They wouldn’t let him in.
Some security guard tried to tell them they couldn’t and explained the rules, like he didn’t have the rules fucking memorized at this point, three and a half decades of his life spent in this stupid arena.
And Killian couldn’t stop saying the word fine, promising it over and over again like it was the only word he’d ever learned and half of him was certain he was doing it for himself as much as he was for Emma. She didn’t let go of his hand, thumb tracing absentmindedly along a ridge of scar tissue on the back of his palm and it made Killian’s heart ache in his chest, the understanding that this, all of it, could be gone in half a moment and half an instant and they wouldn't let him in.
“I can’t, Cap,” a stricken security guard told him for the fifth time and Killian was half ready to grab the closest piece of equipment and check the asshole into the locked door behind him.
Mostly because he only had one free hand and, truthfully, he wasn’t entirely certain his legs could support his weight if he moved away from Emma.
“It’s fine,” she muttered, echoing his own words back to him. “It’s…” She took a deep breath and he knew she was biting her lip without even glancing down, could feel her arm shift against his side when she tried to hold onto the ring around her neck. “It’s going to be fine. Can, we, do you know have they moved him? MRI’s or anything like that?”
The security guard shook his head slowly and Killian rolled his eyes towards the ceiling, not even trying to disguise his frustrated groan.
What, after all, was the point of winning three Stanley Cups and being the face of the entire goddamn, fucking franchise, if no one knew what happened to his kid?
“I’m sorry,” the security guard continued, shuffling awkwardly on his feet and Emma pulled her hand away from her ring to rest on the front of Killian’s chest.
“In through your nose, out through your mouth, Jones,” she whispered and he nearly laughed, nearly smiled at her or brushed his lips across her head, but there wasn’t enough time.
The door swung open and the security guard – Thomas, his name tag claimed he was Thomas – leapt towards both of them, moving out of the way just quickly enough that he didn’t get mowed down by whatever the doors of the Rangers locker room were made of.
That didn’t make much sense.
It couldn’t have been concrete.
Killian was losing his mind. He wanted to see Matt.
And he wished people would stop stuttering every time they caught his eye. God, he wanted to shoot at something.
The woman in front of them looked just as anxious as he felt – eyes wide and light brown hair falling across her forehead and she might have done permanent damage to her lip. She exhaled loudly when she spotted Emma and Killian, that same lip back between her teeth and for half a moment he was concerned about how low she’d pulled her eyebrows.
Emma shifted slightly against him, twisting until she could grip the front of his jacket and, technically speaking, he really shouldn’t have been in the suite. He should have been with front office and he had an assistant, a whole office of people who were supposed to be able to help him help players and there was no point to any of that if they didn’t let him figure out what happened to Matt.
He’d hit the boards hard.
“Uh, Cap? Killian? Mr...uh...Mr. Jones?”
Emma actually laughed at that, a short, shaky sound that was equal parts nervous and amused and vaguely terrified. “She called you Mr. Jones,” she mumbled, pressing her forehead against his shoulder blade. “Like you’re old.”
Killian huffed, but he didn’t move his arm, just tightened his hold on his wife and did, finally, kiss the top of her head – if only to remind himself that she was there and Emma’s shoulders shook against him.
She’d started crying again.
“It’s ok, love,” he said softly and the woman still hadn’t moved out of the doorframe. “It’s ok. He’s going to be ok.”
“Um, Mr. Jones? Mrs. Jones?” she continued and Killian resisted the urge to roll his eyes, not sure he could come up with something even in the realm of pleasant or personable or professional, despite the team-mandated jacket he had on and the tie that, suddenly, felt far too tight.
Matt would be fine.
He had to be.
“Killian is alright,” he said, glancing up over Emma’s head as she tried to turn towards the woman behind them.
“Oh,” she muttered. “Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah, um, well, I just wanted to...give you guys a head’s up or whatever…” She trailed off and she still hadn’t actually explained who she was or what she was doing and Killian, admittedly, wasn’t paying much attention.
“Claire,” Emma mumbled, eyes darting back towards his and the laughing and the crying was tinged with a smile, her eyes just a bit red around the edges. “Assistant athletic trainer.” Killian opened his mouth, but she answered him before he even got the words out. “Start of the season. After that other one moved to Boston.”
“Mind reader,” he accused and she shrugged slightly.
Claire – who hadn’t disagreed to the introduction – coughed softly and Killian’s head snapped back towards her, eyebrows raised and defenses on high against something that might have been just some deep-rooted need to protect his kid.
“Yeah,” Killian snapped and Claire took a step back, eyes shifting slightly and there was something in gaze that he couldn’t quite name. It looked a bit like frustration.
Emma tapped her fingers quickly on the front of his jacket, pulling her hand away to wrap his fingers in hers and her thumb traced just underneath his ring. “You’re supposed to be the calm one,” she whispered. “Stoic captain or whatever.”
“Not when Matt’s involved.”
He was, admittedly, a bit overprotective.
It drove his kids nuts. It drove Emma nuts. It drove his entire team nuts.
But Matthew David Jones had shown up in the world and it was as if, suddenly, something had clicked and not much mattered more than him or what he’d do or how he felt and Killian couldn’t stop it if he tried.
He didn’t really try.
He was, as Emma put it, a complete pushover for all three of their kids – all of whom appeared to be just as competitive and just as determined as he was. Anna called them stubborn, and it was more than that.
It wasn’t quite Horsemen, but it was pretty damn close, the three of them some kind of built-in support system who regarded Emma and Killian as their de facto leader and resident cheer squad.
Matt had to be fine.
They should have worked on stopping more when he was a kid.
God, he’d fucked up.
“Hey,” Emma said sharply, turning on him as quickly as if Claire wasn’t even there. “His feet got caught. That defender was a dick. It probably should have been a slash. It wasn’t a stopping thing. Not really.”
“Scarlet did the same thing. Twice.”
“I’m not exactly pulling for broken legs here, Swan,” Killian argued. It felt like his throat tightened on the words. Broken legs he could deal with. Broken legs were easy. A straight fracture and he’d be back on the ice in six to eight and it would be fine.
Broken bones didn’t come with stretchers and neck braces and it was suddenly very warm in that hallway, the walls feeling just a bit closer together than they had a few minutes before. Broken bones didn’t feel like history repeating itself.
Emma’s mouth dropped open slightly and he was nearly impressed that she’d realized it without him actually saying anything.
He absolutely shouldn’t have been.
“It’s not the same thing,” she said quickly, but her voice shook a bit and he got the distinct impression her mind was four steps ahead of her, wondering, if, maybe, it was exactly the same thing.
Killian hummed, nodding slowly like that would somehow convince her that he agreed and he knew it didn’t work in half a second and one not-quite-deep breath. “Killian,” Emma said. “It’s not. It’s not even remotely close.”
The story came out his sophomore year.
Matt was fresh off some kind of absurd record for faceoff wins as a freshman and BU was back on track or so the websites claimed, a favorite for the national championship and there were, already, draft rumors.
It had ended up on his desk – an actual, physical newspaper and headline that had left Killian sinking into his chair with a hand in his hair and eyes so wide he was certain he’d done permanent damage to his corneas or something.
Cap’s kid: Hold that thought
Matt Jones has been on the Rangers radar since, what feels like, the dawn of time. He’s legacy in a way that doesn’t even really fit the word, the name on the back of his jersey as important as any stat he could possibly record.
Of course, the stats aren’t all that bad either.
In fact, the stats are pretty darn good. Some might even use the word impressive. Or record-breaking. That could work too.
A year removed from one of the most dominant performances in recent college history, Jones seems to be falling into his father’s footsteps – skate lines? What, exactly is the technical term for that? – with relative ease. He’s as fast as Cap, with an eye for the net and that tiny sliver of space just above goalie’s right shoulders that could make him one of the most sought after draft picks this season.
It’s a wonder he decided to go back to the Terriers for another year. After all, Cap left school after a season. There were rumors, of course, that Matt simply wanted to win at BU and then that less idyllic rumor that the Rangers, who didn’t have a first-round pick in last year’s draft, encouraged him to go back until the time he could be guaranteed a spot with the team he practically grew up on.
That, however, is neither here nor there.
The point here is that Cap’s kid might look like him and skate a bit like him and, most importantly, score like him, but there’s something about Matt Jones’ game that feels a bit...not like Cap.
So, what is it?
It’s the position. Obviously.
Matt Jones is not a winger. He’s a centerman and he’s good. Undeniably good. The kind of good that makes diehard Blueshirts fans wonder if maybe...well, maybe, Matt Jones is what would have happened if Liam Jones had never gotten hurt.
Killian had read it ten times and then read it ten more times and then didn’t leave his office for what felt like several weeks and maybe the rest of the season.
Emma found him, phone clutched tightly in her hand and a look on her face that made it almost painfully obvious that she’d read the story several dozen times as well.
“Ruby’s going to kill another columnist,” she said softly, not even bothering with the chairs on the other side of the desk, just pushing around in front of him and sinking onto his legs. He sighed, resting his forehead on her arm and he could barely feel her fingers carding through the back of his hair, hand wrapped tightly around his neck as he tried to breathe her in.
“Decades, Swan,” Killian mumbled. “Thirty years and they’re still talking about it.”
“He’s better than Liam.”
She said it so simply – the certainty in her voice almost taking him off guard. Or it would have if it wasn’t completely true.
Matt Jones was the best hockey player Killian had ever seen, better than him or Liam or Roland and, quite suddenly, that knot of anxiety and guilt that had settled in the very center of him loosened just a bit, Emma’s soft weight on his leg managing to pull him back to the present and the few hours they had before puck drop.
“And, you know,” she added. “I might have already done something…” Killian pulled back slightly, eyebrows drawn low as her fingers raced across her phone screen. “Here,” Emma muttered, pushing the thing a few inches away from his face.
Tell dad that story is stupid.
Obviously I’m better than Uncle Liam. Uncle Liam would say that. Dad has said that. And maybe don’t show Ru the story. She’ll probably kill that columnist.
Oh, never mind I bet Ru showed you the story, didn’t she?
Mom, you’ve got to answer my text messages, you’re killing me here. Ah, dad saw the story. That’s what’s happening here isn’t it?
Emma’s phone buzzed in her hand, another text message appearing on the screen in front of him and Killian let out a shaky laugh when he saw the words pop up in his eye line.
Hey, dad. The story is stupid.
He held his hand out expectantly and Emma grinned when she dropped it in her palm, shifting slightly on his leg while he wrapped his left arm around her waist to try and keep her balanced.
That is true. On both points. And you’re definitely better than Liam. He never set a freshman faceoff record at Minnesota.
You gotta stop bringing that fact up.
It’s a good fact!
I can’t believe a story tried to play off like there was insider trading happening before the draft.
Columnists get bored easily.
You’re not going to stop Ru from killing that guy are you?
Between your mother, Lucas and probably Scarlet, I can’t imagine there’s much hope for that guy’s byline at this point.
Tell ‘em thanks too. And beat up on the Flyers tonight.
He’s going to hit that marker tonight.
Yeah, well, that’s just rude. You can tell Rol I said that. If he can’t wait until I can get to a game to see him hit 150 goals, then that’s stupid and I don’t accept the record.
I’m sure he’ll take that into consideration.
How’d you find the story?
Rol sent it to me. He’s bored after skate. Gina’s trying to get him to come home before the game.
Ah, well, I guess growing up in the Garden does take some of the shine off its return.
It took a few moments for the final text to come through and when it did, Killian’s arm tightened around Emma’s waist. She hummed in question, twisting against his front to try and see the message and her smile probably could have melted the several inches of snow sitting outside his office.
That’s not true. I’ll see you guys next week.
All Matt Jones ever wanted was to be a New York Ranger and, two years after the story, when they called his name and gave him a jersey and he picked twenty, Killian couldn’t quite decide if he’d ever stop talking about it.
His son was a professional hockey player.
His son was wearing his number.
He’d asked about it – a few hours before the draft, walking into the building in Chicago with nervous eyes and slightly mumbled words and Killian couldn’t understand him the first time.
“What?” Killian asked, coming up short and tugging on the back of Matt’s jacket to keep him from walking into a line of photographers.
“I just….” Matt started, shuffling on his feet as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.
“You’ve got to use actual words, Matt.”
Matt glared at him and Killian dimly heard a shutter click behind him, wrapping his arm around his son and dragging him back towards the corner. He waved off Emma and she smiled in response, leading a contingent of former Rangers and David and Mary Margaret to a table a few feet away.
“Alright,” Killian said, resting both hands on Matt’s shoulders. “What did you say before?”
“I just thought….” Matt cut himself off again, tongue darting out in between his lips and his eyes fell anywhere except Killian.
“Mattie, you’re not making this any easier, kid.”
That got his attention. Killian never called him Mattie – that was Emma and Lizzie when she was frustrated with him and Roland when he was teasing him, which seemed to be more often than not, but the nickname was out of his mouth before he’d really considered it, nerves flitting in the back of his head.
Matt had left school. He’d hired an agent and given up his last year of eligibility and this needed to work.
“Jeez, Dad,” Matt sighed. “Laying it on almost too thick, don’t you think?”
“That’s because you’re not talking to me. Enunciate this time.”
Matt rolled his eyes and it was like looking in some kind of mirror. Killian tried not to dwell on that too long.
“I already talked to equipment,” Matt said quickly. “So, you know, if this goes the way it’s supposed to. Then you don’t really have much say over it anyway, but I figured I’d ask. Or tell you or whatever.”
It hit him like a goddamn freight train in the back corner of that room – photographers and media and slightly manic league officials trying to make sure everyone got to their seat.
Killian knew his eyes widened, could feel his mouth hanging open slightly and Matt grinned cautiously at him, shrugging as if that was actually enunciating the words he hadn’t said yet.
“Is that cool?” he asked.
“Cool,” Killian repeated slowly and Matt shrugged again. “You want...you want to wear my number?”
“I mean, you know, if it’s cool with you.”
It wasn’t cool.
It was far bigger than that.
It was everything and then some and Matt Jones wore his father’s number in his first NHL game and every NHL game he ever played. He was wearing his father’s number when he went head-first into the boards and got stretchered off the ice with a neck brace and Killian still couldn’t quite seem to catch his breath, even with Emma pressed against his side and an assistant athletic trainer staring at him like some kind of ticking time bomb.
“What’s the heads up?” Emma asked and Claire nearly snapped to attention, the heels of her shoes clicking together immediately.
She smiled nervously, shoulders tight with tension and she tugged on the end of her pony tail. And Killian felt like he was missing something – something big and vaguely important and his eyes flashed towards Emma out of instinct and several decades worth of her hand wrapped up in his.
“He, uh, he lost consciousness,” Claire said slowly and Emma went stiff next to him. Killian pressed his lips together tightly, digging his teeth into them until he could taste blood, and tried to remember the definition of the word fine. “But, but,” Claire, added. “It was only for a few seconds. They...they took him to the hospital. You know for tests and precautions and all that. You guys, well, you should probably head downtown.”
Emma didn’t say a word, just nodded once and turned on her heels, pulling Killian’s hand with her and Claire still looked vaguely terrified.
It took twenty-two minutes to get to the hospital. Twenty-two minutes of silence in the back seat of a cab – or relative silence, Emma’s fingers flying across her phone screen, presumably updating their kids and David and Mary Margaret and a whole former front line about a medical status they hadn’t gotten any confirmation on yet.
“It’s not the same,” she said suddenly, head snapping towards Killian as the cab pulled up in front of the hospital. “It’s not.”
Killian smiled softly, inhaling slowly and he tried to believe her, tried to feel the determination he could see on her face, that it wasn’t the same and Matt would be as fine as they both claimed he would.
It wasn’t the same.
“Just precautionary,” Emma continued, squeezing his forearm tightly. “Maybe she was wrong. Maybe he didn’t lose consciousness. Maybe, you know, maybe he was just...blinking. For a long time or something.”
“Swan,” Killian cautioned and she shook her head quickly, eyes just a bit wider than they’d been all night.
“Stop. Stop it. It’s fine. He’s going to be fine. He just got tripped up and they’ve got to do tests and that’s...that’s protocol, right? Part of…”
“Player’s union rules,” he finished. Emma nodded again, like she was trying to convince herself that he knew how it worked or that tests, precautionary or otherwise, were a good idea and they still hadn’t gotten out of the cab yet.
Her phone buzzed again.
“Reese’s is already here,” Emma explained, nodding at her hand. “I think David got them some kind of police escort downtown or something insane.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he did.”
She laughed under her breath and her eyes were a bit glossy when she looked up at him. “It’s not the same,” she said again. “God, he’d make fun of us if he knew what a mess we were.”
“Please, you’ve been pale as ice for the last hour.”
“That’s true,” Killian admitted, squeezing his eyes closed when he leaned his head forward. She kissed him, lips brushing over his forehead and the top of his hair and she hadn’t actually let go of his arm.
The driver coughed pointedly and there were other cars behind them, a long line of people waiting and leaving, or trying to leave, and they had to get out of this cab eventually. “Come on, love,” Killian said, tugging his arm out of her grip to twist his fingers up with hers. “Let’s go find our boy.”
The doctor wouldn’t let them out of the waiting room – they were in the middle of tests or something absurd and there were mores rules and no number of former New York Rangers or even David trying to flash a badge seemed to do any good.
They were stuck.
And it felt like it had been days and years and several losing seasons in a row, the whole lot of them stretched out over plastic chairs and arm rests, with heads on shoulders and phones clutched tightly in their hands.
Killian couldn’t stop pacing. He couldn’t stop moving.
“You’re going to wear a hole in the tiles,” Emma muttered, hardly lifting her head off Mary Margaret’s shoulder. Ruby mumbled under her breath, her own head resting on Emma’s arm and they were a line of almost palpable nervous energy.
“He’s been in there for days, Swan,” Killian sighed, running a hand through his hair and Robin scoffed. “At least.”
She smiled at him, a knowing look that seemed to mirror every thought running through his mind for as long as they’d been relegated to that waiting room. “I know,” she whispered. “We’re here though. I’m sure he knows that.”
Killian sighed again, nearly ripping his hair out of his head when his phone started ringing loudly in his pocket.
“Jeez, Cap,” Will groaned, stretching his arms over his head. “Who haven't you called yet?”
He didn’t bother answering – certain it was El and Liam or Anna or Lizzie and he was almost surprised they hadn’t all just FaceTime’d him yet, demanding updates and answers he didn’t have.
It wasn’t any of them.
Killian glanced at Robin, eyes wide and the question on his lips. Robin shrugged. “He didn’t believe me,” he said, like that explained everything. “Said he was going to go straight to the source or something. He just got off the ice.”
“Where are they?” Killian asked.
Will made some kind of impossibly impatient noise, kicking the heel of his foot into the tiled the floor and Killian didn’t even have the energy to glare at him. He swiped his thumb over the phone screen, leaning forward to kiss the top of Emma’s head, muttering I’ll be right back, and walking towards a slightly abandoned hallway around the corner.
“Hey, mate,” Killian said, sliding down the wall he hadn’t even realized he’d been leaning against. Roland exhaled loudly on the other end, mumbling under his breath at teammates and it was loud in the St. Louis visitor’s locker room. “You win?”
“Is he ok?” Roland asked sharply, bypassing greetings or nicknames and Killian felt every muscle in his body tense at the nerves coming through the phone. “Hook, is he ok?”
Killian took a deep breath before he answered and Roland could probably hear him shrugging in the middle of the hallway. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “We’re still waiting for tests.”
“It looked bad.”
“When did you even have time to look at video?”
“Somebody in training was talking about it in between periods. Bad hit by Jones into the boards and everything. It...it looked bad.”
“You should have seen it in person. You didn’t answer my question, you guys win?”
“Hook, if you don’t already know whether or not we won, then I’m not answering that question,” Roland said. “Just proves how distracted you were. Did you ask Dad where we were before you answered the phone? Is that why it took so long?”
Killian took half a moment to marvel at how transparent he, apparently, was, but there was a smile tugging on the corners of his lips and Roland Locksley, almost NHL veteran was far too smart for his own good.
“Between you and Emma, it’s like a mind reading competition,” he mumbled and Roland laughed quietly. “You score?”
“That’s not bad.”
“Gee, thanks,” Roland grumbled. Killian was, maybe, actually smiling now. “And, yeah, we won. Did you?”
“I have no idea.”
“Super dad strikes again. Far too preoccupied with kid to worry about hockey.”
He could hear the sarcasm, knew exactly what Roland was doing and what Emma had been doing and even Will – all of them trying to get his mind off the certainty that it was exactly like it had been before and Killian might not have been on the ice this time, but that was, somehow, worse, watching it all play out in slow motion and it was his kid.
Killian closed his eyes, suddenly feeling as if all the oxygen had been pulled out of the hallway and Roland made a noise in St. Louis.
“It’s not the same,” Roland muttered and Killian hummed in the back of his throat, trying to sound like he almost agreed.
“You and Emma should get that sky-written. I think she’s told me that ten times in the last five minutes.”
“Ah, well, that’s because she’s smart. And really good at reading your mind. I always liked her more than you.”
“That’s an enormous lie and you know it.”
Roland laughed, the sound making its way from St. Louis to lower Manhattan and into that hallway that, suddenly, wasn’t quite so unoccupied. Killian glanced up, gaze landing on Claire the assistant athletic trainer and she still looked slightly terrified.
She looked like she’d spent the better part of the last half an hour alternating between crying and trying to breathe and her fingers were still all twisted together, a picture of anxious frustration that Killian seemed to feel in the very center of his being.
“Hook?” Roland asked. “You still with me? Did the doctors show up?”
“No, no, uh, someone from training.” Claire’s eyes widened again, glancing around the hallway like she was looking for an a quick exit.
There wasn’t one.
She waved at him and Killian’s laugh was shaky at best and a bit manic at worst and Roland was still asking questions in St. Louis.
“Oh,” he said slowly when Killian didn’t say anything else. “You met Claire didn’t you?”
“Rol,” Killian said sharply and there was a scoff on the other end of the phone. This team put far too much stock in nicknames. “What do you know that I don’t?”
“A whole lot, apparently,” Roland chuckled, any worry over Matt’s state of consciousness forgotten for half a moment. “You should talk to her. Like actually talk to her. Might not be a bad idea. You know, for...whatever. Tell Matt he’s an idiot.”
“Overprotective flew right out the window, didn’t it?”
“There aren’t any windows in this locker room,” Roland argued. “And overprotective is just built in at this point, but, this is just...talk to her. Claire, I mean, she’s probably freaked and we’re all super intimidating and then tell Matt to call me. And learn how to stop.”
“Anything else?” Killian asked, voice drenched in sarcasm and Claire still hadn’t moved.
“Yeah, tell him not to freak me out like that again, ok?”
Roland hung up before he could fire off another vaguely sarcastic comment and Killian stuffed his phone back in his pocket, glancing warily at Claire.
She hadn’t moved.
“You’re...uh, you’re here,” Killian started slowly and Claire almost smiled. “Why...why are you here?”
She let out a shaky laugh, rocking back on her heels and tugging self consciously on the bottom of her team-provided polo. “If I say professional courtesy is that an almost legitimate excuse?”
Claire shrugged, brushing the hair out of her eyes and oh shit. He was the idiot. God, Matt would never stop laughing at him. He probably should have known as soon as they saw her in front of the locker room.
Emma probably knew.
“Oh,” Killian said and he couldn’t even come up with a response that wasn’t decidedly stupid. It was because he was so worried about Matt.
And not a little stunned that his kid was, apparently, dating the assistant athletic trainer of the New York Rangers.
History and repeating and Mrs. Vankald would have had some kind of perfect cliché for a moment like this. Killian opened his mouth, a bit desperate to ease the slightly uncomfortable tension that had taken up residence in between him and Claire, but she started speaking before he could.
“He already did,” she said and there was no way to mistake the emotion in her voice, that tinge of something that Killian recognized whenever he talked about Emma. Sentimental fool.
“Who already did what? Matt?”
Claire nodded, smile looking just a bit easier when she she crossed her arms. “Almost as soon as this….whatever,” she laughed, waving her hand in the space in front of her, “started. He said his grandmother would have had a perfect cliché for it. History and repeating. He thought he was hysterical.”
“Of course he did,” Killian muttered. “Did he, uh, did he tell you why he didn’t….”
Killian nodded and Claire seemed to retreat back to worried relatively easily. “It was kind of a joint decision,” she said. “Kind of a conflict of interest or something like that. We didn’t want it to be this whole, big thing in the middle of the season.” He nodded again. “Matt said you’d understand.”
“His mother and I were woefully bad at under the radar,” Killian admitted. “Everyone knew. A few before we did.”
Claire laughed, brushing her hair back behind her ears and her shoulders didn’t appear quite as tense as they had been in front of the locker room. “He’s totally freaked me out here,” she whispered, sounding like she was admitting to something just a bit bigger.
“Ah, that makes two of us. But he’ll be fine.”
Claire made a quiet noise in the back of her throat, an unquestionable disagreement that Killian understood as well. “He will,” he promised. “We just never got around to that whole stopping part.”
“He said that’s your fault.”
“The not stopping or how fast he is?”
“You two spend a lot of time talking about me, then?” Killian asked, lifting one eyebrow and that quiet noise was a scoff now, met with a smirk and he liked her.
“We spend a lot of time talking about hockey,” Claire corrected. “You just happen to play large role in Matt’s opinion on hockey.”
Killian hummed, something that felt distinctly like emotion shooting down his spine – and there were plenty of questions left, but there was another set of shoes in the hallway, running towards him and he stood up before Emma could crash into the wall.
“We can go in,” she said breathlessly, gripping the front of his jacket and the tears in her eyes weren’t from worry or the certainty that it wasn't just like it had been before. “Mattie’s awake and it's a concussion, but they think he'll be ok soon'ish and, God, you’ve got to come now. He was wondering where you were.”
She glanced over her shoulder, her grip on Killian’s jacket tightening a fraction of an inch. “You too,” Emma added to Claire and Killian chuckled when her mouth dropped open slightly. “He said he figured you were here.”
“Mind reader,” Claire mumbled, but the smile on her face was genuine and she looked like she was taking her first deep breath in hours. “I’m gonna...I’m…”
“Go,” Emma said, nodding towards the room at the far end of the hall. She practically sprinted away from them.
“Did you know?” Killian asked as soon as Claire was gone, eyeing Emma and she scrunched her nose. “I’m going to take that as a yes.”
“I had an idea,” she said. “And some rumors. Mostly from Ruby, who, apparently, still knows everything. Don’t think about that for too long, it’ll freak you out.”
“I’ve been freaked out enough for one day, I think, Swan.”
“He’s ok. Stubborn skull or something. I actually talked to a doctor.”
She shrugged. “Demanded. Whatever. We were out there forever and if Scarlet tapped his foot any louder I was absolutely going to kill him. So I asked and they answered my questions. Concussion, but only mild and he claims the whole unconscious thing was, like, half a second.”
“You talked to Matt?” Killian asked, half moving towards the room before Emma even had a chance to answer.
“Just for a second. I didn’t want him to be by himself when they moved him into the room.” Killian’s shoulders sagged slightly, the force of his exhale nearly moving Emma’s hair. “I wanted to tell you. I just…”
“You don’t have to explain yourself, Swan. Parents of the year.”
“Nearly three decades running,” she muttered, pressing up on tiptoes to brush her lips against his and Killian would never get tired of that. Not for another three decades or the rest of his life or eternity and it wasn’t nearly as sentimental as he wanted it to be.
“He’s going to be fine,” he said again and Emma grinned against his mouth.
He kissed her again, quick and meaningful and tried to move towards the room when Emma nearly ripped his jacket off him, fingers wrapping around lapels and pulling him up short.
“What?” Killian asked and Emma pushed her phone against his chest.
“Ruby knows everything,” she said, staring at him like she’d never quite seen him before. It made his heart speed up. “And you’re going to want to read this before you go in there.”
He glanced down at the screen, eyes scanning across the headline and his heart thudded almost painfully against his chest, trying to work its way out between his ribs or maybe into his throat. Emma smiled at him, tracing her finger across her jacket with her lip pulled in between her teeth and nearly three decades later, he still couldn’t quite believe how goddamn lucky he was.
Oh Captain, no Captain: Jones turns down C for Blueshirts
The long-time Rangers standout, who is already closing in on the 500-point marker, reportedly was the front-runner in the locker room to be the team’s next Captain, but turned down the honor for one very simple reason.
“Nah,” he said before Thursday’s game against the Sabres. “That’s my dad. I’m not the Captain of this team. Nobody is. There’s a reason no one’s worn a ‘C’ since my dad retired and I’m not going to take that. I wouldn’t want it.”
“Huh,” Killian sighed and Emma laughed, pressing a kiss against his cheek. She was still smiling.
“Eloquent as always, Jones.”
“Mattie said that?”
“Well, he’s quoted.”
Emma grinned at him, brushing her fingers across his forehead and lingering just a few moments on a particularly greying patch of hair. “Of course he did,” she said. “He wouldn’t...he would never take that.”
“He wouldn’t be taking it,” Killian argued. “He should.”
“He doesn’t want it.”
Killian couldn’t come up with anything else to argue – the quote on the screen in front of him, practically cementing itself in his brain and he couldn’t actually break down in the middle of the hallway. That was easier said than done, however, between mild concussions and history and nah, that’s my dad would probably be branded behind his eyelids every time he blinked.
“Captain America,” Emma mumbled fondly, tugging on lapels again and it was all Killian could do to laugh weakly. “Come on, let’s go see him.”
Matt smiled when he saw them, pushing up against a small mountain of pillows he’d probably demanded and Emma kept her hand trained in Killian’s when they walked into the room.
“I’m fine,” he said as soon as Killian’s mouth opened. “But, well, maybe we should work on stopping at some point.”
Emma groaned, sinking onto the corner of the bed and running her fingers through Matt’s hair – a habit they’d both picked up on when he was younger and road trips lasted for a week and there wasn’t anyone to bring him to the Piers.
And it all seemed to happen quickly, the scene in front of them settling into something happy and comfortable and Killian nodded out of instinct, agreeing to a plan and a practice and maybe history didn’t always have to repeat itself.
It was better that way.