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Caught in Your Light

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He can’t stop moving.

If he stops moving, he’ll probably start thinking and the last thing Killian wants to be doing in the middle of Logan Airport is think. So he keeps bobbing on his feet instead, bouncing up and down like an over-excited kid and it’s a pretty apt description because, much like the kid standing next to him, he too is also holding a hand-made sign.

And waiting.

Her flight is late.

He refuses to believe that is a sign. He’s got one already, anyway, and it’s, technically, a sheet of computer paper with a drawing that one of the art teachers promised looked great the day before, but it’s still a sign and Killian will not think about how the FAA is, apparently trying to ruin his weekend.

The kid next to him keeps sending Killian furtive glances, confusion obvious in the pinch between his eyebrows and that’s fair – Killian probably looks like a crazy person, but he can’t stop moving and it’s getting increasingly more difficult to breathe and Emma’s flight is late.

“Are you ok?” the kid asks and Killian freezes in his tracks, the forty-second time he’s traced out that particular semicircle on the floor of the JetBlue arrivals gate. His eyes widen slightly, brows jumping up his forehead and he bites back the immediate retort of you shouldn’t be talking to strangers sitting on his tongue.

He nods instead, slow and a little awkward and his arm is starting to ache from holding this sign up for so long.

The kid does not look convinced.

That’s fair too. The entire Boston area probably knows that Killian is not fine. He’s nervous and anxious and excited and nervous – an adjective that deserves mentioning twice because it’s the weekend in some kind of bolded and underlined and supremely italicized way.

Only that’s not what they’re calling it.

They’re calling it The FINAL Final Jam and it’s not a very creative title, but they’re not a very creative group and this would have been easier if Emma’s flight was on goddamn time.

He’s started thinking.

Damnit.

“Ok,” the kid mutters, averting his eyes because Killian might actually be glaring at him, but he’s kind of lost control of his face and, like, his entire life.

He takes a deep breath, or, at least, tries, pulling in oxygen through his nose and it’s all repurposed air anyway because he’s been standing in the airport for the last forty-five minutes and he’s going to have to pay so much money to get out of that parking garage.

“I’m really fine,” Killian promises and it doesn’t even sound like his own voice.

It is, he reasons, because of Final Jam.

He hates that name.

That’s a lie too.

It’s a vaguely hysterical name that they all came up with, exactly, a decade ago – slightly overworked and vaguely exhausted freshman with finals ahead of them and a first year of college, almost, behind them and Mary Margaret had been going through some strange Disney Channel Original Movie phase at the time.

“It’s a perfect name,” she’d promised and she sounded so sincere and so enthusiastic that none of them objected. Ever again.

And Final Jam was born – the last weekend of the year before finals or, as they got older, the first weekend in May and they all made a list and came up with one incredibly tourist-type activity they each wanted to do and there was always a considerable amount of alcohol and far too much laughing and Jonas Brothers references and it might have been Killian’s favorite weekend of the year.

It was definitely Killian’s favorite weekend of the year.

Only now, it’s ten years later and it’s the final Final Jam because they’re all adults and Mary Margaret and David are going to have a kid and things have to end some time.

This is exactly what he didn’t want to be thinking about.

The kid is still staring apprehensively at him, mouth twisted and Killian wonders where his parent or guardian is, but that only lasts as long as the relative silence and then there’s a PA announcement and a flash on one of the boards and--

“Killian!”

His head snaps around at the sound and the voice, any worry about the end of everything forgotten, and he nearly drops the goddamn sign.

She’s smiling as soon as he moves, a bag slung over her shoulder and it hits him in the thigh when she all but leaps towards him, arms flung around his neck and laughter ringing in his ears and he doesn’t exactly breathe her in because that would weird, but he doesn’t not do it either and his arms fit around Emma Swan’s waist perfectly.

“Am I not on the ground anymore?” she asks, but the words get jumbled a bit where she’s pressed into his shoulder and the sign is a lost cause at this point.

Emma leans back slightly, feet absolutely not on the ground and that’s not doing Killian’s forearms any favors, but he can’t consider a possibility where he moves, which is only slightly ironic considering everything else that’s happened in the last hour or so.

“Are you not impressed with my feats of strength, Swan?” he asks and he’s smiling too, but that might be because he’s fairly convinced he can feel every single inch of her.

“Oh no, no, totally impressed. But what are you doing here? Don’t you have to impart wisdom to several dozen teenagers?”

“I get days off.”

“You work at the same school as Mary Margaret and I know for a fact that you did not have today off.”

“Well I get to request days off.”

He’s momentarily concerned about the state of her back when she arches away even more, but he’s also a bit preoccupied by whatever her fingers are doing to the hair at the nape of his neck and the way her shoulders kind of sag when she exhales.

Like it’s the single most surprising thing in the world.

“You took today off?” Emma asks softly.

“How else were you going to get into the city?”

“On public transportation like everyone else.”

“Ah, but you’re not everyone else, are you, Swan?”

The words are out of his mouth before he’s had half a second to consider them and Killian’s vaguely certain even the kid behind him gasps, but it might be the most honest thing he’s said...ever.

That’s only kind of alarming.

He really does try to impart historical knowledge to severals dozen teenagers regularly and it feels like breaking some kind of teaching code to suggest that he’s lying to them.

Even so.

It is the truest truth Killian Jones has ever said and that sentence structure would make Mary Margaret groan.

He met Mary Margaret first. Well, technically he met David first – forced together on a group project in a freshman science class that neither one of them were particularly good at – but it only takes a few days to meet Mary Margaret after that. They’re a picture-perfect couple that is only kind of nauseating, but also kind of adorable if you’re into that whole true love is great thing and Killian is sitting in David’s dorm when Mary Margaret shows up with a slightly disgruntled human being trailing along behind her that she introduces as her roommate.

Emma Swan does not appear to be particularly impressed by much of anything at the time, but Killian notices the way she smiles when she glances at David and Mary Margaret and something in the back corner of his brain seems to short-circuit as soon as she meets his gaze.

They’re not really friends, at least not at first, more like Mary Margaret and David’s orphans that they adopt, but Killian keeps noticing things about Emma.

She mixes hot chocolate in her coffee, but only in the afternoon, like she’s afraid she’ll dilute the caffeine if she does it in the morning. She keeps her student ID in her phone when she flips it closed. She hates the top bunk she sleeps on, but agreed to let Mary Margaret take the bottom because Mary Margaret has some kind of deep and lingering fear of heights.

They spend time together. They make vaguely snarky comments around each other. They actually acknowledge that they might be friends.

And the group keeps growing.

Mary Margaret meets Ruby at the gym – a sentence that makes Emma laugh uproariously, falling into Killian’s side and he probably doesn’t think about that for several weeks – and Killian meets Mulan while they’re both working a shift at the Student Union together, swiping ID cards that at least half of the students forget.

Mulan brings in Merida in the spring semester of freshman year, both of them running on the same student government ballot and while they don’t win that year, they do win eventually, and Emma is actually pretty good at making signs for their campaign.

That might be why Killian brought a sign to Logan several years later.

They become some kind of seven-headed monster of friendship and feeling and generic support and Killian resolutely ignores whatever his brain does whenever Emma moves into his line of vision for the first three years, nine months and six days of his undergraduate career.

But then Final Jam happens.

And things happen.

And they both, resolutely, ignore them.

Completely and totally and, maybe, a little immaturely, but he absolutely refuses to risk anything more than what he already has and Emma’s smile is far too close to tremulous when they flip their tassels at graduation.

“You really took today off?” Emma asks, jerking Killian out of memories and a string of thoughts that don’t belong in some kind of epic, slightly touristy weekend. She’s still moving her fingers, feet dangling above the floor and he’s not sure he’s ever seen that look on her face.

It’s something that feels a bit like hope and looks a bit like want and he’s smiling before he realizes his brain has decided that’s something he wants to do.

That’s mostly his default setting whenever he’s around Emma, though, so it doesn’t really matter.  

“Swan, we just went over this,” Killian grins. “It would have taken forever to get to my apartment anyway. I’m just streamlining the schedule.”

“That would impress Mary Margaret a lot.”

“Well if you want to brag to Mary Margaret about my schedule-making abilities later, then feel free to. Make sure you use lots of adjectives and remind David that I’m better at driving than he is.”

“It’s weird that you guys are still so questionably competitive about that.”

He can’t really shrug when he’s still supporting most of her body weight, but he makes a valiant effort – and an even more valiant effort not to groan loudly when Emma’s hips cant into his. Killian is, apparently, very fond of torturing himself.

“And,” she adds, scrunching her nose when his breath catches as soon as her fingers card through his hair. “I really don’t have to stay with you. That was...it’s nice of you to offer, I mean.”

Killian resists the urge to tell her she can stay forever if she wants, fairly certain that would just send Emma running towards the next departing flight out of Logan to anywhere, but that’s another truth and he has to lick his lips before he responds.

He doesn’t notice the way Emma’s eyes widen slightly at that.

“Cheaper than a hotel,” Killian says. “And you can’t back out of accepting the offer now. You’re already here.”

“Ok, that’s just fundamentally untrue. I know how to book a hotel.”

“And I am telling you that you don’t have to. Or didn’t have to. Both tenses.”

“There are more than two tenses in the English language, how do you not know that? You’re molding the minds of the youth.”

“Swan, you can’t keep using my job as an insult.”

She rolls her eyes, sticking her tongue out and that is step three in the Emma Swan and Killian Jones banter schedule. It’s not as intense as the schedule for Final Jam, which Killian is almost certain Mary Margaret laminated during her free period earlier this week, but that’s a point he wants to bring up in front of the entire group for maximum joke-landing potential.

“But it’s so easy,” she whines, twisting and turning and none of this is going according to plan. He should have come up with a better plan.

They really should have talked about that Final Jam from senior year.

“Who are you going to ask about major moments in American history?” Killian asks. “Because you keep making jokes and throwing insults and I’m going to refuse to answer anymore of your questions about the accuracy of Hamilton.”

“The internet exists. Also they literally wrote a book about that. David got it for me for Christmas two years ago. Also also--”

“--How do you have more points to this?”

“I would if you let me finish,” Emma hisses, but it lacks any real sense of frustration or animosity and maybe step four of the schedule is just thinly veiled flirting. Killian widens his eyes, an unspoken go on that earns him a quiet growl and the smirk is, like, step four and a half and only started working recently.

“Also also,” Emma repeats. “Hamilton is a dated reference now. You need to keep up with the times. Don’t the kids know better things you can reference?”

“Strangely enough, Swan, the students I’m teaching aren’t spending a lot of time keeping me up to date on the memes.”

It’s difficult to hold onto her when her laugh drifts closer to a cackle, hair, somehow, hitting him in the face when she shakes her head in disbelief of what he’s just said. And, well, that’s understandable – but he was mostly doing it to get her to laugh and that’s, like, at least ninety-two percent of the reason he does anything when it comes to Emma. That might be the most sentimental thing he’s ever thought.

It’s probably from hanging out with Mary Margaret so much.

“I can’t believe you just used the word meme in normal conversation,” Emma says, laughter still clinging to her voice and Killian wonders if she realizes her fingers are still moving.

He hopes not.

He’s a disaster.

“If you mention that I said that in front of Lucas, I’m going to kick you out of my apartment,” Killian warns. Emma laughs even more. “I’m almost entirely serious, Swan.”

“I know you are, but that was honestly the funniest thing that has happened to me in the last few months. And Ruby would never let you live that down.”

“This is exactly why I’m making pointed threats upon your person.”

“You’d actually kick me out? Like physically?”

“Not physically,” he says and he can’t shake his head either. Emma’s fingers are still in his hair. “I’d probably show off my incredible upper-body strength again and lift you out of the apartment. You’d be very impressed.”

“You’re awfully confident,” she points out.

“Cautiously optimistic.”

“Ah, well, that’s more acceptable.”

Emma takes a deep breath, like she’s trying to preserve the moment, but that may just be more slightly cautious optimism on Killian’s part. She hisses when he tries to reposition her weight, thighs bumping together and he knew she caught that skip a few days before, but she’d failed to mention anything about a bruise that would cause an audible outcry of pain in the middle of a very crowded airport.

“Swan,” he says sharply and suddenly she’s very interested in the ceiling. “What was that?”

She doesn’t respond, just keeps staring several feet above them and maybe step whatever of the schedule is them absolutely refusing to admit to things that mean several different worlds to them. Or, at least, Killian.

He hopes it’s not just hm.

He’s cautiously optimistic it’s not just him.

He needs to stop hanging out with Mary Margaret.

“How did you even know what time my flight was?” Emma asks instead, redirecting the conversation and Killian arches an eyebrow. “I really did think we agreed that I was going to take a cab and then meet you at Mary Margaret and David’s for opening ceremonies and then I’d go back with you when everyone was incredibly drunk.”

“Except Mary Margaret.”

“Yes, except Mary Margaret,” Emma agrees, but it sounds a little patronizing and this is the single best arm workout he’s ever had. “That’s also not an answer to the question.”

“Ah, well, you know how much I enjoy bantering with you, Swan.”

She narrows her eyes, huffing slightly and trying to work her way back onto the floor, but Killian’s got a pretty good grip on the back of her jacket and he’s fairly positive his arms have frozen anyway. “The question, Jones,” Emma mutters, tugging on the front of his shirt like that’ll get him to answer and not just add fuel to several different day-dream fires.

“You told me nearly two weeks ago. It pains me that you don’t remember that.”

“Well that’s probably because you won’t let me stand up on my own.”

“Hysterical.”

“That was funny,” Emma argues, voice rising slightly. They’re starting to draw a crowd. The kid with the other, presumably less-ruined sign, is gone.

“My aforementioned promise of hysterical was only slightly sarcastic.”

She rolls her eyes, letting her bag fall to the floor and it only just barely misses his right foot. “You really remembered me mentioning a flight time two weeks ago?”

The question is barely that, a mumbled string of letters and words and hope that seems to ricochet in between the minimal amount of space between them and Killian’s nodding before Emma even closes her mouth.

“Of course I do,” Killian says, another truth that’s a bit more important than anything else.

It had been late – it always seemed to be late when his phone rang and Emma called him an overprotective weirdo, but he liked to know when she got home and there wasn’t really anyone else in Chicago to make sure that she did. Neither one of them ever mentioned that.

She’d gotten the skip and a few days off and he could practically see her trudging through her apartment, toeing out of her boots and the mattress creaked when she landed on top of it.

“Don’t say anything about the mattress,” Emma had mumbled, words slurred and she cursed him to several different hells when he chuckled into the phone. “I’m going to sleep for days.”

“I think you can do that, love.”

It was another ancient nickname – even before Swan – and it had started as a slightly sarcastic jab before evolving into something potentially life-altering and neither one of them ever talked about that either. They were perpetually and incredibly bad at that.

They talked about everything else instead and he kept asking if she had any bruises or lacerations, because she always had bruises or lacerations after she caught another criminal, and Emma mumbled several increasingly creative insults about his blood pressure under her breath.

She mentioned Final Jam at some indeterminate point in the conversation, muttering about tickets and prices and it would be easier if I could just teleport there. It was enough to wake him up, blinking quickly and nearly falling off his couch and he invited her as soon as the thought landed in the front lobe of his brain.

Or wherever thoughts originated from.

“Yeah, ok,” Emma muttered and they’d both fallen asleep before they hung up the phone.

“Swan, did you honestly think I forgot that I told you to come stay with me?” Killian asks, wincing when he hears the sheet of paper in between them rip. “Ah, damnit. This whole thing is less impressive now.”

She’s biting her lip – teeth digging down like she does when she gets nervous and that’s ridiculous because they’re them and it’s Final Jam, but it’s been six years since that Final Jam and they need to come up with another word for final because it’s really just starting to sound fake and slightly abrasive.

Emma blinks, opening her mouth only to close it again and surprise isn’t an emotion that usually makes his stomach twist, but she looks genuinely stunned and that’s not really what Killian was going for.

“What was that?” she asks. “Did I just rip your coat because, agreed, that makes all of this less impressive and kind of depressing.”

“I’m incredibly confused by this line of questioning, love,” Killian admits, meeting Emma’s wide-eyed gaze with one of his own. “You’ve got answer one of mine before I answer one of yours. Those are the rules.”

“Whose rules?”

“Swan!”

She flashes him a smile, some of the nerves forgotten in the name of, possibly, witty banter and Killian’s eyes threaten to fall out of his own goddamn face when Emma works her way back onto the ground. “I can’t believe you showed up here,” she mumbles, but there’s a note of absolute belief in it. “That’s nice. You know that’s stupid nice?”

“Stupid nice is absolutely what was I was going for.”

“Yeah, well, mission accomplished. I really didn’t rip your jacket?”

“You really didn’t rip my jacket,” Killian promises, bending down to grab the slightly worse-for-wear sign off the ground. “This, however, is a totally different story.”

Emma doesn’t gasp, but it sounds awfully close and her hand moves impossibly slow when she reaches out, fingers brushing over the side of the paper like it’s made of gold.

“You brought a sign too?” she whispers. “That is… God, that’s stupid.”

“Stupid?”

“Yes, stupid. And nice. Incredibly nice and I can’t believe you took the day off because you remembered when my flight was going to be.”

“I really only did it so you can brag about how great my driving skills are to David.”

She laughs – loud and easy and it does something absurd to Killian’s ability to keep breathing and not thinking about very specific things. “Yeah, I figured,” Emma smiles and, just like that, it’s normal and simple and them in the kind of way that it’s always been. “Does it count when your driving skills are only better because you’re breaking, like, seventy-two different laws?”

“It is nowhere near seventy-two.”

“It’s way too close to seventy-two for comfort. And David drives like he’s eighty-six because he feels like he has to set an example for the city.”

“And because Mary Margaret’s pregnant and he drives even slower now.”

“How is that possible?”

“Trust me, Swan,” Killian says, grabbing her bag and he didn’t notice she tugged her sign out of his hand. “It’s definitely possible. Even Mary Margaret was getting frustrated the other day.”

“You are lying straight to my face right now!”

“Ask her later.”

“She’ll lie in front of David.”

“Ah, but you’ll be able to tell won’t you?”

Emma blinks, tongue darting in between her lips and that’s only slightly distracting. They need to get away from the JetBlue arrivals gate. It’s clearly messing with Killian’s head. “Yeah, probably,” she admits. “Why were you in David and Mary Margaret’s car?”

“If I say the words Final Jam prep out loud are you going to laugh uproariously?”

“Yes.”

“Then think of other words that also mean those words and that’s why.”

Emma’s laugh seems to shake through her, smile wide and eyes bright and maybe it’s just everything about that weekend, but Killian should really stop lying to himself. He stumbles slightly when he feels arms around his middle, Emma’s head back on his shoulder – more like crashing into his collarbone, but he’s not going to be specific about the details.

She’s folded up the sign, he can see the bit of paper sticking out of the back pocket of her jeans and the whole thing does something absurd to his entire state of being and several different plans for his future and maybe this Final Jam will be the perfect Final Jam.

Or something that doesn’t sound nearly as absurd as that.

“I’m really glad I’m here,” Emma mutters and it sounds a bit like an admission of guilt or several different misdemeanors.

“That makes two of us, Swan.”

“And it really will be easier to stay at your apartment. Cheaper than a hotel.”

“You can’t throw my own reasoning back at me. That’s cheating.”

“Ah, I wasn’t aware of the rules of the conversation.” She rolls her eyes again, but there’s a hint of a smile on her face and people are starting to glance questioningly at them because they’ve been standing there for far too long.

He’s going to have to offer tutoring services to pay for parking.

“Plus,” Emma continues. “You’ve got super fancy coffee in your apartment. Way better than anything I could get a hotel. Because you’re a snob.”

“Just because I refuse to dump half a packet of hot chocolate mix into my coffee every other hour does not make a snob.”

“There are several things wrong with that sentence, but I am starving and this airport air is starting to give me a headache, so I will wait to explain all the reasons you are wrong until we get home.”

They both freeze as soon as that word sinks into their bloodstream – which is not the right way to phrase it, but Killian’s trying not to pass out or kiss Emma again, so, really, he’s not all that worried about the appropriate syntax.

He blinks instead, swallowing back the not-so-small sea of emotional and slightly romantic thoughts he’s been trying to avoid, smiling when he brushes his thumb over the curve of her cheek. “There’s plenty of coffee at home, love,” he says, hitching her bag up his shoulder and wrapping his free arm around her until he can practically feel the tension melt off her.

“Coffee snob,” she mumbles and it’s another truth and another thing and Final Jam has never felt more important.

Mary Margaret and David’s apartment is confusing. And not just because they’re definitely breaking some kind of fire code with all seven of them packed in the living room.

It’s like some kind of time capsule in there – for the past and the future. There are frames dotting every wall and a few shelves because Mary Margaret and David are the kind of people who decorate their bookcase shelves, moments captured in time and imitation wood.

Killian remembers most of them – and those he doesn’t entirely remember might be the most fun of all of them, but they’re adults now – and every single Final Jam memory is in one extra-large frame on the far wall.

He tries not to stare at it, but that works as well as ignoring Emma’s weight against his side, a head on his shoulder and she can’t complain about jet lag when she was only one time zone behind, but she’s done it six times already and they might have fallen asleep for twenty minutes on his couch that afternoon.

He’s like ninety-six percent positive David wants to ask about that. And only, like, forty-seven percent positive that he won’t.

There’s more than just frames, though – Mary Margaret’s got a Boston College blanket wrapped around her shoulders, announcing pregnancy does weird things to your body temperature when Ruby asked about it and there’s a sign touting a baseball game that Merida definitely stole when they were sophomores hanging on the wall. It’s a strange counterbalance to the, frankly, ridiculous amount of baby stuff everywhere, packages of diapers and containers full of bottles and whatever the proper name for the top of a bottle is and Emma sounded like she nearly choked when she walked into the kitchen to find a sonogram hanging on the refrigerator door.

“We were going to tell you,” Mary Margaret says, not for the first time and her voice is starting to shake a little bit.

She’s having a difficult time holding onto her blanket.

Emma nods  – or tries, at least, – but it just serves to brush her cheek over Killian’s shoulder and he’s not sure he entirely appreciates whatever look Ruby and David share.

Mulan keeps tapping on her knee, like she’s getting more restless by the moment and, possibly, looking for escape options.

Killian understands the feeling.

He wasn’t entirely prepared for the sonogram and all that that entails either. And he’s not entirely pleased to realize that his dominant reaction is one very specific and less-than-supportive emotion – jealousy.

It sits in the back of his mind and the pit of his stomach, making every inch of him ache, but, again, that may just be most of Emma’s weight leaning against his right side and his arm is kind of twisted awkwardly underneath her.

Killian shifts, both of them moving in the process, and Ruby’s attempt to control whatever noise she makes as soon as his lips brush over Emma’s hair fails woefully short. He glares at her.

“Do not look at me like that, Jones,” Ruby seethes, sitting up a bit straighter and they’ve always been very good at vaguely antagonistic banter.

Mulan sighs.

“I literally glanced your direction because you were making a questionable amount of noise, Lucas,” Killian argues. “Your throat doing alright after whatever it was that just happened?”

Her eyes, somehow, get more narrow, lips pursed and one very particular finger rising quickly – she hides her hand behind her back when Mary Margaret gasps. Killian grins.

“I think you’re about to get grounded,” he says, drawing a quiet laugh out of Emma and he doesn’t object when she swings her legs over his.

As if he’d ever.  

“That was actually kind of funny,” Merida mutters. She glances up from the phone that hasn’t stopped making noise since she knocked on the front door a few hours before and they’re incredibly behind schedule.

That may be half the reason for the look on Mary Margaret’s face.

“It happens occasionally,” Killian reasons. “You know, sometimes.”

Ruby doesn’t try to mask her laughter that time. “Yeah, you’re really selling it there. So, uh, what time did you land, Em? You look a little exhausted.”

“Rude,” Emma mumbles at the same time Mary Margaret clicks her tongue in reproach and maybe the grounded joke wasn’t really a joke at all. “And I have this thing called a job--”

“--I have a job!”

“Eh.”

“Oh my God, look who’s being rude now. Mary Margaret, tell Emma I have a job.”

“Do not call Mary Margaret to your defense,” Emma says, but her words still sound a little exhausted and Killian is still only slightly concerned about the bruise on her thigh. “And you have a job with vaguely normal hours that does not require manual labor.”

“You don’t have to punch every skip you catch, Em,” Ruby grins.

Emma sighs, but Ruby’s got a point and the entire apartment knows it. The baby in that sonogram picture probably knows it. “Yeah, that’s fair, I guess,” Emma grumbles. “But I am only agreeing with you because I know we’re behind schedule and Mary Margaret looks like she’s close to tears because I freaked out about the baby.”

“I am not close to tears,” Mary Margaret argues, which is an oxymoron because Mary Margaret is incapable of arguing, particularly when her hands are resting on the slight swell of her stomach and Killian can’t think of a moment in the last five months when she hasn’t been absolutely beaming.

He’s so jealous he’s positive he reeks with it.

“Eh,” Emma repeats, Ruby snickering slightly and Merida takes a picture on her phone.

“It’s for Mac,” she explains. “Because you guys are weird about the Magnificent Seven rules.”

“We’ve never once called ourselves that.”

“Really? Why not? We definitely should be.”

“It’s not even clever,” Killian says, groaning when Emma uses her left elbow to push herself back up. Ruby glances at David again. “And the Magnificent Seven is historically inaccurate.”

The whole room groans collectively, Emma’s eyes bright when she turns to roll them at him and he has to blink to remind himself of all the reasons making out on Mary Margaret and David’s couch is fundamentally and completely wrong.

There’s like...two reasons.

“You are the most annoying person in all of history,” Emma says, like she’s reciting it from a script and the familiarity of it all is as easy and comfortable as it was to fall asleep on his couch.

They need to find somewhere else to sit than couches, apparently.

“Nailed it,” Mulan and Ruby call in tandem, Emma’s smile widening when she flicks her finger against Killian’s shoulder. He catches her around the wrist before she can do it fifty-four more times and Merida’s phone camera clicks again.

“What?” she challenges. “I’m going to call us the Magnificent Seven from now on. I don’t care about the history of it.”

“Oh now you’ve done it,” Merida warns, but the phone makes another noise before Killian can even begin to describe all the reasons she is absolutely wrong.

“And,” Ruby adds pointedly. “It’s not like you aren’t going to see a shit ton of Mac from now on. That’s how living together works.”

Killian blinks. “Wait, what?”

Merida blanches, mouth twisting into something that looks like a grimace and they’re never going to get to the location and event reveal portion of the night. “Oh, shit,” Ruby mumbles. “Did we not...I thought that was just general knowledge!”

“Not until this very moment,” Merida says and she is, thankfully, laughing, shaking her head in disbelief as Mulan mutters quiet apologies on behalf of Ruby. “And why exactly do you know? I’m fairly certain I only told Mulan about it because I was asking for suggestions about up and coming neighborhoods in the city.”

Mulan clicks her tongue, another apology and Merida’s whole body shifts when she laughs again. “Well, whatever, we signed a lease on Monday,” she says. “It’s not big so none of you are ever invited over, but there are plenty of Airbnb options in New York anyway. This is my official announcement and reason number one through thirty-seven why Mac should have been allowed to come to Final Jam.”

“Why didn’t you tell us you were looking for a place together?” Mary Margaret asks.

“Not that we would have let Mac come because we’re super cliquey,” Ruby mutters, a flash of a smile that boasts an almost wolf-like quality and Killian’s going to do something drastic if she doesn’t stop staring at David.

“Secret-keeping is apparently catching this Final Jam,” Emma says. She’s twisted so she’s, presumably, a bit more comfortable, but it’s also ended with her arm somehow around Killian’s shoulders and her fingers moving absently in his hair and if he dies right there on Mary Margaret and David’s couch he won’t be able to find a single thing to complain about.

Except maybe the lack of making out.

But that seems kind of selfish.

“We just wanted to do it all in person,” David continues and he sounds like a dad, a fact Killian mumbles under his breath in some misplaced effort to get Emma to laugh again.

She does.

It feels like a victory.

“More official that way,” Mary Margaret says softly. There are tears in her eyes. Emma looks slightly scandalized. “Because, uh…”

Emma sits up straighter. “You’ve got to finish the sentence, M’s. And if you guys give us bad news during the opening ceremonies of the last Final Jam ever, I’m never going to forgive you or your inevitably adorable kid.”

“Got your priorities straight, for sure,” Ruby mutters. Emma flips her off. They’re all a picture of mature and complete adulthood.

“Oh my God,” David sighs, but he stands up and it really does feel a little bit more official. Emma’s fingers might have a mind of their own. Or their own power source. They don’t stop moving, tracing over patterns that don’t really exist, but then they’re brushing over Killian’s actual neck and the collar of his shirt and he’s having trouble breathing.

David is still talking.

“It’s a girl,” he says, loudly and proudly and several other adverbs that Mary Margaret could probably recite in her sleep.

She’s clearly too busy trying not to cry though and, well, Killian understands. He exhales loudly, a burst of oxygen he’s sure his lungs would have appreciated holding onto a little while longer and Emma’s fingers still, everything about her going tense as soon as the words process.

Ruby gasps and Mulan mutters a genuine-sounding congratulations under her breath. Merida keeps taking pictures.

And David’s eyes haven’t left his couch – or away from Emma and Killian.

Emma moves first – of course she does, she’s a far better person than Killian and that’s only a slightly melodramatic thought, but it seems like that kind of day and he hopes it’s not a sign for the entire weekend. She stands slowly, like her muscles are having a difficult time obeying what her brain wants them to do, and he’s slightly surprised when her hand reaches back behind her.

She’s waiting for him.

Or, more to the point, she wants him to move with her.

And they’ve all been friends forever – even without the classic Hollywood nickname – but Emma’s the only one he has scheduled FaceTimes with and he’s seriously worried about her leg and she reads his lesson plans while she’s on stakeouts to make sure they’re not as boring as he’s constantly worried they are.

Playing Hamilton in his classroom two years ago had totally been Emma’s idea.

It’s different with them, always has been, because Mary Margaret and David were picture perfect before there were photos to put in picture frames and that one corner of Killian’s brain that seems to be reserved solely for thoughts about Emma Swan is working overdrive in the few seconds he spends staring at her outstretched hand.

He squeezes her fingers as soon he moves, thumb tapping lightly on the back of her wrist and Mary Margaret is practically sobbing.

“These are hormones,” she mumbles, dragging the back her hand on her cheeks.

Emma hums in understanding. “Of course they are. You keep using that excuse all weekend though and we’re going to make fun of you mercilessly for it. Just, you know, FYI.”

“Shut up.”

“Of course, M’s, of course.”

There are more tears – Ruby and Merida both sniffling and resolutely denying it as soon as Killian’s eyebrows shift slightly – and Emma spends a few moments longer in David’s embrace, her forehead buried in his chest with his hand cupping the back of her head. And they all stare at the sonogram for nearly twenty minutes, passing around the piece of photo paper with careful hands and fingers that try not to leave smudges, coming up with name suggestions that grow increasingly more and more ridiculous the more alcohol they all consume.

Mary Margaret keeps refilling everyone’s glasses.

“Ok we are not naming her Eowyn,” she says, putting the now-empty Sangria bottle down on the coffee table next to the other three. That particular tradition started senior year – and might have been at least an eighth of the reason the rest of those moments during that Final Jam happened – all of them far too poor to buy anything except jugs of off-brand wine from the liquor store up the block from Emma and Mary Margaret’s apartment.

“That’s unreasonable, M’s,” Ruby says. “It’s pretty kick ass, not totally normal and everyone would fear your kid. Especially if there were any Witchkings of Angmar wandering around.”

“Oh my God.”

“It’s better than Galadriel,” Merida laughs. “Or....what was the other one you were talking about, Jones?”

“Luthien,” he answers. “Of the epic poem Beren and Luthien.”

“Yeah, no one knows who that is.”

“She’s mentioned in the histories,” Emma mumbles and his eyes widen enough that Killian hopes he hasn’t done permanent damage to his retinas. David chokes on his Sangria. “What?” she asks pointedly, but there’s a smile on her face and, possibly, a glint in her eye and Killian’s not sure if he’s drunk or just having some kind of life-changing moment.

It might be both.

“I listen,” Emma shouts and she’s moved at some point, half sitting on his thigh and half on the couch, fingers no longer in his hair. They’re tugging on the front of his BC alumni shirt instead.

“They don’t go into much detail on the histories in the movies, love,” Killian says. He ignores whatever his pulse his doing. And Ruby’s expression, like she’s taking inventory of every little hitch in his body whenever Emma moves. That’s not helping his pulse.

“That’s not true at all! Aragorn sings about them.”

“What?”

“In the extended edition of the Fellowship,” David says, something that might be actual wonder his voice. “She’s right. On the way to Rivendell. Aragorn tells Frodo.”

“I’m sitting right here,” Emma hisses. “Also I read. Sometimes.”

Killian’s having some kind of medical episode. He's certain. And, in the grand scheme of things, Emma knowing about a scene in the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring should not be this surprising – but she’s also admitted to, maybe, reading the Silmarillion and maybe he isn't upset about the lack of making out if he just dies right now.

This is such a strange night.

“We’re not naming her Luthien either,” Mary Margaret says, seemingly picking up on whatever mental breakdown Killian is staging a few feet away from her. Ruby actually writes something down. “But! This is almost a good segue.”

“Into?” Ruby asks.

“Is this not the opening ceremonies?”

“I honestly have no idea what’s happening right now if we’re being perfectly honest.”

“So this is me changing that,” Mary Margaret announces, swatting at David’s hand when he tries to help her out of her chair. She pulls a binder off the top of one of the questionable number of bookcases in the living room – papers perfectly piled and Killian’s not surprised to see there are dividers sticking out of the edge. Emma’s laughing against him. “Happy Final Final Jam,” Mary Margaret says, brandishing the binder like anyone has any idea what the hell she’s talking about.

“Are we supposed to know what’s in there?” Mulan asks.

“Oh my God, isn’t it obvious?” Five of them shake their head. David looks amused. That’s probably because he had to buy the dividers. “This is our official binder of plans and ideas and, aw c’mon, you guys all answered the e-mail!”

“I thought that was just a joke,” Emma mutters and Killian doesn’t understand why she sounds slightly terrified. “You sent that to all of us?”

“Of course I did. We decided this was probably going to be the Final Final Jam for, you know..”

“The rest of our waking days?”

“Don’t be dramatic,” Mary Margaret sighs, Ruby mumbling yes mom and Emma’s smile doesn’t quite shake, but it doesn’t look quite confident either. “For at least a little while. We’re pausing it and because of that, plus the ten-year anniversary of the original Final Jam, we are going to do as many fun things as we possibly can.”

“Within reason,” David adds.

“At least I wasn’t that overprotective,” Killian mutters in Emma’s ear and he sees her smile widen out of the corner of his eye. It isn’t until about five minutes later that he realizes what he’s said or implied and he wonders if it’s possible for a heart to explode.

“Killian are you listening?” Mulan asks, Mary Margaret not able to reprimand him properly while she’s still monologuing.

“No,” he answers honestly. “Is there more Sangria?”

David pushes another bottle towards him. “Don’t insult my ability to follow my wife’s schedule like that. And don’t drive to Fenway tomorrow. You’re never going to find anywhere park.”

“You’re the one who doesn’t know how to parallel park.”

“I do, too!”

“Please, David, rehash for the class who got the ticket and caused the accident that one winter when we were juniors and you wanted to go to the North End for cannoli.”

“That was your fault! You said I had plenty of room.”

“You were the one driving though.”

“And listening to you. Plus there was a shit ton of snow everywhere. That shouldn’t count.”

“Ok, ok,” Killian says, waving the one arm that isn’t wrapped around Emma through the air. “What about two years ago when we were trying to get to Beacon Hill because you wanted to go to that fancy restaurant with a Michelin star?”

“Oh yeah, that’s true,” Mary Margaret agrees. “That was totally your fault, babe.”

Killian laughs loudly, appreciating the slightly stunned look on David’s face. “Game, set, match.”

“You do not get to shout antiquated clichés at me, Jones,” David yells, grabbing the Sangria back and taking a particularly long swig. “That is rude. And that guy way overreacted. I barely even nicked his car.”

“God, remind me never to get in a vehicle with you, Detective,” Ruby says. “Do they know about your record at the precinct?”

“They’re required by law to know,” Emma laughs. “I do have a follow-up though. Why are all these incidents revolving around food?”

They spend a little more time walking down several different memory lanes, reading through Mary Margaret’s rather impressive and incredibly laminated schedule before her eyelids start to flutter and Merida’s curled up in the corner of the couch with a pillow under her head, Ruby taking photos of it on her own phone to send to Mac.

Emma’s eyes are looking a little heavy by the time Killian tugs her up, keeping an arm around her waist and muttering c’mon, love, let’s go home. He refuses to look at David before closing the door behind him.

And it’s not really that far back to his own apartment, but he didn’t drive and Killian is acutely aware of how close Emma is the entire time they’re on the T, head back on his shoulder and shoulders moving with the steady rise and fall of her breathing.

It’s easy. It’s comfortable. It is so goddamn normal it feels like he’s going to snap in half with the way his whole being wants it to be like this forever.

Or longer.

He’s not going to be picky.

It’s several different kinds of miracles that he’s able to get his key in the door while he’s supporting most of Emma’s weight at the same time, both of them stumbling into the apartment and nearly tripping over the bag she never actually moved into his room.

“You don’t have nearly as much stuff,” Emma mutters, catching him by surprise. He was half convinced she’d fallen asleep standing up.

“Were those the words you were looking for in that order, Swan?”

She levels him with a very particular type of stare – usually the final step in the Emma Swan and Killian Jones banter schedule and it’s taken them some time to get to that point, but it’s nice to finally reach some kind of destination – resting her hands on his shoulders and shaking her hair onto her back and maybe her eyes are getting greener.

He clearly should have taught biology. He’d probably know if that was possible then.

“Don’t try and tease me because you know I'm tired, it’s not nearly as cute as you think it is,” she says. Killian blinks. “I meant M’s and David. Your apartment’s looking a little sparse by comparison.”

“Well I’m not preparing for the arrival of my first child, so…”

“Why not?”

“Excuse me?”

Emma shrugs, like it’s not an impossibly large question or one they’ve ever actually had. There have been boyfriends and girlfriends on both sides, people they’d both complained about and talked about and some who they were certain were it in some kind of everything type of way, only to be wrong.

His ended with Emma flying to Boston and sleeping on his couch while he watched all three extended editions of Lord of the Rings in succession. She ordered him food from the Chinese place that had known their order by heart during undergrad.

And then they went to the swan boats and stared at the water and she promised it’d be alright.

Hers ended with Killian buying her a ticket and telling her to get to O’Hare and he picked her up at Logan then too, letting her fall asleep with her head on his thigh and several horrible 80s movies in the background. They ordered from a different Chinese place. It was better. They lamented all the time wasted.

And then they went to the swan boats and stared at the water and he promised it’d be alright.

They’ve never once talked about the hazy thing that is the future and Killian’s mind is quick to point out it’s because he’s been waiting, maybe a little desperately, for her to bring it up.

“I mean it’s a fair question, right?” Emma asks, but that feels like an even bigger question and Killian can’t remember any word in the entire English language. “I mean...you’re you and Mary Margaret’s probably tried to be Mary Margaret at some point, right?”

He nods dumbly, only vaguely aware of what she’s suggesting. And he’s certainly tired of the set-up attempts because Mary Margaret’s intentions are good, but they’re also a little heavy-handed and Killian is definitely the third wheel on a cart that will soon also house a baby.

Or however that sentence goes.

“It’s not exactly something you rush into, Swan,” he says, another miracle that might be more impressive than unlocking the door was.

“No, no, I know that. I’m not saying go out and start having twenty-seven kids.”

“Twenty-seven?”

“Oh my God.”

Killian grins, some of the oxygen returning to his lungs and his brain and Emma rolls her eyes. He taps his thumb on the side of her jaw. “They’re going to get stuck that way, love,” he mutters, the endearment falling out of him without his explicit permission.

“You’re making that up,” Emma challenges, but she doesn’t question anything else in the sentence and Killian feels himself hoping against his will.

Cautiously optimistic.

“That is pure and complete scientific fact,” Killian says, pressing another kiss to her forehead and maybe that’s what Ruby was keeping track of. It’s definitely what he’s keeping track of. “And I’m perfectly fine as is, Swan. All that clutter would drive me nuts anyway.”

“Can I please tell Mary Margaret that you called all her stuff clutter tomorrow?”

“Why are you trying to antagonize me?”

“I’m not, honestly,” she promises, moving to rest her palms flat on his chest. This is like some great, big giant test, he’s positive. With a Scantron. And he’s only got a mechanical pencil. It’s a very complicated metaphor.

“Please do not tell Mary Margaret that I called her stuff clutter while we’re trying to watch a Red Sox game tomorrow.”

“I can’t believe David picked that.”

“Can you not?”

Emma sags, a disgruntled sigh that might actually be the single most endearing noise he’s ever heard falling out of her. “Well, yeah, I can,” she says. “But he’s going to yell ridiculous things and everyone around us is going to hate him.”

“Ah, but it’ll be a common bond between all of us. That’s fandom unity. And I bet we can come up with some pretty scathing insults about the Sox in the next few hours. As long as you promise not to fall asleep on me.”

“You don’t have to worry about my sleeping habits, you know.”

“If I don’t, who will?”

At some point, it would be great if his brain would stop providing his mouth with sentiment and words he doesn’t want to give voice to yet – or, maybe, ever, he hasn’t entirely decided – but that does not appear possible and Emma’s eyes widen before she can school her features entirely. She licks her lips, a muscle in her jaw jumping when she clenches it and Killian tries not to scream apologies in her face, barely hearing her when she starts talking again.

“Probably anyone in that apartment before,” she whispers. “But you’re kind of at the top of the list. Leader of the pack or whatever.”

“Are you quoting pop songs from the 50s to me?”

“You’re the history genius, you tell me. You’ve got the leather jacket thing down. It felt like an appropriate reference.”

Killian hums, something that feels like warmth seeping down his spine, but that same, slightly problematic corner of his brain knows it’s something entirely different and, at some point, his hand has landed on Emma’s hips.

They’re far closer than he remembers being a few minutes before.

And it would be easy – that word losing some of its meaning because things weren’t always always easy with them, but they’ve grown up and evolved and he wants, so much he practically shakes with it. He could duck his head and kiss her or she could press up on her toes and kiss him and they could just keep doing that on some kind indefinite basis forever and ever for the rest of eternity.

So naturally both of them take a step back, shaky smiles and slightly obvious nerves and Emma’s shoulders shift when she takes a deep breath.

“I’d really like to come up with some scathing insults about the entire game of baseball,” she says, moving back towards his couch and Killian nods despite the voice in the back of his brain demanding he do the opposite.

“Sure, love.”

They fall asleep on the couch together, a notebook tossed on the table with two dozen increasingly absurd insults and the cast commentary of the Two Towers playing in the background.

Chapter Text

It is, all things considered, kind of annoying.

This whole being in love with Emma Swan thing Killian is doing gets in the way of...everything. And, really, it’s not entirely fair, mostly because he can’t remember when it started and just saying always seems way too melodramatic even for the almost ridiculous amount of pining he’s been doing over the last decade.

Plus, always isn’t entirely accurate.

They bickered and fought and pushed several different buttons their freshman year, but Killian would be lying if he said he hadn’t let his eyes hold her gaze a few minutes longer and the first time they’d gone to the swan boats – after they’d both completely bombed some freshman marketing exam neither one of them was particularly interested in taking – was some kind of game-changer on a lifetime scale.

And it just keeps going from there.

They still bicker and fight, but there are fewer buttons to press because they get to know each other and it’s not easy, but it’s them and their friends stop sending separate text messages to each of them while they're still in school.

“There’s no point,” Mulan reasons one day, sitting cross-legged in the corner of Bapst Library with a small mountain of books around her.

Killian arches an eyebrow, but Mulan doesn’t blink – barely looks away from the one book she’s been staring at for the better part of the last forty-five minutes and they probably should have gotten a table. But it’s late April and there are way too many kids in Bapst and both of them have three exams in succession next week.

“What?” he asks. “Are you talking? That’s against the rules.”

She flips him off. “I’m just saying. There’s no point in texting both you and Emma anymore. You’re like one collective unit.”

“I don’t think that’s true.”

“No?”

“No,” Killian says, waving his hand through the otherwise deserted aisle and Mulan, finally, looks up at him. “Case in point. Or whatever.”

“Save your law jokes for Merida.”

“I don’t know how to make a broadcasting joke.”

“Well, then, clearly you’re not much of a comedian are you?” she asks, leveling him with a state he’s come to regard as bored and slightly exhausted. He’s definitely exhausted. He’s going to drink so much Sangria at Final Jam.

“Ah, but you’re still kind of charmed by it, admit it.”

“I’m not. And you’re avoiding the question.”

“Were there any questions?”

Mulan flips him off again – with her other hand – working a not-so-quiet laugh out of Killian, but that’s mostly a deflection and he’s definitely avoiding the unspoken question. “I’m just saying,” she continues. “There’s no point. Current situation aside, you two are like..I don’t know.”

“You don’t know.”

“Why are you being like this?”

“Probably because I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.”

She clicks her tongue, frustration obvious in the sound and the shift of her shoulders and this is not doing anything to help his current stress level. Or how goddamn annoying his emotions constantly are. “I’m serious, Jones,” Mulan says. “A collective unit. That everyone and several other people have an opinion on.”

And, just like that, it’s as if he’s been thrown into the Charles River and forgotten how to swim.

Killian can feel his eyes widen, tension running down his spine and in between his shoulder blades and it kind of feels like his tongue is growing, which, really is pretty gross.

Mulan doesn’t notice – or ignores it completely, it’s probably the second one – eyes back on her books and whatever kind of knowledge she has to learn for exams about broadcast journalism. Killian, however, can’t focus on a single word, every date and point in American history swimming in front of him and his legs wobble when he stands up. “I’m going to go get some coffee,” he announces, barely working a hum out of Mulan. “You want anything?”

“That’s a stupid question.”

It is – she wants a double espresso, always and forever and especially while studying for three straight finals – but Killian’s not sure what his mind or legs are doing so he feels like he’s got an excuse. He leaves his books on the floor.

And, eventually, he thinks, that’s the moment or, at least, one of the moments.

Because the whole goddamn Final Jam weekend feels like several different big, important moments and a copious amount of Sangria, and he’s sitting on a bench in the middle of Boston Common with Emma half an inch away.

“It’s weird, right?” Emma asks, holding her hand out expectantly for the bottle in the paper bag that’s only slightly illegal.

Killian hums in confusion, tilting his head and barely keeping his balance, which is only a little troubling because he’s sitting down. “What is?”

“I don’t know. Everything?”

“Everything? That’s awfully broad, love.”

He has no idea when that started meaning a bit more than before, but it seems to happen without Killian’s explicit permission and maybe Mulan had more of a point than even she realized.

Emma sighs, taking a far-too-long drink of shitty Sangria and shivering slightly as she swallows. “It is a little broad,” she admits. “But...it’s also, I don’t know, I’m not an English major I can’t come up with another word for it.”

“You’re losing me.”

“I realize that,” she laughs, soft and simple and her smile does something absurd to his slightly inebriated brain.

They’re alone again – a color-coordinated schedule completed and far too much alcohol consumed and there are only two weeks until graduation and he’s still a little worried about those final exams. His phone is on silent.

He’s fairly positive Emma’s phone is in her apartment.

That feels important too.

“So try again,” Killian suggests, fingers brushing over hers when he tries to take back the alcohol. “You’ve got to share, Swan. Those are the rules.”

“Final Jam is over.”

“Our rules then.”

She scoffs, but there’s still a bit of laughter clinging to it and her fingers are always freezing cold. He’s a little worried about that as well. “Just us?” Emma asks. “Seems kind of specific.”

“It might be,” Killian shrugs. “You didn’t put the swan boats on your list of activity suggestions.”

It doesn’t sound like an accusation – and it’s not really, more a curious observation and Killian hopes she can’t hear the way his pulse speeds up at the words. Emma’s eyebrows twist, lips pressed together tightly and it’s going to take forever to get back to campus.

“Yeah,” she whispers, but she doesn’t blink when she speaks and that feels more important than anything to do with their phones. “But that kind of felt like an our thing too. And I kind of had a hunch.”

“About?”

“Ending up here eventually.”

She can absolutely hear his pulse thudding in his veins – there’s no way she can’t, it’s so goddamn loud Killian is half convinced it’s the only noise he’ll ever hear again. His mind is racing, running several different Marathons and that was a few weeks ago, so the joke doesn’t even make sense, but his lungs might be shrinking and he’s clearly not getting the oxygen he needs to come up with appropriate humor.

“Yeah?” Killian asks and Emma’s smile is obvious even in the dim light of the park.

She nods. “Yeah. I mean...like I said, a hunch and some...possible optimism.”

“Possible optimism.”

“Why do you just keep repeating me?”

“Because you keep coming up with phrases never before uttered by native English speakers,” Killian laughs. “I think the colloquialism you’re looking for is cautious optimism.”

“You clearly haven’t celebrated Final Jam enough if you can still say the word colloquialism without laughing.”

“Is that usually a funny word?”

“Isn’t it? It’s weird. It’s a weird word.”

“Ask Mary Margaret about the origins of it tomorrow,” Killian says and Emma makes a noise when she sticks her tongue out at him. “That’s a no then?”

“That’s a no,” Emma mutters. “And Mary Margaret’s got great, big plans to stay with David tonight and then probably volunteer while being super hungover tomorrow. It’s disgusting.”

“That’s awfully judgmental, Swan.”

She groans or growls and it’s good that he’s already a little, a lot, drunk because the muscles in his face would probably ache from overuse otherwise. “It’s not,” Emma promises. “It’s a fact. Mary Margaret wakes up and sings to birds and then organizes everyone’s life with a gusto that does not make sense in the real world and then she kisses David and doesn’t need coffee and goes out and saves the world.”

There’s a bitterness to the last few words that Killian doesn’t entirely expect, blinking through the haze of alcohol around them and he can’t really move closer to her, but he tries anyway. It takes a moment and some quiet encouragement to tug the bottle out of Emma’s hands, widening his eyes in the way that usually gets her agree to anything and he has to bite the side of his tongue to stop himself from doing something absurd when she licks her lips.

“Stop that,” she mumbles, resting one hand on the front of his jacket and the other on his thigh and he might burst into flames.

It feels that way.

“What?”

“The mind reading, open book thing is stupid and unfair,” Emma says. She glances up at him from underneath her eyelashes, hair covering half her face and it’s not cold out, but she shivers anyway. “I’m fine, really.”

“The fact that you need to tell me you’re fine suggests you aren’t fine, love.”

“God, you need to be more drunk. Drunker? Drunkest?”

“That last one’s definitely not a word.”

“Yeah, probably not.”

Emma takes a deep breath and he needs her to stop doing whatever it is she’s doing with her lips, twisting and tugging them behind her teeth, because it’s distracting. “You want to tell me what’s going on now?” Killian asks, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear and he’s not sure either one of them are breathing. “Or should I really try and guess?”

“You don’t have to guess,” she mutters. “I mean you probably could at this point, but it’s just...Final Jam is over.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of how the weekend works, Swan.”

“No, no, that’s not what I mean. I...” She exhales, blinking too quickly and she’s going to do permanent damage to her lower lip if she keeps biting on it. “Final Jam is over,” Emma repeats. “And everyone’s got some kind of plan and all these exams and I’ve got...a business degree.”

“That’s not a bad thing. You can do a lot of things with a business degree.”

“God, don’t give me that. That’s exactly what Mary Margaret and David told me and I'm pretty certain they were half a second away from singing it too, just to make sure I understood the positive implications of it all.”

“Are we not looking for positive implications, then?” Killian asks, not prepared for the way Emma’s eyebrows jump at his choice of preposition.

He should have taken more English classes.

“Not when the future's so goddamn terrifying,” she grumbles. “They’ve all got plans.”

“You’ve got a plan, Swan.” She glares at him. “Ok, ok,” Killian says, flashing her a grin and working one out of her in return and they definitely don’t bicker or fight nearly as much as they used to. Maybe they just flirt. Constantly. Indefinitely?

That’s definitely the wrong word.

“What are you worried about, Emma?” he asks and they both flinch at that word because he never calls her Emma, isn’t sure he actually ever has. And there’s another big, important moment for the last Final Jam of undergrad.

She closes her eyes lightly, letting her head fall forward until it’s resting on his shoulder and Killian’s tongue is bleeding from all the damage he’s doing to it. “I already told you,” she mutters. “Everything. It’s all...it’s over. Isn’t it?”

Killian smiles at the question, which probably isn’t the right response, but there’s something cautiously optimistic about the way she asks, pressing the words into his shirt. “No, it’s not, love,” he answers. “It’s just another weekend and another tradition and Mary Margaret will probably keep making color-coded schedules for the rest of our lives whether we want it or not.”

“They’re really good schedules. Don’t tell her I told you that.”

“They are. Don’t tell her I agreed with you.”

“I promise,” Emma says, lifting her head to meet his smile with one of her own. “Ruby told me that they’ve all stopped texting both of us because it’s unnecessary.”

It’s still not cold, but Killian feels something like ice landing in the pit of his stomach and Emma’s suddenly preoccupied with her feet. “Mulan mentioned that to me when we were in the classics section yesterday.”

“The classics section?”

“It’s quieter there. No one else goes in that aisle and there’s more room than getting an actual table and--”

He doesn’t get the rest of the words out.

Emma’s right hand finds the front of his shirt as well, tugging him forward and nearly ripping the thing in the process. Their knees knock, matching winces on their faces which, really, when he imagined this happening is not at all how he expected it to go.

That kind of makes it better.

Because Emma Swan is kissing him.

And he is kissing Emma Swan.

And it’s like watching the sunrise or drinking an entire bottle of incredibly shitting Sangria without getting hungover and it’s so much better than he ever thought it could be.

He’s thought about this moment a lot.

Emma keeps her fingers in his shirt, holding on like it’s an anchor and they’re not in the perfect position. They’re twisted awkwardly around each other, bent at the waist until Killian’s half looming over her and that doesn’t feel right either.

She fixes it. And that’s the least surprising thing that’s happened in the last ten minutes because if there’s one thing Emma Swan is, it’s incredibly stubborn and even more certain and he wishes there was more oxygen in the world so his gasp doesn’t sound quite as strangled when she swings a leg over his.

They don’t stop, Emma sitting on top of his thighs with her hands in his hair and his palm flat on her back, trying to keep her there for the rest of his life and several different versions of the afterlife. They break apart and breathe and dive back in, lips slanting over lips and tongues moving quickly and there aren’t enough adverbs or adjectives in the English language to describe the moment.

He might groan at some point, but he’s lost control of his limbs and his brain and several different critical systems of the human body, moving without thinking or considering the implications of how goddamn long he’s been waiting for this.

One of them moves, rocking up or down and it’s like the Earth has lost its center of gravity, everything shifting and rearranging and nothing is ever going to be as good as this – Emma’s hair in between his fingers and her shirt riding up slightly and it almost feels like his lips are bruised at this point.

It’s impossible to keep track of time in a moment like this, everything seeming too long and too quick and Killian tilts his head, trying to keep his lips on Emma’s because he’s not entirely sure what he’ll do when she pulls away.

She pulls away.

Of course.

They’re both breathing heavily, eyes wide and mouths hanging open and Emma’s still got her fingers in his hair. She’s still sitting on top of him.

“Swan,” Killian starts slowly, but she’s already shaking her head and it would be more comfortable to be sitting at the bottom of the Charles River than that bench with a slightly altered Earth and the sudden, complete realization that he is impossibly and irrevocably in love with her.

“I’ve got to…” Emma says. It takes her a moment to disentangle their limbs, but then she’s stumbling backwards and that muscle in her jaw is working overtime. “Don’t tell Mary Margaret about that either, ok?”

He’s not sure what he does, he might nod or actually say words, but there’s this rushing in Killian’s ears that makes it difficult to notice anything else and Emma’s already a few hundred feet away.

He doesn’t tell Mary Margaret.

He doesn’t tell anyone.

And, presumably, neither does Emma.

They just keep...being. He stays in Boston and Emma moves to Portland and then four other cities and a tiny little town that she absolutely hates before landing in Chicago and a job at a bail bonds company that only makes him worry, like, a slightly ridiculous amount.

It’s the whole being in love with her thing.

They don’t talk about that either.

They talk about everything else and it’s enough because it’s still them and there are still Final Jam schedules and he didn’t put the swan boats on his itinerary e-mail to Mary Margaret.

He’s got a hunch Emma might have. 

“Jones!”

Killian blinks, jerking back hard enough that the seat he’s sitting in digs into his spine and he’s got no idea what inning it is. He runs a hand over his face, trying to remember what goddamn day it is, but he’s been so wrapped up in memories and feelings and that question from the night before that they could be playing basketball at Fenway and he probably wouldn't have noticed.

Ruby grins.

Maybe she’s the mind reader in the group.

“Present, Lucas,” he grumbles, but she doesn’t look convinced.

“Yuh huh. You hear any of the last conversation?”

“Absolutely.”

“Oh my God,” she laughs. “That was an almost insulting lie. You’ve got to practice better if you’re going to lie to my face like that.”

“You’re missing another round of what do we want to name Mini-Nolan,” Emma mutters, widening her eyes meaningfully. She’s sitting next to him, always it seems in events like this, hair brushing against his shoulder whenever a particularly strong gust of wind works its way out of left field.

“I thought we agreed we were going to name her Luthien,” Killian says. Mary Margaret groans. Loudly. “Alright, well, I guess we’re not doing that.”

“I have no idea what a Luthien is,” Mary Margaret says. She’s keeping score, a pencil stuck behind her ear and the whole thing looks very official. She’s even counting pitches.

“Where’d you get the scorebook, Nolan?” Killian asks knowingly. She groans again.

“That’s none of your business.”

“Did you leave Locksley money on his desk for stealing his empty scorebook? Is it even empty? Are there already games in there?”

“There are no games in here already,” Mary Margaret seethes, but that only gets Killian to smile wider and it is, he reasons, easier to sit in Fenway’s far too small seats if his arm is around Emma's shoulders.

Whatever.

She doesn’t argue it.

“She wouldn’t steal a pre-used book, get with it, Jones,” David mutters, not taking his eyes off the field and Mary Margaret probably shouldn’t be groaning that often.

“I didn’t steal it,” Mary Margaret says. “And I left Locksley ten bucks because I google’d how much it cost to buy one of these.”

“And you didn’t just, I don’t know, want to buy one?” Emma asks. Mary Margaret doesn’t blink. “I’ll take that as a no then.”

“No, I didn’t have time.”

“Too busy color coding schedules,” Ruby chuckles, not bothering to whisper. “Whatever, can we all agree that Jones was ignoring everyone for a questionable amount of time and that Jean is a pretty adorable name?”

“Jean?” Killian echoes. “And we were totally against Luthien?”

“Luthien is a depressing story,” David reasons, but the words get lumped into a rather pointed insult at the Rays distinct lack of starting pitching. “And we’ve moved out of Middle Earth and into Harry Potter, so I really need you to keep up.”

“Where is there a Jean in Harry Potter?”

“That’s Hermione’s middle name,” Emma answers. “Seriously, pay attention to the conversation.”

Killian hums, a smirk settling on his face – but that’s almost more obvious than the lie he tried to feed Ruby. “Better than naming her Hermione straight up.”

“That’s what I’m saying. Hermione is way too obvious. Although I did vote for Angelina.”

“Johnson?”

“How did you know that and not that Hermione's middle name is Jean?”

“Because you and Merida are the only ones who actually signed up for Pottermore,” Ruby mutters archly. “And I still think people are going to think Jolie before a Quidditch player.”

“I signed up for Pottermore for the background information,” Emma says and Killian barely keeps his laugh from becoming some kind of guffaw.

“I’m sorry, Swan, that’s the single worst lie anyone in the history of the world has told.”

“How do you figure?”

“Are you going to tell me right now that you weren’t desperate to find out what your Patronus was? Don’t insult my knowledge of you like that.”

She makes a face – tongue sticking out and eyes rolling towards a perfectly blue sky that’s probably the textbook definition of baseball weather and Killian squeezes his hand on the curve of her shoulder.

He doesn’t notice Ruby’s expression.

Mary Margaret is still desperately trying to keep score. “What was that last pitch?”

“A strike,” Killian answers.

“That wasn’t a good question, aren’t there are only two options?” Merida asks, her hair barely staying contained under the baseball hats they were all told they had to wear. David is wearing a Garciaparra jersey.

“Not true,” Mulan argues. “And Jones wasn’t right either.”

“What?” he asks, eyes darting towards Emma’s out of instinct and several other words that he’s been trying to ignore for the last six years. “Ok, that is just fundamentally wrong. Balls and strikes. That’s how baseball works.”

“Nope. Try again.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Mulan opens her mouth to answer, but their attention is collectively diverted by a crack of the bat and David’s already jumping up and down, drawing a few curious stares from the people around them and maybe the J.D. Martinez trade was worth it if he keeps hitting like that.

“Run, Mookie, run,” David yells, waving his hands like he’s the third-base coach. “God, wave him home, idiots! He’s got the speed for it!”

Mary Margaret has her face in her hands.

“David, you are embarrassing your wife and your unborn child,” Emma says. “Sit down. Mookie can’t hear you.”

David shakes his head. “No, I refuse to believe that. He’s right there.” He points towards the runner still standing on third, which, really, was a bad call because Mookie does have the speed to beat out the relay home, but Killian will be damned before he agrees with any of David’s baseball opinions. Emma had to get him to change out of Yankees gear four different times that morning. “He can definitely hear me,” David continues. “We paid way too much money for these seats, give me this, Emma.”

“I will not do that. This is weird. You are being weird.”

“Welcome to David’s Final Jam moment,” Ruby chuckles. Merida is taking pictures again. “M’s, tell me something honestly, how long did he spend trying to decide which Sox great he wanted to honor with a jersey this afternoon?”

“If it’s any less than twenty-seven I’m going to be really disappointed,” Killian mutters and Emma’s eyes flash his direction.

“Oh that wasn’t even clever.”

“Swan, that was easily the most clever thing I've said all day.”

“And you don’t think that’s problematic?”

He shakes his head, tightening his arm and there’s far too much seat in between them, but that might be some kind of metaphor and Killian isn’t prepared to deal with that before a copious amount of Sangria.

“You’re impossible,” Emma accuses, stabbing her finger into his chest and it takes some kind of Herculean effort not to catch her around the wrist and kiss along the line of her knuckles and being in love really shouldn’t be this annoying.

He wants to talk about it.

He’s dangerously close to needing to talk about it.

He can’t.

Or won’t.

The second one is way more depressing.

“Does anyone have any idea what the hell they’re talking about?” Mulan asks and David groans when Mookie gets stranded on third to end the fourth.

“Not usually when Emma and Killian are speaking their own language,” Ruby says. “But I think it was mostly a baseball insult.”

“It was all a baseball insult,” David grumbles. He has to lean around Mary Margaret to kick at Killian’s ankles, not a particularly easy feat considering the pretzel in his hand. “Question. Who has won more World Series since 2004?”

“Three Series titles is not impressive,” Killian says and he’s not sure who groans more, Emma or David. They’re for completely different reasons. He grins at her. “You were just making up for lost time. And we won one.”

“He says like he was part of the team,” Emma mumbles.

“Was I not, Swan? That’s disappointing.”

“Now batting, the captain…” she intones and maybe the exceptionally blue sky above them is a sign. That be sort of nice.

“Speak English,” Ruby demands, swatting at Merida’s arm when her phone shutter clicks. “Mer, I am going to throw that stupid thing on the field, I swear to God.”

Merida doesn’t look impressed. “You’ll get kicked out if you do that and then you won’t get to Faneuil Hall for your Final Jam moment, so come back to me when you’ve got a more threatening threat.”

Ruby’s getting very good at glaring at all of them.

“The Yankees have won the World Series twenty-seven times,” Emma explains. “The Sox were, you know, cursed and awful, but then they broke said curse in 2004 and have since won two more times and David’s trying to pretend that’s impressive or like Curt Schilling isn’t an actually terrible person.”

Mary Margaret groans again, slumping in her chair and she practically hisses when Killian and David both ask if she’s alright. And the jab about Curt Schilling was point seventeen on the list still sitting on Killian’s coffee table.

He loves Emma Swan an absolutely ridiculous amount.

“Now you’ve done it,” Mary Margaret sighs and the Red Sox are already back up. “Is that a new pitcher? Again?”

“It’s bullpen day for the Rays,” Emma reasons. “Do they have another pitcher besides Chris Archer?”

“You’re asking me like that’s a question I know the answer to.”

“Can a baseball team actually be cursed?” Ruby asks and they’re going to get banned from Fenway for being the most obnoxious fans in the history of the game. “That seems unlikely.”

“Please stop talking about this,” David begs. “It’s over now. We don’t have to rehash. Also Curt Schilling is an absolutely awful person, Emma, so don’t act like that’s something that’s up for debate. Come up with another insult.”

“I’ve got a list.”

“Excuse me?”

Emma nods. “Buckner, Buckner, Buckner. David Ortiz took steroids too. The aforementioned Curt Schilling insult. Aaron Boone. Buckner again, just for kicks, and the Pesky Pole is a stupid attempt at alliteration that I find, honestly, insulting.”

Killian nearly dislocates his neck when he throws his head back to laugh, tugging Emma tighter against his side and they’re both going to have bruises from the goddamn seats. David scowls, but he can’t hold the expression for too long because Christian Vázquez just hit a leadoff double to the triangle in the corner of the outfield.

“The Pesky Pole is a tradition unlike any other,” David says.

“No,” Emma argues. “That’s the Masters.”

“Oh my God.”

“C’mon, that was funny!”

“That was not funny. Are we done? Have you gotten all your insults out?

Emma shrugs, twisting to glance at Killian and Mary Margaret’s pencil sounds impossibly loud, like the rest of the world has fallen away or paused or something equally impossible and he tries not to blink.

Ruby coughs loudly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Emma says quickly, shaking her head like she’s trying to work her way through cobwebs or a dream and Killian doesn’t realize he’s been holding his breath until his lungs start to ache. “Totally done. Oh, there was something about Nomar wasn’t there?”

“Who are you asking?”

“Killian.”

David freezes. “Did you two come up with a list of insults together? Are you kidding me?”

Ruby is barely staying in her seat, arm thrown over her face and several different people have started whispering about them. It’s only a matter of time before they get kicked out of their seats. Mulan isn’t much better, eyes wide and lips pressed together tightly and she tugs Merida’s phone out of her hand before she can take a photo of Killian’s face.

He assumes he looks a little stunned too.

And they’d never exactly mentioned that Emma was staying with him.

At least not in so many words.

No words, actually, there were no words about that.

There’s a blush in Emma’s cheeks, staring straight at Killian like she’s waiting for him to talk them out of this, but his throat might be shrinking and he can’t really feel his lungs anymore. He’s not sure he’s ever supposed to, but it seems important to, at least, be aware that they’re there. The air in his body feels like it’s on fire.

“If you guys insulted Nomar together last night, I’m going to be really pissed off,” David warns and, just like that, it’s normal again. Killian’s not sure how, but it might have something to do with David’s far too serious expression and the clipped tone he uses or, possibly, Mary Margaret’s put-upon sigh because her husband has always been a little in love with Nomar Garciaparra.

“It actually wasn’t that bad,” Killian says. “We mostly just agreed that of the two adults in that marriage, Nomar was the lesser athlete.”

“What?”

“Mia Hamm won a World Cup, David,” Emma reasons. “More than once. And a shit ton of Olympic medals. Nomar was the second-best shortstop in the division when he played.”

“Ok, that is absolutely not true!”

“Eh.”

“Jeter was a defensive liability!”

“As he got older,” Killian admits. “Not in his prime. But, wait, there is a compliment in here. This list was not just made to ruin your life.” David blinks. “We’ve decided to allow you the one fact that Nomar might have aged better than Jeter.”

“Might have?”

“Definitely,” Emma promises. “Again, the general consensus is because he’s trying to keep up with Mia Hamm and all those kids they have, but we’re willing to give you this.”

“How generous of you. I paid for these seats!”

“Yeah, well, that’s because you picked this as your last Final Jam event. Them’s the rules, Detective.”

David rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling too and the Nomar thing was a good idea. It probably helps that the Sox are absolutely destroying the Rays too – not having a starting rotation is a horrible baseball plan.

“Maybe that’s the name you should go with,” Mulan suggests. “What’s the female version of Nomar? Nomara?”

“That’s even worse than Luthien,” May Margaret says. “Plus that’s worse alliteration than Peksy Pole. Nomara Nolan? C’mon.”

“Babe,” David groans, sounding a little like he’s been betrayed by every single member of the Fellowship and all the elves in Middle Earth. And, like, several prominent wizards in the Ministry of Magic. “Seriously?”

“Nomara Nolan is not an option. Now, was that last pitch a strike or a ball or a foul ball because that’s what Mulan was talking about before.”

“Oh, yeah, that makes sense,” Emma says, letting her head fall to the side and Killian smiles as soon as it lands on his shoulder. “Ball three, up and in by the way.”

The Red Sox win and Mookie does, eventually, score – David screaming and jumping and Killian hopes Mac is as endlessly entertained by Merida’s constant photographic updates as he is. They ask some stranger to take a picture of them, Emma mumbling they’re only agreeing because they’re scared David will yell at them too under her breath and Killian’s arm is still around her shoulders when the shutter snaps.

She’s got her right arm around his waist.

But he barely gets a moment to linger on that before Mary Margaret is directing them out of the stadium and they have to split up in two cabs to get wherever they’re going next.

“You’re up, Jones,” Mary Margaret says, trying to lean around Emma in the backseat while David gives direction to a slightly frustrated driver.

“I thought the game was over,” Emma grins. She’s far too close to him – every inch of her arm and leg pressed up against Killian and he can’t remember what the hell he picked as his Final Jam event. Mary Margaret sighs again. “Aw, c’mon, M’s,” Emma continues. “I need you to take, like, forty-seven deep breaths and tell me your thoughts on The Chronicles of Narnia.

“Narnia?”

“I mean ignore A Horse and His Boy, but, yeah, everything else.”

“Doesn’t everyone ignore A Horse and His Boy ?” David asks, twisting to look at the three of them. “And your sense of humor is almost worse than Jones’, Em.”

“Please, my sense of humor is exponentially better than Killian’s. The fact that he was making twenty-seven World Series championship jokes before is proof of that.”

David nods in understanding and Emma has to move her arm to turn on Killian, fingers brushing over the back of the back of his neck and maybe the world has the biggest sense of humor of all. “That’s rude, Swan,” Killian mumbles, thanking several different deities that his voice doesn’t shake in the process. “I thought we were on the same team here.”

“Again, with the sports puns. You and M’s are clearly spending far too much time together.”

Killian nods, certain that’s safer than giving voice to the complete certainty that he and Mary Margaret are spending far too much time together because he’s, apparently, become some kind of pining romantic at some point, but he can’t say anything with David sitting in the front seat.

Or, like, ever.

That was the agreement. Right?

God.

“Huh,” David says, an obvious change of subject that makes Emma groan. “Well, that was weird. So are we going to talk about it?”

Killian wishes he’d been hit by a foul ball. Or passed out during Sweet Caroline. Maybe he did. That would explain whatever the hell is happening in the backseat of that cab.

Emma tenses next to him. “Talk about what?”

“Ruby and Mulan.”

She exhales, head lolling forward and Killian’s eyes fall closed before he can begin to imagine how guilty that makes both of them look. Which, again, is absurd. There’s nothing to feel guilty about. He and Emma are friends.

They’re good.

They’re fine.

He thinks about the swan boats like...three times a week. Four, maybe. Five at most.

It might be a problem.

Sustaining a concussion from an errant foul ball during Sweet Caroline would probably be easier to deal with.

“What is there to talk about?” Emma asks and Killian’s positive he’s the only who notices the change in tone, the way she takes her time on every letter and he moves his hand on that same instinct from before, twisting his wrist to wrap his fingers around hers.

She doesn’t pull away.

“They’re dating,” David says, like it’s another obvious fact in the conversation. “We think Mulan’s going to move up there soon.”

“You’re not making any sense at all. Up where? In the sky?”

“Storybrooke,” Mary Margaret answers. “Neither one of them have said anything, but it’s not like Mulan has to be in New York for work. She can home base wherever she wants as long as she can get to an international airport for work.”

“And there’s one of those in middle of nowhere Maine?”

“It’s not really that far from Portland.”

“We don’t know for sure,” David adds, clearly missing the signs of how absolutely painful this conversation has become. Killian’s arm is starting to cramp. “It’s just a hunch. And that’s been a thing since forever.”

“What?” Emma balks. “Forever when?”

“Like senior year?”

“Another hunch,” Mary Margaret corrects. “But, yeah, we think they’re going to mention it tonight when we’re at the restaurant.”

Emma shifts, rolling her shoulders and it isn’t easy to keep their hands hidden, but Killian tries to make sure he doesn’t inadvertently dislocate his wrist when she laces her fingers through his. “Restaurant?” she asks, clicking her teeth together when Mary Margaret’s shoulders sag. “Ok, so I didn’t look at the schedule in detail yesterday, but in my defense I was exhausted and you guys have clearly spent way longer thinking about all of this and our secret relationships than I ever have.”

“Our?” David repeats.

“What?”

“You said our secret relationships. What does that mean?”

Emma nearly breaks Killian’s hand, fingers gripping his with enough strength that he briefly wonders if she’s been bitten by several different radioactive spiders and that’s another universe of name options they should probably consider.

“Nothing,” she says quickly. “Nothing, just...are you analyzing my sentence structure, Detective?”

“It’s in my job description to be curious.”

“And annoying, apparently.”

“I think you’re the only one who thinks that, actually, Em.”

“Eh,” Killian objects. “If you try and corner Lucas and Mulan about their so-called secret relationship at dinner tonight, it might be a whole table of people and Mac.”

“Why Mac?”

“Because I’m ninety-nine percent positive Merida is going to start FaceTiming him and it’s Saturday so he’s probably not saving New York on the weekends.”

“What does he do again?” Mary Margaret asks, a slightly more subtle attempt at a subject change and Killian smiles appreciatively. He’ll have to buy her lunch on Monday.

“I think he works for the City Council.”

“Is that a real thing?” Emma asks. “I thought just happened in Pawnee.”

“I believe that’s a real thing, Swan,” Killian grins, squeezing her hand slightly. “But you can ask Merida if you want to. Or probably Mac when she inevitably FaceTimes him at dinner. Where is dinner?”

“It was in the schedule,” Mary Margaret yells, earning a sound of displeasure from the driver and they’ve gone from one tourist trap to another. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. They’re just...it was in the schedule, really.”

“I believe you, ma’am,” the driver answers. The laughter seems to echo off the doors of the cab and Emma’s entire body shakes against Killian, her hair finding its way into his face in the process. “I’m sure it was a very good schedule.”

“It was, honestly.”

“Oh my God, M’s,” Emma mumbles. “It’s somewhere in the North End, isn’t it? The restaurant?”

“Obviously.”

“Obviously.”

“Are we all in agreement that Ruby and Mulan are totally dating, though?” David asks and Killian tries to shoot lasers out of his eyes. He wasn’t, however, bitten by a radioactive spider and he doesn’t possess that kind of power yet. And David is oblivious. “Because that was kind of the crux of the conversation here.”

“No,” Killian argues. “The crux of the conversation was the possibility of you guys naming future Nolan after a character in Narnia, right, Swan?”

She doesn’t exactly beam at him, but his mind drifts towards several metaphors about the sun and the start of everything, which is odd considering the weekend, and maybe she’ll keep her hand in his when they walk the Freedom Trail to Faneuil Hall and the North End.

He picked the Freedom Trail for his event.

“Yeah,” she mutters. “But seriously, we’ve got to ignore A Horse and His Boy. It’s the worst.”

“Naturally. Lucy and Susan are too obvious though.”

“Didn’t Susan abandon Narnia?” David asks and the driver is desperately trying to get them out of the cab.

“That’s not how it worked,” Emma dismisses and Killian can’t hide his smile because she’s so certain and so goddamn stubborn and she’s going to demand they get Italian pastries after dinner.

“Swan thinks C.S. Lewis was unfairly prejudiced against Susan,” Killian says. He tugs on her hand, swinging open the door and Mary Margaret mumbles something that sounds like Lucy isn’t all that bad under her breath.

“He was,” Emma continues. “He tries to marry her off in A Horse and His Boy and then gets mad when she’s interested in boys in the real world. It’s stupid and patriarchal.”

“I’m not disagreeing with you, Swan. This is why Luthien’s clearly the better choice.”

“Oh my God.”

“Are you guys done speaking in tongues?” Ruby yells, waving her arms and nearly hitting an entire family trying to take a photo in front of the State House. She’s, somehow, holding a drink. “Took you long enough!”

“Bad driver,” David explains at the same time Emma mutters bad directions and Merida nearly drops her phone when Killian kisses the top of her head.

There were magnets involved or something.

Probably.

Radioactive spiders.

And a little bit of cautious optimism.

“Can we focus, please?” Mary Margaret asks and both Ruby and Mulan salute in response. “Maybe we’ll learn something while we walk.”

“It’s not like the history has changed,” Merida points out. “Jones picks the same thing every Final Jam.”

“And it’s still just as important,” Killian says, but his eyes flicker to Emma like he’s looking for confirmation or support. She nods.

And learning something suddenly has a much bigger meaning.

“Alright, troops,” Mary Margaret continues. “Let’s move out.”

“Tell me something absolutely fascinating about this one,” Emma says. She’s standing next to him, hands back on her sides and that’s only kind of disappointing, but they’ve also drifted into their own two-person group at some point and Ruby keeps shouting the British are coming at unsuspecting tourists, so maybe it’s not really all bad.

“It’s the site of the Boston Massacre, love, I’m not sure there’s a lot of positive things about this one.”

“I never said positive, I said fascinating. C’mon, Jones. This is a teachable moment or something.”

“The name is all Paul Revere’s fault.”

“Yeah?”

Killian hums, tugging her against his side for no reason other than how much he wants to. He wants to quite a bit. “Yup,” he says, popping his lips on the letter, like that’ll make the entire thing more normal. “The Sons of Liberty at this point were a bunch of assholes and the whole thing was a mess, British soldiers and pissed off colonists and they threw snowballs, did you know that part?”

“I did actually. At some guy named Montgomery, right?”

“That was impressive, Swan.”

“We’ve done the Freedom Trail before. But keep telling your story, it’s almost interesting.”

“Almost,” Killian mutters, working a laugh out of Emma and she’s got both her arms wrapped around his middle. The rest of the group is probably halfway to the North End by now. “Anyway, it was a disaster. The British were furious, John Adams was furious--”

“John Adams?”

“He defended the British soldiers.”

“No shit, the same John Adams? Sit down John and all that?”

“One and the same, although your reference is six years later. And in Philadelphia.”

“Impressive though, right?” Emma asks, grinning up at him and Killian's mind races back to his apartment and questions and wants until he’s practically bursting with it. There’s no room for romance at the Boston Massacre site.

“Definitely impressive,” he says instead. “But you’re distracting me, love. Anyway, the Sons of Liberty staged this whole propaganda campaign to try and downplay the colonist’s involvement and prove how horrible the British army was and Paul Revere printed a visual of the event. History says he called it a “bloody massacre” and here we are.”

“Totally Paul Revere’s fault.”

“Totally.”

“Paul Revere kind of sounds like a dick.”

“He kind of was actually. And he got caught on his ride before Lexington and Concord.”

“Why do we pretend like he was some great guy, then?” Emma asks, twisting to stand in in front of him and Killian’s heart flies into his throat. “I feel like I’ve been lied to by Liberty’s Kids.

“The cartoon?”

“Yeah. So we probably shouldn’t suggest Paul Revere as a name for soon-to-arrive Nolan, right? Or, like, his wife?”

Killian barks out a laugh – not entirely sure what he expected from the moment, but certain it’s not a Liberty’s Kids reference – Emma blinking at him expectantly and they’re definitely going to be late to their own dinner reservation.

“I’m really glad you’re here, Swan,” he says, more unexpected words and unexpected feelings and she’s going to set a record for blinking in one emotionally-charged moment.

It seems to take forever for her to respond, but her voice doesn’t shake when she does and he can’t even hear Ruby anymore. “Yeah, me too,” Emma says. “Exponentially.”

“Good word.”

“Got to impress you with my English knowledge, since I’ve clearly been lied to about American history.”

“Ah, well, stick around for a little while, love and we’ll get you up to speed.”

Emma doesn’t blink again, but her tongue darts between her lips and he’ll probably think about that for all of dinner and possibly every other hour for the rest of his life. “Is that an offer?” she asks, Killian nodding slowly. “You’ll probably have to deal with more ridiculous 1776 references though. That’s one of Mary Margaret’s favorites. She had a crush on the Thomas Jefferson in that movie.”

“I’m willing to deal with that and I’m going to bring that up at dinner so I can make fun of her because Jefferson was even worse than Revere.”

He doesn’t, in fact, bring it up at dinner.  

He doesn’t get a chance.

Ruby actually stands up to announce “Mulan and I have been dating for two years, all of you are incredibly unobservant, we’re going to Seoul next month.”

Mary Margaret drops her fork. Mac makes a disbelieving noise from New York – David widening his eyes meaningfully because they were right about the FaceTime thing – but Killian doesn’t say anything, is far too preoccupied with the right hand hanging at his side and the brush of Emma’s fingers on his wrist.

He twists it, the realization that her fingers fit in between his with an almost alarming perfection lingering in every corner of his brain.

“So that’s happening,” Ruby continues, calm as ever. “We’ll take requests for souvenirs within reason and in writing before the end of Final Jam.”

“They do not have to be in writing,” Mulan amends. “But we’re not spending more than twenty bucks on any of you, so take that into consideration.”

“That’s fair,” Mac says from New York and the entire table groans in unison.

Killian doesn’t mention anything about Thomas Jefferson – or his actor counterpart – at dinner, but he does keep holding Emma’s hand, so really, it feels like kind of a wash. And they do, of course, get lobster tails – from Mike’s and Bova’s because we have to compare and contrast, Killian, obviously – splitting one on the walk back to his apartment.

They never actually decide to walk, it just kind of happens and Killian tries to remind himself of all the reasons that’s not a sign too.

That cautious optimism is starting to become a little annoying as well though and there’s powdered sugar on the corner Emma’s lips when she closes his front door.

“Hey,” she says suddenly, leaning back and it’s probably difficult to talk when she’s trying to bite her lower lip in half. “Did I make it weird yesterday?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, at the risk of making it weird again, you kind of...froze up when I asked about your lack of kid-type planning.”

“That’s because I’m not trying to actively procreate at the moment.”

Emma sighs, but it’s not quite annoyed and might be a bit more like she was expecting it and is, maybe, a little endeared by it. “That’s not what I mean and you know it,” she mutters. “And we really need to be drinking more if that’s how you’re talking still.”

“I think you’re trying to get me drunk, Swan.”

“Yes.”

Killian laughs, dropping the boxes of baked goods on the closest flat surface and it only takes a moment to pull a bottle out of his cabinet. Emma doesn’t ask where the glasses are, which is almost unfair, honestly, but then they’re drinking and sitting on the couch and the very expensive rum he picked is doing its job.

“I’m sorry I made it weird,” she whispers, barely lifting her lips away from the glass she’s got both of her hands wrapped around.

Killian narrows his eyes. “You didn’t, Swan.”

“I mean, that’s a great, big enormous lie, but I appreciate the effort you’re putting into it. I was just...curious, I guess.”

“About my lack of kids?”

She shrugs and nods at the same time, a move that nearly makes her lose her grip on the glass. “I mean, not just that, it’s...everything.”

“You’re not making any sense, love.”

Emma’s eyes flash and they’re both painfully aware of the change in endearment. Killian’s sip of rum is more like a shot. It makes his eyes water. “It’s just…” she starts again, only to cut herself off and the qualifiers are slowly killing him. “You know what? It doesn’t matter.”

“Swan.”

“No, no, it’s fine. Really.”

“That’s another great, big enormous lie,” Killian says. “I’d be insulted if it weren’t so obvious.”

“Did you know Ruby and Mulan were going to Seoul?”

He has to blink at the abrupt change, the way her entire being shifts as if she’s been replaced by a very convincing alien version of herself in the corner of his couch. Her knuckles are white around her glass though, so it’s obvious it’s still her.

“I didn’t know Ruby and Mulan were dating until about an hour ago.”

“But you had suspicions?”

“Yeah,” he says slowly. “A few. Where are you going with this, Swan?”

She shrugs again, making a noise in the back of her throat, but it might be mostly because of the alcohol she’s only just finished. “A hunch, I guess.”

“Yuh huh.”

“Something to add?”

“No,” Killian shakes his head. “Mostly because I have no idea where this conversation is going and you’re doing a pretty awful job at lying about it.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of true,” she admits. “I guess I’m just kind of wondering what your plan for your entire life is?”

“My whole life?”

“At least the next...ten years, I guess.”

“Are you picking numbers out of thin air?”

Emma groans, holding her hand out expectantly when he doesn’t immediately refill her glass. “That’s a normal amount of time, right? A decade of adulthood. So c’mon, picture it or something. And then update me. Please.”

Killian considers his answer for a moment – but it’s an almost easy answer and, maybe, the same it’s been for the last decade which is, probably, why all those other set-ups didn’t work out. He kind of wishes they were eating Chinese food again.

It’s the same thing it’s always been, since she walked out of Boston Common and none of them said anything and he wants to kiss her again so badly he’s half certain it’s the only emotion he’ll ever feel again.

“Killian,” Emma whispers and he’s the one who ends up dropping his glass. That’s almost embarrassing. “Super weird, overstepping question, huh?”

Yes. And no. And several other lengthy explanations that mostly just boil down to it’s always been you, Emma, but that seems kind of melodramatic to say out loud and there’s rum all over his carpet.

She’s halfway to the kitchen, muttering about water and towels and he catches her around the wrist before she makes it another foot.

“Not overstepping,” Killian says and one of them probably decides to move first, but it absolutely, positively does not matter because he’s ducking his head and Emma’s pushing up on her toes and kissing her is better than he remembers.

He remembers every single moment of it.

Emma’s fingers find their way back into his hair, nails scraping lightly and he can feel her smile when he groans at the movement. He has to bend his knees to reach her, but it’s easier when her feet aren’t touching the floor anymore and they’re moving, somehow, stumbling backwards and towards the couch and oxygen is severally overrated.

They fall back against cushions and a couch arm that is definitely going to leave a bruise on Killian’s hip, Emma’s laughter echoing in the air around them, like it’s trying to work its way into his soul or something equally absurd.

He’s not sure how they don’t sustain any more injuries, a twist of limbs that wouldn’t be possible if they weren’t both so preoccupied with making out like teenagers. And it seems to last forever, kisses and laughter and his fingers brushing over her skin, her back arching enough that he groans again, hips meeting each other and it’s everything he’s ever even considered and then some.

Like some kind of ridiculously sentimental dream.

He feels far more drunk than he is.

But oxygen is, actually, a human necessity and they can’t spend the entire night making out on his couch and Killian’s cautious optimism tries to remain just that when Emma leans back.

Her eyes scan his face and he hopes she finds what she’s looking for.

“You’re going to break several ribs if you sleep out here again,” Emma says, which is only a slightly surprising turn of events, but his heart is still in his throat and he’s definitely, at least, buzzed.

“I’ll be fine, Swan.”

“Great, big enormous liar.” She licks her lips, clicking her teeth the way she does when she gets nervous and her hands are warm when they wrap around his neck. “I was just thinking...there’s space and…”

“And?”

“You really can’t figure it out?”

“I’d really like to hear you say it,” Killian mutters, appreciating the way Emma’s breath hitches when he brushes his lips over the curve of her jaw. “For posterity or something.”

She laughs, shaking against him and it’s the greatest thing he’s ever heard until the next few words out of her mouth. “I really don’t want to be by myself.”

Killian nods, another kiss and another smile and he’s just on the cusp of falling asleep in the bed down the hall when he feels fingers reaching for his, tugging his arm around her waist. It’s the best he’s slept in...ever.

Chapter Text

He’s being robbed.

Killian blinks, everything coming into focus slowly and he has to take three deep breaths before he remembers where he is and who he is and several other words that start with the letter ‘w.’ He glances around the room to find absolutely nothing, which is only kind of disappointing in an overwhelming, completely, sort of way and there’s still a noise coming from his kitchen.

He groans when he leans up and whoever is robbing his apartment isn’t doing a very good job of staying quiet. There are curses and something that sounds like a pretty epic battle with his coffee maker, and if he were a robber, he’d go for that first too.

It’s a pretty impressive coffee maker.

Killian can just make out music, quiet lyrics in between the curses and it leaves him smiling against the pillow under his head – a strange mix of emotions when he was, just a few seconds ago, certain he was being robbed.

Emma’s side of the bed is rumpled, a twist of sheets and comforters she’d tried to steal in the middle of the night, and one of the pillows has fallen on the floor. The whole thing does something ridiculous to Killian’s heart and ability to be concerned about the supposed robber down the hallway.

He’s more concerned about whatever will happen as soon as he gets out of bed, anyway, a mix of nerves and trepidation churning in the pit of his stomach.

Killian takes a deep breath, exhaling it almost as quickly, pushing out of bed and leaving the pillow on the floor. That feels important. He’s not sure why; it’s probably something about messes and cleaning them or accepting them and the metaphor is far too complex for whatever time it is.

He is not, in fact, being robbed.

And Emma is still swearing at the coffee maker when he turns the corner, crossing his arms lightly and leaning back against the wall with a smile on his face that also feels far too complex for whatever time it is.

“God damn, fucking stupid thing,” Emma hisses, kicking at the baseboards and punching the air and she’s already changed.

Her hair’s not perfectly dry – the ends leaving little droplets of water on her neck and the collar of her shirt – but it’s clear she’s been awake for awhile, and Killian hopes they’re not running late for brunch.

That would make it difficult for them to have the discussion he’s only just now decided they need to have.

The coffee maker sounds like it’s close to exploding.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Emma growls, and Killian doesn’t need to see her face to know she’s glaring at it, that tiny pinch between her eyebrows and a curl to her lips that’s never been all that intimidating.

At least to him. It might be to inanimate kitchen appliances.

“It’s trying to grind the beans, Swan,” Killian says, not moving away from the wall and she gets a few inches on her jump.

“Holy shit, that was terrifying,” Emma mumbles. She turns slowly, eyes narrowed exactly the way he expects them to be and Killian grins in response. “Where did you come from?”

“The bed in my room?”

“I didn’t even hear you.”

“Well, how could you when you were so busy screaming at technology?”

Emma clicks her tongue, but there isn’t anything resembling frustration in her expression. Her lips twist slightly like she’s trying to bite back a smile or some kind of slightly sarcastic retort and Killian’s tiny kitchen has never felt more enormous.

He doesn’t move.

She doesn’t move.

The coffee maker continues to make noise.

“I wasn’t screaming,” Emma mutters, twisting her foot on the linoleum under her and that does something ridiculous to his heart too. She’s not wearing any socks. “I was..scolding it. Loudly.”

“Scolding, huh?”

“It’s super confusing and annoying, and I think it proves my point about what a great, big coffee snob you are. Who grinds their own beans in the morning? That’s insane.”

“Or cost effective,” Killian argues. “And I don’t usually do it in the morning. I do it at night and then it’s just ready in the morning.”

“Oh yeah, that makes more sense.”

He hums in agreement, an awkward pause in the banter that makes all those feelings in the pit of his stomach rise up into the back of his throat and he hopes there are bottomless mimosas available at brunch.

This conversation is not going the way he wants it to.

He should have written down some kind of schedule before he left his room. Or at least come up with bullet points. He feels like he’s about to write a DBQ without any actual documents and he obviously needs several vats of coffee because he can’t believe he’s actually thinking about fucking DBQ’s while Emma Swan is standing barefoot in front of him.

“It’s a super fancy coffee maker,” Emma says suddenly, rushing over the words like she’s desperately trying to keep the conversation on track and Killian’s eyes widen when they meet hers. She’s got her lips tugged back behind her teeth, one eye squeezed closed as she rocks her weight between her feet, but she doesn’t look away from him or blink, and both of those things feel like a good starting point for some kind of monumental conversation.

“I might actually be a coffee snob,” Killian admits.

It’s enough to draw a quiet laugh out of her – a noise that sounds more like an exhale than anything else, and he can, finally, make out what music is playing in the background.

He can’t remember if it was two or three years after graduation, but Ruby had picked karaoke as her Final Jam event because, as she said, we’ve never done that before and we’re going to be drunk anyway, and it was almost kind of fun.

They’d been incredibly drunk.

And they’d all been required to do their own solos – shouting lyrics to songs that were only slightly cheesy and an entire playlist of early 2000s Disney channel music Emma had made the weekend before Final Jam. She’d called Killian to help pick the songs, and they’d laughed about the amount of Jonas Brothers they’d put on it, but Emma kept promising Mary Margaret will appreciate it and the force of her smile when Mary Margaret did, in fact, appreciate it rivaled several different suns.

He doesn’t know the name to whatever Jonas Brothers song is currently playing in his kitchen, but Emma’s staring at him with something that feels a hell of a lot like hope on her face, and he’s pretty positive that’s Nick singing.

It’s, at least, a fifty-fifty chance.

They never let Kevin sing.

“Which album is this from?” he asks.

“Uh, the second? Or, well, third technically, but no one counts their first album.”

“Of course not.”

“Maybe that’s one of the name suggestions we should have brought up,” Emma says and it’s clear she’s doing her best to keep her voice even and normal. “Disney Channel stars from the early to mid-2000s.”

Killian laughs in spite of the worry sitting in the back corner of his brain. Emma’s smile feels almost normal, though, a flash of brightness in the middle of his kitchen and she couldn't work the coffee maker, but she didn’t have to ask where the mugs were either and the realization leaves him somewhere close to giddy.

“Tell David that at brunch, please,” he grins. “Josephine Nolan?”

“Or whatever Demi Lovato’s character was named in Camp Rock. What was her name in Camp Rock? And Camp Rock 2, presumably.”

“I have absolutely no idea what her name was.”

“Are you serious?”

Killian narrows his eyes when she jumps onto the edge of the closest counter, legs swinging out in front of her and it’s all almost normal. He continues to ignore all the warning signs. “Why would I know that, Swan?” he asks, Emma shrugging before he’s finished the question.

“I don’t know. I mean you’ve been spending all that time with Margaret and David and planning for Final Jam. I just figured she’d maybe mention it or something.”

“You think the three of us are discussing the plot points of Camp Rock in the car?”

“Yeah, that’d probably be weird, actually,” Emma admits, twisting a strand of hair around her finger as her heel bumps against the cabinet underneath her. “It’s been a good Final Jam though, right?”

“You say like that we’re not going to brunch whenever we’re supposed to be at brunch. And whatever we’re doing after. I can’t remember what Mer picked.”

“Did you not look at the schedule?”

“Did you?” Killian challenges, hand moving on instinct when Emma sags forward and she was never in any immediate danger of falling off the counter, but it’s kind of nice that she doesn’t object.

“Not really. I was mostly just excited to be here.”

She whispers the last few words like they’re an admission he’s not desperate to hear, and Killian tries to smile encouragingly, hand still resting on her thigh. Emma winces when he brushes over the bruise he forgot about the night before, and she barely gets one it’s fine out before she notices the look on his face.

“How did that happen?” he asks, doing his best to make it sound like something other than an accusation. “When did it happen?”

“You should probably have some coffee before you start the interrogation.”

Killian shakes his head. “It’s not an interrogation. It’s concern. C’mon, love, the truth.”

Emma purses her lips – like she’s trying to come up with a lie that he’d believe before realizing that’s an impossibility because he’s always been exceptionally good at reading her and he didn’t care about the Final Jam schedule either.

He just wanted her there. With him. Constantly.

And something less clingy.

“The most recent piece of garbage guy thought it’d be a really good idea to throw a bottle at me while he was trying to run away,” Emma starts, wincing when Killian’s jaw drops open. “Ok, seriously, this is why I didn’t tell you. I’m fine. It was like..not even six stitches.”

“Stitches,” he shouts, and she squeezes both eyes shut. “Swan, are you serious?”

“I don’t know why I would joke about stitches, but, yeah. So it’s kind of bruised and still kind of cut up because I had to wear that stupid red dress that’s impossible to run in and then the guy was throwing glass bottles and one kind of side-swiped me. I got him though, so, you know, whatever.”

Killian balks, the twist of his stomach giving way to something that feels a hell of a lot closer to pride and Emma’s eyes are ridiculously green when she opens them. “I knew you’d freak out,” she continues. “So that’s why I didn’t say anything, and he’s in jail now and going to trial, and it meant I got a week off which is--”

“--A week,” he interrupts. “When? Now?”

“That’s usually how time works. In some kind of linear fashion.”

“But your flight is tonight.”

“That’s also how time works.”

“Swan.”

She twists her hands through the minimal amount of space between them, confusion obvious in the movement. “I’m not entirely sure what we’re arguing about.”

“We’re not arguing,” Killian says, her eyes widening at another blatantly obvious lie and the goddamn coffee is going to burn before either one of them moves away from the counter. “Technically. I just...why didn’t you tell me you were off all week?”

Emma blinks, gaze darting across his face and Killian dimly wonders if they’ve crossed a different and more important line. They need to be more specific.

“It’s ridiculous that you still have an iPod,” she mumbles instead, nodding back towards the speaker dock he’s had for years. “Why don’t you just use your phone like a normal person?”

“I’m usually doing something else on it.”

“That’s not how phones work anymore.”

“Eh, old habits, then.”

“Seems like an excuse.”

Killian tilts his head, and the wall has gotten fairly uncomfortable in the last few seconds of tense conversation. “Where are you going with this, Swan?” he asks, taking a step into her space and she doesn’t back away, just lifts her chin slightly, and he needs Nick Jonas to stop whining so much while he’s singing. He needs to put his music on his phone like a normal person living in the twenty-first century.

“There’s still an early 2000s pop playlist on the iPod you inexplicably own.”

“We just did this. If the conversation is going to keep moving, you’ve got to bring up different points, love.”

She sighs, a huff of air and it probably hurts when she slams her heels into the ground. “This isn’t going the way I wanted it to at all.”

That catches him by surprise.

Killian blinks like he’s waiting for Emma to disappear or suddenly have socks on – as if that’s going to make an enormous difference in the grand scheme of whatever conversation they’re maybe having.

The Jonas Brothers have transitioned into someone who might be either Demi Lovato or Selena Gomez, and he could never remember who was who. Mary Margaret knew. And knows. Both tenses.

God.

“Please don’t do that,” Emma mutters and it can’t be good for his blood pressure to be suffering like this. “That whole staring at me thing. It’s...distracting.”

“From?”

“Everything.”

Killian tilts his head, and they’re close enough that his knees nearly brush against Emma’s legs. He’s got at least eight-million questions and a few more emotionally-charged announcements for good measure, but he’s gotten really good at biting his tongue, literally and metaphorically, and he’s never seen that look on her face before.

So he waits.

And hopes.

Cautiously. Optimistically.

“You didn’t wake up when I did,” Emma says softly and he’s stopped being surprised at this point. That word doesn’t even have a meaning anymore. “That’s weird, right?”

“Most human beings do have to sleep, Swan.”

“Yeah, but you’re a giant weirdo who never sleeps past dawn because of those old habits you were just talking about and…” She takes another deep breath, shoulders moving with the force of it and it feels like several incredibly long eternities before the next words are out of her mouth. “I’m sorry,” she says.

That’s not what he was expecting.

He should have – if only because nothing about this weekend has been what he expected.

“What?” Killian asks, neck starting to ache from staying in a wholly unnatural angle for so long. He doesn’t move it, though, isn’t sure he could if he wanted to and his arms feel impossibly heavy at his side.

That also feels like a sign.

That his arms should be somewhere else.

Possibly around Emma.

She squeezes her right eye closed again, gritting her teeth. “That’s what the coffee was about, and we’re going to eat, or I would have made food. I had this whole omelet plan when I woke up, and you’ve just got, like, a shit ton of vegetables in your fridge. Why do you have so many vegetables in your fridge?”

“For omelets.”

“Seriously?”

Killian shrugs and shakes his head and maybe this whole weekend has just been one, great big Twilight Zone episode. That almost makes sense. He’s half waiting for Rod Serling to show up in his kitchen and mutter some ridiculous pun and lesson at both of them.
“I mean, sometimes,” Killian says. He’s not convinced Emma is breathing. “But, much like sleep, human beings are supposed to eat vegetables on some kind of consistent basis. That’s not...that’s not weird, Swan.”

“No, I know. But you’ve just got a lot and, like, there are peppers in there. Are they organic?”

“They are from wherever Amazon delivery buys their peppers. Why the fuck are we talking about peppers right now?”

The coffee maker does something it’s probably not supposed to, a noise that sounds like it’s just given up and Killian refuses to believe that’s some sort of message from the universe.

Emma can’t meet his gaze anymore, staring at the ceiling and the floor like her eyes are in a pinball machine and it’s Sunday morning, and they’ve wasted so much goddamn fucking time.

He’s wasted so much time.

He’s definitely hungover.

The rum was clearly a mistake.

“Hey,” Killian mutters, finally moving his arm and Emma doesn’t flinch when his fingers brush over her shoulder, but her breath catches slightly, and her eyes look like they’re actually trying to fall out of her head. “Why are you freaking out about how many peppers I am currently in possession of?”

“There’s so many,” Emma says. “That’s impractical. How do you eat them before they go bad?”

“I feel like this is a trick question.”

Her laugh is watery at best and shaky at worst, a terrible combination that does not bode well for the future of this god awful conversation. “It’s not, I promise. I’m just...I wasn’t expecting the vegetables and your coffee maker is ridiculous and…” Emma waves her hands, nearly hitting both of them in the face in the process and they’re going to be so late for brunch. “And you’re all set aren’t you?”

“What?”

She nearly growls in response, snapping her jaw until her teeth clack, and he’s lost control of his face – eyes narrowed, and the distinct lack of coffee in his bloodstream is making it difficult to follow what’s going on in his goddamn kitchen.

“Set,” Emma repeats. “All of them and you and Goddamnit, why won’t you just let me apologize?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

“How is that possible?”

Killian leans back at the sheer venom in her voice, anger and disappointment and something that might just be honest to God disbelief and he has to blink a few times to make sure he’s not imagining the scene in front of him.

Emma huffs, rolling her whole head that time. “You really don’t know?’ she asks softly, barely audible over the fucking Disney channel music still playing and he can hardly hear anything over the sound of his own heart hammering against his ribcage.

“I’ve got a hunch.”

He takes a step back when Emma doesn’t respond immediately. She looks like she’s frozen – a statue in the middle of the kitchen and they’ve both been dancing around each other for so long that it feels impossible to stop.

There are probably blisters or something involved.

Killian needs to come up with better metaphors.

“God, it sounds so lame when I have to keep using the words Final Jam,” Emma grumbles, Killian laughing under his breath at the absolute absurdity of it all. “But that’s...shit, this is harder than I thought it was going to be.”

“What is, Swan?”

“I thought you had a hunch.”

“And I’d still really like to hear where you're going with this. You don’t have to lie to me, love.”

“I’m not.”

“Then…”

“Then I’m sorry,” she says, and he can’t hold in his sigh because they’re still going in circles and still dancing around each other and maybe it’d be easier if there was karaoke involved again.

“I don’t understand what you're apologizing for.”

“Because it’s over!”

He feels like he’s been slapped and kicked and he’s only a little surprised to find that no one has, actually, poured recently-brewed coffee on his head. Killian takes another step back, nearly running into the goddamn wall.

Emma’s staring at the floor.

“What is, Swan?” Killian asks, voice scratching its way out of his throat.

It’s a stupid question.

He knows the answer.

Because it’s been the reason for every bit of negative emotion coursing through his system in the last forty-eight hours, but then Emma Swan kissed him in his apartment, and for a few moments Killian believed his cautious optimism, and maybe they could just be.

It didn’t happen that way six years ago. And it can’t happen now either.

He wishes he weren’t so goddamn disappointed.

And there is far too much common ground between the two of them – vaguely tragic backstories and memories shared in hushed tones those first few years of undergrad and even after undergrad, promises and hopes and plans that might never actually come to fruition, but were kind of fun to think about and dream about and every single one of those things seems to audibly crack right in front of Killian.

Metaphorically.

God, he hates the English language.

And history.

Of which, it seems, he and Emma have quite a bit of.

She sighs, trying to swipe her knuckles underneath her eyes without making it obvious, but that’s almost as stupid as his question because Killian is programmed to be aware of every single thing Emma does at any given moment.

They both jump at the knock on his door, a quick rap that is quite possibly the single worst noise in the history of every single universe and all of time because they’re in the middle of a conversation they should have had six years ago.

“Are you being robbed?” Emma asks when another knock comes, and Killian scoffs, a burst of oxygen he didn’t realize he’d been hoarding until that very moment.

“I don’t think they’d wait for me to open the door.”

The third knock is decidedly less patient than the first two, and it sounds like there’s an accompanying kick that goes along with it. Emma licks her lips, gaze darting towards the sound and Killian can’t roll his eyes enough to properly show all the frustration he’s overflowing with.

“David’s going to be mad if you don’t open the door,” Emma mutters. “He’s super paranoid about Mary Margaret standing up for prolonged periods of time.”

“He can wait two more seconds.”

The fourth knock sounds like David is trying to knock down the door with his shoulder.

“I’m not sure he can,” Emma says. “And your door probably can’t hold up to much more of that. Do you even have renter’s insurance?”

Killian groans, which is as much of a response as he can muster at this point, stalking towards the door and swinging it open. David blinks. He assumes it’s because there are several dozen metaphorical, and possibly literal, storm clouds hanging over his head.

“What?” Killian snaps and David’s eyebrows fly up his forehead, Mary Margaret’s eyes widening enough that it would probably be comical in a normal situation.

“And happy last day of Final Jam to you too,” David says. “What’s your deal right now?”

“What are you doing here?”

“Nuh uh, answer my question first.”

“David, you are standing in the hallway of my apartment building at some indeterminate time on a Sunday morning when you’re supposed to be making sure you don’t get another ticket in the West End?”

“Wait, another one?” Mary Margaret asks sharply.

“Ignore him,” David mutters. “Can we come in?”

Killian shakes his head. “No.”

“Excuse me?”

“No. What time is it?”

“Why don’t you know what time it is? Seriously, what the hell is going on with you?”

“Nothing,” Killian lies, but he can just make out Emma’s quiet scoff where she’s still frozen in the middle of his kitchen and Mary Margaret's eyes, somehow, get wider. “Why are you guys here? Is there some kind of Final Jam emergency that we have to deal with? Did Merida’s phone explode at some point in the middle of the night?”

“That was actually kind of funny,” Mary Margaret laughs, doing her best to bring some humor back to the situation.

That would probably be easier if Killian weren’t a melodramatic asshole who was ninety-six percent positive his heart was sitting in several different pieces in front of Emma’s sockless feet.

“Again, it’s been known to happen sometimes,” he says. “An answer to the question, please, Mrs. Nolan.”

Mary Margaret bristles at the name, eyes flashing in warning, but Killian’s also kind of pissed off and they’ve got the worst timing in the world.

That seems to be some kind of group-wide trend.

“We wanted to talk to you,” she says. “Both of you.”

Killian’s heart stops. It’s impressive since it still feels like it’s on the floor. “Both of us?”

“Have you not had coffee yet? Is that what’s happening here?”

“Why are you pretending to be some kind of soothsayer?”

“I’m not,” Mary Margaret grins, tapping her index finger on his chest. David appears to be close to bursting with pride. “I just know my friends. Which is a perfect transition for why we’re here before brunch. Alone. With news.”

“Well,” David corrects. “More a request. Seriously though, can we come in?”

He knows, reasonably, he can’t actually feel her behind him – is not so far gone down the melodramatic rabbit hole that he’s started believing in sentient emotions hanging in the air – but Killian knows Emma’s moved before the floor creaks under her feet and David does an absolutely awful job of pretending to be surprised she’s standing there.

“Don’t just stand there, Detective,” she says, and Killian nearly groans when he sees the red streaks on her cheeks.

He’s going to murder David.

That will probably make brunch awkward.

“You’re kind of loitering,” Emma adds, stepping closer to Killian and the wide-open door. He hadn’t noticed the bag at Mary Margaret’s feet until that moment. “The neighbors are going to call the police and then it’s going to be weird when your beeper or pager or whatever goes off.”

“I don’t have a beeper or pager,” David says. “What year do you think it is?”

“I don’t know. Killian’s got an iPod still so it could honestly still be 2009 in this apartment building. Maybe there’s a time vortex.”

“There’s no time vortex,” Killian mutters, leaning forward to grab the bag of whatever and Emma’s still standing far too close to him. He can absolutely feel her.

“And the Boston police department hasn’t used beepers or pages since, like, 1992, Em,” David continues, stepping over the threshold and making sure to bump his shoulder against Killian’s when he walks by. “Your lack of basic historical knowledge is making me reconsider everything that we’re doing today.”

She glances at Killian – a flash of green and curiosity and they were in the middle of an argument, he shouldn’t want her to look at him like that, but melodrama is an easy state of mind to linger in.

Or loiter.

Killian flinches when Mary Margaret slams the door behind her.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” she says quickly. Her lips quirk when she notices the state of the apartment, a distinct lack of blankets or pillows on the couch and the coffee maker beeps again, impatient at being forced into action only to be ignored for the better part of the morning. “Maybe David needs some coffee too.”

David is already sitting on the couch, arms crossed over his chest and four years of living together have made him almost too comfortable in any space that Killian calls his own. It’s usually only slightly annoying.

Now, however, it feels like the worst thing that has ever happened.

And Mary Margaret is thinking very loudly.

“Is that...Miley Cyrus?” Mary Margaret asks, disbelief in the question and Killian runs a hand over his face, pinching the bridge of his nose in the hopes that it will stave off the headache he can feel forming behind his left eye.

“I have no idea,” he answers at the same time Emma says “yes” and David’s laugh grates on every single one of Killian’s nerves. He sighs, turning towards Mary Margaret so he won’t be tempted to yell and the bag in his hand is questionably heavy. “What’s going on?” Killian asks. “I’m at least fifty percent certain this pre-brunch meeting was not on any iteration of the schedule, and we’re not that late that you have to come and collect us.”

“We wouldn’t do that,” David mumbles, but both Emma and Killian scoff at the same time. “Ok, so we wouldn't do that immediately. Only if we thought you were dying or...doing something drastic and life-altering.”

Killian digs his heels into the ground, like that’ll make it easier not to turn around and glare at David. It’s a close call, but it works, and it sounds like Emma’s punched him in the shoulder anyway. That shouldn’t make him smile.

They were arguing.

“Ok, we wouldn’t do that either,” Mary Margaret corrects, waving her hands and rushing over the words and she looks nervous.

He doesn’t reach his hand out, per se, but his shoulders shift slightly, and Emma’s fingers are freezing-cold when they brush over his forearm. She doesn’t do anything more, just keeps her fingers moving – light touches over his skin and the side of his wrist and he tries not to breathe too loudly.

“What’s going on, M’s?” Emma asks. “Because we’re all going to be late to brunch otherwise.”

“It’s really not bad.”

“Yeah, you’re not really selling it.”

Mary Margaret sighs, throwing an imploring look towards David and the couch creaks when he moves. “It’s not,” he promises. “But, uh, it is important, and we wanted to do this in person too.”

“Too,” Killian echoes. “As in something else to do with mini-Nolan?”

“Did we ever actually decide on that as the name?” Emma asks. “We keep switching between future Nolan and mini-Nolan and soon-to-be-born Nolan. It’s way too confusing.”

“Future Nolan doesn’t really make much sense if you think about it. She’s here or looming.”

“Looming?”

“Yeah, that sounds menacing doesn’t it?” he asks, a flush of something rushing down his spine when he notices the smile on Emma’s face.

He feels like he’s riding an incredibly violent roller coaster, emotions acting as g-forces and there are far too many flips and, at some point, the sandals he’s worn to this imaginary amusement park have fallen off. No one told him he was supposed to take them off before the ride started.

It’s definitely the worst metaphor he’s come up with all morning.

“Super menacing,” Emma mutters. “Like she’s a supervillain or something.”

“I mean that’d be kind of cool. Usually, supervillains get the best outfits.”

“And potentially good redemption arcs.”

“Exactly,” Killian says, and he’s almost forgotten about the two other people in his apartment and the bag in his hand and anything that isn’t that strand of hair hanging over Emma’s right shoulder. They are impossibly good at flirting with each other. Maybe that should be the focus of the next conversation – the first bullet point. “So,” he adds. “This is really a compliment.”

Emma hums, scrunching her nose and the bag is starting to dig into his fingers. Mary Margaret coughs lightly, David’s laughter getting more pronounced the longer they keep ignoring everything else.

“Could we maybe not start plotting our daughter’s supervillain redemption arc before she’s even born?” David asks. “You’re making me reconsider our decision here.”

“Right,” Killian mutters. “Yeah, yeah. Ok. Wait, what?”

David’s whole body shakes with the force of his laughter.

“We’re really not trying to ruin your whole morning,” Mary Margaret reasons. “And you should probably put the bag down because I need the stuff in it.”

“What the hell is going on?”

“Patience really isn’t one of your strong suits is it, Jones?” David asks, standing up to reach into the bag before Mary Margaret has to. She rolls her eyes. “C’mon,” he says. “Hands out. Eyes up, hearts open or however it goes.”

“What?”

“He’s quoting Friday Night Lights,” Emma mumbles, flipping her palm up. “And doing a terrible job of it. Coach Taylor would be disappointed, Detective. What do you think about that one, M’s? Tami? Just straight up Taylor?”

“No Tami,” Mary Margaret groans. “But Taylor’s not that bad. Taylor Nolan? Sounds like a journalist. The six o’clock news with Taylor Nolan.”

“That’s very specific.”

“I don’t hate it.”

“Let’s focus, please,” David says, pushing something solid into Killian’s chest. “Don’t drop that,” he warns. “It’s breakable.”

Killian nods, wrapping his fingers around the edge of the obvious frame and he’s glad for the instruction because his grip goes slack and he nearly bites his tongue when his mouth drops open. It’s a wooden frame, but his eyes focus on the picture.

Or, at least, where the picture is supposed to be.

It’s a card instead, Mary Margaret’s handwriting obvious, and the message leaves Killian blinking a bit quicker than normal, and he thinks he hears Emma sniffle.

We’ll get to the name part eventually, but before we do, it’d be great if you would agree to the terms and conditions of godparent’dom.

The handwriting changes a few inches underneath, hastily scribbled letters that Killian can only just make out.

And you don’t really have a choice.

“It was probably supposed to rhyme,” Mary Margaret shrugs. “And all the ones I looked up kept making actual Godfather puns, like the movie, but that felt kind of weird and, like, the Corleone family were terrible people and Vito was awful, and Michael was worse, even with his dead Italian wife and--”

“--Mary Margaret,” Emma interrupts, and her voice shakes slightly. Killian moves a step closer. “We all agree that Michael’s backstory was tragic, but did not absolve him of becoming an international crimes boss. Or what he did to Kay.”

“He was awful to Kay.”

“Yeah, well, he was a terrible person, M’s. That’s kind of the point of the whole movie.”

“Even if the books are better,” Killian mutters, and Mary Margaret is crying too. “I’m feeling pretty good about guaranteeing that we won’t let mini-Nolan become some kind of mafia boss. Or Frank Sinatra.”

“Wait, what?” David asks. Mary Margaret is close to sobbing.

“Don Corleone’s nephew, based on Frank Sinatra, wanted a role in a movie and that’s the offer he can’t refuse. This is basic knowledge, David.”

“I promise it absolutely is not.”

“Eh,” Emma objects and maybe they can just forget the argument and make fun of the Godfather Part III after brunch. Probably not. That’s disappointing. “It’s pretty basic knowledge,” she says. “It was From Here to Eternity, right?”

“Who are you asking?”

“Killian.”

His smile feels out of place in this incredibly strange conversation, and none of them are ever going to drink that coffee. “That’s absolutely right, love,” he says softly, doing his best to ignore David and Mary Margaret’s expressions. “Trying to become a legitimate actor and not just a song and dance man.”

“God, it’s so weird that you both know that,” David groans. “But it does bode well for your combined efforts of godparent’dom. Is that a word?”

“No,” Emma and Mary Margaret answer at the same time.

“But any of our crime references should probably be more Boston focused, right?” Killian asks. “The Departed or that Ben Affleck movie.”

“Which Ben Affleck movie?” Emma asks knowingly. “There are two. Plus, there are no godfathers, technical or otherwise, in The Departed, just Leonardo DiCaprio and no girls for future Nolan to be named after.”

“We probably shouldn’t be advocating for anyone to be named after anyone in The Departed.”

“That was a confusing sentence,” David chuckles. “And, see, you guys are smart, and you’re really good at reading each other’s minds, which is great and will probably make babysitting easier and soon-to-be-named Nolan will love you both.”

“That is if you want to,” Mary Margaret says softly, nerves back in her voice and her gaze and Emma gapes in disbelief.

“M’s, are you kidding me?”

“Well neither one of you really agreed yet, and it’s just…”

“You really don’t have to finish that sentence.”

“No?”

Emma shakes her head. “Of course not. I can’t answer for Killian, but I’m…” She exhales, wiping away more tears and there’s been far too much crying already. They can’t even blame alcohol. “This might actually be the nicest thing anyone has ever done.”

And, somewhere, in the deep, dark recesses of Killian’s brain, everything clicks.

Because he and Emma have far too much common ground between them – childhoods spent in foster homes and the system, and she’d been there when he got hurt, and he was there after David and Mary Margaret’s wedding, quiet admissions that she might never have that lingering in the air. And they’d never had any of it, a distinct lack of family until they stumbled into the kind of family that referred to a weekend as Final Jam and followed color-coded schedules.

And now it’s over.

She thinks it’s over.

They haven’t even started yet.

“Shit,” Killian breathes, running a hand through his hair and Mary Margaret’s expression turns stunned. He blinks, shaking his head and trying to catch his breath. “God, no, that’s not...of course I’m agreeing. Wholeheartedly.”

Mary Margaret nods slowly, and he can’t really blame her – there’s some kind of Jekyll and Hyde thing happening in the middle of his apartment, but Killian is having several different overwhelming realizations at once, and it’s difficult to focus his attention when he mostly just wants to make out with Emma and then maybe go back to bed.

“Oh,” Mary Margaret says. “Well, good, great, fantastic.”

“Just covering all the adjective bases, huh?”

“Yeah, well, it got kind of weird when you started swearing under your breath and holding onto that frame like it’s trying to attack you” David reasons. “So we’re all on the same page?”

“Of impending godparent’dom?”

“Obviously. Despite how strange this whole morning has been you guys are the only option.”

“Ok, that’s not the right word,” Mary Margaret corrects, and Emma doesn’t quite stumble into Killian, but it’s close, and she groans when her thigh hits his. He wraps his arm around his shoulder before he can ponder all the reasons he shouldn’t. “This was so far away from being the only option it’s not even in the same ballpark. But we wanted to pick you. A lot and with a questionable amount of emotion behind it and without anyone else around to make snarky comments. That’s why you got frames.”

“Yeah, I think we kind of got that, Nolan,” Killian says. “It’d be an honor.”

“Seconded,” Emma adds and Mary Margaret will probably cry for the rest of the day.

“Ok,” she repeats. “Ok, good. Well, uh, we just wanted to ask and confirm and all those other verbs and the adjectives I forgot before, so we’ll see you guys at brunch?”

Killian is going to have to buy Mary Margaret lunch for the rest of the school year.

David doesn’t wait for an answer, muttering something about we want that bag back eventually too before tugging Mary Margaret towards the door and closing it loudly behind him.

They don’t move.

Maybe there is a time vortex in his apartment – everything seemingly slowing down and possibly going backward and Emma doesn’t try to step away or tell to move his arm. They stand there, and they breathe the same oxygen, and the coffee maker keeps making more noise than any coffee maker should ever make and Killian desperately tries to come up with something to say.

“Did we just agree to become godparents to a kid who hasn’t been born yet?” Emma asks, Killian humming in response and of course she figured out what to say first. “And then compare ourselves to several different fictional mob bosses?”

“Yes and yes, although Mary Margaret brought up the mob bosses. To be fair.”

“And we’re being fair?”

“I’d certainly like to be.”

Emma makes a noise – something that might be an agreement, but might just be generic sound, and it takes Killian a moment to realize she’s moved, his arm hanging awkwardly in the air. She’s tucked into the corner of the couch when he turns around, chin resting on her knees and arms wrapped around her calves. It’s equal parts everything he’s always wanted and everything he’s always wanted to avoid, and he can’t quite believe he didn’t hear her shower.

It was too easy to fall asleep the night before.

“You’re doing that thing with your face again,” Emma accuses.

“Having one?”

She scowls, and he’s almost forgotten the reason they were arguing in the first place. They really should start kissing again instead. “No,” she sighs. “Staring at me. Intently.”

“I could blink more if that would make it easier.”

“Oh, my God.”

Killian laughs, but there’s a sardonic edge to it that he doesn’t entirely appreciate and he wants to sit down. His legs feel like they’re made of iron and possibly frozen, though, and he’s still holding the goddamn frame.

Emma’s attempt at a smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes.

“It’s not nearly as bad as you think it is, Swan,” Killian says. “This isn’t...it’s not over.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because it’s true.”

“No,” he shakes his head. “It’s not. Whatever ridiculous thing that just happened proved it. You’re not stuck left on some deserted island.”
Her head snaps up so quickly Killian is surprised there aren’t sound effects, and whatever comes out of the back of planes when they fly cross-country, eyes narrowed and anger practically radiating off her. Killian tosses the frame into the open space on the couch.

“That’s not true,” Emma says softly. “They’ve all got something. They’ve all got someone and this stupid city and stealing baseball scorebooks, and I’m...getting stitches by myself and fucking up your coffee maker.”

“I don’t think you fucked up the coffee maker.”

“It’s so loud though.”

“Grinding coffee beans is a lot of work. I’d imagine it’s just surprised you’re making it do anything this early on a Sunday.”

“You get up early. All the time. Constantly.”

“Not today,” Killian points out, a quiet argument that isn’t so much an argument as it is a fact and the reason for several other facts and he really should have sat down. “You woke up before me today.”

“Yeah, that’s because today is weird.”

“I think we’re on the same page there.” He exhales, tugging on his hair again and it’s almost painful, but that seems like a prerequisite for this morning, and his first step forward is only slightly shaky. That feels like a victory.

Emma doesn’t blink when he moves into her space, but her eyes widen a bit, and maybe he does have a bit of a staring problem.

It’s definitely that whole being in love with her thing.

They’ll get to that part eventually.

He hopes.

“Why did you apologize, Emma?” Killian asks.

He’s not sure what to classify the sound she makes as, but it kind of resembles a snarl and a gasp, and it’s a little jarring and a little overwhelming, and he crouches in front of her as soon as it reaches his ears. Like touching her will make any of this easier. He’s apparently got a seriously selfish problem too.

“That is cheating,” she hisses, eyes no more than slits when Killian shrugs in response.

“Yes.”

“Ah, I was expecting a lot more banter.”

“I’d really just like some answers,” Killian admits. “I’m not sorry, Swan. For any of it. Either time.”

“Everyone’s got a plan. And a person! Mer’s going to take over New York, and Ruby and Mulan are probably going to take over the world and--”

“--That’d probably make Merida’s conquest of New York kind of difficult, don’t you think?”

“God, stop flirting with me,” Emma growls and they’re really not great at arguing anymore. They keep getting distracted.

“That’s definitely what I’m doing.”

“I know,” she sighs, several strands of hair falling in her face and it takes a few slightly aggravated moments to brush them away. He’s got no idea where his heart has landed at this point. Probably somewhere over the Green Monster. “I really miss this,” Emma whispers, ducking her eyes. “Boston and the people and my leg hurts like hell. I hate getting stitches.”

“Did you at least go to the hospital?”

“No. It was late, and I’d have to wait forever in the ER. There’s an Urgent Care up the block from my apartment.”

“Emma.”

“I really need you stop using my name. It is making this so much more difficult.”

Killian laughs, a complete absence of humor in the sound, but it gets caught in his throat when Emma’s hand lands on top of his. “I really don’t want to make this difficult,” he says. “You could have called though.”

“Wait, what?”

“Swan, I lose my mind when you have a stakeout that starts after seven o’clock at night. Are you honestly telling me you think I wouldn’t want to know you to have to get stitches because some asshole threw a bottle at you?"

Emma blinks. And blinks again. And opens her mouth. Only to close it and blink for a third time.

It’s very difficult not to kiss her.

For a third time.

“You’re serious,” she says, and it’s not the question Killian’s dreads it will be.

He nods slowly, a smile tugging on the corners of his mouth and at some point he should read up on the properties of the human brain, so he understands what part decides to flip his wrist and twist his fingers through Emma’s.

“Of course I am,” Killian says. “That can’t possibly be surprising.”

“No, no, it’s not really, but…”

“But?”

“But,” Emma repeats. “It’s not really the same. Chicago is the worst. It’s windy and cold, and they put mustard and relish on their hot dogs and, like, ER went really downhill after awhile.”

“Is that Chicago’s fault?”

“I’m going to blame Chicago for Carter’s declining storyline and John Stamos’ entire arc.”

Killian’s laugh comes a little easier, that time, squeezing Emma’s hand and he almost believes her smile. She squeezes his hand back.

Tightly.

Like she’s looking for a little extra gravity.

He doesn’t understand how gravity works either.

“Why’d you apologize, Swan?” Killian asks. “The whole thing. The coffee and the waking up early and the nonsense about peppers.”

“You seriously have so many peppers in your fridge. It’s not normal.”

“Yeah, well, none of us are normal. That’s part of the appeal of Final Jam and coming home.”

Emma’s grip on his hand turns vice-like, lips going thin as she tries to yank them back behind her teeth and it takes Killian half a second and one disappointed exhale to realize what he’s said.

Home.

Again.

Damnit.

“It was just...I thought it was over,” Emma says. “No, present tense. Is over. All of this college stuff and Final Jam and Ruby never played Shipping Up to Boston, which is really throwing me off, honestly, and you’re…”

Killian tilts his head when she trails off again, waiting for the rest and ignoring whatever his heart is doing. It feels like it’s trying to beat its way out of his chest. “I’m what, love?”

“Everything. Absolutely everything.”

He never did make that conversational outline or come up with any bullet points, but if he had Killian is one-hundred percent positive that Emma Swan telling him he’s everything in some kind of slightly manic voice while his hand is wrapped up in hers wouldn’t have even come close to making the list.

And blinking stupidly in response while his mind does several dozen backflips is even further off the list.

Emma winces, pulling in a breath through her teeth. “And it’s so dumb,” she says, the words barely sounding like words in her effort to get them out. “Because you’re you and there’s got to be something else and someone else, and I was greedy.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s not fair,” Emma whispers, thumb brushing a semicircle on the back of his palm. It feels like his entire hand is on fire. Killian might be on fire. He doesn’t check. Looking at anything except Emma’s face seems like the single dumbest thing he could ever do.

“What isn’t?”

She exhales before she answers. “I love you.”

Killian almost falls over. As it is, his entire body freezes, jaw dropping open and breath rushing out of him until he’s almost nervous both of his lungs have collapsed. But he blinks, and Emma’s still there, and he’s still got his fingers wrapped in hers, and that happened.

Holy shit.

“And it’s stupid,” Emma continues, jumping up the couch when his brain fails to do its job again. She’s started pacing. “Because we’re us and we’re...did you ever tell anyone about senior year?”

Killian shakes his head. “We agreed not to.”

“I told you not to.”

“That too.”

“God, it’s so stupid. But this is...I am so jealous of everything and everyone, and now it’s all ending, and I’ve got four stitches in my leg, and I wanted to call you so badly, and it hurt like all fuck, and that phrase doesn’t even make any sense!”

She comes to an abrupt stop, wobbling on her feet as Killian wraps his hand around her shoulder. Her right foot lands on top of his left. “It doesn’t,” Emma mutters, sounding like she’s trying to convince herself as much as him.

Killian still hasn’t said anything.

He will, eventually, regret that.

“It’s not fair to you because you’re…” She groans, jumping slightly and landing on his foot again and they’re an unmitigated disaster with no coffee, and they’re definitely late for brunch. “I’m trying to get everything I can before it’s gone.”

“That’s not what’s happening, Swan,” Killian says, but he knows it doesn’t work or register and he’s got no idea what to do with all those peppers in his fridge.

Mary Margaret will probably take them.

“It is a little bit,” Emma mutters. “I’m, uh, I’m going to get some air.”

She’s gone before his brain processes the words, his front door slamming in her wake and the coffee maker has turned off on its own.

Chapter Text

It takes him, approximately, forty-seven seconds to exhale.

He’s holding his breath, hoarding it like that will, somehow, make his brain work quicker or fire the appropriate neurons and the room is spinning a little bit. That might be because he’s not breathing properly.

Killian drags a hand over his face, licking his lips and he winces when his head snaps towards the door. Still closed. Or closed again. It doesn’t matter.

The only thing that does matter is that he’s standing alone in the middle of his apartment and he can’t seem to catch his breath.

He tries not to come up with another Marathon joke.

It doesn’t work.

And he’s not really sure what sound seems to just fall out of him, a mix of actual laughter and disbelief and something that feels almost like joy because he can’t seem to stop replaying Emma’s words in his head.

They echo in between horrible jokes and slightly bad puns and I love you seems to brand itself on the inside of his eyelids every time he blinks.

He keeps blinking – like that will make the scene change or prove that he’s still asleep and possibly dreaming, but if he were either one of those things he’d still be in bed with his arm wrapped around Emma’s waist and, really, that’s not all that bad of an alternative.

Killian sighs again, a rush of oxygen that probably deserved a little more time in his body if the burning in his lungs is any indication, and the room continues to shift on several different axises.

I love you.

His legs wobble a bit when he takes a step forward, not entirely sure where he’s going, but positive he needs to move. He has no idea where his phone is and half of Emma’s stuff is still strewn across his bedroom because she’s kind of a mess sometimes, but only when she’s comfortable and he’s always kind of loved that about her and--

“Oh fuck,” Killian breathes.

He throws his right hand out, a flash of pain rushing up his forearm and he’s only slightly concerned about the dent he’s left in whatever the goddamn wall is made out of because he’s fairly positive that won’t be covered in the renter’s insurance he absolutely has.

I love you.

And he stood there.

She kept talking and ranting and pacing and he stood there like a fucking statute staring at her while his mind tried to latch onto the idea that this could actually be reality.

He’s alone in his apartment and there’s still a frame sitting in the corner of his couch.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Killian mutters. He’s going to fix this. He’s going to...do something big and important and both of those things will probably freak Emma out so he can’t do either one, but he has to do something and just screaming I’ve loved you forever in her face probably isn’t the best course of action either.

He needs eighty-two mimosas and several plates of home fries.

Emma has a habit of stealing his home fries.

“God fucking hell, shit, damn,” Killian curses, nearly tripping over his own feet to get down his hallway and this whole weekend is some kind of complete disaster.

It’s not the quickest shower he’s ever taken, but it’s pretty close – the water barely getting hot before he’s out and trying to find a shirt and socks that match. He gives up on the sock thing in, like, ten seconds flat.

He’s half a step away from the door, mind racing and pulse racing and he knows Emma isn’t going to come back here –  home, he called it home and she called it home and he wants to call it home together in a collective way that means something and maybe he should lead with that when he finds her – but his phone is buzzing in his pocket and it feels as if his heart has leapt into his throat and fallen to his feet at the same time.

It’s not the worst feeling in the world, honestly.

His phone buzzes again.

And it’s not the name he’s expecting, or hoping, to see.

David Nolan, 1:05 p.m.: Do we need to stage a search and rescue? I’m not putting out an APB, so either you guys tell me where you are or I’m going to be super annoyed.

Killian squeezes the phone tight enough he’s only slightly worried about doing damage to it, but then it’s making more noise and Ruby has written a goddamn novel.

Ruby Lucas, 1:06 p.m.: Dear Detective David Nolan. CALM DOWN. You know the T runs weird on Sundays and we are not really that late. This cannot possibly be good for your blood pressure. Order something to drink. Come up with some reasons why the Red Sox are going to win the AL East this year to antagonize Jones. Drink the drink you ordered. Stare longingly at your wife. Rinse and repeat until the Boston public transportation system decides to stop being a massive dick on the weekends.

Killian laughs in spite of himself and his body’s seeming inability to do two things at once – like walk and read text messages at the same time. And there are already dots on his screen in the group text that will never end.

Merida Broch, 1:07 p.m.: Killian and Emma aren’t here yet.

Ruby Lucas, 1:07 p.m.: !!!

Ruby Lucas, 1:07 p.m.: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!

Mulan Fa, 1:08 p.m.: You should see her face. She’s doing an almost admirable job of looking genuinely surprised.

Merida Brock, 1:09 p.m.: A for effort, right M’s?

Mary Margaret Nolan, 1:10 p.m.: No comment.

Ruby Lucas, 1:10 p.m.: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? WHAT. DOES. THAT MEAN?!

Killian’s not sure if it’s just his hand that’s shaking or his entire arm or, possibly, his entire being and it might be all three, but he’s not breathing again and that joy he’d felt before was obviously fleeting, inching closer to what feels like fury.

And frustration.

That’s less dramatic than fury.

Ruby Lucas, 1:12 p.m.: Why is no one answering me? We are three stops away. I need updates. I need information. Mary Margaret, I know things about you! I was there the first time you got drunk freshman and tried to do the hand jive in the middle of Beacon Street.

Merida Brock, 1:13 p.m.: The hand jive?

David Nolan, 1:14 p.m.: From Grease. Ruby, stop talking.

Ruby sends back a string of emojis that are equal parts immature and impressive in their double entendres, but Killian’s legs have finally decided to be a functioning part of his body and he’s too busy jogging towards the stairwell to spend too much time lingering on meanings.

Or the hand jive.

He’d like to see Mary Margaret drunkenly do the hand jive some time.

If only to tell the story to future Nolan at some indeterminate point in the future.

That, however, will probably revoke his recently granted godparent’dom and maybe he should discuss his ideas with Emma first – just to double check. Or whatever. God damn.

David Nolan, 1:15 p.m.: Killian and Emma if you are not here in ten minutes, we’re going to order without you and I’m not going to let you get mimosas.

Mary Margaret Nolan, 1:16 p.m.: That’s not true. You can have all the mimosas you want. As many as you need.

Killian rolls his eyes, another door slamming behind him and he almost runs into a small family when he rounds the corner outside his apartment building. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he mumbles, holding both hands up and they stare at him like he’s lost his mind.

He kind of has.

And his phone doesn’t vibrate immediately, staying silent in his hand as he all but sprints towards the T a few blocks away. There appears to be an oxygen shortage in his neighborhood, a stitch in his side that feels as if it’s growing every second he stands on the platform.

He will, eventually, blame that for what he does next.

I’m going to order a mimosa every other minute and then I’m going to dump out every glass David tries to drink and make him pay for both of our meals.

It’s probably not the best response immediately following emotional declarations in his apartment or overly interfering friends, but he knows Emma and neither one of them responded to the group text.

So Killian waits – for the train and a response and several other things that he probably should have dealt with by now, but that would require any of them to act like adults and David was making mimosa-based threats a few minutes before, so by comparison, he feels like he’s doing a pretty ok job.

He’s not counting seconds or stops, but his heel taps impatiently, tucked into the corner of a car to avoid the influx of tourists because some website in February claimed Back Bay was an undiscovered and underexplored neighborhood and Killian nearly takes out a guy with his elbow when his phone makes noise.

Emma Swan, 1:24 p.m.: That’s a lot of mimosas. Can you get alcohol poisoning from shitty champagne?

Killian Jones, 1:25 p.m.: Don’t let Mary Margaret hear you call it shitty champagne. She’ll take umbrage at that and assume it’s an insult to her entire schedule and her questionable decision to pick brunch as her Final Jam choice.

Emma Swan, 1:25 p.m.: Good word.

Emma Swan, 1:27 p.m.: And it’s because Mary Margaret knows we all appreciate brunch, so she gave up her choice so we could have this plus everything else we wanted to do. Presumably because she’s a better person than all of us combined.

Killian Jones, 1:28 p.m.: I’m not disagreeing with you.

Emma Swan: 1:29 p.m.: No?

Killian Jones, 1:29 p.m.: I don’t think there are many things I’d disagree with you on, love.

He needs to stop breathing through his mouth – quiet sighs and not-so-quiet sighs and he’s going to sue that website because the tourists on the train keep shooting him slightly concerned glances when he can’t seem to stop making noise.

But his pulse is doing something medically impossible in his veins and he can almost hear Emma’s voice in his head, the way her eyes flicker up when she’s trying to make a joke and he wants to be anywhere except going to brunch.

Even if the champagne is good.

Mary Margaret wouldn’t pick a restaurant with shitty champagne.

The train lurches to a stop, tourists grumbling and everyone should be required to take a class on how to maintain their center of balance before getting on public transportation. Killian pushes his way through the door, doing his best to avoid toes and shoes and only kind of doing either, jogging down the stairs towards the restaurant he’s only slightly certain is the right one.

He hopes it’s the right one.

The half-formed plan in the back of his mind is not going to work if he shows up at the wrong restaurant.

Killian will never actually admit to running down Sudbury Street, but he would be lying if he said he didn’t, at least, jog briskly, weaving around people and families and one particularly large stroller making it way towards the patch of green masquerading as a park a few blocks away.

They’re sitting by the window – Merida’s hair making it all impossible to miss them, Ruby’s laugh a close second – and David waves his arms like Killian’s ignoring them and not just waiting for the light to turn.

“Where have you been?” David shouts. “I was almost genuinely worried.”

“Almost genuinely being the operative words here,” Mulan mutters, grinning despite the glare she gets in response and Ruby is fiddling with her phone.

She curses under her breath when the thing doesn’t do what she, apparently, wants it to, bumping a salt shaker in the process and Mary Margaret mumbles something about shoulders and good luck. “We don’t have time for that, M’s,” Ruby says, but Killian is more distracted by the music coming out of her phone.

“What the hell are you doing, Lucas?”

It’s that song. Not the Dropkick Murphys, but some other song from the early 2000s about this city and sunsets and Emma absolutely knows all the lyrics.

Killian knows she knows all the lyrics.

She’ll never admit to knowing all the lyrics.

Ruby blinks, twisting her neck and looking for something that obviously isn’t there. Her shoulders sag noticeably. “What is going on?” she asks sharply, narrowing her eyes at Killian like any of this is his fault.

Ok, so some of it is his fault and he really should have said something back to Emma, but now he’s got, at least, three quarters of a plan and he’s going to fix it.

All of it.

In some great, big life-altering kind of way.

“I have no idea what you’re asking me, Lucas,” Killian admits and he’s still standing on the sidewalk. He has absolutely no intention of going in the restaurant.

“How is that possible? What did you do?”

“Was it bad?” Mary Margaret asks, apparently joining the conversation that makes no sense whatsoever. “After we left, I mean? It looked like it could be ok. I had a good feeling.”

“Wait, you guys saw Emma and Killian already?” Mulan asks. “This morning?”

“We had some stuff.”

“Stuff.”

“Stuff,” David repeats intently and Killian makes a mental note to tell Emma about dad voice and the list of things he has to do keeps growing. “Seriously, Lucas, what is this music? You’re going to get us kicked out of the restaurant before we can order.”

Ruby rolls her eyes, her gaze, somehow, never leaving Killian and if he felt like he was going to get grounded with Mary Margaret and David, he kind of feels like he’s going to get reprimanded for every decision he’s ever made now.

“Is this seriously not the moment?” Ruby sighs. “Because I have been waiting for this forever. Years. Actual years. I have schedules for this moment. Outlines.”

“It’s been discussed,” Mulan adds, a smile on her face and Mary Margaret looks like she’s about start crying again. “In detail. More than once.”

Merida tilts her head, eyeing them both over the top of a glass that is filled with something other than mimosa. “Is that weird? It feels like it should be weird.”

“Please, you’re the one who wanted to bet on it.”

“What?” Killian shouts, scaring several different members of the waitstaff. He’s fairly certain the hostess is actively trying to get someone else to come outside and ask him to sit down. “Bet on what, exactly?”

David does his best to turn his laughter into a convincing cough, but he’s also trying to drink mimosa at the same time and it ends with him nearly choking and Merida cackling and Ruby must have that goddamn song on repeat.

Killian’s not sure if the heat on his cheeks is from the questionable amount of sun or something slightly more emotional.

Emma’s not there.

“Alright, alright,” Ruby says quickly, hooking her chin over Mulan’s still-shaking shoulders. “Tell me, honestly, were you not late because you were fine-tuning your speech? Where’s Emma?”

“What speech?” Killian asks. “And I’m only about ninety-two percent certain about that second question.”

Mary Margaret blinks, confusion obvious, which is fair. Killian tries to ignore her stare boring into the side of his face. Or David’s. He’s already got his phone out.

“The speech,” Ruby continues, like that makes any sense at all. “The big one. The important one. Where you tell us that you and Emma have been actually dating this entire time and we’re all not insane.”

“I mean…”

“Do not finish that sentence, Jones.”

He flashes her a smile, a strange twist of muscles and feeling considering the small tempest of emotions currently sitting in the pit of his stomach. Ruby looks stunned. Killian adds that to the list as well.

“I really thought this was the moment,” Ruby grumbles. “The mutual pining was cute for a while, but now it’s just starting to get kind of obnoxious.”

“It’s not obnoxious,” Mary Margaret corrects, but Ruby gags and Mulan mutters ehhhh under her breath and Killian’s not entirely sure where that other voice is coming from.

It might be Merida’s phone.

It is definitely Merida’s phone.

“I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about,” Killian admits, another lie that doesn’t entirely feel right on his tongue and he really needs to start coming up with more concise schedules if he’s going to keep having these kinds of conversations.

“Oh, that was bad,” Mulan mutters. “It didn’t even sound like you were trying.”

Ruby hums knowingly. “That’s because he wasn’t. Something happened. Something big. With M’s and David and they’re all lying to us. To our faces. During Final Jam. That’s rude, Jones.”

“What happened after we left?” David asks, another attempt at dad voice that falls a little short because Killian is not, in fact, a kid. Just possibly a lovesick teenager, for the last ten years, because he might have actually been in love with Emma for the last ten years and his friends have known the entire time.

Killian doesn’t answer immediately and it’s more than enough time for Ruby’s eyes to dart towards Mary Margaret, a smile curling on her mouth and her tongue pressed against the inside of her cheek and it’s, suddenly, almost believable that she has a schedule for this conversation.

“Just tell me one thing,” she says. “Have you guys been dating the whole time? Or just, like, recently? You’re not secretly married are you?”

“I thought they were married,” the voice on the phone, which is definitely Mac, says and several different people at the table groan dramatically.

Killian closes his eyes. “Not married. Not dating. Friends.”

“That’s a worse lie than the last one,” Mulan chuckles.

“And not entirely true,” Mary Margaret adds. Killian’s eyes snap open. “Oh, c’mon,” she says, disbelief in every letter and she sounds genuinely stunned. Ruby’s started laughing again. “Are you kidding me?”

“That was almost close to being an insult,” Merida mumbles, most of her drink already gone. “He’s just slow on the uptake.”

“I’m standing right here,” Killian hisses. “And you guys are fucking this up.”

Ruby makes a noise that is somewhere between a guffaw and the sound a rocket makes when it takes off, leaping out of her chair and the salt is a lost cause at that point. “Did you tell her you’re stupid, crazy in love with her yet? I mean, not like in a Beyonce way, a you way. Is that why she’s not here? Is that why you weren’t here? Was I totally right?”

“What was it like?” Mary Margaret adds. “Epic? Romantic? Slightly cautious and vulnerable, but also incredibly sweet?”

Killian’s slightly worried his face is going to freeze this way – twisted into surprise and concern at just how much thought his friends have put into this and he needs Mary Margaret to explain what the hell she meant before.

He doesn’t get the chance.

“Oh my God, Mary Margaret, now is not the time,” Mulan says. “Look at him. He’s dying out there. He’s loitering and dying and probably thinking all kinds of things that aren’t true.”

“Ruby brought a soundtrack!”

“To be fair, he hasn’t actually said anything,” David points out, earning several hums of agreement and Killian has dislocated his jaw. He’s positive. “But Mary Margaret is right. The friends thing is a joke. It’s been a joke forever, right? I mean since--”

He cuts himself off, clamping his lips together tight enough that they all but disappear from his face. Ruby curses again.

The goddamn song won’t stop playing.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Killian asks and he’s not entirely sure who he’s directing the question to. He’s still not entirely sure the entire goddamn day hasn't been a very lucid and slightly convoluted dream. “I need someone to answer me right now. In complete sentences.”

“Shit, I feel like I’m getting detention,” Ruby mutters.

“You get a lot of detention in high school, Lucas?”

She flips him off, Mary Margaret mumbling oh my God as she tries to pull Ruby’s hand down and they’re going to have to leave a tip to every single person working in that restaurant. Killian’s eyes flit towards David, several empty mimosa glasses around him and both of them try to take a deep breath.

It doesn’t work.

“You’re an idiot,” David accuses. “Both of you are, but you’re the only one here so you can take the brunt of my insults.”

“I”m not sure that’s how it works.”

“Too bad. Did anything else happen after that one Final Jam?” Killian’s entire body sags forward, like he’s been punched in the gut and had his legs kicked out from underneath him and David smiles smugly because he’s also an idiot. “Yeah, I figured,” he says. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think she remembers she told me. It was years ago and she’d gotten into some scrape with a skip and you didn’t answer your phone. There was morphine involved.”

“And you never brought it up?”

“Why would I?”’

“What did she say?”

“I’m not telling you that,” David says, sitting up straighter and slinging an arm around Mary Margaret’s shoulders. Killian doesn’t try to stop himself from rolling his eyes. “But what I am telling you is that you both have been idiots for years. The pining thing has been as stupid as any of the stupid shit we’ve all done. You’ve convinced yourselves you’re friends when you want to spend most of your time making out in public places again.”

“What?” Ruby screams.

Mary Margaret’s eyes widen to a size that cannot be appropriate for normal humans. Merida knocks over what’s left of her drink. Mulan appears to have frozen.  

“I’m going to say something,” Mary Margaret warns. “And it’s going to be sentimental. So I don’t want to hear any over the top groaning or anything like that, everyone understand?”

“Understood, Mrs. Nolan,” Killian mutters, mock saluting with two fingers.

“You two have been in love with each other forever. Before forever. But neither one of you is very good with maybe or what if. The thing is, though, neither one of you realized you were both dealing with definitely.”

“These are not the complete sentences I demanded a few seconds ago.”

“Then try and listen for a change. You love her. She loves you. It’s easy.”

“That’s stupid romantic, M’s,” Ruby grins and she’s got her arm around Mulan now as well, a smile on her face that could probably cut glass or something. Killian really needs to stop making all these science jokes when he doesn’t understand the facts behind them.

And his mind is still jumping from question to question, a string of hopes and optimism and a distinct lack of either because his phone has been almost painfully silent the entire time he’s been loitering on the sidewalk.

“Yeah, it is,” Mary Margaret agrees. “But Killian stares at Emma like she’s the center of the universe and she does the same thing right back, so maybe we’re all due for a little sweeping romance in our lives.”

Ruby nods. “See, that’s why I was playing the song. You going to go sweep, Jones?”

He digs his teeth into his lower lip, tugging in a breath through is nose and Ruby only looks momentarily put out by the whole thing.

“Seriously,” David shrugs. “Mac’s not the only one who thinks you guys are married when he sees you. Most cognizant people think that. We’ve been waiting for you two to catch up for years. Have you?”

It feels a little bit like a threat and a little bit like several different life-lessons from half a dozen different TV dad’s, the music actually swelling in the background like they’re living life to an early 2000s soundtrack. And Killian’s not entirely sure what the right answer is, standing in the middle of the sidewalk with the sun beating down on the back of his neck and cautious optimism surging through every inch of him.

But then he feels himself nodding and almost smiling and there are tears on Mary Margaret’s face. “Yeah, I think so,” Killian says. Mac actually whoops. Maybe they should invite him to Final Jam from now on. “Alright, listen, I’ve got, like, half a plan and several demands and then I’m done listening to you guys and your shitty sentence structure, ok?”

He doesn’t pause or give any of them a chance to interrupt, grabbing one of the mimosas a slightly frightened waiter leaves on the table when his mouth goes dry. Killian just keeps talking and drinking and there are a few nods and shared, slightly knowing smiles because he’s absolutely been staring at Emma like she’s the center of several different universes for the better part of the last decade.

Mac cheers when he finishes.

Killian grins, taking another swig of mimosa before nodding once and running away – again.

Only this time he feels like he’s running towards something and someone and, hopefully, everything, so that feels like an important distinction.

There is no jogging this time around.

It’s a flat-out sprint, past museums and monuments and he almost breaks both his ankles when his shoes refuse to find any traction on cobblestones.

There are so many cobblestones in Boston.

The entire goddamn city is a bit of a contradiction – as historic as America can get, really, the start of several different moments Killian can recite from memory and a major, metropolitan space with skyscrapers and fancy bridges that several different engineering shows Emma secretly likes to watch on the History Channel have claimed are modern marvels. It’s old and new and tradition and not and it feels like the metaphors are stabbing Killian in the side by the time he leaves the cobblestones behind, stepping on the incredibly green grass in Boston Common.

There are more tourists here – kites and picnic blankets and camera shutters – but he barely gives himself a chance to get his bearings or consider just how quickly he’s run half a mile, before he’s moving again.

It seems to take a small eternity and several lifetimes to cross the Common, eyes darting every direction on the off chance that he’s wrong. And it’s kind of pointless.

Killian knows he’s not wrong.

He knows exactly where Emma is.

There’s a huge line in front of the swan boats – kids shouting and screaming and slightly flustered parents trying to calm them, mixed in with disgruntled teenagers and grandparents and more camera shutters snapping – and he sees her before she realizes he’s standing there.

She’s leaning against the tree closest to the water, hair tugged over one of her shoulders and Killian can just make out the headphones stuck in her ears. They look oddly familiar. Probably because they’re his.

The realization does something stupid to every single facet of his being, standing stock-still in the middle of the pathway while he tries to remember a single letter of the English language.

A kid nearby shouts something, snapping Emma’s attention away from the phone in her hand and her eyes widen when she notices him standing there, lips parting almost audibly. Her shoulders shift slightly, like she’s trying to stay comfortable against the tree or, just, in general and Killian forgets any reason for any of the nerves he’s had all weekend.

She was right.

It was stupid.

Is stupid.

Anything that isn’t telling her the absolute truth is stupidest thing he could possibly be doing.

That’s not a word.

“Hey,” she mutters, tugging one headphone out. “You’re uh...how’d you know I was here?”

Killian shakes his head and she’s got no idea.

She has no idea he loves her back.

“Shit,” Killian breathes, which is really not what he hoped to say at all. “Damnit, that’s not..Swan, where else were you going to go?”

Emma’s mouth snaps closed and a minimum-wage employee of the city of Boston is announcing that it’s time to all aboard before this Swan floats away. It draws a laugh out of both of them, eyes flitting towards each other and his feet are moving as soon as the thought lands in the back of his brain.

She’s still sitting when he moves into her space and Killian can just barely make out the NESN announcers coming through the headphone resting on her thigh. He’s going to keep laughing for the rest of the day.

Maybe after he kisses Emma.

He really, really wants to kiss Emma again.

“Are they winning?” Killian asks, nodding towards the phone and the game he can now see playing on her screen.

“Up four, zip and just about to start the second. The Red Sox offense is ridiculous.”

“Or the Rays are really bad at pitching.”

“Yeah, that too,” Emma says. She hasn’t tried to get up. Killian isn’t sure if that’s a good or bad thing. He’s also not sure if his knees will actually bend to sit next to her. “How come we didn’t make fun of Craig Kimbrel?”

“What?”

“Craig Kimbrel,” she repeats. “I feel like we missed a prime opportunity with that one. His windup is ridiculous and absurd and, honestly, just asking to be made fun of. Even with that wicked fastball.” Her eyes flash when she realizes what she’s said and Killian’s smile, somehow, gets even wider. “Ok, do not start,” Emma mutters. “That’s just part of city-wide vernacular.”

“Pahrk the cah in Hahvard yahrd,” Killian says, exaggerating every vowel and adding in a few more for good measure.

Emma laughs.

It feels like a walk-off home run.

“That’s not funny,” she growls, but her eyes are still bright and he’s still jogging around the metaphorical bases. Emma huffs when his laughter doesn’t fade immediately, wringing her hands together and Killian is pleasantly surprised to find his knees do, in fact, still work.

Her hands are warm when he tugs her fingers apart, crouched in front of her with his own fingers laced through hers.

“It’s a little funny.”

“You think way too highly of your own brand of humor.”

“Got you to almost laugh though, so…” Killian trails off, lifting his eyebrows and hoping and the Rays go down in order in the top of the second.

“We really should have made fun of Craig Kimbrel,” Emma whispers. “It’s so easy. I can’t believe we didn’t think about it.”

He’s not an English teacher so he’s not entirely qualified to dissect the deeper meaning behind emotional conversations, but if Killian were writing an essay this would be the part of the story he’d highlight and critique.

Because Emma doesn’t let go of his hand and he’s balancing most of his weight on his heels, but neither one of them can pull their gaze away from the other and the next words out of his mouth feel almost poetic.

“Because it wasn’t a save situation, love. They didn’t need to bring in the closer if they were already winning.”

Emma’s answering laugh seems to sink into every inch of him, and, selfishly, Killian hopes he hears that sound every day for the rest of his life because it might be his favorite sound in all of documented history.

He’s good at history.

Or so say several degrees and that one award he got three years ago when Emma flew in to be at the ceremony.

And he’s never really sure how he doesn’t fall on top of her, but Killian surges forward and Emma’s free hand flies into his hair and kissing her, for the third time, and it's better than the first two combined, plus some.

They move against each other like they’ve been doing this for years, a rhythm that’s new and not and as easy as hitting against the Tampa Bay Rays on bullpen day. Killian tilts his head, not entirely sure what he’s trying to get, but certain it’s just more in some kind of overwhelming way.

His hand shifts, brushing against Emma’s side until she’s sighing into his mouth and her whole body flinches when he brushes his tongue over her lower lip.

There’s a goddamn tree root digging into his left knee and Emma’s phone has, somehow, ended up perpendicular between both of them, but it’s as close to perfect as making out in public can be. Killian’s fairly certain they’ve scandalized the tourists.

He doesn’t care.

And Emma’s fingers in his hair might be his second-favorite thing – behind her laugh because, honestly, that’s just other-level.

She shifts, phone falling to the ground in the process, but then her arms are around his neck and they’re going to get arrested for public indecency.

It would probably be worth it.

David would bail them out. Probably.

Killian stops thinking about jail time, nipping at Emma’s lip instead and that manages to work a totally different sound out of her and maybe he’s an enormous creep because he likes that one a lot and might be making some kind of list of noise-type sounds.

“What?”

He blinks at the question, not sure how either one of them is breathing enough to actually form words, but Emma leans back slightly and Killian can’t help but smile at the look on her face – pupils blown wide and the other headphone has fallen out, the cord hanging over her left shoulder, and she kind of looks how he feels.

“You said words,” Emma says and for one jarring moment he’s legitimately worried this is all a dream. “I was just...I couldn’t really hear. I was…”

“Preoccupied?”

“Yeah, exactly.”

Killian shakes his head, trying to brush away anything that isn’t her and this and them and he dimly wonders if they can get kicked out of Boston Common. He ducks his head to kiss her first, appreciating the way she follows after him and maybe they’ll just stay in Boston Common forever.

“I love you,” he says and it’s the easiest sentence he’s uttered in his entire life. Emma’s breath hitches, tongue darting out between her lips and that's only slightly distracting, but his calves are, finally, starting to cramp and he’s got a plan. He’s going to stick to it.

“I love you....enough to make my head spin sometimes,” Killian continues, brushing his thumb over Emma’s cheek and just below the lip she’s still biting. “I have for as long as I can remember. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t. And I don’t want to not be doing that.”

“God, that’s the worst English I’ve ever heard.”

“Swan, I’m trying to get you to swoon here, love.”

She blushes, closing her eyes like she’s trying to preserve the moment, which, honestly is kind of silly because Killian has every intention of this moment just continuing for the rest of their lives, but it’s also kind of endearing and a little adorable and he keeps getting sidetracked by kissing her.

That seems to bode well for the future.

Their future.

As a collective unit.

“Ah, right, of course,” Emma laughs. “Don’t let me stop you.”

Killian makes a face – one side of his mouth tugging up and eyebrows shifting and he’s fairly certain the blush in Emma’s cheeks gets stronger. This whole moment is doing ridiculous things to his ego. “I love you,” he says again, like he’s been saying it and promising it forever and it’s only a little insane that he hasn’t. “And, uh...none of this is ending.”

Emma narrows her eyes. “What?”

“That’s kind of why I was late. I would have been here two seconds after you left otherwise, but I had, like, seven-eighths of a plan and--”

“Seven-eighths? Good thing you’re not a math teacher.”

“That’s an appropriate fraction, Swan. And a pretty hefty amount of plan.”

“I can’t believe you just used the word hefty in actual conversation.”

“Because you keep interrupting,” Killian says, tapping lightly on her chin. “That makes it difficult to stay on point.”

She inhales sharply and the makeouts had done a good job of fogging some of his more recent memories. Like the one where she’d walked out of his apartment an hour before. “I’m sorry,” Emma whispers, meeting his wide-eyed stare with one of her own. “No, no, I’m...I know I’m interrupting and I promise I really am swooning here, but I just want to explain. So, let me explain ok?”

Killian nods slowly, giving his calves some reprieve when he twists his legs to sit next to Emma. Her hand finds his almost immediately – or the other way around.

The semantics don’t matter.

English is a dumb language anyway.

“I meant it,” Emma starts. “The...whole emotional outburst and blowup and those are really horrible words for it, but I meant it. And that’s terrifying. Because I meant the other parts too. You’re you and you’re my best friend, don’t tell Mary Margaret that either though, but she probably knows already and it’s totally true and now Final Jam is going to end and things are going to change and I can’t cope with that and then you were…”

She takes a deep breath, licking her lips and it’s like the whole world takes a moment to give them this, sitting a few feet away from the swan boats with the sun and the breeze and the incredibly bright blue sky.

So naturally Emma surprises him.

“We are really, really good at making out,” she says, laugh shaky at best when Killian nearly chokes on a sudden surplus of oxygen. “It’s ridiculous how good we are at it.”

“With room for improvement, I hope,” Killian mutters and they’re going to draw more curious stares for their inappropriate laughter than anything else.

“That’s not even a good line.”

“Yeah, but I think you still want to make out with me, so…”

Emma makes a noise in the back of her throat, but then there’s more kissing and it almost feels like he’s trying to breathe her in and his whole brain stops working for a moment. “It wasn’t fair of me,” she whispers, letting her forehead rest against his. There’s hair brushing against his lips. “Because I was scared of what would happen when this was gone and there weren’t any more schedules or plans and it’s exactly what happened the first time. I just wanted you to be mine for a second.”

Killian can just make out her slightly tremulous smile, eyes a bit glossier than normal and she turns her face into his palm when he rests it against her cheek.

It feels like his heart is going to explode.

“For as long as I can remember, Swan,” Killian says and the world pauses again, or possibly shifts slightly and everything seems to audibly fall into place.

It’s the best metaphor he’s come up with all weekend.

“But you never said.”

“Yeah, well, neither did you.”

Emma sighs, scrunching her nose. “That’s where the whole this is so stupid rant came from. It was like something snapped in my brain this morning. I woke up and you are freakishly warm, did you know that?”

“I did not.”

“You are! Crazy warm and it was all so easy and you didn’t argue about anything.”

“Swan, if you think I’m ever going to argue about making out with you in my apartment or falling asleep next to you, despite your propensity to stealing blankets, then maybe this is as stupid as you keep saying it is.”

“Are you just trying to impress me with your vocabulary at this point?”

Killian shrugs. “Maybe. Is it working?”

“Maybe.”

“How come you came here, Swan?”

“How come you knew I came here?”

“Nuh uh,” Killian objects. “That’s not how this works. You can’t answer a question with another question. We’ve got to go point to point or we’re never going to get to everything else.”

“What else is there?”

“I told you, I had seven-eighths of a plan. It became a complete eighth when everyone else agreed with me.” Emma’s eyes widen in curiosity, but Killian shakes his head again. “Nope. An answer. Why’d you come here, love?”

If she notices the change in endearment she doesn’t say anything, but her eyebrows shift slightly and her thumb hasn’t stopped moving since his hand found hers again. “You said it first, actually. And I really don’t think I steal blankets.”

“You do. I said what?”

“Stick around.”

Killian eyebrows pull low, confusion flashing down his spine and he’s been flying the seat of several metaphorical pants all morning, but he genuinely has no idea what the hell she’s talking about. Emma groans.

“Seriously?” she sighs. “You really don’t remember? Was it because you were having so much fun being a giant history nerd?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. And I'm not a history nerd.”

“You teach history!”

“That does not, by default, make me a nerd.”

“Oh my God.” Emma shakes her head, twisting her lips and she kisses him quick enough that he hopes he didn’t imagine it. She’s smiling when she pulls away. “You were talking about Paul Revere and the Boston Massacre and you told me to stick around and I could learn more history facts, but I got kind of stuck on the first part and, well,” she shrugs, “did you mean it?”

David was right. They are the world’s two biggest idiots.

Emma’s staring at him, lips pressed together and breathing shallow, but the muscles in Killian’s face are starting to ache from overuse. “Of course I did,” he says and every sentence is easier to say than the last.

He’s only slightly frustrated he hasn’t been saying them for the last ten years.

“Yeah, yes, fuck, Emma,” Killian continues. He has to take a breath before he says anything else, the weight of emotion pressing down on every inch of him and it’s absurd and probably impossible, but it’s felt like that kind of day. He’s only slightly positive he doesn’t shout in her face. “Stay here,” he says. “You can...I want you to stay here.”

The whole center of the universe joke has never felt more apt.

Something, something...like Killian is looking right into the sun.

“I really don’t want to go back to Chicago,” Emma says.

“So don’t.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“Why not?”

She blinks. And blinks again. “It shouldn’t be, right? There’s got to be more than that.”

“There’s not, Swan, I promise. We’ve already done enough of everything else, I think we should get some easy at this point, don’t you?”

“Ah, well, when you put it like that.”

“Exactly,” Killian says, reaching up to brush a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. Not touching her is insane. “Still swooning?”

“Not when you have to double check on it. What are all eight parts of the plan?”

“There aren’t eight parts. Just one.”

“Which is?”

“We’re uncancelling Final Jam.”

They’re loading another boat full of tourists and there’s a toddler having a complete meltdown over something a few feet away, but Killian doesn’t pull his gaze away from Emma – watching every shift in her expression as she realizes what he’s said.

He’s going to set some kind of record for continuous smiling in one emotionally-charged conversation.

“It doesn’t have to end, Swan,” Killian says. “Or, more to the point, it shouldn't end. None of us really want it to. We just kind of assumed it would, but that’s ridiculous and so I’ve decided we’re not.”

“You’ve decided?”

“Yeah.”

“And that’s, like, Final Jam law now?”

“Eventually we’ll decide that’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever said,” he laughs, catching Emma around the wrist when she swats at his chest. “And, no, that’s where I was. The rest of them agreed. It might be different and we might not be able to do the same weekend every year, but it’ll happen and we’ve got everything else too.”

Emma quirks an eyebrow. “Everything else?”

“I’m fairly positive we did agree to joint godparent’dom a few hours ago, love. And that’ll probably be easier if you’re in the same city, learning some incredibly not nerd-like history facts.”

“It’s not the worst plan I’ve ever heard.”

“That’s definitely what I was aiming for.”

She laughs, easier than it was at any point all weekend, like she’s breathing out at the same time and Killian’s optimism is just that, no lingering caution or unnecessary precursors. He kisses her – mostly because he can’t come up with a reason not to and because they’ve already wasted so much goddamn time.

And they’re really, really good at kissing each other.

“I love you,” Emma says, mumbling the words against his lips. Killian’s going to smile forever. “And I’m also crazy hungry.”

They draw a few more stares and few glances when Killian’s entire body shakes from laughing, but he’s so goddamn happy it’s easy to ignore anything that isn’t how easily he and Emma fall back into normal. It is, some reasonable part of his mind is quick to point out, probably because they’ve been doing this forever.

David’s going to be insufferable.

“We can fix that, Swan,” Killian grins, standing up and holding his hand out. She takes it without a word.

They go to Dunkin Donuts, which is only slightly stereotypical Boston, but it’s still, technically, Final Jam and Killian’s kind of hungry too. They split an entire box of Munchkins and he mutters you’re going to burn your tongue when Emma tries to down her Dunkaccino in four gulps.

She sticks her tongue out at him.

And they’re definitely late by the time the Uber gets to the final event on the not-so-Final Final Jam schedule – Killian’s arm around Emma’s shoulders when they try and sneak into the tour group at Harpoon Brewery without anyone noticing.

Mary Margaret notices. It might be the least surprising thing that’s happened in the last seventy-two hours.

She barely contains her screech, one hand flying to her mouth while the other one swats at David’s side and Killian can feel Emma’s grin when she turns into his side. “Deep breaths, M’s,” Emma mutters, but it does no good and they’ve drawn another crowd.

The tour guide looks personally offended that they’ve shown up half an hour late.

“Aw, c’mon,” Ruby shouts. “We’re doing this now? Seriously?”

“Play the music, Rubes,” Mary Margaret says, Emma mumbling what under her breath.

Killian rolls his eyes. And wonders if he can make up for the lack of mimosas that afternoon with a copious amount of craft beer samples. “Ignore them,” he says. “We’re not running on a schedule anymore.”

“Living on the edge, huh, Jones?” Mulan asks. She’s already got an empty plastic cup in her hand while Merida is, clearly, trying to distract the tour guide by asking questions about hops that no one has ever even considered asking before.

“Something like that.”

David is suspiciously silent, eyes darting from Emma back to Killian quickly enough that he’s probably going to give himself a headache. Emma doesn’t appear to be breathing.

“Everything ok there, Detective?”

His eyebrows jump up his forehead. “You tell me. I need to yell anymore?”

“Did you yell before?”

“He strongly implied,” Killian says. “I think he was trying to parent us a little bit.”

“Ah, well, he’s got to practice on someone, I guess. Although I wouldn’t be totally opposed to him not doing that again.”

David smiles – it’s not entirely what Killian expects and he’s not entirely opposed to it. Mary Margaret’s sniffle sounds impossibly loud in the middle of a brewery tour they’re ruining and whatever song Ruby’s tiny phone speakers are playing.

“Yeah, ok,” David says. “But if you guys are stupid again, I’m going to be really annoyed.”

Mary Margaret sighs, eyes closed lightly and one hand on her stomach and the whole thing is so goddamn domestic it’s almost painful. Emma’s head is resting on Killian’s shoulder.

“What song is that?” she asks and half the tour has already moved on to a different part of the brewery.

“That ‘Boston’ band,” Ruby answers. “You know they were still making music in 2011?”

“They’re actually called Boston band?”

“No, no, I have no idea what their name is, but the music’s not half bad and it’s whatever was next on the YouTube playlist because you guys ruined my plans for the initial romantic sweep.”

“I don’t think any of those words made sense in that order.”

Ruby sighs. “You done deflecting? Because it’s been kind of annoying having to text both you and Jones.”

“We’re still two different people, Lucas,” Killian mutters, but neither he nor Emma have voiced any actual objections to the new text message procedures. And Ruby totally knows.

“I made no claims otherwise. My point still stands”

He glances at Emma, rolling his shoulder slightly to meet her eyes. She presses up on her toes, tugging lightly on the front of his shirt and Mary Margaret actually gets a good amount of air on her jump when she sees it. The blood visibly rushes out of David’s face.

“So, uh,” Merida laughs. “That seems like it’s ok to joint text then.”

Killian nods. “Yeah, it’s ok. But, Nolan, seriously, stop jumping up and down. David’s going to pass out.”

“Don’t you have CPR training?” David asks.

“Are you asking me to perform CPR on you?”

“I mean, you know, in the event of an emergency. And I’ll feel better trusting you with my kid if you know CPR.”

“This is the most morbid conversation anyone has ever had in a brewery,” Ruby says. “Shouldn’t we be getting drunk? Or at least buzzed? Sorry, M’s.”

Mary Margaret waves a dismissive hand, the other still resting on her stomach and Killian feels Emma’s laugh before he hears it. He assumes there’s a scientific meaning for that. He does not care. “I know CPR too,” she says. “You know, just for the record.”

David practically beams. “Noted. And, listen, Em’s, I’ve been thinking about that time vortex in Jones’ hallway and I realized we totally forgot a fandom for name ideas.”

“Ah yeah, Doctor Who, God, how did we miss that?”

“Because Luthien was better,” Killian mumbles, winking at Mary Margaret when she immediately starts to dispute the idea. “What do you think about T.A.R.D.I.S. as a name, Nolan?”

“Didn’t she have a name in that one episode?” Merida asks. They’ve completely separated from the group now. “The one good part of that one season.”

“Whoa, harsh opinion,” Ruby laughs.

“Don’t get me started.”

“Idris,” Emma answers. “The T.A.R.D.I.S. in human form was named Idris. Idris Nolan? Not bad. Sounds kind of like a warrior princess.”

Her eyes flit towards Mary Margaret, something in the back of Killian’s brain sparking with visions and wants and optimism that he’s nothing short of certain of now. He presses a kiss to Emma’s temple.

“We’ll consider it,” Mary Margaret promises.

They do, as Ruby suggested, get incredibly buzzed on free beer samples and the quiet happiness that comes from knowing things are changing, but still, somehow, staying the same. There are goodbyes eventually – Merida has to go save New York and Mulan’s already in the process of moving, which leads Ruby to almost giggling out loud in the middle of Fort Point – but Emma smiles when she tells David and Mary Margaret she’s going to stick around for awhile and Killian nearly slams his thumb through his phone trying to order an Uber back to his apartment.

They make out in the backseat.

It probably affects his rider rating.

But then they’re climbing out of the car and Emma’s hands are everywhere and they barely make it in the front door before Killian’s turning on her, lips dragging across her jaw and the side of her neck and they stand in the foyer for a solid fifteen minutes.

It’s some kind of race after that – stumbling their way up the stairs and getting another door open and Killian’s belt is half off by the time they make it into his apartment.

He can’t stop kissing her. Or the other way around.

They’re a mess of limbs and lips and laughter and the alliteration is absurd, a line of clothes left in their wake as they try to get back to his bedroom without dislocating or snapping anything.

It’s awfully close, the bed creaking underneath them when they both collapse on it, but there’s more laughter and more smiles and there’s so much skin between them it makes Killian’s heart sputter in his chest.

“Still with me?” Emma asks softly, trailing a finger across his arm. He can’t quite nod when he’s laying on top of a large pile of pillows, but Killian makes an admirable effort and everything feels so normal it’s like they’ve just woken up and settled into their lives.

He hopes that’s exactly what’s happened.

“Consistently, Swan,” he says. Emma doesn’t answer – he swears her eyes get greener, though, a fact he would have voiced if she didn’t catch his lips with hers, slinging a leg over his hips and, suddenly, there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

The noise he makes when Emma rocks her hips is probably embarrassing, but he’s so far gone for her already it doesn’t make much of a difference. It’s easy and perfect and them in some kind of grand, sweeping way that he’s been waiting for since the very first day he saw her.

He might mutter I love you into her hair and under her jaw and the curve of her shoulder, a mantra that sounds even better when Emma repeats it.

More than once.

They order Chinese food eventually and eat it on his couch with Return of the King playing. Emma’s wearing one of his shirts.

And it’s easy to fall asleep, but exponentially harder to wake up – all of the blankets tugged to her side of the bed and tucked under her chin.

“C’mon, don’t move,” Emma mumbles, cracking one eye open when he slides out of bed. “You were so warm.”

“How could you tell through your mountain of stolen blankets?”

“Shut up.”

Killian chuckles, brushing his lips over the few inches of her that isn’t covered. It’s mostly hair. “I’ve got to go to work. Mold young minds and whatnot. Explain how fucked up the legislative branch of government is.”

“You going to use that exact phrasing, then?”

“Probably.”

Emma opens her other eye, a small smile tugging on the corners of her lips. “Yeah, that’s definitely the right plan of attack. They’re all going to pass their AP exams, for sure.”

“I’ll take even your sarcastic vote of confidence, love. Go back to sleep. I’ll be back later.”

“I’ll be here,” she mutters, burrowing further into the blankets and Killian has to move or he’s never going to leave. “I’ll probably break your coffee maker, though.”

She is.

The coffee maker, meanwhile, is unscathed.

It makes him smile every time – settling into this life and this future and, eventually, when the boxes are unpacked and there’s a job lined up for her with David’s connections at Boston PD, they hang some frames on the wall.

There are only three, but Emma says they’re a good start and the one in the middle is his favorite. The sign’s still a little ripped, but there’s some tape involved and it looks pretty fantastic on the wall, the hand-written sentiment truer than ever.

Welcome home, Swan.

And they finally, both, are.