“You know you’re on some kind of point streak?”
Killian lifted his eyebrows, mouth curling into something that almost looked like a smile and Mary Margaret threw a pot on the floor. He laughed when Emma jumped.
“Oh, c’mon,” Emma grumbled. “That was terrifying. She’s going to do damage to the linoleum in her kitchen.”
“That’s not even remotely true,” Mary Margaret muttered and Emma made some kind of triumphant noise, as if that proved she was being eavesdropped on. “Hi, Killian! Hi everyone else in the locker room!”
“Hi, Mary Margaret,” Killian grinned, eyes flicking to the top of the phone screen when Emma audibly gagged. “That’s just being polite, Swan. I don’t know why you want me to ignore Mary Margaret when she’s feeding you all weekend.”
Emma rolled her eyes, slumping into the corner of the couch and it was just as uncomfortable as it had been when she’d been sleeping on it.
She’d slept like crap the night before, tucked under blankets with a pillow she brought from home and she didn’t mention that to Killian, but he probably knew anyway. And the NHL seemed determined to keep the Rangers on the road for Thanksgiving.
Roland was incredibly disappointed.
Emma might have been too.
Emma absolutely was disappointed.
But it wasn’t really a western swing, more just a three-game trip to Dallas Las Vegas and Arizona and front office didn’t think it was prudent to send her.
It made Emma roll her eyes every time she thought about it.
And Mary Margaret had resolutely refused to accept even the idea of Emma spending a single moment of her weekend alone – so she’d gone a dozen blocks uptown on Wednesday night and slept on the couch and woke up early to watch the parade with fancy hot chocolate and a questionable amount of homefries and they’d made pumpkin pie.
David wouldn’t eat the one with rum in it until after his mom went back to the hotel.
That made Emma roll her eyes too.
“Ok, that’s just patently incorrect,” Emma said, wincing when the arm of the couch seemed intent on dislocating her spine. “I am perfectly capable of feeding myself throughout the weekend. And you don’t get to make a single comment about my food intake when I know for a fact that Scarlet tried to eat fried onions out of a can yesterday.”
Killian’s eyes went wide, the sound of Will’s laugh echoing through the phone and, likely, off the walls of the visitor’s locker room in Arizona.
“How do you know that?” Killian asked. “Also I refuse to take responsibility for that. I am not Scarlet’s father.”
“You really can’t let Ruby know anything,” she smiled and the look on his face did something to her pulse. “Or help you plan some kind of Thanksgiving feast in a hotel room.”
“It wasn’t quite a feast,” Killian argued. “More just a questionable amount of us stuffed into one room and Lucas demanding several types of alcohol we aren’t really supposed to be having.”
“And,” Mary Margaret added, dropping onto the arm of the chair and barely missing Emma’s hair. “If Ruby wants to consume a questionable amount of alcohol then she should have waited until she got home.”
Emma’s eyes were going to sustain permanent damage from constant rolling. Killian might actually injure himself from laughing.
“How much rum went into the pie this year?” he asked, voice still shaking lightly and Emma wasn’t sure what she was doing with her face, only that he noticed.
She should have demanded a spot on the road trip. If Ruby got to go, she should have gone. That didn’t make any sense at all.
She should have come up with some kind of fan event. About Thanksgiving. In Phoenix. And a team that hadn’t won more than ten games all season.
Mary Margaret bit back her knowing smile and, eventually, Emma would have to thank her for that, certain Ruby wouldn’t have stopped herself from voicing several different opinions on pie and rum and the way Emma’s entire expression changed as soon as Killian used the phrase this year out loud.
Like it was some of tradition or something.
She needed more rum-filled pie.
“A ton,” Mary Margaret answered when she realized Emma was having some kind of life-changing realization in the corner of her couch. “But that was mostly because you guys were on the PK and Emma kept running back to the TV to yell and forgetting how much she’d already put into the mix.”
Emma couldn’t really slump down the couch anymore – she was an adult human being, after all – but she certainly made an attempt, flush rising in her cheeks and the back of her, likely, bruised neck.
She was going to punch Killian as soon as he landed in New York.
That face was stupid and attractive and stupid attractive and he kept staring at her like several different words she was, maybe, willing to acknowledge.
“You were making pies while we were playing, Swan?” he asked and Emma was, at least, eighty-two percent positive she heard Will cackling somewhere.
She nodded. “Eric had some kind of private event and I think A was actually really mad because it broke a record or something of watching away games, but then Regina reminded her that meant she didn’t have to come into the city and that ended that conversation. So, yeah, there were pies made a few hours earlier than normal.”
“Going off schedule, love, I’m impressed.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Will made another noise in the background and Killian ran his hand through his hair, rolling his shoulders in a way Emma had come to notice meant something important. He was thinking and pondering and he really was on some kind of crazy point streak.
It was a sidebar in The Post that morning.
“And,” Emma added pointedly. “It wasn’t so much my decision to go off schedule as it was trying not to be too worried about your shitty penalty kill.”
“That is unfounded criticism, Emma,” Will shouted. Killian shook his head, glaring when an arm worked its way into the frame and tried to tug his phone out of his hand.
“Get the hell out of here, Scarlet,” Killian hissed. He couldn’t really keep his balance on the bench in front of his locker, only one of his skates on, but he tried to kick at Will anyway.
He nearly fell in his locker.
“God damnit, both of you,” Robin sighed, joining the fray with a put-upon look on his face and Emma wasn’t sure who laughed louder, her or Mary Margaret. “Cap can you please put your skates on? There is an actual game to play here.”
“I am doing that,” Killian muttered, but he didn’t move towards the left skate, just kept staring at his phone screen with wide eyes and some attempt at telepathy that Emma nearly understood.
“Emma is making sweeping generalizations about our penalty kill,” Will said. He kicked Killian’s skate closer, elbowing his side until he slid to the edge of the bench. “We are not that bad, Em,” he continued. “And I really don’t think it’s fair that you’re yelling at us about it.”
Emma hummed. “Of course you are, Scarlet. You’re great. That’s why you guys are twentieth in the league and gave up, count ‘em, two goals last night.”
“That doesn’t seem very good,” Mary Margaret added. Will scowled.
“Ok, well, when you put it like that, it doesn’t seem very good,” Will conceded. “But! And this is a really big but, this Las Vegas team is questionably good on the power play. You have those stats memorized too, Emma?”
“Third in the league on the power play. Something like twenty-six percent. It’s insane.”
“They’re a legit team now,” Robin muttered, waving slightly when Emma’s gaze flickered towards him. “Hey, Emma. Hey, Mary Margaret. I heard you guys baked incredibly alcoholic pies on Wednesday night.”
“The string of gossip on this team is ridiculous,” Killian muttered, but there was a note of something in his voice and Emma wanted the game to be over and the plane to be in New York and her boyfriend to be back in their apartment with their incredibly comfortable bed.
She sat up a bit straighter, shaking her hair onto her back and she could see Killian’s shoulders shift when the slightly dim light in Mary Margaret’s loft reflected off the chain around her neck.
“Henry called me,” Emma pointed out and she hadn’t mentioned that in the last two days.
It felt like something big and meaningful and Henry was more than settled in his life with the Mills-Locksley family and the New York Rangers and the National Hockey League, but, sometimes, he was still a kid and still nervous about it all being ripped away and he called her.
She liked that he called her.
She liked that he, still, depended on her a little bit.
And he was almost as loud as Emma when he yelled at the TV.
“And,” Emma continued. “Henry’s got no proof of the alcohol content regarding those pies. I’m a responsible adult figure in his life, I promise.”
Robin grinned. “Of course you are. I’m not ever disputing that.”
Her heart flew into the back of her throat, growing several sizes in the process and it wasn’t entirely comfortable. “And the PK is pretty awful,” Killian added, knocking his shoulder against Will’s when he made another noise. “It is, Scarlet. Even Rol knows it. He texted both me and Robin about it during your fried onion from a can feast yesterday.”
“Aw, c’mon,” Emma shouted and Killian flashed her a smile that sent her heart back to its predetermined spot in her chest. Where it promptly tried to beat its way out. “You can’t just steal my phrasing word for word like that.”
“I think that’s a compliment, Swan.”
“I think you’re a word thief.”
“Be prepared for Roland Locksley’s detailed opinion about our incredibly shitty penalty kill later on tonight, love. He’s going to need an outlet and Gina hates any stat that won’t help us get paid more.”
“I’m leaning more towards hearing about your point streak, if we’re being honest,” Emma said. “And a complete play by play of Robin’s goal on Wednesday. Apparently his post-goal celebration was the stuff of adorable legends.”
“It absolutely was,” Robin agreed. “There was jumping and some kind of rhyme scheme involved. He reenacted it for me yesterday.”
“Aw, that’s even more adorable,” Mary Margaret muttered, sliding down the couch and resting her head on Emma’s shoulder. “You think he’ll do it for Ruth later? She’ll be charmed.”
“Yeah, and then start questioning the impending arrival of her own painfully adorable grandchildren,” Emma muttered.
Mary Margaret’s eyes nearly fell out of her head.
“Yes and yes, on both fronts,” Robin said. “Although, I’m going to go ahead and assume Mrs. Nolan might have some other concerns before she starts trying to adopt my kid as some kind of pseudo grandchild.”
Emma ignored that – fairly positive that Ruth Nolan would have several questions about several different fronts and, with no David buffer later that night, would have no problem asking all of them until she got an answer she was pleased with.
Robin made a face when she didn’t argue, gaze darting between the phone screen in Killian’s hand and the side of Killian’s face because Killian absolutely, positively would turn his head, and Will was still, somehow, grumbling about penalty kill stats.
“Ok, ok, can we backtrack for a second?” he asked sharply. “Em, why do you know about Las Vegas’ questionably good power play?”
“Because they’re some kind of feel-good sports story and Ruby Lucas is the media relations manager for this team?” Emma asked, sarcasm falling from every letter. Will made some kind of noise that might have been an agreement. “And,” she added. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Scarlet, but I also work for this team. And its shitty power play. I think that gives me some sort of rooting interest. Tell Sean he can’t try and block shots and then never get up again.”
“Arthur mentioned that to him this morning,” Robin muttered, grabbing a roll of tape from the top shelf in Killian’s locker. “God, Cap, why do you have so much tape? It’s like you’re a convenience store up there.”
Killian didn’t answer, just shook his head slowly and rolled his eyes towards the ceiling and Emma was certain she was still blushing.
He hadn’t put on his other skate yet.
“Because my sister is dating our equipment manager,” he said. Will mumbled something that sounded a lot like playing favorites and Killian held his hand out expectantly towards Robin. “Give me that. I’m apparently on some kind of point streak. I don’t want to break my stick.”
It probably shouldn’t have been nearly as attractive as it was.
It was normal – Killian’s wrists twisting and tape turning around the blade of his stick and it was routine. Emma was sure she’d seen him do it eight-hundred times. She’d seen hundreds of hockey players do it eight-thousand times, but there was something about the whole thing, the rhythm he fell into and the practiced ease and she knew he wasn’t even thinking about it.
Robin let out a low whistle when Killian tossed the tape back towards him, stick wrapped and a smile tugging on the corners of his mouth.
“Are you trying to set some kind of record, Cap?” he asked. “That was ridiculous.”
Will muttered something else under his breath – a string of words suspiciously close to showing off for Emma – and Robin nodded in agreement, lower lip jutted out slightly when he tried not to laugh into the phone.
“Oh yeah, that makes sense,” Robin continued, clearly unaware that he was the only one participating in the conversation anymore. “Em, you going later?”
Killian made a noise in the back of his throat – a mix between a groan and a sigh and maybe just the audible version of trying not to throw his skate at his teammates. Robin held up his hands in surrender, backing up until he was almost out of frame, and Will was doing an admirable job of not actually laughing.
He’d slumped onto his thighs.
And none of them were taking this game seriously.
It was, admittedly, the day after Thanksgiving and they’d be home that night and they’d been gone for nearly a week and she could almost make out the bags under Killian’s eyes. He probably hadn’t slept very well either.
“Am I going later?” Emma echoed, staring at Robin as if he’d lost his mind. “You know your kid has been texting me about your shitty power play all day too.”
“Henry, obviously. He was more upset than I was when you guys lost on Wednesday night.”
“So that’s a yeah on the going later, then?” Will mumbled, mostly into his pads.
“Yeah,” Emma snapped. “That’s a yeah. A will have a conniption if we don’t all show up.”
“We’re bringing more pie,” Mary Margaret said. She hadn’t lifted her head up yet. “On pain of death because A’s lost her mind.”
“I think they call it nesting,” Will corrected, waving a dismissive hand in the air when Killian muttered oh my God under his breath. “Or just the precursor to insanity.”
“How do you know that?”
“I’m super witty and quick on my feet in conversations?”
“Yeah, that’s not the answer you were looking for,” Emma sighed. He grinned at her. “Stop getting all your information from Belle, it’s cheating.”
Will stuck his tongue out – a picture of maturity in the middle of a locker room covered in Coyotes logos – and Emma tilted her head slightly, nodding towards the door she knew Killian couldn’t see.
They were getting good at that whole telepathy thing.
“Move, Scarlet,” Killian said, half a second away from pushing Will off the bench. He tapped his stick against Will’s skates, properly laced and on both of his feet, smiling back at the phone screen when Emma let out a sound that might have actually been a giggle.
Mary Margaret looked close to tears.
It took, exactly, three deep breaths, six, rather long steps, and one door slamming closed on Emma’s end for them to be, almost, alone.
Killian never put his other skate on.
“The most frustrating group of human beings in the entire world,” Killian grumbled, sliding down a wall in a dim corner, but his smile was genuine when he glanced up at Emma and they were coming home that night.
“It’s your fault for answering the phone in the locker room,” she said. “You’re practically asking for an audience at that point.”
“Not on a normal team.”
“This is a good team.”
He sighed, but didn’t argue and Emma bit her lip before she could start spouting a stream of increasingly sentimental thoughts. That couch had been impossible to fall asleep on. “Are you ok, love?” Killian asked, the edge falling from his voice and that was cheating.
She wasn’t sure what game they were playing, yet, but it was definitely cheating.
“I’m fine,” Emma said. It wasn’t a lie. She was tired, but that was almost expected on road trips by now and she was happy and they’d made pie to bring to the restaurant the night before. “Are you? You looked like you were gunning for a fight.”
“A little bit.”
“That’s not really my game, Swan,” Killian said. “And if we’re going to try and get the league to listen to this Olympic idea, punching winless teams in the face isn’t going to help much.”
“They’re going to listen,” Emma promised, well aware that she couldn’t, but Killian’s mouth twitched and he was almost smiling and that had been the point. “But Vegas wasn’t winless. What are you worried about?”
He didn’t answer immediately, eyes falling to his stretched out legs and he’d never put his jersey on either. “They’re taking their time,” Killian sighed. “This whole thing. It’s after Thanksgiving, Swan. They’re going to have to decide sooner or later and playing like crap is not going to sway anyone.”
“Playing like crap?” Emma repeated skeptically and he sighed again, letting his head fall back against the wall.
And really she shouldn’t have been surprised.
Killian Jones, captain of the New York Rangers and emerging face of the entire goddamn NHL, needed something to fight for. It had always been a Cup run, but they’d done that and there was a parade and a contract extension and, now, the league was dragging its feet on the Olympics and opportunity and he was going to get them there.
Emma knew it.
Even if he didn’t.
“You know Arthur broke two whiteboards?” Killian asked, tugging on the hair curled behind his ear. “He spent most of the third period actually drawing on paper.”
Emma nodded. “Ruby was mad. Some guy from The Daily News heard about it and wanted to make a big thing and she was trying to put metaphorical fires most of the night. I was getting live updates of her frustration.”
“Is that why you didn’t sleep?”
“Nah, assumptive at best. Or worst? How would you define that?”
“I’m not sure any of this is a compliment so…”
“I wouldn’t go so far as compliment,” Killian admitted, laughing softly. “More observational. And Locksley is going to murder me if I keep mumbling about the stiffness of mattresses or the legacy of the Olympic games.”
Emma smiled, toying with the ring around her neck. “It’s going to work. Shitty power play notwithstanding, it’s not like you guys are on some crazy losing skid. And I wasn’t lying about that point streak.”
“I know you weren’t, Swan. Rol’s been very vocal about that too.”
“Jeez, beat to the punch by a seven-year-old. That’s kind of rough.”
Killian shook his head and she could feel the nervous energy even on the other side of the country. “It’s not a race,” he muttered. “If it were, you’d be winning.”
“That’s a bad line, Cap.”
“True, but it doesn’t make it any less honest.” He took a deep breath, the pads on his shoulders shifting with the effort and Emma could smell pumpkin pie wafting through the air, like the world was trying to make some kind of heavy-handed point with desserts and scents and a questionable amount of alcohol. “I wasn’t entirely prepared to become the leader of the Olympic movement, you know?”
“Yeah, I know,” Emma nodded. “But there’s a reason for that.”
“No, c’mon, don’t be like that. You win a Conn-Smythe and a Hart and get some crazy extension and you’re going to tell me that we don’t deserve to get to the Olympics too? That’s insane.”
Killian’s eyes narrowed as soon as the words were out of her mouth and for half a moment Emma wasn’t entirely sure what she’d said.
He dropped his phone.
“What did you say?” Killian asked, voice gruff and that nervous energy had multiplied tenfold and evolved into something that, Emma hoped, was excited.
“It’s not certain yet.”
“Swan, none of this is certain, but you changed pronouns.”
“Well, it seemed unfair to suggest that we both won a Conn-Smythe and Hart.”
“Jeez,” she sighed, but she was probably blushing again and her pulse was doing something impossible in her veins. “Too much, Cap. Way too much.”
“Why the change, Swan?”
“It’s not certain yet,” Emma warned and he widened his eyes when she kept deflecting. She clicked her teeth together, trying to work out some of the residual energy she could feel racing through her and maybe the conversation would be easier if she started jogging up and down the hallway. “Rubes and I were talking about it when you started talking about it and neither one of us were high enough up any theoretical ladders for Sochi, so when the league decides to stop being a dick about this and agrees to let us all go, then uh...USA Hockey is interested in both of us going. And so is Zelena.”
“You talked to Zelena about it?”
Emma’s neck felt impossibly stiff when she nodded again and Killian hadn’t blinked in several decades. At least. “That was part of the meeting when they told me I couldn’t come on the swing,” she said. “And like I said, USA Hockey already reached out to Ruby who then told me and said she wouldn't go if I didn’t go and Zelena heard about it and, well, I think that’s a good sign, don’t you?”
She’d probably think about the look on his face for the rest of her life and that tiny, little voice in the back of her mind that, occasionally, wondered if this was all real was a silent as it had ever been. Emma wondered if it had disappeared entirely.
Killian still hadn’t blinked and she was ready to make some quip about eye drops, but she was admittedly distracted by how goddamn blue his eyes were and the slight quirk of his mouth and the other side of the country had never felt that far and that close all at the same time.
She was going to eat so much pie later.
“I think that’s a good sign,” Killian muttered softly and Emma felt it in her toes. “You know I love you, right? Just…” He shook his head, the smile moving across his face in slow motion and Emma bit her lip. “I’d want you to go. If we go.”
“When we go.”
He beamed at her. His eyes were frustratingly blue. “When we go,” Killian repeated. “Then, at the risk of sounding incredibly selfish, I’d really want you there.”
“That works out fairly well, since I already told USA Hockey I’d go if the league agreed.”
Killian dropped his phone again.
“Surprise,” Emma said when he was back on screen, waving her free hand through the air and slightly stunned was a very good look on him. “Rubes and I have been trying to brainstorm community relations ideas for weeks. You’re not very observant”
His laugh was shaky and treading slightly close to disbelief, but he was still smiling and his tongue darting in between his lips made Emma question all the reasons she hadn’t gone on the road trip – again.
“I think they’re going to agree soon,” Emma continued. “The league, I mean. USA Hockey is obviously all in on this and recruiting front office even if players don’t get permission. That’s going to wake up the commissioner's gang and then we can win a gold medal.”
“Just like that?” Killian asked.
“I don’t see why not. You’re on some kind of point streak.”
He chuckled, running a hand through his hair and Emma could hear Phillip calling from the other end of the hallway, pregame sounds making their way through the phone speakers. “That is true” Killian said, nodding towards the bodiless voice and Phillip shouted hey, Emma. “You know, the greater Phoenix area has over two-hundred golf courses?”
Emma was going to do serious damage to her lip if she kept biting it, particularly if she kept trying to smile at the same time, but the muscles in her face hadn't gotten that particularly memo and they were really, impossibly good at flirting with each other.
“That seems like an impractical amount,” she said. “Who could golf that much? And in Arizona? Way too hot.”
“It’s a dry heat.”
“Ah, of course. Why do you know that?”
“Swan. Everything. I know everything.”
“Yuh huh,” Emma muttered, but there were butterflies in the pit of her stomach and the pie smell was getting stronger. She was positive. That felt like a sign. “The Coyotes logo used to be an actual Coyote with a hockey stick, which is as impractical as two-hundred golf courses. Although the new one kind of freaks me out too. So I’m not sure if it’s really better.”
“It’s definitely not. The howling thing is ridiculous. Maybe that’s why no one comes to their games.”
“Or, you know, they’ve set some kind of losing record to start the season.”
He smirked at her, eyes just a hint brighter and the nerves gone as quickly as they’d come, falling back into banter and flirting and she was going to kiss several clichés worth of living daylights out him later that night.
“Yeah, that too,” Killian said. “You’d really go? To the Olympics, I mean. If we…when we go,” he amended when he heard Emma’s vaguely frustrated sigh. “It’s going to be a shit ton of overbearing team.”
“You’re the one who’s looking fight-ready not me. Did you miss the part where Rubes and I have been talking about this already? Or how great it’d be not to go to New Jersey and get those Casino Night tables out of storage? Because that’d be fantastic.”
“That’s definitely why we should go to the Olympics.”
“Cap,” Phillip called, dragging out the nickname or, possibly, rank and Killian squeezed his eyes closed. “Arthur’s getting super pissy and threatening whiteboards again.”
“You better go” Emma smiled. Mary Margaret dropped another pot. “I think Reese’s is trying to speak to me in code. Keep that streak alive, huh?”
He winked at her.
They were totally going to win a gold medal.
“Of course, Swan. Save me some pie.”
Roland practically threw himself at Emma and Mary Margaret as soon the door to the restaurant closed behind them, Regina’s cry of be careful barely audible over his “Did you bring pie? Is there pie? Henry said you made pie!”
“There is pie” Emma said, the smile on her face natural as Rolan kept bouncing up and down on his toes. “But the game hasn’t even started yet, Rol. Don’t we have onion rings to eat?”
He deflated slightly, but he didn’t seem all that put out by the prospect of onion rings and, eventual, pie. “We thought you weren’t coming,” he shouted. “It’s almost puck drop and Henry said you made pie.”
“We brought the pie, Rol. There is no pie emergency.”
“Can you name a bad pie?”
“That was a much quicker answer than I was expecting,” Emma muttered to Mary Margaret.
She shrugged in response, pulling Roland away Emma’s side so he wasn’t twisting up her jersey – the Stanley Cup jersey she’d gotten the season before and Ruth’s eyes had widened slightly when she noticed the patch on Emma’s shoulder as soon as she slid into the cab.
“I mean he’s not wrong,” Ariel said, joining the conversation with one hand on her stomach and the other pressed into the small of her back. She smiled when she noticed Ruth. “Hi, Mrs. Nolan, I’m so glad you guys could make it.”
“As if we had another choice,” Emma said. Ariel glared.
“Did you talk to Cap about whatever he was doing with his face on Wednesday night? Because it was weird. It was weird, right Gina?”
Regina waved both her hands in the air, taking a step towards Roland to wrap an arm around his shoulders. He only grumbled a little. “I’ve heard it’s going to be fine,” she said and Ariel groaned at the vague tone of her voice.
“What does that even mean?”
“It means the league might be done dragging its feet,” Emma explained. “And Arthur yelled at Sean.”
“I’m surprised Arthur didn’t yell at everyone. Or make them skate blue lines yesterday.”
“He did,” Regina and Emma said at the same time.
Ariel’s whole body sagged with the force of her sigh. “Damn, I miss everything now. Ah, sorry, Rol. Em, tell Cap I don’t like being out of the loop. Just because I’m not going on the road does not mean I have lost my...”
“Desire to know everything?” Mary Margaret finished.
“Ok, well, it sounds mean when you say it like that. And that PK looked like garbage in Vegas. It was like they were playing in slow motion. I don’t think Sean even realized he was still holding a stick. Or could use it.”
“God,” Emma muttered. “Tell us how you really feel.”
“I’m really mad we broke this streak. We were at, like, three straight seasons.”
“So we start a new one.”
Four slightly stunned expressions turned towards Emma and she would have retreated if there weren’t a seven-year-old trying to pull pies out of her hands.
Mary Margaret was definitely going to cry.
Or maybe start live-texting David updates of the entire night. He wanted updates of the game, anyway, and proof the entire New York Rangers contingent appreciate the pies they’d made.
He probably wasn’t expecting Roland to try and eat all of it.
Or for Emma to be some kind of font of positivity.
“What?” Emma asked and it was a pointless question because she already knew the answer. Ariel and Mary Margaret both shrugged, Regina almost looking like she was about to smile and Ruth’s eyes traced across Emma’s face, falling down to the ring that had, somehow, worked its way over the top of her jersey.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” Mary Margaret promised, but here eyes were a little glossier than usual and Emma could hear her take a deep breath. “I just...nothing. We need forks to eat pie, right?”
“Presumably,” Emma said, smile, somehow, getting even wider when Roland let out a noise that was fairly close to a yelp of excitement. “So, uh...Regina what if we didn’t eat food before pie?”
It was a Thanksgiving miracle.
“Yeah,” she said. “I think we can do that.”
They made it through a whole pie by the time the first period ended – still zeroes across the board and the PK wasn’t horrible, but there were a few close calls, Roland standing on his chair because it made him shout louder, Emma and Henry punching air like he was getting ready to drop gloves.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but it wasn’t a bad game and, then, something happened. It was as if a switch had been flicked or someone had twisted a great, big dial that controlled the speed of NHL hockey games and, suddenly, there were hits and checks and whistles and a distinct lack of whistles.
Roland nearly jumped off the chair.
Emma’s eyes couldn’t keep up with the puck, gaze darting across the TV screen and she wasn’t sure she was breathing. Her lungs burned from the distinct lack of oxygen, tapping her foot impatiently when a Coyotes defender pinned Killian against the boards, trying to work the puck to his stick or his skate and they spent an eternity pressed on the glass.
“Move it, move it, move it,” Emma mumbled, reaching up to grab her ring before she realized her neurons had processed that particularly demand.
“What is that?” Ruth asked. Emma’s neck cracked when she glanced to her right, Ruth’s expectant expression entirely out of place in a restaurant full of anxious front office and family and Emma hadn’t stopped tapping her foot.
“That ring. You’re wearing a ring.”
“Oh,” Emma blinked. Killian got the puck away from the boards, moving it up to Phillip who was immediately hit at center ice, spinning out and losing possession in the neutral zone.
Roland might have growled.
“Hey,” Regina and Emma said at the same time, Mary Margaret’s tongue clicking in reproach.
Henry slumped in his seat. “That should have been a penalty,” he muttered, grabbing another forkful of pie. “He was totally defenseless.”
“I mean, he wasn’t totally wrong,” Ariel admitted. She’d commandeered a pie for herself.
Emma winced when her neck did something else it probably wasn’t supposed to, glancing up when Robin missed the net wide right and they were still in the zone and still on the ice and they probably should have changed.
“Get them off the ice,” Mary Margaret shouted, half standing and half sitting. She was wearing a custom jersey. She’d bought it at the start of the season. “They’ve been out there forever. Look, Scarlet can barely skate.”
“Oh, tell him that when they get home,” Regina chuckled. She tugged on the back of Roland’s jersey and it only took one incredibly pointed look and slightly raised eyebrow for him to sit down.
Emma sighed and she didn’t really want anymore pie, but she could feel Ruth’s curious stare boring into the side of her head and she needed some kind of distraction.
She really didn’t want to get drunk in front of Ruth Nolan.
Pie was her only option.
“That wasn’t an answer,” Ruth said a few moments later, the first line back on the ice and hits coming fast and furious and Emma was also considering standing on her chair. “I thought they were supposed to keep their championship rings.”
Emma glanced at her, trying to keep one eye trained on the game. “If you know what it is already, I’m not sure what it is you’re asking.”
“Oh, yes you do, sweetheart. And I think you’re thinking it too. About asking. And questions. Big, important questions.”
“Seems rather assumptive don’t you think?”
“No,” Ruth laughed. “I don’t. And I don’t think you do either.”
“That’s not an argument. You’re wearing a jersey and a ring already, why not add another one?”
“Are you trying to plan a wedding, Ruth?” Emma asked, silently pleased that she’d managed to get that word out without stuttering over her. Mary Margaret almost choked on her pie. “Because there is no wedding happening here.”
“Tell that to the ring you keep tugging on when you get nervous.”
“What could I be nervous about?”
Ruth shrugged, but it was the most knowing shrug in the history of the entire world. “I’ve known you for years, sweetheart and I’ve never heard you so certain of anything as you’ve been this entire weekend. And,” she added, tugging lightly on Emma’s sleeve. “You light up like several different skyscrapers whenever your phone goes off.”
“She’s not wrong,” Ariel murmured through a mouthful of pie. “Something, something, the top of the Chrysler Building.”
“Are you quoting things at me?” Emma asked and Ariel twisted her mouth into something that was probably supposed to be the visualization of a shoulder shrug. “And it’s shine like the top of the Chrysler Building. If you want to get technical.”
Ariel opened her mouth, but her eyes went wide before she could say anything and Henry cursed again, a string of words he’d definitely picked up from Scarlet.
Emma nearly ripped her ring off its chain.
Killian was down, helmet resting on the ice and Emma could just make out the slight shudder that went through his whole body, like he was trying to take a deep breath or rediscover his center of gravity.
She didn’t remember standing up until she heard the fork fall out of her hand, nails digging into her palm with her fingers wrapped around her ring.
“What happened?” Emma demanded, not sure who she was asking. She didn’t look away from the TV, bouncing slightly on the balls of her and Ariel was already on the phone.
She was dimly aware of the commentators in the background, the noise pumping through the speakers in the restaurant, but the words didn’t seem register – went in fast...blindside...hit the boards hard...concussion protocol.
That one clicked.
“Concussion protocol,” Emma snapped, jerking towards Ariel, but she waved her hand through the air, pushing away from the table with her phone against her ear. “God damnit, show a fucking replay. Shit, ah, God, sorry, Rol.”
Roland was too busy yelling to notice. Henry was still swearing. So was Mary Margaret. Ruth looked stunned.
The replay in slow motion seemed to slink through Emma and she knew that was impossible, but she couldn’t catch her breath and her mouth had gone dry from hanging open for what felt like several years.
He’d been skating into the defensive zone, gone back to try and get the puck off the boards, shoulders turned towards the glass when a Coyotes winger slammed into him. Killian’s head hit first and Emma’s breath caught – even on the fucking replay – tongue darting out between her lips when he crumpled onto the ice.
He laid on the ice for a few moments and Emma could just make out the way his eyes squeezed shut, stick a few feet away where he’d dropped it. It took a few tries to get back up, working onto his hands and knees with Robin crouched next to him and Phillip trying to pull Will away from several different players in Arizona jerseys.
“Oh fuck,” Emma breathed. “That was...that really wasn’t a penalty?”
Henry shook his head, lips pressed together tightly. He nodded back towards the TV and Killian was standing, but Emma could tell how shaky his legs were and it took longer than normal to get back to the bench.
“Ok, ok, ok,” Emma muttered, not quite sure what she was saying, but positive she had to keep saying it. Her heart felt like it was hammering against her ribcage and she couldn’t stop moving, jumping instead of just bobbing. “I need my phone. Where’s my phone? God, where’d A go?”
“Your pocket, Em,” Mary Margaret said. “And I think A’s trying to talk to Victor.”
Emma nodded – it felt like her brain was moving with her, bouncing around her skull and she couldn't get her phone out of her pocket. She was being thwarted by her jeans.
And she’d totally been thinking about the same questions Ruth Nolan had.
In their two-bedroom apartment with a stolen Conn-Smythe.
“Damn,” Emma sighed. They were taking him to the locker room. Or, at least trying, Victor yanking on the back of his jersey and nodding towards the tunnel and there was a cut on Killian’s forehead.
She nearly dislocated her thumb trying to text Ruby, demands for updates and information and updates as soon as there were updates to be had.
He didn’t play the rest of the night.
And Emma didn’t sit down the rest of the night.
She brought the pie with her when she left the restaurant, promising Ruth and Mary Margaret she was fine and it was an insultingly obvious lie, but they didn’t argue her cab.
The text message came fifteen blocks before she got home, a quick buzz in her hand that took her by surprise and she coudln’t be doing her blood pressure any favors.
Not concussed. Bruised. Incredibly Sore. But not concussed. Also incredibly glad to be home. With you.
Emma exhaled, closing her eyes lightly and letting her head fall back against the top of the seat.
I was freaking out.
Lucas mentioned. Victor knows what he’s doing though. Definitely not concussed.
That guy should get fined. And punched. Several times.
He probably will. I can’t guarantee that second one. We don’t play in Arizona again for awhile.
Maybe I can get Scarlet to give me two minutes the next time.
Don’t tempt him, love. He’ll totally do it if you ask.
Emma laughed, the noise sounding foreign in the quiet cab and she still couldn’t catch her breath. She felt like she’d done several days worth of Arthur’s blue-line sprints.
Did you leave yet?
About to take off, actually. Now that he knows i’m not going to die somewhere over Kansas, Locksley’s already asleep.
Considerate of him.
I’m really glad you’re ok.
I think I made Ruby mad.
There’s still pie.
It was, easily, the most ridiculous thing she’d could have said to her professional-hockey-playing boyfriend just a few hours after he’d been cleared of concussion-like symptoms, but she’d only just remembered she’d never actually answered his I love you earlier and Emma’s heart was somewhere on the ground in the middle of Amsterdam Ave.
What an idiot.
Ruth Nolan’s questions were echoing in her head.
It was after midnight when she heard the lock click in the front door and Emma didn’t really think when she flung herself off the couch, sprinting across the room and slamming into Killian’s gear bag as much as his actually body.
And, really, it probably wasn’t the right thing to do – even if he wasn’t concussed, he was still bruised and slightly battered and, quite obviously, exhausted – but Emma’s mind was racing and worried and Killian smiled when his arm inched around her waist, tugging her even closer so he could press a kiss to her hair.
“Hey,” Killian laughed, leaning back to try and look at her. He couldn’t. Her head was buried in his chest. “It’s fine, Swan. Everything’s fine.”
Emma took a deep breath, pushing up on her toes to brush the tips of her fingers over the slightly purple bruise on the side of his forehead. “Fine,” she challenged and he hummed in agreement. “I might punch that guy in the face.”
“Although I appreciate the offers to defend my honor, love, I don’t know if that’ll help inspire the league to let us go show off hockey to the world.”
“Yeah, probably not,” Emma grumbled, blinking quickly when she realized what he’d said. “Wait, what?”
Killian grinned at her, ducking his head to brush his lips over hers quickly and she’d probably think about his propensity to kiss first for the rest of the weekend. “It’s just a rumor,” he said. “But Victor told me he heard some of the med staff in Arizona talking about schedules for PyeongChang and how many people USA Hockey was willing to send. He claimed they all sounded fairly concrete.”
She could hear the excitement in his voice – the same pick-up it had from nerves earlier in the day replaced with optimism and hope and maybe they were both growing as people or something, right there in the doorway of their two-bedroom apartment.
“I knew it,” Emma said, tugging lightly on his league-mandated tie. “And, seriously, no concussion? How was that even possible?”
“Are you doubting Victor’s diagnosis?”
“Obviously not. I’m not hoping you’re concussed. It was just...it was a bad hit and they kept replaying it during the third period. The third period you didn’t come back out for.”
“Because they thought you were concussed.”
“Which I’m not.”
“So I’ve heard. What even happened?”
Killian shrugged and his eyes widened slightly when he realized Emma was still wearing his jersey. “Is this the same one from the Cup Finals?”
He licked his lips, directing them back towards the couch and Emma didn’t object when he tugged her onto his legs. “I honestly have no idea,” he admitted. “The first period was fine and then they came out flying in the second and we were always half a step behind and I didn’t even see him coming until I slammed into the boards. I think they’re just pissed at how shitty they are. You know, collectively, and we just got the brunt of that.”
“But not concussed?” Emma asked again.
“Not concussed,” Killian said. “Why do you keep asking that, love? I’ve been hurt before. I will, presumably, get hurt at some point again. It’s kind of part of the deal.”
“I know, I know, I know, but…”
She trailed off, not entirely sure how to explain what she wasn’t sure she understood and Killian’s eyebrows furrowed when she didn’t say anything. “But?” he prompted, nosing at her neck and, probably, breathing in her hair.
“I love you,” Emma said, nearly shouting the words in his face and this was not going according to plan at all. There hadn’t been a plan. Killian smiled. “And I just...I realized I hadn’t said it before and that would have been such a shitty thing if you’d been hurt and we’ve got to go win a gold medal now and I want to do all of that. With you.”
And eventually, maybe, they’d stop doing that kiss each other in response to major declarations, but it wasn’t that moment and Emma wasn’t going to argue.
They were both cautious, moving slightly slower than they would have if there hadn’t been a concussion protocol earlier that night, but Killian’s tongue brushed over her lower lip and Emma’s fingers held onto the front of his jacket and she felt like she was breathing again.
She must have sighed or made some kind of ridiculous noise, because she could feel Killian’s smile when he moved to the curve of her jaw and the side of her neck. He groaned when she shifted over him, legs on either side of his hips and his fingers trailed across her waist, bunching up the bottom of her jersey.
“That’s the plan, Swan,” he whispered and it felt big and important and something about as long as we both shall live.
“Good. But the next time you get hurt, I better be there because I can’t deal with this string of information through a Ruby and, or Ariel filter. I thought I was going to go crazy. Or break my phone.”
Killian laughed softly, pressing another kiss to the curve of her shoulder and her ring was back outside her jersey. “That seems fair, love. C’mon, I’m exhausted.”
The phone call came a few days later – straight from the league with, probably, smiles on their faces and expectations sky-high and they were going to the Olympics.
And Emma didn’t bother asking Ruby for any information as soon as Killian crashed into the boards in PyeongChang, just sprinted out of the team suite and into the trainer’s room and he smiled when he saw her.
She told him she loved him in the car ride back to the hotel.