. They’re on another date tonight.”

Emma can’t help but laugh. “Another? How long has it been going on?”

He shrugs. “I think a week or so?”

Emma shakes her head slowly. “Well, that’s… oddly sweet.”

Killian hums. “I thought so.” He reaches across the table to take her hand. “Come on,” he winks, “We can play the questions game. I’m fairly certain we don’t know everything about each other.”

She rolls her eyes and laughs softly. “Okay.”

///

day 17. the jewel of the realm, NYC.

Nothing brings him more joy than seeing his wife laughing.

She’s holding his hand and they’re both dizzily warmed by drinking expensive wine, cheeks rosy and laughter almost maniacal, and he’s got her heels in his other hand while they trade more stories on their way toward his ship.

She smiles like the sun and it’s stunning.

“Killian, can we make cupcakes?” she asks.

He laughs at her. “We’re on a date, darling. Cupcakes at nine o’clock at night-”

She sighs and nods. “Okay. Maybe tomorrow.”

She squeezes his hand and they stop walking the dock, in front of his ship. They board, Killian helping her on with her fingers in his hand. When he has the chance, he sets her shoes down and they come to a stop together, Emma gazing up at him under the glow of the moon and stars.

Her smile is sweet, and he knows as a matter of fact that they could spend the rest of their lives having nights like these and he’d be more than content with it as long as she’d look at him like she is now.

“It was worth the wait.”

He smiles in return. “Aye.”

“So why’d you bring me here?” she asks curiously.

He smiles wider. “I wanted to dance with my wife and I thought, since it’s been a while, we could do it on my ship. If she has no objection, that is.”

Emma bites her lip and shakes her head. “She doesn’t.”

They fold into an intimate dance, swaying with the rolling of the tides.

Killian lowers his voice to a murmur, “Will you tell me where you learned to dance now that we’ve seen each other for a few weeks?”

Emma giggles, tilting her head gently to the side as they move.

“I was fourteen and this dance company moved in next door to the girls home I was in. So I convinced them to give me lessons in exchange for cleaning the place and I did that for two years, until I got moved into an orphanage across town and then Mary Margaret met me at my job at a pizza joint.”

He smiles a little. She hasn’t opened up too much about her orphan past to him. He knows bits and pieces. He knows what she’s comfortable sharing. It’s good to know she trusts him enough to share.

“Two years,” he repeats, twirling her out and back into him. “My wife is a professional ballroom dancer.”

She laughs, sweet and bubbly, and shakes her head. “Not by any stretch of the imagination, Killian.”

They continue to dance to the sounds of the world around them, and eventually, Emma presses her ear against his heart, allowing them to sway slightly. She smells fantastic and she’s warm, pressed against him so delicately.

“So you gave me flowers, brought me to dinner and dancing,” she presses her chin to his chest and looks up at him, “what’s next?”

He shrugs. “We could go home and bake if it would make you happy.”

Emma grins. “It would.”

“Excellent,” Killian stops dancing, moving in quickly to kiss her. “You have no idea how much I love getting to kiss you.”

She hums. “No, I think I do.” After a pause, she smiles at him softly. “We work really well together,”

“We do.”

It’s so easy to live and work together with Emma. She’s so perfect and he never wants it to end.

///

day 17. emma’s apartment, NYC.

Emma giggles as they sway into each other in the kitchen.

His hands are so big and warm on her hips and she gets chills at the feeling of his lips on her neck.

The place smells like cupcakes now, and they’re acting like a couple of idiots in love as he pushes her back into the counter gently.

They’d spent about half an hour baking, Killian all but getting in the way when he kept insisting they try the batter, and she’d laughed when he got some on his nose. He pouted when she pointed it out, but she kissed it off, much to his delight.

After spending a good amount of time cleaning up after themselves, they have to wait only a little while longer for the cupcakes to be finished, and Killian, clearly, has thoroughly enjoyed their evening together, because he can’t get his hands off of her.

Their lips connect and she tilts her head to deepen it, opening her mouth to give him access with his tongue. She groans a little, because he tastes like chocolate and wine, and he makes her feel like she’s flying high above the clouds.

He breaks from her and his fingers graze along her jaw. They’re smiling at each other and she can’t help but feel butterflies. It’s real. It’s happening. They’re so happy.

“I have had the best date of my life this evening,” he tells her.

Emma laughs. “Really? What made it so good?”

Killian’s eyes trace over her face with such adoration that she thinks she’ll probably never get enough of him and his romantic tendencies.

“You were my date,” he says, deep and low. “And that’s all that I need now. You with me. In everything.”

She feels a blush and she flits her eyes uncomfortably away from him to his chest. “Are you suggesting that I’m responsible for your happiness?”

He shakes his head, laughing a little. “I wouldn’t say no to that, love.”

Emma sighs softly and smiles at him again. “Well, you make me pretty happy too.”

He gives her a wry smile. “Do I, now?”

Emma giggles again when he presses his forehead into hers. “Yes. You do.”

She allows him to kiss her and almost loses sense of time and space for too long, her fingers clinging to his shirt. He leans back a little and wiggles his eyebrows at her as his tongue swipes at his lower lip.

He’d probably say something ridiculously flirtatious if she didn’t yank him back for another kiss, this one short and sweet.

Emma’s expression softens as she stares at him afterwards. “At work today, I was looking at the pictures we took of the new place, and I think I like it even more now that it’s going to be ours.”

“Yeah?” He asks, obviously happy.

Emma hums. “Yeah. It’s nice. And it’ll be nice to not be visited so much.”

He chuckles. “Aye.”

“And there’s a room for you to keep your music stuff,” she adds, smiling. “I think it’ll be really good for us to start over, kind of.”

His smile is soft. “I think it definitely will.”

The oven beeps from behind her and she turns to turn it off. She grabs the pot holders and reaches inside to take the pan out, sighing as she settles them down.

“Cupcakes are done,” she says, as if he has no idea.

He arches an eyebrow. “What good are cupcakes if we don’t eat them?”

Frosting cupcakes turns into a game and they both get smudges of chocolate on their faces as they both laugh about it. They argue about the best way to eat cupcakes and she stuffs a bite into his face while he feeds her a bite and they laugh even more.

“There, now we can officially be married,” Emma says. “Because we didn’t do that at the wedding.”

Killian licks his lips and hums. “I certainly do enjoy being married to you, Swan.”

Emma can’t help but grin, nodding in agreement. “Yeah. I do too.”

They gaze at one another for a few moments and Killian opens his mouth, glancing down as he clears his throat. “Erm… I was going to tell you that I told the band today of our intentions to move.”

“Yeah?” Emma asks, meeting his eyes again.

“Aye,” he replies. “They’re all on board with the move.”

Emma can’t help but smile widely. “Really?”

Killian smiles. “Even Robin said it would be fine.”

She doesn’t hesitate, pressing her hand to his chest and her other behind his head to yank him to her, their kiss tasting of chocolate. This kiss heats up a bit, Killian stepping her into the counter, his fingers on her sides, his tongue in her mouth, and she groans softly as she tips her head back for him, giving him all the access he needs.

“Emma,” he whispers, pressing his forehead to hers.

They’re both breathing fast, Emma’s fingers gripping his shirt tight. She hums contentedly.

“What was that about?” He asks, half teasing, but when Emma meets his eyes, she sees them darkened, hears the hesitation in his tone.

There are cameras in the room, and she bites down on her lip, taking a deep breath. “I think… maybe… after we get a few boxes packed…”

His eyes darken a little more and she can’t help but smile at the grin on his face. “Oh?”

Emma pulls her lips into her mouth and nods, her cheeks flushing a bit.

She releases his shirt, but he doesn’t move away from her, instead leaving a kiss to her lips that lingers, a deep sensual dance, unrushed and mind-numbingly wonderful.

When it’s over, her breaths come fast and she licks her lips, humming when he tells her he’s going to go to the bathroom.

She straightens out as she stands in the kitchen. Her eyes dart to the flowers on the counter and then to the camera trained on her. She swallows and makes her way toward the boxes that need to be built that sit on the couch. Killian had gotten a few today while she was at work.

When Killian returns to her side, they work with a heavy, expectant tension between them. Every accidental, or not-so-accidental, touch is like electricity, and he keeps smiling at her coyly as they stuff books into boxes.

After a few minutes of weirdly subtle foreplay between them, Emma looks at the crew and clears her throat. “Um… we’re just going to be doing this for a while. You guys can go.”

One of the crew members nods. “We had planned on doing an interview-”

“We can do those tomorrow,” Emma says, cutting her off, much to Killian’s amusement. His eyes are alight with playfulness and he grins all-knowingly as he folds up a packed box.

The crew member hesitates, but ultimately nods, and within minutes, the crew is out the front door, and their microphones are gone, and they’re alone. Finally.

Emma turns to Killian and he lifts his eyebrows at her, “You’re a bit impatient, aren’t you?”

She rolls her eyes. “I just went on an incredible date with my husband. Pardon me for wanting some time alone tonight.”

Incredible?” he asks, his smile wide and his eyebrows high.

Emma gives him a look. “Yes. You make me happy. Does that surprise you?”

“Not at all,” he says honestly, stepping toward her.

He lifts her then and her hands clamor for a hold on his shoulders, an unprepared squeak coming from her throat. “What are you doing?”

He holds her tight to him as he walks her into the bedroom. “Why don’t we take this conversation someplace more comfortable?”

She laughs and kisses him as they cross the threshold to the bedroom.

He has her lip between his and it’s sloppy and heated, but loving, and she can’t help but sigh out of relief. He sets her down on the bed and they continue to kiss, hands everywhere, grunts noisy as he leans over her.

“Bloody hell,” Killian curses in a whisper, kissing her again. “Are you certain you want-”

“I think it’s about time,” she tells him, wanting nothing but him in this moment.

He gives her a devilish grin as he cups her cheeks and lays a firm kiss to her lips. With a low groan, he presses their foreheads together. “Emma.”

“Hmm?”

Lazily, he runs his fingers down her arms when she reaches for his belt, and he kisses her softly, as if he’s worried he’ll break her.

“I have never wanted anything more than I want you. So I want to know if you’re not ready, because I fear that if we cross this line, I’ll never be able to go back.”

Emma stares up at him when he leans back, searching her eyes. His kindness is so gentle and he is so caring. She has a feeling that he must love her, because she has never seen anyone act like this with her before in her life.

“It’s been seventeen days since I married you and every single day since then I have had to deal with the fact that you’re stupidly attractive and we haven’t even attempted to make anything happen here.”

He chuckles and Emma reaches for his belt loops, watching those eyes of his carefully, his smirk overly flirtatious.

He is so much taller than her when his knees hit the mattress beside her thighs and she smiles as she wiggles up the bed until her head hits his pillow and he pushes himself down over her, their lips meeting with smiles on them.

“So, just to clarify,” Killian says, pushing up on his hands so he hovers over her, “you do want me.”

Emma gives him a look. “We just went on our second date and I was feeling really good about this but if you’re going to keep asking me questions about whether or not I want you when I have told you several times tonight alone-”

Killian silences her with a soothing kiss and she melts into him, allowing his affection for her to wash over her as he moves his lips down her neck. Emma grabs at his hair and runs her fingers through it until he meets her eyes again, a smirk on his lips.

“You are so beautiful, Swan,” he whispers, then presses a kiss to her forehead.

“You haven’t even seen anything yet.”

“I don’t need to,” he laughs. His smile is gentle. “I know your heart. And I know what your laughter sounds like.”

He rocks back onto his knees and pulls her with him. Emma bites on her lip and slides her fingers up his chest, carefully unbuttoning his shirt.

“And I know that you like reading classics,” he says softly. “I know that you like sleeping in and falling asleep later than you should. And I know that you smell like flowers.”

When she slides his shirt off of him, it ends up on the floor, and she blinks at him, her heart racing as her stomach twists.

“You wear your hair down because it’s easier and you like it that way,” he murmurs, running his fingers through it. He smiles a little. “And your hips when they sway to my music are the most alluring thing I have ever set eyes on.”

Emma can’t help but laugh a little, leaning in to kiss him again. They keep it gentle, though her fingers work off his belt, and his unzip her dress after he tucks her hair off to one side.

Their eyes meet as he drops her dress free, and she takes a soft breath, laughing a little when he asks her to lean back so he can get her free of it.

She adores the way his eyes lilt upwards, crinkling at the corners, and his lips peel back as he chuckles with her, scrunching his nose a bit at the way her bra ends up hitting the dresser a few moments later.

It’s not perfect, but it is. It is everything she thought consummating her marriage would be like. Loving and tender, but at the same time just a little bit awkward, and overall, overwhelmingly right.

As they lie in the afterglow, chests heaving and skin sweaty, Emma turns onto her side to face Killian, a smile on her lips at his breathy statement, “This had better not be a one-time thing.”

She laughs as her fingers find his heart, feeling it race beneath her touch. “No. Definitely not.”

She’s never experienced a single relationship that makes her feel like he makes her feel. Cherished and wanted and loved. As she looks at him and he stares back at her with a tenderness in his eyes that she has only ever seen in his gaze, she realizes that he’s everything she’s ever wanted.

She might not be ready to tell him that quite yet, but he’s somehow gotten under her skin. He’s given her reason to trust him. He’s offered up so much of himself for her and he’s been so patient. He’s kindhearted and intelligent, and he listens to her when she talks to him.

He takes her hand when she curls up against him, his lips instantly brushing at her forehead. They lie there for a while, comfortable and quiet, until Emma sets her chin on his chest and looks him in the eye with a sigh.

“I didn’t tell Mary Margaret or David yet, but I put in my resignation today.”

Killian runs his fingers down her spine soothingly. “Well, we can have them over for dinner tomorrow and tell them, if you’d like?”

Emma nods. “Yeah.”

Killian’s fingers continue to dance and she feels his wedding ring against her skin, cold in the air of the bedroom. It makes her heart skip a beat as she stares at him.

“This show is insane,” she says suddenly. “Pair people up and give them a month to decide if they want to stay married. Insane.”

He chuckles, reaching up to brush back her sticky wet hair. “Aye. It is rather strange when you think about it.”  

“But I did it because I thought, deep down, maybe it could work. Maybe I could get matched up to somebody who would understand me and wouldn’t hurt me,” she tells him. She scans his face. “And then they told me they had a match for me and I was so conflicted, because it shouldn’t be possible, but… you’re kind of perfect for me in every possible way and I don’t know why I was ever afraid of that.”

Killian’s gaze softens and his smile spreads. “You had good reason for your walls, love. Stop apologizing for everything that happened.”

“I hurt you,” she frowns.

He shakes his head. “No, Emma, you didn’t hurt me. I promise. I liked being the one to break down your walls.”

Emma takes a steadying breath at his words, her heart squeezing tight. “This feels like a marriage now more than it ever has before.”

“Aye,” he agrees softly.

She gets a twist in her gut and she swallows. “I’m not sure how to do this.”

Killian smiles. “Neither am I.”

Emma laughs. “Really?”

He nods. “Really. I’m just as flustered by it all as you are.” His fingers settle on the small of her back. “I’m not even sure I’m doing it right.”

She laughs a little more, shaking her head. “You seem like you have your act together.”

Killian tilts his head, scrunching up his face as he laughs. “No. Not at all. Sometimes I wonder if you’re secretly judging me for my inability to do my part.”

Emma snorts. She shakes her head again, setting her head down on her pillow beside him so they can look at each other. “You’re so full of it. I don’t think that’s even a little true.”

“It is!” He insists, his eyebrows high. She laughs. “Honestly, Swan, I’m making it all up as I go and I’m hoping for the best.”

She rests her head down on his chest again, listening to the sound of his breathing as his fingers lazily slide up and down her arm.

“You’re really good at making it up, then,” she says. “Because you’re a really good husband. I don’t think I could find a better one if I had to try to on my own.”

Killian chuckles, pinching her side so she laughs, her body flinching into his. “Well, Swan, I should hope that by the end of this, you don’t decide that’s what you want to do.”

Her laughter fades fast, her smile falling, and she holds herself closer to him, staring at her wedding band where it rests over his chest.

He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her, but she can’t find the words to tell him that, so instead, she kisses him until they end up right back where they started, each other’s names on their lips as she sits astride him, his fingers gentle but calloused as he slides them over her skin.

It feels like it could be hours later when she rests in the comfort of him wrapped around her, his even breaths in her ear, his arms tight around her middle.

Emma turns around to face him, watching as he sleeps. She runs her fingers through his hair, pressing their foreheads together as she whispers, “I don’t want anyone else. I just want you.”

Chapter Text

eighteen.

day 18. coffee shop, NYC.

Emma thinks she’s being sneaky.

She hasn’t told Killian that she’s taking her break early so she can see him at work. He’d told her he wanted to come see her at lunch, but she hasn’t been able to think straight all morning and figures that seeing him sooner won’t hurt anyone.

Her partner August had given her a look when she asked him if it would be alright to leave, but she promised him a coffee. And anyway, she’s going to be leaving him soon- what difference does an hour in the morning do when she’s halfway out the door?

She sees him almost instantly when she enters the building.

He’s focusing on the foam design in a white cup with a stick in his hand. His tongue is sticking out the corner of his mouth and he’s wearing a little visor over his head that allows for his hair to jut upwards.

It’s cute. Her husband is cute.

She doesn’t have to wait in line, thankfully, and when he hands the woman in front of her a cup, he smiles a little at her and thanks her for her business.

Emma bites her lip as she slides up to the register where he’s standing. His eyes haven’t come to her yet, and when they do, they immediately widen and a huge smile crosses his face.

“Hey, Stranger,” she says happily.

He chuckles. “Emma,” She bites her lip again and presses her hands to the counter. He tilts his head at her. “What are you doing here, love? I thought we were going to meet for lunch.”

She shrugs. “Maybe I wanted to see you sooner.”

His eyes brighten a touch teasingly as he leans forward, over the bar so he’s almost close enough to touch.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he tells her, voice low and almost bashful. “Not that I don’t want to spend the next hour of your break from behind the bar exchanging words, but, I do have a job to perform, darling.”

Emma sighs, nodding as he searches her eyes and toys with a loose strand of her hair. “Maybe you should give me something to drink, then.”

Killian hums. “Now we’re onto it,” He searches her face, grinning salaciously, before he bounces back. “What will it be, Sweetheart?” He gestures to the menu written in chalk above his head. “Lattes are fairly popular here, though you don’t strike me as a latte drinker.”

Emma smiles wryly at him. “And why is it that you don’t know my hot beverage preference?”

He quirks a brow at her. “Perhaps I would if we discussed hot beverages.”

She crinkles her nose at him and eyes the menu for a moment before she locks eyes with him, peeling back a sweet smile.

“Hot chocolate with whipped cream and cinnamon. That’s my favorite drink.”

He reaches behind him and lifts a cup, twirling it around in his hand for a moment, smirking at her. “Then one hot cocoa with whipped cream and cinnamon is coming right up.”

She smiles while she watches him work.

It’s a little strange that he seems so in his element working a job he clearly doesn’t enjoy all too much, but she knows him. She knows that he puts his all into everything, even if it isn’t what he wants.

It doesn’t take him very long to pull together her drink, and then, when he sets it down in front of her, she has to roll her eyes a little. In the foaminess that is her whipped topping, he’s created a heart shape. Idiot.

“Thank you,” she says, reaching out to take it.

He nods. “It’s on the house.”

She rolls her eyes again. “As if you’d let me pay for a drink here.”

Killian shrugs, an easy smile creeping across his lips. He’s so damn cute it’s not fair. And he’s allhers.

“Perhaps I just wanted to say ‘it’s on the house’.”

Emma giggles, reaching in for the cup. “I guess I’ll go sit down with my cocoa and check out cute boys.”

He gives her a look, quirking his brow, and Emma hums a laugh. “You’d best not be checking anyone out, Swan,”

She glances around the shop teasingly and hums, looking at the men sitting around the room at tables with coffees and laptops. She licks her lip as she turns to see Killian.

“Maybe I’ll just check out cute baristas.”

He tilts his head curiously, glancing over at the other ladies working diligently behind the bar, oblivious to their conversation.

“Well, I hope you’ll overlook my coworkers, then.”

Emma sighs, shrugging. “I don’t know. It’ll be kind of difficult to avoid their allure.”

She eyes him, biting her lip as she starts to walk toward an empty chair by the windows.

She tosses a look over her shoulder at him, “If you happen to turn around, I won’t be responsible for any ogling I do, by the way.”

His brows shoot up to his hairline and she giggles quietly. “The same could be said about you, my dear.”

So, yeah, she does make a show of turning around and swaying her hips for him.

The rest of the hour goes by in teasing looks and stolen smiles, wide and flirty and all for them. He comes to her table after about half an hour and they tease each other relentlessly while talking about their plans for their night.

Tonight’s kind of a huge deal because they’re telling David and Mary Margaret officially of their plans. She thinks David might have an idea, might even actually know, because he keeps giving her looks at work, and she knows the discussion they’re going to have is a serious one.

She hasn’t left David and Mary Margaret in the entire time she’s known them and moving to be with her husband in a different state is the biggest step she’s ever taken for her own personal interest.

Emma pulls his visor off of Killian’s head and he yelps before she puts it on her own head, smiling at him.

“Why do you have to wear this?” she asks, adjusting the strap so it fits her better.

“Uniform, love, haven’t you heard of it?”

She rolls her eyes and he puts his hand over hers on the table. She smiles at him, mirroring the look on his face.

She looks at her phone and bites her lip, smile turning downward as she takes the visor off again. She sets it down on the table.

“I have to go soon.” He takes his chair and slides it over to next to hers, setting his palm to her thigh. “What are you doing?”

Killian leans in closer to her, his face coming so close to her. “I’m kissing my wife goodbye.”

She sighs. “Isn’t it a little unprofessional to be kissing anyone in your workplace?”

He huffs, snorting as he squeezes her thigh. He pushes back and takes her hand, tugging her up with him. She keeps her laughter quiet as he brings her to the front door, then he drags her a few steps away from it, before he plants a firm kiss to her lips and a hand to her hip.

He brushes his nose against hers and takes a breath, the hand at her jaw rubbing circles into her skin.

“I wish we could have had lunch.”

Emma shakes her head. “I needed to see you sooner, Killian.” She bites her lip. “But you know what, you can come pick me up.”

“I might have to take you up on that,” he breathes thickly. She hums before their lips meet again. “You are so beautiful.”

“You aren’t so bad yourself, Sailor.” Emma kisses him once and then slides her hands over his chest so she can feel his breaths.

He presses his forehead against hers, their eyes meeting and smiles spreading. “I’ll see you tonight, then, love.”

“Yeah,” she sighs.

Killian catches the expression on her face when the familiar feeling of uneasiness settles in her belly. He tips her chin up with his fingers and his smile is loving and warm.

“I have a hard time believing that they’ll be disappointed in our decision. Mary Margaret is our number one supporter, I think.”

Emma nods, feeling a little lighter. “I know.” She manages to smile. “It’s just a big step for us.”

Killian’s fingers play in her hair and he shakes his head. “Well, I, for one, am ecstatic that we’re doing this.”

She smiles wider. “Me too.”

She drops her hands from his chest and allows him one last lingering kiss that she almost would like more of before she slips away from him. He squeezes at her hand and smiles at her before she leaves him.

///

day 18. emma’s apartment, NYC.

She’s nervous. It’s kind of ridiculous, because she knows without any hesitation that Mary Margaret and David will accept this big decision with open arms. But part of her is still worried about her relationship with Killian and how strong it is.

They haven’t technically been together for very long, and they’ve only been serious about it for a couple of days. But she knows one thing, and it’s that spending any amount of time without Killian Jones has been impossibly difficult. She misses him more than she actually gets to see him, and it’s an ache that fills her chest any time she so much as glances down at her hand.

So she knows that while moving right now might be impulsive and fast, it’s the only way they’re ever going to be able to attempt being together.

She’s working on chopping vegetables for dinner and Killian is standing beside her working on the meat and there’s music playing in the background, but she can honestly only think of happy days in her past spent with Mary Margaret and David, and she misses that.

“You’ve been quiet all evening, love,” Killian says suddenly, ripping her out of her mind.

She blinks at him and he smiles warmly as he turns toward her fully.  “Yeah… sorry. I just have a lot on my mind.”

Killian hums. “Nothing bad, I hope.”

Emma sighs, shaking her head. “No. Nothing bad.”

She turns to him, putting her hands over his chest. She stares up at him and runs her palms up and around his neck, pressing her head under his chin. He holds her easily, his hands on her hips.

“I want to move with you,” she tells him, “but I’m worried about leaving Mary Margaret and David. Is it too soon? Are they going to be okay? They love me a lot.”

Killian laughs softly. “Emma, they’re not going to be thousands of miles away. We’re moving a couple of states over- not across the country.”

Emma buries her face closer to his neck. “Okay, then I’m worried about me adjusting to losing my support system. What if I recoil? I don’t want to hurt you again.”

For a moment, Killian just holds her, his grip tightening at her words. He settles his head on hers and takes a deep breath that she feels firm against her.

“Emma, I have no doubt that it’ll be difficult. Marriage is difficult. But, I hope, that after all of the trouble we’ve been through these past few weeks, we can easily decide to truly be together. And if we can’t, then maybe, this experiment will have shown us that we’re not supposed to be together.”

Her eyes close tight and she holds on firmer. “I don’t want that to be the case.”

“Aye,” he murmurs. “Neither do I.” He pauses for a second and his fingers flex on her hips. “It’s my job, or I hope it’s my job, to protect your heart, so I would like to believe that when we move, you’ll be able to put your faith in me completely.”

Emma leans back, searching his face. “I do have complete faith in you, Killian. I always have, even though it hasn’t always looked that way.”

Killian smiles softly, albeit a bit shyly, and she mirrors him, pushing up on her toes to kiss him.

She needs to know that everything will be okay. It’s hard to see what’s to come when she only has the present and past to lean on.

“It’s been eighteen days since we got married,” Killian says softly. “I feel like that’s cause for celebration. You haven’t ripped my head off yet.”

Emma snorts, smacking him playfully in the chest, her body still snugly wrapped in his arms. He chuckles when she kisses him again.

“Because I happen to like you. And I have for a while.”

He hums. “Well that’s bloody good to hear.”

A moment of quiet contentment passes between them as they stand there in the kitchen, arms around one another. There are cameras on them and she knows it, so she eventually sighs and separates from him, turning instead to the vegetables she had been chopping up.

“What do you think about pets?” he asks.

“Huh?” Emma scrunches up her nose and looks at him briefly.

“You know, are you a dog person or a cat person?”

Emma chuckles, tilting her head. “Um… I guess I haven’t thought about that before. I think dogs are great, though.”

He nods in approval. “Good to know.”

She gives him a playful look, narrowing her eyes at him, and he chuckles, bumping hips with her. He presses a chaste kiss to her temple. “You’re going to get me a puppy someday, aren’t you?”

“Perhaps,” he shrugs. “We could name him after a pirate.”

“What, like Calico Jack?”

He shrugs. “Or Blackbeard.”

Emma scrunches up her face in thought, spitting out a random name, “Peg leg Stevens.”

He laughs. “That’s not even a real name!”

Emma shrugs. “I’m not as well versed in piracy as you are, Captain Hook.”

Killian rolls his eyes and wraps his arm around her middle, kissing her soundly. “When I get you a pup promise you won’t call him something ridiculous.”

Emma smiles. “What? I can’t call him Buddy?”

///

Mary Margaret seems to know something’s up. She enters the apartment with a wary expression on her face, though she immediately hugs Emma and greets them both with high, Mary Margaret levels of enthusiasm.

“I’m so glad we’re getting together for dinner,” Mary Margaret says as they sit at the table.

Emma smiles, despite the feeling welling up within her of hesitation. Killian, who sits beside her, reaches under the table to squeeze her hand, drawing her attention toward him. They exchange soft smiles.

“Yeah. It’s definitely long overdue.”

Mary Margaret nods in agreement as David eyes her carefully. He doesn’t say anything.

As they eat, Mary Margaret has a million things she wants to talk about regarding life and Emma has answers, feeling more at ease when she doesn’t think about the fact that she’s about to leave her two very best friends for a life in Maine.

When things slow down, Emma looks down at her plate and then at Mary Margaret, a tentative smile on her lips.

“So, um, you guys,” she says, straightening out. “Killian and I have some news to tell you.”

“Oh?” Mary Margaret asks, raising her eyebrows. She sets her fork down and finishes chewing, devoting all of her attention to Emma.

“Yeah,” Emma sighs.

David stops chewing, narrowing his eyes a bit, though he doesn’t look as surprised as Mary Margaret. He licks his lips as he folds his hands together before him.

“Um,” Emma pauses. She looks at Killian and he nods reassuringly at her. “We’re moving to Maine. Tomorrow.”

Mary Margaret’s eyes go wide and she gasps. “You’re moving? To Maine?”

Emma swallows a breath and nods. “Yeah. We just decided to do it a few days ago and we both resigned from work. We went to look at apartments last weekend and we found one we really liked so we worked it out with the landlord and we’re going to move.”

Mary Margaret looks at David, her eyes welling up with tears, and she bites on her lip before she looks back at them.

Emma’s fears feel as if they’re already coming true, because Mary Margaret is staring at her and she’s not saying a single thing.

“Is it… okay?” Emma ventures warily.

Mary Margaret laughs, and David chuckles.

“Oh, Emma,”

“We had an idea,” David says. “After you resigned from work I asked Liam if he might know what’s going on. And he said you had started looking for places last weekend.”

Emma narrows her eyes in confusion, turning to Killian, who simply chuckles and shakes his head. “That’s what we get for having a film crew member dating family.”

Her jaw falls open and she looks over at Elsa, who cringes, pressing her face into her palms, clearly embarrassed.

Killian laughs. “No worries, lass. I’d told him of our plans after we made the call.”

“Oh?” Emma asks.

He smiles softly, leaning in so he can wrap his arm around her.

They turn back toward Mary Margaret and David and the pair smiles at them.

“Well, if you need help, we’d be more than happy to offer whatever we can.” David says. “What time do you think you’ll roll out?”

Killian takes a deep breath as she stares up at him and he shakes his head. “Five or six, I think. We want to have time to start settling into the new place.”

Emma nods in agreement. “Yeah. So we really have to finish packing tonight.”

Glancing around, she finds that the apartment is still fairly full and furnished and not packed. It isn’t as if they’ve had too much time, though. Between work and impromptu dates, they’ve had limited time to finish up packing.

“Well,” Mary Margaret says, smiling optimistically. “If you’d like, we could help speed things along?”

Emma takes a small breath and glances at her husband, finding his hand under the table and giving it a squeeze.

“That’d be great.”

///

The night goes by in a warm, happy flow.

With the help of David and Mary Margaret, they’re able to pack up the apartment. There’s laughter and there’s memories exchanged as they find things in her apartment that trigger them, and the fact that they’re moving is something Emma becomes excited for again, because Mary Margaret and David are more than a little happy for her.

All that remains when they’re finished is the bed, broken down so they’re sleeping on the mattress on the floor, and Emma has to feel a little sad, because this was her place for so long.

It carries so much heartache, though, and she’d like to let it be in her past.

“Well, we’ll be by to help in the morning,” Mary Margaret says as she hugs Emma tight. “And we’ll miss you so much, but I know this is for the best. The absolute best.”

Emma feels her eyes burning with the prospect of tears and she squeezes them tight as she holds onto Mary Margaret for a little while longer.

When they part, they smile at one another. “It’ll be fine. We’ll see each other for weekends and holidays and birthdays.”

Emma nods. “Yeah. Of course.”

And she can see those things, but with Killian in the mix instead of just the three of them as it had been for quite some time. Christmases with Killian, where he’s eager to give her practicallyeverything, where she learns his traditions and she learns his. Birthdays with better, new meanings. She can see happy photographs and simple things she can learn to cherish in her mind’s eye.

Emma can’t wait.

Killian and David embrace for a second and then he hugs Mary Margaret. She whispers something in his ear, to which he chuckles warmly and nods, mumbling something in response.

After they bid David and Mary Margaret one final goodbye, Emma and Killian change for bed and brush their teeth together.

He bumps her hip, making her look at him in the mirror, his smile wide as he scrubs his teeth. He arches his eyebrow mischievously.

“What? Is this you saying I told you so?”

He shrugs, switching his toothbrush to the other side of his mouth. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“It went well,” she admits. She brushes her teeth for a few moments and then spits. “And I feel better about everything.”

“Well, good,” He grins after he spits his toothpaste out. He looks like a little boy, with his floppy hair, and his silly sweet smile. “Do you think the new place will have a nice shower? I cannot explain how horrible it is when I enter that thing and I hit my head. Every time.”

Emma can’t help but laugh. “No matter what size the shower is, I’m sure you’ll make it work, babe.”

Killian arches his eyebrow at the slip of a nickname and she gets a weird feeling in her belly, though it doesn’t taste wrong on her tongue. She averts her gaze and lifts her clean toothbrush to her mouth again.

They walk back into the bedroom in silence and Emma sighs as she settles down onto the floor. Turning onto her side, she faces him in the dark.

“Are you ready for this?”

He smiles. “More than ready, Swan.”

She settles her hand against his chest and her head over his heart and listens to the sound of his breathing, finding contentment in how simple the action is.

“Do you think it’ll be easier in Maine? To be together?”

He runs his hand down her arm. “Absolutely. As long as we don’t let anything hold us back.”

Emma takes a soft breath. “And the band-”

“They’re fine,” he promises. “They’ll come up to Maine in a bit. We’re still working out the logistics. They’re not on a television show, after all.”

Emma laughs once. “Sometimes I wish we had met before the show.”

“Gods,” he sighs. “And put me through two years of will-they-won’t-they tension?”

Emma pushes up so she can look at him, laughing. “Why do you think I would have made you wait? You could have landed me in two weeks outside of this.”

He raises an eyebrow. “Really, Swan? You think you would have let me seduce you in two weeks?”

She gives him a coy look, raising an eyebrow of her own. She leans down, biting on her lip when she feels his hand on her hip. “Who says I would have waited for you?”

He groans softly when she kisses him and she coaxes his tongue with hers. “Well, in that case, you would have had no trouble winning me over, love.”

Emma hums. “I know.”

Chapter Text

nineteen.

day 19.  emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

When they show up in Maine, it’s lunch time and they have been driving all day. Emma’s heart is lighter than it has been in a very long time, though, and it’s mostly because she and Killian have shared the ride up to Maine with the radio on loud as they took turns singing and doing duets.

He’s eager to get to their new place, his leg jiggling with his fingers tapping against his knee in time with the music on the radio, and she turns to smile at him when she puts the car into a spot in front of the apartment building.

Behind them, David and Robin in their respective trucks, along with two other cars, haul in their furniture and some boxes.

Killian smiles at her, his eyes on the building beside them for a moment before he looks to her. “Well, here it is, Swan. Our first place.”

Her heart skips a beat and she inhales sharply. “Yeah.”

He leans over and kisses her sweetly. Meeting her eyes afterward, he wears that smirk of his. “Let’s get some of our stuff up there so we can tell everyone to leave us alone and properly consummate this place.”

Emma rolls her eyes and smacks him in his chest, causing him to laugh. She kisses him in spite of it, though, and afterwards, she sighs softly.

“I’m ready for this. So ready. I just hope it’s not the same as it was before.”

He takes a deep breath and releases it through his nose, reaching for her hand and giving it a squeeze. “I want a future with you, Emma. But if you’re too afraid to let go of what’s in your past, or whatever it is that is keeping you from me, then I want you to know that I’ll let go at the end of this.”

Emma tilts her head at him. Tears burn at her eyes and she shakes her head. “Killian-”

“It’s been a wonderful time together,” he says on a sigh. “But we can’t pretend we’re something if we’re not.” He squeezes her hand. “But I don’t believe we’ll have to worry about that, Emma. Just trust me. That’s all I ask.”

Emma nods. “I trust you. And I want this to work.”

“Then we have absolutely nothing to fear.” He smiles. He presses a kiss to her forehead and then sets his against hers. “I have a surprise for you when we get inside.”

Emma raises a curious eyebrow when he pulls back. “Really?”

He hums, moving to get out of the car. Emma follows quickly, staring at him as he heads to the front door to the apartment building.

They head up the stairs to their place and when they stand in front of the door, Killian slides the key into the lock and gives her a satisfied smile when they hear the bolt unlatch. Emma can’t help but laugh a little and then he slides the key into his pocket before opening the door.

Killian turns to her. “Alright. We’re going to do this properly.”

She holds her mouth open and she really shouldn’t be surprised, but he bends down to lift her up and she squeaks anyway, wrapping her arms around his neck.

Killian walks them across the threshold, careful of her head, and when they stand inside, he grins at her, “Welcome home, Emma.”

She allows him a kiss as they stand there in the empty living room and then he sets her down on her feet and she holds onto his shoulder until she’s steady again.

“Okay,” he says. “If you’ll lead the way to the bedroom, you’ll find your surprise waiting for you.”

Emma has a hundred different thoughts about what it could be and her teeth run over her lower lip as she walks toward the bedroom. Killian follows her closely, clearly anticipating a reaction of some sort, and there’s a level of expectation that rushes over her.

The bedroom isn’t anything special, not really without any of their stuff, but what’s on the walls is.

Emma’s heart races wildly at the sight of the pictures on the wall that their bed will be pressed up against. Their wedding pictures are hung there, three of them, the good ones.

She gasps, glancing over her shoulder at him. “You hung our pictures up.”

He smiles a little, nodding. “Well, I had Ariel do something for me when we signed the paperwork. I thought you might like it.”

Her eyes brim with tears and she examines the room with her fingers on his arm. She can really see a home coming together and it’s more emotional than she expected it would be. Her heart is full and she knows Killian wants her to be happy, that’s why he’s easing her into this as gently as he can.

“So, what do you think?” he asks after a few moments of silence.

Emma smiles and turns to him, nodding. “I love it.”

She wraps her arms around his neck and he settles his hands on her hips.

“But I don’t have any surprises for you so I feel bad.”

He scoffs, shaking his head. “Don’t feel bad, love. I’m content with just moving in together.”

Emma sighs, tilting her head at him. “I’ll think of something. You can’t keep being so… you when I don’t have the chance to reciprocate.”

He chuckles and Emma drops her arms, heading out for the living area with him on her heels. It’s then that the guys reach the door and start carrying their stuff inside.

“Well, this is the place, then?” David asks, breathless with a grin on his face.

Emma laughs. “Yeah. Welcome to our place.”

She glances over at Killian and he wears a little smile on his lips, clearly more than a little happy that this is what they’re doing now.

///

It takes them a few hours to finish bringing everything upstairs and when they’re all finished, they collectively decide to crash in the living room on the couch and on chairs they have.

The entire band is here to help, as well as David and Mary Margaret. Little Leo is here, too, but he’s sleeping on the bed in the other room.

Emma sits beside him, her legs draped over his lap, and her face in the crook of his neck.

“Well, thank you for your help,” he says.

Emma hums, shifting so she can look at the group. “Yeah. We couldn’t do any of this without you guys.”

Mary Margaret smiles sweetly at her, squeezing her leg, and from the floor, across from him, Will throws his head back. “When are we gonna eat?”

“Bloody hell, Scarlet, give us a minute.”

Emma laughs. “We could order pizza?”

“Now there’s an idea!” Jefferson calls out from the chair in the dining area. “I’m on it.”

And that’s how they end up gathered around eating pizza and trying to set up the TV so that they can play Emma’s song for David and Mary Margaret, who ask to hear the recorded version of it that they’ve only recently finished up.

Emma sits on the couch with Leo in her lap, eating some pizza, and he returns to her when Robin insists that he knows how to do technology.

He takes his paper plate with a slice of pizza closer to his mouth and has a bite.

“Killian,” Leo says, swinging his legs and munching on his food as he turns to him.

“Yes, lad?”

He wears a concerned look on his little face, his eyebrows pinched inward. “You and Emmie live here now?”

He smiles softly. “Aye. We live here. But you can come visit us and I’ll play lightsabers with you if we come visit you. We don’t live terribly far away.”

Leo frowns a little. “Okay.”

Killian reaches out to squeeze his knee. “I promise it’ll be okay. I’ll even be at your birthday party.”

Leo’s face brightens up. “Really?”

“Aye,” Killian grins.

He meets Emma’s eyes as Leo starts to ramble about his birthday and she has a softness there that he’s become pleasantly used to. It’s the look she gives him in moments he imagines she’d tell him she loves him.

It’s then that her song comes on through the speakers and he almost wishes he could kiss her in front of their friends, because the smile on her lips is practically demanding him to.

Instead of a kiss, she surprises him, taking Leo from her lap and standing up so she can dance with the little boy to the beat of the song.

Leo loves it, giggling as she moves their joined hands back and forth. She starts singing along by the time they get to the chorus and Leo loves it, hopping up and down when she twirls herself around, jumping with him.

And all of it is telling him only one thing: Emma Swan will be an incredible mother one day.

He can almost imagine playing songs to her while she’s pregnant, songs he writes for their little ones, and then when they’re small, he can sing them to sleep while he rocks them in the nursery.

Robin sits beside him and nudges him in the side, giving him a look that Killian promptly rolls his eyes at. “Can’t I have a single moment with my wife that you aren’t judging me for?”

Robin chuckles. “I think you and I both know that your feelings for her have changed since the beginning of this thing and so have hers. Quite a bit, if I’m any good at reading people correctly.”

Killian sighs, but doesn’t respond.

“So have you told her? That you love her?”

He swallows, looking down at his lap, and then at his friend. “I don’t think she’s ready to know that intimate detail quite yet.”

Robin hums in understanding. “Well, do you know what she wants to do at the end of this?”

Killian shakes his head. He stares at her then and she laughs when Leo tugs her down so he can kiss her cheek. “I don’t even know if we’ll last the night here, if I’m honest. But I have faith that we’ll make it and I think she’s dedicated to at least trying, so I think… we’re going to make it.”

The song ends and Emma returns to the couch, breathless, and smiles widely at him. “Hi.”

He kisses her forehead chastely. “Hi.” He searches her eyes. “That was quite the dance. I think you should choreograph the music video.”

Emma laughs. “Shut up.”

He can’t wipe the grin from his face when he turns back to the group.

///

It’s getting kind of late when everyone decides they should probably head back home. Emma feels bad, because it’s going to take them a while and it isn’t like Maine is a five minute jaunt up the road.

Mary Margaret and David award her with tight hugs and kisses to her cheeks and she feels a longing as she stands there with them in the doorway, a preliminary sense of loss, and she doesn’t like the way her heart drops to her belly as she steps back after one final goodbye.

It’s suddenly just she and Killian in this brand new place. She doesn’t know how to do this. She hasn’t ever had a relationship where she’s ever wanted this before, much less actually done it.

She busies herself with cleaning up the mess from dinner and Killian helps her, joining her when she opens up a trash bag. Their hands accidentally bump when she throws a plate away and she jerks her eyes up to him, not speaking when she drags them away equally as fast.

There isn’t anyplace she can hide and the camera crew is still here, so she feels the weight of having to play for them when she really doesn’t want to.

So, she resorts to the bedroom and goes digging through their boxes for the sheets. Killian joins her after a few moments and she finds she can’t look at him, because she can’t be faced with that reality right now.

“Emma,” he says quietly, wearily almost. She keeps her eyes away from him, instead tucking the lower sheet under the first corner of the mattress. “Emma, look at me.”

Emma has to force herself to, after the sheet springs away from the corner, and he studies her for a beat. “What’s wrong?”

She shakes her head when she spots a camera over his shoulder. “Tell them to leave. I’m done for the day.”

He glances behind him and then turns, going to talk to the team. Emma’s fingers fumble to get the mic pack off of her and she forces it to turn off by removing the batteries. She thrusts it down into the nearest open box viciously.

Emma turns back to the bed and first takes her fingers through her hair, pulling it up above her head in a bun, before she gets back to work determinedly.

When Killian returns to the bedroom, he sighs. “They’re gone.”

Emma nods, but still, she can’t look at him.

She continues to work until she ends up too close to Killian and he reaches out for her wrist, stopping her from continuing to fidget with the corner of the bed that seems to not want to be tucked in.

“Emma, please, just look at me.”

She forces herself to turn her head and she finally meets his eyes again.

“It’s real. I know I’ve been saying I’m ready for this, but I- I’m not. It’s too far from David and Mary Margaret and…” She’s breathing hard and tears are in her eyes. “And it’s just us in this little town. I don’t know anyone except for you and that’s just so much at once.”

“I know,” he says. “I know it’s a lot. But you know something, Emma, this week has been a good week for us and I just want to know if we can have good days like that all the time or if we’re only good for each other if we’re desperate.”

His words make her close her eyes. She bites on her lip and shakes her head. “God, why did we decide to do this stupid show?”

Emma takes a deep breath and opens her eyes again. Killian stares at her wearily. “I did this show because I wanted to be married and I think we make quite the team, Swan, so I don’t want to see you hesitating when we’ve only got a few days left of this.”

She manages a smile, nodding. “Yeah. You’re right.”

Killian takes a soft breath. He turns toward the bed. “Can I help?”

Emma nods. “Please.”

He’s almost angry in this moment and she knows he is, because they’ve had this conversation a few times and here she is, giving into the fear that she isn’t enough for him.

They work together in silence to finish making the bed and when it’s done, Emma sits down on the bed, staring at Killian as he goes to tidy up the boxes in the room.

“You know I want this to work.”

Killian straightens and turns to her. “Aye. I do.” He pauses and then approaches her, dropping down to his knees before her. He takes her hands and holds them gently. “Emma, I want to ask for my favor now.”

Her heart stutters and she blinks. “Okay.”

He takes a soft breath. “I want you to pretend we aren’t on television and I want you to treat me as you would if we were alone all the time.”

“That’s kind of a waste of a good favor,” she tells him.

He smiles a little. “Well, I’m sure I’ll get more in the future.” He squeezes her hands and takes a moment to gaze at her. “Emma, can you do that for me? Can you just be yourself with me for a few days?”

She wants to say she wants there to be more than just a few days, but he has a point and she’s not going to argue with him.

Emma nods. “Yeah. I can do that.”

“We can take a trip to New York next weekend if you miss everyone too terribly. I think I have to go back for practice anyway. Boston’s in a few weeks.”

She takes a deep breath. “Okay. That sounds like a good deal.”

With a smile spreading, Killian pushes up and puts his forehead against hers. “Okay. Are you ready for bed?”

“I’m exhausted,” she laughs, meeting his eyes.

He nods. “Me too. Moving isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, is it?”

Emma laughs again, shaking her head. “Nope.”

Standing up, she takes his hand and runs her thumb over the backside of his hand, hoping he sees that she’s holding onto him now, that he’s going to be her anchor, and she hopes, somehow, that she can be his.

///

day 20. emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

They wake up together when the alarm goes off and Emma sighs because she’s warm and with the morning, she feels as if a new page has finally turned.

Killian has to reach over her to grab her phone and shut the alarm off, and when he returns to his spot, Emma rolls into him, cuddling close, keeping her eyes shut. His arm goes around her and he takes a sleepy breath.

“Good morning, Swan,” he says, sliding his hand down her back and up again. “It’s your first day of work, isn’t it?”

She groans, burying her face in his chest, causing him to laugh.

“Emma, you don’t want to be late on your first day.”

She drapes her body over him and leans her head against his shoulder, looking up at him while her fingers tickle at his scruffy beard. For his part, he gazes at her affectionately.

“I want to stay in bed.”

He chuckles, kissing her forehead. “I know you do. Come on. I’ll walk you to work.”

She begrudgingly gets ready with Killian in the bathroom at the same time as her. He shaves and brushes his teeth and he starts singing, which makes her laugh, because by the time she gets out of the shower, he’s dressed and ready to go.

“I’ll go get the coffee,” he announces, leaving a kiss to her lips before he leaves the bathroom entirely.

As she starts getting ready for the day, she stares at herself in the mirror and considers what this adventure means for them.

She’s going to have to be stronger for him and she’s going to have to give to him now. She can’t keep letting him do all of the heavy lifting.

When she leaves the bathroom and heads out into the kitchen, she finds him standing there, a small smile on his lips as he hands her a warm mug. To no real surprise, the camera team has arrived, but she ignores them in lieu of her caffeine fix and her sweet husband.

“Thanks, Killian,” she says softly. She pushes up onto her toes and awards his cheek with a kiss. “Okay. I’m ready to go.”

He grins. “Then we’ll be off.”

As soon as they’re outside, Emma takes his free hand and meets his smile, mirroring it with one of her own, a feeling of joy bubbling up inside of her.

“I think I was scared yesterday because they had just left and I was overwhelmed.” She tells him. “I’m actually kind of excited right now.”

“Yeah?” He asks, smiling so wide she thinks he’ll split his face open.

She giggles, nudging him in the side with her elbow. “Yeah. Look at us. Walking to work together. We didn’t do this back in New York.”

Killian hums. “You’re right about that.”

She has a sip of her coffee and looks ahead of her. “So what are you doing with your day?”

“Well,” he says, “I’m dropping you off and then I’m going to see about work in town. I think I have a lead on a coffee shop that’ll let me play music rather than serve customers. I’m kind of excited about that.”

Emma smiles happily. “That does sound great.”

He nods. “Aye. And I think I’ll come get you at lunch and we can go to the diner.”

Emma laughs. “Okay. That sounds good. I’ll just let you know.”

Killian nods. He smiles with pride, obviously glad that they’re officially doing this, and that it’s actually kind of working.

“That sounds lovely.”

They reach the Sheriff’s Station in no time at all and she turns to him as they stand out front. “Okay. I’ll see you at lunch.”

Killian grins, reaching up to brush back a loose strand of her hair. “You’ll be fantastic today, Swan.”

She tries to avoid blushing, but she can’t, and covers the feeling up by stepping forward to kiss him goodbye.

He waves at her as she enters the building, his eyes trailing up and down her figure as she goes, and she tosses her hand up in response.

“Ah, Emma!” Sheriff Graham greets her from the office as soon as she enters the building. “Welcome to your first day on the job.”

“Thank you. I’m excited to be here.”

“So are you and your husband getting settled in alright, then?” He asks as Emma sips on her coffee. His eyes are on the ring on her finger and she opens her mouth for a second, then closes it.

“Uh, yeah, actually, we are. Thanks for asking.”

Graham pulls back a smile, tilting his head to the side. He’s sweet, her new boss, with his crinkles by his eyes and his curly brown hair and his stupidly lilted accent.

“Well, I’d love to meet him if he’s ever around.”

Emma laughs softly. “Actually, I think he’s coming to get me for lunch today, so you can meet him then.”

Graham’s eyes widen and he nods. “That’d be grand.” He tilts his head back. “Come with me. I’ve got a badge for you in my office and then we can talk you through your duties as my deputy.”

Emma takes a soft breath, reveling in the fact that she’s actually kind of fitting in so easily already, and smiles. “Sounds good, Boss.”

Graham chuckles, tossing her a wink. “You can call me Graham.”

///

day 20. sheriff’s station, storybrooke, maine.

Killian hesitantly enters the station, unsure of what he should do, and ends up listening to the sound of his wife’s laughter coming from somewhere down the hall.

He follows it on instinct and when he ends up in the station bullpen, he finds her sitting at a desk, chuckling at a man who sits right beside her, their arms and shoulders touching as he shows her something on the computer.

“Now, you have to wait about a day, but you can access the internet. Eventually.”

Emma laughs again, throwing her head back slightly, and Killian’s fingers twitch at his sides, an uneasy feeling filling his belly. He almost would like to walk away and pretend he never came, but the man’s gaze finds his own and he’s caught.

“Oh, you must be Killian. Emma’s told me so much about you.” The man smiles at him, hopping up with an easy smile on his face.

Killian doesn’t smile in return, still focused on the way Emma had been so comfortable with this man standing before him. He holds out his hand for a shake, and Killian stares at it for a second before gripping it tightly.

“Killian Jones,” he introduces himself, now forcing himself to smile.

The man nods. “Graham Humbert. Sheriff. A pleasure meeting you, mate.”

“Aye.” Killian says, releasing the man’s hand. He swallows and turns to Emma. “Are you ready to go?”

Emma rises to her feet and he knows she can sense something’s up with him, because she eyes him warily. She nods and joins him.

“Yeah. Let’s go.”

Her fingers tickle his for a moment before she takes his hand and she turns to her boss, smiling. “I’ll be back in half an hour. Maybe the computer will actually function then.”

Graham laughs and it feels like he’s turned into a steadily boiling pot about to overflow. “I should hope so.”

He hates that he’s jealous because he should be able to trust Emma with everything he is, but in all honesty, he can’t. He can’t trust Emma because she’s having such a hard time opening up to him, truly and wholly, despite having done it for him back in New York.

“Hey, what’s up with you?” Emma asks as they walk outside.

Killian looks over at her, his eyes widening a little. “Nothing, love.” He forces a smile, squeezing her hand as he lifts it between them. “I’m glad to see you. I missed you.”

Emma studies him, clearly still wary, and smiles a bit, letting him go after an examination. “I missed you too.”

“I got a gig,” he announces after a few moments of silence.

She gasps, grinning wide as her eyes go even wider. “What? Really?”

“Aye,” he nods. “It’s small, but it’ll hopefully bring in some tips.”

Emma stops walking and he follows her lead. They’re standing in front of the local diner now and her fingers slide away from his arm and to his shirt instead, settling over his heart.

She stares at him with awe in her eyes and he sees something greater there, too. He sees adoration and he sees love.

“I’ll be there,” she promises. “In the front row.”

He chuckles, about to say something snarky in response, but she silences him when she yanks him to her, kissing him with abandon right in the middle of the sidewalk in the brightness of day. He groans softly, his hands settling on her hips, pulling her closer.

“I’m so proud of you,” she whispers when they finally part.

“It’s a small gig,” he says, feeling the slightest bit of embarrassment. Her eyes meet his and she shakes her head. “At the local bar on talent night.”

Emma shakes her head again. “I don’t care if you’re performing on the side of the road for free. I’m proud of you.”

Killian’s heart races and he smiles weakly. “Thanks, love.”

She steps back and takes one of his hands, licking her lips as they start back for the diner. “I’m starving. Graham had me clean out the utility closet looking for a new mouse for my computer.”

Killian arches an eyebrow. “Sounds like you’ve been having a lot of fun with Graham.”

Emma narrows her eyes at him just as he opens the door to the diner. The bell tinkles above their heads and Emma walks inside first, turning back to him with her jaw hanging agape.

“Is this why you were being moody? Are you jealous?”

He doesn’t reply, pretending he didn’t hear her as he heads over to a booth. Emma slides in across from him, giving him a look he thinks she must reserve for questioning suspects.

“What the hell, Killian? Are you jealous?”

Killian smiles in spite of the truth and shrugs. “Can you blame me?”

“Dammit, Killian,” Emma presses her hands to her face, covering her eyes. “I’m not even…” She pushes her hands to the table and shakes her head. “I’m not interested in him. Like at all.”

“Well, it seemed as if you two were getting awfully close.” Killian says on a shrug. “And far be it from me to think you wouldn’t ever be interested in a gentleman with an accent.”

Emma gapes at him, but she can’t speak, because their waitress comes to their table. He orders and then Emma asks for grilled cheese and onion rings. Killian takes a breath, fidgeting with the salt shaker on the table when the woman walks away.

“So you don’t trust me, that’s what you’re trying to say.” She says the words so calmly and quietly that Killian has to look up at her when she says them.

He shakes his head. “I trust you.”

“But not enough that you think I won’t leave for a guy I work with. You didn’t have a problem with August. I don’t get why Graham is a problem for you.”

Killian shrugs. “Maybe it’s because we’re close to the end and I have feelings for you that I haven’t had for anyone in a long time. And, maybe I’m afraid that you’ll leave me because you don’t think I’m enough for you.”

Emma’s face falls and Killian shakes his head, taking and releasing a heavy breath.

“But I don’t think you’ll ever let me have feelings like that because we’re two thirds of the way finished with this experiment and it’s all been about you.”

He feels bad for saying what he has the second the words leave his mouth and he holds up his hand, shaking his head. “I-”

Tears are in her eyes and she shakes her head slowly. “Yeah. I get it. It’s fair.” She drops her gaze to the tabletop. “Maybe, um, maybe I should just get my food to go and see you at home tonight.”

He clenches his hand into a fist when she gets up from the table to go, but he can’t find it in himself to go after her, because she’s on a mission and his words had been harsh. What else can be said if they’re at an impasse like this one?

He closes his eyes and presses his fingers into his eyes, leaning his face into his hands with his elbows on the hard tabletop.

“Bloody hell, Killian Jones. You’ve gone and done it now.”

Chapter Text

twenty.

day 20. emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

She’s busy in the kitchen as soon as she gets home.

Killian isn’t here, and there isn’t any sign of him anywhere, but she knows one thing for certain, and it’s that she’s going to make this up to him.

She knows he’s right. She hasn’t given him very much reason to believe that she’s all in for him. She can say it all she wants, but it doesn’t mean anything if she doesn’t show it to him.

So that’s why she’s making dinner. She sets the table as best as she can with all of their boxes still decorating the loft. They need to unpack and do some shopping because they don’t have enough to fill the place between the two of them.

She’s looking forward to maybe getting to do some shopping later in the week when things are better. Assuming they can get better.

After she plates dinner, she frosts a cake and turns on some music to help soothe her nerves as she paces around in the kitchen. She ends up resorting to the bedroom to unpack some more and ends up on her laptop doing a search for band tee shirts and an idea starts to form as she chews at her lip.

The front door unlocks and she looks up, shutting the laptop before she hurries out into the living area, smoothing over her dress and wiping hastily at the flour on her forearm.

Killian enters with a bouquet of flowers and her heart melts because he tries so hard to keep them together. Always.

“Hey,” Emma says, stepping toward him.

“Hi,” he replies, his brow creased and his eyebrows furrowed. He looks over at the dining table. “What’s this?”

Emma smiles a little. “I made dinner. And dessert.”

She helps him out of his coat and drapes it over the couch. Then, she turns to him and smiles.

“I got you flowers,” he says shyly, holding them out for her to take.

She buries her nose in them when she takes them, smiling at the sweet scent. “Thank you.”

Killian shrugs it off and she quickly takes her bouquet into the kitchen so she can display them in a vase on the counter. She smiles at the sight of them and turns to her husband.

“Okay. I made alfredo and I never make dinner so this is kind of a huge deal and I hope you like it.”

He goes to the table and pulls out a chair for himself. She follows suit, settling down across from him. They’re quiet for a few moments while Emma watches Killian take his first bite, and when he’s finished, he smiles at her, nodding.

“It’s very good.”

She releases a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and smiles. “Oh good.”

Emma takes her fork to the noodles and Killian looks down at his plate, not eating while she has her first bite.

“Emma, I’m sorry for what I said.”

She shakes her head swiftly. “No. You can’t apologize because you were right to be upset. Honestly, I have to do better.”

Killian drops his shoulders. “Emma, what I said was rather harsh. I don’t blame you for anything. My own insecurities pale in comparison to the grand scheme of things.”

Emma sets her fork down and shakes her head again. “What, are we supposed to hide things from each other instead of working them out?”

“No,” he says. “But we shouldn’t be telling each other that the other is a hindrance. You are not a hindrance. You are the furthest thing from that.”

She feels light, her chest tightening up at his words. Emma smiles a little, reaching across the table to take his hand.

“And I’m sorry I haven’t let you be completely open with me. I guess sometimes I can be selfish and I want this to work, so I’m going to try my best to show you I do care.”

“Well, Emma,” Killian smiles lopsidedly, his head falling to one side. “I won’t deny you that.”

///

They end up sitting in bed with a light on as they do some research.

They unpacked the rest of the boxes, after sharing cake and chocolate flavored kisses in the kitchen, and now it’s easier to tell what they need.

“I think we might be better off visiting Ikea in person.” Killian says, shaking his head at the screen.

Emma sighs. “Another thing to add to our list for when we head to New York this weekend, I guess.”

Killian turns to Emma, a soft smile on his lips. He closes the laptop and Emma narrows her eyes at him.

“What are you doing? We were just getting to the bedroom stuff.”

He places the laptop down on his nightstand and then rolls over, boosting himself up with his hips directly atop of hers, biting salaciously on his lower lip.

“I think we deserve a bit of a break, don’t you?” he asks.

Emma’s arms wrap around his neck and play at his hair as he lowers himself to kiss her. Her hum turns into a moan and he’s out of breath when she rolls him onto his back, bracing her hands on his heaving chest as her hips grind gently against his.

“I think it’s as good a time as any to break in the new place,” she whispers into his ear as soon as she lowers herself down against him again.

He groans softly, his hand sliding down her back as she bites at a spot under his ear. “I have been waiting on baited breath to hear you say those words.”

Emma laughs breathily against his Adam’s apple before she trails kisses up his chin and to his lips, finally letting him tease her with his tongue.

“Bloody hell but you’re gorgeous,” he whispers to her when she rests her forehead against his. “How did I ever get matched to you, Swan?”

Emma hums, moving so she can meet his eyes, a warm smile on her lips. “I ask myself that question everyday.”

///

day 22. emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

“I’ve found us a chair for the living room,” Killian says as she steps out of the laundry room with the basket on her hip.

Her hair is up and she’s in her after work outfit, and she’s doing their laundry while dinner cooks, and it feels so natural that she can’t help but feel content.

Killian smiles at her from his spot in the living room, his hand pressed to the new item in their living room.

“Oh, and it matches the couch!” Emma says, grinning at him.

“Aye. I found it for a good price at the furniture store. There were some other things I think we might like to invest in as well, but I’d like you to come with me so I’m not buying without your permission.”

Emma laughs. “Okay. We can do that tomorrow after work.”

Killian nods. “Aye.” He looks past her into the kitchen and sniffs. “Are you making dinner again?”

She hums. Emma steps up to him and presses her hand against his chest. They gaze at each other for a few moments.

“You continue to blow me away. Do you know that?” he asks.

Emma rolls her eyes, pushing up onto her toes to kiss him. “Welcome home. I’m going to finish up this laundry.”

She takes the laundry with her into the bedroom and starts folding their clothes, and it hits her as she’s standing there that they have fallen into each other’s lives so easily. His socks are mixed up in her pants and there are shirts and underwear mixed in together as if all of this is completely natural and normal.

And it is.

Killian starts to sing a little as he walks into the kitchen and then he stops, staring at the fridge. She knows exactly what he’s looking at, because she’s the one that put them there. A little wry smile fills her lips as she folds a pair of his socks together.

“Swan, did you add these pictures of us to the fridge?”

She hums. “Yeah. I wanted to decorate a little.”

He’s all grins as he enters the bedroom, leaning his hand against the doorframe as he stares at her. “We should get some pictures with David and Mary Margaret this weekend so we can add them to ours.”

Emma folds a pair of his jeans and sets it down on the bed. “Yeah. I think that’d be good.”

Killian steps beside her and he grabs one of her shirts to fold it.

“Oh, babe, that goes in the closet.”

“Ah. I figured.”

He takes it to the closet in an instant and she has to smile a little bit more because this is what she thought it would be like, moving in with Killian officially, and they’re kind of killing it as far as domestic bliss goes.

Sure, they’ve had their hiccups, but they’re over it, and there’s nothing but life ahead of them now.

When Killian returns to her, she hands him more shirts and smiles sweetly. “Take those to the closet too?”

He laughs. “I’m beginning to see what married life looks like with you now, aren’t I?”

Emma scrunches up her nose at him, smiling still. “Don’t hate it yet, do you?”

Killian kisses the tip of her nose. “No, Swan, I could never.”

///

day 23. the rabbit hole, storybrooke, maine.

Emma carries a box as carefully and discreetly as she can into the bar Killian will be playing at tonight and she bites down on her lower lip when she opens it up and finds the tee shirts with the band’s name and logo on them.

She knows Killian will love them, but she’s hesitant because he hadn’t exactly given her permission for it.

He’s supposed to be on in about a half hour and she told him she’d be working late just so she could set up this table in the back of the room with merch she designed herself as he slept beside her the other night.

She’s sort of amazed that the local shops in town were able to work with her in order to get this table together in time, and she even got the band to drive up for this.

The bar owner was more than okay with it when she informed him that they’re kind of a big deal.

Okay, he was probably more swayed because of the televised exposure, but either way, Emma feels like she’s about to score the Best Wife of the Year award.

She wears one of the shirts and a rubber bracelet, and her hair is up in a ponytail. She’s so busy working on setting up the table that when her phone rings, she doesn’t bother checking who it is.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Swan,” Killian’s voice is quiet and lacks its usual strength. “I’m at the bar and it’s kind of overwhelming me at the moment.”

Emma smiles softly. She glances around, discovering that the place is full. Her doing, too. She’d put up fliers and she’d had Graham tell everyone he could about it.

“You’re going to be great, Killian. I’ll be there in a few minutes. I promise.”

He’s quiet for a beat. “Okay. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous before about a show.”

He laughs at himself and she knows he’s beating himself up for it.

“Killian, it’s going to be great. I’ll be right there in the front and you’re going to kill it. Everyone’s going to love you just like I do.” Her heart skips a beat and she blushes furiously. “Oh, God, I mean- your music- why do I keep-”

He laughs heartily. “I know what you mean, Sweetheart.” He pauses. “I guess I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

“Yeah.”

She hangs up and puts on the finishing touches to the table before she leaves it to Graham, who stands there with a big smile on his face.

She had invited him to help her because she doesn’t know anyone else in town. He seems eager to see what Killian’s band sounds like live, after hearing a few songs she played for him in the squad car.

“So, it’s a big show tonight I take it.”

Emma laughs. “Kind of. Yeah. Thanks for helping me out, Graham. I know you probably have better things to be doing tonight.”

“Eh,” he shrugs, smiling still. “I’m excited to see what all of the fuss is about.”

Emma laughs. “Well, if he’s not good then I guess I’m buying you a drink tonight.”

Graham chuckles. “I doubt that’ll be the case.”

Her phone rings again and she excuses herself to answer. “Hello?”

“Hey, Emma! Robin here. We’ve just arrived and we’re out back. Killian’s pacing about like a nervous child.”

Emma laughs. “Okay. Why don’t you guys just wait until he comes inside and I’ll let you know when he gets on stage?”

“Very well. I have to admit, Lady Swan, that this plan of yours is very mischievous.”

She laughs again. “I just wanted to surprise him.”

It doesn’t take very long for Killian to come get started on prepping for his set. He fidgets a lot when she sees him and it makes her smile because he’s so nervous.

Emma heads to the front of the stage and when she stands before him, he immediately relaxes, meeting her gaze with a soft smile.

“Swan. It’s so good to see you.”

She bites on her lip and waits for him to notice her shirt, which he does, with wide, curious eyes. “Where did you get that?”

Emma laughs. “I made it.”

Killian raises his eyebrows. “Really? You made a shirt for the band?”

She hums. Killian leans down to kiss her and she smiles warmly at him. “I made shirts for the band. Yes.”

Killian doesn’t seem to know what to do with this information. He grins and shakes his head, then leans down again to kiss the top of her head.

“You amaze me every single day, Emma Swan.”

Emma laughs. “You’re going to be great tonight. I’m right here.”

Killian bobs his head. “Aye. You’re right about that.”

He takes a step back and plucks at his guitar strings before he presses his mouth against the microphone. Everyone in the room quiets down as soon as he speaks, “Erm… my name is Killian Jones. I’m one fifth of the band The Pirates, and we’re usually all on stage together, but my wife and I just moved to town and I’ve been itching to play, so here I am.”

Everyone chuckles and there are some cheers and loud whistles. Killian meets her eyes and she smiles so proudly at him her cheeks hurt.

Whale, Jefferson, Will, and Robin text her eagerly and she pulls out her phone as soon as Killian starts to play.

Robin: I cannot wait to see the look on his face when he realizes what you’ve done.

Emma: He’s playing. You can come in now.

She bites down on her lip and sings along with her husband as he plays one of his favorite songs acoustically.

It’s just him, his guitar, and a stool, and she thinks he’d be proud to just play for her, but there’s something about the crowded bar that makes his eyes shine just a little bit brighter in this moment.

It takes all but a minute for the guys to come clamoring onto the tiny stage. Will has a seat at the drums, Robin plugs in his bass guitar, and Jefferson decidedly goes for the piano against the wall while Whale takes his spot beside Killian on the electric guitar.

Killian has to stop what he’s doing, a dumb, awestruck look filling his face, and he gapes at the band. “What are you blokes doing here? I thought you were back in New York.”

Robin chuckles into the microphone at his lips and shakes his head as he quickly adjusts his guitar. “Apologies, mate, but your wife is quite the fanatic if I’ve ever seen one. Planned out a whole opening night for us right here in Storybrooke.”

Killian meets her eyes then, his awe still ever present, and a wide grin fills his lips. “Well, my love, then you deserve a song.” He continues to smile at her and then turns his head toward the band. “Why don’t we pull out the new one?”

“Ah, good choice,” Robin agrees. He winks at Emma and she blushes, rolling her eyes a bit as the band starts to play.

It doesn’t take her very long to realize that it’s a brand new song that she hasn’t heard before, but that doesn’t stop her from smiling. Her heart feels warm as she listens to the lyrics, words about a happy ending and love, True Love, weaving their way throughout the song.

It’s a faster paced song, complete with solos and room for jumping around and dancing, and she thinks it’s fitting because a song about finding love should probably feel like this.

She knows that finding love does feel like this song, as a matter of fact.

When it’s over, Killian has a longing look on his face as he watches her and she clasps her hands over her heart.

It doesn’t take long for the band to encourage the room to fall in love with them. All around her, people are dancing and clapping and there’s so much energy here that she almost feels like this is the biggest venue they’ve ever played.

Their set only lasts half an hour and when Killian says it’s time for them to go, everyone demands an encore. He laughs into his microphone and tilts his head to the side.

“Well, alright. Robin, what do you think?”

Robin grins back at him. “I think I could do one more.”

“Ah. Very well.” Killian says. He looks at Emma and winks at her. “This one’s for you, Sweetheart.”

She hears him plucking those familiar notes on his guitar and her heart stutters, because he’s playing her song again. Well, her first song. Now she has two.

To think that a month ago she hadn’t even seen her favorite band live and now she has two songs written about her by them is kind of insanity. But staring at Killian as he closes his eyes and smiles against the curve of the mic is like watching an artist paint.

So she dances for him and she sings for him and by the time the show is officially over, she has no words to describe how deep her affection for him goes.

Emma pulls herself onto the stage as they’re about to leave and grabs the microphone, anxiously looking around the room.

“Hey, so I made some shirts and we have CDs on the table in the back. Sheriff Graham’s helping me run it right now, but I’m sure I can get the guys to stop by back there when they’re finished packing up. I’d love it if you guys would spread the word about the band and find them online. They’re amazing, right?”

The room erupts and she can’t help but smile. “Thank you for coming out tonight. You’ve been great.”

Killian wraps his arm around her when she turns to walk off the stage and she smiles at him.

“You are a marvel. Do you know how badly I want to kiss you right now?”

Emma laughs, rolling her eyes.

She waits for them to hit the floor of the bar before she curls up into him and gives him a delirious kiss. His arms wrap around her and he hoists her up, leaning back, and she giggles a little, her legs lifting up and out as he holds her there in the middle of the bar, kissing her with abandon.

She hums into him and when they part, her feet finally touching the ground, she bites down on her lip. “So you wrote me another song.”

He gets a little embarrassed, reaching up to rub at the back of his head. “I suppose I did.”

Emma wraps her arm around his middle and starts walking with him toward the back of the packed bar to the table. “I loved this one just as much as I loved the first.”

“Well, I hope you don’t mind that you’re about to become all that I write about.”

She laughs softly and kisses his cheek. “No. I don’t.”

It’s then that they reach the table and she nervously studies his expression for his reaction as he stares down at her handiwork.

“Good gracious, Swan, you did all of this work? This is practically professionally crafted.”

Emma shrugs. “I just thought I should support the band and this was the best way I could figure out how.”

There is a silence that befalls them and Killian just gazes at her. “Gods, if we weren’t married already I would ask you right here and now to be my wife.”

Emma feels a blush crawling up her neck and filling her cheeks. She averts her gaze, biting down on her lip. “Yeah, well, I think getting married after knowing each other for less than a month is a bit extreme.”

He laughs, deep and low, and his arm wraps around her tightly as he presses a firm kiss to her temple. “I’ll never regret this.”

And she can’t find that she does either.

Chapter Text

twenty-one.

day 27. emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

Emma sits on the couch beside Killian as he plays for her the song he’d first written for her. He smiles as his voice drawls on, tilting his head back as his voice carries throughout the living room.

She’s sitting there listening, content in the simplicity of the evening together.

Her fingers itch to run through his hair. He’s sitting there with his dimples popping forth and his eyes shining and his voice is gruff, thick, and it’s sweet, listening to him play just for her.

She rests her head in her hand as she leans against the back of the couch to watch him play and she realizes that he’d give everything up for her, because he’s staring back at her with adoration in his eyes and his smile spreads even wider as he reaches the end of the song.

When he’s finished, Emma claps for him and he laughs, causing her to join him. She bites on her lip before she leans forward to capture his. He eagerly accepts her on a low hum.

“Thank you,” she whispers when they part.

He raises an eyebrow curiously. “I sing for you quite a bit, love. No need thank me.”

She smiles a little more. “No. Thank you for the song. Thank you for…” She pauses, taking a deep breath. “Thank you for wanting this from the very beginning. Even when I didn’t.”

Emma searches his eyes and her fingers lift to his hair, running through it as she studies his face. He is everything to her and she can’t imagine a life without him now that she’s actually had one for a little while.

The past few days have been pretty amazing. Between all of the time they’ve been able to have together, whether it be eating together, or doing domestic duties together, or just watching TV, she thinks they’ve blended their lives together quite well.

However, there were weeks of ache and she doesn’t know what Killian feels about everything. She knows the way he looks at her right now is beautiful, but does he want to spend the rest of his life with her like she does?

“Hey,” he says, licking his lips and sliding closer. He sets his guitar down beside the couch to turn toward her more. “So, I know you’re aware that we have a show tomorrow in Boston, but I was thinking we could take a bit of a holiday and spend the weekend there.”

Emma smiles. “Yeah? That sounds fun.”

Killian grins. “Then pack your things. We’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of us, love.”

///

day 27. emma’s bug, the road to boston.

He’s reclined back a little in the confined space of her Bug and his guitar is in the back with his duffle bag and she has him on map duty, which he’s doing the old fashioned way, and that’s what has her giggling and biting her lip: because her husband is the biggest dork in the entire world and she loves him for it.

“What?” he asks, smiling wide at her.

She shakes her head. “I don’t know. Maybe I should have expected that you’d want to use a physical map to take us to Boston.”

He rolls his eyes at that and stuffs the map down into his lap. “Darling, I’m a sailor. Navigation is what I do best.”

She nods. “Aye aye, Captain,”

Emma maintains a smile and looks ahead, out at the darkness of the night as they drive under city lights. The warm orange glow sends pools in and out of her car and she finds that she likes this feeling the best- driving under city lights with the man who has absolutely taken her heart in the passenger seat.

“Hey, so when I leave my job and take up professional band groupie-ing,” She looks over at him. “Are we gonna have a bus and share a bunk?”

He shrugs. “I suppose we’ll have a bus. But bus bunks are notoriously small.” He sighs. “Hold on, you’re quitting your job?”

Emma nods. “Yeah, I told you I would. I mean, I don’t want to be a police officer for the rest of my life, Killian. I want to have kids and I want to be around for my family. Risking my life everyday doesn’t secure that for me.” He’s quiet for a second and Emma looks to him. “I don’t have to if you don’t want me to. I get us needing money, but-”

“It would make me quite proud, to be honest, Emma.”

She smiles. “Yeah?”

He nods. “Aye.” A moment passes. “Besides, Whale is a bloody useless manager. You’d be a hell of a lot better at it.”

She laughs. “I think we’ll have to see about that.”

///

day 27. hotel room, boston, massachusetts.

They’re eating burgers and its almost midnight, but they’re starving and they’re still being recorded, because apparently it’s important to them that they capture every last detail of their boring life.

They sit on the fluffy bed cross legged and Killian has his phone on speaker as they listen to Whale ramble on about their plans for the show, with everyone in the band listening in as well.

“We’re on at two in the afternoon, so we need to be there at noon.” Whale says. “And I’m posting to social media tonight about everything.”

“Good,” Killian says. “Hey, Whale, what do you think of Emma running some of the social media?”

Whale is silent and then Will laughs. “Emma’d do a hell of a better job at managing us. She did an incredible job the other night.”

Emma gets a little embarrassed, shifting back and forth as she chews on a fry. She shakes her head. “Don’t say that. I don’t know how to manage a band at all.”

“Well, neither does Whale,” Killian finds himself saying. Emma rolls her eyes at him, but he reaches over to squeeze her knee affectionately.

“Okay we’re not talking about switching up management tonight, guys,” Whale finally says. “Let’s just get through the show and then we can vote on it.”

“Well, I’d vote for Emma,” Will grumbles into the line.

“Yeah. Me too.” Jefferson agrees cheekily.

“If we’re voting, then yes, I also would vote for Emma.” Robin adds.

Killian laughs. “See, Swan? We all love you.”

The way her cheeks heat up is sweet and she just shakes her head, not saying anything. She reaches for her soda and has a sip.

“Okay. Are we done with this or can I finally get to the important details?”

They talk for a bit longer, but the conversation eventually ends on a high note when Whale says that if they do well here in Boston, they’ll be allowed more opportunities in the future.

Killian hangs up and he licks his lips as he tosses their trash from their makeshift supper and finds Emma going to straighten up the bathroom area.

He watches her from behind, enjoying the way her hair sways around her shoulders, and how determined she is.

Killian steps up to her from behind and wraps his arms around her, pressing his lips against the column of her neck.

She threads her fingers into his hair and leans her head back into his. “Hey.”

He meets her eyes in the mirror and they both smile at one another, but he can sense some bittersweetness in her gaze. He thinks he knows why- the experiment is almost finished. They’re almost to the point of decision.

He knows what he wants. He wants to stay with her. But he doesn’t know what she wants.

“For the record, you’d be an amazing manager.” He tells her, his fingers squeezing at her hips as he steps back.

Emma shakes her head. “We’ll see.”

Killian grins. His heart starts racing as she turns around in his arms and presses her hands against his chest. “I do think tomorrow will be interesting, though.”

“You’re going to be amazing,” she tells him. “And I’ll be there in the front row.”

“Aye,” he beams at her. “And I’ll be better for it.”

///

day 28. hotel room, boston, massachusetts.

Emma is happy and warm.

She stretches her toes and wiggles them against the calf of her husband, who lies on his back beside her. She turns over on her side and curls up against him. His arm goes around her instinctively.

Letting out a sigh, Emma peels open one eye to see the daylight streaming into the room.

Things have been so good. So bright. So happy. So fulfilling. Everything with them just works, on every level. They talk easy, they share a living space easy, and they’re just happy.

Part of her wonders what he’s thinking about their decision: does he want to stay with her as much as she wants to stay with him? Part of her doesn’t have to wonder, though.

Emma loves how he makes her feel. She loves the way he keeps things so insanely clean. She loves that he makes food for her. She loves that he likes to go sailing on the weekends, that he’s crazy when it comes to his reality TV.

She loves the way he smiles at her, the sound of his laughter is literally the best music. She loves how he plays his guitar for her sometimes, all shy and adorable. She loves the way his hair looks in the mornings and how his lips taste when he’s just barely awake, with a sip of coffee just taken and tiredness in his eyes.

She loves the way he looks right now, with his eyes shut and his breaths sliding out softly. He’s so calm and so at peace. She draws her fingers up to his hair and his eye peels open, eyeing her until he decides to close it again.

“We’re playing in Boston today,” Killian reminds her with a sigh, as if she has no idea that they’re lying in a foreign bed.

Emma hums and continues to play with his hair. “I’ll be in the front row,”

He smiles. “Good. You’ll keep me inspired.”

Emma slides her hand down to his scruff and thumbs over it before she kisses him.

“You’re going to be great,” she promises.

Killian sighs and reaches for the hand on his cheek, taking it and giving it a few dramatically loud kisses. “Okay.” He smiles at her, pushing their hands onto his chest. “Breakfast, then? Shall we find ourselves a Dunkin Donuts?”

Emma nods, a smile widening. “As long as that means we get Munchkins.”

He presses a kiss to her forehead. “As long as you don’t hog them, I think that can be afforded.”

She rolls her eyes and he chuckles. His fingers slide down her arm and his gaze turns soft.

After another kiss to her forehead, Killian groans a little before he pulls himself out of bed and she watches him maneuver to the bathroom.

She nods and sighs when he strips off his tee shirt, tossing it to her with a stupid smirk and a wink. She just rolls her eyes and laughs a little while he walks into the enclosed bathroom.

She lies in bed for a while, stretching out and wishing they could be at home right now, watching TV or discussing what their future might entail.

But, she’s well aware of the fact that she is her husband’s confidant and helper, the one he can rely on in everything, so she’s going to be going to the show and she’s going to sing along with him from the front row and cheer the absolute loudest, like a complete idiot, all for him.

Eventually, when she hears the shower running, she replaces her shirt with Killian’s and reaches for her phone, giving it a quick check for emergency calls or texts from Mary Margaret or David or Ruby.

She has to smile at the new picture that she’s using as her background. Killian had stolen her phone and insisted on taking a picture of the both of them one early morning with the sun just barely rising through the window above their bed in their apartment.

She’s laughing and scrunching up her nose, her eyes mostly closed, and he’s staring at her like she is the entire world and like he’s proud of himself for making her laugh.

Emma slides out of bed and pulls her hair into a messy side braid as she walks into the sink vanity to start preparing for the day.

When Killian steps out of the shower, all freshly cleaned and draped in nothing but a towel, he smirks at her as he steps beside her. Their eyes meet in the mirror and she rolls her eyes, pressing a hand to his rear end and giving it a pinch as she kisses him chastely. Her pinch makes him jump a little, and that makes her smirk.

“Don’t look at me like that.”

“Like what?” He teases, raising an eyebrow.

Emma gives him a look and grabs her clothes from the suitcase before heading into the bathroom. “Like you want to pin me to this bed and never leave this room.”

He sticks his tongue firmly into his cheek and keeps his eyebrow arched. “Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking it.”

Emma rolls her eyes. “I’m having a shower now and we’re going to the show and then I’ll consider it.”

After she has her shower and after Killian informs her that the band will be gathering in about two hours, they leave their room hand in hand, heading down to find breakfast.

///

day 28. emma’s bug, boston, massachusetts.

She steals a chocolate frosted Munchkin from the box that’s in his lap and he shoots her a teasingly frustrated look.

She peels back an innocent smile and then laughs after she pops it into her mouth. He chuckles, too, and she reaches for her coffee.

It’s a fairly nice day for a show, she thinks. The sun is out and it’s not too hot.

She glances back over at him and her heart squeezes affectionately at the way he’s examining the newspaper they’d picked up on the way back to the car. It’s like clockwork now, living together and working together.

They know each other fairly well, can tell when to back off or when to press in, and she thinks daily life with him is easier than it had ever been with any other guy before. Even sitting in her car eating breakfast is oddly domestic and she doesn’t care.

“Hey,” she says, turning to him fully. He quirks a brow and folds the paper down. “It’s our anniversary. Happy one month.”

He smiles at her and nods.

“Aye. Happy one month of marriage, Emma.” He leans in for a sweet kiss. “I was going to surprise you tomorrow with dinner at a fancy restaurant and we could go dancing but I’m considering just staying put in the hotel room after the show ends.”

Emma rolls her eyes, gently patting his cheek. He grins. “There’s plenty of time for sleeping when we get home, babe. I think I want to see Boston with my husband for our anniversary.”

Killian kisses her again and she sighs softly into the feeling. He puts so much into this kiss that she thinks she knows what he’s thinking- about the fact that they’re going to make their decision soon.

She meets his eyes afterward and it’s all too much to think about what they’re doing next week, so she reaches into the box in his lap and steals another chocolate donut hole and pops it into her mouth.

He chuckles and kisses her chastely. “Swan, you’ve got to save some for me.”

“Well, I happen to like chocolate munchkins.”

“And I happen to like you,” he says, “so I forgive you.”

But when she looks into his eyes, she sees something more than attraction. She sees love.

///

day 28. venue, boston, massachusetts.

Emma holds Killian’s hand while they walk up to the venue. It’s outside, in a park, and it’s already kind of thrumming with excitement.

They’re playing in a small festival of local artists or something and acts are in transition, but there are people everywhere and it’s already much larger than anything Killian’s ever played before.

She wraps her other hand around his forearm and smiles at him excitedly. “Killian, this is incredible,”

Emma watches as his eyebrows go skyward and he beams as he looks around. It’s clear that he’s a little nervous. So is she, to be honest. This is a huge deal.

She’s wearing one of the band’s newly designed tee shirts, and she kind of feels like the band’s number one groupie now.

“Do you think they’ll like us?”

Emma gives him a look and laughs. “Killian, you’re going to inspire them and it’s going to be amazing. I’ve been watching the Twitter feed all morning and you have a bunch of fans coming out.”

That seems to make him relax a little.

On their way to the stage, they’re approached by a cute teenaged girl, who stops them. “Hi! You’re Killian Jones, right? From The Pirates?”

He nods. “Aye,”

The girl grins at him and pulls out her phone. “Would you mind taking a picture with me? I love your music.”

Emma smiles at Killian, who now is grinning like an idiot, and she’s suddenly taking a photo of her husband with this teenager, and they’re both smiling.

“Okay! Got it,” Emma says.

The girl and Killian turn to each other and he gives her a tiny side hug, his smile wide.

“Thanks for coming out,” he says to her.

She smiles at him and then at her as she hands the phone back over.

“Thanks for taking a picture. I’ve been a huge fan forever,” the girl says.

Killian chuckles. “I don’t know about that.”

The girl laughs. “Yeah. It’s awesome you guys came out here. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Killian keeps smiling and she can tell that one day, it’s all going to go to his head, but she’s going to be there to anchor him down.

After the girl tells him that she’s on board for more tee shirts- she really likes the one Emma’s wearing- and a merchandise table, Emma nudges him with a look that he rolls his eyes at.

“Fine, fine, I’ll see about a merchandise table,” he shakes his head, teasingly, and looks at the girl. “Emma’s been trying to get us into selling product for weeks now. She even made up a table at our last gig.”

The girl laughs. “You should. You’d make a lot of money if you did.”

Emma raises her eyebrows in agreement and Killian sighs.

“Very well. I suppose I should know better now. The wife always is right.”

Both girls laugh and Killian draws his tongue out of his mouth for a moment before sliding his teeth over his lower lip, smiling a little.

“That’s right,” Emma teases, wrapping her hand around his again. “And we need to get backstage or the guys will start panicking.”

Killian nods, smiling over at the fan. “Well, perhaps we’ll see you again later.”

The girl nods enthusiastically. “Totally,”

They bid her farewell and then turn around to start for the meeting spot. Emma nudges Killian in the hip teasingly.

“You feeling better now?”

He smiles at her. “I would’ve been quite content just knowing you were there, love.”

She rolls her eyes, but gladly takes his hand and presses the side of her head to his shoulder. “I’m so proud of you.”

///

She stands in the front and center of the crowd. She had to push through some people and basically force herself into the spot, but she’s in the official front, just where Killian wants her to be.

She knows there’s a camera on her, but she doesn’t care too much. She’s kind of used to them watching her all the time now, so much so that she sometimes forgets about them.

It’ll be over in a week and she’s excited because that means she doesn’t need to worry about interviews or camera men standing in her apartment at odd hours of day or finding cameras in weird spots.

And it means that they can do life without cameras together.

Emma busies herself with her phone while she waits for the band to set up. She has a few messages from her friends and she checks the band’s Twitter.

She has to smile because Killian has updated the followers with a photo of the guys excited all stacked up in a tight selfie. On in 15 minutes! Come and see us Boston! -KJ

She glances up at the stage and beams when Killian comes up to the microphone for a quick check. He grins back at her and they wave at each other. She thinks that if people saw them, they’d surely think they’re fools in love.

He has tasked her with taking pictures and video for the Facebook page and Twitter feed, which seems monumental, because she’s never done it before, but she told him she would.

So when they are announced and the crowd has become substantially larger and louder, Emma shouts and claps and she can’t wipe the smile from her lips.

They start in and they’re incredible.

They’re even better than they were a few nights ago, when she’d sworn they’d been at their best. Killian is smiling and singing and strumming from his spot on stage. Their energy is high and they seem to captivate the audience instantaneously.

She probably takes way too many pictures of Killian before she decides to take shots of the other guys. She takes a few extra of Victor for Ruby, because she specifically asked for them.

She takes a break from the pictures during the second song and instead sings along with Killian, allowing the music to entwine into her pulse and to swell in her chest. It’s like flying and she lovesit.

The set is a little smaller than it usually is and Killian speaks to the crowd in his brogue accent, oddly much thicker, a few extra times in lieu of singing, to a bunch of screaming women’s delight. Emma has half a mind to go find them and tell them to shut up, but she instead smiles at Killian, whose lips curl back a little as he speaks.

It’s amazing how the band captivates the crowd. She likes to think that it’s Killian and his raw talent that does it, but she knows he’s not the only one running the band at full steam.

She is so proud of everyone.

“Um, so we’ve got one more tune for you before we go,” Killian says quickly into the mic. “We’ll be around if you’d like to stop off for a chat, somewhere-”

He glances around and Robin shrugs. “Somewhere by the food trucks, I hope,” Robin teases into his mic.

Emma laughs and so does everyone else. Killian chuckles and picks at his strings a bit, shaking his head.

“Anyway,” he laughs. “Uh, our last song is a new one I wrote for my wife Emma. I hope you like it.”

He winks at her and she feels like a freaking teenager, because he’s calling her his wife in front of everyone and winking and it feels so damn good.

///

As soon as the show ends, Emma weaves her way to the backstage area, carefully protecting the camera that’s dangling from her neck. It’s Jefferson’s and she knows he’s going to be freaking out until he gets it back.

She’s taken a lot of good photos, she thinks, and when she sees everyone gathering with their equipment by the band’s van, she grins and quickens her pace up to them.

They’re all smiles and booming laughter and loud talking and she loves it.

She finds Jefferson first- well, he finds her- and she hands him the camera.

“Take any good ones?” he asks with a smile and a raised brow.

Emma nods, smiling coyly. “I think so. You guys did really good today.”

Jefferson grins in response and Emma glances over at where Killian’s standing with Robin, talking and laughing excitedly.

Killian turns just in time to see her and they exchange even bigger smiles before she’s wrapped up in warm arms and lifted off of her toes. She laughs and he captures her in a few quick few kisses.

“You did it!” she laughs. “You didn’t pass out.”

Killian chuckles. “I told you, I feel fantastic with you here.”

She gives him a tiny smile at that and strokes at his hair. “You were amazing, Killian.”

She goes on for a little while about it and he just smiles at her.

She realizes, oddly, that this is going to be her future. She’ll be at shows and she’ll come backstage and she’ll pepper her husband in complements.

It’s not a bad way to live, she thinks with a smile, kissing him soundly before she takes a step back from him to congratulate Robin and Victor.

At one point she looks back at him and he’s watching her with adoration in his eyes and she thinks he must be realizing the same thing.

///

day 28. hotel room, boston, massachusetts.

The cameras don’t follow them into the hotel.

It’s the first time the camera guy and Elsa have actually told them that they have enough footage for the day and that they’ll see them in the morning for breakfast at some coffee shop down the street.

It’s so freeing. He likes to spend time with Emma, but with the cameras on them all the time, it’s a little more difficult to be completely himself with her.

He’s excited for the day that he doesn’t have to look at the cameras or to have the producers tell him what conversation he and Emma need to have.

Finances was one early on that they were supposed to do and it was uncomfortable to say the least. The interviews have been more bearable now that he and Emma are really truly in this. They’ve been allowed to do them together, which is comforting.

Emma plops down on the big, pale sheeted bed with a sigh almost immediately when they enter the room. She sprawls out lazily and Killian sets his guitar down at the desk.

She turns the TV on and he has to smile because she immediately turns it to House Hunters, because it’s something she can fall asleep to now that she’s spent enough time watching it.

He cocks his head a little at her when he turns around, a smirk gracing his lips. “Emma?”

She hums in question.

She’s lying in the center of the bed with her head propped up barely by the pillows, one leg is kicked toward the side of the bed, as if edging herself off. There’s barely any space for anything else on the bed.

She glances over at him with innocence and places her left hand over her stomach.

He shakes his head at her slowly, making her pout at him, “I’m tired and you made me eat too many tacos.”

Killian hums as he goes to the sink area so he can wash his face. The mirror shows him the bed and Emma rolls onto her side, kicking her shoes off of the bed with noisy thuds.

Emma pushes herself up a little and relaxes into the pillows when he turns around after removing the grime from his skin.

She smiles at him gently and then pats the space next to her. “I saved you a spot.”

He wastes very little time when he gets up into bed beside her. He bites on his lip as he stares at her, lying with his head almost bumping the headboard. She smiles up at him and reaches for his hand, giving it a squeeze.

“This is how it’s gonna be really soon, you know. You’re going to be stuck with me and my laziness and you can’t get out of it.”

“Good,” he tells her. “I don’t want to get out of it.”

She turns over onto her side and shifts up onto her elbow so she’s face to face with him. She is the direct center of his universe and he wonders if she knows that or not.

“Are you sure?” she asks. “I’m kind of a slob and I don’t make my bed and I don’t like cooking.”

Emma sighs. He shakes his head against the pillow and pushes back her hair behind her ear.

“I know you, Swan. You forget we’ve lived together for a month now and I haven’t run screaming.”

She exhales softly and moves so she’s kissing him. It’s lazy and sweet and he feels her hand against his chest.

“Then let’s do this married thing,” she says. He laughs. “We’re already really good at it.”

He nods when she slides back a little. “Aye. We’ve adapted quite well.”

Emma wets her lips and traces her fingers over his shirt. “I… love this a lot, Killian. Us.”

“I do too,” he replies. His heart races and he tries to ignore it, because he isn’t sure where they stand. “Happy anniversary, Swan. I know it hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been wonderful regardless.”

Emma smiles a little and kisses him again, her arms wrapping around his neck.

He loves her more than he’s ever loved before. It’s a horrifying thought, because he hardly knows her, but they’re so obviously a perfect match for each other.

“Hey, we’re going to miss the end of this episode if we keep going,” Emma tells him between hungry kisses.

He grabs blindly for the remote and she laughs as he fumbles around for the power button. When he finally gives up and rolls away from her to the device, she buries her nose into his neck and curls up against him.

He turns the television off.

She laughs and Killian rolls over her gently, holding himself up by his hands on either side of her head.

“Happy anniversary,” she murmurs.

“Happy anniversary, Emma.”

He chuckles when she tugs at his hair, bringing him down to her.

He kisses her and then a thought comes to him that makes him break from her, his nose still right against hers and his lips hovering. He shifts then, pulling her up so they’re sitting on the bed.

Their noses brush and he sighs contentedly before he kisses her on the lips again, their bodies falling quickly into a soft, smooth pattern, gentle and passionate, careful.

He shows her how much he loves her that night, their unity explorative and practically timed as the rocking of a ship would be. Murmured whispers of forever and promises of never letting go uttered sweetly amidst the tossing waves.

And after, when they’re tucked against each other, limbs entangled and hearts so incredibly fullfor each other, his fingers trace along her arm and he breathes her in deeper than before.

It’s the first time they’ve felt so free and alone since they met and he knows that he’s never going to quite get enough of how good it feels.

He’s never wanted another person as much as he’s wanted Emma and now that he has her, truly has her, he’s going to keep her.

“I don’t want to get a divorce,” she whispers. “When it’s over. I don’t want a divorce.”

He can’t help the smile that twitches at his lips. “Neither do I.”  

She hums against his skin and pecks at his collarbone. “Goodnight, husband,” she whispers, tugging a little at the blankets.

He can tell she’s almost asleep and he brushes his fingers through her hair, dusting his lips to the corner of hers. “Goodnight, wife.”

Chapter Text

twenty-two.

day 135. emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

On the first night of the television series airing on Enchanted TV, Emma busies herself with baking and listening to the new album and doesn’t even touch the television.

Killian thinks she’s being kind of silly. He comes from the living room where he’s tuned to the channel a few minutes before it’s due to start and wraps his arms around her from behind, burying his face in her neck.

“I don’t know what you’re worried about. We know how the story ends.”

Emma sighs. She reaches up with her free hand and runs her fingers through his hair. “I know. I just don’t want to watch myself being ridiculous.”

“Hey,” he whispers. “You’re forgiven. I’ve already forgiven you.”

She turns and faces him. Her hair is up and some of it falls around her face, framing it delicately. She takes a soft breath.

“I know.” Her fingers wrap around his hair and her arms go around his neck. She sighs.

As much as he loves her, he hasn’t told her yet, and part of that is because he’s hesitant to believe she feels the same way.

Things have been good. Incredibly good. They’re happier now than they ever were before and the days seem to get even better as they go on.

It’s only been four and a half months since they met, but he feels as if he truly knows Emma, with all that she is.

“If you’d rather not watch, I’ll turn it off and we can find time later.”

Emma groans, pressing her head forward into his chest. He wraps his arms around her tightly until she pops her head back up again.

“No, it’s okay. We’ll watch it tonight. But don’t expect me to actually like it.”

He laughs. “Swan, it’s our wedding day. I expect you’ll at least try.”

///

They curl up together on the couch and Emma has a plate of cookies on the coffee table ready for easy access. She grabs one as Killian starts the episode and she gets a weird feeling in her belly, mostly because she hasn’t thought about the show very much since the cameras left.

The show had asked them to keep their relationship quiet, but seeing as they live in Storybrooke, it’s relatively easy for them to do.

They’ve set up social media for themselves so they can interact with “fans” and it’s kind of awkward, because Emma hates her Twitter page so she avoids posting except one retweet from the show’s account, but Killian actually goes on his and makes silly puns and jokes as the episode drags on.

When they see themselves on screen on the day of their wedding, getting ready and being completely nervous, Emma groans, but Killian grins at her, wrapping his arm around her and pulling her into him.

“And this is when I was optimistic. I don’t want to see me fighting you.”

Killian kisses the top of her head. “Shush or you’ll miss seeing your husband act like a completely nervous child.”

Emma laughs a little, glancing up at him to find his cringe at the sight before them.

Apparently, Emma wasn’t the only one who was entirely nervous, and she finds it endearing, because Killian probably could have worn holes into the carpet of his hotel room while his band mates watched.

They were so young then, she thinks, because they didn’t know what lay beyond the wedding day. They didn’t know that they’d end up together. They didn’t know that they’d end up happy.

For all this girl who listens to her favorite band as means of calming down on the screen knows, she’ll end up getting a divorce in a month. She has no idea that she’s about to marry the lead singer of that band.

As the wedding starts to get closer, the interviews start showing the jittery enthusiasm they’d had going into it, how Emma kept nervously pacing around in the hall, still listening to her music, and how Killian kept anxiously bouncing around the room trying to get the nerves out.

Emma keeps her face against Killian’s chest for easy hiding access, and he has his arm around her, holding her close.

“You looked beautiful.” He says as the show cuts to commercial. “I don’t think I ever told you how beautiful you were.”

She sighs and straightens up, leaning her head onto the couch. “Thank you.”

Killian presses a kiss to her forehead and squeezes her leg that’s draped over his lap before he leans forward to grab a cookie and his phone. He sticks the cookie into his mouth and then types something out into his Twitter.

“If I had only known what waited for me on the other side of the door…” he reads aloud as he types. He posts it and scrolls through some of the tweets, reading them to her.

“‘You guys are really cute,’” he reads. “‘Is she listening to his band because that would be too cute omg’.”

Emma has to laugh and she buries her face in her hands for a moment before she looks at her husband again. He grins. “It is rather cute, I think.”

She crinkles her nose at him. He reads a few more tweets to her before he puts his phone down and he sighs, sitting up, his fingers falling to the arches of her feet. He digs his thumbs into them and she releases a sigh.

“Well, I have to admit, I did think you were really hot when I first saw you.”

Killian smirks at her as his eyebrows go skyward and he lets go of her feet, instead reaching for her, pulling her closer as he says, “Oh, really, now?”

Emma laughs when he pinches her side and she settles onto his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck. They stare at each other, smiling, and she rests her head against his collarbone, staring at the television as their wedding officially starts.

She didn’t really notice the way he had stared at her the first time, but with the magic of cameras, she can see it now, how he had gone completely still, his eyes widening and his lips curling into an easy smile.

“Yep. Still hot.”

He shakes his head against her and she looks up at him, finding his smile disbelieving. She laughs happily and he lunges forward, lowering her down to the couch as he kisses her soundly.

///

day 155. emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

They’ve taken to watching their show after gigs wherever they can get them. They usually have shows on weekends in New York, which means they can go visit their family and stay with them, but at the same time do shows.

Every other gig, however, is close by, often in Storybrooke, and Emma kind of loves all of it.

Emma manages them, finding gigs and ordering merch for the table, and she helps find them recording sessions and manages the budget and pretty much every other little detail that isn’t performing.

It’s been running smoother than it ever has before, and she hasn’t even had to quit her job yet, not to say she hasn’t thought about it. She definitely has. Managing a band is hard work and she’s found that because of the show, the band is suddenly more popular.

Their social media numbers are higher and they’re packing out bars and selling out their merch tables faster than ever before. It’s exciting and amazing and Emma isn’t sure she’ll be able to hold on tight enough, because they’re getting swept away in a storm she had never anticipated.

In the current episode of their show, they’re in the middle of their good week, in New York still.

They’re going on their second date in the episode, which is sweet, and she’s able to watch without looking away for once in the entire series so far.

They lie up in bed, Emma with her head against Killian’s chest. He has his arm around her, his fingers tangled with hers, as they watch themselves on the screen fall madly in love.

Towards the end, Killian’s phone goes off and he curses under his breath. “I’ll be back. You don’t need to pause it.”

He takes his phone and walks out into the living room.

She sighs, burying herself in the blankets and pillows as she watches how they cut together their date.

It’s sweet, and she can see nothing but love between them, and it makes her nibble on her lip, because they haven’t said those three magical words yet, even though she’s definitely felt them.

On screen, they’re standing in the kitchen of her old apartment cleaning dishes after having stuck the cupcakes into the oven, and she’s thankful because they cut out most all of the kissing and instead left in only one or two.

She glances out into the living area and then at the TV just in time for Killian to come onto the screen in an interview setting. It’s the day after- this much is obvious by the bright look in his eyes and the way his hair is smoothed over.

He has a soft smile on his face as he says, “Well, I wanted to marry someone that I could fall in love with and that’s exactly what happened.”

Her heart starts racing and she stares out at the living room, where she can see her husband pacing a bit, his fingers in his hair.

He probably didn’t realize that they’d be airing this interview tonight, because he probably wouldn’t have left her to watch it on her own. And now that she has heard those words, she can’t help but feel like everything has changed again. Somehow.

She bites down on her lip as tears start forming in her eyes and she shuts off the television completely.

He’s in love with her. He is in love with her. And he has been for a while.

Emma isn’t sure how she should react to this news, because honestly she knows he loves her, she just hasn’t heard him say it.

It’s in everything he does. Every word, every action, every unsaid conversation, and every lingering glance or touch.

Killian Jones is in love with her and she absolutely has no problem believing that’s the truth.

Killian ends his phone call and returns to her as she’s in the middle of calculating what she should say or do. He runs his hand over the back of his head and smiles in that sweet way he does.

He shakes his head, chuckling. “Sorry, Swan, that was Robin. He wanted to discuss the set for the upcoming show.”

Emma takes a deep breath and releases it, still unsure of what to say.

Killian joins her on the bed and then furrows his brow, tilting his head a bit as he turns to her. “What’s wrong? Did you finish already?”

She stares at him for a beat and shakes her head.

“No, I… I was watching and…” Searching his face, she finds there isn’t anything for her to be afraid of. Because he loves her and she loves him. They’re married and they’re together and nothing is going to stop that. “I love you.”

Killian’s smile falls and he stares at her breathlessly, his eyebrows pinching inward. He searches her face and she laughs a little when he asks, “What? What the hell did you watch?”

She feels a little uneasy at his reaction, because she had anticipated something more profound, but she shrugs it off, smiling a little coyly.

“You know, the proper response when your wife tells you she loves you is to say it back,” Emma teases as Killian shifts toward her more.

She watches him as he starts to process her words and then he shakes his head. “I have imagined this happening a thousand different ways but this certainly wasn’t one.”

Emma smiles softly, shrugging in reply, her heart racing now because he still hasn’t said anything that resembles the words she wanted to hear.

Killian is quick to soothe her uneasiness, however. He reaches out to take her hand and pulls her close to him, kissing her soundly.

“I love you too,” he murmurs against her lips.

Emma’s eyes are still closed and she can’t help but laugh a little before she opens them again.

“Gods, Swan, you beat me to it,” he says, smiling, the corners of his eyes crinkling. He pauses, gazing at her. She climbs into his lap and wraps her arms around his neck. “I love you so much.”

Emma presses kisses up his neck and along his jaw, stopping under his ear.

“What the hell happened in this episode?”

She hums a laugh, moving to kiss his lips. “You said you were in love with me. And it was only after our second date.”

Killian seems to calculate the timing in his mind and holds his mouth open as she leans back, her fingers curling in his hair.

“Ah. I do seem to remember saying something like that.” He runs his fingers up and down her spine. “But I’ll have you know that I have loved you more fiercely since we’ve had time alone. The show was the show. Marriage is a completely different playing field.”

As she stares at him, she nods. “Yeah.”

It hasn’t all been easy. There have been nights where she has been so stressed with everything going on that she refuses to even talk to him. There have been tears and arguments and there have been promises that have been broken.

There have been days of heartache and long nights awake in an empty bed.

And she knows it’s not going to end just because the show is finally coming to an end and this era of their lives is finally finished.

But he loves her and she loves him and that means they’re not going to just walk away from this when it gets hard.

Killian stares at her now, his eyes bearing down into her soul, and she pulls his face down to hers so she can kiss him. It’s gentle at first, and he keeps his hand on her back to hold her steady.

“I love you,” she repeats in a breathless whisper.

Their foreheads touch and he doesn’t waste time when he kisses her again, this time firmer.

He whispers against her skin when he lowers her down onto the bed and she doesn’t hear what he’s saying until he presses his lips against the flesh under her ear.

“I love you,” he’s saying, over and over, and it sounds like a song, because it is one.

Her fingers run through his hair and she sighs at the sound, arching up and into him as her eyes slide closed. She pulls his lips to her again and she kisses him until the heat between them becomes too much.

He settles his forehead against hers and they breathe hard and fast, fingers trailing along wherever they can reach. She opens her eyes to meet his and he smiles that timid smile, the one she sees when he’s nervous at shows, and it’s almost as if he can’t believe she’s his.

“Hey,” she whispers, reaching up to cup his cheek. He leans into it and she searches his eyes. “I’m yours.”

Killian’s expression softens a little and his smile spreads, though he gives his head a minute shake.

“And I’m yours.” His hand comes up to hers, warm and big, and he takes it away from his face, sliding it above her head as he gets a little more comfortable. He presses his nose against hers, holding himself above her with purpose. “Always yours.”

///

day 176. studio, NYC.

For the show’s final episode, the couples involved in the series are asked to come into the studio to record a sort of reflective episode. It’s a bit weird, because they haven’t been around cameras in a few months, but it feels as if they never left.

It’s a reunion of sorts when they walk into the studio and find Elsa waiting for them with a wide smile and open arms. Emma goes in for a hug first and both women laugh as they rock back and forth.

“Oh, it’s so nice seeing you again,” Elsa says, reaching out for Killian after Emma steps back. He leans down to give her a good hug and she scrunches up her nose at him. “Your brother kept asking me when you’d be in town for this.”

Killian rolls his eyes. “I’ve told Liam a hundred times we’d be coming in this weekend.”

“He wants to make sure everything’s all set,” Elsa says with a small smile. “He’s excited to see you.”

Emma nods in agreement as she comes to stand beside him.

He smiles. “Aye. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? We’ve had shows up and down the coast these past few weeks.”

Killian takes Emma’s hand when she grabs for it and he smiles over at her.

“Well, we’re happy to have you come over.” Elsa says on a sigh. “We were thinking about coming to the show in Georgia in a few weekends.”

Killian grins. “Oh, that’d be grand. I’d love that. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Liam at my shows.”

Elsa laughs. “Well, blame most of that on me and my job lately. We’re almost finished though, so I’m excited to get a little break.”

“Yeah. I’m sure.”

Elsa takes a deep breath and holds her arm out. “Okay. We should get you ready for camera. Right this way. You’ll get the full hair and makeup experience.”

Elsa directs them away from the lobby and down a hallway to a room with chairs and vanities.

He releases Emma’s hand and they get into their chairs.

The hair and makeup ladies are eager to ask them about their lives and they tell them as much as they feel comfortable, almost always meeting each other’s eyes in the mirrors in front of them as they get worked on.

“We were rooting for you since the beginning,” the one working on his hair says. “I would have a hard time believing in love if you didn’t end up together.”

“Oh, well,” Killian can’t find words, so he just laughs, shaking his head. “Thank you?”

Emma laughs and he finds her eyes in the mirror. The woman behind him sighs. “You’re such a sweet couple and I’m so glad you’re still together.”

“Now you just need to get started on those babies!” Emma’s stylist says, making Killian bust out laughing, his eyebrows lifting high.

He turns to Emma and she has rosy cheeks. He reaches for her hand and squeezes it. “I think we need a few months before we have that conversation.”

///

“So, I know things were difficult at first,” Archie says. “Could you speak into what changed your mind, Emma? You seemed to be hesitant about your relationship taking off.”

Emma holds her mouth open for a second as Killian studies her. She glances at him and he gives her a soft smile that she returns, taking a deep breath before she turns forward to answer the question.

“I think I ran from him because I was scared he would hurt me like I’ve been hurt before,” she says diplomatically, “and when he started showing me more and more that he was here with me and he wasn’t going to leave, and he actually did care for me, and love me, then I could see a future with him.”

Killian squeezes her hand and she shifts closer to him on the couch.

Archie nods. “That’s great to see. You’ve made it six months. Congratulations.”

Emma laughs. “Yeah. Six months and we’re back where we started. In New York.”

She turns to him and he smiles at her, then presses a quick kiss to the side of her head. “We’ll have to celebrate.”

Emma rolls her eyes at him and he just winks before he turns forward.

Archie chuckles. “So can you tell me how things are going now with your band?”

“Yeah, um, we’ve been on tour for a few weeks now,” Killian says. “The band probably wouldn’t be doing as well as it is without Emma’s help, though. She’s started managing us.”

Emma rolls her eyes and squeezes his hand. He smiles proudly at her as she speaks. “It’s a much more difficult job than you think it is when five guys are all trying to get you to take the job over a phone call at midnight.”

Killian laughs as she does and they both look at the team of advisors in front of them, who laugh as well.

“And how are things between you now?” One of the other advisors asks.

Killian stares at his wife and she stares at him and they both can’t stop smiling as Emma says, “We’re really, really happy.”

///

day 176. central park, NYC.

Emma holds Killian’s hand as they stroll the park. They’ve been kind of quiet since the taping and she has a lot on her mind as they continue to walk.

“Killian, I think I want to go full time being your manager,” she says abruptly, even for herself.

He stops walking and turns to her, still holding her hand. His eyebrows pinch inward. “What?”

Emma stares at him and shakes her head. “I can’t keep pretending I can balance being a deputy and managing the band and I really prefer being with you guys all the time. It’s hard to do both and be married and I just think it would be better if I did one job.”

Killian doesn’t seem to know what to say. He stares at her quietly. “You don’t have to. I know we voted on it and you’re doing an amazing job, but- I don’t want you to quit being an officer. I know how important it is to you.”

She sighs, shaking her head. “No. I want to. I have loved your music for a long time and I love you so that’s why I want to do it.”

Killian stares blankly for a second before a smile spreads wide on his face. He moves quickly to hoist her up into his arms, laughter on their lips. He kisses her and then sets her down again.

“I love you too.” He says as he studies her. “Okay. We should go visit David and Mary Margaret. They’re waiting for us.”

Emma smiles. “Okay.”

///

day 186. mary margaret and david’s apartment, NYC.

Killian plays his guitar for Leo and he loves it. He starts dancing and Emma dances with him while his parents start to dance as well.

By the end of the song, Emma collapses down onto the floor and fakes exhaustion, tossing her arm over her head. Leo laughs and pounces on her.

“Emma, Emma, you have to get up!”

She groans, tossing her head from side to side, “I don’t think I’m strong enough.”

Killian laughs. “Love, have you fallen ill? Are you alright? Shall I phone Whale?”

She scrunches up her nose when Leo presses his hands to her cheeks and studies her closely. “No, I think I’m good.”

Emma is a little surprised when Leo is suddenly ripped from her body, into the arms of his father. He starts giggling and Emma can’t help but smile as she forces herself to sit up again.

She meets Mary Margaret’s eyes and she smiles softly at her. “Emma, could you help me with something in the kitchen?”

Emma eases herself up onto her feet and smiles warmly as she passes the boys on the couch.

“What’s up, Mary Margaret?” Emma asks, entering the kitchen and grabbing a glass from the cabinet.

Mary Margaret leans against the counter as Emma fills a glass of water and waits for her to turn toward her before speaking. “I’m… pregnant.”

Emma’s eyes go wide and she gasps. “What?” She sets her glass down on the counter. “How long?”

Mary Margaret giggles. “It’s only been about two months. We just found out a few weeks ago and we waited to tell you because we knew you’d be coming by today.”

Emma tilts her head to the side and smiles at her friend before she steps toward her, giving her a tight hug. “I’m so happy for you guys. You’re great parents.”

She pulls away from Mary Margaret and the petite brunette sighs happily.

“Thank you, Emma. We’re just trying to figure out how we’re going to fit two babies in one tiny apartment in this city.” Her eyebrows lift on her forehead and she shakes her head as she folds her arms to her chest. “We’re thinking about moving.”

Emma’s heart starts racing. She tilts her head to the side, a smile filling her face. “Storybrooke’s nice.”

Mary Margaret laughs. “I know it is. It’s just that David needs work.”

Emma bites down on her lip and glances into the living room to find David and Killian talking casually as Leo plucks at the strings of Killian’s guitar from Killian’s lap.

“Well, it just so happens,” Emma says lowly, a smile spreading on her face. “I’m leaving my job so I can manage the band full time.”

Mary Margaret’s eyes widen even more and she gasps. “Emma! But I know you love being a police officer. Are you okay with it? Are you sure?”

Emma laughs and nods. “Yeah. I’m sure. I love the band and I love Killian and I think if the band is going to keep taking off like it seems like it is, I should probably be more available.”

“Well,” Mary Margaret says, her smile spreading. “I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you no matter what you choose to do or where you choose to go.” She takes Emma’s hand and squeezes it. “I’m so happy for you both. You’ve both grown so much since you got married.”

“I know,” Emma says on a sigh. “We watched the show and I kept thinking about how different we are now.”

Mary Margaret nods in agreement, her smile still ever-present on her lips. “That’s what love does. It changes you.”

Mary Margaret continues to smile at her and Emma rolls her eyes. “Okay, okay. You can say I told you so.”

The woman giggles. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

///

day 186. the jewel of the realm, NYC.

As soon as she sees the ship looming ahead of them, she turns to Killian, her eyes wide. “Wait, I thought it was back in Maine.”

Killian grins slyly, raising an eyebrow. “Well, I had Liam do me a small favor.”

She shakes her head in confusion. “Why?”

“It’s our anniversary, of course!” He says as if she has no idea. They come to a stop before the boat and he smiles warmly at her. “Well, love? Will you join me for a cruise home?”

Emma’s heart squeezes and she can’t help but smile. “Yes. I’d love to.”

///

day 187. the jewel of the realm, harbor, unknown.

In more ways than one this is far better than the last time they did this.

This time, they don’t have cameras. This time, when he takes her down into their cabin, he knows she’ll stay. This time, they’re in love.

Come the morning, he wakes to find Emma curled up into him, her hair a royal mess as it splays behind her against her pillow. She’s sweet, sleeping like this, and he sighs happily, running his fingers down her spine.

She shivers and curls closer to him, then groans and opens her eyes. She narrows her eyes at him tiredly. “Why are you awake?”

He chuckles. “In my bones I’m a sailor, love.”

She hums. “Yeah.” She buries herself closer to him and tugs on the blankets. “Love you.”

Killian smiles and kisses the top of her head as his fingers run through her hair. “I love you too.”

Her hand presses against his chest and he smiles as he drags his fingers toward hers. He runs his fingers over her wedding ring and a thought hits him pleasantly.

“Emma, do you think it would be overly romantic of me to give you a ring?”

She wakes up then, pressing her chin to his chest, and her eyes are narrowed in sleepy confusion. “A ring?”

He nods, smiling softly. “Aye. A ring to remind you of my promises to you.”

She smiles a little and finds his left hand from behind her, examining the band on his finger before she awards him a tiny smile.

“We should get new rings altogether,” she tells him. “These are for the show. I’d like something more personal, because if we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives, I don’t want to look at my hand and remember that you put this on after meeting me for the first time. I want something that reminds me that I’m with the guy I fell in love with.”

His heart is warm and he feels almost dizzily like he wants to go off right now and get new rings with her and make new promises and show her that he’ll keep them in this bed, but instead he kisses her forehead and laces their fingers together.

“Then that’s what we’ll do,” he says simply. “As soon as the tour is finished, I’ll bring you out to sea and we’ll exchange new rings and new vows.”

Emma smiles with her teeth showing. “Oh, just because you’re a ship captain, you think you can marry us again?”

He barks a laugh and curls over her, holding her lips at a tantalizingly close distance to his own as he whispers, “Darling, you’d best believe I can.”

She giggles as he kisses her and it makes him smile.

///

Emma comes up to the deck with a warm mug of coffee and a smile on her lips.

When she finds Killian standing on deck staring out at the horizon, a hand on the wheel and the other wrapped around his own coffee.

He’s wearing a plain white tee shirt with his favorite leather jacket on top and jeans, looking more attractive than she thinks is fair, and she sighs, shaking her head at the sheer sight of him.

He grins at her when she steps up to him. The sun is warm on her skin and she wears one of Killian’s hoodies over her head because she’d rather just curl up on deck and watch the sea with him but he’s in charge of directing them home.

“Swan, you look… ravishing in that.” Killian says as soon as she comes close enough to him.

She laughs. “I know.”

Emma takes a deep breath of the salty air and stands beside him, pressing her hand against his arm.

“How do you feel?” He asks, and she raises a puzzled eyebrow. “Now that it’s all over. Now that we’re finally doing this without cameras or the show in our faces.”

She smiles. “I feel really good. Amazing.” Emma pauses, studying him. She peels back a soft smile as she considers the reason he’d told her for doing this in the first place. “Like I’m home.”

Chapter Text

epilogue

day 365. emma and killian’s apartment, storybrooke, maine.

She wakes up to the smell of coffee, pancakes, and bacon. Her toes curl happily and she stretches her arms over her head as she takes a deep breath, opening her eyes slowly.

To no real surprise, the bed beside her is empty.

She isn’t very surprised when a little brown paw settles on the bed and then a little brown pup joins her. She smiles softly, reaching out to scratch under the puppy’s chin.

“Hi, Buddy,” she murmurs, giggling when her puppy comes to lick her face. “Where’s Daddy? Did he go make breakfast?”

Buddy yips at her and she laughs, sliding upright. She grabs Killian’s shirt from the floor and slides it on before she gets out of bed, heading out toward the kitchen. She runs her fingers through her hair and ties it up above her head just as she stands behind her husband.

Her arms wrap around him as he flips a pancake and she smiles as she kisses his neck. “Happy anniversary.”

Killian hums. He reaches around with his free hand and pinches her side, causing her to laugh as she moves to his side. He grins, awarding her with a kiss.

“Happy anniversary,” he replies against her lips before he gives her another kiss.

Emma smiles at him and he at her as he turns back toward breakfast.

“I was going to deliver this to you in bed, but if you’re already up…” Killian grabs a plate from the counter and hands it to her. “We can share breakfast at the table.”

Emma takes the plate from him, feeling a light and happy, as she probably should on such a day as this. “Okay.”

She goes to the table and curls a leg up under her as she sits down. Buddy comes scampering out of the bedroom and up to her, yipping at the sight of her.

Emma laughs. “What do you want?”

“He probably wants a walk.” Killian says. “I’ll take him after breakfast. Try giving him that bone we brought back last night.”

She glances back over her shoulder and grabs it from the counter, smirking as she waves it at the puppy. He immediately pants at her, clearly excited about the item in her hands.

Emma tosses it lightly into the living room and it lands. Buddy takes off running and she watches him as he attacks the bone eagerly. It’s huge for how small he is, and it’s almost comical.

Turning back to her plate, she settles into her seat just as Killian approaches the table with her coffee and his own plate. He places it beside her and then goes back for his mug, returning moments later.

They eat in a pleasant silence for a few moments.

“So what do you have planned for today?” Killian finally asks.

Emma looks at him and shrugs. “I don’t know. I was going to do laundry and Mary Margaret asked me if I wanted to watch Leo this morning during their appointment.”

Killian hums. “I’d love to watch him with you.”

She laughs. “Yeah. I think he’ll be more interested in Buddy than in either of us this time.”

Killian chuckles. “Aye. He’s a bit of an attention-grabber now, isn’t he?” He glances over into the living room and shakes his head. “What a scoundrel. I can’t believe we’re calling him Buddy. He’s certainly more of a Blackbeard than any pup I’ve ever seen.”

Emma shrugs. “You told me I could name him.”

Her husband sighs. “You’re lucky I love you, Swan.”

///

As Emma watches Leo play with Buddy, she folds she and Killian’s laundry on the couch. Killian is sitting in the chair next to her and he’s plucking notes on his guitar, but other than that, he’s quiet.

She bites a little on her lower lip, because she had thought he’d have more surprises for her today. Maybe it’s a little romantic for her to think that he’d give her the world today, because he’s been travelling all week and she’s been here in Storybrooke waiting for him only because of some local emergencies involving a certain pregnant Mary Margaret and a long list of things to do.

Emma glances over at him as the little boy and the puppy continue to play and she folds her last pair of socks together. “So I was thinking about dinner. I could make something. I know it’s been awhile since you’ve had anything at home.”

Killian smiles at her and nods. “That sounds fine.”

She swallows her disappointment and smiles instead. “Okay. I’ll make alfredo or something. And maybe we can go for ice cream after.”

“Okay. Sounds good to me, love.”

Emma turns to settle the socks into the laundry basket, then stands up to carry it into the bedroom. She exhales sharply as soon as she settles it down onto the bed and swallows the lump in her throat.  

She tells herself it’s fine, because her husband is a busy man. And anyway, she has never needed anything from him before. She doesn’t need anything just because they’ve made it an entire year.

She reconciles his behavior and tucks all of their clothes into their respective places, then stands in the doorway out to the living room, staring out at the boys. She finds Killian laughing as he tickles Leo on the couch, and it makes her heart weak.

“Emma, Emma, tell Killian to stop tickling me!” Leo begs.

Killian stops tickling the boy and stands upright, a wide grin on his face still from all of the tickling.

She laughs, stepping into the room. “Don’t have so much fun without me!”

Killian chuckles. “Sorry, love. It was his fault for being such a rascal.”

Leo giggles. “No I’m not!”

Emma drops down to sit on the couch beside him and he immediately curls up into her lap, making her smile. His arms go around her neck and she wraps her arm around his middle, holding him snugly.

“Emmie, Mama says I’m going to have a baby soon.”

She nods. “Yeah. You’re going to have a little sister in a few months. Are you excited?”

Leo scrunches up his face. “Sister? Ew!”

Emma laughs. “I’m your sister! Am I icky?”

Leo shakes his head. “No you’re not. Because you’re big.”

She laughs again and nods. “I guess that makes sense.”

She meets Killian’s eyes and he stares at them with so much adoration that she thinks he might start crying.

“Emmie, can you and Killian please keep the baby so I don’t have to?”

Emma can’t help but laugh and Killian does too, dropping down to his knees beside them.

“You’ll like having a baby, Leo.” Killian says. “I don’t think your mum would like it very much if we took your sister from you.”

Leo sighs heavily. “Yeah. I guess.”

Emma chuckles and pulls the little boy close, pressing her hand to the side of his head. “You can always come over and play with us when we’re home.”

“Yeah. That’s good.” Leo says on a yawn. He starts playing with Emma’s shirt and she watches as he falls asleep very easily, within ten minutes.

Killian helps her settle him down on the couch for a nap and he grabs a blanket to drape it over his small figure.

“He’s not much for naps lately,” Killian says lowly as they stand in the kitchen.

“You tired him out,” Emma says, laughing. She nudges him in the side.

Killian shrugs. “I suppose.”

She studies him and presses her fingers against his chest. “You okay? You’re kind of… distant.”

He shakes his head and spreads a smile wide for her. “I’m fine, love.” He lifts her hand and kisses her palm. “I promise.”

///

Killian listens to Emma as she works in the kitchen. He stands in their bedroom, fidgeting with the box he’d kept hidden in his guitar case for well over a month.

He flips it open and stares down at the ring inside, a shiver running through him as he takes a steadying breath.

For some reason, he is incredibly nervous. He wants to say the right thing, wants her to know how much he loves her, and he hasn’t been able to think of anything else all day long.

And perhaps it’s for that reason that his plans for the evening have yet to begin.

Swallowing, Killian settles the box into his guitar case again and closes it up. He carries it out into the living area where his wife stands by the sink filling a pot with water.

He clears his throat and she looks at him, immediately quirking an eyebrow at him. “You’re dressed up.”

Killian smirks. “Aye. And you should be too. We’re going out.”

Emma opens and closes her mouth and then settles the pot in the sink. “Okay.” She narrows her eyes a little in confusion and then heads for the bedroom.

Killian reaches for his phone and texts Robin quickly.

Killian: Okay. Ready.

Robin: It’s all set up. Just a heads up: the rose petals were not my idea.

///

day 365. the jewel of the realm, storybrooke, maine.

Emma holds Killian’s hand as they walk toward the docks. She’s started to become quite suspicious instead of disappointed as she had been earlier, and Killian keeps sneaking glances at her that have her heart racing.

He grins as they approach his boat and she holds her mouth open at the sight of it. There are paper lanterns hanging and illuminating the whole ship and on it, there’s a table with a meal on it. There are rose petals on the gangplank leading up to the table and all around it, something a bit fanciful but sweet regardless.

“How-?” Emma manages to ask as she turns to her husband.

He smiles wider and shrugs. “The band owes me a hundred favors and this counts as one.”

She laughs and Killian leads her up onto the ship easily. Emma can’t stop looking around at the lights and Killian does too, until he sets his guitar case down and pulls out the chair for her at the table.

On the table, there is a lantern with a candle inside, flickering light between them. There are plates with coverings and there are flutes of champagne and a bottle stuck in a bucket on the deck beside the table.

He sits across from her and she smiles at him as he adjusts himself in his chair. “Well, happy anniversary, Emma.”

“Happy anniversary,” she replies softly.

They eat and the time is laced with expectancy, though they manage to talk a little bit while they enjoy some grilled cheese and onion rings courtesy of the diner in town. She laughs when she pulls the covering to find it waiting for her and Killian grins because of it.

By the time they’re finished eating, Killian has a little nervous look on his face, and he licks his lips after having a sip of champagne.

“Well, I have a surprise for you, Swan,” he says, then he gets up to open his guitar case.

She watches him pull it into his lap as he sits down at the table and he takes a steadying breath as he starts to pluck the strings.

“A year ago, we met for the very first time,” he tells her, smiling softly. “And when we met, I hadn’t ever thought I was worth loving. It changed when we were married. I saw in you hope and I saw a future.” He pauses and focuses on changing chords. “So I want you to know that I love you and I look forward to many more years together.”

He starts to play his song in honest and she listens with her head tilted, a tiny smile on her lips.

It’s a new song she has never heard before, and she knows he had prepared it especially for tonight, because it has her name in it and he keeps telling her that he loves her in every verse and chorus.

When he finishes playing, she claps for him.

“I love you,” she says in response to his words. It’s all she can think to say, and she’s about to get up to kiss him, but he moves first, setting his guitar into the case.

He grabs something, and then returns to her, falling to his knees on the deck of his ship. He stares up at her with tears in his eyes and Emma’s mouth falls open when she realizes exactly what he’s doing.

“Emma,” he says, a hint of a smile pulling at the corners of his lips. “In all of my life I never thought I’d marry someone I met at the altar, but it happened, and I’ve never been happier that it has. You are beautiful and you inspire me every single day with your heart and your strength. And I find it impossible that someone like you could love me, but you do.” He pauses and plays with the box in his hand for a moment before he pops it open. “I want to ask you to marry me again. This time, the way we want to do it without any cameras or pre-made vows. So, Emma, will you marry me?”

She has tears in her eyes at his words, already halfway there because of another song devoted to her. Emma nods. “Yes. Of course.”

Killian smiles, out of relief, and he reaches for her hand, but she gets to it first. She takes the ring she’s worn for so long and slides it off, setting it down on the table. Then, she extends her hand to him.

At first, Killian raises his eyebrows, but they both laugh, and he slides the new ring over her finger.

He pulls himself upright and she yanks him by his tie to her, kissing him soundly. Their tongues tangle for a moment before he pulls back just so, their foreheads touching as their eyes meet.

“Good. I was so nervous.”

Emma laughs. Her fingers go into his hair and she gives it a tug. “Why? I’m already married to you.”

Killian shakes his head. “I don’t know.” He laughs.

He kisses her instead of speaking, which is perfectly fine with her, and when he pulls away, he licks his lips.

“Okay. One last surprise.”

Emma furrows her eyebrows. “I don’t know how much more I could take.”

Killian laughs. “It’s a good one. I promise. Follow me.”

///

day 365. house, storybrooke, maine.

As Killian walks her up through the streets of Storybrooke, she starts to get suspicious of what his next surprise might be.

He squeezes her hand, newly endowed with an engagement ring, as they come to a stop before a rather large gray and white house.

She turns to him, shaking her head in confusion. “Why are we here?”

Killian bites down on his lip. He turns back to the house and gestures to it. “I wanted to show you our new house.”

Her heart skips a beat and her eyes widen. “What?”

Her husband smiles at her. “Come, love, a loft isn’t very big. If we’re going to expand our family… I think we should have more space.”

Emma turns to the house and back again. She releases his hand and shakes her head in confusion. “You got us a house.”

He nods, his smile falling uneasily. “Aye. I know it’s… it’s soon. I know. But I just thought- since everything with the band has been taking off- we could afford it and-”

She charges him and wraps her arms around his neck as she drags his head down to hers. She kisses him until she can’t breathe and then takes a breath, swaying into him.

“I don’t even have a card or something for you.” Emma sighs.

Killian chuckles and she leans back to meet his eyes. “I don’t need anything, Emma.”

She tilts her head to the side and shakes it slowly. “I love you.” She runs her fingers down his arm until she finds his hand and takes it. “So much. I didn’t think I could love someone as much as I love you.”

He squeezes her hand. “I love you too.”

Emma turns back to look at the house and takes a deep, happy breath. A year ago, she could never have pictured this life. A year ago, she was just a lost little girl who didn’t matter to anyone- unlovable and never enough.

But now, she has so much more than she ever thought she could ever have, and it’s all thanks to Killian Jones and his open and willing heart.