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Scoring Your Love

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A/N: So here we are again, at the start of a new story and as some of you know I have changed my usual M.O. up a bit this time by writing a number of chapters in advance so I can publish more regularly even though life is currently very hectic in this program. My current goal is to update every other week (with this week being an exception as I post part two tomorrow) and the length of the chapters will also be shorter than my recent AUs. But not to worry, there still plenty of fluff and humor to go around. We will just have to wait a little longer to get there. Anyway I hope you guys enjoy and please let me know what you think!

“Ashley! Ashley, wait!” the good looking blonde man yelled through the torrential rain, but the heroine of this scene kept running, not giving a damn about the fact that the mud on this usually dusty country drive would tarnish the immaculately clean and crisp blue fabric of her flowing gown.

Her footsteps pounded down the path, the slopping of the water already collated on the ground splashing harshly, but it was the woman’s face that the camera panned to. It moved in to a glaring close up to display her pain and anguish, the total humiliation of what she’d been feeling, and the regret that she’d ever set foot in that grand house standing behind her to begin with.

“Ashley, please,” the man said as he grabbed her arm, pulling her back around to look at him and forcing himself into her space. Now the running was over, but the woman shook her head, not daring to meet his eyes even as the camera zoomed in to encapsulate just the two of them. “Please, you have to talk to me. You can’t leave. Not like this.”

“I have to!” the girl cried out, finally staring into his eyes that were placed with perfect symmetry on a handsome face stained only by the rains from the skies above. “Can’t you see, Thomas? I don’t belong here. This – this isn’t right, and I can’t go on pretending like it is.”

“How can you say that?” he asked, fear infiltrating his voice but the sincerity of it slightly lacking, probably thanks to the actor’s newness to the screen. “How can you say that what we have is wrong, when it’s the only thing in the world that’s right?!”

“Because it can’t be! We’re from two different worlds and –,”

Whatever argument this young woman was about to make was silenced with a kiss so cinematic in scope it had everything right down to a foot pop and a bit of female swooning when the lovers came apart. It was a kiss of passion, weaving a narrative of need in the face of adversity and heart over what would be smart or expected. It was also highly unrealistic given the continued onslaught of rain pouring down on them.

“No one knows what we are except us,” the man said as they eventually came up for air. “And just because my family thinks they know what’s best for me doesn’t mean they’re right. The only person who knows my heart is me, and I’m telling you that I love you. I love you Ashley, and I will love you every day as long as I live.”

“I love you too,” Ashley whispered, her hands coming to cup his cheek, a last flicker of uncertainty springing to light in her wide blue eyes. “But are you sure? It’s not going to be easy.”

“Maybe not, but as long as we have love, we’ll have everything. Nothing can touch us. Not when we have each other.”

“Ha! Yeah right,” Emma Swan muttered to herself as she shook her head, pausing the scene that she had just watched on her laptop and sitting back in her chair, wondering how the hell anyone thought this kind of over-the-top cheesy and romantic garbage was truly good.

To be fair the movie itself wasn’t actually terrible, at least not from an industry standard. Emma knew that this film would do well for the streaming service that commissioned it when all was said and done if it was just given the right bit of tender love and care in postproduction. People would see the typical trope of a guy and a girl who fall in love despite their being all wrong for each other on paper and go gaga for it. But the story’s hollowness was all the more evident with this only rough cut of the scenes together and without a score to stand behind it. Things at this stage were choppy and unfinished, and because of that it felt like half of the story and all of the tone and tempo were still completely up in the air.

That was where Emma came in. After years of trying to find her passion in her music and express creativity in a way that would actually keep clothes on her back and a roof over her head, Emma was happy to have any sort of steady income at all. She was still mostly freelance at this point, picking up different shorts and indies to score for as they came her way, but after getting her first big break a few years before, Emma had done everything she could to get the ball rolling and keep her work steady. She’d been an assistant by day and bartender (or any odd job) by night long enough to really get her foot in the door, and Emma was not interested in turning back, even if it meant taking projects she was less than passionate about.

Which is why, even though she knew she would roll her eyes at least a hundred times during the scoring of this project, Emma set out to work straightaway, trusting her instincts and delving into that emotional layer she only ever left for music. Here, in the narrative of another story that needed a melody behind it, Emma could let herself feel the hope and the happy that these characters were clinging to. She could linger in the sadness or the angst of the most grueling parts of the would-be fairytale, and she’d dive into every range of feeling there in between to make sure that the audience got to experience this story the way they deserved. If Emma did her job well, they’d walk away from the film more fulfilled than they would have otherwise, even if it were such a tired and ridiculous trope.

But first Emma would have to bring together the best that her personal musical ability and resources could provide, and in one scene in particular towards the end, of the movie where the hero and the heroine were really meshing their lives into one solid unit, there was an opening Emma knew had to be filled by one of her best friends. Elsa would be able to work some real magic with this kind of emotion-fueled moment, and since Emma knew of no one with more command over the cello or the violin, she immediately made note to call in a favor while also getting her friend a paying gig and a shot to get her name out there too.

Emma remained tucked away in her apartment like this for hours and hours, barely taking breaks so as not to mess with her muse, but eventually the real world did come calling again. It always found a way to do so, but since Emma had taken this would be third bedroom and sound proofed it, she got to avoid it as long as could be until her roommate Ruby eventually stormed inside out of breath and looking frantic.

“Oh my God, Emma, finally! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” Ruby said as she ran into the room, leaving the door to the studio wide open as she did.

“Really?” Emma asked, not tracking how that could be possible. After all this was where Emma nearly always was. This was her haven and until she got into a more concrete phase of developing the score where a real soundboard and acoustics were required, she’d handle most everything from their apartment. Ruby should know that since they’d been roommates for so long and her best friend was always apprised of Emma’s schedule, but the look in Ruby’s eyes said she was sincere in the claims of searching forever.

“You don’t know,” Ruby said with a sense of awe. “There’s no way you could know and be this calm.”

“I don’t know what?” Emma asked, a bit of dread beginning to creep into her mind until Ruby shoved her phone in front of Emma and Emma looked down trying to make heads or tails of her friend’s outburst.

Yet what Emma found staring back at her was something she couldn’t comprehend at first. She was looking at a website she’d frequented once a day for quite some time, the one that kept everyone apprised of the happenings in the movie and television industry, and today’s updates announced Academy Award nominations. Ruby had already opened to the select webpage for scoring recognition, but there, underneath four incredibly familiar and influential names, who had all inspired Emma in some way or another, was a name that shouldn’t have been there – her name. Emma blinked a few times, truly believing it was a trick of the light or some too-vivid daydream, but there it remained, a line boasting her name and the title of a movie she’d helped score that did well on the festival track but wasn’t supposed to be getting this kind of attention: Emma Swan, Murder in Misthaven.

“Okay, very funny Ruby,” Emma said, not remotely believing that this could be real. This had to be a prank. Things like this just didn’t happen and Emma hadn’t gotten this far in life by being gullible or easily taken in. If it were a smaller scale award then perhaps she’d have given this some credence, but an Oscar nomination out of nowhere? There wasn’t a chance that could happen, not even in the fairytale stories she sometimes had to score. “Let me guess, you got one of those nerdy guys who hit on you in the production unit of that set you were on last week to do this, right?”

“No, Ems, this is real. It’s not a joke or a prank. This is happening!”

Emma still didn’t believe that at all and she found it pretty comical that Ruby would even try to pull off a con like this. It was ballsy for sure, and a less confident person would have felt badly when it ended up not proving true, but Emma could see the humor in it. Still she did have to give it to her friend. Ruby’s acting skills were truly top notch since Emma couldn’t gauge a single element of her lying. Ruby’s face had no tell and her voice rang out with an honesty that was amazing. But Emma wouldn’t cave to such a fantasy. Instead she kept laughing, convinced there was no possible way this could be real. Then her phone started ringing and Emma accepted the video call almost absentmindedly.

“Hello?”

“Ah, there you are! God, of all days to be in that studio with no service! The Wicked Witch is in today and I couldn’t get a hold of you to say congratulations, Emma! You did it, honey! You really really did it!!”

Emma’s other best friend and agent Mary Margaret yelled the happy announcement through the phone and Emma’s jaw dropped. Holy shit! This was actually happening? It had to be, right? Because there was no way that Mary Margaret would ever make a joke like this one. She had too soft a heart to mess with someone when it came to their dreams like that, and she’d be the level headed friend who reined Ruby in if she ever got whiff of such a prank happening.

“I did?” Emma asked, still flabbergasted and then Ruby’s arms were wrapped around her and Emma could hear the shrieking of three voices, those of her friends and that of herself. She was so excited there were just no words, no words at all. Holy crap she’d really done it!

“I mean we so totally knew this was coming,” Ruby said when they’d all reclaimed their breath after the celebratory screeching. “That script could have been written by a five year old, and the acting was just awful, but you made that movie, Ems. It was all you!”

“Absolutely!” Mary Margaret agreed. “The top name on those credits should have been Emma Swan, one hundred percent. But…”

“That’s the business,” all the friends chorused together and then broke out laughing again at the ridiculous cliché of Los Angeles that somehow always seemed to prove true.

“So what do I do?” Emma asked, still totally shocked. “I mean, like, what happens next?”

“You blow up into a huge star!” Ruby exclaimed with big hand gestures and all the drama of a theater kid. “But you know, like in a sound design way, not a People magazine cover kind of way." 

“Thank God,” Emma said to herself totally serious. She would hate that kind of life, constantly in the public eye and being hounded by paparazzi. That kind of lifestyle was Ruby’s dream, not Emma’s, and Emma was glad to leave that lack of privacy to her friend entirely. “But like job wise… how do we think this changes things?”

“Totally and completely,” Mary Margaret said before flashing her phone at the web cam she was using. “I’ve already fielded a dozen concrete offers for you and it’s been less than two hours.”

“Seriously?!” Emma asked excitedly. Damn, and here she was used to getting maybe five reasonably paying contracts in an entire year. A dozen actually felt like a big time improvement.

“Yup, and this is nothing. According to Ariel on the third floor, the big fish don’t come calling for another week. God this is the best day! First Killian Jones gets traded for the year to the Galaxy and then you get a freaking Oscar nomination. I think I’m honestly still dreaming.”

“Killian Jones?” Emma asked, not knowing that name in the slightest and definitely not getting how he fit into conversation about her own career achievement. She looked to Ruby for guidance and Ruby gave a dramatic stage whisper in reply.

“He’s an admittedly hot soccer player from the UK,” Ruby said and that was explanation enough.

If it had to do with soccer, or football as the rest of the world called it (which was super confusing to Emma since wasn’t there already a football?), than Mary Margaret was in the know. It was her one real vice, being totally and completely caught up in all the hot gossip and drama of the sport. It was funny though because most people in this town were fixated on the glitz and glam of Hollywood and the stars who flocked here. Mary Margaret, meanwhile, was focused on the world’s favorite sport that didn’t really track in the U.S. In fact, she was kind of dorky about it but Emma always saw that passion and encouraged it. Everyone should have something they felt that strongly about, and for Mary Margaret it just happened to be watching men kick a ball across some grass.

“He’s not just any soccer player,” Mary Margaret said firmly. “He’s the soccer player. No one’s got more talent then him at striker. Literally no one.”

“And boy does he know it from what I’ve heard. Total bad boy, and strangely prone to black leather jackets,” Ruby said with a gleam in her eyes. “But he is also totally irrelevant to this moment, Mary Margaret. Focus up!”

“Sorry, you’re right. Just - gah! Such a good day,” Mary Margaret said before changing gears. “Okay, I have forty more minutes where I’m trapped here but then I’m free and I can drag Belle from that pile of books she’s burning a hole through so we can go out and really celebrate!”

“I’ll call Elsa and Anna,” Ruby said immediately and though normally Emma would have wanted to avoid a big night out, she had to admit that it felt right. What better time to go all out then when she’d been nominated for the highest honor of… well any honor she could ever get? The answer was never, so tonight she was celebrating as hard as she could.

“Is this really happening?” Emma asked once Ruby and Mary Margaret had sorted things out and ended the call, and Ruby immediately smiled at Emma and nodded.

“Yeah, Ems. This is your life – now let’s get out there and live it.”

Post-Note: So like I said, the chapters are shorter (and as such I’m returning to my old story style) and most chapters will have just one POV from Emma or Killian, though there will be some exceptions. This story is obviously a bit different than ones I have done before too, and I am very excited to write Killian as more of a bad boy (or at least a perceived bad boy). He’s not a villain, but definitely a player, until he meets Emma of course. Anyway thanks to all of you for reading and I hope you’ll tune in next time to see what happens next!!

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A/N: Hey all! So first and foremost want to thank you very kind people who have already liked, followed, and commented on this story! Your support and enthusiasm has been awesome, and I hope you continue to enjoy. As promised, this chapter we are switching over to Killian’s POV and seeing where exactly he is at. Let’s just say it’s not as glamorous as Emma’s world at the moment. Anyway, hope you all enjoy and let me know what you think!

Waking up from an almost deathlike sleep to the splitting pain that was currently slicing at his temples, Killian Jones felt the need to groan but couldn’t muster the strength. Bloody hell this was awful, easily the worst hangover he’d had in years, and how he had gotten to this state he couldn’t recall. How had he possibly drunken himself into such a stupor as to feel this terrible?

Last night was a blank, but slowly the pieces trickled back to him even as he fought off the instinct to open his eyes. He’d been trying to forget about his current tale of woe and had ended up at his favorite spot across the city. They had the best rum he could get outside of his own personal collection and a reputation for a discrete staff, but something had happened. He tried to remember what it was and then the words rang out in his head.

“This is you, right?” A young woman he originally believed to be a waitress had asked, pulling out a tabloid rag that claimed he wasn’t just using performance enhancing drugs but hard stuff, stuff on the street that killed and killed quick.

It was all lies, rubbish in full, but he’d seen red because… well, what could he say? He hadn’t the proof to exonerate himself. He couldn’t just piss in a cup and prove his innocence, and it infuriated him to be so powerless. Besides, if today the story were drugs, tomorrow would be inappropriate women or sexual fetishes. Then it would be on to secret families and children, maybe some money laundering for the mob, and perhaps an embarrassing tell all about his skills in the bedroom just for good measure. The onslaught of bad press he was suffering these past few months was relentless and Killian had no means to stop any of it, leaving him feeling frayed and more than frustrated. Then he’d seen the flash of a camera and realized somehow a photographer had gotten in and that the woman who had saddled up to him was too close for comfort and he lost it. Would he never get a moment of peace again?

From there the details were hazy. He’d been whisked away by his security, a charmingly named giant of a man called Tiny, before he could get himself into any real trouble (though it was close when he moved to punch the pap square in his ugly face). But he’d ended up back here and then Killian had done what he was beginning to do too much of these days – he’d poured himself a glass of liquid fire and then another and another until he was obliterated enough to crash. Now he was regretting that idea in the realest way, and as he opened his eyes to the too harsh light, a part of him wondered how he’d turned into this man. He should have been better than this, but alas here he was, wasting himself away in the style of the one person he hated most of all.

Before he could think at length of painful childhood memories and the disappointment made flesh that was his father, Killian pushed himself upwards and tried his best to act human. He showered, he changed, he looked a piece of toast in the eye for quite a while unsure if he could eat it, and he was about to go back to bed and call it a wash of a day when the front door to his place swung open. In walked his brother dressed in a pristinely tailored suit, not giving a damn that it was a weekend or that Killian surely would have no such apparel to be sporting in kind. Leave it to Liam to turn up just as Killian began to believe he was in the clear, but any hope of his evading the disappointment of his brother was cut down as Liam stared at Killian with a look that so effortlessly mixed pity with barely reined in frustration.

A standoff between the two brothers ensued then where neither man spoke or made any sudden movements. Killian knew if he waited long enough even the ever-silent and constantly composed Liam Jones would eventually break, and it wasn’t hard for him to keep from speaking either since each time Killian tried the sound echoed around in his head and made the dull throb of his hangover roar into something more. But it was difficult as the seconds ticked by to keep his mouth shut and Killian watched his brother harden a little more with each passing moment. Liam had come in here with some kind of hope it seemed, hope that he’d been misinformed about last night and that he’d show up to a less unsettling scene, but Killian had lived up to the bad expectations yet again and if that wasn’t oh so bloody typical he didn’t know what was.

“You’re still breathing,” Liam finally said and Killian waved his hand over his chest as he inhaled and let the breath go with a bit more sarcasm than his brother deserved, but Liam ignored it. “Well that’s something at least.”

“It’s the little things you know,” Killian barked out, less as a joke than as a jab, but Liam didn’t take the bait even if something flickered in his eyes like the tiniest bit of amusement. Anyone else would have missed it, but Killian saw that in another situation when things weren’t quite so ugly, Liam would have laughed at that.

“And last night… would you call that a ‘little thing’ as well?”

“Could have been worse,” Killian replied and now Liam did laugh but the sound lacked all humor.

“Right. Hold on to that thought,” Liam said as he pulled out an envelope from the lining of his suit and handed it over to Killian. Killian eyed it warily and then put down the coffee he’d managed to half choke down as he opened it and blinked a few times.

“What’s this?” Killian asked looking at the plane ticket in his hand. Flying from Heathrow to LAX? Why in God’s name was he heading to LA?

That is your future. Pack what you need, brother, because you leave in two hours.” Liam said the words with no hint in his inflection that he was anything but serious even as he said the most ridiculous thing Killian had ever heard uttered aloud.

“Ha! That’s rich. I have to give you credit, brother. I thought your sense of humor had long since died. But this… this is a prime joke indeed.”

“It’s no joke, Killian. You’re on the next plane out. I got the call from the club this morning. You’re done, finished, or rather, they’re finished with you.”

Dread crept into Killian’s veins even as he didn’t believe what his brother was saying. There was no way. There was just no way that a team – his team – would throw him to the wayside over this. It didn’t make any sense. Nothing he’d done could merit kicking the best player bar none off of the team in a year like this when the competition was stiff. It had to be a joke, but Liam wasn’t cruel enough to say things like this to him. Was he?

“Done?” Killian repeated, still not meeting Liam’s gaze.

“For now,” Liam said, though his words were hardly hopeful as he delivered them. “You’re too much of a liability to them at the moment, leading scorer in the league or not. But you’ve got one last chance to make it right. You clean up your act with a season of nothing but a spotty clean appearance in the States and then you get to come back.”

“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me!”

The words were out of Killian’s mouth before he could think the better of them. Not that he would have changed his phrasing. He was pissed as all hell, and his brother was damn well going to know it. As Killian’s manager it was Liam’s job to protect Killian’s interests, and this felt like the opposite of that. During his career Killian had made a killing, putting enough money away in contracts, endorsements, and bonuses to mean that none of that mattered anymore. All that mattered was the game, and the game was hardly played at a level worth Killian’s time in America. He wasn’t going to take this shit lying down and accept that his newfound fate required taking everything he’d worked his whole life for and tossing it out the window.

Killian had been building towards this career and making a life from the game he used to adore for decades, almost since he was old enough to walk. As a boy he’d been adamant that football was for him. All he wanted was to play the sport that everyone he knew loved and rooted for, but the most important person to Killian who actually played was his elder brother. Liam had always been Killian’s role model and guide in everything. He’d been every bit of inspiration Killian needed first when they were at school and then when Liam got his own shot at the pros himself. But when injury sidelined Liam and grief struck their family as they both lost their mother, Liam’s role had shifted. He’d moved to guardian and then manager and became the constant voice of reason that Killian needed. Where Killian lived life in a reactionary, organic, and oftentimes too genuine way, Liam was levelheaded. He was the smart one, and Killian was the one who kicked a ball around a pitch and looked pretty so as to keep his name on the list of most desirable players in the world and prolong his time playing the world’s favorite game.

Now though the charm and the wit and the lopsided grin that used to be just as valuable as his skill on the field weren’t working in his favor. Because it didn’t matter that Killian still had the best stats in the game for successful goals or assists. All that mattered was his name was being dragged through the mud and in a last ditch attempt to spare Killian’s already dampened reputation, he was being shipped off to the MLS, a shit storm of mediocrity over in America where they didn’t even have the bloody sense to call the game football. Soccer. God, it was ridiculous!

“I am deadly serious, brother, and it’s time you got serious too. The only reason any of this is even happening is because you can’t get yourself together. You need to man up and take responsibility. It’s the only way you’re going to fix this.”

The terrible crimes that Killian had committed to deserve this punishment weren’t theoretically all that bad. Celebrities and famous sportsmen did far worse every single day, but Killian had crossed the line with the wrong person. He’d slighted a powerful man, a man who had the owners of nearly every decent club in Europe in his pocket, by sleeping with the man’s ex-wife. That in itself wouldn’t have been a crime, especially since he and the lady parted ways after only a brief fling, but Killian couldn’t let things just be. Instead he’d gotten far too drunk at a team event and he’d insinuated – or actually blatantly stated - that the lady had been far more pleased with Killian’s performance in the sack than she ever had been with her husband to a nearby reporter. It was stupid to be sure, and in hindsight he was more than disappointed with his own foolishness, but now all these months later he was paying the price, a price that in his mind was far too steep to be fair.

“All right, all right. Perhaps there’s some room for a change in my life, I admit. But you have to realize where I’m coming from. If this were anyone but Gold it wouldn’t be such a mess.”

“And yet it is Gold, and you knew it was Gold the moment you went after that woman,” Liam said with stern condemnation in clear as day in his tone. Only after a moment did Liam seem to think the better of the coldness. “Men like that are low, Killian. Hell, they’re lower than low. They don’t have honor and they don’t fight fair, but you have to keep your head above the water line, or you give the enemy every chance to take you out. You have to be smart, instead of risking all you’ve worked for on things and people that just don’t bloody matter.”

Killian dropped down to the chair in his too-large living room with the full window view of the city below and put his head in his hands. He had such a headache from all of this nonsense and he was still furious, but damn if Liam wasn’t right. What point was there in fighting this when it was happening? The trade had been made, contracts had been signed, and the only chance he had of ever getting back to an actually competitive match was to suck it up and face the consequences. Nothing would be solved by moaning over his injustices to Liam, and every second that Killian continued to do so Liam would lose patience for the situation.

“But why this? I don’t understand, brother. How does my going to America fix anything?”

“It doesn’t, but it buys you a precious ally. The one person I can figure the world over who can actually check Gold in any way.”

“Such a creature exists?” Killian asked skeptically. How could they? They’d need more money than god and likely even less moral standard than the reptilian devil who was putting Killian through his metaphorical paces right now.

“She does, and she and her family’s media empire just bought the LA Galaxy. But even if she realizes you’re an asset, Regina Mills isn’t in the business of disappointment. So if you want a second chance you’re going to go there for a year, play the hero, and win that team every bloody game this season to help her build the brand she wants. When that’s done and you’ve managed to not make a fool of yourself she’ll get you back here.”

“And you trust her?” Killian asked as Liam let out another harsh laugh.

“Never. But I got it all guaranteed in writing, and gave that lawyer you’ve got on retainer something to do other than keeping those drunk and disorderly arrests off your record. It’s ironclad, and all you have to do is live up to your end of the deal.”

Killian let all of this sink in and though he still had the feeling like his stomach was twisted up in knots, there was a subtle comfort in having a plan. The past few weeks had been so bleak with all of the terrible media coverage slandering him for things that weren’t even remotely true, and it would be nice to get away from that. He’d never be happy to be shipped off to America, for that was where faded stars went to die in this game, but as long as he held firm to the fact that this wasn’t forever, he could find a way to press forward.

“It’s just one year?” he clarified.

“Aye. Just one year.”

And from there, no more words were needed. The brother’s came to a silent understanding that this was their new reality, and things shifted into motion to bring Killian from the country he’d always known to a sunny, stylized, and superficial city half way across the world that he didn’t imagine could ever compare to home. 

Post-Note: So as I said before, there’s a very clear difference between Emma’s life trajectory and Killian’s at the moment, but that won’t do anything to stop a love from forming (because after all this is one of my stories, and it’s guaranteed a certain level of gratuitous fluff). Anyway, there are a number of chapters I have already written for this story, and I am hoping to post the third chapter (where a meeting between CS will happen) in two weeks time. Hope you guys enjoyed and thank you all so much for reading!

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A/N: Hey all! So I know I said I would wait two weeks to update, but I honestly didn’t want to wait, so here we are. I actually hoped to publish this last night, but it wasn’t to be, so a Sunday update it is this week. This chapter brings the first meeting for Emma and Killian, and it does so by jumping a month into the future. Not to worry, there will be POVs from both sides this time, and as such it’s a touch longer than my other chapters so far, but next time we’ll return to the usual way of doing things. Anyway, hope you guys enjoy and thanks so much for reading!

One Month Later

It was striking to Emma just how much life could change in a single month. What she’d had before might not be comfortable per se (it certainly wasn’t as stable as she might have liked) but it was something she understood. The hustle to get a job, coupled with the time to just breathe and create as she saw fit was something she was used to, but all of that had been turned upside down. It seemed that one Oscar nomination was enough to make her a huge commodity just as Mary Margaret had expected, and it was so much so fast that, in truth, Emma didn’t really know how to handle it.

Currently she had so many things on her plate. There were two separate network pilots trying to woo her onto their teams this spring, as well as a half a dozen decent film contenders that were still all anxious for her responses, but the most glaring thing of all was that pesky award ceremony itself. Yes, the Oscars were upon them, only twenty-four hours away, and Emma had spent all month pretending they wouldn’t actually ever show up. She’d disregarded all of the things she’d need to do to prepare, and as such she was now backed into a very short timeline to make sense of all of this.

It was this time crunch and pressure that had gotten Emma to this place and to this moment, sitting in an upscale dress boutique with Ruby running point on all things fashion and beauty and poise. The attendant working with them was a friend of Ruby’s doing them a ‘monumentally huge’ favor as Ruby has referred to it, and letting Emma access one of the few remaining dresses in town to borrow for tomorrow. There were all sorts of debate on color and cut and what would look best or what would hold up in pictures versus in real life. But Emma, meanwhile, was totally checked out, overwhelmed to a point where she couldn’t comprehend any of it. She just wanted this to be over already. 

“Emma? Emma, are you listening to me?” Ruby asked as she pulled Emma’s rambling thoughts back to the show room. She hadn’t been listening and Emma shook her head to admit as much.

“Sorry. Just, a lot going on.”

“Well I mean it is the Academy Awards,” their attendant said with a flip of her hair. “We like to think we put some thought into things.”

Emma felt torn between guilt at her own absentmindedness and annoyance at this girl. Sure she was a fellow actress, and Ruby was friendly with her, at least enough to get Emma this dress, but come on. It had to be obvious that this wasn’t the part that Emma was excited for. All the cameras and the self-important people who thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread? It was a nightmare. And to top it all off she was going to end up in a confection of a dress with puffed sleeves and feathers given all the choices she’d seen so far.

“You’ll have to excuse Emma, Lily. She’s a genius, a real and honest talent, but this… this is just not her thing,” Ruby said with a sigh.

“She’s right,” Emma admitted as she gave a grateful smile to Ruby for her understanding.

“Well of course I’m right. I’m always right,” Ruby said smugly before returning to the rack and pulling out a sleek, royal blue dress that was elegant but not so flashy it would make Emma squirm. “Which is why I know that this ship has sailed and the only thing left is for me to make the choice. Emma will wear this one. It fit her perfectly and the blue will look stunning with that hair of hers.” 

“And for you?” Lily asked Ruby with a hint of humor, knowing that Emma had chosen to take Ruby as her plus one since there were absolutely no men in her life to even think of bringing.

“Honey, do you even have to ask?” Ruby joked as both women acknowledged that red would be the color of choice and they set about finding a contender. Luckily for Emma, though, Ruby had the foresight to realize that as painful as it had been for her to pick out her dress, it would be even worse to sit through Ruby picking hers. As such Ruby sent her out to enjoy the rest of her day, since they’d be starting bright and early tomorrow on hair and makeup and all the other things Emma was dreading.

Once outside of the boutique Emma felt like she could breathe again. Not because the air in Los Angelus was exceptionally clean, but because at least she finally had space away from these awards. Out here on a busy street filled with people Emma could get lost, and that was exactly what she wanted right now. Too much time spent as the center of attention had a way of messing with her head, and the further she moved from talk of dresses and lighting and the right angles to show the camera, the more she felt like herself again.

The only thing missing in this newfound state of contentment, however, was coffee. With the state of her nerves she probably shouldn’t be drinking any more caffeine, but Emma didn’t care. Nothing would calm her better than a decent mocha latte with a little extra foam and an extra shot to match. Sure she could go with just the straight cocoa, but try ordering a full fat hot cocoa in this city. The looks she got when she did were always a cross of amazed and aghast, as if the thought of real dairy and an extra chocolatey indulgence in one’s day was a swift path to hell itself.

It was little things like that about LA that always left Emma wondering if she could live here forever. Right now it was home, the place where she’d finally found her footing, and where she’d formed a family of friends who genuinely cared for her. It was the first place Emma ever felt like she belonged, but sometimes, usually when she was in the throws of writing her music or scoring a new film, she wondered if she’d actually seen enough of the world. There were places, after all, with less expectation and less attempt at glitz and glam. Somewhere she could arguably find the kind of peace she was looking for, and she wouldn’t have to hide in with the crowd. She’d just know that it was right and that she was where she should be.

These were the thoughts tumbling through her mind as Emma rounded the last corner standing between her and coffee, but they were shaken right out of her head when she ran into a foreign body. One second she was coasting on the sidewalk like she’d done a million times before, and the next she was reeling back from a harsh blow to her side. Emma immediately stopped, taking stock of herself in the aftermath and though she wasn’t badly hurt she was still startled enough to look around, seeing that where her assailant had just been, there was now a pretty expensive phone lying on the ground.

“Hey, I think you…” Emma started to say, casting a glance in the direction of the man she’d just bumped into, but the guy only kept walking, ignoring her. This didn’t sit right with Emma and the next thing she knew she was calling out to him with the only moniker she could think of. “Hey, hot stuff!”

Oh God, that was a mortifyingly bad nickname that she immediately regretted, but it was the first thing she thought of as she’d looked at him from behind. This mystery guy was dressed in dark jeans and a black leather jacket. His black hair was short, but just long enough that Emma had this unnerving thought about what it would feel like to run her fingers through it, and his form was fit. Oh jeez, fit? Was that even a word she used? She didn’t know, all she knew was that this guy peaked an interest in her without so much as a look and then he’d turned back to face her and… 

Oh shit!

……………

Thirty days had come and gone since the moment Killian touched down in Los Angeles, and in that time he’d come to a realization: anyone who claimed that this city was magical or wonderful or even decent was a right moron.

For one thing there was constant traffic. It was relentless and never ending, and that would be fine if the city were small or had a semi-functioning transit system, but it wasn’t and it didn’t, so half of Killian’s days were filled with the infuriating sense that he was stalled and stagnant when he wanted to keep moving. How was he supposed to keep busy and get through this year if he was always moving so slowly? It was madness. It was also the reason that to the best of his ability he tried to walk to anything even remotely close to the condo the team had procured for him to spend the year in.

Not that the walking seemed to help much. There was just something about this place that never felt quite right. Perhaps it was the heat and the constant sun, but Killian thought it was more about the people he seemed to run into. Everyone who wasn’t a blatant tourist was working so hard to seem above their company and to seem ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ and ‘young.’ It was frankly exhausting, and like so much about his situation it irritated Killian. In fact the only place he ever felt safe from that aura was at his place or at the stadium. At least there, playing the game he’d always known, he felt some semblance of peace.

Killian also had to admit that the team and the transition weren’t as terrible as he once anticipated. The coaching staff was surprisingly competent, led by an up and comer named Robin Locksely. The management was hands-off and actually trusting in a way that never happened back home, and as for his teammates, they were… well, surprisingly okay. Some of them were actually rather talented all things considered, and a few of them seemed to understand his disdain of the place they all resided, embodying a far more down to earth vibe than he expected at the outset. Three of them in particular, David Nolan, Graham Humbert, and Will Scarlet, had even begun to include him in things, making his previously pathetically insulated American existence a bit more versatile. Killian would hardly claim that they were all best mates, but then again he hadn’t left any real friends back home either, at least none who gave enough of a damn to reach out now when the going had gotten rough.

It was also a blessing that the extent of his notoriety didn’t seem to reach the Americas. Oh he still had that ‘bad boy’ image to be sure, but it wasn’t as classless and as gauche as everyone seemed to think it back home. No one was clutching at their pearls here, probably because this was a city bathed in scandals and the professional athletes were the least of everyone’s interest. They registered so slightly, in fact, that Killian was able to take these walks along the street almost entirely unbothered aside from the occasional person who recognized him as that ‘really good soccer guy.’ Even then people were polite, and there was never the frenzy he’d faced back home. It was almost normal, really, just a shame that he had to go to a completely non-normal city to find this kind of opportunity.

But all things considered, if this was the bulk of punishment he had to overcome, it could have been a lot worse. Killian was grateful for the strings Liam had pulled to allow Killian to land even somewhat gracefully somewhere, but pride kept Killian from telling his brother that in their daily phone chats. Instead they silently ignored the emotional implications of the whole thing, burying feelings and opinions and sticking to plans for the future in a stereotypically British manner. It was all they knew really, but it did leave Killian with a tightness in his chest that came whenever he had to hold back. That tightness had been there since this morning’s call, and despite the hope that being out in the world would ease it, Killian still felt it as he walked the neighborhood around his condo killing time before he was due at the stadium for more training.

The walk over all was largely unremarkable but that changed at one point as he rounded a corner and Killian bumped into someone. At the last minute both he and the other person moved out of the way enough to make it more a graze than a crash, and Killian noticed subconsciously that it was likely a woman given the smaller build and floral scent the impact left behind. But if the past month had taught him anything about LA manners, it was that it was best to keep his head down in a situation like this. He briefly looked back and saw that the lass was still upright and okay, mumbled a barely there apology, and then pressed on. Only it seemed that his assailant wasn’t quite done with him when she called out for him a few seconds later.

“Hey, Hot Stuff!" 

Killian wasn’t entirely sure that the voice calling out was talking to him at all, for truly anything was possible in this city and he’d already witnessed some questionable interactions, but he turned in her direction only to find a creature so unexpected he felt physically hit with the sight of her. The force of it was so much more than their knocking together a moment ago had been, and honestly nothing and no one had affected him like this, certainly not anytime in the recent past. One second he’d been resigned to it being another ordinary, if uninspiring, day and now… well now his mind was racing with so many clichéd thoughts about her being sunlight and fresh air and all the other things he usually found so rubbish in those romantic films he loathed so much.

It also struck Killian at that moment that this sudden attraction was unusual for other reasons too. From outward appearance this woman wasn’t his usual type. She was too layered up given the heat of LA right now, and her general appearance spoke to not really giving a shit how she was seen. Most of the women he’d ‘dated’ of late were constantly done up, terrified of even the possibility of being seen with a hair out of place. But if this woman’s hope was to conceal her attractiveness with a few extra garments, a hair tie, and those black-rimmed glasses of hers she was fooling herself. Stunning was too tame a term for her. She was perfection itself, an angel with the face any actress or model would kill for, and Killian was left staring at her, taking in every facet and feature and trying to memorize this unexpected vision that had stumbled into an otherwise unimpressive day.

“I think you dropped this,” she said after a moment of silence passed between them and Killian saw his phone in her extended hand. 

“Uh, thanks. Sorry, did you just refer to me as Hot Stuff?” Killian asked, testing the words out on his tongue and grinning as he did. It was a strange means of drawing his attention, but the idea that she found him in any way attractive fed a part of him he hadn’t realized was hungry. He loved the thought of her interest, and a voice in the back of his mind said that whatever he did he should keep her attention and show her he was worth giving that attention to. For some reason he didn’t want this woman to leave, which was strange since he’d never felt like he had the time or inclination to keep women around very long in his past.

“You answered, didn’t you?” she asked, her voice lacking the same assertiveness it had before and Killian could tell she was flustered even as she gave no outward signs of it. She held her ground and that show of toughness fascinated him even more. Who was this woman, and what kind of spell was she weaving over him right now?

“Aye, love. I answered your call. Men are liable to do that when sirens speak.” 

He knew the second the words were out of his mouth that they were completely over the top and that a woman like this would be less than taken in by them, but the eye roll she let loose hit the point home most ardently. Still, even in the face of her lackluster reply, Killian felt his heart skip and his body fill with the same kind of adrenaline he usually reserved for the field.

“All right, Romeo. You’ve got your phone and I’ve got places to be so…”

“Wait!” Killian said as she moved to turn, reaching out to grab her hand and the second they touched heat flared alive inside him. The zing of awareness was sharp and pleasing all in one, and though she was clearly a master of playing it cool, this mysterious woman wasn’t unaffected either. Killian heard her slight gasp as they made contact and he felt a tremble course through her that mirrored the one he was yielding to exactly.

“I’m sorry. I know that was… well it was shit wasn’t it?” He said more talking to himself than her but her lips quirked up in a half smile, which told him he should follow this instinct. “I want to thank you, for stopping me...” he looked down then at the cup of coffee she had in hand, finding what he assumed as her name written in black scrawl. “Emma. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Maybe not, but I’ve learned not to mess with the Universe. I didn’t need ‘steal a strangers phone’ on my karma list this week,” she said evenly and Killian chuckled at the humor and wit she had so readily available. He envied her something fierce. She was so appealing right now, a bearer of confidence that made her only more attractive, and he was failing to form a coherent thought that would keep the conversation going.

“Have dinner with me tonight,” he blurted out and she responded with surprise and then something that looked like regret.

“Sorry I can’t,” she muttered, though the emotion behind her statement of regret sounded sincere. “I kind of have this thing.”

“A thing?” Killian asked, unsure what to do now. This was a brushoff right? It seemed that way, but he wouldn’t know since no woman had denied him a date in… come to think of it no one had ever turned him down in all his life. “Surely a ‘thing’ can’t beat an evening out with me.”

It took all of half a second for Killian to see that this purposefully cocky joke was the wrong thing to say and suddenly this woman’s internal wall, the one that had been almost all gone when he’d said he was sorry, came right back up again. One second she was with him and the next she was gone, hardened to this idea and leaving him with a surging sense of regret in an instant. He’d thought that this was banter, but somehow, unknowingly, he’d crossed the line for her.

“Does the egotistical act ever actually work on women?” she asked critically and Killian shook his head, smiling at her fire despite the fact that he was obviously fucking this up. It didn’t make sense to keep pushing her, but he couldn’t explain it, for some reason that passion, even if it was rage instead of something more intimate stoked something in him he wanted more of.

“You’d be surprised, love. I’ve found most women enjoy a confident man, and I’ve every reason to be confident if you catch my meaning.”

As soon as her eyes narrowed, Killian knew he’d really sparked something and he felt both a profound since of joy at having her care enough to react this way and a still underlying sense that he was causing more harm than good in taking this approach. Fire, thrilling as it was, didn’t always lead to good things, and what was that old saying? There’s a thin line between love and hate, or something like that.

“Confident!” she laughed harshly. “Well that’s one way to put it. I’m sure this will shock you Mr. –,”

“Call me Killian,” he said, seemingly stunning her with his response for a moment even as she pressed on. 

“Whatever your name is, I’m not interested, okay?” she said, removing her hand from his. “And for your information, yes, this thing matters more than going out with some narcissistic jerk. Have a nice life.”

With that the woman named Emma spun around, leaving him standing there. And though it hurt to watch her go, Killian couldn’t help the smile that was etched upon his face. Call it crazy, but he was proud of her in a way, and certainly in awe of her never flinching character. She was a woman who knew her worth, and a woman who trusted her judgment, and that, along with all the other enticements he’d noticed from the start made Emma something completely out of the common way. She was a bright spot in a city that had very few of those to find, and only when he realized that he had no way of contacting her or finding her again did Killian begin to panic. He actually felt a real kind of fear at it in fact, and by then it was too late. She was gone now, off to somewhere he didn’t know and had no hope of finding and Killian had never been more furious with himself.

No, it can’t end like this, he thought to himself, and though he didn’t know just yet how he and Emma would come together again, he had to believe fate wouldn’t be so cruel. Somehow they would meet again, and when they did he’d make things right and be the man a woman like Emma deserved. He only prayed that chance would come soon, because already he was missing that fire of hers and wishing her back again despite only just having met this transfixing enigma of a lass.

Post-Note: Okay, so obviously this is hardly the end of the story and since I pride myself on being a queen of fluff, there is clearly a turn around coming. The next few chapters will include destiny stepping in to get Emma and Killian back together and you can all trust that amends will be made and second chances will be given. In the meantime though I would love to know what you all thought! As always, thanks so much for reading and I will see you with a new update in two weeks time!

Chapter Text

A/N: Hey everyone! So this chapter we are back to just an Emma POV but as I said before, the eventual reunion of Emma and Killian is coming and we will get a little taste of that here. We’re picking up a few days after the awards show, though there will be some mention of it, and Emma and her friends have all collected for a special outing. Can anyone guess what that might be given the obvious breadcrumbs I’ve provided in previous chapters? I’m sure you can. Anyway, hope you guys enjoy and thanks so much for reading!

“So if you had to guess, what does one actually wear to a soccer game?” Ruby asked Emma from the doorway of their living room. “Is this like comfy casual, or is it like that time we went to the Lakers game and didn’t get the memo?”

“Oh God I hope not,” Emma replied, recalling the time one of Ruby’s many admirers had gifted her with four tickets to a professional basketball game only for the friends to be dressed in t-shirts and surrounded by women ready for the club. It was staggering to see, especially since every man there was in fan gear and couldn’t give less of a damn, but apparently sitting in the good seats at the Staples Center demanded more fabulocity than any of them realized. “Mary Margaret mentioned she’s wearing her jersey so I would assume it’s pretty normal.”

“Thank God,” Ruby exhaled with just a touch of drama. “I love a good excuse to dress up, but I think Sunday was enough glam for one week.”

Emma totally agreed with her there, thinking back to what was probably the biggest night of her career so far and the culture shock it had been. Not even forty-eight hours ago Emma and Ruby had been standing at the center of one of the glitziest nights of the Los Angeles year, the Academy Awards. It was the talk of the town and ‘everybody who was anybody’ was there. In some ways it had been fascinating, to see what kind of process went into making a show that would be watched by millions across the country, and even at the most trying of moments Emma had felt the honor of being nominated amongst some really impressive professionals. But in her heart Emma hadn’t been all that impressed and she certainly wouldn’t consider it a fun outing.

If anything the tiers of importance that this industry boasted had been too fully on display to ever feel really comfortable. There were the people who were deemed worthy, like the big time actors and directors, and then there were the others, people who had worked just as hard if not harder on their craft but who didn’t get the same kind of attention. Emma had born witness to that as the hours of the evening progressed, and though she never wanted the kind of fame that would come from those more public roles, Emma still felt the not so subtle tension. There was a complete lack of balance on display there, and that underlying strain was all the more awkward when everyone was dressed to the nines, networking and mingling, and drinking champagne for hours with no actual food provided by the venue.

From Emma’s estimation, most of the people in her particular field would agree with her assessment that award shows weren’t the most rewarding part of this work. No one entered the business of scoring movies for the prestige and fan adoration, but there had been one person at her table who loved every moment of the evening and that was Ruby. In that at least Emma had been fully content, because even if she felt kind of ridiculous sitting there, Ruby had made the evening as fun and enjoyable as she could. The commentary she’d let loose throughout the telecast and the rest of the awards was filled with her usual biting humor and Ruby also made friends very easily, breaking the ice for Emma and letting her feel far more at ease than she ever would have felt on her own.

“Honestly that was enough glam for a lifetime,” Emma replied and Ruby rolled her eyes at the thought, making Emma smile. Knowing her roommate there would be some other Hollywood event Emma was dragged to in the coming weeks that, while not so extravagant, would require a level of presentability above her normal attire. And though Emma feigned like it was torture, she’d still go to support Ruby no matter what because that was what best friends did.

“Clearly we have to find you some new hobbies like Mary Margaret’s. You would think this preview game was bigger than the Oscars she’s that freaking excited. I mean honestly, the way she makes it sound she had a better chance of winning the lottery than scoring these tickets.”

“Well whatever the chances were, one thing is for certain – she is going to kill us if we’re late and I’m not ready to face the wrath of Mary Margaret, are you?”

Emma’s question inspired Ruby to actually get moving, and luckily just the thought of their usually chipper friend’s anger and disappointment was enough to get them up and out of the apartment in a timely fashion. The universe appeared to be on their side the whole way there too since traffic was light and parking was blessedly easy to find, but it became more and more clear as Emma and Ruby made their way to the stadium that this wasn’t the boring, basic practice they were expecting. This place was packed with people and Emma for one was shocked given how little enthusiasm most people in America seemed to have for the sport.

“Jesus, this is actual mayhem,” Ruby said at one point as she scanned the crowds for Mary Margaret and their other friend Belle. “I’m actually kind of digging it.”

“Of course you are,” Emma replied with a smirk and a shake of her head. “You live for chaos.”

“Well yeah, I mean it makes for a great story, and what is an actress if not a storyteller?”

“What is she indeed,” Emma laughed before spotting her other friends across the way and pulling Ruby along with her. It took a bit of time, but once they were all united, Emma was happy for it and glad to see they still had sufficient time to get into the park and to their seats. She was also astonished at just how exuberant Mary Margaret was. Her friend was typically an excitable person, but she was practically buzzing with energy today and her smile was infectious, like watching a kid experience their first candy store or opening presents on Christmas.

“Emma! Ruby! You made it! Oh my gosh - I mean this is just so far beyond awesome! I can’t believe we’re really here. We are really here!”

“Has she been like this all morning?” Emma asked Belle after hugging her friends in greeting and Belle nodded.

“Oh yeah. It’s been a solid twenty four hours of sports references I do not understand and actual squeals of delight.”

“You’re kidding,” Emma said, looking back to Mary Margaret who was now chatting Ruby’s ear off as they headed through the gate after scanning their tickets and being admitted inside.

“Remember when the last Harry Potter book came out and I completely lost my cool?” Belle asked, reminding Emma of another enjoyable evening in the early years of their friendship as she nodded. “It’s been worse than that. She makes me look like a casual Rowling reader.”

“Wow. So we’re really in for something today, huh? It would help if I knew anything about soccer. They kick the ball into the net right?”

“Emma!” Mary Margaret chastised, having now started listening to the conversation and Emma laughed heartily at that.

“Mary Margaret I’m kidding. I know soccer, okay? At least enough to get by. Trust me, after all these years of being your friend I’ve picked up on some stuff.”

“Well that makes one of us,” Belle said with a sigh. “I swear all I’ve got at this point is ‘Killian Jones is the best player in the world,’ and that’s because I heard it on repeat almost nonstop for the past month.”

Emma found herself stumbling a bit at the mention of the team’s star player, not because there was anything obstructing her path, but because that name meant something to her. Killian – now how common a name could that really be? She’d never met someone with the name before that she could recall, but only the other day she’d run into someone – someone who had made Emma feel something she hadn’t felt in a long time – and he too was named Killian. It felt like a very small world all of a sudden, but Emma shook it off, knowing rationally that there was no chance in hell they would ever be the same guy. Soccer stars, and international ones at that, did not gallivant around LA in leather jackets and shades. They just didn’t… right?

“You joke Belle, but you’re all going to see exactly what I mean once this game starts,” Mary Margaret said after finding their seats, which were surprisingly fantastic, and leading them all into the stands. “We already had a good team, a strong showing for the MLS, but with Jones… there will be no stopping us and maybe we’ll actually win a damn tournament for once!”

“Aren’t there only like twenty American teams? How bad can they really be?” Emma asked. “Also didn’t they just win that tournament thingy a few years ago?”

“Yeah but that was just the MLS cup. There’s international rankings we never qualify for and… really when you think about it anything but being number one is less than the best,” Mary Margaret said casually. “And they could be the best.”

“God I love when you get crazy competitive,” Ruby said with a genuine sense of happiness. “It means we get to scream our heads off all game and be totally nuts. It’ll also help me prep for that audition I’m doing next week. I’m supposed to be a jilted lover and I mean rage is rage right?”

“Oh yeah,” Emma agreed. “Just wait for a ref to give a bad call and Mary Margaret will give you all the character notes you need.”

Soon thereafter the stadium began to get more active. The people in charge of getting the place ready came out as practice prep began, but Emma was content to chat with her friends as Mary Margaret randomly threw in statistics here and there about assists and scoring and defensive tackles. It mostly went in one ear and out the other for Emma, but then something shifted and Mary Margaret was totally animated again.

“Oh my god, here they come!” 

The friends turned in the direction of the tunnel through which the teams were exiting, and Emma noted the clear athleticism on display here. Soccer players might not be as big and bulky as football or hockey players, but Emma knew once this game started they’d be sprinting all over the place and playing to impress. No one got to this level, American league or not, and didn’t have talent and she was excited to see that even if she didn’t have nearly as much invested in this as Mary Margaret. As she scanned the oncoming players though, one particular man on the field caught her eye and her heart clenched tightly in her chest in the moment just before recognition set in.

Holy shit that’s him! That’s Killian! Emma thought to herself as her body flooded with a newfound sense of anticipation. Her hands began to shake and her pulse picked up its pace as she stood there, taking in a man who was little more than a stranger but who Emma hadn’t been able to forget since the moment they met. Out here on the field he looked different than he had on the street, but the uniform didn’t do anything to undermine his appeal. If anything Emma was more aware of how handsome he was now, noting the way that he appeared natural and at ease even with the eyes of thousands of people watching him right now.

“I can’t believe it’s really him!” Mary Margaret yelped as she grabbed Emma’s hand. “Killian Jones in the flesh. Can you believe it?”

“I can’t,” Emma whispered, and she meant it to. She hadn’t imagined it possible, but there was no denying it now, her Killian and the Killian Jones of international soccer renown were the same person. Well no wonder he’d thought a date with him was God’s gift – he’d probably never been turned down in his life. His good looks alone were enough to tempt anybody, but throw in the money and the fame and… well let’s just say Emma could understand that level of cockiness he’d tossed her way before.

“Mm, Mm, Mm. Those pictures do not do that man justice. He is h-o-t hot!” Ruby said with a wolfish grin. “But to be fair, they’re all hot.” 

“Yeah they are,” Belle agreed. “You should have told us Mary Margaret! I would have been watching soccer with you way sooner if I’d known.”

Mary Margaret harrumphed at the joke and instead changed the subject to the game ahead and the stakes before them. They were playing one of their top rivals in the league, and apparently that was important because of blah blah blah, but try as she might Emma couldn’t pay attention. In fact, she couldn’t even seem to tear her gaze away from the field. She was instead watching Killian and trying to wrap her brain around how this was really happening. How had she flirted and ultimately turned down a guy like this without knowing? And why did she feel in her gut right now (and pretty much ever since the incident) that she wished things had gone differently than they had?

At that very moment something even more remarkable than his being there happened. As if she’s summoned him with her thoughts, Killian turned in her direction, and even though she was in a sea of people, she knew that he saw her. Their gazes caught and here she was all over again getting sucked into the mysterious force from this man that called to her. She felt exposed like this, as if he could see her fully, past all the walls and guards she put up to the world, but somehow she wasn’t afraid of it. Because the look in his blue eyes right now wasn’t arrogant or resentful – it was earnest and kind. He seemed softer now, but that intensity remained and Emma was drawn to it, wanting this strange sort of reunion to be happening anywhere else where they could actually do something more than look at one another in shock and wonder.

“Emma, are you okay?” Ruby asked, pulling Emma’s attention from the field and Emma looked over at Ruby, trying to put on a poker face, but through some sort of best friend ESP, and through looking in the direction Emma had been staring, Ruby made the connection of what Emma was going through. “Wait, that’s Killian?! Your Killian? The guy you-,”

“Yes, Ruby, that’s him,” Emma said, interrupting what would no doubt be lengthy commentary about Emma’s confession to her friends about the interaction she and Killian had on the street.

“No wonder you’ve been all moody and quiet. How did you possibly turn him down?” her friend asked, pretending to fan herself as she glanced back at the field.

“He was an ass. Totally full of himself, arrogant, basically everything wrong with men,” Emma said, but even as the words floated out into the air she felt a twinge of doubt.

Had he really been that bad? Or had he been flirting with her and just chosen the wrong thing to say? Lord knew she’d been called overly sensitive a time or two, but she’d never given that criticism any thought. Now though she wondered at her own actions and that instinct to judge and write him off. Excessive cockiness or not that spark was still there. Even all the way across this field Emma felt wrapped up in just the sight of him, and that look in his eye that he kept sending her way… well it was clear his interest hadn’t dried up at all.

“Well Ems, he’s rich, famous, and hot. Given those qualifications, when is the last time you think a woman said no to him?”

“Never,” all the friends agreed at the same time.

“Still that’s no excuse,” Emma said, sticking firm to the belief that guys who showed colors like that were best avoided given her track record.

“No, it’s not,” Mary Margaret acknowledged. “But maybe you caught him on a bad day or something?”

Emma could hear her friend trying to be positive about what was likely totally typical behavior for this man. Despite what he made her feel, Killian Jones was a player, at least if the little she’d listened to was true. Ruby had hit the nail on the head with all those aspects of him that would appeal to people, but their meeting indicated that he had a sense of entitlement because of it that Emma couldn’t stand. Still even at his worst Emma had this niggling sense that she wasn’t seeing him fully. It hadn’t felt right that he acted that way given the start of their conversation, and though her sort of superpower usually only extended to telling if someone was lying, she hadn’t been able to shake the idea that there was more to Killian than a lot of hot air and sweet nothings. It was those eyes of his – they’d conveyed something to her that made her heart skip and butterflies appear out of nowhere. It was totally terrifying, but at the beginning of their interlude she’d been brave enough to stay, because scary as it was it also felt so incredibly promising.

“Doesn’t matter now,” Emma said resolutely after shaking her head. “Because it was a one time thing.”

“You keep telling yourself that, girl.” Ruby taunted playfully as Emma ripped her eyes back from the field and turned towards her friends who all looked pleased as punch at having just witnessed her overt ogling of the pride and joy of the LA Galaxy. “Damn, this is going to be so good. There’s no way he’s letting you go now.”

Emma tried to shake that comment off, but as the game began and Emma watched the match with rapt attention she had to say she agreed with Ruby’s assessment. Try as she might to deny Killian’s lingering interest, there was more than a couple of too-long glances in her direction cast during the game, and every time their gazes met Emma could feel the plea behind his look. She honestly swore she could hear his voice in her head it was so clear:

Just give me one more chance, love. I swear you won’t regret it.

And funnily enough Emma didn’t think she would. She just had to figure out when to tell him as much, and with her scheming friends at her side, she was pretty assured that an opportunity would present itself if only she were patient.

Post-Note: Okay so I know it’s not fair to kind of leave this dangling as is, but what can I say? I’ve been missing these shorter chapter story styles and given my current lack of ability to write it seems like the safest bet to getting the story out there at a regular pace. Not to worry though – next chapter we’ll pick up right here only from Killian’s point of view. You can expect an actual meeting then and I’ll be giving Killian his second chance at making a better impression with his Swan. Expect the fluff to come and then we’ll get to the cuteness of dating and all that fun stuff. Anyway hope you guys liked it chapter and let me know what you thought!

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello again, all! This chapter, as you might have expected, brings us right back into the fray of game day. We are picking up with Killian’s POV and though there’s a bit about the game, the bulk of the chapter has to do with the actual reuniting of Emma and Killian. I’ve been looking forward to this as I have been writing (and I am really excited to get to the fluff that will be possible hereafter), but I hope that you all enjoy and thanks so much for reading!

“All right guys, that was a solid first half. We came out strong and gave Graham very little to contend with which is always good.”

The team chuckled at their coach, Robin Locksley’s, words, all of them agreeing that it was best to keep the ball away from their own goal tender as much as possible. The less time they spent on their side of the field the better.

“That’s not to say we’ve been perfect,” Robin hedged, “I mean really, Scarlet, that tackle? He barely grazed you and you acted like you’d lost a limb.”

More laughter spread through the locker room as Will Scarlet, one of their mid-defenders, scowled at their coach’s jab. Killian was right there with them, thinking back to the show of dramatics that his new teammate had displayed which belonged in the European leagues or a World Cup match more than it did here. The Americans, for the most part, seemed intent on playing the game, not putting on a show with the hopes of procuring some reward or other.

“Oi, I’m just playing the part, mate! Not my fault you Americans can’t see the strategy in playing up a hit. Besides, Arthur King’s a wanker. I was hoping they’d card him.” 

“You realize Coach isn’t actually American, right?” David whispered to Will who just shrugged.

“He’s internalized it, man. He’s completely lost his roots.” More laughter followed the ridiculous assertion.

“Question of my roots aside,” Robin said, trying to retake control of the team meeting, “I think we can all pick it up a bit this half. They’re losing steam out there. Not that you can blame them when Killian has them running all over creation.”

“Seriously, dude,” one of their fellow teammates and a younger American recruit on the team, Gus, said with a tone of appreciation. “You’re like a machine out there. We knew you were good, but not that good.”

Killian gave a slight nod of acknowledgement, knowing that he’d had a great start to the game. Two goals scored despite the obscene amount of coverage he was getting from the other side was nothing to be discouraged about, but Killian also felt he could do better. The next half was a new slate on which to make his mark and he had every intention of leaving that field tonight with a solid victory for the Galaxy and a sterling representation of his skill set for all to see. This would be a season of proving himself again, of reminding people of his talent with the ball on a pitch, and trying to erase the baggage and toxicity that had been thrown his way the past few months.

That being said, Killian couldn’t actually recall the last time a mere exposition game had left him feeling this charged and eager to succeed. Then again the setting had little to do with his emotional state. Surely the match itself was of some importance, for despite his deserving a spot in a more premiere league, Killian wanted to succeed for his sake and the sake of his teammates. But the game itself felt less significant than the unexpected twist of fate awaiting him in the stands.

And what a twist it had been. One moment he’d been focused on his pregame warm ups, sticking to his usual habits for the sake of ritual, and then he’d felt something. There was a split second before he’d seen her where he just knew that Emma was there, and then their eyes met across the field and all thoughts of blocking out the world to focus on the game were gone. His mind was racing a mile a minute with all kinds of thoughts, but the most prominent among them was how could he possibly have gotten this lucky? Here he was struggling the past few days since their chance meeting, trying to figure out how he could get in touch with this intriguing woman again just knowing her face and her first name, and not forty-eight hours later she’d just so happened to walk into his stadium, looking every bit as beautiful as she had that first afternoon.

“Well it doesn’t hurt that he’s got a bit more motivation than the rest of us,” Graham said as he strapped his keeper gloves back on, slapping Killian on the back and pushing out those thoughts of Emma. “Didn’t you all see the girl he’s been staring at?”

The cacophony of responses in the locker room was near deafening with hoots and hollers and different childish variations of ‘Killian’s got a girl!’ circulating about, but Killian still tried to play it cool despite not loving that he was completely figured out so easily. He hazarded a glance at David, the only one of his mates who had mentioned anything on the field, but Killian turned away from his meddling if well-meaning friend shortly thereafter. All game long David had been making subtle jokes about Killian’s being smitten, and it had taken Killian’s eventual confession that this was the same girl from the street a few days ago before David sobered up. 

“Wait, that’s Emma?” David asked as they both caught a breather on the sidelines to get some water and catch their breath, the tone of laughter falling to the wayside as David scanned the crowd again to get a better look. “Your Emma?”

“Aye,” Killian had acknowledged, incapable of not looking back over to where she sat in the stands with her friends. She hadn’t noticed his attentions at this particular moment yet (as she had most times he snuck a glance up to this point) and he took the chance to really soak her in, watching her laugh at something one of her companions had said and feeling his gut clench at the sight. God she was beautiful, dressed for a game and a casual evening out with people who clearly meant the world to her, and he was a right moron for ever having mucked up his chance with her in the first place. He would not be so foolish again, that was for damn sure.

“Huh. Wait she’s not the one with all the team gear on, right?” David asked, his tone suddenly a bit more terse than it had been only moments before.

“Uh… no?” Killian said looking back at his new friend and finding a familiar look etched on his face. Ha! Here was David berating him for being smitten, but it seemed one of Emma’s friends had caught his eye too. Would wonders ever cease? “Why, do you know her?”

“Not yet,” David said with a grin. “But once you make it right with Emma I’ll have my in. So you should really get a move on.”

“Is this going to be a problem, Killian?” Robin asked him privately, pulling Killian from the stream of memories. It was clear their coach did not want to draw attention with the other players, probably because Killian had made one direct request when he moved to this team: he didn’t want the details of his coming here aired all over the place. Robin knew about Gold and the PR standoff, but the less people that were in the loop on the nightmare of Killian’s personal life the better.

“No, sir,” Killian replied with complete certainty. After all, he might not know Emma very well, but he could trust his instincts enough to know that she wasn’t anything like a problem. In fact, she might just be the answer to all the ones he’d faced before, but Killian was getting ahead of himself. First he had a game to win and then he could try to start and win the girl.

“Fantastic. I never was particularly good at the whole lecturing thing, and as long as you keep playing as you have I see no reason to learn now. And if Regina asks, because she always does, I’ll just tell her I trust you and that’ll be that.”

Robin made it sound like the easiest of tasks to reason with Regina Mills, their fearless and fearsome team owner. Regina was a woman seen pretty much the world over as being a hard ass who was brilliant at business but stubborn as an ox. Yet Killian knew Robin meant what he said and that his coach did have an inexplicable sway with the team’s owner. To this point Killian hadn’t seen anything that crossed professional boundaries between them, but the dynamic they had was so startlingly different than any other of Regina’s that Killian had seen that he had to hold it in high esteem. Keeping his hard bought ally happy was important after all, and it turned out the best option for managing that ally was staying on good terms with his coach.

“No offense, but I must have missed that part in my contract that said I had to run potential dates by the Queen,” Killian joked, trying to keep the mood light by using the team’s nickname for Regina. Robin replied with a blank face.

“Section six, clause C of your contract.” Killian’s jaw was set to drop at that. Bloody hell! Had he really signed something so ridiculous?! But then Robin’s stony face broke into a grin and he shook his head. “No, I’m messing with you. Just remember Regina’s an observant woman, and she’s hardly known for being subtle. When she finds out you’re seeing anyone, seriously or not, she’ll stick her nose in it without shame. Is this girl worth that?”

A call on Robin’s attention interrupted their conversation, but as his coach walked away Killian admitted to himself that yes, Emma was worth any hardship that might come to him for seeking out time with her. Technically this was supposed to be a year of lying low, but instinctively Killian knew that Emma wouldn’t be a threat to that. If anything he’d seen that look in her sparkling green eyes today that spoke to her unease at his being somewhat famous. When it dawned on her that he was a professional athlete, some things seemed to click into place, but Killian wanted to prove those assumptions wrong. He was more than the stereotype; at least he was at his core. Perhaps Killian had indulged in the frivolity of his fame at times, yes, but he was different now, or at least he wanted to be. Suddenly there was a real motivation to be better than he once was, and as he and the team headed back out for the second half of their match, Killian clung to that desire to improve.

That aspiration proved a very powerful tool, and the team won the match in the end 5-1, which had everyone in the best of spirits. Yet as his teammates celebrated, Killian couldn’t manage to ride that high with the others. All he could think through the end of game talk and their time getting cleaned up was that he had to find a way to get to Emma. He didn’t dare to dream that she’d have stuck around this long after the game since more than a half an hour had come and gone, but he had been meticulous in paying attention to where she’d been sitting, and he was confident that he could give the people at the ticket offices the right cluster of seats. For some reason he doubted that the evening had been Emma’s idea, but maybe he’d get a clue in the right direction on how to find her again, and God knew any lead would be welcomed.

“If I didn’t know better I’d say you’re about to go full stalker right now.”

David’s words were said in jest as Killian was heading out, and though Killian had no desire to delay, he was surprised to find it wasn’t necessary. It turned out that David was ready to leave already too, and Killian’s initial thought that he’d be doing this alone evaporated. He didn’t know how to feel about that. On the one hand maybe having an extra set of eyes and ears would help, but on the other Killian hadn’t any want for distraction if and when he finally did find Emma.

“But you do? Know better I mean?” Killian asked, wondering what the line actually was that he wouldn’t cross at this point. Getting into the financial records from the stadium was already a gray area, wasn’t it? But it didn’t feel anything less than necessary to Killian.

“Oh yeah. You might have a crazy look in your eyes at the moment, but you aren’t actually insane. At least not dangerously so.” David laughed at his own joke and Killian only shook his head.

“Thanks, mate. Your faith in me is uplifting as ever.” 

“Don’t thank me yet. I tried to get rid of him, but I couldn’t.”

Get rid of him? Killian thought to himself, but before he could ask David to explain himself the ‘him’ he was referring to manifested. Turned out this wasn’t just a duo undertaking this search in the end, and along with David it appeared Graham was dead set on playing a part in all of this too. 

“Bloody hell,” Killian muttered under his breath as Graham walked out of the locker room with the same confident swagger the man always embodied. He looked pleased to see the two of them still there and now Killian knew there was no escape from what would likely be a constant stream of jest at his expense.

“Didn’t think I was gonna miss out on you making heart eyes at that girl now did you, Jones? I’ve been waiting for this all game.”

“Anyone ever tell the two of you that you’re slightly too invested in the life of a man you’ve only just met?” Killian asked as they moved down the private club hallway towards the exit of the stadium closest to the ticket office. It was where Tiny, his bodyguard and driver, was set to meet him this evening, and it would also be a good place to start the hunt for Emma. But as they made it down the hallway, Killian found Tiny wasn’t alone. Somehow his man had already done the extensive work of tracking down Emma, for here she was, waiting in the reception area with two of her friends. Killian had a fleeting thought to give Tiny a hefty raise for such a stroke of genius, but then all of his thoughts focused squarely on the beautiful woman before him.

A moment passed where Killian hadn’t been spotted yet and his friends didn’t seem to connect that here was the woman he’d been mooning over. In that precious space of time Killian had the ability to collect his thoughts. It was a triumph for sure, considering what an enticement Emma made for even after he’d been keeping tabs on her through the game, but he centered himself to be assured that he wouldn’t fuck this up again. He would by no means wield the same conceited air that he had before. This time he’d side with humility and the honest truth that he had messed up and would never be so careless as to do so again. 

“Oh good, Tiny came through in the end,” David acknowledged, sounding unsurprised and Killian pulled his glance from Emma to interrogate his friend. 

“You knew about this?” Killian asked and David only smiled. 

“Sure did. I asked him to help out at the half. I thought you might originally, but you seemed a little preoccupied.”

Killian knew that he had been rather distracted, and right now he was so damn grateful to David for having the foresight to do something where he had failed to. Killian immediately dropped all the resentment he’d had at having to share his reunion with Emma with other people. David could stay. After all, he’d earned it.

“Preoccupied is one word for it,” Graham said with a laugh, and the reaction was so boisterous that it ended up alerting Emma and the other two women with her of their approach. 

Killian tried to ignore the laughter at his expense, and it was easily done since he now had to try and combat the fluttering of anxiety that had settled in his chest. This was his last shot to do the right thing and to show Emma he was worth her time. He could only make this second impression once. The only problem was crafting the words to do so in his head as he closed the space between he and Emma wasn’t going so well, and the next thing he knew they were only feet apart and she was looking at him expectantly.

“Forgive my current loss of words, love, I just can’t believe my luck at running into you again.” 

“Yeah, small world,” Emma agreed, her voice so much softer than it had been last time, but still quizzical and cautious as it sounded out to him.

There was a clear wall still erected between the two of them, but since Emma wasn’t running from him, Killian considered that a win in itself. His behavior on the street the other day had been callous and thoughtless. As such he tried to take command of the situation with a bit more tact and gentlemanly charm. He started by smiling to her two friends and offering a handshake in greeting. 

“Excuse my manners. I’m Killian Jones, and these two sorry looking blokes behind me are David Nolan and Graham Humbert.” 

“Oh we know who you are,” one of Emma’s friends, the one that Dave had noticed before, responded immediately before going a little red. Killian wasn’t entirely certain, but he suspected that this woman was the cause of his good fortune. Taking a better look at her now, he could see that she was in fact decked out in team apparel and she certainly looked more a soccer fan than Emma or the taller brunette beside her.

“What Mary Margaret is trying to say is that your reputation proceeds you, both on and off the field. Isn’t that right, Emma?” the other woman asked with a smirk. Killian swore he heard a groan that came from Emma, and he most certainly saw an eye roll, but the taller woman paid it no mind as she laughed. “I’m Ruby, by the way. Ruby Lucas.”

“Anyone ever tell you that you look like one of the girls from Dawn of the Odyssey?” Graham blurted out randomly, and Killian was about to call his friend a right idiot when Ruby smiled even wider, this time a light reaching her eyes of excitement that hadn’t been present only a second ago. 

“You saw that? Literally no one saw that show!” Ruby exclaimed. “Trust me I begged so many people to watch it but to no avail.”

“We’re on the road a lot,” Graham said with a shrug as David decided it was his turn to chime in.

“And though he might not look like it, Graham’s a big sci-fi nerd.” 

“I have an appreciation for good stories,” Graham said, sounding embarrassed now at the ribbing, but where Killian wanted to be entertained he was mostly still anxious. His eyes remained on Emma’s and while he was trying to figure out how to get some actual alone time with her, Emma was the one to take action.

“So could we maybe… talk?” she asked as she nodded in a direction where there were less people. 

“Aye, love,” he agreed, but instead of just moving away with her, Killian found himself offering his hand. Emma considered it for a moment before giving in, but when her hand was in his Killian felt his whole being come alive. To find simultaneous elation and peace was an immensely satisfying experience, and so it made it all the harder to let go when they’d maneuvered out of the direct scrutiny of their friends and taken up residence in a private corner.

“Before I say anything else, I just wanted to state for the record that I’m sorry, Emma. The way I handled myself the other day was nothing short of regrettable and I’ve thought of little else since it happened.”

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot too and there’s a slight chance I might have overreacted,” Emma acknowledged, her fingers coming up to brush a stray strand of hair behind her ear as she did. 

“I’m not so sure of that, love. The fault lies entirely with me. I was trying to mask my disappointment at not getting a chance to see you again and in doing so I undermined the value of your time and attention elsewhere.” Killian watched as a little bit more of that wall around Emma’s being seemed to crumble away. It honestly didn’t feel like he was saying enough to truly express how sorry he was, but she seemed to be accepting him, and that felt like the ultimate gift.

“Well that’s… honest,” Emma said, her surprise evident in her tone, like it shocked her that he’d be totally upfront with her in this moment. “Most guys wouldn’t admit to that.”

“Despite appearances so far, I like to think I’m better than most guys. Yet still, a better man would have respected your refusal and asked for a different day. Perhaps I could do so now…” Killian edged, his breath catching as he waited for Emma to reply.

“Perhaps,” Emma responded, her voice a more gravelly whisper as her eyes cast down to his lips for a brief glance before returning to his once more. “But here in America we usually exchange numbers first.”

“Is that right?” Killian asked with a chuckle, surprised but pleased at her direction in this.

“Mhmm,” she murmured back with a smile. “Gotta give ourselves a little time to get a better feel for each other. That way if we want to back out we still can, no harm, no foul.”

“Trust me, love,” Killian said as he stepped forward, moving closer to the pulsing energy she sparked into his life. “I’ve no intention of turning my back on this. You can rest assured on that front.”

“I would hope not. I mean you’ve gone to all this trouble…” Emma said with a laugh and the sound was intoxicating, filling Killian with a warmth he never wanted to fade. “So, are you going to take out your phone, or are you one of those people with a superhuman memory?” 

“Right,” Killian said, a bit embarrassed at his continued lack of ability to keep up with her, but when he looked up Emma and passed her his phone she was smiling sweetly at him. Apparently his genuine sense of being overwhelmed by her was endearing, and he was grateful she took it that way instead of being turned off. This was pretty much the opposite of his cocky come on of the past, but it was also more genuine if he was being honest.

“Well I guess I’ll see you around then, Killian Jones,” Emma said with a smirk

“I’m counting on it, Emma…” Damn! He realized only in this moment that he didn’t know her last name but she filled in easily. 

“Swan. Emma Swan.”

“Swan,” Killian repeated, tasting it on his tongue as he watched her return to her friends and lead them away. And though it was hard to watch her go, Killian knew that this was indeed a great day – because now he had a means to get to Emma and he had a path ahead of him where he could try to make her see how right they were together and how rare a thing this spark between them was.

Post-Note: Nothing is more fun for me than writing CS where Emma is a little guarded but taking the risk and Killian loves her almost from first sight. It never gets old for me, because I just love this couple so much. Anyway, since it’s a little slower of a burn than some of my other stories, next chapter will not bring the date, but no worries the one after that definitely will. In the meantime there will be cuteness and a bit more set up, but mostly just light hearted fluff for days. I hope you guys enjoyed and will continue on with me when I post again in two weeks (and I do mean two weeks this time!) and thanks so much for reading!

Chapter Text

A/N: Hey everyone! So we are finally back with another chapter of Scoring Your Love and this one shows Emma adjusting to her new job opportunities. It also introduces a new character, and presents fun stuff for Emma’s friends, but don’t worry, there’s a little dose of CS cuteness too. I’m also happy to announce that next chapter will be the first date (because why pretend like I’m not happily aboard the fluff train now?) and with that chapter we will finally start getting more direct CS interactions. Anyway thanks for reading and hope you enjoy!

One would think that after years of living in LA Emma would be used to days like this where she drove into one of the major studio lots and took in all the chaos and the buzz surrounding it. She’d been working on scoring films for years now, but in truth this was still a rare treat for Emma. Only a few times had she ever really needed to meet with the production team while they were on location, and since most films she’d been landing had been independent’s they rarely utilized space on one of the giant complexes Hollywood was known for.

Today, however, things were different. Instead of a small potential movie gig, Emma was coming to meet with a showrunner of one of next year’s big network pilots. The woman’s name was Tiana and out of all of the people who Mary Margaret had fielded offers and calls from, Tiana had stood out the most.

“Trust me, Emma,” Mary Margaret gushed over the phone a few days back. “This show and this staff are the real deal. You could be looking at a six, or seven year job easy.”

“Isn’t it her first show though?” Emma asked, having done some preliminary research online as Mary Margaret made her pitch.

“Ha! Hardly. You go talk to anyone on any set she’s ever been on. Tiana’s always run the show, she’s just now finally getting the credit.”

Emma had to admire that kind of drive and passion, and since she trusted Mary Margaret with all things business (and most everything else), she’d agreed to the meeting. There was just one problem. How was she possibly going to find Tiana when there were dozens and dozens of people milling about completely ignoring her existence? Emma watched it all happening, feeling more than a little overwhelmed, until a lovely woman who epitomized ‘dressed for success’ stepped forward with a relieved looking smile.

“Emma, there you are. I’m so glad you’ve made it. I’m Tiana.”

The two of them shook hands and as Emma expected the embrace was firm and professional. It was hard to meet Tiana and not immediately feel like you were faced with someone who was fierce and confident, but it was also reined in in a way that allowed for comfort. That was a rare skill to have, and Emma knew how valuable it must be in a setting like this. 

“It’s nice to meet you. This is some place you’ve got here,” Emma acknowledged, looking at the set and the props for the show that were all here in this giant staging area.

It was really something, and surprisingly high-end for a television show. Then again this was a big network splurge and the budgets for shows like this ran in the millions of dollars every week. One season of this would likely outspend all of the projects she’d ever played a part in and Emma swallowed harshly at the thought.

“First time on a lot like this?” Tiana asked as they moved through some of the production and Emma took it all in.

“It might as well be,” Emma joked and they both laughed, the back and forth proving very easy between the two of them despite Emma’s slight intimidation at their surroundings. “So, is this the part where you pitch me on your show?”

“I knew I was going to like you,” Tiana said with a genuine grin. “Straight to business. A woman after my own heart.”

With that little bit of teasing Tiana did dive into things, explaining to Emma that the typical cop/detective show was a foundation for this series but that it was different for a number of reasons. For one thing, the two protagonists were both women, and for another these weren’t just regular crimes, they were supernatural occurrences that crossed paths with humans and left an underworld exposed to our unsuspecting society.

“I know, I know it sounds like it’s been done a million times -,” Tiana began but Emma felt compelled to interrupt her.

“No, no I like it. And honestly people eat those kinds of stories up. Sounds like you’ve got some escapism but a grounding in real character and emotion. I can work with that.”

“Does that mean you’ll take the job?” Tiana asked excitedly, and Emma grinned. 

“Well are you officially offering…?”

“Hell yes I am! The job is yours if you’ll have it, and off the record, because the network execs will have my ass if they found out I told you this, but there’s definitely negotiation potential with the salary. Tell Mary Margaret and I think you’ll be more than happy with the payoff.”

“Well in that case… yeah, I’m in.”

Emma didn’t exactly expect the gripping hug that she got as a response, but she wasn’t put off by it either. Clearly Tiana was very excited, and it said a lot that this woman who prided herself on professionalism and running a tight ship to tell a good story was so overwhelmed with gratitude that she’d hugged Emma out here in front of everyone. It felt like a nice sign of things to come, but unfortunately before they could continue discussing particulars, the sound of a woman screaming came from across the way.

“That is it! I am so fucking done with this shit! I mean melon in the fruit salad?! My rider told you no fucking melon! Are you just incompetent or are you actively trying to ruin my life?!”

The shrieking voice caused every head in the place to turn, and Emma found the source was a stunning woman, likely an actress given the context of her anger, with brown hair and cold, cutting eyes. While emanating this kind of vitriol, it was hard to even call her beautiful. She was so harsh, so livid, and she looked uncontrollably furious over fruit, which immediately made Emma recoil from her. But where Emma expected the usual tactic of placating the actors to happen, Tiana had a totally different approach, her voice edging on hostility itself while still remaining more in the scolding, authoritarian lane that was more conducive to managing people.

“That’s enough, Lily. It was clearly a mistake, let it go.” 

“Let it go?” the girl asked dumbfounded before her ire returned in full force. “No I will not let it go, Tee-anna! I didn’t sign onto this project to be treated like this.”

Emma bit back a wince at the purposeful mispronunciation of Tiana’s name, and she almost couldn’t bring herself to look at Tiana. If it were her right now, Emma would be so incensed, but Tiana had somehow turned a corner. Instead she was the face of calm and she even offered a smile. It was hardly warm, but a warning shot that any sane person in want of continued job security would heed.

“And I didn’t sign you on to have you treating the crew this way. So I’ll say it again, either you let it go or I’ll let you go.”

“Ha! You can’t do that – we have a contract.”

“A contract with a decency clause, Lily. Or did your lawyer forget to mention that the people working on this show had to act like adults?”

At Tiana’s words, Lily began to show the first inkling of concern but she pushed it back to continue being a problem. Emma almost felt badly for her, but if this woman was so willfully going to misread a room, the fall out would be firmly her fault.

“Even if that is true, we’ve already done a day’s filming and I know for a fact you guys can’t afford to put off production. Network money or not, you have to film and I’m all you’ve got.”

“Wrong answer, Lily. Consider this your formal acknowledgement of termination. I want you out within the hour. Lance?” Tiana asked to a guy dressed in security gear. “Please escort her out." 

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Alright everyone, we’re breaking for an hour and coming back after that. I’ll give you your update then.”

On any other production the loss of a major character would have likely caused mayhem, but though many of the people around them looked wary, there also appeared to be a sense of trust between the crew and Tiana. If she said she’d figure it out, they must believe that she could, but it wasn’t until Tiana was back with Emma that her own worry began to show. The carefully crafted mask came off, and Emma was left with the real vulnerability of a woman in danger of losing all the success she had worked so hard for.

“I’m so sorry, Emma. I really have to figure this out. I guess I call the casting director. She has to have someone right?” Tiana said as she pulled out her phone.

“Actually, I think I know someone,” Emma found herself saying as Tiana looked up from her phone. Emma meanwhile pulled up a picture of Ruby, one of her friend’s most recent headshots that she’d happened to text Emma the other day. “My roommate, Ruby, she’s an actress. She hasn’t been in any hits but she’s done guest spots and a few pilots before. And I know my two cents on acting probably doesn’t mean very much but she’s fantastic. Whatever the role she can do, but badass detective solving magical crimes? She’d be all over that.”

“Does she have film I could see?” Tiana asked, actually entertaining the idea and Emma nodded.

“Totally. Mary Margaret is her agent too so she’d have all of that available.”

“Do you think you could get her here in the next thirty minutes?” Tiana asked. “I’m not promising anything, but it’ll essentially be a last minute audition between her and whoever casting sends over.”

“Absolutely.”

With that Tiana left to call casting and after sending a quick message to Mary Margaret, who responded with the textual equivalent of undeniable glee for Ruby, Emma made the call. At first Ruby thought she was kidding, but when she realized Emma was serious Ruby rushed out of their apartment so quickly that Emma doubted she’d even remembered to lock the door. Oh well. They’re neighborhood was pretty safe, and their nosy neighbor Mrs. Hubbard wouldn’t ever let a break in happen. She lived for excitement in her old age, and calling the cops on some thieves would definitely qualify.

Just as expected Ruby made an LA miracle happen, getting to the lot in just enough time despite the fact that the roads were probably a mess, and when she got there she looked put together and ready to go. Seeing Emma she smiled, and Emma could tell that despite outward appearance Ruby was genuinely nervous even if she was excited. 

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Ruby whispered. “How they hell did you pull this off, Emma?”

“Well I haven’t. I just gave them you’re name, you’re the one that’s going to wow them into giving you the job.”

“You think so?” Ruby asked, her courage and confidence not fully in place yet and Emma nodded.

“One hundred percent. You’ve got this Ruby, I mean heck, you’ve already seen the first three scripts of the series. Just remember, this show is heavy on the kick ass but also gets a little sentimental. You can do that, easy.”

“Heck yes, I can.”

From there, things moved really quickly. Tiana came over and led Ruby along with her to the back offices, and though Emma didn’t have much of anything to do she chose to stick around if just to be moral support for her best friend. In the meantime, however, she found her thoughts wandering in a direction they’d been heading far too frequently as of late, towards a roguish, handsome soccer player with a sexy as sin smile and too much charm for any one man.

Emma had to admit that when she gave Killian her number last week she half expected him to call the same night they’d parted ways and ask for a date. It was clear from his actions and his manners that he wanted her and that he was more than ready for this second chance, but surprisingly he’d taken Emma’s teasing about getting to know each other to heart. Instead of coming on too strong he’d kind of nestled his way into her thoughts and into her days.

There was texting, a few late night calls, and then other thoughtful things that let Emma know he was thinking of her. Sometimes it was flowers, other times a coffee that she wasn’t expecting when it was so desperately needed, but one evening had topped them all with the over-the-top thoughtfulness. She’d been working like a dog all day to wrap up her final score from a previously agreed to project so she could better be prepared for new offers, and she mentioned casually to him in a text that she would kill for a grilled cheese and onion rings. She thought nothing of saying it, only feeling like with Killian she could have that moment of wishful venting and still have him be interested, but when a man knocked on the door twenty minutes later and dropped off her favorite order from her favorite diner a few blocks over she was floored.

“How the hell did you know about Granny’s?” Emma asked him after she’d immediately dropped everything to call him and thank him. “You’re not full blown stalking me are you?”

“Hardly, love. I simply used the tools at my disposal, and since Graham has been talking with your friend Ruby I asked her advice. Suffice it to say she was more than willing to provide all the intel I needed.”

“Of course she was,” Emma said with a sigh. “You know you don’t make it easy.”

“Make what easy, Swan?” he’d asked, his voice still low and graveled even as she could hear his curiosity bleeding through.

“Resisting you,” she murmured back as he chuckled through the phone line, the sound sending a thrill through her body and a hum to her heart.

“I’m glad to hear that, Emma. It’ll hopefully make your answer when I do ask you out one I’d like to hear.”

“And when do you think that’ll be exactly?” Emma asked, wondering what the hold up was, but kind of loving the slower tempo despite herself.

“Soon, Swan. Very soon.”

Emma couldn’t help hoping that he was right, since she really was dying to see where things would go with him. They’d gotten off to such a shaky start, but the side of Killian she’d seen since then was promising and drew her in like nothing she’d ever known. Underneath the fame and the fortune that his lifestyle provided, he was a regular guy but still totally unique. Killian was normal and yet nothing like what she knew, if that made any sense at all. It was exciting, and a little scary sure, but Emma was growing impatient for the opportunity to see where this would go when they actually got together again. She craved the chance to find out if all that heat and chemistry that flared between them would pay off in a more intimate setting, and to see if the feeling in her gut that this was right would end up proving correct.

“Emma, I did it!” Ruby said, pulling Emma from her thoughts as her best friend barreled into her for a huge bear hug. “I got the part! They’re signing me on for a series that already has a full season order! Can you believe it?! I did it! I actually did it!” 

Emma could believe it, and she told her friend as much when they pulled apart and Ruby tried to pretend not to be so excited for the sake of the people around them.

“Of course you got the part, Ruby. You were born to do this. We have to celebrate! Let’s go out tonight,” Emma offered, knowing her friend never turned down a night out. 

“I actually can’t tonight, because they’re about to send me over to hair and make up right now. I won’t get out of here until midnight and the hours are going to be crazy the next few days, but we have this weekend off. Rain check?” 

“Definitely,” Emma promised before giving Ruby another hug and watching her head over to the prep areas. As Ruby left, Emma caught Tiana’s eyes across the way and she walked over to thank her, only to be beat to the punch by Tiana.

“I can’t thank you enough, Emma. Seriously, Ruby seems perfect for this, and right away she knew this character better than Lily even did. I can’t believe we didn’t have her in to audition the first time around.”

“She’s not so well known,” Emma offered and Tiana only laughed.

“We won’t be saying that for long. Anyway thanks, Emma, and I’ll call you, okay? Maybe later this week we can dig deeper into my thoughts on music and score." 

“Sounds great, I’ll talk to you then,” Emma said smiling and waving goodbye as she headed out back into the real world from the La La land workshop. 

When she got home she was shocked – and happy – to find that Ruby had locked the door and all was well, but then Emma found herself wondering what to do with her free evening. Today had been a great day, for her and for Ruby, and she really wanted to celebrate. More than that she really wanted to do said celebrating with someone special, someone who hadn’t asked her out yet but who Emma was thinking she might just ask out herself. She pulled out her cell phone to text him, only to find a text pop up just as she was about to type her own.

K: Dinner tonight?

“Finally,” Emma whispered to herself even as a smile graced her lips and her tummy fluttered with those seemingly ever-present butterflies.

E: Pick me up at 7.

And with that new plan in place, Emma went to get ready for a night she’d been anticipating for days with a man who intrigued her and delighted her, wondering what the evening might hold and if it would be the start of something just as big and exciting as all of her new found success.

Post-Note: So there we have it. If you guys have read my other stories you know that it’s nearly as important to me to have Emma and her friends be happy and close and connected as it is to have CS find their happily ever after. This chapter gave me a chance to do that, and also opens some other storyline opportunities for me. But, I have to admit, I’m craving a CS date now. So many (admittedly shorter) chapters without getting there has taken a toll on my fluff loving heart, but fear not, in a few weeks time we’ll be back with the cute. Also, someone asked me on a guest review to clarify if Emma won the Oscar – she did not win this year, she was only nominated, but even just the nomination has done wonders for her career, so I hope that clarifies for anyone who was confused. Anyway, thanks again for reading and let me know what you all thought!!

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A/N: Hey everyone! So another chapter is here and it’s the night of the first date! However, where I originally planned to have Killian and Emma’s POV in one chapter, I ended up writing something long enough that it feels right to split it in two. I know, I know, I can hear some of you cursing my name from here, but not to worry, the next chapter is already written and I will be posting it next week so the wait will not be too long! Anyway, before the date, Killian has a bit of a rough patch to get through, but rest assured we will end firmly in a fluffy place. I hope you all enjoy and thank you so much for reading!

“So tonight’s the big night, huh?”

The question from David at the end of the day’s practice poked at the already present sense of awareness and apprehension that Killian had been grappling with since Emma accepted his invitation for a date this morning. David had held off on the interrogation during practice, despite the fact that Killian had clearly been distracted by planning and getting all of the details of his intended evening secured. It was a tricky task, but Killian was up to the challenge, and if he had to answer some questions from a well-meaning friend for a few minutes before heading out, that wasn’t the worst thing. Maybe it would save him a few minutes of pacing his apartment as he waited the acceptable amount of time before he could go get Emma.

“It is.”

“And you managed to get it all to work? The dinner and the castle and everything?”

“It’s not a castle, mate,” Killian replied before thinking of how to describe the huge estate that they’d be going to tonight. “And even if it were, that’s not the part that matters.”

“Of course not. Because why just woo a woman with a castle when you can also include some long cherished childhood memory?” David teased and Killian sighed. “But seriously though, you need any help or anything?” 

“I think I know how to plan a date, Nolan,” Killian answered.

“Right but this isn’t just a date. It’s the date,” David asserted. “This one has to be right, man. Because if it all goes like I’m hoping mine will go with Mary Margaret, it could very well be the last first date you ever have.”

Killian didn’t have the ability to respond to David’s words. On the one hand they were cheesy and ridiculous, but there was a part of Killian that had been thinking the exact same thing. If things could already feel this right with Emma when they’d barely progressed at all, what was to say this relationship wasn’t heading in a direction Killian had never considered before? Chemistry like this didn’t just happen, and this sense of rightness didn’t come with every new fling. Killian knew that it made Emma special, that it made her more important than all the women who he’d known before her, but luckily he was saved from having to give a verbal response to his friend when a snort sounded from across the locker room.

“Shit, Dave, you really think that way, don’t you? Like life is some kind of fairytale or something.” Will’s words dripped with skepticism as he shook his head furiously. “That’s just bollucks! All of it is rubbish. Jones is going to go out, charm the girl, show her a few moves, and get her out of his system. At least he will if he has any damn sense at all in that thick skull of his.”

Killian’s hand flexed into a fist at the insinuation that he was using Emma somehow, but he bit back the instinct to bark at a man who, despite the comment, had proven himself to be mostly good. Killian took a steadying breath, reminding himself of something Graham had told him when he first arrived weeks ago. Once upon a time Will Scarlet had been the kind of man to believe in such happy endings and perfect matches, but the woman who he’d chosen to build those hopes with hadn’t chosen him back. As a result Will was about as anti-love and anti-romance as a man could be, and that was saying something given all the notorious players and commitment-phobes Killian had met in this sport.

“Is that the plan, Jones?” A female voice asked from behind him. Killian turned to the doorway where Regina Mills now stood and tried not to grimace. Their team owner was completely unfazed by the fact that this was a men’s area and that a number of them were in varying stages of undress, but then again Regina saw herself as a Queen and the others all seemed to grant her such allowances. “Are you dating this Miss Swan to ‘get her out of your system?’”

“Can’t see how my plans are anyone’s business,” Killian grumbled, holding his ground but it only made Regina grin wickedly as she flicked her wrist in a dismissive motion for the others.

“We need the room. Chop, chop.”

Despite how badly Killian didn’t want that one on one interaction, the others all obeyed the order, hustling out as she’d told them to. The only man who delayed at all in his leaving was Robin. He and Regina shared a look, and Killian was glad for what it said. His coach was warning Regina to watch herself, but Regina just shrugged and murmured some less than convincing promise not to make this too painful. Killian bit back a laugh at the thought – with Regina there were few kinds of interactions that didn’t end in at least mild discomfort.

“Now then, as I was saying,” Regina continued when the space was cleared. “You and this Swan girl – how serious is this?”

“Serious enough,” Killian responded. He was not willing to discuss this further with a woman he barely knew and who fancied that she had him on some kind of leash. Maybe the power rested more securely on her side of this dynamic, but Killian wasn’t interested in taking her crap to the extent that the rest of the team was. He’d resist as best he could while still preserving some kind of alliance between them.

“That’s what I figured,” Regina said, pulling a file from her purse as she did. She handed it his way, confusing him in the process but she went on to explain herself. “That’s everything there is to know about Emma no-middle-name Swan.”

“You’re kidding,” Killian said, truly thinking it was some kind of joke at first, and then he saw her face. “Are you mad?! You ran a background check? Why in the bloody hell did you do that?!”

“Isn’t that obvious?” Regina asked with a forced laugh. “I looked into her because you care about her, and since you are my team’s most valuable asset, I have to take precautions. We don’t want you falling into bed with the wrong kind of people, do we Killian?”

The rage that Killian felt in this moment was undeniable and impossible to tamper down. He could feel it boiling over, and biting his tongue would not do. The only hope he had was to quell it somehow, to choose a cold but cutting tactic instead of screaming in the face of the woman who owned his last chance at the career he had worked so hard for.

“I’m only going to say this once, Regina, so listen well: whatever usual play you have, whatever manipulation you’re hoping to wield, it will not work. What Emma and I have is private, it’s ours, and it’s not up for debate. I don’t want whatever dirt you believe that you’ve dug up. I will not be reporting aspects of my personal life to you in any capacity. And most importantly, I will not listen to you belittle Emma. Am I clear?”

“Crystal,” Regina said with a feigned sweetness. “Besides, we all have a past. And I’d say Miss Swan has done a good job of overcoming hers. I mean an Academy Award nomination at her age? That’s not easily done.”

“Excuse me?” Killian asked, not following Regina in the slightest.

“You didn’t know?” Regina asked, actually shocked. “Oh well, surprise! Seems your Swan is a prodigy of sorts and this year she got a little credit for it. Of course movie scoring doesn’t really mean that much in a town like this but statues are statues right?”

Killian didn’t bother responding, not knowing what to even say to these little morsels of Hollywood speak, and finally Regina seemed pleased enough with herself and her information dump to leave. Killian meanwhile was reeling, not because of the discovery of Emma’s talents and distinction, but because of the way he’d found out. It felt important to him that when it came to Emma he leave the flow of things to her. For that reason he had resisted the urge to google her or look into her past, even when she’d told him of her work as a music designer. He’d been tempted all week to learn more about her, but Emma was a cautious person by nature, guarded and clearly hurting from some things in her past, and it felt unfair for him to know things she hadn’t told him yet. Trust had to be earned, and Killian was hell bent on earning all things from Emma.

Truth be told, however, his frustration with Regina, as strong as it might be, couldn’t stifle the immense surge of pride that came rushing into his heart for Emma. This happiness for her that bubbled up in his chest couldn’t be denied, and nor could the smile that appeared at his lips. Killian hadn’t known Emma very long but he knew she had to be gifted at her work. The way she’d talked about it and the way she was focused and driven and always pushing forward made it clear that this was something she had true passion for. That being said, Killian could only imagine her at the Oscars, dressed up, looking absolutely breathtaking but not truly being interested in any of it. Emma Swan might define beauty itself, but she was real in a way that would make an award show like that distasteful to her. Killian only wished he could have been there to see her in a state like that and support her in those hours of need.

“Bloody hell,” he said aloud then, having some things finally click into place. “That was her other engagement.”

Well now he felt even more like an arse than he had previously at his behavior. No wonder Emma hadn’t been bending over backwards to give up her plans and have dinner with him: the Academy Awards were more important than a first date with a practical stranger could ever be. He didn’t know whether to laugh or berate himself for it either, but either way it did no good to stay stuck in the past. All that he could do was be in the now, and ensure that this evening went as well as he was hoping. As such, he gathered the rest of his gear and headed out with only a few quick goodbyes to his teammates. 

Though he’d only asked Emma out today, Killian had actually been planning this evening for some time. Two nights ago he stumbled upon the idea of a perfect first date with Emma but he stayed patient, looking for the right time to ask her. Thank God she’d said yes to tonight because Killian didn’t know how much longer he could wait. A week without physically seeing Emma had been hard, even with the phone calls and the texts lighting up each day. It was crazy, but he missed her when they were apart, even though they knew each other so little. But Killian had long ago abandoned any attempt at the ‘rational’ when it came to Emma. There was no trackable logic behind the emotions he already had, and in the end he had to do what David was always suggesting. He had to follow his heart in the hope that it would lead him where he so deeply desired to be.

Thoughts of Emma and of the upcoming evening consumed Killian as he got ready at home and then drove the span of road from his place to hers. Those thoughts were simultaneously good but also nerve wracking. Not since his year eight winter formal had Killian ever suffered such a bought of nerves over a girl. Even then, the fear had been sparked by the newness of interactions with the female sex and not the girl herself. But tonight, as he made his way through the streets of LA, Killian was beset with a showing of butterflies befitting a teenager.

Killian knew the stakes at play tonight and he felt the need for things to go well. It felt heavy, as if the weight of the future rested on his shoulders, but in the moments where it almost felt too much, he’d think of something Emma had said or the sound of her laugh, which he’d become more acquainted with during their phone calls the past few days. Those moments had a way of clearing out the uncertainty, and by the time he was at her front door he was clinging to hope even as he felt riddled with the energy of a momentous first date. He knocked immediately, not thinking of force or the number of knocks, only knowing that the sooner he saw Emma, the happier he would be.

Blessedly Emma appeared in seconds, opening the door and granting him a sense of peace in as she did, but no sooner had he calmed at seeing her then his heart beat skipped, his pulse went up, and his mind flooded with the vision that stood before him. Emma Swan was an undeniable beauty, perhaps the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, but tonight she had forsaken her usual comfortable clothes for a look so scintillating he nearly forgot to breathe. With her hair cascading over her shoulder in golden waves, and a red dress made of lace that wasn’t too short or cut too deep, but fit her to perfection, Emma would give any model or actress in this city a run for their money. Her green eyes were brilliant, looking at him with the same kind of hunger he was feeling, and then she bit her lush red lips before whispering her greeting.

“Hey, you made it.”

Killian didn’t have words in this moment. Hell, he didn’t have much in the way of coherent thought except to think that she was exquisite, but then he was moving towards her, guided only by instinct and need. Emma looked surprised for a second as his hands encircled her and his lips descended down upon hers, but as soon as they made contact Emma’s mouth yielded to his and the taste of her filled Killian up completely. He was consumed by Emma, and never wanted this to end. A kiss like this stoked the best kind of flame. It breathed life into a man, made him wonder if there was anything better the world over, and then assured him there wasn’t. It was soul searing and so sweetly sublime he hated to pull back, but then a voice in the back of his mind reminded Killian that this was not how things were supposed to be. You didn’t kiss the girl first thing. You had to convince her of your merit, show her the date you’d prepared, and then maybe she’d allow you such a luxury when the evening was over.

When reason returned to the forefront of his mind once more Killian stepped back. He tried to compose himself but stumbled with the words in his mind. By the time they left his mouth, Killian felt almost bashful, like a boy instead of the grown man he was. 

“Apologies, love. I lost my head for a second at seeing you. I’m sor-,”

Killian didn’t get the chance to finish that statement as Emma pulled him down by the collar of his jacket, filling the space between them again and taking command of her own kiss. This one, though not as intense as the first, packed an even more powerful punch. For Emma told him with this brush of their lips that she was in this too, and that she didn’t fault him in anyway for going on instinct instead of sticking the course.

“I couldn’t let you apologize for a kiss like that,” Emma said when they finally broke apart. Her eyes were watching him, and something she saw in his face or expression made her smile. She was already glowing, already this radiant creature Killian could barely behold, but with this warm smile, and with the sensually lingering lust coloring the jade of her eyes, she was nothing short of perfection. “Honestly I should be thanking you.”

“Thanking me?” Killian asked with a gruff laugh. “Are my kissing abilities so undeniable they deserve gratitude, Swan?”

Emma rolled her eyes and shook her head as she ran her hand over his chest lightly, but Killian knew from the faint blush on her cheeks that she had given his ‘talent’ quite a bit of thought.

“I was thanking you for not making us wait,” Emma clarified. “I know I said we should take things slowly, but… well it’s been a long week of wondering, and now I know.”

“Aye, love,” Killian replied, not needing her to elaborate as his hand came to cup her cheek. He understood her meaning. It had been a given in his heart that Emma would be spectacular, and any kind of intimacy with her would live up to those heights, but still – to feel it was something else. He felt categorically changed by what had just happened, and yet he also had complete and utter faith that it would not be their last kiss, only the first of many. “Now we know, and there’s no going back. Only forward, together.” 

With that final promise, Killian offered his hand to this woman who enchanted him, waiting only a brief moment before Emma slipped hers in his grasp. Then, without further ado, he led her to an evening that Killian knew would forever change him and start the path to a whole new life he’d never actually dreamed could be real. His only hope was that Emma would feel the change too, and that she’d find herself falling just as swiftly and surely as he was already falling for her.

Post-Note: Okay, okay! I know that I said the date was coming this week, and I realize that I have conveniently not shown a bulk of the date – but I hope you will all be satisfied with the very healthy dose of fluff I provided you all. I have written so many CS stories at this point, almost all of them including a first date, but I always love the ones where Emma and Killian don’t want to wait for the end to share a kiss. For this story it just felt right to me that we have that, and I hope you all will agree and that you have enjoyed the chapter. As always, I am so grateful that you’re all reading and commenting and messaging me your thoughts. It’s so fun writing a new story and interacting with all of you about it and I hope you’ll all continue with me as the story progresses. As I said, next week I will be back with the second half of the date, and in the meantime I hope you have a lovely rest of your weekend!

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A/N: All right everyone, welcome to chapter eight and part two of the first date! We are switching back over to Emma’s POV, and if I do say so myself, I think this date packs a lot of the same kind of over-the-top fluff that my stories usually have even if I am writing shorter chapters. Trust that it will be thoughtful and that while there will be strong emotions, it’ll be leading us to a real good place. As always, I hope you guys enjoy and thanks so much for reading!

It was safe to say that Emma had never been kissed like that in her life.

The unexpected move from Killian at the start of this evening had lit a spark inside her that had yet to fade, and everything that she expected going into this evening had subsequently been tossed out the window. Killian had done his best to balance that charm and swagger that seemed so natural with him, and to really lead with this unexpected gentlemanly touch. That kiss though… well it was anything but gentlemanly, and Emma was trying her best not to blush or touch her lips as she thought back on it throughout the car ride to their destination. Instead she dove into the easy conversation between the two of them, finding herself laughing and enjoying herself so much more than she expected.

“You know I was surprised when I arrived this evening and there was no audience in attendance,” Killian confessed. Emma’s brow furrowed for a moment until she realized he was talking about Ruby. She chuckled at that, knowing her friend would have loved to be present, especially with that kiss happening so quickly, but that it wasn’t meant to be. 

“About that… Ruby kind of got a job today.”

“Did she?” Killian asked with genuine enthusiasm. “Well that’s great news! What will she be doing?”

Emma explained the situation that had unfolded that morning with Tiana and the pressing time constraints for her new series. She didn’t exaggerate or anything, but saying it all aloud it kind of sounded crazy. Things like this didn’t happen, best friends didn’t get the chance to star in huge series in such spontaneous ways, but somehow this was life right now. When Emma said that to Killian, however, he had a slightly different take on things.

“Miraculous as the story is, Swan, it doesn’t surprise me all that much.”

“It doesn’t?” Emma asked, not following how he could be so unshaken by the undeniably cool news. Maybe strokes of incredible luck happened to Killian all the time? Emma hardly knew, but then he explained himself.

“No, love. I can imagine it all perfectly. You saw a chance for your friend to find her way to a dream she’s always held dear and you did your best to get her there. That sounds exactly like the woman I believe you to be. I’m just glad Tiana had the good sense to trust your instincts.”

“So what you’re saying is I’m a genius and I’m always right…?” Emma teased, trying to tamp down the feeling of pride in her chest at his compliment to her character, and Killian nodded.

“Aye. That’s exactly what I am saying.”

Emma couldn’t help but find his over the top flattery endearing where in the past she’d found such attentions over the top. He had this effortless way about him that was charming but also genuine, and Emma was so wrapped up in Killian and his good humor that she nearly missed the fact that they’d arrived at the site of their date. Only when the car slowed at a fancy looking gate barring off what had to be a grand and extravagant Beverly Hills estate did Emma really look out the window and take stock of their surroundings.

“Where exactly are you taking me, Killian Jones?” Emma asked, fully intrigued by their new surroundings, but it was hard to demand answers or withstand the boyish grin that he sent her way at the question.

“I must confess, love, I’m glad you don’t recognize this place. But I think it’s best not to diminish the surprise.”

Emma shook her head even as she smiled and then they were through the wrought iron exterior and driving up the path to an extravagant but still elegant and sophisticated home. It wasn’t visible from the road, at least not to this extent, but this house – if one could call a mansion like this a house – was effortless. It was out of time, out of this world really, and it felt more like a palace while still radiating this sense of openness and warmth. Emma was taken by it, her eyes barely leaving it as Killian opened her door and took her hand in his, but when she read the plaque at the right of the main entrance Emma stopped dead in her tracks and gasped aloud.

“Oh my God, Killian...” 

Emma’s thoughts trailed off into silence as her free hand covered her mouth. She read the words and read them again, not fully understanding what she was seeing before her:

Chateau Devereuax

Built 1933

‘With Love, for my Aurora’

“After what you told me of her impact on your music, I thought this might be a good place for our own journey to start,” Killian said, his words filling Emma’s ears and triggering memories.

A few days ago when Killian was traveling with the team for another exhibition game they’d talked on the phone for over an hour, speaking about everything and nothing. It was a habit that had formed between the two of them of late, and though Emma hadn’t fully confessed the circumstances of her childhood in the foster system, she had recalled one bright spot in all of it during their conversation. She always loved museums, and being a student in the city public school system gave her access to so many for free. One of them, the LA Music Conservatory, had been a particular favorite as she got older and one day she saw this small but beautiful display. It was modest compared to the ones of great composers or famous stars, but it had resonated with Emma.

The subject was a woman from the dawn of the American movie business who was married to a studio head and who was known throughout the town for loving music more than anything. She played a variety of instruments and wrote her own compositions, but the most amazing thing Aurora Devereuax had done was influence her husband’s business model to reflect her own tastes. She was the reason that the talking movies had music in them too, and she’d helped cultivate a series of classics with her husband that had unbelievable scores. She’d even scored a film of her own under a pseudonym – a small, largely off the radar movie by the name of Once Upon a Dream. Emma had a copy of it (though it was nearly impossible to find) and she’d told Killian about how it was always a movie she came back to when she was blocked in her own work.

“I can’t believe you did this,” Emma said as he led her inside the large manor house. “This is… well it’s amazing. I don’t even know what to say.”

“Say you’re happy, Emma. That’s all I could ever ask for.”

The words were so sweet, and though she was caught up in this haze of wanting him and the rush of a budding attraction, Emma still knew they were the truth. Her ability to weed out a lie hadn’t been effected by all his charm or his flattery, and that let his words pierce all the way to her heart. Here was this man who had the whole world at his fingertips, who was famous and wealthy and wanted for nothing. Yet instead of being self-centered of narcissistic in any way, he was focused on her. Killian was working to give her joy, to see her smile, and that thoughtfulness and care was one of the most precious things Emma had ever been given by anyone.

“I’m happy,” Emma confessed, pressing a kiss to his cheek softly. “Happy might not be the word actually. I honestly would have been happy with dinner and a movie, but this is so much more.” 

Killian chuckled at Emma’s comments, but Emma could sense there was more to it than just finding her words humorous. Then he made a confession of his own, telling her that despite their exotic location, dinner and a movie was exactly what he’d had in mind. It turned out the house (which was now in the process of being donated to the LA cultural association so as to make it a museum) not only had crystal chandeliers, marble staircases, and an elaborate dining space made for only the classiest of Old Hollywood parties, but also had a screening room equipped with a projector and some (thankfully) updated seating arrangements. 

Even with Killian spelling it all out for her though, it took really experiencing it for Emma to start to believe this was all real. Tasting the delicious dinner he’d had brought here, enjoying the ambiance of a space dimly lit in a romantic and timeless style, moving through this old mansion to a room that was the essence of ‘movie magic,’ it was all this unbelievable experience. Emma fought the instinct to pinch herself at multiple parts of the evening, but whenever she doubted that this could really be happening, Killian was there to assure her this was real. He did it with gentle touches and heated gazes, with romance and with an honesty that couldn’t be denied, and Emma felt a slow but ever-increasing burn through the evening of wanting more. She wanted to give into that desire, to take this further than the niceties of a classic first date, and she knew it would be so easy to do so, but in the end Emma chose patience instead of instant gratification. For once in her life she chose to follow someone else’s lead, and in the end it had brought her a beautiful night.

“Maybe this doesn’t need asking, seeing as you’ve had that brilliant smile of yours in place nearly all evening, but I can’t help but clarify… how did I do, love?” Killian asked once they’d left the estate and he’d driven her home, walking her up to her front door to say goodnight.

Emma laughed at his question, looking at him and expecting to find that there would be only teasing in his gaze, but there was something more. He was really wondering and looking for her answer, and Emma smiled, wanting to instantly put his mind at ease as she reached for his hand. No man who planned a night like this should ever doubt that it had been really and truly perfect.

“If your plan was to ruin me for any other first dates you’ve succeeded,” Emma teased, her eyes flicking down to the grin that played at his lips before she looked at him once more. “Tonight was beautiful, Killian. Really beautiful.”

“Excellent,” he replied as his fingers came to tuck a stray strand of her hair back behind her ear. “And I have every intention of asking you for more dates, love, you can be assured of that.”

“But…?” Emma prompted, sensing that there was something that he wasn’t exactly saying.

“It’s nothing love, I just find myself torn is all." 

“Torn?” Emma asked, feeling a spike of something like worry that was eased a bit by Killian moving in closer to her, his warm, masculine presence surrounding her a bit more and almost making her dizzy in the process.

“Aye, Swan. Part of me wishes we were farther ahead than we are now. I want to know everything about you and for you to have the same experience with me,” he confessed and Emma exhaled a breath, now better understanding what he was trying to say. “But at the same time I can’t think of anything I’ve enjoyed more than putting the pieces of who Emma Swan is together. You’re a mystery, love. You surprise my every day, yet I feel I know you almost better than I know myself. I can’t quite explain why or how, but this, what we’re doing, it means the world to me.”

The words were touching to be sure, and they were big too. Some of Emma’s baser instincts were chatting up a storm inside her head right now saying that feeling so much and giving so much away so quickly was the surest way to getting hurt. She shouldn’t let him in so fast or want this kind of bond so soon, but another part of her, the part she trusted most, knew that was only fear talking. Emma had always prided herself on knowing what was right for her. She was particular and stubborn, fiercely protective of herself and the friends she called family, but sometimes change was good, and Killian felt like a kind of change that was worth the risk of getting hurt.

“Surprising, huh?” Emma joked, her voice tight from the emotions she was pretending weren’t so present. “How am I surprising?” 

“Well for one thing I just laid those feelings at your feet and you’re still with me,” Killian murmured, his eyes tracing Emma’s hand that had unconsciously begun to run over his arm affectionately. He looked genuinely joyous to have her staying with him, and that excitement on his part helped her own flutterings of uncertainty settle in her chest. “And I may have discovered the extent of your talent today as well. An Academy Award nomination, Swan? How could you not tell me?”

“You didn’t know?” Emma asked surprised. Then she thought about it and she realized it was stupid to think he would. Why would he Google her like she had Googled him? She wasn’t a household name or even in a field with very much attention put on it. “Sorry, I guess I should have said something. It never occurred to me really, especially since I didn’t actually win anything…”

“You will win someday, love. ” Killian said, breaking into Emma’s little bit of mocked teasing, but his words were totally honest.

He really believed that she had the talent to get there someday and though Emma believed in herself just as much, it was wonderful to have his faith in her so easily shared. And that feeling he brought her just by being himself, the same one he’d been bringing her all night, took her right over the edge. Now she wasn’t willing to wait anymore. The time for patience was over, and all she could think was that she wanted to feel closer to him and to tell him all she felt but couldn’t figure out how to say with words. At that moment she pulled him in, kissing him and finding that same burst of magic when their lips met and his arms held her close. It was somehow even better than their first, and Emma didn’t want for it to end. She felt this passion and this promise burning in her blood, but Killian pulled back eventually, his smile returning as he pressed his forehead against hers.

“You’ve no idea how much I want to take this further, Emma, but I’ve made a promise to myself to treat you as you deserve and my control is wearing thin. I’m only so strong.”

“Control’s kind of overrated,” Emma said, her voice a husky whisper that hardly sounded like anything she’d heard from herself before. 

“We both know I’d do anything you asked, love, but I think you know as well as I that taking things slow is the best way forward. I won’t risk losing you, Emma. I can’t.”

The way he said that wasn’t threatening or overbearing, but an earnest admission of his feelings. Emma could sense it through his actions already, but this was Killian confirming that this new relationship between them mattered to him. He was protective of it and intent on cherishing it and nurturing it too, and his desire to move forward and to keep choosing her and the path that brought the two of them together was a beautiful thing.

“Fair enough,” Emma said, as her hand trailed down his chest and came to rest over his toned torso. “But how slow are we talking? Are we talking three date rule or waiting for marriage?”

If Emma could have slapped her hand over her mouth and taken that joke back she would have. Wow, did she sound presumptuous. Marriage?! Seriously?! Had she lost it? But then Killian’s chuckle grounded her again and his fingertips tracing ever so lightly against her jaw pulled her back from her momentary panic.

“Sure as I am of us, Swan, I don’t think I could bear the wait for a wedding. And I hesitate to set down any concrete rules so lets leave it at this – when it’s right we’ll know, and until then I want to see you – as much as you’ll let me.” 

Emma luxuriated in the peace that settled over her at Killian’s comments and she nodded, agreeing with him both in the plan to take things slowly, but also in the hope of wanting more time together. She knew it would be hard fought, especially for Killian. She didn’t know a ton about soccer, but she did know there were lots and lots of games, and with games came more traveling, traveling that would take him away from the city and away from her. That coupled with her own growing roster of commitments meant that scoping out time would be a challenge, but she was more than up to it if it meant having more moments like this and more nights she knew she would never forget.

“I’m free tomorrow,” Emma offered casually, her heart stuttering a bit as she waited for his reply.

“Thank God,” Killian said as he let go of a strained breath and smiled at her once more. “Tomorrow can’t come soon enough, love. I’ll see you then.”

So with those parting words, and one last soft kiss, Emma entered her apartment, closing the door and replaying that last part over and over in her head. She leaned against the front door, wondering if Killian had already left, but knowing either way that he’d be back. And that simple fact, that undeniable truth, was enough to have her smiling the rest of that night and to send her off into a place of dreams that, while beautiful and wonderful, didn’t compare to the reality of letting Killian into her life and into her heart little by little and piece by piece.

Post-Note: So there we have it. The first date has come and gone and I think it’s safe to say I was as fluffy as ever. I mean leave it to me to have a rocky first meeting but still have Emma and Killian thinking they might have found the one after just one evening alone together. That being said there is still a lot to come in this fic, more fluff to write and more fun to concoct. Hopefully you guys have enjoyed and will continue on with me when I update in a few weeks. My hope is that in two weeks I will have a new chapter written, but I might need a bit of down time as my semester is ending and I have very few functioning brain cells left. Anyway as always thanks so much for reading, reviewing, and commenting! You guys are the best and I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!! 

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello all! I am back again with another chapter, this time from Emma’s POV again. We are jumping ahead a few weeks, and surprise – we are still firmly in a land of fluff. This will be the case for a few chapters yet (though there’s some more to the story I have envisioned that will at one point pop up). That being said, I hope you guys enjoy this chapter as it provides some CS cuteness and Emma and her friends as well.

LA was synonymous with many things, stardom, fame, and money just to name a few. But a defining word that both locals and visitors used when describing this place was sunshine. All year round this was a city where people could count on the sun. The weather was supposed to be sublime at any time of year… but sometimes, every so often, rain came to the city, and when it did people collectively lost their shit.

“So you’re seriously telling me that the rain is reason enough to close all these shops?” Killian asked as he and Emma walked down the street under the large umbrella he’d come prepared with for their date today. They had just passed the third place in half a block that had a ‘closed early’ sign in the window and the count was bound to get higher as they made their way to her apartment.

Emma had to laugh at the face of confusion and of complete disbelief that Killian was sporting. Clearly he did not understand the LA mentality, and she couldn’t exactly blame him. London was known for its rain and the gray. To Killian this weather must feel like nothing, but to residents of always sunny California, multiple inches of rain in one day was far from normal. In fact, it had set some people into full-blown panic, causing early school closures and a mass migration of people from their work to their homes. Most people she knew didn’t even own rain boots, but after a handful of road trips with her friends, Emma had acquired a pair and a raincoat to match, helping her enjoy the precipitation rather than distress over it.

“Well we don’t exactly get snow days…” Emma hedged, trying to give her fellow citizens some benefit of the doubt, even if she knew they were all totally blowing this out of proportion. “Besides most people are just trying to get home at a decent hour. You thought rush hour traffic was bad on a good day? Imagine it when you throw a whole day’s worth of rain into the mix. ”

“Good God, I don’t think I can bear to,” Killian mumbled and Emma laughed, leaning closer into him as she did and knowing before she looked back up at him again that his grin had returned. They’d developed a habit as of late; Killian said something funny and charming that made her laugh, and that only made his already constantly good humor burn brighter. It was a seemingly never ending cycle, a really good one that always meant their dates or their calls ended well, with Emma feeling hopeful and happy and wishing she didn’t have to say goodbye.

“You know you could always stay over… wait it out with me until tomorrow,” Emma offered as they got to the front of her apartment building, knowing already that as much as she meant it Killian would still decline the invitation. 

“I could, Swan, but we both know what a night at your place would lead to.”

Killian uttered the words as he closed the umbrella to hold the door for her. He was always the gentleman, but the feel of his hand as it slid over her lower back was hardly chaste or polite. It made Emma want things, things she knew Killian wanted just as badly even as he denied both of them. Three weeks – three freaking weeks of dates and talking and getting a little more wrapped up in each other every day, but still he was holding firm to the thought that they should wait until the time was right. Emma knew arguing the point was a losing battle, but she couldn’t help poking all the same. 

“That really hot sex you keep promising?” She asked, feigning ignorance of the influence her words would have as the elevator doors opened and they entered together. “Because I have to be honest, I wouldn’t mind giving in at all.”

“Bloody hell, Emma,” he cursed as he pulled her to him, her chest coming flush against his as her hands landed on him to brace herself.

Being so close to him now Emma saw in his eyes just how much hunger was brimming under the surface. All afternoon he’d reined himself in, never closing himself off but holding firm to control over any baser urges. In this moment though Killian was so close to giving in, closer than he’d come any day before, and Emma wished he would just do it. Three weeks was an awful long time to wait with an attraction like this in the mix. Hell, they’d passed the third date mark what felt like ages ago, but at the same time it was kind of thrilling to have a man who cared so much about them making it that he advocated for taking things slower. Despite Emma’s want for more, she gained a little more assurance of Killian’s intentions every time they did this dance. Little did Killian realize, however, she didn’t need any more assurance. She was already certain of him, he just had to realize that.

“There’s never been a woman more tempting than you,” Killian said as his hand cupper her cheek, his gaze glancing from her eyes across her features before landing at her mouth. “You just might kill me one of these days.”

“Or you could just give in,” Emma said before pressing a quick kiss to his lips, one that she knew he would have liked to take further if the doors of the elevator hadn’t opened to her floor. Instead she led him by the hand to her place. “I know you think I only want you for your body, but I promise I’ll still be here in the morning.”

“Well you would be, love, it’s your apartment,” Killian joked and Emma rolled her eyes and shook her head, trying to pretend she didn’t love the banter. Then he got serious, taking her in his arms again and waiting for her to meet his gaze. “Besides, my waiting has nothing to do with trust. I know the goodness in your heart, Swan. I know you’re a woman of your word.”

“But…?” Emma asked, curious as to what still held him back.

“But when I finally have you in bed, Emma, I want you to be sure. I want you on the exact same page as me. The one that says this thing between us isn’t ending, at least not any time soon.”

Emma couldn’t be entirely sure, since she wasn’t a mind reader, but it felt like those last few words weren’t the exact ones that Killian had wanted to say. Maybe she was projecting, but it felt like he didn’t want her to imagine this ending period, and if that was the case he still didn’t have much to fear. As crazy as it was, and as foreign as falling so deeply into a relationship was to Emma, she was in this too. She knew the way they fit together, the way it was easy and how even the complicated messy parts still seemed right. She knew that she had given more of herself already to Killian than she had to so many men in her past, and that even without the sex she felt more intimately connected to him than most people did with anyone. It didn’t matter that he was this big soccer star or that their lives were both crazy busy – they’d been finding a way to each other for weeks now, always carving out the time to truly give this all they could. But, Emma didn’t know what words he wanted exactly or what she could do to prove to him that she was in this. So far her plans hadn’t ever worked. They’d all led to moments like this, moments that were sweet and sincere but not all that she wanted.

Frustrated with her own lack of ability to sort this out, Emma did the only thing that felt right. She pulled him in for another kiss before her doorway, melting into it as she always did and luxuriating in the heat and passion that flared bright between them. Killian Jones was a hell of a kisser, but more than that he had this way of holding her and giving off this warmth and this sense of protection. They were in the middle of her freaking hallway, in plain view of any of her neighbors, but they might as well have been in a world all their own. Emma was lost in this and in him, reveling in the lines of his hard body as she moved against him. She took an indescribable amount of pleasure from the groan/growl that came from Killian before his lips set on hers again, and she swore she was getting through to him too, expressing what she couldn’t in words until an unfortunate interruption came barging in.

“Emma, we know you’re out here!” The door opened but Emma and Killian processed it just a second too slowly to not be caught. They broke apart, but still stayed close, flustered, but together all the same. “What’s taking you so long - oh, crap! I’m sorry! So sorry!”

The door slammed back in Emma and Killian’s faces, but the commentary this evening had come from an unexpected source. It would be one thing if it were Ruby who had interrupted. Emma could totally see that happening (since it had come close to occurring before), but the culprit of this interruption was her friend Elsa, someone who never would have dreamed of such an infringement. It was a break in politeness Elsa could never forgive, and Emma knew her friend was probably on the other side of the door blushing like crazy and mentally berating herself. Then another voice sounded through the door.

“I told you not to rush her, Els,” Ruby said, sounding pleased as freaking punch that Elsa hadn’t listened. 

“You didn’t say she had a date tonight!” Elsa whisper-shrieked, losing some of her composure. “You should have told me! Not cool, Ruby.”

“But real talk, what were they doing?” Ruby asked, ignoring that last part. 

“Kissing!” another voice that was definitely Mary Margaret said with the gleeful giggle that only ever came when her friend had wine. “Definitely kissing.”

“Do you think? I thought Killian was taking it slow,” Belle mused and Emma squeaked out a sharp sound of embarrassment because Killian had definitely heard that.

“Slow doesn’t mean the man is dead, Belle. It’s not an Austen novel. There are more than stolen glances and heart eyes between those two.”

Emma groaned aloud now. Jesus, it was a certifiable party in there and now everyone was discussing her love life in full volume. She would die of mortification if she could, but then she met Killian’s eyes and saw the grin he had going and somehow that instinct to hide and to cower faded away. He wasn’t looking at her like she was the crazy girl with even crazier friends. No, Killian Jones was looking at her like she was the best thing he had ever seen, and Emma was powerless to feel anything less than thrilled. Then his fingertips came to brush a piece of hair that had fallen from her ponytail back behind her ear and she shivered at the contact.

“I guess in your imagining of this there’s also a little more privacy when things finally happen, right?” Emma asked, now very very glad she hadn’t convinced Killian to come in. He chuckled at that.

“Aye, love. It seems you’ve got a full house, but I’m certain you didn’t realize you would when you offered.”

“Definitely not,” Emma agreed, her hand running down her chest as she sighed. “Well I guess that’s it then.”

“Hardly,” Killian replied before bringing her in again and dazzling her all over with another heated kiss. It was tantalizing and dizzying, a kiss designed to entice her and remind her of something she never forgot – that she wanted Killian, and she wanted him bad. But it was also too short, too brief for Emma to come even close to satisfied, and it took everything not to moan at the loss when he pulled back, his eyes having gone darker as they held hers spellbound. “This is far from over, Emma. I’ll convince you of that soon enough, but you can be sure that when I do we’ll have two critical things – distance from the rest of the world, and time.” 

“Time?” Emma asked, still distracted from the kiss.

“Time,” Killian responded. 

The one word sparking about a dozen fantasies of what she and Killian could do with all of that desirable time. Unfortunately noises from inside intruded again, and with one last goodbye and a promise that he’d call her tomorrow when the team had landed in Denver for their next game she headed inside to face the rabblerousing crowd currently camped out in her living room.

The chatter going on once Emma closed the door behind her gave the appearance that her friends were engaged in some kind of conversation, but Emma didn’t need to hear the particulars to know that it was staged at this point. She and Killian had no doubt been the hot topic since Elsa’s opening the door, so walking in to hear Mary Margaret discussing a new cupcake recipe she’d tried this week sounded a little less than organic. 

“I must have missed the memo on girl’s night this week,” Emma said calmly, sizing all of her friends up and seeing the ranging senses of shame or regret. There was Elsa, who looked just as stricken as she did before, followed closely by Belle who gave a definite ‘I’m sorry’ vibe through her expression. Mary Margaret looked slightly torn, clearly chomping at the bit to ask questions but also wanting to be respectful, but Ruby – always predictable Ruby – went right in for the kill. 

“I called an emergency meeting, Emma. A situation like yours requires immediate back up.”

“Excuse me?” Emma asked, halting mid-step. “My situation? What does that even mean?”

“It means that you have a sinfully sexy soccer star traipsing all over this city with you, calling you when he’s away, sending you things just because they make you smile, basically killing it as boy friend material and you’re still hesitating.”

Emma scoffed at the idea. She was hesitating? Wow clearly her friends were off the mark with this one. They thought that she was the one who was taking things slowly, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Emma didn’t know how to feel about that. On the one hand she was glad that Ruby hadn’t been eavesdropping through the door during these goodbye moments (something Emma would not have put past her), but on the other hand it was kind of rude to have her friends plotting an intervention for a problem she didn’t have.

“Did it ever occur to you that hosting an intervention might complicate matters if I were hesitating and decided to finally give in?” Emma asked and Ruby tilted her head considering.

“Nope, but was he coming in tonight?” Ruby asked and Emma sighed and shrugged off her jacket before shaking her head no. “See! Hesitating.”

“Oh I don’t think she’s hesitating,” Elsa said before covering her mouth, as if she were shocked by the fact that she’d commented. “Sorry, Emma.”

“It’s fine,” Emma sighed, the feeling she had of agitation a moment ago slipping away. “And for the record Elsa’s right. I’m not.” 

“So why the molasses pace?” Belle asked, surprising Emma with the bluntness of it. Belle wasn’t exactly known for jumping into bed with people. She didn’t do casual hook ups, so her thought that three weeks was a long wait was striking to Emma. Then Belle explained the inconsistency. “Sorry, Ruby’s words.”

Of course they were, and though they were hyperbolic Emma smiled despite herself. She was a person who valued her privacy and who didn’t love to be confronted about things she saw as personal, but the reality was that her friends were more than friends. They were her sisters, her family, and the best part of family was sticking together and knowing that through whatever came you could count on them. 

“I’m assuming everything I say never leaves this room…” Emma said, to which all of her friends swore agreement. With their word delivered, Emma finally sat down on the couch between Mary Margaret and Elsa. “We’re taking it slow because Killian wants us to. It matters to him that we do this right.” Belle and Mary Margaret sighed dreamily at the confession.

“What could be more right than good sex? Nay, epic sex even,” Ruby asked. At this Mary Margaret interjected.

“Maybe love? I bet he’s a big romantic isn’t he, Emma?” Emma nodded at her friend’s question.

“He is. I didn’t expect it, but he’s thoughtful and present and interested, and I know that everything he does he does because he cares. It’s just…”

“You want more,” all of her friends said at once, causing them all to chuckle as Emma agreed.

“I want more.”

“And what did he say when you told him that?” Belle asked quizzically. “What were his exact words?”

Emma didn’t even need time to think on them, she just reiterated the words that were engraved in the memory of this evening. Unsurprisingly her friends all swooned a bit at his phrasing, and a mention or two of that damn accent was thrown around, but there was no deflection allowed on Emma’s part. Her friends wanted to know how she truly felt and she had no choice but to be honest.

“I’m falling for him, you guys. It’s fast, and it’s terrifying, but I can’t seem to help it,” Emma mused, her heart skipping a beat as she confessed these feelings aloud for the first time.

“Falling?” Ruby said with a laugh. “Honey you already fell. You’re not even trying to hide that, and neither is Killian.”

“Maybe,” Emma said, which by her standards might as well have been a shout from the rooftops that she was in love with Killian. “But I don’t have the words for that yet. If that’s what he needs for me to be ready… Let’s just say I have to find another way. At least for now.”

Her friends all volleyed around ideas of ways that Emma could say or do something to take that next step with Killian without throwing around that four letter ‘L’ word that had no business appearing so early in a relationship. But it was Elsa in the end who gave the wisest counsel and who got through to Emma in the way she truly needed.

“I think we all might be over thinking this. It’s not about looking to others, Emma. It’s about looking to yourself. How have you always expressed yourself? Where in your life can your emotions really live?” 

“Music,” Emma whispered with a smile, one that Elsa immediately matched. No doubt her friend understood better than the others what it meant to find answers in music. It was a totally personal and undeniable experience to create that way, and it was also Emma at her most vulnerable, sharing a part of her heart and her thoughts with someone else.

“That’s genius! A love song! Emma you can do the melody, Belle can write the lyrics – I’ll do lead vocals of course. Mary Margaret how do you feel about tambourine?” Emma gaped at Ruby’s words, thinking she was serious but then her friend broke and laughed aloud. “Kidding! I’m totally kidding. This is all you, Ems, as it should be.”

“Definitely,” Mary Margaret agreed. “And from now on we promise no more interfering.” Emma blinked at that, trying not to laugh right in her friend’s face, but the giggle escaped all the same when Mary Margaret clarified. “Actually, scratch that. We need attainable goals… Hmm, let’s see. How about we promise no more interfering this year?”

“Eh, maybe this month?” Belle offered with her own laugh, tossing a pointed look at Ruby before Elsa chimed in.

“I give it a week max.”

“Oh hush. We will carry on as we always have. And do you know why?” Ruby asked rhetorically. “Because everything we do we do out of love and Emma knows that. Don’t you, Emma?” 

“Yup. But just remember, what goes around comes around. And since some of you have intrigues of your own popping up,” she said to Mary Margaret and Ruby specifically, “You might want to keep that in mind.”

To that the friends all agreed, moving from Emma’s love life to other topics and enjoying a lovely evening together. And as she enjoyed the rest of the night with her very best friends, Emma found herself smiling about how good things were right now and how great they would be when she put this new plan into motion. Tomorrow she’d start crafting her way to show Killian their truth, and she knew in her heart this was the perfect way to show him she was ready. Soon enough she’d have what she wanted, and the best part about it was she’d do it her way and stay true to herself in the process.

Post-Note: So as I said this is a fluffy installment with both CS and friend time. I know I know, to some of you I am a tease and this has been described by a number of you as ‘torturous’ and ‘highly unfair’ but I’ll just go ahead and spoil for you guys - we get to the smut next chapter. To those of you have been hounding me about slow burn on this, I hope you’ll finally be appeased, but in the meantime I hope this was a good addition to the story for you all. Let me know what you thought and have a great rest of your weekend!!

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello again, friends! So as promised we finally get to the M rating in this chapter, but we also get another important check in before then. I mean come on, you didn’t think I was just going to forget about Liam, did you? Well he’ll make an appearance of sorts in this chapter, and though we’ll end in my usual fluffy place, we’re sowing some seeds of intrigue for later. Hope you all enjoy and thanks so much for reading!

In all his years playing in the professional leagues, Killian had managed the intensity and the strange schedules of a sportsman’s life better than most of his fellow teammates.

To be sure there were some more destructive habits he had formed, drinking a bit too much, surrounding himself with the kind of people who were interested just in the fame and the fortune, but on the whole he hadn’t fallen victim to the same bad moods that most other men did. Leaving home for so long and being apart from family took a toll on anybody, but Killian had never felt he was leaving too much behind. Since it was only ever Liam who he had as a given in his life, and since his brother was also his manager and as such was on the road with him more often than not, Killian didn’t feel the weight of separation. 

Now, however, things were changing. One might argue it was because he was on the American circuit and his new games weren’t in enthralling places like Paris or Milan, but in small suburbs outside cities he’d never thought to see. Yet Killian knew that the real reason for the change was simpler than that. The problem was home – or rather Los Angeles – had a certain person in residence who did not get to come on these trips with him, and the more he got to know Emma Swan, the harder it was to take these jaunts out on the road for the sake of a game. It was likely crazy to feel this way, but Killian wouldn’t lie to himself. He missed Emma when he was gone, and finally he understood all that regret other more settled teammates had been feeling all these years.

It was of great comfort to him then that tonight he was back at his place in LA once more. Minutes ago he’d said goodbye to Tiny down stairs and now Killian was filled with anticipation and a need to get things going. He could do with a shower straight away, and food would probably be a good thing this time of night when he’d had none so far, but any unpacking could wait until morning. Right now Killian was hoping to speed things up as much as he could to get to Emma. He pulled out his phone and started to craft a text seeing if she was still up. It wasn’t too late yet, and he knew from their conversations this morning that she didn’t have any early morning commitments tomorrow, but he’d hate to call and disturb her if her plans had changed. Unfortunately just as he was about to press send on the text, a call came in disrupting him. A picture of his brother and Liam’s name appeared on the screen and Killian groaned at the interruption, but decided to answer in the hopes of conducting a speedy conversation.

“Liam, I’m sorry I haven’t checked in the past few days, but I’m actually just -,”

“You’re not seriously blowing me off are you, Killian?” his brother asked from where he was half a world away, and though to others it might sound a bit standoffish, Killian could sense his brother was actually in good humor. He could envision the smirk Liam had going there across the pond, and he was glad things had started to calm between them since Killian was first shipped off to the states. “It’s been a whole week at this point.” 

“Aye, it’s bad form to be dodging my manager, I know,” Killian agreed.

“Ha! Your manager – I’m your brother first Killian, as you well know. Question is, what’s got you so busy. You’re ‘on a roll’ as they say over there. Stats are looking good and there’s still a buzz about you over here. But are the States so entirely exhausting that you can’t call your family?”

“Not quite,” Killian said with a smile of his own as he looked about his apartment figuring he could kill two birds with one stone. He could straighten up a bit on the off chance Emma could come here later and also touch base with his brother.

“So what is it then?” Liam asked and Killian hesitated, not because he had any shame over his relationship with Emma. On the contrary, he was thrilled that the two of them were progressing as they were. Instead his worry came from Liam’s potential reaction, and that worry was proved of merit when Liam spoke again. “Oh for fuck’s sake, tell me it’s not some woman.”

“Liam -,” Killian wanted to immediately correct his brother’s resentfulness and assure him Emma was different and unlike anyone he’d known before, but he didn’t have the chance with Liam fully blowing up at the realization.

“God, I knew this ‘new leaf’ was too good to be true! Here I am campaigning for you, working my arse off to get your image back where it needs to be for a proper team return, and you’re shagging some random American woman and throwing it all away!”

“I’m not throwing anything away. And she’s not just some woman,” Killian growled back, his hand balling into a fist and his body tightening in anger at his brother’s harsh iterations.

“Oh I bet. If you’ve glommed on to her she’s bound to be a total disaster,” Liam said haughtily. “Let me guess: she’s a great lay right? But with her sexual abilities there’s always some kind of rubbish. My bet its either a fully-stunted personality or some sort of fucked up gold-digging ambitions. Am I right?” 

“No you aren’t bloody right, and I’m telling you Liam if you don’t stop talking about Emma that way you will regret it.”

“Oh Emma is it?”

“Aye, Emma,” Killian said, releasing a breath and trying to be the bigger person here. He could admit that he had made bad choices in the past, and the fall out of those choices had made Liam’s life and job no doubt more complicated. Rationally Killian knew that he was the one the burden fell on to be the bigger person, but it was difficult when his elder brother was giving in to such theatrics. They both knew Killian hadn’t been in the habit of sleeping with every eligible lady in the whole United Kingdom, that was all a part of his unearned reputation, but hashing that point out in this moment would do nothing. What needed to be said was of an entirely different nature. “I hadn’t planned to get into this just now, I was hoping to introduce the two of you when you came in a few months so you could see that she’s different. She’s everything.”

“Everything? Christ, Killian, she’s just a woman!”

“No, she’s the woman, brother,” Killian said aggressively, and then it dawned on him – this wasn’t worth his time. If Liam was coming at this with such combative, head-strong energy he was never going to listen. As such they were just moving towards a larger fight, a bigger blow out with more hurt along the way. It would be better to shut it down now and deal with the fall out later, at least that way the whole night might not be ruined and he might yet get to see Emma. “You know what, let’s just call and end to this. It’s been a long day, and I’m not interested in whatever judgment you’ve got rattling around in your brain right now. You don’t know Emma, Liam. You don’t know us together. Hell you don’t even really know me anymore. So let’s just say I’ll call you in a week, or better yet you can email me any business particulars and I’ll see you when I see you.”

Killian ended the call before Liam could respond and turned his phone on the ‘do not disturb’ setting. Was it rude? Yes, but it felt warranted under the circumstances. He didn’t need that kind of negativity in his life, and when his brother felt a little more compassionate and a little more interested in trusting Killian’s judgment they’d speak again. For now, Killian returned once more to the text he was about to send Emma only to hear a knock at the door. Now who could that be this time of night?

“Can I help you?” Killian asked as he opened the door to his apartment. A young man with a bike stood before him and the kid nodded, handing Killian a package and a tablet for a signature.

“Delivery for Jones.” 

“Right. Thanks, mate,” Killian said as he accepted. He shut the door behind him and examined the parcel. He knew he hadn’t ordered anything but when he saw the return address he grinned. It was from Emma. But what could it be?

Opening it up Killian discovered it was of all things a cassette tape and an accompanying player. Thank God she’d thought to include that last part because he certainly didn’t have one, but before he could listen he had to search for a note. He found a short one attached and read it as quick as he could.

‘This song wouldn’t exist without us.’ 

Killian felt his pulse quickening as he maneuvered the tape out of its holder and into the player, his conversation with his brother all but forgotten. It was a Walkman style set up, something straight out of the 90s but the fun of the nostalgia was undeniable. He was already in the best mood possible by the time he had the headphones on, but then he pressed play on the tape and he was awed into something else.

The music that came through the device and into his ears was unexpected but brilliant. It moved him in a way he truly hadn’t seen coming. This was no mixtape of throwback songs, this was something new, something bold, and something truly remarkable. Killian was certain it was one of Emma’s own compositions, and he stood there surrounded by the essence of her music trying to fathom how one person could have such talent. Too soon the song came to an end, but just as Killian was about to hit rewind to play it again Emma’s voice flittered through the air giving the name of the song, ‘Ready for You,’ and the intended scene it should go with on the series she was working on with Tiana.

Another realization dawned at that part, not just from the title, but from the purpose of the song as well. He’d been speaking with Emma on and off all week about the orchestrations she needed to work on, and one of them was the theme for one of the show’s heroines and her love interest. According to Emma the two characters (neither of which were played by Ruby) were ‘endgame,’ and he was now sworn to secrecy because no one knew of that except for Emma and Tiana. So to have Emma saying that it was their relationship that sparked this kind of music with this intended meaning… well it was just about the clearest way he could think for Emma to show him that she was in fact ready for the next step between them.

Understanding now what Emma’s intention must have been Killian moved swiftly, abandoning his original plans and throwing on his leather jacket once more. He grabbed his phone, debating as he walked to the doorway whether or not he should call Emma on the way. Such debate was not actually needed, however, because when he opened the door again he very nearly ran into the woman he was trying to get to in such a haste.

“Emma,” he declared, shocked that she would be here but so bloody grateful he couldn’t find the words.

“Hey. I was hoping you were back by now, and I got the delivery receipt for the package, but I didn’t think you would have plans already,” Emma said as she took in his appearance that was ready for departure. “I shouldn’t have assumed. I’ll just -,”

Not wanting Emma to doubt even for a moment that he was thrilled she had come, Killian pulled her to him and kissed her out there in the hallway. He felt her wariness slip away the instant their lips met and through some sort of coordination he couldn’t actively control he maneuvered them both inside of his apartment. Words weren’t needed as he got them inside and pushed Emma against the now closed door, his body fueled by the feel of hers beneath him and the way she held on to him like she loathed the very thought of being parted. There was no space between them, no end to the passion in sight, but Killian wanted one last affirmation before they took this final plunge.

“Stay with me tonight, love,” he whispered as his mouth remained just inches from hers. He watched her eyes open, the jade color now darkened from the exchange they’d just had but they lit with the smile she shared at his request. 

“I thought you’d never ask.”

With her approval Killian locked the door and now the decision wasn’t one of how far to go but just exactly how to play it. He’d fantasized about this almost since their first meeting, concocted at least a hundred scenarios in his head and imagined each corner of this apartment as having some kind of potential, but the first time he was truly with Emma, Killian knew it had to be in bed. That wasn’t to say they were in any kind of rush though, and the build up, of which he was planning quite a lot, could happen anywhere she damn well pleased.

Emma, meanwhile, had no problem indicating what she wanted. She was unwilling to break away from him, kissing him surely as she had been, both of their hands roaming, leaving trails that inspired more hunger along the way. It was as if they were famished for the connection and too long denied the promise of this part of their chemistry. In no time at all Emma had managed to rid Killian of his jacket and most of the buttons on his shirt while also leading them to the living room. She was making good time, trying to tear away the layers that separated them until they were all gone, but it seemed it wasn’t fast enough, as Emma looked at him and let out a frustrated sigh of air.

“Something wrong, Swan?” Killian asked with a grin, knowing full well there was nothing the world over that could possibly be calculated as amiss when he and Emma were like this. No, her frustration was all of a sexual nature, and he watched as his words, rough from the need he had for her, washed over her skin and sent a shiver through her.

“This is taking too long,” she said with what might have been considered a pout and Killian chuckled as they moved in through the kitchen and come up against the counter. Then he surprised her by spinning her in his embrace and coming right up behind her, his hands clasped on her waist to pull her back.

Killian pushed her blonde hair over her shoulder, his lips trailing down from her ear lobe and lower, finding a spot at her neck he’d noticed that she was sensitive at before. He took slow, torturous care of riling her up in a way that had her wanting all the more, his hands moving across the delicate dress that clung to her figure. He knew in his heart she’d worn this for him, in the hopes of pushing things further tonight, and he had no more ability to resist. This scrap of red silk was beautiful, but it couldn’t compare to the woman underneath and Killian was ready to reveal his prize. He unzipped it with just enough patience to tease them both and then he let the garment fall as he pushed the straps off her bared shoulders.

“We have all night, Emma,” he assured her as his fingertips traced her now mostly naked flesh. “And far longer too, as you well know.”

Killian watched the harsh swallow that came at his words, but Emma wasn’t running from his actions or his words. Instead she turned back around in his arms and took control back once more, pulling him in for another needy kiss that he caved into immediately. So much for slowing this down, Killian thought to himself. Now Emma was even more set on finding release, and he was right there with her.

“I know we have time,” Emma said when they came up for air again and her eyes locked on his, her hand trailing down to the button of his slacks, grazing down his bare chest and abs in the process and making his already undeniable ache to have her grow. “And trust me, I’m happy for it. But we’ve already waited so long… I don’t think I can stand to wait anymore. I need you, Killian. I need you now.”

What more was there to say? When the woman he loved made her wants and wishes known it was Killian’s job to see to it that he did everything he could to procure them for her. It was in no way a hardship given how much he wanted her as well, and besides, they could have the slow and steady seduction he’d anticipated later. Far, far later after he’d wrung out every last drop of passion from her tonight. 

They hurried back to his room, both of them of the same mind this time and now words weren’t needed any more. Their remaining clothes were stripped away, and by the time they’d hit the bed they were both beyond rational planning or design. This was pure instinct, and all Killian could think was that he had to make her come, had to satisfy every last desire his Swan could have. He knew he was on his way to accomplishing that as he moved above her, his lips tracing down her body past the tender peaks of her breasts, over the gentle swell of her stomach, and down to the space between her thighs that had been driving him mad for weeks.

Killian.”

Emma said his name not in warning or in censure but as a sigh of need. His eyes flicked back up to hers and he saw the nearly wild appearance that had settled in them. Lust had consumed her, and Killian had known as much without even looking. Every sound, every movement that came from Emma told him exactly what she wanted, and he was nothing if not persistent when it came to reading the signs. Because of this he knew that even as she pleaded for him to sate her desire immediately, she actually wanted just a touch more anticipation. He bit lightly at her inner thigh, feeling her jump and then shake underneath the soothing of his tongue after. He did the same thing to the other side, moving closer to her sex, and only after a few more heartbeats did he give in, tasting her on his tongue as she let herself go to the sensations.

It was an out of body experience to know he was giving Emma so much all at once. Nothing could compare to it, and he didn’t even think to try and draw connections. This was already so much more than a simple shag; it was intimacy designed with meaning and with purpose. Every flick of his tongue, every suck, every kiss, was all done in the name of seeing Emma reach heaven itself, but when she finally fell into the ecstasy she was seeking it was Killian who was flush with fulfillment. It became clear that this was rapidly becoming an addiction, and as he kissed his way back up her body and came above her, looking at the pink that had crept into her cheeks and the satisfaction that swam about her gaze, Killian realized there would be no coming back from Emma Swan. This woman had run away with his heart completely and he was fundamentally changed from knowing and loving her.

Their tender moment was short lived however, for Emma had sacrificed none of her energy in finding her enjoyment. Indeed she surprised him, switching their positions and undertaking a perusal of her own that left him reeling. Damn she was a siren, a bloody minx who was hell bent on riling him to a state that would be unforgiveable, but how could he blamed when she had her mouth on him? It was sublime and indescribable, but when he was just at the edge of falling apart himself he stopped her and took back the reins once more. The time for waiting was over. All he could think about was filling her, sheathing himself inside her and never turning back.

“Fuck,” he grunted to himself as he paused just before taking what they both wanted.

“That’s kind of the idea,” Emma said with a laugh that turned into a slight moan from her still lingering desire. “What’s the hold up here, Jones?”

“I left the condoms on the counter. Just a minute, love.” He moved to get them but Emma held tighter and shook her head.

“You don’t have to. I’m on the pill.” 

Holy shit, he didn’t know what to say to that and his hard length jerked at the words. The thought of being with Emma without a barrier was enough to drive him mad. If things were already blindingly glorious between them, what indescribable ecstasy would be procured from taking her bare?

“Are you sure, Emma? I’m clean of course. Just had my physicals with the new team doctors, and I’ve never actually gone without…”

“Me either,” Emma replied softly as her hand came to brush some of his hair from his forehead. “But I want to. With you.” 

Since that want was of a fully mutual variety Killian offered no rebuttal, only giving in and taking what they both were craving so desperately. The moment he filled her was too fantastic to put to words, and he could have stayed there forever if Emma hadn’t begged him to move. The rhythm they set was perfection itself, crafted from a bond needed between two people that couldn’t ever be contrived. It made the claims of stories and fairytales, the ones about soul mates and perfect matches seem a little more realistic, for surely this could never be this way with another. This love he felt for Emma was cosmic, causing a shift Killian swore he could feel down to his bones, but when it came to an end and they both cried out in relief, it was the aftermath that truly took his breath away.

Holding onto Emma and having her in his arms cuddled beside him was a luxury he knew she rarely bestowed on others. Emma was guarded, cautious, and careful with her heart. She had been wary at the start, and with good reason, but as weeks went on Emma admitted that getting close to people always scared her. Truth be told Killian had often felt the same way. Love was a means of getting hurt, a fanciful notion that distracted from the game and never worked out in the end, but his old cynical notions of love no longer held water. For in this moment there was no way to deny what was between them. Tonight both Emma and Killian had shed the last pieces of doubt and of caution, and now they were truly in this together. 

“So that was…” Emma paused as her fingers traced over his chest and a smile bloomed upon her lips. “Definitely worth waiting for.”

“On that we most certainly agree, love,” Killian said happily, seeing the call of sleep washing over Emma and feeling a similar tug into slumber himself. 

“And I’m waking you up in a few hours for more,” she joked with a yawn. “You promised, no more waiting.”

“Aye, Swan. No more waiting. Not any more.”

He pressed a final kiss to the crown of her head, and a few moments later, as sleep finally claimed them both, Killian fell asleep smiling, knowing that life held so much promise now that he had Emma. And no matter what came next, and no matter where their paths might lead, Killian would do whatever it took to keep them like this – happy, connected, and together – for now and for always.

Post-Note: So there we have it. Another chapter come and gone and we find our couple just about in the happiest spot they can be. Rest assured this story, like all my stories so far, intends to give CS truly happy situations, and while there will be some bumps in the road ahead, it’s smooth sailing for the time being. Anyway I thank you all so much for reading, commenting, and messaging me. Your enthusiasm has been wonderful and I love hearing your thoughts. Hope you have a great rest of your weekend and thanks for being fabulous!

Chapter Text

A/N: Hey everyone! I am so thrilled to be back with another chapter of this story, especially since you guys responded so positively to last chapter. As promised, the fluff continues in this installment and we are actually getting both Emma and Killian’s POV. We find our two love birds in the midst of a friends’ game night. Killian is having not just Emma’s friends but his as well to his place and there’s all the sass, humor, and fun you’d expect from a chapter like this. Not to worry though, there are also some cute CS moments I know you guys will be happy with. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you all enjoy! 

For years Emma had been growing more and more accustomed to what it meant to have people in her life for the long term. 

At first, when she had arrived at college and met the band of friends who would become her family, Emma was, to put it mildly, slow on the uptake. There were all sorts of rules of socializing, all sorts of expectations and layers of parties and game nights and evenings on the town that she just didn’t get. As a loner, she had never had to engage with any of those things before, but her friends had been up to the challenge of explaining these rules. In the years since, Emma had become somewhat of an expert, but that didn’t mean her friends didn’t check in on her instincts every now and again.

“So you’re bringing something over to Killian’s right?” Mary Margaret asked Emma through the facetime call they were sharing, her friend’s gaze expecting an affirmative answer. Emma bit back a laugh, and thought not for the first time how Mary Margaret was the unofficial mother hen of the group.

“He told me not to…” Emma said honestly, but then she broke into a smile and stopped even trying to mislead Mary Margaret. “But yeah, I grabbed a couple of bottles of wine. They’re Ruby approved, and you know how she can be.”

“I heard that!” Ruby said as she walked into the living room, dressed to impress even if this was only a night at Killian’s place with a few close friends.

Emma wasn’t exactly surprised at Ruby’s appearance. Ruby had always had a way of putting herself together that seemed effortless though it hardly ever was. For those who weren’t lucky enough to call Ruby their roommate, they probably thought she just threw on any old thing and looked glamorous regardless. But Emma knew that Ruby had thought long and hard about this particular outfit - dark jeans and a red silk halter-top that cropped just a little shorter than a fully covering garment would. It matched the red heels she was wearing and the trim of the black jacket she’d snagged in a trunk sale last year. In short Ruby looked fantastic, and more than stylish with her long brown hair pulled back and her makeup done just right, but this look had taken hours to nail down, and Emma knew her friend was still battling some nerves despite looking certifiably hot. Those nerves, no doubt, were thanks to a handsome, yet strangely nerdy, soccer goalie.

“Well it’s not exactly a surprise, Ruby,” Mary Margaret chastised through the phone. “I mean come on – we all remember that Christmas party at Belle’s boss’ house last winter.”

“Oh right,” Emma said with a smirk tossed Ruby’s way. “What were your exact words again?”

“I told him ‘money clearly doesn’t buy good taste,’” Ruby replied haughtily. “But I mean come on that merlot was a nightmare, and he had the audacity to say it was a hundred dollar bottle of wine!”

“It was,” Emma and Mary Margaret said at the same time and Ruby scoffed.

“No, it was a hundred dollar bottle of regret. Anyway, Mary Margaret, where are you? You’re supposed to be here already/”

Just at that moment the bell rang, signaling that Mary Margaret was downstairs looking to be buzzed in. Emma muffled a laugh. Only Mary Margaret would call when she was mere moments away and continue the conversation right to the very end. But Emma loved her friend’s antics all the same. Besides, it would save them time to have already had this conversation, and hopefully Elsa and Belle wouldn’t be too far behind. The last thing Emma wanted was for all of them to be late tonight, especially when it would mean more time away from Killian, who she had been missing the past few days while the team was in Orlando.

“She is a weird one,” Ruby said as she clicked the button and Emma hung up her call with Mary Margaret. “But I still love her to pieces. Why is that?”

“Because we’re all weird in different ways?” Emma offered and Ruby rolled her eyes. 

“God it sounds so cliché when you say it out loud.”


“Am I wrong though?” Emma asked as Ruby shook her head. 

“Nope. Not even a little.” 

From there things started to move a little faster. Their friends all arrived in the next two minutes, coming inside, greeting each other like it had been weeks instead of mere hours since they’d all been together. There was the expected game of catch up, with Belle filling them in on her long day at work, and Elsa admitting that she hadn’t left the house all day, instead spending at least ten hours playing her cello from morning until night.

“I never understand how it happens,” Elsa admitted as the friends moved down the stairwell and into the LA evening. “I had a list of things to do. Cooking, cleaning – hell I haven’t done laundry in three whole weeks – but the music…”

“Is a part of you,” Emma finished the thought with understanding. “And some days you just can’t help where it leads you.”

“Exactly!” Elsa said, hitting her hip against Emma’s as she smiled. “You always get me, Emma. All of you guys do. I just wish Anna could too.”

“Oh but Anna loves you,” Mary Margaret said immediately, not wanting Elsa to think her sister would ever not. “She just has a different kind of passion.”

“Yeah, a passion for never sitting still,” Ruby said with a laugh. “That girl never saw an adventure she didn’t like.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Elsa agreed, and though they were poking a little fun at Anna’s jet setting lifestyle (provided by her success as a travel blogger since graduating school), Emma could tell that Elsa was still proud of Anna. Even if the sisters were different, there was still a bond there too strong to ever be broken or put to the test.

“Maybe you could find a way to show her that your music is your own kind of adventure,” Belle suggested.

“Well it’s hardly sky diving or herding yaks on the back of a wild horse.” 

“Oh my god she didn’t!” Mary Margaret exclaimed at Elsa’s comment that was too specific to be made up.

“Oh my god she did!” Ruby exclaimed after looking at her phone and scrolling through instagram. She showed the screen to the others, and there was Anna sure enough, bundled up for winter weather doing exactly what Elsa had said.

“Either way there’s still a rush,” Emma said, focusing back on Elsa. “You wouldn’t love your music like you do if there weren’t some kind of gratification. And it’s not like you’re hiding away and working towards nothing. You’re first freaking chair at the LA symphony.”

“Well, temporarily,” Elsa said, causing all of their friends to laugh and Elsa to furrow her brow. “What?”

“Honey, it might be temporary but it’s not thanks to a lack of job security,” Ruby asserted. Elsa still looked confused so Emma decided to jump in.

“Elsa, they would be crazy to demote someone with your talent. We all know you should be somewhere with a more reputable company. New York, Paris, London… but here you are and they’re lucky to have you. We’re lucky to have you.”

“I’m lucky to have you guys too,” Elsa said, a little mistiness appearing in her blue eyes at Emma’s words.

“Oh thank God we are here,” Ruby said, looking upon Killian’s condo complex with dramatized relief. “I couldn’t do a mushy moment just yet, girls. I need at least two drinks before that happens.”

“Do you?” Mary Margaret asked with a teasing lilt in her tone of voice as Emma waved at the building security guard Leroy and Killian’s personal security Tiny who always seemed to be down here. “Because I bet one look at Graham and you go full on feels fest.”

“Says the girl who is already dreaming up designer gowns for her own fairytale wedding,” Ruby tossed out as they got into the elevator, clearly trying to deflect to Mary Margaret’s budding romance with David as she went a little red.

Emma knew that both Mary Margaret and Ruby had established exclusive relationships with Killian’s friends, but where Mary Margaret was fully aboard the train bound for long-term love station, Ruby was still holding back some. Maybe it was because of the new demands of her career, but Emma suspected it might have to do with the past heartbreaks Ruby had suffered through. Despite that though, Emma was pretty convinced Graham would find a way to get them through her uncertainty. Tonight would likely prove another big step on that road for him and Emma’s friend, and Emma was excited to watch it happen. Funny how finding a little bit of happiness of her own had made her want all of her friends to find the same kind of connections too.

“Oh come on guys, let’s not fight. Besides, Emma’s totally getting married first,” Belle stated confidently, causing Emma to trip over her own feet a little. 

“Belle!” Emma harshly whispered as the elevator doors opened and they walked down the hall to Killian’s place. “Could you not?”

“Not what?” Belle asked curiously. “I mean you love Killian right?” 

“I… well I mean I -,” Emma didn’t stand a chance at answering with all the emotions she was feeling, so her friends stepped in for her.

“She loves him,” the other three said at the same time, too loudly for Emma to feel at all comfortable.

“Seriously guys? You’re doing this here?” Emma whisper yelled. 

“It’s a simple answer, Ems. Yes or no?” Ruby asked, but just then Killian’s door swung open and there he was, grinning at her like he couldn’t be happier to see her. In his eyes there was this undeniable joy that warmed Emma through and lit up an excitement and a comfort in her all at once. It was intoxicating, but it was also pretty normal for the two of them. Truth be told Killian was always looking at her this way, and in the face of that look Emma couldn’t deny the answer her heart gave to her friend’s teasing question:

Yes, definitely yes.

………………

“Emma,” Killian exclaimed as he opened the door to find his Swan there waiting for him. “You made it.”

Killian was man enough to admit that he’d been endlessly waiting for the moment when a knock came at his door. His friends from the team who he’d invited tonight were already here, and despite the fact that he’d faced some pretty merciless teasing (mostly from Will and from Gus, since David and Graham had their own romantic hopes for the evening), Killian hadn’t attempted to hide his anticipation. He’d busied himself with getting things ready, and he was undeniably glad for the fact that the women arrived right on time.

“We all did,” Emma said, bringing Killian’s attention for the first time to her friends. He could have been embarrassed at the looks on all of their faces that said they totally knew he only had eyes for Emma, but he couldn’t bring himself to waste the energy, not when Emma was finally here.

“Well we’re glad to have you. Come on in, please.”

Emma’s friends heeded the request, stepping in with happy conversation and commenting on his place and how much they loved it. But while they enjoyed the introduction to his home and were greeted by his teammates, Killian pulled Emma in closer to him and stole a kiss that he didn’t want to wait for. It had to be swift and not nearly as much as he wanted, but it still settled something in him just as Emma’s smile after did. Having her in his arms and happy like this was a balm to any pain or sensation of loss, and now all the waiting of the past few days was forgotten since they were reunited.

“So you missed me, huh?” Emma asked in a hushed tone and Killian nodded.

“Always, Swan.”

“You’re kind of making me rethink this friends night,” Emma admitted. “The way you’re looking at me, I wish we had a touch more privacy.”

Killian felt Emma’s flirtatious words to his core and his body came to life at the touch of her hand against his chest. She was just as tempting as ever, and the bloody minx knew it too judging by the gleam in her green eyes. But Killian couldn’t regret the situation, especially when he had an eventual solution for that little privacy problem. All they had to do was wait and then the time for a proper evening together would present itself. His friends had already agreed not to overstay their welcome, and if they pulled through like Killian was hoping, Emma’s friends would be rerouted to a different plan for the rest of their night, leaving Emma and Killian some much needed time to reconnect.

“You’ll be glad to know I’ve solved that very problem, love.” 

“You did?” Emma asked with surprise as Killian took her jacket.

“Do you trust me?” he whispered against her ear, sending a shiver through her that he tracked with eager eyes. She was always so responsive and so present, and the thought that she was as affected by him as he was by her practically set his heart on fire.

“Yes.”

That one word so earnestly spoken was one of the most powerful gifts that Emma could give to anyone, and Killian didn’t take it for granted. Instead he took her hand in his and led her back into the fray of the party. A few more introductions were needed tonight. Emma and most of her friends already knew Graham and David, but with Will and Gus also joining them, and with Emma’s friend Elsa making her first appearance, there were some greetings still necessary. Once those were done, however, things immediately kicked off, not surprisingly at the hand of one Ruby Lucas.

“So… we were promised a competitive game night. You boys planning on delivering an actual challenge, or are we washing the floor with you?”

“I wouldn’t count us out just yet, Red,” Graham replied, “remember we play a game for a living.”

Killian noticed the sexual tension between the two of them, only shaking his head as Emma tried to suppress a giggle. There was a strange dance going on between Ruby and Graham, but at its core there was no denying they wanted each other. This should make the evening a bit more entertaining, at least for everyone else who wasn’t involved in the ‘will they/won’t they’ drama.

“Ah, so it’s guys versus girls then?” Will said absently and Gus elbowed him jovially, lowering his voice but not enough for Killian and Emma who were standing right behind them not to hear.

“Why, Scarlett? Sad you can’t make an ass of yourself in front of Belle some more. I’m sure you still can.” 

The display of wrestling that happened there after was juvenile but also fully predictable. What surprised Killian, however, was the fact that Belle’s reaction to it seemed to matter to Will. How strange – here was a man who weeks before had been adamant that giving a damn about a woman was the worst thing one could do. Now, if Killian didn’t know better, he might think Scarlett actually interested in the lass.

“Maybe we can switch it up?” Emma offered, attempting to mediate. “There’s more than one game to play. We don’t need to stay on the same teams the whole time right?”

“Right, love,” Killian agreed. “Plus some games aren’t drawn with teams – some you battle out alone. At least that’s what the woman at the store said.”

“Wait, you just bought all of these for tonight?” Elsa asked, motioning to the table that was stacked high with amusements and Killian shrugged. “You didn’t have to do that. Seriously, we can never get through all of these.”

“That’s okay,” David said as he wrapped his arm around Mary Margaret’s waist. “Just means we’ll get to those next time.”

Killian was tempted to have a good laugh at the blatant show of affection on David’s part, but try as he might he couldn’t fault his friend for the hopeful talk and assertive actions. It was clear as day that Nolan was taken with Mary Margaret, and if anything Emma’s friend completely ate it up. They were well matched to be sure, and Killian and Emma shared a look with each other, silently agreeing that of the other couple’s here it was David and Mary Margaret that seemed the most tied up in each other.

From there the night progressed even better than expected. Ruby made herself the unofficial master of ceremonies, much to Killian’s relief, and everyone eagerly participated and enjoyed themselves thoroughly. The whole band was so wrapped up in the games that it made his job as host that much easier. At times he would slip away from the action to the kitchen to get more drinks or bring out food, and though he didn’t expect any help he was thrilled to have Emma always by his side. It was like she anticipated all of his moves, and with the both of them doing the job of one person it left more than a few spare moments for them to enjoy each other’s company even in the midst of all the craziness. It was during one of those moments, between heated kisses in the privacy of the kitchen pantry that Emma started laughing to herself, making Killian wonder what exactly had her so elated. When he asked, she explained her reasoning. 

“It’s just funny that this is my life right now. If someone had told me six months ago that I’d be doing this I would never believe them.” 

“Ah,” Killian said with a grin as he pulled her even closer, her body totally flush against his as he dipped in so he was only an inch away from another kiss. “You weren’t particularly given to kisses amongst the spices, Swan?”

Emma rolled her eyes and shook her head even as she smiled. “You know what I mean. We’re really doing this – really giving this a chance. My friends and your friends are meeting, they’re mingling, and it’s easy. It feels right, just like every other part of you and me does.”

The lightness in his heart at hearing her thoughts made Killian pause for only a second. He wanted to take in the feeling and enjoy the moment, knowing that soon enough they’d be called back into the party and such conversations would have to be put on hold. Before that though, he wanted to make sure that Emma knew he agreed on every level and that he cherished this chance just as she did.

“My Mum used to say that sometimes, when something’s really right for you, you just know.”

“She sounds like a smart woman,” Emma mused as her fingertips grazed through the hair at the nape of his neck.

“Aye, she was. I only wish she could have seen how true those words were. She watched me find my first love, saw me give my blood sweat and tears to a game I thought was everything, but I have to believe she was hoping for this for me someday,” Killian said, taking Emma’s hand in his and bringing it over his steadily beating heart before confessing the rest. “I knew that you were it for me right from the start, Emma. I knew the moment I locked eyes on you that you were different and I had to do whatever I could to get to you. I knew you would change me and that I was ready for change. I knew I needed you, and now I know I always will.”

“You have me,” Emma said sincerely. “And I need you too, just as much.”

In that moment, Killian wanted nothing more in the world than to take that final step, to make the ultimate confession that he loved her. He wanted Emma to know this was a love that couldn’t be denied, and that this kind of love never came to fruition more than once in a lifetime. So many people weren’t ever lucky enough to feel such connection, but with Emma Killian had found that and so much more. The only problem was that when he finally did say that he would love her forever, he didn’t want the world outside so close at hand. They could still hear the sound of their friends playing just a few rooms away and they had a few hours to go before people left for the night. As such all Killian could do now was show her a small snippet of the promise this evening could bring, taking her lips with his again and letting himself drown in the fiery kiss between them. Eventually, however, he heard footsteps, and talking in the kitchen just beside them that caused Emma and Killian to break apart. 

“Do you think they left?” Elsa asked, no doubt speaking of him and Emma, 

“No I don’t think they left. But I do think they undermined my need for queso. I mean come on, twenty minutes? It’s just melting cheese… how long does that possibly take?” Ruby asked. Emma started shaking against him. He looked to find her trying desperately to hold in laughter and then he felt the same need to laugh that she did. They’d gotten themselves into quite a situation this time.

“Where could they have gone?” Elsa asked before hushing her voice lower. “You don’t think they’re… you know.” 

“Just say ‘doing it,’ Elsa. It spares you from vulgar language while getting the job done,” Ruby chastised. Now Emma groaned, making enough noise that Killian wondered if they’d get caught. Sure enough he had his answer a few seconds later when Ruby continued. “And no they aren’t, unless Emma got real acrobatic recently. They’re in the pantry.”

“How did she know?” Emma asked just as Elsa asked the same in the kitchen and Killian shrugged.

“Lucky guess?” Killian offered. “Either way, it’s probably time we face the music, so to speak.”

Emma looked liable to reply but she didn’t get the chance as Ruby opened up the door. “Oh good, you’re decent. See Els, no need to worry. Now come on guys, it’s Cards Against Humanities time and my undefeated streak doesn’t count if we don’t all play. Lord knows Emma’s my only competition.”

Killian chuckled at the boldness of Emma’s friend. Ruby was entertaining, he had to say, and though she walked the line of truly infringing on people’s privacy, she had a way about her that made it endearing instead of bothersome. His only worry was whether Emma would be embarrassed, but when he looked at her she was all smiles. Instead of shying away she looked blissfully happy, and she moved to take his hand in hers once again. 

“To be continued?” Emma asked as they walked through the kitchen and Killian nodded, knowing that soon enough he’d have Emma alone again, and when he did it would be just as perfect as each time before because it was the two of them together, just as it should be.

Post-Note: So as I promised there was just a ton of fluff in this and some fun friend interaction. If you’ve read other stories from me you know I like to have the balance between friendships and romance, and this chapter offered another opportunity for me to indulge in that. That being said, new challenges and hiccups will be presenting themselves in the coming chapters. Trust me that I will never leave you guys hanging though and any chapter that’s not pure fluff will get a warning beforehand. That being said I hope you guys enjoyed this installment and I would love to know what you all thought!!

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A/N: Hey everybody! Remember how I said there might be some hiccups along the way in this story? Well let’s call today a hiccup. It’ll be okay though, friends, because you know if it was actually really bad I would warn you before hand, but there is some drama today that’s been looming on the horizon for a while. Hope that you guys enjoy the chapter and I would love to know what you all think! Thanks for reading! 

“And you’re really sure about this, Jones?” Robin asked Killian as they stood in the team room adjoining the press hall in the stadium. “Because I can talk to Regina. Contract or not, she can’t force you into this.”

Killian appreciated his coach’s concern, and where many people might think that Robin was taking all of this too seriously, Killian knew the truth. The press could be brutal for athletes of his standing, and with his history there was bound to be some awkwardness. To go from one of the most talked about footballers in the world to pretty much off the grid for public consumption was abnormal to say the least. So far, however, the press had respected his boundaries. Over the past few months of the season, Killian hadn’t had to do this and he also hadn’t been hounded by paparazzi or rogue sports bloggers. That was thanks, no doubt, to the power of Regina and her family’s influence, but Killian knew he couldn’t ignore this part of his world forever. For better or worse this was a key element of his job, and the sooner he did this, the sooner he could be done with it. 

“She’s already screened the questions, which is better than most of my interactions with the press in the past,” Killian reasoned, his voice lilting with a joking edge as he shrugged his shoulders. “Besides the sooner I get this done, the sooner it’s behind me.”

“And the sooner you can get to your date tonight,” David chimed in as he walked up to them. “But brace yourself, man. There’s a lot of them out there.”

“There always are, mate,” Killian said, trying to portray the overconfident cockiness he was known for as he straightened out his suit jacket and headed through the doors.

Instantly the flashes of the cameras blinded him, pulsing every second as photogs tried to get the perfect shot of Killian. At the same time murmurings of his name, coupled with the most eager of reporters directly trying to talk to him, began. But all of this chaos was to be expected. The press was hardly known for its patience, especially with high profile players like Killian, but before it could get too out of hand, Regina called everyone’s attention back to her.

“Now gentleman, what did I say about manners?” she chided, her voice cool but resolute.

“Hey, there are ladies in here too,” one particularly overeager sportscaster said as Regina chuckled in response.

“There are, but they all knew I meant what I said and they’ll be rewarded for that. Yelling isn’t going to work in my house. You play by my rules or you’re out of here. Got it?” 

The quiet that settled in as Killian took his spot at the table before all the microphones was answer enough, and Killian fought the urge to smile at the looks on some of the audience’s faces. Many of the most taken aback journalists were ones he recognized as being on the European circuit, so clearly they hadn’t had the chance to tangle with the Queen until now.

The movement of the conference from there went as well as could be expected. Regina had told him that she needed half an hour of his time, and she ran a tight enough ship to allow that. Just as she promised, she favored almost all of those question-askers who had been quiet at his arrival with opportunity, leaving the others grumbling and frustrated. It provided an interesting dynamic for Killian too, since most of those early questions actually had to do with the game. He was happy to answer those, admitting that he hadn’t stayed on top of his stats as dutifully as he had in the past, but that he was happy with his effort so far this season and that of his whole team as well.

“Killian, what do you think that moving to the American leagues has given you?” one woman asked along the way, and though her phrasing was innocent it struck Killian with a bit more force than the other queries had.

The truth was that this move had offered him so much more than people would ever know. The answer that this fleet of reporters was looking for no doubt had to do with privacy from the press or a clean slate on a new team and both of those were undoubtedly true. But the most important thing that this move had given Killian was a wake up call about his life and what he wanted. He had entered this contract a far more broken man and he was now at the twenty game mark yielding both a perfect 20-0 record and a whole new world perspective. Now the game wasn’t the most important thing to him, Emma was, but strangely enough his change of priorities hadn’t hurt his playing it all, it had only made him better.

“It’s given me everything,” Killian responded evenly, and as all eyes and cameras remained trained on him he expanded the thought. “I left a great team back home, a talented group to be sure, with a city and a country filled with passionate fans. But the culture here is different. It’s not just the fact that Americans call it soccer that makes them unique.”

The press corps laughed at Killian’s purposeful joke, feeding into his ploy to appear charming and put together. Then Killian returned his eyes to the woman who had asked this question and pressed on.

“I honestly didn’t come into this expecting what I’ve found. The love of the game here is just as strong as anywhere in the world, and the emphasis on team as opposed to being the best is refreshing. It’s not about big names and perfect stats. It’s about which man gives his all on the pitch and which man doesn’t. This team is filled with men willing to go the extra mile, and I appreciate that.”

“And what about your personal life?” A faceless voice asked, going against the tone of the conference all-together. Regina was in charge of calling on reporters, but this man had spoken of his own volition and he showed no signs of stopping. “What about the hot blonde you’ve been seen with, Emma Swan?” 

In the span of two heartbeats Killian’s world went from normal to doused in anger and a little fear. It enraged him that this man would bring up Emma at all, never mind with descriptors that disrespected all she had to offer, but he was also shaken by the fact that people even knew of her. Here he was thinking he’d done all he could to keep things private between them. The press had mentioned nothing substantial about his dating life either here or at home, as Killian had been checking in every day, but that peace and solitude was broken now and Killian felt terrible and irate all at once.

“Cameras off, now!” Regina said, and immediately everyone complied, live feeds or not. The sound people moved to cut their recordings and the whole operation stopped so forcefully Killian was awed by it even through his anger.

“Now, who asked that?” Regina yelled, her voice cutting through the large room almost like a blade. “I will not ask a second time.”

As if people were so scared of her that they physically had to move, the crowd shifted and both Killian and Regina could see the perpetrator. Instantly Killian knew that the truce that landed him here had been broken, because this man was familiar. He was a writer for one of the most sordid tabloids back home and the owner of that tabloid just so happened to be Killian’s largest enemy: Gold.

“I think the people have a right to know about -,”

“This is the part where you shut your insolent mouth and listen well,” Regina replied, interrupting the man who clearly had balls to even try to go against her. Now, however, the reporter practically cowered where he stood. “I was very clear with my expectations, Mr. Glass, and even though you work for a dumpster fire of a paper, I let you into my home, into my stadium, with the understanding that you’d walk the line. Since you’ve failed to do that you are now no longer welcome.”

Regina motioned to the security staff who immediately stepped in and escorted the man out. It was a sight to see, and the display of power was almost chilling even if Killian was grateful for it. That being said the damage was already done. Emma’s name was already out there and that was Killian’s fault. Her whole life might be changed because of this and he just couldn’t forgive himself for that.

“You can go now, Killian,” Regina said in a way that was defined but more sympathetic. “I’ll handle this.”

Killian thanked her as he left, knowing that even if Regina was capable of granting a miracle this couldn’t be totally undone. Emma’s name was out there now, and whether he had a hundred reporters looking for the scoop, or just those in Gold’s army, it wouldn’t matter. The small kind of sanctuary he had and the beautiful freedoms he’d indulged in living in LA were gone. There was no more anonymity, and tonight’s date would likely be the last time he and Emma could make such a public outing without interference. The only question was should he try to enjoy the evening and then tell Emma, or should he come clean immediately and deal with the potential fall out? Killian was still grappling with that choice when he arrived at the restaurant where he and Emma were meeting and he was brought to their table where she was already waiting for him.

“Well if it isn’t Mr. Undefeated himself,” Emma greeted when he approached the table, and the teasing in her voice made the heartache Killian was dealing with all the more bittersweet.

Instinctively Emma got up from her spot to meet him, and though she pressed a soft kiss to his lips that was meant for a more casual kind of greeting, Killian couldn’t bring himself to let her go. He deepened the moment, letting himself get lost in Emma and the feeling of this bond between them before reality could settle in again. Losing himself in the kiss, his hands held her close, roaming her body and trying to map out every perfect curve and line about her. Killian felt Emma holding onto him too, meeting him beat for beat, before she finally pulled back, her breathing altered and her eyes wide with curiosity and lust.

“Wow. Well that’s one way to say hello,” Emma murmured, her fingertips coming up to cover her lips like she could still feel the kiss there. Meanwhile, Killian remembered that they were not alone, and as he spared a look around the restaurant he realized almost all eyes were on them. Luckily there didn’t appear to be any cameras, but damn if it didn’t bring the sad state of things barreling back at him.

“Sorry, Swan. I just… needed you.” 

“Don’t be sorry,” Emma said as she took his hand and led him into the table, scooting in so they were side by side in the rounded booth. “I’m sure not. That was a hell of a kiss.” 

“It was, wasn’t it?” Killian asked with a soft smile, even though he knew the answer already.

At that moment the waiter came over, asking them questions about wine and dinner and the like, and Killian allowed himself to get caught up in that even though he was distracted. He answered every query, and paid attention to everything Emma wanted as he usually did, but it was hard to be present right now. He was still reeling from the day he’d just had and trying to figure out what the bloody hell he should do. 

“Do you want to talk about it?” Emma asked when they were alone again and Killian met her gaze, slightly terrified of having this conversation even as he took comfort in the fact that Emma knew him so well.

“How did you know I had something to say?”

“Well for one thing you haven’t let me go since you got here,” Emma mused, drawing attention to how close Killian had her. It was an intimate hold but also a possessive one, as if subconsciously he was afraid that she would slip through his grasp. He looked back at Emma, expecting her to be upset, but instead she only smiled as her hand came to cover his. “And I may or may not know about the press conference.” 

“You saw it?” Killian asked, feeling himself blanch as he did. 

“No. But Mary Margaret did. She didn’t have much to say though, except that my name was brought up.”

“Aye, it was. I wish it hadn’t been. I’m so sorry.” 

“It was bound to happen, right?” Emma asked, taking this a lot better than he’d expected. “I mean we’re together, and, well I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that changing any time soon.”

“No, love, that’s not changing,” Killian replied, taking her hand in his and pressing a kiss to the top of it gently. “You know if I had my way this would be a forever kind of thing.”

Emma brightened at his words, looking as if she was about to say more, but then someone approaching the table caught her attention. Killian assumed it was the waiter again, but he never imagined who he’d find when he turned. For there was the devil in the flesh: Gold was here, and sporting a shit eating grin that put Killian’s whole being on red alert.

“Well look what we have here. If it isn’t Killian Jones and his latest fixation. How quaint.”

“What are you doing here, Gold?” Killian ground out, his words more a growl than anything else.

“I see your manners haven’t improved since your move, Killian. What a shame, since your pretty little date here seems sweet as can be.”

The words were designed to make Killian retaliate, but just as he was about to jump up Emma’s grip on his hand tightened. He looked at her and her face said it all: this wasn’t the place to get into a brawl, especially since Emma was in the dark right now, not knowing the full story. Even so, Killian knew he had to do something to get Gold out of here. He just didn’t know how the hell to do it. As he tried to think of something, Emma came to his rescue. 

“I’m sorry, Mr….”

“Gold,” the snake of a man replied with feigned charisma. “And no need to introduce yourself, dearie. I know all about you. You’re Killian’s latest conquest, and I can assure you that you are one of many.” 

“Did you just call me dearie?” Emma asked, sounding more put off by that than anything else even as Killian’s blood ran cold. “Seriously? It wasn’t bad enough you interrupted our dinner, you have to pull out the creepiest pet name to go with it?” 

“Ooh, this one’s got some fire doesn’t she Jones?” Gold replied with a grin that was so sinister it looked like something out of a horror film. “I can see why you like her. Such spirit. Such passion.”

Hearing this monster of a man speak of his Emma and mock the things about her that he loved so much physically repulsed Killian. His whole being was begging to go toe to toe with Gold right here and right now. There was no doubt who would win in a fight, at least one that was fair. Perhaps it was primitive but Killian felt like if he could just beat enough sense into Gold the man would get it and give up, but that wasn’t the case. With men like this there was always a looming trick and some complex strategy. Getting a rise out of Killian would no doubt play into that, so Killian attempted to restrain himself. 

“You’ve had your fun, Gold, but you and I both know you’ve already pushed things too far today.”

“Oh Sydney, right. Well he’s just so dedicated to the truth that one. There’s no way to rein him in,” Gold said with a showy smirk. “And we’re all obviously worried for you Killian. What with the drugs and the sex addiction and the -,”

“Enough!” Killian yelled, causing such a ruckus that in the moment thereafter the whole restaurant fell eerily silent. Killian instantly regretted his response in that moment, knowing Emma must be mortified at best and actually scared of him at worst. This was just about the worst thing he could imagine happening right now. At least Gold was quiet though, having flinched at Killian’s outburst. But the devil rallied enough to bid them a final farewell, trying to pretend he wasn’t intimidated even though Killian saw it in his beady little eyes.

“It was a pleasure meeting you Miss Swan. I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again very soon.”

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Emma replied, and with one final look between them, Gold departed, leaving a stale aura of tension in his wake.

The sinking feeling that he’d ruined all the happiness he had with Emma made Killian feel physically sick. Not only had he just publically embarrassed her by causing a scene in front of all of these people, he hadn’t prepared her for the monsters that roamed in the world he’d left behind. She knew only the bare minimum about his past. She didn’t truly understand the vendetta and how it all started. Now, perhaps, she would think it best to cut her losses. After all, who would submit themselves to something like this when they’d done nothing themselves to deserve it?

“We should go,” Killian whispered only just loud enough so that she could hear it. It pained him to think of doing so, but staying here with all these people looking on would only make things worse for Emma.

“No,” she replied, prompting Killian to look at her. In her eyes he saw questions, but more than anything else he saw determination. “If we go he wins, and besides, you promised me a date.”

“You mean you still want to…? But there’s so much I have to say. I should have told you before, Emma, it’s just -,”

Emma broke his train of thought by cupping his cheek and pulling him down for a quick kiss. It didn’t last nearly as long as their first of the evening, but it told Killian so much more than he ever hoped to hear. Emma was trying to tell him that she was still here and that she wasn’t going anywhere, and only when they broke apart and she offered another of her small smiles did his growing anxiety that she would leave him start to fade.

“Whatever it is, it’ll be okay. It’ll all still be there after dinner, and I’m guessing I’ll feel better hearing about it if I’ve had a few glasses of really good wine and some to-die-for pasta first, right?”

“Probably,” Killian agreed, shaking his head at the idea that she could be so certain of him.

“Okay then. Now, tell me about the game. Twenty straight wins – that’s pretty incredible if you ask me.”

Not as incredible as you are, Killian thought in his mind, but he bit back the words and three other little ones that would give away his whole heart. Instead he stuck to Emma’s plan, trying to enjoy the dinner as best as he could and knowing that whatever came next, Emma and him would be okay. And even though today had been a rough one, there was hope within it too – for today had shown him that the woman he loved was with him in this, and nothing could take that away from him, not even a demon like Gold.

Post-Note: There are no doubt a few of you right now staring at your screen in shock or dismay that I did not include their conversation. I swear I can actually hear some of you in my mind right now, but alas this is where the muse has led me. As you can imagine, this stuff with Gold isn’t over yet, and the next two chapters will actually be rather big ones, so big in fact that I’ve decided I want to try to post them together. My ideal is that in two weeks I’ll post one Saturday and one Sunday, but no matter when they come, please trust in my vision for this story and this couple – Emma and Killian always end up together in the end and it’s always a fluff fest when it’s one of my fics. This story WILL be a fluff fest, and since I have seven more chapters and an epilogue mapped out, there is plenty of time left for all the cuteness I have in mind. Anyway thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

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A/N: Okay my friends. I just want to inform you all before you start reading that this chapter is not my usual happy go lucky fluff. In fact, for some of my more soft-hearted readers (you know who you are), I would actually recommend that you wait to read this until tomorrow when I will post chapter 14. I won’t be offended at all if you wait, and by then the stormier seas will have calmed a bit. For the rest of you, however, I hope you will enjoy this chapter. It’s a really important one for the story and it brings us to a cross roads I have been anticipating since I first came up with this AU. That being said I appreciate you reading and look forward to hearing what you think!

“Okay, so does anyone have any questions about what our next steps are?” Tiana posed the question to a room filled with staff from the show who were all gathered for the weekly update. Before anyone could respond, however, Tiana ran through the final bullet points of the meeting they’d just had. “We’ve got the writers working on crafting episodes seven and eight now, filming of five ends today and six starts tomorrow in Burbank, and three and four are finishing in post.”

Everyone in the room nodded in agreement, giving Tiana the green light to end the meeting much to Emma’s enjoyment. Not that it wasn’t fun to be a part of a big show like this. So far she’d felt simultaneously challenged and excited at all of the scoring work she got to do to keep pace with a network production, but Emma always did better in one on one or solo settings. Being a part of a larger team and running through the plans had never really been her style. She was a workhorse, but she preferred to focus on her piece of the puzzle and leave the grand designs for showrunners and producers. 

“Emma, can I talk to you for a quick sec before you bolt?” Tiana asked, her smile wide as she called Emma out for her more singular tendencies. Emma agreed that she could and waited behind as everyone else filtered out of the conference room.

“What’s up?”

“’What’s up’ is that you are unbelievable, girl! I got the final cuts you sent over last night and it’s amazing. I got chills like five times, and I knew every twist that was coming.” 

Emma smiled at the praise, knowing that the magic of sound when added to a base cut was really something. A show or a film was never finished without it, and though it wasn’t the flashiest part of production, Emma knew the music and the score could pack just as much punch if done right as any dramatic acting or cinematography.

“Oh good, so this isn’t one of those ‘you’re fired’ kind of meetings then?” Emma joked.

“Hardly,” Tiana said with a genuine laugh as she shook her head. “You’re the real deal, Emma, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. I sent your stuff up to the network execs and they’re thrilled. They’re convinced we have a hit on our hands and you helped make that possible.”

“Just doing my part,” Emma said honestly.

“Well either way you’ve made some powerful people very happy, especially since there’s a new potential producer that wants in. A very wealthy producer.” 

Emma’s eyes widened at the statement. It wasn’t unusual from Emma’s understanding for producers to join as shows were still on the air, but to add someone with money this early when the pilot hadn’t so much as premiered was a big deal. Though Emma hadn’t worked much in TV before, she knew that shows were seen as a big risk in their first few seasons. There were a lot of factors that could make or break a new series, and at the end of the day the most important thing was ratings. To survive, a show needed to resonate with a lot of people, millions of people, and that wasn’t so easy these days. 

“Congrats, Tiana. That’s awesome. I know how hard you’ve worked on this, and you deserve every success.”

“Thanks Emma. So that being said… I was hoping I could ask for a favor.”

“Name it,” Emma said, willing to do whatever she could to help out her friend and boss.

“The potential partner is in town just for today and he’s coming to check out the production side of things. He’s going to see a bit of the set and meet some of the actors but he’s also interested in post, specifically the music. Turns out he’s heard of you and he was hoping to get a look at your process.”

Emma hadn’t expected anything like this and to be honest she was surprised. Despite all of the interest that she’d garnered after the Oscars, Emma still felt strange about being noticed, and the actual craft of scoring was always a relatively personal thing. She collaborated of course, working with other musicians and sound designers, and reporting to directors and show runners like Tiana, but to have an outsider in her space was a very different thing. For some reason it made her a little uneasy, but rationally she knew that was silly. She should just take the compliment and live up to her promise to Tiana. This would be fine, just a few minutes spent schmoozing with a potential investor, and then she could go on her merry way.

“I know, I know, it’s kind of weird and intrusive. I wouldn’t ask if I could see a way around it, Emma, but he seems really interested and…”

“And in this business money talks,” Emma said, prompting a knowing nod from Tiana.

“Exactly. I mean technically we don’t need the money, but it just never hurts, even if we know we just have it for a rainy day.”

The rationale Tiana offered was something Emma understood well. It fit in with the facts of Tiana’s backstory that Emma already knew. Coming form a working class family and losing her Dad early in life, Tiana was used to living in the real world where having things was not a given. She might have had some advantages over Emma, being raised by her mother and her grandmother, but that same underlying pull to try and create a comfort that she never had was there. Money was something that granted access and possibility, but it had to be worked for and protected. Emma knew that first hand, and she knew the drive to collect and save what she could just in case something went wrong. For that reason she could let go of her misgivings and do this for the show and for Tiana.

“I understand,” Emma said. “Just send him down whenever you’re ready. I’ll be around most of the afternoon.”

“Fantastic!” Tiana said with a clap of her hands. “I owe you, Emma.”

With the conversation now finished, Tiana took her leave, no doubt to play superwoman and handle every possible crisis or flare up that would crop up through the day. Emma, meanwhile, headed to the studio, deciding it was best to continue on like it was a normal day instead of focusing on a potential visitor. She situated herself in the booth and got to work.

Having just finished the final touches on an episode the night before, Emma now had a whole episode to create for. It was a real blank slate to start fresh on, and there were completely different themes needed for the final cut. She needed a few pieces for Ruby and her costar – the heroes of the hour and the side of good that the audience should root for. Some of those themes she had already made, and she’d only have to rework them a little from previous episodes, but others required she start completely from scratch. Emma needed emotion packed pieces for the episode’s twist and one for the sad state that the victims were in at the beginning before Ruby and her partner stepped in to save the day. But in the end Emma decided to go for a darker, more sinister piece today.

In every episode of the show there was always some kind of villain, the person (or creature) that committed the crime or was causing the chaos that the heroes had to fix. Usually that was a harder mindset for Emma to get into, and for the past few episodes she’d left that piece almost for the end, but after last night’s fiasco at dinner and the run in with that terrible Gold fellow, Emma was feeling strangely inspired. It wasn’t difficult to channel the emotions needed to depict monstrosity, not when she’d experienced his cold, calculated evil, and been filled in on so much more after dinner.

“Truth be told, Emma, I don’t even know where to begin,” Killian said as they finally entered his apartment and she told him that it was time for them to talk. “The lies that man has told… they’re not something I ever want to touch you.”

“I think it’s too late for that. I know you’re trying to protect me, Killian, but the only way to do that is to tell me the truth.”

“Aye, love. I know. I only wish it wasn’t quite so ugly.”  

Ugly or not, Killian confessed everything to her that night. He told her about the life he used to have, which was pretty much on par with what Emma imagined the life of a world-famous soccer player would be. She had hardly imagined he was a monk, and honestly she’d just been glad it wasn’t as bad as it could be. In the scheme of things, the unmoderated drinking and the partying and the fights wasn’t that bad. When she thought about the drugs and the lifestyle of some of the people she’d met here in LA she was relieved. That being said she wasn’t exactly thrilled at the fact that there was a time when he leaned into the bachelor playboy image, and hearing about his liaison with Gold’s ex-wife… well it just didn’t sound like the man she knew now.

“Why did you do it?” Emma asked, genuinely curious as to why he would start something with a man like Gold. Surely Killian had to know it would go terribly, but he’d made the choice anyway. He wasn’t stupid, so there must be a reason.

“Because my life was in shambles, love. I had nothing even thought it seemed that I had everything, and I was too foolish to realize that the dream I’d always had lacked anything like substance. I was tricking myself into believing that I had what I wanted, but everything I had was a lie. It wasn’t real or authentic, and I think deep down I knew that. I was desperate to be checked, to be forced out of the same bloody horrible cycle, and this was just a way to have to face the music.”  

Emma thought long and hard about that, and it made sense the more she thought about it. Killian had been scouted when he was still so young, and before that he’d dedicated his whole life to this sport. He had no one in the world except for his brother and the only thing they really seemed to share was soccer. Emma imagined what a dream like that would mean for a young man, and she knew that anyone is his position would be tempted to give in and live the fast life that went with it. She could even understand his reasoning now about subconsciously wanting someone to put a stop to all of it, even if she never would have made those kinds of choices herself.

“Do you regret it?” Emma asked, wanting to hear what she already knew – that he was different now and that he wanted different things than he had in the past. 

“No,” Killian replied, surprising her. “I mean yes, I wish I hadn’t made that choice with Milah. It was beyond bad judgment. It was seedy and ugly and it’s spiraled to something I never imagined or ever wanted. But even the worst parts – the complete lack of privacy, the lies, the character assassination – they were worth getting here. I wouldn’t have ever found my way to you without those choices, Emma, and though I’m ashamed at the man I was, I had to make those mistakes to find you and I can never regret that. I can only move forward. I can only try to show you that I’m not really that man. Not anymore.”

For better or worse Emma heard those words and she felt them to be true. She looked at him and the details of his past that weren’t all happy and shiny and hopeful and she accepted them. Killian wasn’t perfect, but Emma knew she couldn’t judge him. Bad choices were something everyone dabbled in at some point or other, and after Killian had told her everything and more, Emma felt like she had room to share some of her own worst moments too.

“I was in juvie,” she blurted out, both because she wanted to alleviate some of the feelings of shame on Killian’s face that had formed since his confessions and because she knew that she wanted him to know every part of her just like she did him. “I was sixteen. I’d run away from another group home and I tried to hotwire a car to get me out of the state.” 

“Tried to?” He asked, clearly shocked but not giving off any kind of judgmental vibes as he pushed for details.

“Okay, I did hotwire a car.” Her words made something shift in his gaze and Emma swore he looked impressed. Leave it to Killian to find the best in one of her worst faults. “And I made it a whole ten miles before I got caught.”

“What kind of car was it?” he asked after a thoughtful pause, completely surprising her. Most people asked what happened. They asked what juvie was like or if she regretted her decision, but not many cared about the car. She’d always appreciated that since it was a bit embarrassing.

“This vintage yellow beetle, and by vintage I mean old.”

“You’re kidding.”  

“I’m not.”

She’d then proceeded to tell him the rest of the story, about how juvie was the scariest thing she’d ever gone through and how she’d started to really let go of the belief that things would ever be okay. Emma had been alone her whole life, but solitude was better than being there those first few weeks. The culture inside there was tense at best, and she’d felt isolated and afraid all the time. Only when she’d been put into some of the art and music classes had she found any sort of comfort, and the only reason she’d had a fighting chance at a better life thereafter was because her music teacher and her social worker had stayed in touch. They’d seen something in her and they fought for her second chance when Emma didn’t know how. Everything she had now she owed to them, and she didn’t think she’d ever have found her path if she hadn’t made some terrible mistakes. 

But even though last night had proved a critical step in their relationship, Emma couldn’t help but resent Gold. His presence in LA might have forced Emma and Killian to be open with everything, but his intention was hardly helpful. He was a cruel man and a vengeful one and Emma could never forgive him for what he’d done to Killian and what he was still doing. Wasn’t it enough that Killian’s reputation had taken such a hit and he’d been forced to leave the team he loved? What kind of person kept kicking someone when they were down?

Someone with an unchecked ego and a whole bunch of crazy, Emma reasoned to herself as she thought it over, and it was that dynamic that made Gold the perfect muse for a villainous figure. He lacked the heart most people had, and his actions undercut the sympathy any one could feel for him. Maybe he’d been wronged, but his vendetta surpassed the bounds of decency and that was a monstrous trait indeed, one Emma hoped she’d never have to deal with face to face again.

“Knock knock,” a voice said, pulling Emma from her music, and as she pulled off her headphones a sudden wave of apprehension hit her. The voice had been muffled by the audio on her feed, but even before she looked her hair stood up on edge. When she turned to find Gold, she was only half surprised even as she recoiled. God this man was creepy, and she definitely did not want to be anywhere near him. 

“How did you get in here?” Emma asked, ignoring any kind of pleasantries with a man who deserved no such kindness. “You shouldn’t be here.” 

“Now, now, Emma. Is that any way to talk to a new investor?” He said with a wave of his hands and a flash of his teeth that was less a smile and more a snarl.

Emma’s heart sank at the realization that Gold was the potential producer Tiana was scoping out and she knew that despite Tiana’s hopes this was not going to work. She hated to make her new friend choose but if Gold was signing on then she was signing off. That being said, Emma had always prided herself on being able to read people, and she didn’t actually think Gold was here for an investment opportunity. He was here to cause trouble, plain and simple.

“You and I both know you don’t actually give a shit about the show,” Emma said, wanting him to give himself away without her asking him flat out.

“Oh Miss Swan, how you wound me. You really think I’d stoop to such a low? You think I’d come all this way for nothing?”

His voice dripped with sarcasm, making the strange tone it had grind upon her ears even more. It was almost sing-songy and Emma wondered if and how he got away with these theatrics in the real world. Apparently money bought a lot of freedoms the rest of the world didn’t benefit from. After all, she couldn’t be the only one who thought he was so over the top. It was clear as day and frankly undeniable.

“I think you came here to mess with Killian, and it’s not going to work.” 

“You say that now, but that’s only because you don’t know -,”

“I know,” Emma cut in, interrupting whatever crazy rant he was about to go on. “I know what Killian started with you. I know the choices he made.”

Gold grinned at this, seeming to take a sick satisfaction in the fact that he had forced Killian to reveal himself. Emma wasn’t swayed by his reaction in anyway though. In fact, she just felt more hostility and more need to defend Killian and assure Gold he hadn’t hurt them in the slightest. 

“I also know that you’re insecurity is what’s brought you here. You’re fighting a war over what, your hurt pride? If you ask me that’s the sign of a very insecure kind of man.” 

“Well no one asked you, did they?” he snapped, his attitude shifting from the weird playfulness to full on threat. Her blood ran cold as she saw the malice that crossed his expression, but just as soon as it was there it was gone. Jesus, this guy was a full on sociopath. “Besides, it doesn’t matter what you say, dearie. My battle with Jones ends when I say it does."

“What else is left?” Emma asked. “You’ve already taken so much -,”

“I have,” Gold sneered, interrupting her. “I thought I’d taken everything, in fact. But then low and behold you arrive and now it’s like he’s won. I can’t have that, Miss Swan. Surely you must see that.”

“So you what? Thought you’d get on this show and threaten me.”

“It crossed my mind a time or two,” Gold said brightly. “But you strike me as the kind of woman who is burdened with integrity. My guess, having met you, is that you’d play the martyr. You would leave this job and any other before you hurt him.”

Emma stayed silent even though what Gold said was true. She didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he was right, but Emma knew that this job wasn’t worth more than what she had with Killian. Music would be her passion no matter what, and as for the rest of it, she’d figure it out. She’d always figured it out before.

“That’s why I’ve decided to change my strategy. You can relax, dearie. I won’t be signing on for the show. You’re little dreams are safe from me. But Killian’s…”

“What about Killian’s?” Emma asked defiantly. “You can’t get to him. He’s protected now. He’s signed on with Regina and they have an agreement.” 

“They do,” Gold said. “And at one time she was a valuable ally, but the tides have changed.”

“What did you do?” 

“I did what I do best, Miss Swan. I found the person I needed, then I found their greatest weakness, and from that weakness I struck a deal. This deal just so happens to be with the president of the European Soccer League.”

The sense of foreboding Emma got from this weighed heavily on her. She had a thing about lying – she knew when someone was being honest, and Gold had all the power here. Whatever weapon he had found he was being honest about it, and Emma knew exactly what he had planned without his even having to say it. He still did of course, because he was terrible, and as the words washed over her Emma only felt worse and worse.

“You see, in exchange for some discretion about the… less than savory parts of his life, he’s made me a promise – that Killian Jones will never play in Europe again without my say so. He’ll never play in any respectable league without my go ahead, and he will never get that, dearie… unless.”

“Unless?” Emma asked, her heart pounding in her ears as her palms grew sweaty and her eyes threatened to form tears. She fought them though, unwilling to show weakness to such a man.

“Unless you end things with him. Now.”

And there it was, the ultimatum. Either Emma would give Killian up or she would take away the biggest part of his world. Killian loved soccer, and for all Emma knew he had every intention of doing his time here before going back. Everyone talked about how he deserved that chance, how the league here wasn’t challenging enough for him, and how the world deserved to see him on a stage befitting his skill. But in giving him up Emma would be giving up so much of herself, because she loved him – she loved him in that big, huge, once in a lifetime kind of way, and she didn’t think she’d ever get over him no matter what other dreams may come her way.

“I know this is a lot to process, Miss Swan, you seem very taken with Jones for whatever reason. I realize you’ll likely have to think about it. But I will warn you my offer is not without limits. You have twenty-four hours to make your choice and in the meantime there will be no contact. No calls, no visits. If you speak to Jones the offer is void. I want you to cut him off completely. It’s the only way I’ll consider the score even.”

The numbness Emma felt at taking all of this in was debilitating. She was so angry and so hurt at the same time. There was so much emotion swirling around inside of her that she was paralyzed from it. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t think. She felt trapped and suffocated all at once. It was excruciating, and Gold loved every second of it. He even had the balls to laugh at her pain and at the horrible choice he’d given her.

“I’ll take your stunned silence as a sign that you understand me, and that I should go.” With that he grabbed his things and made to head out. But before he left he turned back once more offering one last cruelly gleeful grin. “Good-bye, Emma. I hope you make the right choice.” 

Emma couldn’t say exactly how long she stood there when Gold was gone. It could have been seconds, or an hour or more. Honestly, she was reeling from the interaction, caught up in a daze that she just couldn’t seem to shake. She was stuck in limbo, unsure of where to go, but eventually something did pull her from the mire of her thoughts: the familiar ding of a text message sounding from her phone. She reached for it quickly, hoping it would be Ruby or Mary Margaret. Someone who could help – someone she could trust, but instead it was exactly the person she wasn’t supposed to see.

K: Missing you like crazy today. We still on for tonight?

Her finger hovered over the reply bar for a while. One heartbeat. Two heartbeats. Three. Four. Five. But the more that came the harder it was to think. She just didn’t know which way to go. Her heart was dying to say yes and to tell him she loved him. She wanted to run to Killian, to tell him the truth, and to find a way to fight this together. But she hesitated, wondering if that was love or if it was selfishness. Was she making that choice for them, or would she be doing it for herself because she loved him and couldn’t picture a life without him?

Emma didn’t know the answer to that question, and Gold said reaching out in any way would make the choice. Once she replied the damage would be done, and so she didn’t, instead shutting off her phone and slipping it into her bag with the rest of her things. She didn’t know where she was going, but Emma knew she had to leave. She had to run, and right now she didn’t where she was going, only that she had to go.

Post-Note: To those of you brave enough to ignore my warning and read this I hope you aren’t too angry with me. I did warn you after all, so you kind of knew what you were in for. That being said I PROMISE I am going to fix this for Emma and Killian and I am going to fix it next chapter, which as I have said, will be posted tomorrow night. I really hated to make it a cliff hanger at all, but the chapter was already a lot longer than my normal one so the cut off had to be made. Don’t worry though. I will make the next chapter longer too to make up for it. Anyway, thank you all so much for reading and I hope you have a good rest of your night!!

Chapter Text

A/N: Okay friends I’m back, as I said I would be, and I can PROMISE that I am not leaving at such an unfortunate place with this chapter as I did last time. No, no, no. The time for cliffhangers and what-ifs is behind us. That being said I hope you will enjoy this installment and I thank you all for reading!

When he was a child, Killian had been told time and time again that staring at a clock wouldn’t make time move faster. He assumed the same logic worked for cell phones, and so it was arguably fruitless for him to keep staring at this blasted contraption. Surely Emma wouldn’t respond sooner because he wished it to be so. All the same, he was feeling restless and worried not having heard back from her all day.

It was very unlike Emma to leave him hanging. In all the time they’d been together Emma was nothing if not effective at communicating. Even in the depths of her most music-heavy moments, she was a creature of habit. Emma took breaks and checked in with the world in that time, and so the fact that he hadn’t heard from her since she left his place this morning was alarming. Couple that with the fact that they were supposed to see each other at eight and it was now well past ten and Killian was really starting to fear the worst. He knew in his heart something wasn’t right, but short of calling her friends or showing up at her place, what could he do? For the moment the answer did not present itself, so he found himself pacing around the kitchen, stopping every few minutes to check his phone again.

Last night Killian had faced a moment that brought real and tangible fear to the forefront of his life for the first time in a long time. The confrontation with Gold had angered him and terrified him too, but despite all Killian’s misgivings about coming clean, Emma had been accepting of the mess that stained his past. It had been the hardest thing he’d ever done to fess up to her, and though there were moments of heartache where he watched her taking in some of the worse mistakes he’d made, he’d never met a person who was so rational in the face of emotion like Emma. 

It turned out that Emma had this ability Killian never anticipated where she could reason through all of his bad choices and all of the happenings that had brought him to LA. She’d listened carefully, asking questions where they were needed and putting together the pieces of a puzzle Killian wished wasn’t so convoluted. Then, at the end of it all she’d not only accepted him, she’d shared her own demons too. If Killian were to wager on it, he’d say he now knew every part of Emma’s past that Regina’s little file had contained months ago, and having that exchange of past missteps between them had made it possible to overcome his fear. After everything, Emma still trusted him, and for Killian that was the single most important thing.

With the truth out there in full, Gold’s power was now seriously lacking in Killian’s estimations. Perhaps Gold had sway with the press and with teams in his old league, but since Killian only cared about his relationship with Emma, and since Emma had assured him that she was in this for the long haul, bad press or not, he felt like he had everything. No matter what may come professionally, Killian had more than enough to keep him blissfully happy as long as he had Emma by his side. 

The only problem was that right now she wasn’t here, and the more time that passed, the more Killian began to worry that Emma had changed her mind. Maybe in the light of day this had all gotten to be too much for her. Perhaps some time between when she’d left for work this morning and now she’d seen the light and realized she was worth more than such a sorry state of affairs. He hoped that wasn’t the case, knowing he’d never move on from Emma Swan, but just as the wave of uneasiness around him began to crescendo to an all time high, his phone rang.

“Emma,” Killian murmured aloud as he went to grab it, but instead of seeing her name it was his brother’s. Again. Fuck!

Killian had been barely keeping in touch with Liam since the last spat they’d had, but today his brother had been calling and texting him more than usual. If it was an emergency, Killian would have known – but from what Liam had written he just ‘wanted to talk.’ Whatever Liam believed to be so important, now was not the time to be speaking about it. He had more pressing matters and no patience for whatever business happenings or sport politics Liam was no doubt intrigued by. Killian ignored the call and threw the phone back on the counter. Seconds later there was a knock at the door. Again hope swelled in Killian’s chest, but when he looked to see who was there, he was completely shocked.

“Liam? What the hell are you doing here?”

“You’ve been ignoring me,” Liam said by way of answer as he let himself into the apartment. 

Killian looked his brother over, finding Liam just the same as when Killian had left him back in London. If anything Liam was harder now, his suit starched to an almost painful crispness and his blue eyes looked cold and distant. He appeared ever the professional, but Killian could also sense that he would not like what his brother had come here to say. There was an edge to Liam’s presence, and where that edge came, a row was almost sure to follow.

“So you got on a plane and flew here?” Killian asked, incredulous that his lack of response would prompt such a bold move.

“I did what I had to do. Two minutes a day hardly cuts it, Killian.”

“I’ve been busy,” Killian replied, knowing that was true even if Liam had a point. If Killian hadn’t been angry still he would have given his brother more attention. Unfortunately for Liam, Killian hadn’t fully forgiven him for his reaction to learning about Emma. 

“Oh trust me brother, I know,” Liam replied, dropping a stack of papers on the table. Killian looked down and saw that the pile contained dozens of photos and that the subjects of the shots were he and Emma.

“Are you spying on me?” Killian asked, the anger in his voice apparent as his arms folded over his chest. If Liam were spying it would be such a flagrant crossing of any line of decency that Killian didn’t know how they’d come back from it, but Liam scoffed at the query like it was utterly preposterous.

“Hardly. These were sent to me this morning, and while I’ll admit that most of these are rather dull, there are a few worth seeing.” 

Liam pulled the photos in question out of the lineup and the sight of them made Killian’s heart drop. While the others were mundane shots of Emma and Killian on dates and about town together, the ones Liam fixated on were taken today. Killian could tell because Emma was wearing the same yellow dress and braided hair that she’d left with this morning, but she didn’t look anywhere near as happy as she’d been when they said goodbye. That no doubt had to do with the fact that she wasn’t alone in any of these photos. Gold was with her, and his presence immediately set off warning bells in Killian’s head.

“Where did you get these?” Killian asked, his fingers tracing them over as the ire in his heart grew stronger. He didn’t have any details but already he knew Gold had done something monstrous and it filled Killian with rage to think that man would have the audacity to approach Emma where she worked. At the same time a creeping sense of dread worked its way up through his system. The only reason Emma had to deal with such a lunatic was because of Killian. He was in some ways responsible for this, and it made him ill to think he had put Emma in the path of such a tyrant.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” Liam replied too cavalierly for Killian’s liking. “What I do care about is finding out just how deep you’re in with this woman.” 

“Excuse me?” Killian asked, not following.

From what he could see in these shots, Emma was repulsed by Gold and she wasn’t trying to hide it. She looked angry, and in one photo she actually look hurt. It was clear as day that this was an ambush and a set up, but Killian supposed that to others who didn’t know her Emma’s poker face might come across as convincingly unaffected. Knowing her as well as he did, Killian could read every emotion without doubt, but Liam went on to pitch a completely different story of events Killian would never consider.

“Oh come off it brother. I just chartered a bloody plane to make you see what’s so clearly there. She’s playing you, Killian. It’s the only explanation.” Killian wanted to interrupt but Liam raised his hand to silence him and pressed on. “I looked into it. Gold’s a secret partner on the show she works on and he’s planning on funneling millions more into the project, enough to guarantee a multi-season arc. He’s essentially paying her salary for the next three years, and what’s more these pictures go back to the very day the two of you met.”

Killian’s gaze moved to an image of him and Emma on the street together that first morning. It was insane that this had been documented, and in a different situation he might be grateful. How many people got the chance to see photographic proof of the moment they fell in love at first sight? But the person behind these photos was a sick and twisted man. A man with no moral fiber who would clearly stop at nothing to try and ruin Killian, including dragging a perfectly innocent woman into the darkness with him.

“Gold has known of Emma since the start, brother,” Liam continued, clearly not seeing that Killian found all his analysis to be complete and utter rubbish. “What are the chances that one of his paps just happened to be there when you two first met? No, I wouldn’t put it past him to have set all of this up. It’s a con, Killian, and I believe Emma is in on it.” 

Words failed Killian in this moment. He was so unspeakably angry at the accusation he was sure steam must be physically spewing out his ears. How dare his brother insinuate that Emma was some kind of prop or con woman! Liam didn’t know her. He didn’t know a damn thing about her, but here he was passing judgment, again! Killian had no interest in even responding to such drivel and instead he left the kitchen, moving to the door to grab his jacket and his keys. Now he had a better idea of what was happening even if he was still mostly in the dark. Gold had ambushed Emma today, and if he were to guess he’d threatened her with something. Whatever he’d said had actually scared Emma, and Killian couldn’t have that. She had to know that he would protect her and he wouldn’t waste another moment waiting to assure her of that.

“Where are you going?” Liam asked, alarmed at Killian’s ignoring him, but Killian didn’t give a damn. Instead he slammed the door behind him and headed out.

The usually quick drive over to Emma’s place felt like it took a small eternity, and by the time he’d arrived Killian was shaking from the excess adrenaline in his system. He didn’t know what lay in store for him behind Emma’s front door, but he knew he had to fix it. He marched up to her apartment and knocked loudly. He prayed that Emma was here and that she would open up and let him in, and a few moments later the door opened and a noticeably irate Ruby appeared.

“Where is she?” Killian asked, not bothering with any kind of polite greeting as he tried to move inside. Ruby kept her body in front of the entry, denying him access.

“Oh no you don’t,” she said defensively before dipping her voice low with even more fury sewn in. “I don’t know what you did, Killian Jones, but I have a mind to kick your ass. You said you wouldn’t hurt her. You promised me.”

“I know,” Killian said, feeling defeated. “But you have to understand -,”

“I don’t have to do anything, asshole! You fucked with the wrong girl. You think you can just break my best friend’s heart and get away with it? Not gonna -,”

“Ruby, don’t,” a small voice said from behind them. Killian knew that it was Emma though he couldn’t see her given Ruby’s command of the doorway. “It’s not what you think.”

“Hold on a minute,” Ruby said to Killian, and before he could argue the door shut in his face again and the locks were put back in place. Behind the door Killian could hear muffled whispering, and though he couldn’t make out words he knew Emma must have said something to appease Ruby’s protective instincts. A few more seconds passed and she opened the door again. “You have five minutes.” 

“Ruby,” Emma said, chastising her friend and Ruby sighed.

“Fine. You have until Emma decides to kick you out. Satisfied?” Ruby asked Emma and Emma gave a tiny smile. Ruby took that as enough sign that Emma was doing okay and then she slipped through the front door and down the hall, leaving Killian and Emma alone. 

Taking in her appearance, Killian felt a tremendous sense of guilt and heartache. His Swan’s beautiful green eyes were rimmed with red like she’d been crying for a while, and her expression was both exhausted and forlorn. It tore Killian apart to see Emma that way, for even if he hadn’t been the direct cause of those tears he was the one who burdened her with Gold in the first place. Whatever that demon of a man had done… well Killian would never forgive himself for the pain it was causing Emma. 

“Killian… I’m so sorry,” Emma whispered, surprising him with her words.

He moved towards her, counting himself a blessed and fortunate man when she didn’t shy away. Instead she melted into him and he wrapped her up in his embrace, breathing in the scent of her as he kissed the crown of her head. Killian’s eyes closed for a moment as he let himself take comfort in holding her again. Having her in his arms was the only thing that could heal the pain he’d been harboring since Liam arrived, and he thanked God that whatever had happened, Emma wasn’t decidedly against the two of them being together. She was still open to him, even if she hadn’t come to him like he wished she would.

“Emma, I promise you, whatever you’re thinking you have no reason to be sorry. You just have to tell me what happened. What did Gold say to you?”

“You know about Gold?” Emma asked, clearly surprised and Killian filled her in as quickly as he could about Liam. He tried to breeze over the fact that his brother didn’t trust her, and luckily she allowed him to divert back to the central question – what had happened to make her act this way?

“Please, love, just tell me,” he begged and soon enough she relented.

“He came to me today and he…” her voice broke but she held it together, willing herself not to cry. “He said that if I continued to see you, if I even so much as replied to a text, that he’d know and he’d end your career. He said the deal you had with Regina meant nothing, and that the only way you’d ever play in the leagues where you belong again was if I…”

Her ability to speak collapsed in that moment. She released a broken sob and Killian’s whole body felt the impact of it. He was distraught at her grief, but as the intention of Gold’s plan became apparent to him, his emotions began to blur into something he couldn’t fully understand.

“If you left me,” Killian filled in numbly as Emma nodded, her tears still streaming down her beautiful face.

It was all so clear to him now. Gold’s goal was to take everything Killian loved and leave his life an ashen wasteland in the process. Killian just never imagined that Gold could come this close to totally destroying all Killian held dear. Losing the game would have been a blow, but losing Emma would have crushed him entirely. There would be no recovery. He didn’t think he was strong enough to take that kind of pain.

“So you were just going to end it then?” Killian asked, his voice a hollow sound so unfamiliar to his ears.

“I didn’t want to, but it seemed like the only way.”

The only way? It wasn’t a way at all! Life without Emma wasn’t something he was interested in, and when he considered the leverage Gold had it was nothing. So what if he never played another bloody game in his life? It wouldn’t matter, and Emma should have known that. He’d been trying to show her that for months, but she didn’t see. Hell, maybe she didn’t want to see because she herself didn’t feel the same. 

“Was it that easy for you to say goodbye?” Killian asked, his own hurt and insecurity getting the better of him.

“Easy?” Emma parroted like she couldn’t believe he’d described it that way. “You think this is easy? Today has been one of the worst days of my life, Killian. Staying away from you has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I almost gave in a thousand times.”

“But you didn’t. You made a choice.” 

“A choice for you!” Emma yelled as her arms waved in the air. “Don’t you get that? I couldn’t let him take your dream, Killian. I had to protect you. That’s what you do when you love someone – you fight for them and you do anything you can to see them happy!”

Though her irritation was undeniable, there was only one thing in that moment that stuck out to Killian.

“You love me?” Killian asked. More tears spilled from her eyes as Emma looked down to the floor.

“Of course I love you, but it’s not enough because -," 

Whatever Emma was going to say, Killian couldn’t bear to let her say it. For though the circumstances were anything but ideal, his greatest wish had just been achieved. Emma Swan, the best woman who he had ever met, had just confessed that she loved him. Through some miracle this woman had given him her heart, and she didn’t see that that was everything. With this kiss he hoped to show her how precious her love was and to make her see that nothing else even registered when compared to that. Their relationship was all that he needed, plain and simple, and when they broke apart from the kiss he made sure to say that as clearly as he possibly could.

“The only dream I have that matters, love, is the one where you and I are together from here on out. I don’t give a damn about any of the rest of it. I just want you, Swan. Because I love you, more than anything in the world.” 

“You do?” Emma asked, her tears having shifted to happy and relieved ones as her lips curled upward in a hopeful smile. 

“Aye, love. There is no choice. Football’s a game, but you… Emma, you’re everything. I can’t live without you, Swan. I won’t do it.” 

“I don’t want that either,” Emma promised, her hands holding tight to his shirt as if she was afraid he’d slip away somehow. “I was just scared. I didn’t want to take your choice away. I didn’t know how I’d live without you, but I didn’t want you to resent me.”

“I understand, Emma, really I do,” he assured her. “But you have to promise me that from now on you run to me. Whatever it is, whatever the threat, we will face them together. It’s the only way.”

“I promise.”

The two of them seemed to be of the same mind in that moment, opting to forego anymore talking and to find their reassurance through each other. They kissed again, this time with just as much heat but a deeper rooted need to take things further. For Killian’s part, he was determined to love Emma as she deserved, and that would start with taking her back to her bed and ravishing her fully. They managed to get to her room without breaking apart, and once the door was closed, Killian had her pushed against it. Instinctively he rubbed the hard and heaving lines of his body against hers, reveling in the shiver that coursed through her and the breathy pants of need she set free.

“Killian.”

His name was a sigh on her lips as her fingers came to rip his shirt off and then his came to tear hers away as well. It riled him to see more of his love exposed to him, but while Emma seemed intent on moving quickly, Killian couldn’t bear to. Tonight he wanted slow and steady, a declaration of the way his love for her would last forever. He wanted to map out every luscious piece of her and pull every type of pleasure from her body, but first he needed something from her.

“I need you to say it, Emma.”

“I love you,” she said without hesitation, understanding him fully and he released a growl at that, tearing off the rest of the layers between them. He maneuvered her to her bed and from there he was a man on a mission.

“Again, Emma,” he commanded as his mouth hovered just above her breasts, his hand teasing upward on her thigh, headed to the place she wanted him most.

“I love you, Killian. God I love you so much,” she said as her eyes closed and her body arched upwards. He rewarded her as his fingers entered her and his thumb brushed her clit. She moaned and then his mouth moved to her hard peak and her hands ran through his hair. In no time at all she was riled to a state where release was imminent, and without his even needing to ask she murmured that she loved him again.

Her orgasm washed over her as Killian gave her everything she needed, but while she came down from the high, Killian was hardly finished. He worked to rile her up again quickly, and by the time his mouth was at her sex she was whimpering for more. His eyes flicked back up to hers. She watched him with a wild expression, and the need and love he saw there on her face had his hard length jerking almost painfully.

Killian believed that Emma must think she was saying the words again, but truth be told she was so consumed with sensation, her exclamations weren’t exactly coherent. Instead they were the most beautiful music to his ears, a serenade of Emma’s want for him that he’d memorize if it killed him. He warred with his want to finish her quickly and give his Swan what she wanted, but instead he tormented her with his mouth and skilled tongue. Only when her whole body was flush with need and she was practically begging did he send her over, and then he kissed his way back up above her, waiting for her eyes to blink open again before he told her all he felt.

“There has never been another love like the one I have for you, Swan. There is no me without you anymore. I’m changed now. You changed me, and I am yours, forever. Just as your mine. We belong together, love, and that’s exactly how we’ll stay.”

“Mine,” Emma whispered happily, the mistiness of her tears returning as she ran her fingers along his jaw. 

Killian knew what this meant for Emma. She’d told him how much it hurt in her past to not belong to anyone – to never have anyone claim her and to not have someone to claim in turn. Her friends had been the only exception, a family she was blessed to have, but the truth was that she dreamed of more, and Killian would be that dream for her. It was only fair, after all, since she was every good thing in his life and so much more.

With a hard thrust, Killian filled Emma completely and he had to stall for a moment at the tight wet hold of her heat. Fuck, she was perfect, made for him in all ways, and it felt like a miracle every damn time he was in her. When he moved again and set a rhythm designed for satisfaction, all thoughts fled his mind. There was only getting them both to that state of perfect bliss, and when they found it the two of them had both been of the same mind, saying those three little words to each other at the moment that they fell apart.

“So how long do you think this will last?” Emma murmured sometime later as her fingertips trailed across his chest lightly, drawing a design neither he nor she was conscious of. 

“This?” Killian asked, assuming she meant the relationship between them. “Well Swan, I thought I was rather clear in my promise to you. I said forever and I meant it.”

“No not us,” Emma said laughing as she shook her head. “I meant -,”

Before Emma could get her thought out a loud knocking came from the front door and it as accompanied by an equally audible proclamation. 

“All right, you two. I’m coming inside this apartment now, so if there was some super hot make up sex that didn’t make it to the bedroom, now is the time to relocate!”

“There we go. I knew she’d be back,” Emma said giggling as she ducked her head into Killian’s chest. 

“I guess we should count ourselves lucky. A whole two hours. She showed a lot of restraint,” Killian joked and Emma shook her head as she sat up, slipping from the bed and getting some clothes on. Killian followed suit, hating that this moment had ended, but knowing he would end up in bed with Emma tonight regardless. There would be no more leaving. Not now. Not anymore.

“Oh believe me, someone kept her busy,” Emma replied. “Only question is was it the girls, or was it Graham?”

“I told you they wouldn’t be out here in the living room, Red. You owe me five bucks,” Graham said from where he and Ruby were now in the apartment and Emma covered her mouth to stifle more laughter as Ruby responded. 

“Trust me, Humbert, once Emma gives me the all clear, I’ll make it up to you, and what I have in mind is a whole lot better than ‘five bucks.’” 

“Oh God,” Emma said with feigned severity as she took Killian’s hand. “Come on, let’s go tell them the good news. The sooner we do, the sooner they leave.”

“Ah, can’t deny I like the sound of that, love.”

And with one last kiss, the two of them set forth to assure their friends that the storm had passed, knowing all the while that the next time trouble came they’d be ready and that they’d always have each other, no matter what.

Post-Note: So there we have it – I told you guys I would fix things up and the biggest hurdle is now conquered. Trust me when I say that any CS based angst is behind us now, and while there might be some more hiccups, the love isn’t going anywhere. We haven’t quite seen the last of Gold yet (or Liam either), but Emma and Killian are ready for the battles, whenever they might come. Anyway, I hope that you guys liked the chapter, and I want to let you all know that I am not exactly sure when the next chapter will be up. I will be launching a new story next weekend as a part of CSSNS and I am not sure if that will effect when this story gets added to. That being said this story still has five whole chapters and an epilogue left, so don’t worry. It might take a little longer for an update to come, but it will come, I promise. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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A/N: Hello friends. This chapter is coming to you after a little extra time away, but I hope you will forgive me after you read it. I enjoyed writing this because it brings a little closure in some ways, and sets CS up for more of the cuteness that the end of my stories always bring. I hope that you guys like it and I would love to hear what you all think! Thanks for reading!

Sitting in Regina’s palatial office on the top floor of the Mills Inc. building, there was no denying that she and her family were loaded.

Killian was by no means a poor man. He’d been saving for years, and his contracts were some of the highest paying that the sport had ever seen. With Liam’s advice and know-how, Killian had taken large chunks of his wealth and made more money on the right kind of investments and endorsements, but still there was a difference between rich and obscenely wealthy. Regina was clearly in the latter category.

“I’d say you get used to it, but I’m not big on lying,” Robin whispered as they awaited their host. Killian shook his head and turned his attention back to his coach, amused by the commentary. 

“So if I asked where you and Her Majesty are relationship wise you would say…?” 

“I plead the fifth.”

Robin responded with a grin and a jovial laugh that spoke to his happiness. Killian didn’t need more confirmation than that. His coach and the team’s owner were clearly together, and Killian was glad for them. Robin was a good man, and though Regina was… well, Regina… Killian wished them both well in whatever they were doing. 

“Smart move,” Regina said as she walked into her personal office, giving away that she’d been listening for a while. Both men made to stand up but she waved them away. “No need for that. We’re at war gentleman. Ceremony has no place in a warzone.”

“War?” Robin questioned, clearly entertained by the ferocity in Regina’s voice. His lightheartedness in the face of her fire put Robin in a category all his own. Few men would see such intensity and be interested, but Robin looked downright infatuated. “Isn’t that a bit… much?”

“Maybe. But I love a good battle,” Regina said, looking happier than Killian could imagine any sane person being under the circumstances. “What do you think, Killian? Is it a war you want?”

“No,” Killian said, surprising himself and Regina as well. Honestly though, when he thought of it he didn’t want a never-ending saga. His heart wasn’t set on vengeance or revenge, it just wanted Gold to be gone and gone for good. “I want peace for me and Emma. Now if the only way to get that is through a fight, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet there’s another way.”

“Good. I like the no fighting idea. Let’s go with that,” Robin said enthusiastically, drawing a deep sigh from Regina.

“Well, I was going to save this for a big finale – let us get a few good rounds in before just to mess with him - but I guess if you two are hell bent on taking the high road…” 

The revelations that came from Regina thereafter were astounding to Killian, and he almost didn’t believe the words that the team owner imparted to him and to Robin. It turned out that for more than a year Regina had been cultivating a plant within Gold Industries, and that plant had been slowly moving up the ladder, gaining more and more access to the deeply unethical underbelly of a company that seemed clean on the outside. They were tracking and logging all of the happenings, and to Killian’s amazement, Regina was now confident that there was enough to take to the feds and get Gold in seriously hot water.

“I honestly didn’t expect these kind of results so soon, but Gold got sloppy, as fickle minded men are prone to doing.”

Regina’s words again could have been a turn off for a more ordinary bloke, but when Killian glanced over at Robin he looked proud of his woman instead of put off by her disdain for the male population. At another time Killian would seek to further analyze such a dynamic, but instead he focused on Regina’s words, which were more than he could have ever hoped for.

“It turns out Gold couldn’t juggle his hatred for you and his illegal business dealings all at once. We’re talking everything – corporate espionage, bribery, a hint of treason… and a couple of people on his personal black list who just so happened to get hurt or go missing. My source has documented all she can. All I have to do is make a call to my contact at the Bureau and that’ll be the end of it. He’s going away, no matter how much money he has.”

“You’re serious?” Killian asked, still stunned at the revelation. Regina held the key to the demise of a man they all know to be abhorrent, but still she waited. She should have acted weeks ago, or whenever the bloody hell she’d had enough to take this to the authorities. “Then what are you waiting for? Make the call.”

“I want to, really, I do. There’s just one problem. The second I make that call, you don’t need me anymore. If there’s no Gold there’s nothing keeping you from leaving when your contract is fulfilled. You’ll be back to Europe the second the season’s over.”

And there it was, the ultimatum. Killian knew the other shoe was going to drop at some point and now it had, but it wasn’t as bad a prospect as it could have been. As far as blackmail went, this was of a rather tame variety: keep playing for Regina’s team and Gold would go away. It was an easy trade in Killian’s estimations.

Regina.”

Robin’s tone of censure was harder than Killian was used to hearing it. He clearly did not find this funny any more, and this final proposal was not something Robin would let stand. In fact, this was the closest to angry that Killian had ever seen his coach. The usually calm man looked downright heated, and again the intrigue of what he was witnessing struck Killian. If only the team were here to witness this with him. This was something that needed to be seen to be believed.

“You want me to sign on for longer with the team in exchange for bringing down Gold?” Killian asked as Regina and Robin remained locked in some kind of stare down. He only asked to clarify, and there was no resentment in his tone because the truth was he had already been thinking at length about staying on.

Meeting Emma had fundamentally changed Killian’s earlier expectations. Where before he viewed this relocation as a punishment that must be born to get back to a better place, now his time on the team represented a new start that he vastly preferred to the life he had before. All of that had to do with Emma, and since Emma’s life was here, his would be too. That left him with two viable options: continue playing for this team or leave the game for good. He found that he didn’t have an issue with either plan, but all things considered he’d like to stay on with the sport he loved, even if the competition would never match what he’d once known.

“No, she’s not saying that,” Robin exclaimed at the exact time Regina said, “Exactly.”

“Regina, are you kidding? Tell me you’re kidding,” Robin begged as Regina looked at him like the man had three heads.

“What? You want him on the team, you told me so yourself,” Regina explained. “I’m giving you what you want.”

By this time Robin had jumped up from his seat and begun to pace the floor of the office. His hands rested on his hips and his head shook forcefully, as if the action would physically erase the thought he found so terrible. He looked disgusted at the way Regina was going about this, and while Killian wasn’t quite as clueless as Regina, he had to admit he was taken aback by such a strong reaction. This situation didn’t merit such an incised response, but Robin was a man guided by character and integrity, so it stood to reason that such a play would make him uncomfortable.

“I don’t want it. Not like this, Regina. It’s bad enough he was forced to come here in the first place. You want to hold him hostage all over again? You want to take away his will, for what? Another winning season? No, sorry. I won’t be a part of that.”

“Fine,” Regina said with a sharp exhale after a moment’s pause. “I’ll make the call, no strings. Happy?” 

“Thrilled,” Robin said, and though he still looked huffy he walked to where Regina was behind her desk and planted a kiss on her that was by no means work appropriate. Killian ducked his head to give them some privacy, but still, there was no denying he’d just been privy to something that was not fit for public consumption. “We’re going now.”

“I think that would be best,” Regina murmured, her voice so much softer and less testy than it was before.

“I’ll see you tonight?” Robin whispered lowly, but Killian still heard the man. He pretended to completely miss the question for everyone’s sake, but it was hard to act like everything was normal given the situation. 

“Yes, tonight,” Regina agreed before she set her eyes back on Killian. “Sorry, Jones. Old habits die hard.” 

Receiving an apology from Regina felt like a once in a lifetime kind of thing. The woman was hard headed, stubborn, and pushy. She’d crossed a few lines already and stepped on more than a few toes before, but never had he seen her apologize. He knew the change in her was likely brought on by her feelings for Robin, but either way Killian would accept it. There was no sense turning down her small display of humility, not when they were both on the same team.

“You handle Gold and send a competitive offer to my brother and I’ll consider it,” Killian replied, and though it wasn’t a direct verbal acceptance of her apology it was symbolically.

Leaving Regina with a victorious look on her face, Robin and Killian made their way to the elevator bay in silence. It had been quite a meeting they’d just attended, and there was a lot that could be said about what had just transpired inside the four walls of that office. Killian didn’t dare to broach any of it though. He had no desire to make things awkward with a man who he considered to be his friend and who had put himself on the line for Killian’s benefit. To do so would lack all honor, and Killian knew better than that. 

“Not a word about this to the others.” Robin’s words might sound like a coach’s orders to some, but Killian knew it was a sincere request and not a demand.

“I was never going back to London,” Killian said, giving Robin his own secret to hold onto. It would keep things equal between them, and Killian could tell from the look in Robin’s eyes that his coach understood the gesture and appreciated it. “Do me a favor and keep that from the Queen for the time being, aye?”

Robin agreed that he would as the elevators opened on the first floor. At that point the two men said their goodbyes, and Killian headed off, allowing himself to fully rejoice in the good news now that he was alone. Gold was done for, and soon enough justice would be served. He and Emma might not be free from the pressures of the press, for those would never truly go away while he lived anywhere near the public eye, but his worst adversary was soon to be toppled. Knowing that that lifted a heavy weight from Killian’s shoulders, and by the time he ended up at Emma’s apartment, he was practically floating with that happiness.

Standing in front of the door, Killian pulled out the key that Emma had given him a few nights before. After they’d said I love you the exchange between them seemed merited. Killian wanted Emma in every corner of his life, and she felt the same way. Killian felt the privilege of her trusting him like this sincerely though, and as he walked inside his smile couldn’t be contained. This was a beautiful life that he’d stumbled upon and he, quite frankly, couldn’t imagine being happier.

“Oh come on! That’s a totally bogus call. He was off sides! Are you blind, ref?”

Emma’s irritated words spoken allowed led Killian to believe they might not be alone tonight despite his hopes, but when he walked into the living room and found his Swan she was very much by herself. It was quite a sight to behold: Emma, a novice to the game, who had no love in her heart for the sport before meeting him, was willingly watching a match between his next opponent and another team in the league. Her focus was entirely on the television before her, her eyes taking stock of the ball as it moved across the screen and there was no denying as he watched her for a moment before she could notice he was here that she was enjoying himself. It did something to his heart to witness this from Emma, because he knew she was invested because of him. Learning the game and watching it played was about trying to understand that part of his life, and Killian was flattered and elated that she loved him enough to take this on.

“Ugh, these calls are bogus. It’s gotta be rigged,” she murmured, talking to herself as so many millions of fans had done before her. 

“Feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?” Killian asked, pulling Emma’s attention to him. Her smile at seeing him was immediate, but he noticed the blush that spread over her cheeks. She’d been caught indulging in this and she knew it, but Killian couldn’t bear to comment on it before coming over to kiss her. He’d gone hours without getting the chance to do so, and he was about to share such happy news with her, it seemed only fitting. 

“If I knew watching ‘football’ would turn you on like this I would have started ages ago,” Emma said when they came up for air. During the kiss Killian had taken a seat with Emma and she had managed to find her way into his lap, just as he wanted her to be.

“You really want to pretend this is your first time watching, Swan?” Killian asked with a raised brow and Emma shrugged.

“It just happened to be on, that’s all.”

Killian laughed at her attempt to hide the truth and Emma caved to the laughter too, burying her giggle in the crook of his neck and sending the reverberation of that gorgeous sound pulsing through him. The reality of the situation was so transparent, especially since the channels to watch these games in the states was so obscure no one ever saw it. People were more likely to watch his old league play than American ‘soccer’ and so there was no chance of casually happening upon the station. It required active searching or a preexisting knowledge of what number would provide the right coverage, but Killian would let her words slide, knowing in his heart what she’d really been doing for him. 

“You seem happy,” Emma claimed, her eyes coming back to meet his as if she was searching for any other kind of emotion.

“I am happy, Emma. Gloriously so,” he confessed as his fingers came up to brush a few wayward locks of her blonde hair back behind her ears. God she was perfect, and she was, thankfully, all his. 

“So the meeting went well then?”

He explained to her all the ways in which it had gone better than well, watching as Emma’s eyes grew wider and answering any questions she had along the way. It shocked her that Gold could be undone like this and that the time for his demise would come so soon. A couple of times she asked for more details on Robin and Regina (since she and her friends had all long since heard of the strange match that existed between them), but her interest always circled back to Gold and the triumph of good over a bad.

“I can’t believe it,” she finally whispered. “He’s really going to be gone, just like that?”

“Well I imagine there will be some dramatics involved. A man of his stature isn’t going to go down without a fight, and he’s hardly the most even-tempered man to begin with.” 

“How long do you think he’ll be in prison?”

“Depends on how the trial goes. But I suspect it’ll be a very, very long time.”

Relief washed over Emma at his words, and Killian wanted to promise her that he would take care of everything and that there was no way Gold would ever taste freedom again, but he couldn’t do that. All he could do was trust that the system would prevail, and rest assured that if it didn’t, Regina wasn’t above getting dirty to make sure he went down and stayed down. As it was, this was truly an ending to the chapter of their lives that had anything to do with Gold. His time had come and gone, and there would be no rise of that monstrous man every again.

“It’s just…” Emma paused, trying to find the right words to relay her thoughts on the extraordinary circumstances. “I mean you couldn’t write a cleaner ending. It’s like that part in the movies where the villain meets their terrible fate. The bad guy lost and the heroes live to fight another day.”

“And in this movie what role do we play, Swan?”

“The heroes, duh,” she said, teasing him as a playful smile appeared at her lips.

“Right. And these heroes, they’re the ones that get the happy endings, correct?” Killian prompted as his hand ran up her side. He wanted to hear Emma say again how she loved him, and that, yes, they were destined for a happy ending. Instead she rolled her eyes at his cheesiness, but even that action couldn’t deter from how good he felt right now. 

“Like you don’t know,” Emma huffed, pretending to be annoyed. Before she could take her act too far and leave him though, Killian’s hold on her tightened. The air between them swirled with a new delicious tension, and Killian saw the moment Emma felt the shift as lust colored her jade colored eyes.

“I do know, Emma. I know you and I are destined for miraculous things, and as for happy endings…”

Killian’s hand traced a delicate design along Emma’s skin, finding the flesh beneath her shirt and teasing her with his touch. He pressed a kiss to her lips, then to her jaw and to her neck and he felt Emma gasp for breath only to sigh into the action. Her heart beat at the same frantic rhythm as his, and she melted into him, her fingers grasping onto his shirt as if letting go would mean the end of this perfect thing between them.

“Yes?” Emma asked, reminding him about his earlier thought where her gorgeous body had driven him to distraction. He pulled back to look in her eyes, his hand cupping her cheek in a tender motion.

“Ours is bound to be better than any that came before.”

And with that promise, and some fancy maneuvering to get them both up from the couch and into her room, Killian attempted to show Emma just how breathtaking and wonderful and life-affirming their story was bound to be. For the road before them was long and light, and though dark days may come again, it was nothing they couldn’t handle, as long as they faced it as they always should: together.

Post-Note: Hey all! So I have closed the door (for the most part) on the Gold story line now. Still ahead we have some Liam stuff to get to, but rest assured next chapter will address that last hiccup for good. I hope that you enjoyed and I would love to hear what you thought! Anyway thanks so much for reading and hope you have a great rest of your day!!

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A/N: Hey all! This chapter is a bit longer than last time (because I couldn’t seem to stop writing), but I hope you will enjoy it all the same. It’s bringing more closure and CS cuteness so I imagine you’ll all be okay with it. Anyway thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoy!

“If you’re just joining us, the lead story in the country and around the world tonight is that media mogul Robert Gold has been taken into custody after a court in the district of Los Angeles moved to indict. Gold surrendered himself just hours ago and he had been charged with multiple felony charges ranging from extortion to embezzlement.”

It didn’t matter that Killian had told Emma just a few days ago about this next turn of events; it was still surreal to see a man who had tried to ruin their lives actually face justice. The video evidence of Gold’s public shaming was incredible, and it was staggering to see just how far the man had fallen in a matter of hours.

For Killian this was a very happy day, and Emma felt the same way. Maybe it was wrong to smile at another’s misfortune. A better person would have washed their hands of Gold’s crimes and not cared about getting any kind of revenge, but Emma wasn’t like that. She felt vindicated and calmed by the fact that Gold was truly out of the picture and that he’d failed. He wanted to destroy her relationship with Killian – to make Killian miserable and to break both their hearts in the process – but he never succeeded. Instead Emma and Killian were stronger than ever and the two of them got the satisfaction of watching that creep get escorted away from his gaudy estate in cuffs.

“Is it terrible of me to say that I kind of wish there was more to it than this?” Emma asked, pulling Killian’s attention from the screen and back to her. She sipped her morning coffee before shrugging and explaining what she meant. “I mean I know he’s ruined. Whether or not he stays in prison for life, his company’s been taken over by the board and he’s got virtually nothing compared to what he had before, but…” 

“But it would be nice if someone delivered him a swift punch in the face.”

“Exactly!” Emma exclaimed, relieved that he got it even as she looked bashfully down to the counter where her breakfast remained. “I mean I’m not saying violence is always the answer or anything, but the man tried to tear us apart.”

“I don’t think a punishment exists befitting that crime, love. It’s a sin that can never be forgiven,” Killian said. “Even if he never would have been successful.” 

In the days since Killian and Emma had their scare, both of them had come to a single conclusion: that even though Emma had withdrawn into herself when the crisis came calling, it would never have lasted. Neither of them could stay away, not even Emma with all her past traumas and fears of being alone. Even if Killian had waited she would still have reached out and chosen him over running. Ultimately the love they both felt for each other was too strong for her to have actually walked away, no matter what the repercussions. Emma was only glad Killian understood that, and that he didn’t harbor any resentments for her actions.

“So have you heard anything?” Emma asked, pushing him in a different direction than Gold’s impending time in jail. This was about the team he used to play for. Now that Gold was gone they must be scrambling to get him back, right? Only complete morons would wait around and hope he just came back on his own.

“Not yet, love. I told you, you’d be the first to know,” Killian vowed, kissing her on the temple before bringing his cup to the sink and washing it out.

“I know,” Emma said dropping the rest of her drink beside his before running her hand along his chest soothingly.

“Why do I feel like there’s something you’re not saying?” he asked, his humor apparent even as curiosity got the better of him. 

“It’s nothing. This is your business, Killian, and I trust you to make the right calls for you. If you’re happy, I’m happy.”

“But…?” he said, knowing there was something Emma wanted from him. She caved and came clean.

“It’s just that I don’t think you are happy,” she said. He tried to refute that but she put a finger to his mouth to quiet him. “Okay I know you’re happy, but not in every way. You need to talk to your brother. I know that he hurt you, but I think if you gave him a chance he would make up for it.”

Killian’s hands tightened slightly where they were on her hips and the newfound rigidity of his posture spoke volumes. Truth was Killian was furious at Liam. He had admitted as much to Emma when he told her of Liam’s visit. Killian didn’t go too into detail, but Emma had her suspicions. It would take a lot to rile Killian to this level, and in order to do it Liam would have had to say some not so flattering things about her.

“I’ve five minutes before I have to leave, love. I don’t really want to spend such precious time talking about Liam.”

With the words out there between them, Killian tried to distract her. He dropped kisses along her neck, tormenting her with the promise of all that this remarkable man could get done in so short a window. Emma felt herself giving in, leaning into the action and it was crazy that he could spark her need for him so soon. All last night (and again this morning) they’d been saying the long good bye before he left for his away game this morning. It shouldn’t be possible to want him this much. She should be completely sexed out by this point, but with Killian the limit of need didn’t seem to exist. She always wanted more, and it was so very hard to turn him down, even in moments like this when she absolutely had to.

“Fine, then we won’t talk about it,” Emma promised as his hands trailed across her body. She felt the trail of arousal that followed his every move and she bit back a groan as he purposefully teased her. “But that doesn’t mean we have time for this either.”

“We’ll make time, Swan. I promise it’ll be worth your while,” he said, his voice dripping in innuendo and igniting her already charged libido.

“Killian, you’re the one with the plane to catch not me. Trust me I’d like a whole lot more than five minutes, but we just don’t have it.”

Killian stopped the teasing, but his hands continued to hold her close. She felt him trying to steady his breathing, as if the very thought of him having to go was painful to him. She could understand his hesitation. This week away for his next game would be the first time they’d said bye since all of the Gold stuff had happened. They’d been lucky that the team had a home game and then a by-week, but their luck had run out. Never the less, Emma knew that they could handle the distance even if it hurt for now. Hard as it was to say goodbye, they were at a new level, one where no obstacles were going to stop them. The love they shared was made of stronger stuff than anything that would try to break it, and what was that old saying? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well, in their case their hearts might be as fond either way, but the coming together after time spent apart always made for even more fireworks than they were used to.

“Soon enough the season will be over, love, and then there’ll be no getting rid of me.”

Emma smiled, turning around in his arms and kissing him surely, loving the fact that when they broke apart his smile was gone again. She could see in his eyes he was still sorry to be leaving, but he was as certain of her as she was of him and that meant a lot to her. 

“You do realize I’ll still have to work, right?” 

“Aye, but I was hoping I might be able to tempt you to take a holiday. I’ll take you anywhere you wish, all I ask is a week of just you and me together.” 

“Hmm,” Emma said, pretending to consider what was hands down the best offer anyone had sent her way in a damn long while. “How about this – you win the championship this year and I’ll go with you. Deal?”

“Deal,” he said with a huge, cocky grin growing on his handsome face. “Best request the time now off, love. We’ll be making that trip. That cup is as good as mine.”

Emma giggled as Killian pulled her close, going on and on about what an ‘ace player’ he was and how he’d ‘bring it home’ for her. She had to admit she loved this totally self-assured side of him. The swagger was hot, there was no way around it, and knowing that a good man lay underneath those layers made her heart swoon all the more.

“I’ll speak to my brother, Emma,” Killian said seriously, his hand running across her cheek. “Not because he deserves it, but because you wish it.”

Emma couldn’t help but smile at that and she pulled him down by the collar of his jacket to kiss him again. This perfect man was willing to do anything for her, even if it meant facing things that would no doubt be hard and unpleasant. When they came apart and stayed close with their foreheads touching, she kept her eyes closed, soaking in the scent and the feel of him and knowing it would have to hold her over for the next four days at least.

“I love you, Killian.”

“And I love you, Emma. I’ll be back soon, and I’ll call you when I get there.”

Emma walked him to the door, trying to comfort the pang in her chest with the knowledge that he would never really be gone at all. He was leaving his heart here with her, and soon enough he’d be back again, filling her life with laughter and love and all those other beautiful things she’d grown so fond of.

“Bloody hell, I wish you’d just take me up on my offer and stay while I’m gone. You’ve already got a key. It would make me happy to know you’re here and safe.”

“Oh believe me, I’m plenty safe in my apartment. Ruby’s got moves you couldn’t even imagine,” Emma quipped.

“Actually I might,” Killian said with a deep chuckle as he pressed one last kiss upon her lips. “Just think about it, Swan. You’re always welcome here. You know that.”

“I do. Now, seriously get going or I will call Tiny up here to drag you away.”

“Aye aye, Captain,” he said with a last salute that made her laugh more than she should as he walked out the door and headed off to his responsibilities. God he was corny, but she couldn’t seem to stop loving him anyway.

Once the door was closed behind him, Emma locked up again and then turned back around to take in his place. She might not be planning to sleep here alone, but Emma had a free day ahead of her before meeting with her friends tonight. She had all sorts of ideas of how to laze the day a way in Killian’s swanky apartment. He had a huge TV, a fully stocked kitchen, and a bathtub any sane person would kill for. Seriously, it was obscenely perfect and she figured if she had to face the hardship of her boyfriend being gone yet again, she might as well get a good soak out of it. But just when had was settled on how to indulge first, she heard the telltale sound of the alarm being shut off and the lock on the front door unbolting.

“Killian?” Emma asked, wondering what could have prompted him to come back. She knew he’d been thorough in his packing before, and now he would most certainly be late. Walking back to the entryway she was shocked to find not Killian, but a man she recognized from photos that were all around this house. It was Liam. 

“No, sorry. You’ll have to settle for his brother." 

“So you’re the famous Liam.” Emma responded, putting on a smile she hoped looked more confident than she felt. “I’m Emma.”

“In the interest of honesty I should tell you I knew that already,” Liam said, confusing Emma as he did. That was… nice of him, she guessed, but at the same time it felt like the statement was charged with something other than friendliness.

“Killian’s not here at the moment. He just left to catch the flight to New York.”

“Aye, I know. I was waiting for him to leave.” 

“Really, why?” Emma asked, not following. Was he checking up on the place or something? 

“Because I wanted to meet the mysterious woman who has my brother all tied up in knots,” Liam answered as he waved his hand towards her direction. “I suppose I could have gone a more traditional route, but I didn’t want Killian playing referee. I have some things I need to ask you, Emma, and I didn’t trust my brother not to fight me on it.”

“He does tend to get a little over protective,” Emma mused. “But I sense that’s a family trait. Whatever your questions are, you’re clearly here for Killian. You want what’s best for him, and you don’t think I’m it.”

“I don’t know what to think yet,” Liam said before pulling out a chair and motioning that he intended to sit. “Do you mind?”

“Go for it, it’s not my place.”

“But you have a key,” Liam prodded and Emma’s brow furrowed.

“How did you…?” Emma’s question trailed off as she realized she might not like the answer she received.

“I organized Killian’s move here. The manager of the building has been keeping me informed of any changes. A key was made, and you’re here while Killian is gone, therefore I’m left to assume he made the key for you.” 

“Did you ever think that you should ask Killian these kinds of questions?” Emma said then, trying to keep composed even though she felt annoyance on Killian’s behalf. 

“Yes, but he wouldn’t answer me and it’s my job to know these things.”

“Your job as his manager or as his brother?”

“Both.” 

“Right…” Emma said, shaking her head but not wanting to fight with this man over the fact that neither of those roles required going to such lengths. “Well you said you came because you had questions. Might as well ask them.”

“What are your intentions with my brother?” Liam said, pulling no punches as he dove right in. 

“My intention is to see where this goes. I love him. He loves me. I’m hoping it’s forever, but it’s still new so I’m trying to manage my expectations.” 

“And what about your career?” Liam asked, as if he was checking items off a list instead of bringing up what seemed like a totally irrelevant topic after Emma had just poured her heart out.

“My career?” she parroted, not following.

“Surely you realize being tied to my brother is a boost to you. People will know your name now, you’ll be on their radar, that means more work for you.”

“I was plenty busy before I started dating Killian,” Emma said, not liking the insinuation that she hadn’t hustled for every success she’d gotten so far. “Believe me when I say I’m not in this for the spotlight.”

“But can you handle it? Can you handle his life? Whether you want it or not, Killian’s fame isn’t going anywhere. Not while he’s still playing, and not for a long time thereafter. Things have been quiet while he’s been over here, but that’s not sustainable. If you’re not okay with that, what’s to say you won’t run when things get bad?” 

“If you actually talked to your brother you’d know things have already been bad. But I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

“Gold’s a nasty piece of work,” Liam said, his commiserating tone surprising Emma as he continued on. “Killian was an idiot to provoke him, but that man is something else entirely.”

“Yeah, I’m not a fan,” Emma said, wondering if Liam knew about Gold’s currently imploding situation.

“I thought you were working for him,” Liam confessed and the accusation made Emma’s heart seize up. The thought was so repugnant to her she could feel her anger building, but Liam walked back the statement. “But I realized that assumption was incorrect when I gathered more intel. I should have trusted Killian’s instincts in that regard.”

“You talked to Killian?” Emma asked, now totally understanding why he had been avoiding his brother the past few days. She could only imagine how angry that would make him, because there was no way Killian ever would have believed her capable of that.

“I did. Maybe it was wrong of me to do so, but I thought it was best.” 

“You were trying to protect him,” Emma acknowledged as Liam nodded.

“I was, but I’m glad he didn’t listen.”

“Seriously?” Emma asked, shocked to hear that, especially since the last few minutes had been nothing short of an interrogation. 

“Yes. Despite everything Killian seems happier than I can ever remember him being. The reason for that is obvious – you mean the world to him. Much as it might not seem like it, that’s what I’ve always wanted for him. I thought the answer was in football, but it turns out there is more to life than the game after all.”

“Do you miss it?” Emma asked, reflecting on the brief overview Killian had given Emma of Liam’s history with the game. His brother had been playing for years, and even made it to the pros himself, but he was injured badly right around the time that their mother passed away. So instead of getting to be a big star, which Killian believed he would have been, Liam was a behind the scenes actor who lived in the orbit of the game without really playing.

“Sometimes. But I’ve never regretted my decision.”

“I’m sorry?” Emma’s tone was questioning though she didn’t exactly want to pry. “I thought you were injured and that you couldn’t play anymore.”

“I was hurt, yes, but not badly enough that I couldn’t have come back,” Liam admitted, looking at Emma with an expression that told her he hadn’t actually meant to confide in her like this. “Killian doesn’t know that. I never wanted him to know. I didn’t want him to think he was to blame or that I chose him over my own chance.”

“But you did,” Emma said with awe. She might not have gotten of on the best foot with Killian’s brother, but right now she was grateful for him in ways she couldn’t say. Losing his mother had been hard for Killian, but Liam being there as a constant had kept him going. Emma didn’t know what it would have been like if Liam continued playing. With the long times away and the hectic schedule… it would have been harder, that was for sure.

“I’ve been prouder to watch him succeed than I ever would have been at doing it myself. I might love the game, but he’s got a talent God only gives a handful of people. I couldn’t deny him his best chance, and I couldn’t deny the world the chance to see him either.” 

“You should tell him,” Emma said, meaning it sincerely. “He’d want to know. You’re his big brother and he loves you.”

“Even when he hates me?” Liam joked and Emma chuckled. 

“Even then. That’s how it goes with family, I think.”

“Well, if my brother has any say in it you’ll know all about family soon enough.”

Emma felt herself blush at the words. It was very like Killian to make a statement like that and just pretend it wasn’t a huge shock to the system. Emma wondered if he had learned that from Liam, or it if was another genetic quirk their family had. Either way, she didn’t get the chance to comment on it since the door swung open again and in walked Killian.

“Great news, love. The plane’s been grounded for weather. I’ve a few more hours before…” Killian trailed off as he took in the fact that Liam was here. Emma watched as he went from open and pleasant to immediately on his guard. He moved instinctively to Emma’s side, as if she needed protection before he addressed Liam. “What are you doing here, brother?”

“I came to apologize. To Emma and to you.” 

“You did?” Killian asked, his question stilted as he seemed truly shocked. He looked to Emma and she nodded. “But you knew I wouldn’t be here.”

“Aye, I did. Call me a coward if you like, but I wanted a chance to see your girl first. It seemed a better plan to win her favor over before trying to gain yours back.”

“She’s not going anywhere, Liam. So you better be serious in what you’re saying. I love Emma, and I won’t see her mistreated. Not by anyone.”

Emma felt her heart clench in her chest as Killian took her hand in his, squeezing it and sending a wave of love through her that felt so right and so true. She felt her eyes growing misty at his strength and his devotion to her, but he didn’t need to worry. Liam was here for the right reasons, and despite a not so easy start, she knew it would all work out with her and Liam and between the two brothers as well. 

“You don’t have to worry. I’ve gotten the missteps out of the way early. No need to make the same mistake twice.”

Emma looked to Killian, finding that he was still hesitant to receive his bother’s attempt at making peace. To keep him from fighting with himself any longer she pressed a kiss to his cheek and whispered her thoughts on the matter.

“Just listen to what he has to say. I promise it’ll be okay.”

“You can stay, love. I don’t have any secrets. Not from you,” Killian said, loud enough for Liam to hear and Emma chuckled but shook her head. 

“No. You two need to do this alone. But I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere.”

With that, Emma left the brothers together, giving them a whole half hour in each other’s company. Since she heard neither yelling nor screaming, she assumed all was well, and by the time she found them again they were all smiles. Good. Emma wanted to see Killian and his brother patch things up. It was the right thing to do, and instinct told her that Liam meant what he said. He would turn a new leaf, and hopefully, now that he saw Killian was happy and doing well on his own, he’d step back a little of that excess control.

“Emma, there you are,” Killian remarked, kissing her softly before pulling her to his side. “I was just telling Liam he should stick around LA for a while. It’s a nice city, once you get past the pomp and the frill.”

“And I told Killian that he likely only feels that way because he’s got a girl. From what I’ve seen so far, there’s smog and a lot of tacky tourists. I think I’m all set.”

“You’re heading back already?” Emma asked, surprised that the repair in their relationship wasn’t enough to keep Liam around.

“Probably for the best. I’ve got a bidding war to run, and it’ll be a bit easier if I’m the same time zone as the one’s making the offers,” Liam said as they moved towards the front door seeing him out.

“Not all of them,” Killian said and Emma noticed the nod between the two brothers before they exchanged a hug. When they parted Liam offered a hand to Emma, and she accepted, knowing they were making up now for their lackluster meeting before.

“Thank you, Emma. I can rest easy now knowing he’s well taken care of. I hope I’ll see you again soon.”

“You too,” Emma agreed, but as the door swung open and Liam was about to leave, he stopped short. Emma couldn’t see past him but she heard the reason – there was someone in the door wary

“Oh uh, hi - sorry. I think I have the wrong apartment.”

“Elsa?” Emma asked, stepping around Liam’s broad shoulders to see her friend standing there, her cheeks pink and her eyes completely fixated on Killian’s brother. It took longer than it should have for Elsa to look over to Emma, and when she did her blush only grew stronger. Interesting. Very interesting.

“Emma, there you are. I’m sorry to interrupt but -," 

“You didn’t. You’re perfect,” Liam said and now Emma’s mouth just dropped on open. Had he just said that? Mr. Cool Calm and Unaffected? Okay this was just too good. 

“Bloody hell,” Killian whispered so only she could hear. “It’s happening. Oh how the mighty fall.”

“Uh, okay, thanks,” Elsa said as her fingers came up to shakily brush a strand of her hair that had fallen out of her braid behind her ear. 

“I meant your timing,” Liam claimed, trying to cover his slip of tongue but failing completely. “I’m Liam. Liam Jones.”

“Oh you’re Killian’s brother,” Elsa said brightly, casting her gaze at Emma and Killian. “I’m Elsa, Emma’s friend.”

“Is everything all right, Els?” Emma asked, wanting to know why her friend had shown up here even is she was glad to see her.

“Totally, yeah,” Elsa said, still flustered as she looked back at Liam again before focusing on Emma. “I just finished up those last few movements you wanted done and I thought we should listen together in case there’s anything you want changed. I didn’t mean to interrupt family time. I -,”

“So you’re a musician too?” Liam asked, clearly desperate for any and all information on Elsa he could get and not minding that he had to interrupt her to get it. Killian started chuckling beside her and Emma let her own slip ever so briefly before she filled Liam in.

“Elsa is a cellist. She’s actually first chair at the LA philharmonic.”

“Of course you are, you’re brilliant,” Liam said, completely forgetting himself again and Elsa looked shocked but still pleased at the same time.

“You’ve never even heard me play.”

“I don’t have to, love. Some things you just know.” Emma was struck by the fact that Killian had said something very similar to her not too long ago, and she watched as Elsa ate it up, just as Emma had when she was in her shoes. “Anyway, I won’t keep you ladies any longer. Goodbye, Emma.”

“Goodbye, Liam,” she said brightly, knowing Liam barely heard her.

“Until next time, lovely Elsa,” he said to Elsa, and as her friend watched him go with fascination, Liam headed down the hall to the elevator, leaving Emma, Killian, and Elsa watching after him. 

“Bye brother,” Killian said, not loud enough for Liam to hear but enough so that Elsa and Emma did. Emma wanted to cave and break down every bit of that with Killian right now, but she gave him a look warning him that they had to wait until Elsa was gone.

“Right. I think I left something on the stove,” Killian said in what was the worst, most transparent excuse ever, but Emma loved him for it. When he was gone she looked back to her friend and shot her a questioning look. 

“So that was… something.”

“Yeah,” Elsa replied, her voice barely more than a whisper. “I think it definitely was.”

Post-Note: So there we have it! Another chapter come and gone, and hopefully you guys feel like I’ve wrapped things up with Liam well. I also couldn’t help including a taste of Frozen Jewel (because I truly love that ship so much), and this will set us off into the home stretch of much more fluffy, laid-back story. There is more to come still (probably about two or three more chapters), but the updates will be slow still. I am juggling two multi-chapters, the mixtape and school all at once so it’s a lot, but not to worry. The rest of the story will come and I hope that when it does you will all enjoy it. Thanks again for reading and have a lovely rest of your day!!

Chapter Text

A/N: So at last I find myself at a chapter I have long been anticipating, and it has certainly taken long enough to get here. Between school and other fics, this has been a slower updating process than I expected, but I am hoping the next two chapters will be worth it. They are the last two chapters this fic will get for the time being (though I am planning an eventual epilogue, that I will hopefully write when I’m on winter break). That being said, you should all strap in for my usual dose of CS cuteness with this one! Thanks so much for reading, and hope you enjoy!

“All right, all right! I know you’re pleased with yourselves but I need you all to settle down, or I can’t say what needs to be said!”

Robin’s voice was raised as he addressed the team at the halfway point of their playoff game against New England, but the good humor of the moment shone through all the same. This was supposed to be a very competitive match. Their opponent was highly ranked, and they were in the semi-finals. The winner of this game would move on to the final round, and the victor of that game would win the MLS cup. But instead of it being a close call, this was turning into a blow out, much to the enjoyment of Killian’s teammates. The score was 3-0, and since Killian had played a part in each of those goals, he was rather pleased with himself, just as Robin knew he would be.

“So it turns out the first half has been a bit of a walk,” Robin said when the room had settled some. “But I don’t want any one of you pulling off the gas. We need to go out there and play just as hard as we did this half. For lack of a better phrase, we can’t go taking our eyes off the ball.”

The groan that emanated through the room at Robin’s cliché words would have been laughable in any other moment, but for Killian, his high production on the field today wasn’t the product of determination, but of anticipation. Right now, Emma was out there, watching in the stands as they played for a chance at the league’s title game, and he wanted to do her proud to be sure, but this wasn’t where the evening would end. After this game commenced, Killian had a night he hoped they would always remember planned out, and this waiting to get there was slowly eating away at him. To reassure himself he moved back to his allotted locker area, pulling from his jacket the little black box that held a token of his future.

The ring inside was one that meant more than money could buy. It was his grandmother’s ring, and it was one of the few mementos Killian had not only of her but of his mother as well. It had been her wish before she was sick that Killian should have it someday, and after keeping it safe for years, Liam had returned it a few weeks back when they’d made up again.

“I know now that doubting you was fruitless, brother,” Liam had said after meeting with Emma and apologizing for his part in their falling out. “You did as Mum always wanted. You let your heart lead you, and you found a good woman very worthy of your love.”

Killian could not possibly agree more, and with the Gold mess now behind them (the bastard had actually been denied bail, meaning he was sitting pretty in a jail cell) things with Emma had been at another level. The happiness he had known before seemed to eclipse itself, and though it was still soon – too soon by certain standards – Killian’s certainty in his love for Emma had only grown. This was an attachment and a bond that would not be going anywhere, and he felt a need to tell her this and to beg her to let them start their life together once and for all.

“Bet it feels like this game is taking forever,” David commented from beside Killian, pulling Killian from the reverie.

Killian noticed the team meeting was finished as his friend said the words. Robin had concluded whatever motivational speech he had in store while Killian was busy thinking of other things and his teammates were all preparing to return to the pitch. David, though, seemed just as unfazed by the game before them as Killian, instead turning his attention towards Killian’s plans, which he was already apprised of.

“Aye. I just want the blasted match to be done with.”

“I get that,” David said with a genuine tone before feigning a whisper. “But maybe don’t go yelling that in front of these guys. We haven’t all won world titles before.”

“Sorry, mate, I -,”

“No need to explain,” David said with a shake of his head. “You love her. I understand that more than you know.” 

“So you and Mary Margaret then… it’s evolved to that so quickly?”

“Yup, and you better get on with proposing unless you want me to go first. I don’t know how much longer I can wait.”

Killian laughed at David’s bombastic statement as they headed out of the team room and back down the hall towards the field once more. His friend’s tone was so decided, so absolute, and to many other men it would seem crazy, but Killian could totally relate. He himself had been in love with Emma for what felt like forever, and that was obvious in everything he did. Even now, as he walked back out into the arena, his eyes immediately searched for her in the spot he knew she was sitting in. Only when he found her did he find any sort of real comfort, and when he saw that she was looking at him too he was lost. Damn if that woman wasn’t the most remarkable thing the world over. She was a treasure, and he had every intention of squaring this game away so he could remind of her that fact. 

Luckily for Killian and his team, the second half proved just as fortuitous as the first. It was a runaway in the end, not so unlike a few other games they’d had this season, but as they arrived back in the team room the celebration was immediate and rowdy. Everyone was in the best spirits, but Killian’s impatience remained. He wanted to get going. He knew he had to stay for Robin’s speech and eventual toasting, but he tried to calculate in his head how soon he could depart and at what time he could sneak out.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” The question came from Graham and Killian turned to look at his friend who had the same knowing grin on his face that David had had before him. Killian was going to respond that he did, but that it had to wait, but then their coach stepped in with a surprising announcement.

“Indeed he does. He’s off to get the girl, though a word to the wise, I’d suggest you hit the showers first. I don’t know how romantic a night it’ll be if you show up pitch-fresh.”

Killian stopped himself before he could ask if Robin was sure. Truth be told, Killian didn’t want to risk anyone changing their mind. If they were saying he could run off and clean up quickly before heading out without consequence, then he was damn well going to do that. Grabbing his things as quickly as he could Killian thanked them both and wished them a good celebration before heading on his own merry way.

Within ten more minutes Killian was showered and ready to find his Swan, and much to his delight she was waiting for him too. Tiny, it seemed, had found her again during this game and she was waiting for him in the same place she had been at the first game she came to. It made Killian think of just how far they’d come to see her here again, but when she saw him watching her, Emma didn’t hold back this go around. Instead she walked right up to him and pulled him in for a kiss that stole his breath away.

“You were something else tonight,” Emma murmured when they pulled back. Her eyes were darker than they had been a minute ago, giving away the heat and desire she was feeling. It made Killian crave more, and his hands held her close despite their being out here in the open. Hell if he cared who saw them. His hope was that the whole bloody world would know they belonged together in just a matter of time.

“So I did you proud then, love?” he teased and Emma bit her lip, drawing his attention to her mouth once more.

“You could say that. Mostly you just made me want you though, and honestly I’m a little sad you didn’t come out in your uniform. I spent a good chunk of the game thinking about how you look in it…” 

“Fuck,” Killian groaned, his head totally spinning out of control as he faced his Swan in full effect. She was deliberately trying to get a rise out of him, but he knew she meant the words too and he made a mental note to create a space for her to live out those dirtier fantasies of hers soon. “We’ve got to go, love, or we’ll never get out of here.”

“Go? I didn’t realize we had plans.”

“Oh we have plans alright,” Killian stated with finality before bringing her hands up to kiss one by one. “You trust me, don’t you Emma?” 

“Always,” Emma agreed and Killian beamed back down at her before leading her out into the LA evening and towards a key step in their story that he couldn’t wait to get to.

…………….

Staring out the window of Killian’s car as they cruised down the 101, Emma felt a sense that she was exactly where she most needed to be.

So far her day had been wonderful. She’d woken up with Killian and got to spend the morning with him before he had to head to the stadium to prep for the game, and then she had the chance to go and see him in action. Her friends were all there, including Mary Margaret and Ruby (who were cheering along for their own guys, having both committed to David and Graham respectively) and Belle and Elsa. Since Elsa was there, Liam had also made an appearance. He was prone to showing up wherever Elsa was these days, and Emma loved to see the two of them at the start of what she knew would be a long-term romance. They were both so smitten and cute as could be, but Emma tonight had been totally focused on Killian.

In the time she and Killian had known each other, Emma had learned so much about this sport. She knew that certain things took so much skill and finesse, and though she’d loved seeing him play that first game, she had so much more appreciation this go around. Seeing Killian out there playing his heart out was riveting and amazing, and it was like everyone in the stadium knew they were witnessing greatness. Four goals for the night and three assists was a crazy number, and the footwork and the rhythm that he had, and that he inspired for his team was breathtaking. For Emma though, greatness didn’t end with the game. In fact, it seemed it was only beginning.

“You realize that before I started dating you I was actually well known for hating surprises, right?”

Killian’s chuckle filled the space around them as his hand came to take hers. The feeling when they touched was still dazzling, and though time had made it a familiar thing, Emma still marveled at the buzz it sent humming through her. 

“I do realize that, Swan. But I am also fully aware that you happen to like my surprises, and I’m hoping this one will prove my best yet.” 

Emma jokingly mumbled something about him being over the top, but the sentiment faded away when she saw where they pulled up. They’d been driving up the coast to Malibu for some time, but Killian just pulled up in front of a gated home that was truly remarkable. It sent a shiver of recollection through her, since the gates and the grand façade made Emma think of their first date, but this home was more modern and in turn just a little more vibrant. In truth, it was probably the most beautiful house Emma had ever seen, and as Killian drove up the driveway, Emma could already tell it would have the most breathtaking views of the water and the coastline.

Without more than a few words shared between them, Killian parked and opened her door, taking her hand and leading her into the house. On the inside Emma felt that despite it’s extravagant size, this house still felt like a home. It was warm in here, inviting and open and the space filled with promise. The sound of the waves that could be heard ever so slightly in the background soothed Emma almost as much as the feel of Killian’s hand in hers, and she found herself sighing a little, loving the calm that came so quickly when they were alone. She ended up following Killian through the whole place, thinking to herself that the owner of this house had exceptional taste, and that it was crazy how perfect the ambiance was. It was a beautiful blend of what her place looked like and what Killian’s had going for it (though clearly done at a much more expensive rate), and though Emma knew it was likely just another friend of Killian’s making a beautiful date possible for them, Emma couldn’t help thinking that a house like this might be truly ideal.

“I was hoping I could tempt you into dinner with me here, love,” Killian said after they’d walked around the first floor, seeing all the home had to offer on this level while heading towards their real destination. “But then I reasoned dinner wouldn’t be enough. So perhaps we could start with a walk on the beach. I think we’re only a few minutes away from sunset.”

“That sounds perfect.” 

The look of happiness that Killian shared with her at her words touched Emma’s heart. He was so invested in her enjoyment and he always looked for her approval and what she wanted. That thoughtfulness was indescribably wonderful in her mind, and it was a fundamental part of this man who she loved so dearly. He was romantic and sweet, even if he had a charming and sometimes roughish way about him, and as Emma looked out at the open sea and the vibrant sunset that set against it, she leaned into Killian, cherishing his warmth and strength and presence.

“How do you keep doing this?” Emma asked. “How do you keep giving me so much and making me feel…” Her words trailed off. There was so much she always felt with him, it was almost impossible to describe. 

“How do I make you feel, Emma?” Killian asked, bringing her face back up to look at him as he held her close. She studied his handsome features, made all the more gorgeous in the dwindling light, and then she confessed everything that she held in her heart.

“You make me feel like love will always be here and like it’s more than enough. I feel braver with you, surer in myself and in my future. I feel like anything’s possible, and like the happiness we’ve found isn’t going anywhere. At least not any time soon.”

Killian’s brilliant blue eyes shone bright with his own joy at hearing her words, and it made him even more irresistible. To have someone be so open and candid in their adoration of her was intoxicating, and Emma didn’t think she’d ever get enough of the sensations that came with knowing Killian loved her so deeply and so truly.

“If I had my way that happiness would never leave, Emma,” he claimed as his hand ran up her side, gently sending tingles through her whole entire being. “Tell me, Swan. What do you think of this place?” 

“I think its paradise,” Emma admitted as she looked back around at the ocean and the house and this private strip of beach that came with it. “It’s like a little slice of heaven. I can’t believe how close it is to home.” 

“About that… what if it was home?” It took a second but realization dawned on Emma. 

“Oh my god, did you buy this?! Are you moving here?” 

“Only if you’ll move with me,” he said. Emma’s jaw dropped from the shock, though in the back of her mind a little voice told her that she’d known this was coming. It was only a matter of time before Killian made this move, but she nearly fell over as he made another one, dropping down to one knee right there in the sand.

“Killian, what are you doing?” She asked, even though she knew. She watched him pull a small black box from his pocket and Emma was certain that a ring was inside of it, but still her breath caught when she saw the band (and diamonds) in person. 

“Call me old fashioned, or perhaps just terribly impatient, but I can’t help it dreaming of us being here together while my ring is on your finger.”

Emma felt tears welling up in her eyes. The emotion of the moment was overtaking her, but it was all good, so very very good. There was no fear or anxiety in her heart at all. She wasn’t scared of this future, in fact she’d been hoping for it for so long she wondered if she hadn’t wished this into happening. Still it felt too good to be true – how could this really be her life? How could any one person be so lucky? 

“Emma Swan, from the moment we met, I knew I was in trouble. I was at risk of falling completely and irrevocably in love with you, and low and behold I did. This wasn’t what I thought I would happen. I never imagined that I could feel this way or know with this much certainty that you are the key to damn near everything, but here I am, love. I look at you and I see forever. I see a life worth living, a love that will not end, and a hope unlike any I have ever known. You bring everything to life, Emma. You make anything possible, but the only wish I have – the only one I’ll ever have – is to spend the rest of my days loving you and showing you just how much you mean to me. So with that being said. Emma Swan, will you -,”

“Wait,” Emma said, closing her eyes for a moment and gathering her courage to ask one last question. When she opened her eyes again Killian looked concerned, and he’d risen to his feet, coming to hold her again. He looked so worried, and she hadn’t meant to do that – but she had to just hash this one thing out before she said yes, which she was absolutely going to do.

“Emma?”

“I want to marry you – I will be marrying you,” she said, prompting Killian to exhale a breath and pull her closer, but she kept talking, not wanting him to get ahead of himself. “But I want to be sure that this is what you want. We don’t have to stay here, Killian. If your heart is back in England, we can make it work. This house is gorgeous –honestly it’s beyond perfect – but we can find happiness wherever life takes us, whether it’s here or not.”

“My heart is wherever you are, Emma,” Killian promised her as his hand came to cup her cheek and his smile returned to full brightness again. “And I signed the final contracts today. I’ll be staying on with Galaxy. I’ll be staying right here. Nay, we’ll be staying right here.”

“We will?”

“Aye, love.”

Their excitement propelled them towards a kiss Emma was dying for. It felt so good and so happy and so right, but before she could totally get swept away into her husband, and whatever his other plans were this evening, she felt she had one last thing to say. 

“I think I kind of messed this up.”

“Not possible, Emma. You are by definition perfect.” Emma rolled her eyes, causing her fiancé (her fiancé!) to laugh again. 

“Could you maybe… ask me again?”

“As you wish, love.” Killian dropped down on bended knee once more, looking up at her with nothing short of elation as he took this final step. “Emma. You know everything now. You know my heart and my wants and all I wish for you and I together. Will you please make me the happiest of men and agree to be my wife?”

Emma laughed at the way he said it, but her answer was still the same. Yes. A million times yes.

Her answer was more than satisfactory this time, and as soon as Killian slipped the diamond ring on her finger, he surprised her by sweeping her up into his arms and marching her right back onside into the house. He moved past everything they’d seen before, and the dinner was, for the moment, forgotten. Instead, Emma’s soon to be husband was on a mission, and it entailed him climbing up the stairs with her and getting her into a bed – their bed – to have his wicked way with her.

“I had all these ideas in my head, Emma,” Killian said gruffly as he stripped clothes she was wearing from her body, causing her pulse to pick up and her breathing to hitch. 

“You did?” She asked, dazedly as he started removing his own clothes, distracting her with his toned physique and lust-filled gaze.

“Aye. I was going to take my time with you, drive you wild, spend hours pleasing you and only you. But I think that will have to wait. I don’t think I can keep my self control.”

“I don’t want you to,” Emma said as her hands ran across his chest and down his abdomen, coming to unbutton his jeans only to shove them down and reveal all of him to her. “I just want to feel you. All of you. Right now.” 

Emma heard him say something that sounded an awful lot like ‘bloody minx’ but she was too distracted from his ministrations to her body. He was everywhere all at once, his mouth, his hands, everything over took her senses. She’d give into a kiss, only to feel the rough but smooth texture of his fingers tracing down her body to where she wanted them most of all. He teased her ever so lightly, bringing her closer to the edge that she had already been wandering towards, but before she could fall he changed tactics, scattering her thoughts and sending shivers down her spine. She was wrapped up in Killian on all fronts, but it wasn’t enough. It was a tease of what she wanted, only a taste of what was coming, but then he thrust inside her, filling her up and making her see stars and feel totally complete.

She couldn’t say how long they lasted, but his pace was perfect and the rhythm was designed for bliss. She fell over the edge, but he held on, wringing her out a second time and then a third before finally giving over. But even after they were both spent and panting for breath, Killian never let up. He held her close, protecting and worshipping her at the same time, and making Emma feel like she was the most important thing in the whole wide world. 

“God I love you, Emma. I love you more than words can ever say.”

“I love you too,” Emma whispered. “Thus the whole marrying you thing.”

“You should know I’ve used up pretty much all of my patience, love. I don’t think I can wait much longer to make you mine.”

“So we won’t wait,” Emma said easily, both surprising and delighting Killian with her agreement. “Well we have to wait a little bit. You have to win the cup first, and then we can talk about getting married. I think we can figure something out before next season starts.”

“If I win the cup, can we get married sooner?” Killian asked, sounding almost like an eager boy instead of a slow and measured man in that moment. His excitement was infectious and Emma pretended to consider before yielding.

“How soon are you talking?” 

“One month?” Killian asked hopefully. “I’ll take care of everything, love. I know you’re busy with work and your friends and the like. But I’ll move mountains for this. You’ll see.”

“Okay. If you win the cup, you can pick the day. As long as my friends are all there, I’m good.”

“Oh, you’ll be better than good, love. I can guarantee you that.”

And for the rest of the night Killian showed Emma just how much better than good things would be from now on. Because now that they had each other, there was no stopping the happiness that would come. It was a given, just as their love would be for the next, oh, sixty years or so.

Post-Note: Ooh girl I gotta say it had been too long since I wrote a proposal for an AU and it was so fun to do that for this one! It’s also an interesting proposition because the chapter lengths are so short for this story, but I have to say I think it was the right dose of fluff (though I will let you guys be the judges of that). As I said before there is one more chapter left and it will be the wedding. I also imagine I will get around to a flash-forward epilogue, but as I said that’s going to take a long time to get to. Anyway, thanks so much to all of you for reading, commenting, reviewing, and sending me messages. You’re all awesome and I appreciate you more than I can say! Hope you have a great rest of your weekend!!

Chapter Text

A/N: So I can’t believe the moment is here, but this story is drawing to its close. This last chapter is, as promised, centered around a wedding, and it packs a lot of feels. Still it seems crazy that this would be the end of the fic… so I’ve decided that it’s not! At least not completely, that being said it will be a while (like a long time) before we get an eventual epilogue. Still I’m hoping all this fluff will hold you guys over, and that you will enjoy the first finale of this story!

For as long as she could remember, Emma Swan had been guided by music. In her experience, when things were truly good, she heard it all around her. It was subtle but it was there, in the laps of ocean water on the shoreline, or in the gentle tinkling sounds of the wind chimes by her window. The melody might change tempo or pace depending on where exactly she was, but music, at least in her mind, was always an excellent sign. Not everyone could hear the songs that came to her, for they were often subtle and tucked within noise that might seem ambient or unimportant, but Emma always heard. Her friends had called it instincts, claiming her intuition was a force of nature, but whatever it was, this music was the most powerful sign Emma had that things were as they should be. And today that music was undeniable, infiltrating each and every part of her being and never letting up.

After what could only be referred to as a whirlwind romance (and it had been so described by nearly every tabloid and magazine in recent weeks), she and Killian were taking the plunge. They were saying ‘I do’ today in a private ceremony at their home, right there on the beach where he’d asked her for forever.

In less than a year Emma had found a way to do what she long thought impossible; she had found out how to give her heart completely to someone and not to feel fear or apprehension. Emma had learned to trust in someone other than her friends, and she’d come to know with an absolute certainty that there was such a thing as true love. This kind of love was big, nearly all consuming, but it filled her world with music, more music than she’d ever thought existed, and it made Emma feel like anything was possible. Gone were the shadows of her often tumultuous past. She had left behind the little lost girl who never knew if she mattered or where she belonged, and instead Emma was choosing to have faith, to move forward, and to love fearlessly.

“God, it really couldn’t be a more beautiful day.” 

Emma smiled at Ruby’s words and not because she was happy over the weather, though she was. In reality she just knew that no matter what this day would be beautiful. Today she was joining her life with Killian’s, and there could be rain or snow or fog or worse and it wouldn’t matter to Emma. All that mattered was the moment that was coming, and the lifetime they’d build together hereafter. That being said, Emma was wracked with anticipation, and she was so grateful to have her best friends all here with her as her pillars of support. She took Ruby’s extended hand gladly and squeezed it tight as a silent signal of all she was feeling.

“And Emma couldn’t be a more beautiful bride.” 

The weepy tone Mary Margaret used brought a welling of tears to Emma’s own eyes, but she had to fight it off. She chose instead to laugh, and she used her other hand to take Mary Margaret’s in hers. Emma knew already how she looked. She’d seen herself in the mirror just moments ago. The ivory color of her dress was classic, but the flowing design was less constrictive or confined than the average bridal gown. If this were a woodsy wedding, it would seem almost fairy-like, but as they were on the beach it still felt fitting and freeing and picturesque. It was Emma’s ideal, and she couldn’t wait to see Killian’s reaction when he finally got the chance to see.

“Okay, enough of the crying. I know you all want a big, sappy moment, but we simply don’t have time. Killian will bang this door down if we’re even a minute late,” Ruby teased and Emma shook her head.

“He’s not that bad.”

“He kind of is,” Belle responded as she adjusted the flower in her hair before looking up at Emma with an apologetic face. “In a good way though. Like an ‘I love Emma so much I may die from waiting to marry her’ way.”

“He has been a tiny bit over dramatic as of late,” Elsa replied. “But I’m not really one to talk. Whatever Killian is, Liam is…”

“Like a thousand times worse, we know we know,” Ruby said with a sigh. “Thank God Graham stays sane. Like he loves me but he’s chill, you know?” 

The friends all gave noncommittal sounds of agreement since everyone knew Graham was hardly ‘chill’ when it came to Ruby. He might have a more laid back attitude, but the truth was nothing and no one could rile him like Emma’s friend. It was love all right, and if it were ever tested, Graham would no doubt rise to the challenge.

“Oh whatever. Anyway, as I was saying. We can’t get too over the top, but I just want to say…” Ruby’s voice broke from emotion, something that so rarely happened and now Emma actually worried she might cry. Still she tried to stay strong, if just to make Ruby happy. “I just want to say that I love you guys more than anything. You are my friends and my family. You’re my people, and that’s not changing today. Today we’re just getting new people – or one person really: Killian. Emma, I don’t think any of us could have picked a better partner for you. He’s the one.” 

“Absolutely,” Mary Margaret said, rallying through her happy tears. “He’s your soul mate, and a good man.”

“The only kind of man we could ever think might possibly deserve you,” Elsa said happily before Belle finished up with some thoughts of her own.

“You two just fit, and it’s beautiful to see. It gives all of us hope, and a guide for what we want and what we deserve. So thank you, Emma. You led all of us here, and there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.” 

“I love you guys so much,” Emma said, finally succumbing to the happy tears that had threatened all afternoon. She quickly dabbed them away, but it was hard to resist telling them one last piece of good news that she was holding close. Unfortunately though, as much as she loved her friends, she had to share this special update with Killian first. It was the only way. But soon enough they’d know, and Emma knew they’d be more than excited for this new chapter too.

“And we love you,” Belle said, giving Emma a quick hug. “But Ruby was right. We’ve got a ceremony to get to, and our men don’t like to be kept waiting.”

Well if that wasn’t the truth, then Emma didn’t know what was. With one final hug the friends made their way from the room, forming their procession line organically and walking together until they’d made it down through the manicured lawns of Emma and Killian’s home. One by one they moved into view of the other guests, but when she were right at the point where Killian and the aisle would come into view Emma paused. She stood there for a moment, taking in the feel of the breeze and the fading sun. It danced across her skin, but where Emma expected nerves or worry or anxiety, there was nothing but peace. This moment was so serene that Emma decided to linger in it, just for a few more seconds. She found herself closing her eyes, and taking a steadying breath, and then, after she released it, she moved forward towards her happily ever after.

The walk down the aisle should have been overwhelming. All eyes were on Emma, and she was never fully comfortable with attention like that, but she didn’t notice any of it. It was impossible to see or feel anything beyond Killian. He was so handsome, and so happy, and the look he gave her spoke of an undying love and a hope for forever that Emma shared. By the time she was at his side, Emma felt like she was floating, and when he took her hands in his the last piece of the puzzle clicked into place. This – right here – was what perfection felt like, and Emma was awed and amazed by every little part of it.

“I wish there were words, love,” Killian whispered to her, and Emma could hear the emotion in his voice. “There should be words for how beautiful you look and how happy you make me… but in this moment, all words fail me.”

“Right back at you,” Emma said, fending off more tears as she squeezed his hands, signaling that she herself was very nearly speechless too. Thankfully the justice of the peace took over at that point, pivoting them towards the wedding they’d both been waiting for.

Despite her want to be married to Killian right this second, Emma stayed grounded in each part of the ceremony. She didn’t wish for it to hurry up. Instead she honed in on every part of today. She wanted to memorize what would be one of the best moments of her life, but then they reached the time for vows and Emma’s mind went blank. She had had a whole planned speech for this bit of the service, but it was gone now, and all she could do was go on instinct.

“I never thought I’d be so happy to be crashed into on the sidewalk.”

The blurted sentiment drew laughter from their guests, most notably their core circle of friends, and butterflies erupted in her chest as she waited to see Killian’s response. Then he smiled, his gaze filled with love and adoration, and Emma felt her heart skip almost painfully His blue eyes were so warm and so hopeful, and as his thumb ran across her hand she took a steadying breath and pressed on, trying to articulate all that he brought into her world. 

“But the day that we met I knew there was something about you, Killian. That instinct defied explanation, especially given your tactics at the beginning, but from the first moment I felt like I could see the man you really were. Sure enough, that intrigue grew to more, and it turns out I was right – there was something there. I just never could have imagined how important and incredible that something would be. I didn’t know that it was love. I didn’t know that I was staring into the face of my other half, my ideal partner, or the man who I want at my side for now and always. But you showed me the way. You made me love you by making me believe. You gave me hope, and you continue to do so each and every day. I wake up excited to see where life will take us, but certain that wherever it is we can handle it. Together, we can do anything, but somehow all I want to do is be with you. Forever. I love you, Killian Jones, so so much, and I just can’t wait to be your wife.”

Looking at Killian in the face of her words, it was hard to guess what would come next. There was a very real chance that he would defy tradition and just sweep her away right here and now. The look in his eyes was possessive and hot and filled with emotion, and Emma felt that brewing roguishness he often brought about. He might be a gentleman, but her soon to be husband had a riskier side too. Still, as much as he might like to scoop her up and run away so they could be alone (and boy wouldn’t she love that too), Emma knew her love better than that. He was dead set on giving her everything she wanted, and that meant imparting onto her words that meant everything to her and that she’d cherish for the rest of her days. 

“Emma. Before meeting you I was a man who had lost himself. The world I thought I lived in wasn’t what it seemed, and though I knew I wanted something more and something different, I could never have imagined finding someone like you. You embody goodness in every way. You’ve a fire in your heart, a passion for life, and a spark inside you that never seems to burn out even in the darkest times. You fill the world around you with light and love, and the most beautiful part of it all is that’s just the way you are. It’s all you, Swan. All of it.

“How you manage to be as you are escapes me, my love. You have known sadness and sorrow. You have felt what it means to be alone and afraid, but still you triumphed. Where so many others would fail, you conquered. You had hope, and you persevered and I thank God every day for your strength, your courage, and your grace. Because in bringing yourself to something better, you managed to show me the way too. You brought me to a love I always wanted, and now we get to share. I will never be able to tell you how thankful I am for that, but I aim to show you for the rest of our lives. I love you, Emma Swan, in ways I can’t begin to describe, and I can’t wait to be your husband.”

The echoing of her words told Emma that Killian had also said all his promises from the heart. It touched her and healed her, and as the last of the ceremony was undergone, Emma felt those wonderful feelings grow. By the time the minister told them to kiss, she was set to burst, but just like always, Killian was there to hold her close and keep her safe.

“And just like that we have forever,” Emma whispered as they came apart, neither of them taking in the cheers around them, but instead focusing just on the pull between them.

“Aye, love. Forever and a whole lot more.”

……………… 

There were moments sprinkles throughout Killian’s life where he felt himself transcend his normal way of being and move into a sense of contentment that was thrilling and enthralling. It happened when he signed his first contract to play the game he loved professionally, when he made player of the year in his rookie season and nearly every damn year after, and when his team won a championship or the world cup. Those moments were made of what he believed to be magic – they were pure blips of happiness, at least that was what he thought. But now Killian realized that assumption he once held dear was wrong. What he had known before was merely satisfaction. It was a sense of pride and of achievement in all that he had worked for, but after meeting Emma he realized he’d never truly known happiness, at least not like this.

Since meeting Emma Killian had moved into a new phase of awareness. He now understood that his old concepts were flawed, and that happiness was a word that should not be taken for granted or used so lightly. It was a rare and precious feeling, but the joy he’d partaken in over the past few months with Emma was proof that it did exist. And even with all that, today managed to eclipse the moment that had come before in ways he couldn’t begin to state. Every turning point with Emma, every milestone they’d shared was a gift, but to have this wedding – to have him and Emma truly tied together for better or worse, for now and forever – was something else entirely. It was the start of a new life, the one he’d been meant to be living all along, and in loving Emma and knowing her so thoroughly, he’d begun to love and know himself in ways he never did before. Finding her had brought him answers and hope and comfort, and no matter what might come in the next chapters of their life, Killian knew they’d always have that foundation of love and care and happiness to fall back on.

“It’s funny,” Emma murmured from her spot cuddled close to his chest as they danced under the stars at their reception, amongst a sea of their friends and family. “I always thought this part was kind of overblown in the movies. The dancing at the wedding shouldn’t be quite so jubilant, you know? The bride and the groom always have those big, over-the-top cheesy smiles. But being here…”

“There isn’t much choice,” Killian agreed, knowing exactly what she meant. “It’s like no one has a right to be this happy, but somehow we are, and there’s no shaking it.” 

“Not even when my husband pulls out his best dance moves.”

The challenge in Emma’s words prompted Killian to show said moves again, and he dipped her low in the slow dance they shared, making her laugh and smile and blush. Of course that reaction from his bride only made the need inside him pull tighter, and he fought off the urge to steal away with her for about the hundredth time this evening.

Out here in the moonlight, and under a grove of golden yellow lanterns their wedding planner had designed especially for the occasion, Emma was truly breathtaking, and he was completely under her spell. But when their guests were gone and when this perfect night ended, he knew this sense of enchantment would remain. All of the pomp and the frill and the ambiance could be gone, and he’d still need her just as fiercely. He could see it so vividly in his head, the two of them dancing just like this in the years to come. They’d be old and gray, forty or fifty years down the line, but Killian would still want to dance with his Swan, especially if his love enjoyed it as much as she seemed to now.

“You were saying about my dance moves…?” Killian teased and Emma rolled her eyes in the way he’d grown familiar with. Still she showed no signs of resistance, instead leaning into him more, like she hated the very thought of them being parted.

“Okay fine, they're fabulous. Are you happy?”

“Deliriously so,” he quipped before surprising her with another stolen kiss. He’d taken so many through the course of the evening that it was safe to say he’d lost count, but this one felt different for some reason. It was like they’d both been holding back the depths of their feelings all night, but this time Emma pushed for more, and Killian was damn well going to give it to her.

“Think we could get away with leaving for a bit?” Emma asked as she bit her bottom lip suggestively. Killian grunted out an affirmative sound, and the giggle she replied with made his lust grow even as his heart swelled. When she took his hand and pulled him back towards the house, Killian followed without hesitation, and the second the door was shut behind them he pounced, bringing Emma into his arms and kissing her as he’d wanted to all night. 

“Killian, we have to wait,” Emma said breathlessly, even as she continued to cling to him.

Killian’s kisses trailed down from her mouth to her jaw and then her neck all while his mind tried to think of how to take her without ruining her dress. Emma couldn’t very well go back to the party with a torn gown, and though the dress she wore was brilliant, Killian had been dreaming of tearing it off his Swan all night. Fuck it – who really cared if Emma came back to the party looking fully ravished, or perhaps in another garment all together? After all they were married, and this was their right as husband and wife, to consummate their vows and share everything with one another.

“You say that, my love, but your body’s telling me a very different story.”

His words made Emma shiver and her hands clutched onto him tighter than they just had. If Killian looked to her eyes he knew he’d see their typical jade color now darkened, but as much as he wanted to ravish her fully, he wouldn’t take this any further, not until Emma gave him the all clear.

“Someone could walk in on us here. It’s not like we closed the house.”

“Bloody mistake if you ask me,” Killian said, his hands roaming as he nipped at her creamy flesh, pulling the sigh of need and desire he loved so much past her lips.

“I also have to tell you something,” Emma said, her voice sounding frayed with the battle between giving into what she wanted and doing what she thought was right. And though he hated to stop, Killian did, because he never wanted Emma to have to choose between what she wanted and what she believed in.

“You can tell me anything, Emma, you know that.”

“I know,” she agreed as her hand came to cup his cheek and her eyes took him in. “I just have a feeling that when I tell you this the party will end, and I don’t know if I’m ready for it to be over.”

“It’ll never be over. At least not really. Hell, if you want we can get married a dozen times – a hundred times even. I’d say I do every day if it made you happy.” 

“I know you would. And I love you for that,” she whispered before her expression gave away that she’d made a decision. “All right, I’ll tell you. I’m pregnant.”

Just when Killian thought that there was nothing more in the world that he could ever want or need, Emma showed him exactly how wrong it was. This was another dream come true, and he was so glad that it had come true so quickly. They hadn’t really discussed it at length. Of course they both wanted children and a large family filled with love, but Killian didn’t want to pressure Emma to have such a life now. Even if he’d been praying for the chance to be a father and a parent alongside his Swan, he needed to make sure she was happy. Yet he found that he needn’t ask if she was or not, for Emma held nothing back in the way she looked at him. She was thrilled with her revelation – somehow just as blissfully joyous as he was.

“You were right, love,” Killian said, his tone gruff from all that he was feeling.

“About what?” Emma asked with laughter and a few shed happy tears as she brought his hand down to her still flat stomach. Someday soon her belly would swell with their child, and as Killian considered the adventure they were about to embark on, he knew it would be his greatest one to date.

“This party is definitely over. At least the part where there are other people invited.”

“I figured,” Emma said with another laugh and a soft kiss pressed to his lips. “So do you want to do the honors or should I?”

“Now I think you already know the answer to that, my love.” 

“Together?”

“Always.”

Post-Note: So there we have it! The wedding has come and gone, and this fic is largely finished with its passing. Like I said though there will be more, you just have to bear with me because I am in the thick of school with no real writing time in sight. Anyway, I also want to thank each and every one of you for reading, commenting, reviewing and messaging me. It’s been a real pleasure to write this because of you guys, and I hope you’ll check out my other stories if you haven’t already. Either way, I wish you all the best rest of your weekend and I appreciate you being with me on this fun, fluffy journey!!