Present Day - September, 2016
“Just shift your leg, Swan. These are tight quarters here.”
“Are you going to take my pants off or what?”
The tongue working a particularly sensitive spot on Emma’s neck sent shivers down her spine. (He still knew how to drive her crazy.) “Good things come to those who wait, love.”
Emma pulled sharply on the collar of his shirt, forcing his eyes to meet hers. “Take. Off. My. Pants.”
“I like it when you’re direct.”
“I like it when you listen,” Emma countered as she stood on the tips of her toes and pressed her hips flush to his.
His breath was warm against her ear as he whispered, “Tell me again.”
“I want you to fu-”
Emma was interrupted by a sharp knock on the door at her back. “Um, excuse me? The facilities are limited to one passenger only. You need to return to your seats. Now .”
It felt as if Emma had been doused in a bucket of ice cold water. Her senses were no longer clouded by him and the dirty things he’d been doing to her neck and her lips and her resolve.
“Well, I guess we won’t be joining the Mile High Club after all, love.”
“Way to state the obvious, Sherlock,” Emma replied as she tried to catch her breath and her sanity. “And don’t call me ‘love.’”
He smiled as if he knew she’d say that. “As you wish.”
“You’re not allowed to say that either.”
“What am I allowed to say?”
“Nothing,” Emma said as her eyes roamed the airplane’s tiny bathroom. “Now help me find my shirt.”
19 HOURS EARLIER
“I think you’ll find that I do indeed have a seat on this plane, sir.”
“As I’ve told you twice Ms. Swan, all travellers must be checked in at least 45 minutes prior to boarding. You’re too late.”
Emma narrowed her eyes at the man behind the check-in counter as he continued to smile blandly back at her. “Listen pal, it’s not my fault traffic was a nightmare or that my Uber driver had to stop for gas.”
“My name’s Randy,” he smiled as he gestured to the winged pin on his burgundy vest. “I understand your frustration ma’am, but this is the airline’s policy for international flights. I can’t disregard protocol.”
“I’m literally one minute over your stupid 45 minute rule,” Emma countered as she looked at the Snow White themed watch on her wrist. “Can’t you make an exception?”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but I really can’t. Would you like me to try and find an alternative flight?”
“No, Randy,” Emma said sarcastically as she rolled her eyes. “I’d just like to stand here all day and not make it in time for the birth of my godson.”
Randy looked as if he’d just sucked on a particularly sour lemon, but tried to smile through it anyway. “Congratulations, ma’am. You must be so excited.”
Emma tried to reply politely, but she was Emma Swan and she didn’t always have the best social manners. What came out was more along the lines of “Bite me, Randy.”
Then Randy did the last thing that Emma would have suspected - he laughed.
“You’re funny,” Randy said as he started typing on his computer terminal, “but you’re still not getting on this flight. I have a flight leaving tonight with one seat left. You’re on it.”
Emma muttered a very relieved “thanks” as Randy entered in the information off of her passport.
“Excellent, ma’am,” Randy beamed as he returned her passport. “That’ll be an additional $369.00 for the ticket upgrade.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Nope. Will you be paying with cash or credit?”
After nearly murdering Randy the ticket agent, and several other disgruntled airport employees that crossed her path, Emma finally made it to the security checkpoint lines.
Of which only two were open. It was just her luck, really.
And it was only after she opened her hastily packed carry-on luggage that she realized she’d forgotten to grab her bag of travel sized toiletries.
Or her toothbrush. Or a hairbrush. Or, quite frighteningly, any underwear.
She needed coffee. (She needed alcohol.)
So that’s how Emma found herself at the Bangor International Airport sipping on a spicy Bloody Mary at approximately 10:47am.
I mean, it wasn’t all bad. The drive from Storybrooke hadn’t been so horrible, even though her aging VW Bug had barely managed the three hour drive. And even though she hadn’t managed to pack any undergarments, she had remembered to grab the gifts she’d gotten for her best friends and their first baby.
Emma sent David a text alerting him to the change in her flight plans, and wasn’t surprised when she saw his number flash across her screen a few minutes later.
“Hey, old man. What’s up?”
“Nothing much. Just waiting for my wife to expel a tiny human from her nether regions.”
“Isn’t the miracle of life amazing?”
“It really, really is ,” Emma could practically hear his smile through the phone before he quickly changed gears. “So why’d you miss your flight?”
“Because someone by the name of Randy was born without a sense of humor,” Emma laughed. “No, it was kind of an amalgamation of things. I got on the next flight I could, so hopefully that kid of yours stays put.”
“I think Mary Margaret would disagree with you on that front. She says ‘hello’ and ‘hurry the hell up, already.’”
“Oh, well in that case I’ll just sprout wings and fly to England myself.”
“It would be very godmother-ly of you, you know.”
“Yeah, I’ll get right on it,” Emma paused before adding, “Seriously, though - I love you guys and I can’t wait to see you.”
“Same here, Em. I’ve got to get back in there, but I’ll keep you updated.”
“Of course. Tell Mary Margaret to give em’ hell.”
“If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?”
“Brad Pitt’s house.”
Emma laughed into her wine glass as she eyed Mary Margaret over the rim. “Don’t let David hear you say that.”
Mary Margaret smiled as she shaded her eyes from the glare of the setting sun. The porch on David and Mary Margaret’s house had some of the best sunset views Emma had ever seen. “He already knows. Brad’s right at the top of my freebie list.”
“Oh, really? Who else is on there?” Emma asked curiously.
“Matt Damon and George Clooney, of course.”
“Do you have some dirty Ocean’s 11 fantasy or something?”
Mary Margaret paused for a moment as she seriously considered the possibility. “I think you might be right. I have always had a thing for bad boys.”
Emma clinked her glass with Mary Margaret’s as she said, “Touche.”
Mary Margaret refilled their glasses as she wondered, “What about you? Who would be on your freebie list?”
“You don’t need a ‘freebie list’ when you’re already a free woman.”
“Good point,” Mary Margaret nodded as she tapped the side of her wine glass with an impeccably manicured nail. “Speaking of being a free woman…”
Emma rolled her eyes - this was constant topic of conversation with her problematic best friend. “Just spit it out, already.”
“There’s this really great guy that David knows from work. He’s really handsome and I think he’d totally be your type -”
“And while I’m sure you think that’s a great idea, I’m just not looking for a relationship right now. You know why.”
“I do. But I also know you can’t just bury your head in the proverbial sand. You can’t hide forever.”
“I’m not hiding or running or scared. I’m just…” Emma trailed off as she watched the flash of a firefly in the yard before her. “I’m just waiting for the right guy to come along. I refuse to chase after a man ever again. I learned that lesson the hard way."
“I get that, I do,” Mary Margaret replied quietly. “But you can’t give someone the opportunity to run if you never let them catch you in the first place.”
Emma pursed her lips - the woman was pushy as all hell, but she had a point. “Neal was literally a piece of human garbage, and I will forever be grateful that we never procreated.”
Mary Margaret’s exasperated look spoke volumes.
Emma pushed on, “You literally hated Neal almost as much as I did by the end of it all, so can’t you see why I’m not in any rush?”
“No, I get it. I do,” Mary Margaret smiled as she bumped her shoulder against Emma’s. “I just want you to be happy.”
“I am happy,” Emma grinned as she leaned her head against Mary Margaret’s shoulder. “And I’d be even happier if you ordered us a pepperoni pizza from Gino’s.”
“You’re always thinking about food.”
“Why wouldn’t I be? It’s the greatest love of my life.”
“Can I get you a refill?”
Emma looked up from her phone - she’d fallen into a Wikipedia spiral and had found herself reading about the invention of cough syrup - and eyed the middle-aged woman in front of her.
“Would you judge me if I said yes?”
The woman inclined her head towards an elderly gentleman sitting a few seats down from Emma. He had a pint glass full of beer and at least three empty shot glasses in front of him. “That guy’s been here since 7am - I don’t give a flying fuck what you do or what you drink.”
Emma agreed to the refill as she returned to her phone. Abandoning the shame spiral that was Wikipedia, she instead turned towards one of her least used apps - Instagram. Or as Emma liked to say - “instant regret.”
She hadn’t posted anything to her own account in several months, but her friends usually kept up a consistent stream of content. David had posted a sweet picture of baby booties that was finally making the rounds to all of his friends and family still in America. She was scrolling through the comments when she noticed his username sprinkled amongst the various well-wishers.
She hadn’t meant to click on his stupid name - it was a moment of weakness on her part.
From the looks of it he hadn’t posted very much on his account either. The newest picture on his feed was from almost ten months ago, a seemingly innocent picture of a swan swimming in a pond.
(But Emma knew better than that - he was incapable of subtlety.)
The bartender placed Emma’s new drink in front of her with not a moment to lose. She inhaled half of it, the vodka burning her throat as she tried to forget that stupid image of that stupid swan swimming in that stupid pond.
And when she returned to the most recently added pictures on the app’s home feed, she nearly choked to death when she saw that infuriating username of his at the top.
He’d posted a picture 15 seconds ago.
A picture of a blonde girl in a cream colored sweater sitting at a bar.
A picture of her .
“What are you gonna be for Halloween?” David asked as he picked up a miniature plastic sword.
“Little Orphan Annie.”
David returned the sword to the bucket of plastic weapons he’d found it in. “You’ve got a sick sense of humor, Emma. You know that right?”
Emma threw a miniature shrunken head in David’s general direction. “That’s why you love me.”
“If you say so,” he said with a laugh as he picked up the bright green object that had fallen near his feet. “What the hell is this for anyway?”
“Beats me. It just reminded me of you.”
Emma felt his arms come around her from behind, his arms squeezing her tightly for a moment before releasing her. The feel of his hand slipping into hers was as natural as breathing. “Your wit knows no bounds, love.”
“Thanks, partner,” she said in an overly exaggerated southern accent. “Maybe I should be a cowgirl.”
“Now we’re talking,” he said as he gave her hand a tight squeeze. “Wait - we’re talking about bedroom fantasies, correct?”
“And this is where I exit,” David called as he rounded the aisle’s corner and left the two of them to their own devices.
“Now that we’re alone,” Emma noted as she pulled him down the aisle and after David, “when are we going to tell everyone? You know...about the thing .”
Emma whined as she tugged on his hand and begged, “Don’t make me say it out loud. You know I only agreed to it like three hours ago.”
“Precisely. This is the exact point I was trying to make earlier. You’re terrified of moving forward. Quite literally.”
“Let me remind you that I did agree to move in with you,” Emma said, more annoyed with herself and her issues than anything else. She knew she had to make this right, so she half-jokingly said, “Have I told you lately how cute you look when you’re annoyed with me?”
He smiled, clearly pleased. “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
Emma pretended to think it over. “Not since this morning when you had your hand on my-”
He pressed his lips to Emma’s, muffling what would’ve been a very inappropriate comment in such a public space.
Emma pulled away, annoyed at her boyfriend’s diversion tactics. “I wasn’t going to say anything that bad!”
“I wasn’t thinking of me, love,” he smiled as he pointed somewhere behind her. “But that child behind you is a different story.”
“Oh, god,” Emma laughed as she looked over her shoulder to find the little girl in question. What they’d done in bed that morning was definitely not kid friendly.
His smile was big, but it was the little creases near his eyes that really showed just how happy he really was. “You drive me crazy sometimes, but I wouldn’t change one single thing about you.”
“That was very Mark Darcy of you,” Emma laughed as she laced her fingers with his again. “Does that make me Bridget Jones?”
“To hell with Mark Darcy. I might be British, but I’m certainly much more dashing.”
“Whatever you say, roommate.”
He knew exactly how to push her buttons. He knew exactly how much to push and when to prod and exactly how far to take it. He knew her. He still knew her.
Fate was a cruel mistress, and Emma had some less than pleasant things to say to her. Firstly, how dare she? Secondly, what had Emma done to deserve this torture? And lastly, how dare she?
When Emma was a little kid growing up in the foster system, she’d been a bit of a scrappy fighter. Since the youngest girls usually cycled out of the system pretty quickly - they were the ideal candidates for adoption after all - the older girls tended to pick on whoever was left. And, well, that had always been Emma.
After a particularly nasty encounter in the kitchen one night over cherry poptarts, Emma swore to herself she’d start fighting back. So she did what any rational young girl would do - she joined the middle school boy’s wrestling team.
She only lasted a year - she found herself paying more attention to the boys than the actual art of wrestling - but the boys had taught her how to throw a punch, how to avoid getting punched, and how to trick the vending machine in the gymnasium to give you two Snickers bars.
(And when she ran away not long after that - well, that was an entirely different story.)
At the sight of the picture, she felt that scrappy little fighter rising up in her again. The urge to kick his ass was growing with each passing moment, and the longer the temptation went unfulfilled, the crazier it made her.
And then she saw the comment he’d written underneath it: Fancy seeing you here, Swan.
One stupid sentence had brought up feelings she’d tried her hardest to suppress for almost a year now. She knew she hated this stupid app for a reason.
A text message notification popped up at the top of her phone - it was a message from David. Just saw the picture. Is there something you’d like to tell me?
Emma tapped out a quick reply, her nails angrily clicking against the glass of the screen.
Yeah. I’m about to kick some ass.
Emma placed her phone screen down on the bartop, practicing the ancient mantra of “out of sight, out of mind.” If she couldn’t see the picture, she could pretend it didn’t exist.
That he didn’t exist.
And that would’ve worked, she was pretty damn sure, if said non-existent human hadn’t sat down on the empty barstool next to hers.
“Emma Swan,” he smiled as he turned to face her.
“Killian Jones,” she countered as she eyed the growing smirk on his face. “You smarmy son of a bitch.”
“Emma? Wake up, love.”
“So is sleep.”
Emma felt the brush of his stubble against her bare shoulder as he tried to tempt her again, “I’ll make it worth your while.”
Emma snorted as she buried herself deeper underneath the sheets on Killian’s bed. It would take more than the promise of sex to interrupt her mid-afternoon nap.
“I made cheese toasties.”
That sly fucker.
“And there’s hot chocolate,” he added as he pulled the duvet down and exposed her messy braid and loose tank top. “With cinnamon.”
“You’re a menace,” Emma said sleepily as she wiped her eyes. “Can’t you go bother your other girlfriend?”
“Nope,” he said happily as he pressed a kiss to her cheek. “You’re the only one I’ve got. Lucky you.”
“Yeah, lucky me,” she said, trying to sound unenthused but the smile on her face said otherwise. “You can’t always bribe me with grilled cheese, you know? You’re gonna have to up your game at some point.”
Killian propped himself up, his chin resting on an upturned hand. “I might have something in mind.”
“Does this something involve grilled cheese sandwiches in bed?”
“You know how I feel about crumbs, Swan. I haven’t relented on that rule.”
“Well if you still won’t let me eat in bed, then what could possibly be more life-changing and important?”
“You’re cute when you’re sarcastic,” he smiled, “but I was thinking something more along the lines of moving in together.”
(Emma’s heart started racing as the panic she couldn’t always keep at bay started to seep in. Maybe she was still asleep and this was all some sort of fever induced hallucination.)
Killian could read her like an open book though, so he quickly quelled her fears. “Relax, Emma. It doesn’t have to happen straight away. Just think about it.”
“Think about it,” Emma repeated as she watched his smile grow. “That sounds, uh, reasonable.”
“I knew you had some reason tucked away in that head of yours,” he said before leaning forward and pressing a kiss to the tip of her nose. “I think you’ve suffered enough. Shall we eat?”
“Yes, please,” Emma agreed as she sat up and pushed the blankets away. “But I’m going to need something stronger than hot chocolate.”
“It’s a good thing I’ve got the rum then, isn’t it?”
There were some things about Killian that had changed over the past year or so, but a majority of them had annoyingly stayed the same.
He still wore the same small opal ring on his left pinky finger, an ode to a brother he’d lost when he was just a teenager living in London. He still used the same aftershave, and due to their close proximity, she could even smell the scent of his favorite brand of shampoo.
But his hair was a little long, and he had bags under his eyes, and his bottom lip looked as if he’d been chewing on it. It was a rare nervous habit of his that she hadn’t seen in a long, long time.
He was wearing his favorite travel outfit - a soft flannel shirt and an old worn pair of black jeans.
(The pair he happened to have on now was something they’d picked out together during a shopping excursion a few years ago. She recognized the small hole that Killian had accidentally cut when he’d tried to remove the price tag while he’d still been wearing them.)
This Killian wasn’t hers though - not anymore.
“You never were one to mince your words, were you?”
Emma treaded carefully - their last encounter hadn’t ended so well. “No mincing here, I’m afraid.”
“I reckon you’ve seen the picture…” he trailed off as he looked to where her phone was resting.
“Emma Louise Swan,” Killian returned with a knowing look in his eyes, “I know when you’re lying.”
“There are a lot of pictures in the world, Killian,” she said as she tried her best to sound annoyed. “Which one are you referring to?”
Killian grabbed Emma’s phone before she could stop him and held it well out of her each. She watched him enter her four digit password just like he had hundreds of times before. Of course he still remembered it.
And of course she’d been stupid enough not to change it.
“Perhaps this one, Swan?” he taunted as he turned the phone’s screen towards her.
“Oh, you mean that creepy picture you took of me without my permission?”
“I know a striking image when I see it,” he stated honestly. After a moment he added quietly, “It’s good to see you, Emma.”
Emma chose to ignore his last comment. “I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mary Margaret’s in labor.”
“Of course,” Killian nodded excitedly. “I am the godfather, after all.”
Emma’s favorite activity in the whole entire world was lying in bed.
(And if one Killian Jones also happened to be in said bed, well that was even better.)
“What are you thinking about?”
Emma hummed as Killian traced his name into her skin over and over again with the edge of his fingernail. Her back was a sea of goosebumps all caused entirely by him.
Killian laughed loudly as his fingers trailed up her spine and to the necklace around her neck. Emma shivered as he traced the delicate rose gold chain with his finger before placing a kiss against the back of her head. He’d given it to her less than an hour ago, but she already knew she’d never take it off.
“Why peanut butter?”
Emma rolled over and snuggled into Killian’s side. “I’m hungry.”
“You’re always hungry.”
“Old habits, I guess.”
Killian tugged softly on a piece of Emma’s hair, wrapping it around his finger. “I guess.”
Emma felt Killian’s fingers release her hair as his hand moved to touch the series of charms hanging from the necklace.
“What are you thinking about?” Emma whispered through the darkened room, her eyes growing heavy from the soothing path of Killian’s fingers against her skin.
“I’m thinking,” Killian whispered into her hair, “that you’d taste even better covered in peanut butter.”
Emma laughed loudly, her whole body shaking with the force of it.
“Really, Emma? That was supposed to be sexy.”
“That doesn’t sound sexy, that sounds awful!” she smiled as she propped herself on top of Killian’s chest. “Besides, there’s no eating allowed in bed.”
“Well, not all eating,” he clarified as he brushed a finger along her jaw.
Emma’s cheeks burned red. “No, there’s one very important exception to that rule. One that you should never forget.”
“As the lady insists.”
After kissing him senseless, Emma settled into Killian’s side again and pressed the tips of her toes against his leg to warm them.
“Tell me a secret,” she whispered quietly. “Something nobody else knows.”
“I’m devastatingly in love with the most beautiful woman.”
“Does she know?”
Killian pressed a kiss to her forehead. “She does now.”
“You’re the godfather?” Emma spluttered, nearly choking on her drink. “You?”
Killian shrugged, his smile fading slightly. “Why are you so surprised?”
“I just assumed only one of us would be a godparent,” Emma reasoned. “You know...because of our situation.”
“To what situation are you referring to?”
“This,” Emma gestured wildly between them.
“You were always a woman of few words, but this is just preposterous.”
Emma shook her head in disbelief. “Did you know?”
“That I was the godmother!”
“No, I didn’t know,” Killian sighed, a sure sign that he was starting to get frustrated. “Not until David told me this morning, at least.”
“Do you think they planned this? Some sort of tragic reunion?”
“I wouldn’t say we’re a tragedy, Swan.”
“No,” Emma agreed, “I think it’s probably worse than that.”
“Right,” Killian replied, “so if discussing our godson isn’t a safe conversation topic, then what is?”
“I need to go to the bathroom,” she blurted out suddenly. “I’ll be right back.”
She needed to make a phone call.
“You better be grateful I’m not in the middle of a contraction right now, Emma Swan.”
“I need to know if you and David are in on this together.”
“What are you talking about, Emma?”
“Seriously! This is a level ten situation, Mary Margaret.”
“Wait - isn’t level ten the Killian level? What’s going on with Killian?”
“Killian’s here - in the airport, I mean.”
Emma overheard what sounded like a small scuffle followed by unintelligible voices. Mary Margaret returned to the phone a few moments later and said, “My painfully stupid husband failed to inform me. How are you holding up?”
“I feel like my chest is going to explode.”
“Sounds reasonable to me.”
Emma felt a surge of affection for her best friend - she’d always been able to make Emma laugh even in the most dire of circumstances. “You know I love you, and your dumb husband, and that cute kid of yours, right?”
“Yup. We love you too, Em.”
When Emma returned to the bar, she found Killian in the middle of what looked to be a rather intense phone call. She guessed it must have been work related because he was using what she’d always referred to as his “angrily polite” voice.
Emma sat down and immediately finished the rest of her Bloody Mary, the dregs of the glass more water than tomato juice. She tried not to eavesdrop on Killian’s conversation, but he’d always been a loud talker and she’d always been nosy.
“Of course I agree with you sir,” he said into his phone as he played with a discarded cocktail napkin, “and I understand it’s very important that I make it to the meeting tomorrow. However, my godson is being delivered as we speak and he takes precedence over everything else.”
Emma raised her hand to signal the bartender, but Killian stopped her by swatting at her hand. He pointed to her drink, then himself, and then to the bill folder in front of them.
Of course he’d paid for her drinks - he’d always been the more thoughtful one.
“Ted, I must be off,” Killian said as stood from his seat. “I’ll phone you tomorrow when we’ve landed. Cheers.”
Killian tucked his phone into his back pocket as he eyed Emma curiously. “When is your flight?”
“I’m on the British Airways redeye tonight. Why?”
“I was hoping you would say that,” he grinned as he grabbed her bag from where she’d stashed it near her feet.
“What are you doing with my stuff?”
“Collateral,” he said simply as he headed for the exit.
Emma had no choice but to follow.
For better or for worse.