The whistle sounded impossibly loud.
That was probably because it was more than one whistle.
And none of them would stop making noise.
Killian didn’t really know how it started – six minutes into the second period and playoff hockey was, well, playoff hockey so a little extra physicality was to be expected, but this was a second-round series with Pittsburgh and Game Six at the Garden and they could clinch tonight.
They should clinch tonight.
It would probably be easier to clinch if they all weren’t trying to punch each other. And, in the case of Robin, trying to slash some guys Achilles until he couldn’t skate ever again.
That probably didn’t fall under the parameters of playoff hockey. All the whistles were starting to make sense.
And maybe there had been a few words exchanged.
“You’ve got quite a temper on you, don’t you, Locksley?”
The voice was barely audible over the din of the crowd and those goddamn whistles, but Killian knew Robin could hear it as well as he could and the guy – whose name might have actually been Keith– kept smiling.
The Penguins were the worst.
“God, shut up,” Robin yelled back, but the words got a bit muffled when Will tried to hold him back and neither one of them was doing a very good job of staying on their skates.
Phillip was still punching someone.
That whistle sound was going to be ingrained in Killian’s brain for the rest of the postseason.
He wouldn’t argue if it meant there was a lot more left to the postseason – particularly when he knew there was a suite full of people expecting more postseason sitting several sections above the ice.
Keith whatever his last name was grinned, the shift of his eyebrows obvious even through his visor, and Killian rolled his shoulder back when someone tried to pull him away from the scuffle. “Get off me,” he hissed, not bothering to turn around or glance behind him and the hand was gone as soon as it arrived.
Robin was still trying to break free of Will’s hold, swinging his stick at anything within a two-foot radius.
It took half a second for him to, finally, break free, surging forward, and Killian was only slightly surprised there weren’t actual lasers shooting out of his eyes.
“Aw, fuck,” he muttered under his breath. He couldn’t hear Will, but he assumed he mumbled something along the same lines.
Phillip’s hand collided with some defender’s jaw.
Arthur was going to scream himself hoarse.
Keith, if that was even his name, gave as good as he got – gloves forgotten on the ice and balance questionably steady even when Robin gripped the front of his jersey. There was a bruise blossoming just under his eye, jaw a bit more swollen than any part of his face should have been and Killian hoped someone in that suite a few sections above the ice had taken the questionable number of painfully adorable kids into the hallway.
Henry had probably done it.
He had, at some point, become the de facto leader of the group and was already home from school and, at nineteen years old, almost an adult in his own right – who still refused to wear anything except a Jones jersey in the postseason.
That did absolutely nothing to Killian’s mind or heart or central nervous system.
And that was as much of a lie as any he’d ever told, but he didn’t have much time to worry about that, eyes darting back towards a still-fighting Robin. He’d lost his footing, knees colliding with the ice as Keith topped down with him and the one linesman was going to wear out his goddamn whistle.
“Get him the fuck up,” Arthur screamed from the bench, tie just a bit looser than it had been at the start of the second. “If he gets a major, I’m going to kill him!”
“If he gets a major, Regina is going to kill him,” Will muttered.
Killian rolled his eyes, ignoring the pain in his lower back from whoever had checked him a few minutes before and that seemed like the beginning of everything. He’d been twisting around the net, or at least trying, puck on his stick and Robin in front and there’d been a sliver of space that would have set up another goal.
It would have been a hell of a pass.
It definitely would have impressed all the painfully adorable kids in that suite.
And, like, maybe Emma, but Killian wasn’t still trying to impress his wife every time he stepped onto the ice.
That was also a lie.
And he was just about to flick his wrist when the cross-check came, knees slamming into the boards and breath rushing out of him and Killian was going to have to sleep on his stomach for the rest of the week.
It all went to hell after that.
Keith yelled something else at Robin and Killian had never seen him that angry before – at least on the ice – throwing his gloves down without so much as a word or a challenge and landing a left hook that could have earned him his own nickname from Roland.
“She’s probably already come up with sixteen different ways to turn this into an endorsement deal,” Killian said, drawing a sardonic laugh out of Will. “I’m more worried about, Rook, honestly.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s a good point. Aurora’s kind of…”
“I was going to say super controlling and worried about the image, but, you know, whatever.”
“You know I can hear you, right?” Phillip asked, lifting his gaze away from the Pens player he was punching to cast a sarcastic smile their direction. Killian shrugged.
“I don’t think we were trying to be secretive about it. You about done wrecking that guy’s face or you want to leave your kid with some more lasting memories of violence?”
“Aw shit,” Phillip muttered. He dropped the guys jersey as if it were burning, pushing away with slightly more dejected shoulders and the smile had fallen off his face as quickly as it arrived. “Damn, I didn’t even think about that.”
“That makes you a way worse dad than Cap,” Will grinned and Arthur was still screaming something from the bench.
Probably because Robin and Keith were still on the ice.
Phillip rolled his eyes, wrapping an arm around a Pens player when he tried to move back towards the fight. “Don’t move,” he advised, eyes flitting back towards an expectant Will who did not seem the least bit surprised that they were having this conversation. Arthur sounded like he was having several different coronaries.
“You got something else you want to add, Rook?” Will asked.
Phillip scowled. “I mean not really, you’ve already made me feel like complete crap, so job well done, Scarlet.”
“You got some good hits in. That guy’s probably concussed now.”
“Jeez, Scarlet,” Killian sighed. “Can we not joke about head injuries, please? Like actually consider the words before they’re out of your mouth, huh?”
“That’s not disagreeing with me that Rook isn’t detrimentally affecting his kid by fighting with some Pens asshole, though,” Will pointed out.
“Scarlet. I’m going to get a major if you don’t shut up.”
“Yeah, Gina probably wouldn’t like that either. Although, let’s be honest, you’re easier to get endorsement deals for than Locksley is.”
Killian shook his head, another vaguely sarcastic comment on the tip of his tongue, but he didn’t have time and one of the refs must have gotten a new whistle. This one was, somehow, shriller.
Maybe he got it from Arthur.
Arthur probably just carried spares with him.
“Cap,” the ref said brusquely and Killian nearly lost his edge spinning around. “We’d really like to play a hockey game if your guys are done beating the shit out of each other.”
Will did his best to turn his laughter into a convincing cough, but Phillip wasn’t quite as successful and Killian’s surprised reaction was probably all over the subReddit already. Arthur groaned from the bench.
“Yeah, yeah,” Killian said quickly, shaking his head like that would make any of this more believable or less absurd. “Two for Locksley?”
The ref blinked.
Arthur stopped yelling.
Will probably wouldn’t ever laugh again.
“You’re kidding, right?” the ref asked and he was laughing, which really just seemed unfair.
Killian rolled his shoulders, standing up a bit straighter and digging his heels into the ice. He knew it wasn’t possible to feel their stares on the back of his head or in between the letters on his back, but the world didn’t seem to care about that and Killian knew there were three very concerned people in that suite, staring straight at him and waiting for him to do something.
Except maybe Peggy.
She was two – and a half – the likelihood of her understanding multiple penalties seemed slim to none.
Mattie and Emma on the other hand…
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” he asked, resting his weight on his stick and Robin’s lower lip was bleeding.
Gina was going to kill them all.
And then probably spin this into some kind of endorsement deal.
God, Lucas was going to yell so loud.
Killian didn’t have much time to think about any of that though – trying to find an inch of space in the penalty box that wasn’t occupied by someone else and Phillip hit him in the ankle with his stick.
There were four of them in the goddamn penalty box.
At least Killian’s bewildered expression would make the back page of The Post. They were definitely going to lead with this. They looked ridiculous. And the league rep sitting in the corner looked somewhere close to amused.
Killian sighed again.
“Cap, if you don’t stop sighing I’m going to check you in the spleen right here in this box,” Phillip warned, earning a quiet chuckle out of Sean.
Killian hadn’t even realized Sean had been fighting, but he’d apparently lost complete control of his team and this game and they really needed to clinch tonight if they wanted to avoid being the lead story on several different sports talk shows.
They’d get buried on SportsCenter behind the NBA no matter what they did.
“You are not really helping your cause for not being incredibly violent here, Rook,” Killian muttered, running an agitated hand through his hair and he couldn’t see into the suite, but he knew where it was, glancing up like staring repentantly at the spot his wife and kids were sitting would, somehow, make any of this better.
Phillip cursed under his breath.
And the league rep clicked his tongue in reproach.
“You guys want to relax?” Sean asked, nodding in the direction of the suite and the clipboard Killian had never really understood the purpose of. “And does anyone want to tell me what the hell is going on?”
“Do you not know?”
“Do you, Cap?”
“I know that you got two for slashing and now you’re telling me that you’re not aware of that?”
“Ok, that’s not what I said at all,” Sean groaned. “I am asking how the fight started, exactly. Aside from that guy cross-checking you. But it’s the second round, usually they let that shit go.”
“Yeah, tell that to my spine,” Killian muttered.
Phillip’s laugh was more a snicker than anything else, but he was almost smiling when Killian turned to glare at them, the sound of their sticks hitting against each other nearly as loud as the whistles has been. “I think that’s a sign you’re old, Cap,” Phillip said. “And Sean’s slash, your two for roughing, my two for two for interference and Locksley’s five for fighting all came because that guy was a dick.”
Killian wished he could think of something to do besides sighing.
Robin was staring at his skates.
“Locksley,” Killian said, doing his best to keep his voice sharp and intent and he knew it didn’t work when Robin’s eyebrows jumped up his forehead.
“I’m not Matt, Cap, you don’t get to try and discipline me. It’s not going to work.”
“Cap,” Phillip repeated and, at least that time, Killian rolled his eyes instead of sighing.
“You seriously got an interference? How did that even happen?”
“Oh before the play. Like, at least a solid twenty seconds before that Traval guy started saying shit to Locksley. He probably should have gotten a misconduct, actually, but you know, playoff hockey or whatever.”
“Whatever,” Killian echoed. Robin was rocking between his skates, balancing his weight and he couldn’t seem to stop moving his tongue – the point of it pressing against either side of his cheeks and swiping over the front of his teeth and in between his lips. “What’d he say, Locksley?”
Robin exhaled, but it sounded a bit like a scoff and they were going to run out of time before they got any kind of answer.
Killian’s eyes darted back towards the ice when he heard the crowd erupt, not entirely sure, at first, if they were cheering or cheering, but Hudsill, the new goalie the Rangers had drafted two years before, made a save and it sounded like the entire Garden was shaking.
Five-on-three hockey in the playoffs was not good for anyone’s blood pressure.
“Hell, yeah, Hudsie,” Phillip yelled, rapping his glove-less hand on the penalty box door and Killian barely paid any attention to the league rep. He was way too busy yelling too.
And he almost didn’t hear Robin.
“He said some shit about the kids.”
Phillip’s hand fell back to his side like an anvil, Sean’s eyes going wide and Killian’s mouth going dry – even the league rep looked a little stunned. Robin shrugged slightly, but his grip on his stick was tight enough that his knuckles had gone white.
“Kids,” Killian said, Robin rolling his eyes when he kept repeating words. “I’m just trying to understand what the hell you’re talking about.”
“That’s what I thought I heard,” Phillip mumbled. “God, what a dick.”
Robin hummed in agreement, lips pressed together and they’d clearly all been wrong before because they’d forgotten about Ariel and she was going to be more pissed off than anyone that they’d wasted five minutes of the postseason fighting.
Killian’s hand hurt like hell.
And his back.
God, maybe he was old.
“A total dick,” Robin agreed. “I’m pretty sure he was trying to goad Scarlet at first, but then Cap got checked and that was already fucked up and Traval started talking some shit about Rol not making the U15 cut--”
“--Wait, what?” Killian balked and the league rep wasn’t even trying to mask his eavesdropping. He was straight up listening at this point. “How does he know that?”
“Cap, everyone knows that. It’s...it’s a small community and a gossipy one, and I know I shouldn’t have let it get to me, but it did. Rol’s been upset for a month. Barely comes out of his room and wasn’t even excited about Henry coming back for the series and…”
He was still talking, but Killian couldn’t quite hear over the ringing in his ears and it kind of felt like his tongue was expanding at the same time his lungs were shrinking, everything tightening until he was certain the only thing he’d ever feel again was the deep-seated desire to punch Keith Traval in the face.
“Cap,” Sean said cautiously and Killian nearly stepped on Phillip when he jerked back. There was not enough room in the box for four players – apparently determined to defend an entire squadron of children and the only reason Rol hadn’t made the cut for the national team was because he’d only just turned fourteen and he might have been big for his age, but he wasn’t all that great at hitting and this was an unmitigated disaster.
They were all a bunch of shit role models.
And Scarlet hadn’t gotten a penalty.
They were never going to hear the end of that.
“I’m probably going to kill him,” Killian warned, not directing the statement at anyone, but Robin’s lips quirked slightly and he was trying not to smile.
“I kind of already did."
“Yeah, understandable. God, I hope you broke his jaw.”
“That’d get me a misconduct.”
Killian hummed, dimly aware of the thirty seconds left in his penalty and they were still, somehow, winning this game. “Killing him would probably do that too, huh?”
“He say anything else?”
“If I tell you that, you’re going to try to take him out at the ankles,” Robin said and it sounded like the league rep actually chuckled. “You want to get a very angry phone call later?”
“They’re going to call no matter what,” Killian reasoned. “El’s got some very specific thoughts on how you’re supposed to move your shoulder when you punch someone so you don’t do damage to your rotator cuff.”
“God, why does she know that?”
“Because Banana spends a lot of time talking to Red and I think Belle found some kind of study some time that Red likes to source and bring up in conversation.”
“It’s weird that they’re doing that.”
Killian arched an eyebrow. “Is it? Seems pretty par for the course.”
“That was the worst attempt at a Vankald cliché I’ve ever heard,” Robin laughed. This conversation was very strange. And probably not appropriate for the penalty box. Killian really needed to put his gloves back on. “Forget El and Anna calling you. I’m going to call them and tell them what a disappointment you are.”
“And old,” Phillip added, moving into the tiny bit of space behind Killian and the Pens goalie was tapping his stick on the other end of the ice. “Don’t forget that part. He’s going to complain about that cross-check all night.”
“It hurt,” Killian yelled. “When my back is bruised to fuck you guys are all going to feel bad.”
“Sure it did, Cap. Sure it did. Let’s not pretend like not you’re going to complain to Emma so you guys can spend at least five minutes making out in the back corner of the restaurant after this game is over.”
“God, that was so many double negatives.”
The league rep laughed again, somehow leaning around all of them to swing the door open and Killian wasn’t sure if he was actually bobbing on his skates or just chock-full of several dozen emotions and it might have been all at once because his eyes definitely flitted towards the team suite before his skates hit the ice.
“Or,” Robin called, sinking back onto the bench with his stick resting on his knee. “You know, you guys could just score another goal!”
“It’s not a bad plan,” Will yelled. He was still in the zone, puck on his stick and he looked exhausted because, honestly, five-on-three at any time was the absolute worst, but his wrists twisted and Killian was already moving.
It was instinct.
Plus maybe a bit of age or experience. Whatever. And since he couldn’t get another penalty without possibly affecting his kids’ psyche for the rest of their lives, scoring a goal after a game-changing penalty kill seemed like the next best option.
And the Pens were trying to change – but it was the second period and it was a long change and there was more than enough open ice in front of Killian that he didn’t really have to make much of a move.
He did anyway.
He juked, forehand to backhand and these moments were just a little bit more fun when the goalie, quite clearly, lost sight of the puck, eyes darting across the ice like he was trying to find a needle in an ice-covered haystack.
That was a better cliché.
Maybe he’d call Elsa later. Or just tell Mr. and Mrs. V – who were both in that same team suite and probably wearing the number twenty and making sure both of his kids didn’t notice him fighting. Emma was probably working.
And Killian was showing off for Emma.
Always. Indefinitely. Through several different contracts and a whole slew of endorsements and the closest Pens defender was half a step away when Killian pulled his stick back.
The light went off.
He knew it would, but even thinking that felt a little too confident, particularly after a god-awful string of penalties that, at this point, would probably be a sidebar in The Post’s game story.
The Garden erupted again, cheers and shouts and Killian spun on his skates, his own cry on his lips when he threw his hands out, stick still gripped tightly in his right hand.
“You might want to watch the backhand next time,” Killian said, muttering the words just loud enough that the Pittsburgh goalie could hear him before he jumped against the boards, a small hoard of fans pressed there and beating against the glass and the goddamn Post was going to have so many options for its backpage, it was almost absurd.
And Killian kind of knew that was going to happen too.
“I’m just pointing it out,” Will said, hours and one vaguely tense post-game that saw Ruby yell at several different reporters while trying to push one local cameraman out of the locker room, later. “You know, for posterity, or something.”
“Or something,” Emma muttered. She lifted her eyebrows when Will tried to argue and maybe Killian should be taking leadership classes with her because the expression resulted in silence and an only slightly disgruntled NHL defenseman in front of them.
An NHL defenseman who was desperately trying to make sure everyone in the great Tri-State area knew he hadn’t gotten a penalty.
“That’s kind of rude, Em,” Will said, already holding up his hands as if he were admitting defeat before she could claim it. “This is a monumental occasion.”
“I think that’s just a sign that you’re usually the one drawing penalty minutes.”
“And that’s supposed to be some kind of good thing?”
Will shrugged, waving his hands through the air, and Killian couldn’t quite laugh without some kind of pain shooting through his side, but Emma had her head on his shoulder and their kids were playing makeshift hockey a few feet away and they’d won.
And he was really proud of that goal.
“He’s just trying to get several different endorsement deals out of Gina,” Killian mumbled, mostly into Emma’s hair. Will flipped him off. “Scarlet, my kids are here.”
“Trust me, they do not care what I’m doing at all,” Will promised. “I’m pretty convinced Dr. J is trying to check Rol into several different tables. They’ve appointed Henry as referee.”
“Somehow that doesn’t make me feel much better.”
“Yeah, it probably shouldn’t,” Will laughed, leaning around both Killian and Emma to grab a plate of something off the bar. “But Locksley’s over there and being used a jungle gym for Pegs so she’ll probably just get them all to do her bidding sooner or later.”
“Cap, did you not know where your kids were?”
Killian glared at him, but Will just snapped his teeth on a slightly overcooked French fry in response. Emma sighed. “Go back to talking about how great it was that you didn’t get a penalty,” she suggested. “At least then you were tolerable.”
‘Wow, Em. That was incredibly harsh. I’m almost hurt.”
“He’s got thick skin,” Killian mumbled. “And an even thicker head. He was making concussion jokes before.”
“Scarlet do you want me to punch you in the ribs?” Emma asked pointedly and it probably shouldn’t have been attractive to hear his wife threaten his teammate, but Will’s eyes widened slightly and she didn’t blink and Killian was pressing his lips to her temple before he’d considered any other option.
He wasn’t convinced there was one.
Will groaned. “God, it’s gross how into each other you two still are. It’s been several lifetimes.”
“Do you know how time works?”
“Seriously, Cap I can’t keep flipping you off all night, Belle’s going to get mad if she sees and A’ll yell at me. Don’t make that happen.”
“Somehow that doesn’t seem like it’d be my fault.”
“See, you think that, but Locksley was defending your honor before and--”
He cut himself off, eyes, somehow, going even wider and Emma clicked her tongue in frustration. “Make sure you let A know that you’ll need some more physical therapy,” she said, glaring several metaphorical daggers at Will. “Because I’m seriously going to kick you until you can’t stand up.”
“God, you are incredibly violent tonight,” Will muttered, but he hadn’t actually objected to the threat and the ringing was back in Killian’s ears. He kind of wished he was being used as a human jungle gym if only to have something to redirect all that energy too.
Emma lifted her head off his shoulder.
“How did you find out?” Will pressed. “When did you find out?”
“Find what out?” Killian asked, but Will waved a dismissive hand in his face, eyes not moving away from Emma’s. She was biting her lip.
“There’s talk about some fines,” she answered after a few strained moments and Will cursed, several different increasingly inventive sentences, under his breath. “No, no, there’s a happy ending to this. Kind of.”
Will stopped cursing. “Kind of?”
“I mean, you know Ruby. Zelena heard some mumblings from league reps and four guys in the box is…”
“Exactly,” Emma nodded. “Plus there’s all that history with Pittsburgh and Traval has plenty of priors so Ruby went to talk to Locksley before post. I can’t believe you didn’t notice that.” She twisted, glancing expectantly towards Killian and it was a very specific challenge not to kiss her again. “How did you not notice?”
“I was kind of busy, Swan.”
“He’s fishing for compliments on that goal,” Will said knowingly, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
“It was a really good goal,” Emma said and they were still far too into each other because Killian’s heart hammered against his chest and he knew he was grinning like an absolute idiot, but her hand had found its way to the front of his shirt, the laces around her wrist falling down her forearm.
He tugged them back up.
“Show off,” Will mumbled and Killian hummed in response. “Keep telling your story, Em.”
She didn’t move her hand. “Anyway, Rubes talked to Robin, Robin told her what happened, Ruby got pissed off all over again, felt it was her moral obligation to defend, but didn’t want to tell me because then I’d probably have broken into the visitor’s locker room or something.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s fair.”
“You know,” Killian said. “None of this is exactly telling me what happened or why Locksley was defending my honor. That guy said shit about Rol, right?”
Will ignored him. “But how did you find out then?”
“Reese’s,” Emma winced, nodding in the direction of Mary Margaret. She was standing in front of a booth, David sitting down with a kid draped over his chest and all of them were wearing team-branded, matching looks of only recently-discarded annoyance on their faces.
Except the kid.
Leo was asleep.
“Ruby needed to tell someone apparently,” Emma continued. “And I have no idea why she told Reese’s, but it probably had something to do with being the only one who didn’t have access to the visitor’s locker room. I’m surprised A didn’t try to break down the door.”
“I’m not convinced she didn’t,” Will countered.
Killian sighed, which was becoming some kind of de facto noise at that point, but Emma tugged lightly on his shirt and her eyes were a bit glossier than normal when he glanced at her. “That Traval guy? He wasn’t just talking about Rol. It started that way, mostly to get a rise out of Robin, but he told Rubes it was like he was going down a list. He got to you and Mattie and something about fatherhood slowing you down, which makes your goal even more impressive honestly and--”
She ran out of oxygen.
Killian wasn’t sure he knew what oxygen was anymore.
“He’s a dick, Cap,” Will muttered, sounding as if he’d already come up with several different ways to slash the guy and make it look like an accident. “It’s a good thing we clinched tonight because I definitely would have killed him during a Game Seven.”
“Then you would have gotten fined,” Killian said.
“Would have been worth it.”
Killian hummed, turning back towards Emma and she was going to do permanent damage to her lower lip if she kept tugging on it like that. “What else?” he asked.
“It’s weird that you know that there’s more.”
“Swan, give me some credit, love, please. You didn’t even finish your sentence.”
“That’s because I kind of wanted to kill that guy too,” she admitted. “And I get kind of...God, what’s another word for skittish because that just sounds like a wounded animal or something.”
“Yeah, that’s probably a good one.”
“About?” Killian asked, but he had a pretty good idea about that too and he’d had his suspicions about the fight from the very beginning. There had to be a reason Robin tried to jump Traval the second time.
He was totally going to pay Robin’s fine.
Or make Gina get him another endorsement deal. Or, like, a TV gig.
“You fighting,” Emma whispered. “Or trying to fight.”
“I landed several different punches.”
“Yeah and I freaked about every single one. Ask Reese’s. It was almost embarrassing. There was a questionable amount of gasping and I think I actually got some pretty good air on my jump when you went into the boards. And--”
Killian didn’t let her finish.
He probably should have – but they were in the back corner of the restaurant and Locksley had defended his honor and Emma had started tugging on her laces at some point and he could just make out his kids’ laughter in the background.
And, well, they won.
So, really, it all kind of made sense.
Emma pressed up on her toes, slinging one arm around his neck, with her other palm against his chest and she kept holding onto the front of his shirt, like she was trying to make sure they were occupying the same few inches of space. That wasn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. That might have been the best thing in the world.
He could still feel her smile when she kissed back, fingers finding their way into the hair at the nape of his neck and the dress she was wearing was only slightly frustrating – but Killian was almost content to brush his hand along the curve of her spine, particularly when she seemed to sigh against him.
They were stupid into each other.
Still. Always. Indefinitely. Several other adverbs.
Killian nipped at her lower lip, getting the reaction he’d been hoping for, something that was a mix between a gasp and a groan and Emma’s eyes were still closed when he pulled back.
“Oh that’s cheating,” Emma muttered. “It was a crazy good goal. I think Mattie’s going to try and practice that move for the rest of his life.”
“Even if he didn’t have to juke at all,” Will added. He’d moved at some point, sitting several stools away from them with another plate of French fries and something that looked suspiciously like the alcohol they weren’t supposed to be drinking in the middle of a playoff run. “Rook,” he called, Phillip’s answering what ricocheting off the walls of the restaurant. “You won, what kind of coffee do you want tomorrow?”
Killian groaned – from both this team’s propensity for making bets and how much his back ached when he slumped against Emma. She kissed the top of his head. “What the hell are you talking about, Scarlet?” he asked.
“Rook was under impression that you and Emma were going to spend at least part of your night making out in the back of the restaurant,” Will answered through a mouthful of fries and he didn’t flinch when a two – and a half – year old whirlwind of hair and Rangers branded apparel crashed into his thigh.
He hauled Peggy up, resting his chin on the top of her head and Killian wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be charmed or not. “But,” Will continued. “I was in your corner, Cap. And yours too, I guess, Em, since you were also part of the makeout.”
“Yuh huh,” she muttered. “You want to keep going or…”
“I mean, Cap’s going to be pissed if I don’t. Ah, sorry, Pegs.”
Peggy didn’t seem particularly put out by the mistake, far too interested in fried foods and various forms of potatoes and Will winced when she stood up on his thighs. He wrapped an arm around her waist to make sure she didn’t fall over.
“Finish the story, Scarlet,” Killian said and that felt a bit more like a command, but he was definitely losing some of his locker-room edge and it might have been the whole kid thing. He was not all that upset about it – especially when another blur of human being collided with his hip as hard as if he were being checked into the boards.
“Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad,” Matt chanted, yanking on the hem of his shirt and the side of his shirt and Killian could just barely make out Emma’s quiet you’re going to rip it, kid. “We have to practice checking!”
Killian’s head jerked up, narrowing his eyes at Will, who couldn’t hold up his hands when he was trying to make sure Peggy stayed balanced. “This was not my doing, Cap,” Will said quickly. “He was with Locksley and Rook. I was the one promising everyone that you weren’t going to make out with your wife in the back corners of restaurants.”
“I mean we weren’t really in the corner,” Emma reasoned. Phillip cackled from somewhere. “God, Rook, enough, you’re going to wake up, Leo.”
“Too late,” David said, joining the conversation with a squirming three-year-old somehow staying in his grip. “So, job well done, everyone. The punching and the making out and the betting on all of it. We’re all a bunch of a very responsible adults here. We should probably teach Matt how to check just to round it all out.”
“He’s tired,” Mary Margaret reasoned. “And he was trying to get A to let him into the visitor’s locker room while we were waiting on you guys to finish post. That took up a lot of his energy.”
“God, Pittsburgh is the worst team in the world.”
“Eh,” Ariel objected from behind the counter and Killian had no idea she’d been there. “I mean LA was pretty awful, we just don’t see them as often so you know...by comparison.”
Emma nodded in agreement, pulling Matt closer to her side and Killian had several different theories for that, but he wasn’t concussed and wasn’t really injured, aside from that one bruise that was probably going to linger through the entire Conference Finals and maybe if they got the kids home relatively soon they could make out in a real bed for awhile.
“Can we get back to the terms of the bets, please?” Phillip asked. He had one arm slung around Roland’s shoulders, a stick in his other hand. Kristoff was going to kill all of them. “I want to make sure Scarlet gets my order right before we get back to instruction.”
“Instruction?” Killian repeated and he was getting a little tired of that. Phillip’s smile widened.
“Locksley wasn’t kidding about calling Liam and El. He’s been on the phone with Liam for the last ten minutes. The two of them have been teaching Matt how to properly faceoff and check. It’s been almost as good as knowing that I'm getting free coffee tomorrow.”
“Oh my God.”
“Nah, nah, it’s really almost responsible, Cap. They’ve got a whole set of rules and everything. Scarlet, you got a pen? Because this is going to get complex.”
“Dad,” Matt yelled again, climbing onto the closest stool and several different adults moved to keep him steady when he clamored onto the top.
“We don’t even have to worry about checking,” Emma mumbled. “He’s going to jump off restaurant furniture before we can get him on the ice.”
“Can we go on the ice? Tonight? Tomorrow? Can I come to practice?”
Killian laughed under his breath, wrapping both his hands around Matt’s ankles. “I’ve only got film tomorrow, kid. And we’ve got to wait until the other series ends, right?”
“Some practice, just not anything that’s going to be very exciting for you.”
“So we can check?”
“I’m going to murder your brother too,” Emma whispered, Killian nodding as soon as the words were out of his mouth. “Mattie” she said. “You can’t check anyone right now, ok? Let’s avoid that. Or ever. Ever seems better, right?”
“He’s got to check some people eventually, Em,” Will argued and people kept appearing out of nowhere, because Belle was next to him suddenly, a reproachful look on her face that seemed to match up perfectly with the way Ariel smacked at the back of his shoulder. “God, A, relax,” he hissed. “I was in a fight tonight.”
“And we’re doing something to fix that,” Robin said, joining the conversation with a phone in his hand and only a little lingering tension in the shift of his shoulders.
“Kind of,” Roland muttered traitorously. “Matt’s still having some trouble with the whole not hitting me in the calves thing.” Killian groaned, reaching blindly behind him for a stool, while Emma and Regina tried to figure out if Roland was bruised. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” he said quickly. “Your kid’s just got a crazy slap shot, Hook.”
And, really, he probably shouldn’t have been proud of that, but it had been a night for weird and slightly out-of-place feelings and Killian only just noticed the several tables pushed against the walls at the front of the restaurant.
God, maybe he should be paying for something for Eric too.
“I’m sure you guys are going to put all of that back, later, right?” Ariel asked archly, but there was a laugh from the phone in Robin’s hand and she was trying very hard to glare across the country towards Colorado. “Something to add, Liam?”
Killian couldn’t see him, but he was sure his brother shook his head and he was probably doing that stupid thing with his eyes – the same way he would when he got called for a roughing penalty and tried to deny he’d even lifted his stick.
It felt almost poetic that Liam was helping teach Matt how to check.
“Not a thing, A,” Liam promised. “Just...are there any marks on your table?”
“That’s a thing,” Will pointed and someone laughed in the background in Colorado. Several different people in the restaurant shouted Hey, El at the phone. She probably waved, if the answering smile on Will’s face was any indication. “I’m just saying, leader, totally a thing. And you don’t know how to check anyone, let’s leave that to the professionals, huh?”
“Did you even get a penalty tonight?”
“Liam, please stop advocating getting penalties,” Ruby said, from the doorway, a wide smile on her face as well and Killian briefly marveled at her apparent wolf-like hearing abilities. “Also, in case anyone was wondering, I totally saved the day. You’re welcome in advance. Is there food?”
“This is a restaurant, Lucas,” Killian muttered.
“Wow, you are hysterical, Cap. You make out with Emma in the back corner of said restaurant yet?”
“See,” Phillip shouted. “I told you it was the default setting, Scarlet.”
“Ok, we are not robots,” Emma growled, but Ruby’s heels were already moving towards the lot of them and Liam might have fallen out of his chair several thousand miles away. Matt was still trying to get Killian to check something. “What did you do, Rubes?”
“Well, I’m assuming M’s already told you because I know she can’t keep secrets and--”
“David was trying to break into the visitor’s locker room,” Mary Margaret interrupted. Ruby’s eyes widened. “Yeah, you want to keep throwing out insults?”
Killian tried to bite back his laugh, but no one else seemed able to and Will was trying very hard not to choke when Peggy threw her arms around his neck. There was hair in his face.
Ruby twisted her lips, crossing her arms slightly and rocker her weight back on her feet. “Did he get in?”
“That’s your follow-up?” Emma balked.
“It’d be very easy for the NYPD to make that all go away, right? I mean, you’re a very fancy officer now, right? Get Olivia Benson on the case or something.”
“Those were not the words you were looking for,” David said. He was smiling anyway. “But, no, I didn't. A seemed very certain that it was a bad idea and after a few minutes of breathing exercises, I agreed. Plus we won and if Liam and Robin are going to teach Matt how to check, then that seems almost acceptable.”
“And don’t forget how to win faceoffs,” Liam added, working a not-so-quiet sigh out of Elsa. “That’s really the important part because, contrary to popular belief, I am not here to advocate for on-ice violence.”
“Yeah, tell that to most of my childhood,” Killian muttered.
“There’s a reason you took that hit so well tonight.”
“Are you ok, KJ?” Elsa asked and he still couldn’t see the phone screen, but Killian nodded anyway. “No torn ACLs?”
“Why would that happen?”
“That’s possible, actually,” Ariel added, wincing when she noticed the slightly stricken look on Emma’s face. “Unlikely though. So you know...plus…”
“Please stop talking,” Emma said.
“Yeah, that’s fair.”
“Does no one want to know how I saved the day?” Ruby asked, frustration creeping into the question and there were several mumbled versions of sorry Lucas from the peanut gallery.
“Go ahead, Rubes,” Mary Margaret said and Killian glanced at Emma, lips pulled tightly behind her teeth so she didn’t laugh.
“You are a paragon of responsibility, M’s. Anyway. Zelena was pissed…” She paused for a second, eyes flitting across the younger members of her audience, but none of them seemed to notice anything out of sorts. “Can we get away with that now? If it’s not going to be a thing, anymore?”
“God, Lucas, get on with the story,” Robin groaned. He huffed out a dramatic exhale, Regina’s hand on his shoulder and Roland kept staring at the ceiling.
“You alright, mate?” Killian asked, but he had a few more theories and Mary Margaret was very bad at keeping secrets or talking softly.
Roland nodded. “Fine. Why isn’t Dad getting fined, Rubes?”
“Because Zelena was crazy mad when she found out what really happened, nearly melted or something equally dramatic,” Ruby answered. “From me, by the way. She found out what really happened from me, because Locksley was going to be some kind of martyr.” She lifted her eyebrows accusingly in Robin’s direction, but he shook his head deftly and Killian thought he saw Regina’s hand tighten.
“Anyway,” Ruby continued. “Zelena called someone from the league who called someone else and we’re just going to...ignore it.”
“Ignore it,” Robin repeated skeptically.
“I mean they can’t fine him, Locksley. Not on hearsay and a reprimand for trash talk, but they’re not going to fine you and you won’t be suspended for the next round.”
Roland’s eyes bugged and Robin hissed when Regina’s hand gripped his shoulder a bit harder than necessary. Emma’s head snapped around, expression incredulous when she gaped at Killian and he hadn’t even considered a suspension.
“Was it close?” Regina asked, but there was a shake to her voice that didn’t ever belong there. Killian groaned when Matt leapt towards him – he caught him anyway.
Ruby shook her head. “Not really.”
“That’s not all that comforting.”
“He did punch that guy a lot.”
Regina rolled her eyes, a sound falling out of Roland that wasn’t quite a sigh, but not quite a groan either and Killian tried to shift Matt enough that he could wrap an arm around a different set of shoulders.
It ended with a knee in one of his organs and a very specific expression when he, finally, saw Elsa on Will’s phone screen.
“He’s fine, KJ,” Elsa said, but her eyes darted towards the teenager tucked against his side. “Right, Rol?”
“Yeah,” he muttered. “If Mattie didn’t break my ankle with his wrist shot.”
“It’s a crazy good wrist shot for a six-year-old, Killian,” Liam added. "Almost six, whatever."
Will cackled, working a frustrated quiet, Uncle Will out of the bundle of human hanging off his side. “I’m sorry, Peg, I’m sorry,” he muttered through a mouthful of hair. “Tell me something, leader, is that your professional opinion as a scout, a former NHL player or are you just trying to get bonus points for being Dr. J’s favorite?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Don’t question it,” Emma advised. “Mattie, did you really shoot at Roland?”
Matt’s leg jerked at the sound of his name – ending with another knee in a different internal organ for Killian. “He was playing goalie, Mom! And I won the faceoff, so I got to take the shot.”
“Those are the rules, Emma,” Liam said. “They’re very serious rules for a very serious competition.”
“Why does it feel like this competition isn’t really between mini-Jones and Rol?” Ruby asked. She pressed her tongue to the corner of her mouth, turning expectantly towards an actual blushing Robin Locksley.
“It’s not like that, Lucas.”
“It’s a little like that,” Elsa corrected. “You need to put a stop to this, KJ. They’re arguing over faceoff technique and planning things for the offseason already. It’s intense.”
“I mean if he’s going to play center, he needs to learn from the best,” Liam shouted. “That’s just practical.”
“And presumptuous,” Robin mumbled. “There are new rules, Jones. They’re cutting down on cheating before puck drop.”
“Oh, it’s weird when there’s two of you with the same last name,” Emma laughed, turning on Killian with a smile on her face and her hand on Matt’s back.
“I’m going to assume you’re able to keep track of the differences, Swan.”
“I mean I’m not opposed to making out some more to ensure I know who’s who.”
“Is this weird?”
“A little,” she admitted, but she was still smiling. “But in an enjoyable kind of way. And we should probably just focus on getting you to stop first, huh, Mattie?”
“It’s a work in progress, love,” Killian promised. “He’s just naturally fast. Genetics or whatever.”
“Yeah, that sounded super legit.”
“Guys, seriously,” Will groaned and Killian nearly dropped Matt in surprise. “Did you hear any of the plan or the bet?”
“No,” Killian said. “And I really don’t care.”
“God, that is so disappointing.”
“He was flirting,” Elsa rationalized. “With his own wife. Which is you know...kind of nice, actually. When you think about it.”
Killian shook his head. “Sounding a little Banana-esque over there, El.”
“I’m going to tell her you said that.”
“She’s going to be way too busy trying to get Kristoff to calm down because we all messed up our gloves with a questionable amount of fighting and honor defense.”
Robin tensed and it really couldn’t have been good for his eyes to keep widening to that size. “Oh, yeah,” he muttered. “So...that guy was kind of an asshole. Sorry, Pegs.”
“Yeah, so I heard. I was planning on paying your fine, though, so, you know, I think we’re almost even?”
Roland wasn’t even trying to mask his smile, moving back towards the mock rink at the front of the restaurant, and it only took a half a second for Matt to elbow, knee and kick Killian’s left leg before he was racing after as well.
“I think we’re even,” Robin agreed. “But I wouldn’t say no to having my honor defended as well at some point, just to know you’re still putting the work into the relationship.”
Killian laughed, head thrown back when Emma shook against him and, just like that, the tension of a series-clinching, fight-filled Game Six was forgotten.
“Is no one going to offer me a celebratory drink for saving the day?” Ruby asked. “Because that’s really...nonsense.”
“Nice save, Lucas.”
“Shut up, Cap. Someone provide me with champagne. I didn’t get any in the locker room while I was trying to put out metaphorical fires.”
They all got celebratory champagne eventually – Will’s phone stuffed in David’s jacket pocket because they’d avoided one fine already, seriously Scarlet – and it only took a few moments to realize what the plan and the bet were.
Liam gave Matt instructions and Robin gave Roland his own tips and Killian kept biting his lip when Liam was only very wrong because there really were new rules and Matt might win in a restaurant surrounded by professional hockey players, but a referee wouldn’t let that happen and--
“I need you to take, at least, eight-hundred deep breaths,” Emma muttered, twisting until she was standing in front of Killian with both hands on his shoulders and one side of her mouth tugged up. “Your freaking me out and I’ve been through the whole spectrum of that already tonight.”
“I’m sorry, love. That wasn’t the goal.”
“Was that supposed to be a joke?”
“No, just humor on the fly.”
She hummed, pressing up on her toes so she could brush her fingers over the back of his neck and Killian wasn’t entirely in control of his body when his eyes fluttered shut. “That’s almost impressive, Jones,” Emma grinned, pressing her lips to the edge of his mouth and they were very, very good at flirting. Even with the marriage certificate. Especially with the marriage certificate. “And I get it. It’s an occupational hazard, but I am kind of sort of super into you so I’m going to worry by default.”
“Is it weird to tell you that I appreciate that?”
“Not any weirder than humor by default and bad dad jokes.”
“Ah, it kind of was, wasn’t it?” Killian asked, but he couldn’t stop the smile from landing on his face and Emma’s nose scrunched when she nodded in response. “I love you a lot, you know that?”
“I had heard some rumors about that. A sidebar, maybe.”
“That’s got to be the penalty box thing, right? Lead with the goal.”
“You are really proud of that goal.”
Killian shrugged, but he absolutely was and Emma totally knew and he bent his knees as soon as he heard the patter of feet rushing towards him. He got hair in his mouth. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” Peggy shouted, wrapping her arms around his neck tightly and maybe they should have been concerned about her speed as well. She was very quick on her feet.
“What, what, what?”
“I wanna score too!”
Emma laughed softly, squeezing her eyes closed like she was trying to memorize the moment and they were all a bunch of over-competitive weridos.
“You don’t have a stick, little love,” Killian said. “Shouldn’t you be asleep?”
“Yeah, good luck with that,” Emma muttered. “Someone else was even more worried than I was about fighting and hitting.”
Killian clicked his tongue, pulling back to find a pair of very wide eyes and unruly hair and Peggy looked exhausted, but she was as stubborn as Emma. He didn’t say that out loud. “I’m fine, sweetheart,” he promised. “Nothing broken.”
“And only slightly swollen,” Ariel muttered from a few feet away. She was sitting cross legged on top of a table, a pad of paper in one hand and a pen in the other, likely keeping score for a bet Killian still didn’t know the stakes of.
“Seriously?” Emma asked sharply.
“Thanks, Red,” Killian growled, but she shrugged in response and Matt won another faceoff. The right way, that time. “I’m fine, Swan. Seriously. There’s a stick-shaped bruise on my back, that’s all. And my hand is sore, but that’s normal.”
She didn’t say anything, just twisted her lips slightly and her eyes traced over him – like she was looking for the lie or the telltale contradiction and no one had actually hit him in the face.
“Fine,” he repeated, ducking his head to catch her lips quickly and he could almost feel her relax. Until the two – and a half – year old in his arms objected to be squished.
“Sorry, babe,” Emma muttered, tickingling Peggy’s stomach until the shouts turned to laughs and Mary Margaret might have taken a picture.
Killian kind of hoped she did.
“Ok, ok, we have to come up with a rule for this,” Robin said, pulling their attention away from potential adorable family moments documented for posterity. "This is how you're supposed to check, kid."
“You guys just started punching,” Matt argued.
Emma sighed, burying her head in Killian’s shoulder. “Oh my God. We’ve created a monster. A fight first, set a penalty minutes record monster.”
“No, no, no,” Killian objected, but Matt was still coming up with counter points and Elsa was probably proud of his technique. She was still smiling on the phone screen. “We’re going to fix this, Swan. Parents of the year, every year forever and ever.”
“That was another spur of the moment thing.”
“You are on a roll, Cap.”
He laughed, pressing a kiss to the top of her hair before they moved their way across the restaurant and Matt was bouncing the puck on the blade of his stick. “Hitting is part of hockey, right?” he asked and Liam winced in Colorado.
“Sorry, little brother,” he muttered when he noticed Killian and the glare that was probably etched on his face at that point. “It’s a small part, Matt. A very small part and if you’re going to check you’ve got to get under the shoulder blades otherwise you're going to--”
“Oh my God, Liam, shut up,” Emma hissed at the same time Elsa started cursing in Norwegian. Matt’s eyes widened at that as well.
A very curious, incredibly competitive monster.
“Kid,” Killian said, sharply and the puck fell off Matt’s stick. “Listen to me, ok? The only time you can hit anyone is if they’re touching the puck. And even then you shouldn’t because checking people slows you down.”
Matt considered that for a moment and Killian tried not to breathe, almost painfully aware of a metaphorical parents of the year trophy next to the Conn-Smythe at home. “I don’t want to be slow,” Matt muttered eventually.
“Good. Then only if they’ve got the puck. Understood?”
“Alright. You beating, Rol?”
“Only because he’s cheating, Hook,” Roland whined and all of them forgot about the rule and checking and Peggy fell asleep with her head on Killian’s shoulder.
Or, they forgot about it until years later and Roland had made the U16 and U18 team, and Matt was getting college looks and offer letters and he kept winning faceoffs. And he wasn’t really ever much of a fighter – was far too concerned with setting some kind of goal record for the Team USA U17 squad to be worried about penalty minutes, but there was a kid on Team Canada at Junior Nationals who kept chirping and kept trying to hit his ankles without the ref noticing and it all kind of happened quickly.
Killian wasn’t sure it even had until he heard Emma’s disbelieving laugh next to him.
“Holy shit,” Will breathed, David holding his own phone up to record the moment and Killian’s eyes had gone impossibly wide. “He totally remembered the rule.”
Matt had the puck on his stick, but it was gone half a second later – as if he’d passed it to the Canadian kid and it took less than a full breath and a slightly dramatic gasp from both Mary Margaret and Ruby for him to check the other teenager into the boards, leading shoulder first as his stick connected with the very prone and decidedly padless spot of his left calf.
“Oh my God,” Emma muttered, trying to keep a six-year-old Chris in his seat while Peggy yelled loudly at the refs in several different languages. Ruby was hysterical. “You know, I’m going to go ahead and blame the other Jones for all of this. We gave him rules, Liam was the one who was trying to get him to fight.”
Killian wasn’t sure if his pride was misplaced – particularly when Matt got two minutes for roughing – but it seemed to inch through every bit of him and might have exploded out of his center when the penalty box door opened and Matt had always been incredibly fast.
He barely slowed down when he crossed the blue line, something that looked like a smile on his face when he beat the defender and went forehand to backhand in front of the net.
The light went off.
“And you can take some credit for that,” Emma said, turning towards Killian with a smile that matched his own.
He kissed her quickly, ignoring Will and Robin’s comments and David’s laughter, and the United States beat Canada. Again. Or however it worked, technically, but there was a medal involved and Matt hugged both of them when they got onto the ice.
“Thanks for the tip, Dad,” Matt said and Killian barely got his laugh out before he wrapped his arm back around his kid’s shoulders and the picture got a ridiculous number of likes on Will’s Instagram.