"Yes, Killian?" Emma looked up from the computer screen to see Killian staring at his phone. Every so often, she took it on herself to scour the Internet for mentions of Storybrooke to make sure others wouldn't stumble upon it and decide to go looking for a fairy tale town. Regina and Gold had agreed that the curse took care of that, but Emma knew that Henry liked to write, and she wasn't sure whether being an Author meant your fanfiction was invulnerable to the curse.
It also meant that Emma knew a lot more about Henry's preferred ships, tropes, ...scenarios, and the skill of his writing that either of them would be comfortable sharing.
"Help." In a single word, Killian managed to convey his desperation, frustration, and general annoyance at the world.
"Still stuck on level thirty-five, huh?" she said, smiling at him. Killian had been dubious about smartphones to start with, but Henry had given him a particularly addictive match three game as a birthday gift, and Killian had warmed considerably to the technology after that.
Killian gave Emma a look somewhere between pleading and annoyed.
"Level forty-five, thank you. These games are designed to frustrate you and then dangle the hope of salvation in front of you for a few dollars. I knew gambling pits where everyone cheated as much as they could, and they were still more honest than this."
Emma watched with quiet amusement as Killian attempted the level again, with the same result. Sighing, he put the phone away.
"It will be at least three hours before I can try these puzzles again," he said. "Are you all finished with your searches, love?"
"I am, for now," Emma said. It wasn't strictly true, but Emma was willing to stay up later to finish if it meant she got time with Killian now.
"Well, then, how about going out to grab a bite at Granny's, then? You can tell me more about why the lack of Nirvana on the jukebox is a crime against humanity."
Emma rolled her eyes at him, but kept a smile on her face as she logged out of the computer. Everyone knew Granny's taste in music stayed firmly rooted in oldies, and only recently had started letting Henry switch in a couple records from the current decade on a trial basis. Emma had to admit that the kid had good taste in music after they had tussled a couple times about who the best vocalists were on TV.
Standing up, she slipped her arm around Killian's waist as he did the same to her. The merits of Kurt Cobain could wait for another time.
"All right, we can go to Granny's," she said. "If you get mac and cheese, and you share."
Granny's always reminded Emma of a couple of diners she'd worked at while moving from one place to another. The service never seemed fast enough for the customers, but the food was good and you could learn a lot about the local community for the price of your coffee.
"You're not listening to me, love," Killian told her.
"What? Oh, sorry," Emma cringed. She'd been listening fairly heavily to someone describing various people coming straight up to the town line, as if expecting to see something, and then turning away and going back the way they came. One visitor on occasion was normal for Storybrooke, but a half dozen in the last week made Emma worried. Being a Savior often meant using the same kinds of skills she'd picked up before coming here, so that potential catastrophes got quietly taken care of or steered in a different direction, and sometimes that meant paying attention to everything around you except the man trying to take you on a date.
"I don't understand why anyone would want to listen to a musical genre that takes pride in its dirtiness." Killian shrugged at Emma.
"The dirtiness was always in the sound, it was intentionally lo-fi. It's a successor to the DIY attitudes of punk. It's not like they were having concerts where everyone rolled around in the dirt beforehand." Emma stopped when she realized that Killian was joking at her, and put a smile on her face to let him know she understood.
"Speaking of rolling around," he said, letting the suggestion trail off as he leaned in for a kiss, "I'm sure there's a haystack somewhere that could use some friends."
"Ugh, no," Emma said, crinkling her nose at him. "It's like sex on a beach. It itches and irritates and it gets everywhere." Killian's kiss stopped her from explaining further, and for a moment, there was only the kiss.
"Mom! Wake up!" Henry's voice brought Emma back to herself. The sun was shining painfully bright through the diner's windows. Henry was pushing something into her hands. Coffee, from the smell of it. Emma sipped while she waited for her head to clear enough for a coherent question to form.
"It's the town, Mom. Everyone who kissed someone else is in the same condition. We've got to go save them!"
"Coffee," Emma croaked. How long had she and Killian been kissing for? Her throat was dry and her head pounded as if she had been drinking the whole night. The coffee was helping, a little.
"Swan," Killian said, sounding much more sober than she felt, "how long were we kissing?"
Emma shook her head very gingerly to indicate she didn't know and drank more coffee. "Why are you sober?"
"It's not the first time I've been drunk on love, love," he replied. "Henry seems to think someone cast a spell somewhere."
"Hey," she protested. "I've been in love plenty. I loved Neal a lot."
Killian nodded, not wanting to bring up painful memories. The coffee was chasing Emma's headache away pretty nicely at this point. "Any leads?" she asked. "And if everyone in town was like this, who made coffee?"
"I did, Mom," Henry said, grinning. "You've shown me how to do it enough times."
"You had a date with Violet last night. Did you...?"
Henry coughed and turned away, and Killian smoothly stepped in to prevent an awkward moment. "That's not important right now, Swan. Finding who did this is, because I don't want to have to wait a night to kiss you again."
"You're charming," Emma said. "Should probably go talk to David and Mary Margaret about this, though."
Both Henry and Killian left the pun alone as they followed the slightly-unsteady Savior back to their cramped home. David and Mary Margaret both looked to be in the same state that Emma was, and had decided on the same remedy. Henry opened his mouth to spill out all the details and rally everyone, but three very strong glares returned him to silence.
Several minutes passed in blissful silence, punctuated only by the occasional sipping and wincing.
"So, then," David said finally, "spell gone wrong or new villain in Storybrooke?"
"I'm guessing spell gone wrong," Henry said. "Belle and Gold were locked when she kissed him on the cheek."
"There's not much that gets past the crocodile," Killian said. "When he's not directly responsible, he usually knows who is."
A knock at the door sent Emma and her parents scrambling for more coffee. Henry opened the door and Mr. Gold strode into the room.
"Ah, hello, Sheriff," Mr. Gold said, addressing the room. "By now, I'm sure you're aware of the problem plaguing our town. I thought you might appreciate a lead on where to find the culprit."
"What's it going to cost, crocodile?" Killian said, a hand on his sword.
"There's no charge for this one, dearie. I'm sure we both would appreciate not being frozen for several hours if our friends...or our enemies," Gold paused significantly, "decided to give us a kiss."
"What's your tip?" Emma gritted out through her restarted headache.
"I was walking around the edge of town yesterday night, before this started, and I thought I heard voices coming from Regina's vault. Since Regina was at home last night, I'm sure she didn't have anything to do with it, but whomever did this might. I'm sure Regina will want to know. And now, I must return to my work. Good day, everyone."
After Gold left (and another infusion of coffee helped quiet things down again), Emma and Killian took care just to hold hands on their way in to town.
Regina was sitting on the front steps of her house with a very large to-go cup of something.
"What?" she snapped at Emma as she approached.
"Whoa, hold on," Emma replied. "What's going on with you?"
"From the looks of things, the same thing that happened to you two last night." Regina glared at them.
Emma reflected a bit on how the Evil Queen's acidity never really had left Regina's speech, even though she was getting better about not giving in to that side. Given that Regina was probably suffering from the same thing they had this morning, Emma and Killian forgave the outburst.
"Gold was just by," Emma said. "He said there was someone out at your vault last night. He thought it might have something to do with...this."
"Did he now?" Regina seemed to be getting worse instead of better with each sip she took. "Well, he's wrong about that. He just wanted you to get suspicious of me when he's the one that provided it."
"The magic spell that's affecting everyone," Regina sighed. "It was supposed to be a simple magic to help a first kiss last longer and be special, and somehow it turned into this town-wide paralysis. There was one couple on the corner who kept kissing and freezing up every time I walked past them. Once this headache goes away, I'll work on finding a way to reverse it. Go away."
"Good luck with that," Emma said. Regina waved then away and went back to her drink.
"First kiss, love." Killian smiled at her. "Do you remember ours?" He leaned in toward her.
"Seriously?" Emma pushed Killian away gently. "I remember it, but we've got to figure out who created this and how it got so far out of hand."
Killian laughed and brushed some hair back from Emma's face. Emma felt something warm and fuzzy stir in her. A kiss was definitely something she wanted from Killian.
Before she could act on that desire, Emma saw Henry and Violet walking on the other side of the street, and something clicked in her mind.
"C'mere, Casanova," she said, pulling on Killian's arm to cross the street.
"Mom!" Henry said, waving. "Violet wanted to go shopping, so I thought we'd take a walk."
"Hey. kid. Sorry about this, but could I talk to Violet for a bit? Killian could teach you a few more knots, maybe?" Emma gave Henry a look that suggested this wasn't a suggestion, and inclined her head to send Henry on his way.
He got out of earshot before Violet buried her head in Emma's chest. "I'm so sorry!" she said, quietly. "It was supposed to be just for Henry and the whole town got affected!"
"Slow down, kid," Emma said, stroking her hair absentmindedly. "Let's start at the beginning."
"I wanted our date to be special. Henry is a kind gentleman, and sweet, and I wanted to give him a kiss as a favor." Violet sniffled a little.
"So kiss him," Emma said, unsure why this was such a big deal.
Violet looked shocked at Emma's suggestion. "What? No! Kissing him is a sign of intense emotion and devotion, not something to be given away on a whim."
Emma remembered that Violet was new to Storybrooke and bit back her first response. "So you wanted to make it special. What did you do?"
"I went to see Regina for some help and she gave me a little blue bottle. I brought it with me to Granny's and I swear I only set it down for a minute, but someone must have picked it up and... and..." Violet started crying.
Emma tried to soothe Violet as she thought about what was in the little blue bottle and how it could have gotten to everyone. She had almost worked out a theory involving coffee distribution and possibly the water supply when Killian returned with Henry, who quickly came over to Violet and embraced her. Violet hugged back before seizing Henry's head and kissing him. Emma thought she saw a flash of light.
"Swan? Your food is ready." Killian brought Emma's attention back to Granny's. Shaking her head, she looked at the plate of macaroni and cheese, still gently steaming.
"Huh?" Emma was sure she had been investigating something until now. Something about being stuck in time. Whatever it was, it was fading away into the smell of the cheese.
"Hah!" Killian smiled and triumphantly showed Emma his phone, which displayed the words "Level complete!"
"Finally got through level thirty-five, huh?" Emma said, smiling.
"Level fifty, love," Killian said, giving her a confused look, before taking advantage of the closeness to give her a kiss.
Emma didn't remember much of the night after that, except that Killian would eventually make it to level fifty-five.
And that they kissed sixty times.