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From Just Outside the Box

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“The numbers are still fine.”

“Fine?”

“Yes, fine.”

“What does that mean?”

Ruby tilted her head, something that looked like amusement and felt a hell of a lot like judgement flashing across her face, and Emma slumped in the chair. She tried, at least. There wasn’t really much slumping to be had, mostly because at some point in the last few weeks, she’d lost what little control of her body she had left.

She felt unwieldy – which was a God awful word and a God awful expression, but she couldn’t come up with a better way to describe it and there was still three weeks of this.

Not that this was bad.

It wasn’t. It was good and several other adjectives that were much better than unwieldy, but Emma felt enormous and cumbersome and that was also better than unwieldy. And she was worried about her show’s numbers when said show took a leave of absence because she was taking a leave of absence and the word for that was maternity leave.

Emma Swan-Jones was going on maternity leave.

And she wasn’t really supposed to be in the chair she was kind of slumping in.

“Fine means fine,” Ruby said, and her expression hadn’t changed. “The actual definition of the word fine. We honestly cannot talk about this more. Why are you freaking out now?”

“I’m not freaking out.”

“Yuh huh. Try that again.”

“I’m not.”

“Once more with feeling.”

“Oh my God,” Emma grumbled, twisting her hair over her shoulder and it must have been at least six-thousand degrees in Ruby’s office. It felt like she was sitting on the surface of several different suns, and this distinct lack of bodily control was getting old real fast.

It had gotten old in, like, her second trimester, but that was neither here nor there and Emma was happy. She was so goddamn happy she was positive she was radiating with it at this point, some kind of maternal glow and happily ever after that led her to agree to a World Cup viewing party on the same weekend her last new show was going to run before she was taking a six-month break and Killian had been filming that afternoon.

That may have been why she’d taken a car uptown.

And Ruby probably knew that too.

Ruby definitely knew that.

The arch of her left eyebrow proved it.

“You want to keep doing this vaguely entertaining banter or you want to actually get to the crux of the issue here?” Ruby asked, sitting up straighter and things suddenly felt very official. Emma rolled her eyes.

“The crux of the issue is that I’m going to be off TV screens for six months straight.”

“That’s patently untrue.”

“What?”

Ruby blinked. And tilted her head a slightly different direction. And then she laughed – loudly, head thrown back and shoulders shaking and Emma was momentarily worried about the state of her chair, but Ruby had ridiculously nice office furniture and that crick at the base of Emma’s spine had almost entirely disappeared.

Maybe she could get Ruby to give her this chair.

To sit in. All night. During this party.

She hoped they had enough food.

“Em, are you serious?” Ruby asked skeptically, laughter clinging to the words and there were tears in her eyes. She shook her head, expression turning decidedly amused now. The whole thing felt a little patronizing. “We’ve done this several times, I promise. Have you not been listening?”

“I’ve totally been listening.”

“You’re not doing a very good job of proving it. This circles me back around to the freakout.”

“Who’s freaking out?”

Emma twisted at the sound of Mary Margaret’s voice, and she didn’t know who to glare at first. She picked Ruby. The choice wasn’t actually that hard.

“What the hell is this?” Emma shouted, waving her hand through open air like that would get Ruby’s eyebrow to agree to the laws of gravity. “Did you call backup.”

“Yes,” Ruby answered.

“Oh.”

“Didn’t think I’d agree that quickly, huh?”

Mary Margaret clicked her tongue in reproach and she must have left school early. Emma’s body was not emotionally equipped to handle that. “Ok, there’s no need to lord it over her,” Mary Margaret muttered, letting the bag on her shoulder drop onto the floor. “And it’s not backup so much as it is support. For whatever it is you’re freaking out about.”

“I’m not freaking out!”

“God, it honestly gets worse the more you say it,” Ruby laughed. “That’s almost impressive, Em. Not many people can do that.”

Emma tried to get her glare to intensify, but she was fairly positive that was impossible. She settled for sighing dramatically. “What is this plan we’ve apparently gone over so many times?”

“If you were listening to me instead of thinking how cute your kid with Jones is going to be, you’d know the answer to that question already.”

“You’re enjoying this.”

“Yes.”

“It’s weirding me out that you don’t want to banter more.”

“Ruby,” Mary Margaret chastised, balancing on the edge of the desk. “C’mon, just spit it out. You’re not helping. And,” she added with a smile, “that kid, whatever it turns out to be, is going to be crazy cute.”

Ruby nearly fell on the floor.

Emma was certain her laughter was going to be stuck in her head on an endless loop for the rest of the night. Maybe it would time up with whatever cheers Henry and Roland had inevitably come up with. There had been some discussion about who each of them were going to root for – a fight, really, but Killian had rested a hand on each kid’s shoulders and then there was talking and agreeing and apologizing and Henry mumbled something about not meaning to insult the history of English football that was, apparently, enough for Roland.

The whole thing messed with Emma’s pulse.

That was probably why she forgot the plan she and Ruby had come up when she realized there was going to be a kid and announced, in no uncertain terms, that she did not want to know what kind of kid it was going to be.

She was happy.

She didn’t need specifics. Or questionable gender-based color schemes.

And maybe that had inspired her own discussion with Killian and maybe now, three weeks before the kid was slated to arrive, Emma kind of, sort of, regretted the outcome of that discussion.

She really wanted to know.

She really wanted this kid.

She really needed to come up with a better phrase than slated to arrive.

“Whatever it turns out to be,” Ruby echoed, her body still rocking with the force of her laughter. Mary Margaret sighed. “M’s you’ve made it sound like an alien.”

“No, I have not! I’m just saying…you know if it’s a boy or a girl or…whatever, stop laughing and remind Emma that there are reruns of her show and an entire fanbase that will not disappear because she’s not coming up with new recipes.”

“I mean you just did it, so…”

“Oh, yeah, that’s kind of true, isn’t it?”

“This is why I called for backup.”

“I thought we weren’t using that word,” Emma said, cutting into the previously requested banter and Ruby grinned like they’d just won several Emmys.

“Semantics. It’s really going to be fine. No matter how much you freak out.”

“I’m still not freaking out.”

“You’re still an absolutely terrible liar, but I’ll give you this because you didn’t find out the gender of your soon-to-arrive bundle of joy and now you’re worried because you can’t pick a name and you like lists and order and Killian probably not-so-secretly has forty-seven names he’d like to use and forty-seven kids he’d like to have and—“

“—How is there more?”

“And are we really not going to address the use of the phrase bundle of joy?” Mary Margaret asked skeptically. Emma smiled. And took a deep breath. That was probably good for the bundle. Or pumpkin. Or alien. God, no, not an alien.

They really should have found out.

“Because,” Mary Margaret continued. “If I’m going to be mocked for my use of the English language, then I think it’s only fair Ruby gets drawn over several metaphorical coals.”

Emma let out a low whistle, resting her hands on her stomach and twisting until something that might have been her entire spine cracked. “Wow, M’s that was kind of harsh, actually.”

“I’m way behind on filling out report cards.”

“Just tell everyone they’re a pleasure to have in class,” Ruby suggested. “It’s generic enough to not be a compliment, but also good enough that no kid can get grounded.”

“I’m not teaching high school. Who is grounding elementary school kids?”

“I was a very rebellious eight-year-old.”

Emma’s head was spinning. And, really, she should have been used to it by now. Her life was, well, it was pretty goddamn fucking fantastic and despite the freak out she’d never actually admit to, she was fairly positive whatever kind of kid showed up in three weeks was going to be absolutely adored by an extended family that was kind of fairy-tale esque and parents who loved each other an almost questionable amount.

She hoped Killian won Iron Chef again.

He totally won Iron Chef again.

“M’s,” she said, interrupting, again, and Ruby’s eyebrows should have a competition with Killian’s eyebrows for supreme ridiculousness. “Should you be filling out report cards?”

Mary Margaret winced, squeezing one eye closed and Emma still couldn’t slump, but she certainly made an admirable effort. “I mean, technically,” Mary Margaret said, holding her hands up before Emma could argue more or question something else. “Everyone is done with classes and, like I said, they’re eight so it’s not like I’ve got final exams, but there was some kind faculty thing and I was supposed to help organize the library.”

“You blew off library organization?”

“I mean that sounds pretty horrible, right? And it’s crazy hot in that room.”

“You work at one of the best private schools in the city, they have air conditioning.”

“Yeah, but I’m trying to make sure you don’t feel bad.”

Emma wished the oxygen in her lungs would stay in her lungs. She hadn’t read nearly as much as Killian had in the last few months – she’d been pregnant before, she reasoned, although this was nothing like before and before seemed like some kind of dream now and they should pick a name for their kid – but she was fairly certain continued oxygen to her brain was necessary for continued consciousness.

But, as per usual, her body didn’t seem to give a damn and Emma kept sighing and huffing and, maybe, crying and the party later was going to be fun.

She and Killian had come up with a menu.

And then got caught making out behind the bar by Henry.

So, really, Emma’s life was some kind of ridiculous movie with absurdly good food at this point.

“I’ve lost all control of my emotions,” Emma shrugged. “But this is next level nice, M’s. Even if it’s unnecessary interference.”

“Ah, but that’s our game,” Ruby said. “We butt in, we question, we plan quasi-interventions because I know part of the reason you came here today was to stalk your husband’s set.”

Emma flushed, but she was really terrible at lying and Henry hadn’t even been surprised by the bar incident, just grumbled a string of curses under his breath that, if his parents weren’t so preoccupied, probably would have earned him his own grounding, and walked away.

After he grabbed four cookies out of the kitchen.

“Whatever,” Emma grumbled, and the whatever in her body kicked at her ribs. Mary Margaret and Ruby’s eyes both got dangerously wide when she gasped. “I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. We’re just practicing soccer and probably spin kicks or corner kicks or something.”

Mary Margaret sniffled.

Ruby ducked her eyes.

Emma laughed.

“Oh my God,” she grinned, and they were going to single-handedly fix America’s soccer issue with the birth of this kid. She was convinced. “You guys are both great, big enormous saps.”

“You are stalking your husband,” Ruby argued.

“I don’t think that’s possible.”

“Ask David.”

“No.”

“Ah, damn, I was really hoping for more banter there.”

“Yeah, that seems to be kind of the theme,” Emma mumbled, and maybe they should have saved all this intervention stuff for Eric because the World Cup menu was, actually, kind of absurd. She was equal parts excited for and dreading the schnitzel.

And had flat out refused to allow bratwurst.

“You still want to talk about the numbers, don’t you?” Ruby asked knowingly, Mary Margaret’s attempt at turning her laugh into some other sound falling woefully short. Emma nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I figured. M’s covered all the high points. It’s the summer, Em. You don’t usually have new episodes in the summer.”

“Yeah, but I’m filming new episodes.”

“And now you’re…filming a kid.”

“That didn’t come out the way you wanted it to, did it?”

Ruby shook her head. “Not at all. The sentiment is the same though. You get to do this, Emma. You get to live in this moment and only this moment and you don’t have to worry about anything except how many diapers you’re going to have to buy and what to do with all the painfully adorable clothing Dor and I keep ordering.”

“How much painfully adorable clothing are we talking about here?”

“That’s not important.”

“You brought it up!”

“Way too much,” Mary Margaret mumbled, earning a pointed glare from Ruby that she ignored in favor of flashing a conspiratorial grin Emma’s direction. “It’s because they don’t have any suggestions to follow.”

Emma sighed. Again. She was going to set a record. “That was heavy-handed, M’s,” she accused. “Killian and I decided.”

“I know, I know, and I’m not passing judgement. Really. I’m just explaining why Ruby’s going to max out all her credit cards at several baby boutiques.”

“Ok, that seemed a little judgmental, honestly,” Ruby groaned. “Can we focus? Em, the show is great. It’s been doing great and better than great and, I mean, people know you’re pregnant. It’s not like we’ve tried to hide that.”

They hadn’t.

There’d been several discussions about that, but Emma was done with metaphorical boxes and her life was her life and she loved it and the internet had lost its collective mind the first time she showed up on screen with a ring on her left finger.

So, it only made sense. And she wanted to keep cooking – couldn’t really mask unwieldily after awhile, wasn’t really trying to, and she and Killian had made chocolate gingerbread pie on the holiday special that year. They were a family. With traditions. And the paperwork to prove it.

Henry had yelled “Mom and Dad” during the bar makeout incident.

“We run reruns in the summer,” Ruby continued. “We run a few more during the fall and then, when you want to and the soon-to-premiere, incredibly fashion forward infant shows up, you come back and you keep making fantastic food and Killian keeps winning Iron Chef and then you probably open up a national franchise.”

Emma scoffed, but there were still tears in her eyes and her body temperature was finally starting to even out. “What was that last part?”

Ruby’s grin spread across her face in slow motion, far too knowing to be comforting, but almost reassuring, and Emma was totally going to steal this chair. “Are you not planning on taking over the culinary world?” Ruby asked. “Seemed like the next logical step.”

“After?”

“The painfully adorable kid, God, Em, keep up.”

“Oh, right, right, of course.”

Mary Margaret laughed, something that sounded like settling in a way that wasn’t really that, but might have been comfort and happiness and Emma had demanded cheeseburgers on the menu that night. For her. And no one else.

Except maybe Henry.

And Roland.

Maybe a discussion about culinary domination was overdue.

Emma opened her mouth, not sure if she was going to thank her friends for being her friends or calming the freakout she totally was having, but the words that came out were as much a surprise to her as they, clearly, were to Mary Margaret and Ruby. “Where did you buy this chair?”

Ruby’s head fell onto her forearms, shoulders shaking and hair draped across her desk, and Mary Margaret squeezed Emma’s hand with a familiarity that nearly left them all crying again. And, really, Emma kind of knew he was there – could dimly hear the footsteps and that was familiar too, but those were sentimental thoughts and Emma had already done enough emotional things that day, so she didn’t look up when she heard the sound of his shoes or the click of his teeth and his arms were probably crossed over his chest when he leaned against the open doorway.

“How’d you get up here?” Killian asked, eyebrows doing something ridiculous when she moved. Ruby laughed louder. Mary Margaret might have mumbled aw under her breath.

“I sat in the backseat of a cab.”

“Cab?”

“Yes.”

“You didn’t call a car?”

Emma shrugged. “It was more spur of the moment than anything else. I’m not cooking though, so, you know…by comparison.”

“Comparison,” Killian echoed, and this conversation was going nowhere fast. Honestly, they should have looked up the contact information for Guinness World Records because Ruby had absolutely set several for both the length and volume of her laughter.

“Did you win?” Emma asked. “And are you done?”

Killian nodded slowly, ignoring her huff of frustration when he didn’t actually answer either question, and Ruby finally pulled her head up. “You know, Em,” she said. “I might have been wrong before. Maybe Killian’s stalking you. You just have a sixth sense she was up here or how’d that work?”

“Regina told me she saw her getting out of the car.”

“That makes way more sense. Scientifically, you know.”

“Yuh huh.”

“I haven’t really been here that long,” Emma reasoned. “Sitting the whole time and everything. And really nothing about the not cooking thing? Because that was absolutely a positive.”

Killian hummed, but the almost-frown softened, the pinch between his eyebrows disappearing when that one muscle in his temple stopped jumping. Mary Margaret totally aw’ed again. “Were you considering breaking into the kitchen, love?”

“The thought crossed my mind. It’s a lot of food. And at least partially my kitchen.”

“More than partially.”

“Agh, this is gross,” Ruby whined. “Please wait until you are back in an office that you own, partially or otherwise, to start making out ok. I don’t need my psyche ruined too.”

Emma’s eyes widened, but she knew she was blushing, and Killian tugged on the back of his hair. “Henry might have mentioned it a couple days ago,” Mary Margaret explained. “The bar thing. Not like in a bad way, just a…Ariel said you guys hadn’t been spotted making out in hallways recently and—“

“—Oh my God, M’s, stop,” Emma pleaded, shooting a glance Killian’s direction. The tips of his ears had gone red.

“At least, you know, you guys are super, totally normal, run-of-the-mill parents,” Ruby grinned. “Plus he’s a teenager. If he’s not offended by you at all times, then you’re doing something wrong.”

“You’re a pillar of support, Lucas,” Killian muttered.

“I do what I can. And I really don’t think Henry hates you.”

“Jeez, Rubes,” Emma sighed. She leaned into Killian’s hand when he moved behind her, fingers tracing over the ridge of her spine and the back of her neck and maybe they could just make out some more and ignore soccer.

The pumpkin kicked again.

That felt like a sign.

“Well, as long as you don’t think so, Lucas, that’s clearly all that matters,” Killian said. Ruby narrowed her eyes.

“Your sarcasm is going to ruin the paint on my walls. You got to film again tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

“Man, do you also need an intervention?”

“No, this is an intervention?”

Ruby made a noise – not quite a laugh, more just general disbelief and something that sounded a bit like a growl – pushing away from her desk and standing up so abruptly she nearly knocked several stacks of paperwork on the floor. “Don’t let Emma cook later. She’s totally going to try.”

“A fact I’m well aware of.”

“Then we’re all on the same page.”

She was gone a moment later, Mary Margaret not far behind after she confirmed a seven o’clock party and the continued guarantee that she couldn’t bring anything, leaving Emma in the chair with her husband’s fingers working out a pinched muscle in her shoulder.

“God, how do you do that?” Emma mumbled, but Killian just laughed in response, pressing a kiss to the top of her hair and letting his fingers drift over the swell of her stomach. It couldn’t have been a particularly comfortable position, twisted as he was over her back and the chair and Emma was only kind of annoyed Ruby hadn’t answered her question, but he didn’t move – getting a rather aggressive kick for his efforts.

“Goal,” Emma said, dragging out the word in an absolutely horrible imitation of several different broadcasters and they were going to show several games at once. She was going to make out with Killian in the hallway. “C’mon, Lieutenant, I promise I won’t cook, but I’m totally going to watch while you do and you can tell me all about how you wrecked some other chef today.”

It took several minutes of almost heated discussion for Killian to actually agree to Emma coming into the kitchen –

”That’s half mine, you don’t get to tell me, that I can’t go in there.”

“It’s a safety concern, Swan.”

“I’m not going to stab myself!”

“Swan.”

“Half mine!”

And he sighed and huffed and did something else with his eyes, made them bluer or something, that almost got Emma to relent, or possibly grab his face and kiss him, hard, but then he kissed her and none of it really seemed to matter after that.

“I’m not worried about the fractions, love,” he murmured against her lips, prosthetic falling to her stomach and that seemed to be happening more and more every day. It hadn’t at first, the quiet nerves Killian had never really voiced obvious as soon as Emma started to show, and she wasn’t going to mention it.

She wasn’t going to talk about it if he didn’t want to, but that lasted all of a week – particularly when he had to twist his arm at decidedly awkward angles to touch her because he kept trying to touch her and that made her heart beat irregularly.

So she’d brought it up and promised it was fine because that was, apparently, the only adjective any of them knew, finally just tugging his hand forward and resting the plastic on her stomach and Killian stared at her like several different suns. And possibly a few outlying moons. Emma was going to scandalize all their friends with how much she kept trying to make out with her husband all night.

– but she settled into her spot a few inches away from one of the stoves eventually, the edge of the counter pressing almost pleasantly in the small of her back.

“You going to tell me how filming went now?” Emma asked. “You won, right?”

Killian’s eyes flashed, but his lips quirked slightly and it was probably weird to be vaguely attracted to her husband’s ability to tie his own apron strings. “Do you think I didn’t win?”

“That’s not an answer. And a double negative.”

“What were you doing in Ruby’s office this afternoon?”

“Why was Regina spying?”

“That’s not an answer,” he said, grabbing a bowl and flour and she hadn’t noticed the wooden spoon stuck in his back pocket. That was ridiculously attractive too.

“What was your secret ingredient?”

He grinned. And started making Belgian waffles. “Peaches.”

“Peaches?”

“That’s what I said, Swan,” Killian muttered, but there was still a smile and she didn’t care much about fractions either. Not when there was a theirs and a them and Mom and Dad, even when being screamed by a vaguely scandalized sixteen-year-old, sounded pretty goddamn fantastic. “And of course I won.”

“What was your best dish?”

“All of these questions seemed double-edged, love.”

Emma made a face, Killian cracking several eggs and mixing without measuring and she still kind of wanted to cook. Her back was starting to hurt. Again. Or still. She’d lost track of time. And there were voices in the dining room, laughter and glasses clinking and what sounded like David, Robin and Henry all trying to hook up the projector at the same time.

“Not double-edged,” Emma promised, brushing her fingers over Killian’s arm while he stirred. “And you’re beating this batter into submission.”

“It’s got to mix.”

“What’d you like the most? Peach, that’s bright and kind of summer’y, right? Oh, did you do something with chicken? I bet you did.”

She tried to pull the bowl out of his hands, but the agreement was no cooking under any circumstances and Killian was nothing if not very stubborn. Particularly when it came to Emma. “Baked,” he said, kissing her quick enough that her breath hitched. “Baked chicken. With basil. The judges called it, and I’m quoting here, unexpected.”

“I wouldn’t have expected that.”

“Unfortunately you are not a judge on Iron Chef, love.”

Emma hummed, tugging lightly on the front of his apron. He nearly dropped the bowl. She took that was a victory. “That’d probably be a conflict of interest, right?” she asked, and there was quite a bit more to finagle, which was another absolutely awful word Emma wished had never entered her mind, but the bowl sounded impossibly loud when it landed on the counter and she swore she could feel Killian’s fingers through her dress.

“Scandalous.”

“That sounds kind of dramatic.”

“Yeah, let’s avoid the drama if we can, huh?”

She nodded or agreed or maybe just melted because it was suddenly very warm in that kitchen and her back felt like it was kind of snapping in half and she might have been swooning over the sight of her husband doing his job.

And Emma was positive, convinced in the very center of her being, that they were about to stress Eric out even more by making out in the middle of the kitchen they equally owned, but Killian’s lips just brushed over hers and he chuckled when she made a noise that was nothing short of scandalous.

“Why’d you get a cab uptown, Swan?” he asked, eyes narrowed and confident and both of those things were as stupid as they were attractive.

“I just wanted to double check on some numbers.”

“Are you worried about the show?”

“Why are you a mind reader?”

He chuckled, and he did kiss her that time, but it was over before it really began which, honestly, was for the best, but Emma was absurdly pregnant and, suddenly, sort of nauseous and her husband was being an enormous, slightly psychic tease.

“I’m not,” Killian promised. “But I will admit to knowing you fairly well, love, and your show is important to you. That’s not a bad thing.”

“Ruby thinks it’ll be fine.”

“And called in Mary Margaret to back her up.”

“God, seriously, the mind reading thing!”

“It’s a very gossipy restaurant, Swan.”

Emma’s jaw dropped, air rushing out of her quickly enough that she actually managed to ruffle Killian’s hair. “Did she tell you that this was some kind of plan? Did everyone know? Is that why Regina was spying out her office window?”

“No one was spying out any windows,” Killian argued. “Regina was patrolling the Iron Chef set so I didn’t run away before I won.”

“Awfully confident.”

He nodded, fingers tracing absent minded patterns on the side of her stomach – enough that it almost calmed whatever was happening in the pit of it and maybe it was actually heartburn. That happened when she was pregnant with Henry.

That was normal.

Emma thought it was normal.

“Swan,” Killian muttered, a note of near-panic in his voice, and her neck cracked when she snapped her head up. “Your eyes went all glossy, love. You want to sit down?”

“I think you want me to sit down.”

“Yes.”

“Jeez, no one will banter with me today,” she groused. It was enough to work a slightly shaky laugh out of Killian, lips brushing over her forehead and the top of her hair and the curve of her jaw and David practically growled when he swung open the kitchen door. “If you don’t want to walk in on things, you shouldn’t be in places you’re not allowed to be,” Emma said. “And don’t bother telling me my sentence structure was off. I know. And I know you understood.”

David nodded, lower lip jutted out in a move that was just patronizing enough to fall into older brother category. “At least it wasn’t Henry again.”

“To be fair, I don’t think he’ll come into any room without announcing his presence anymore,” Killian said. “Loudly. Several times.”

Emma groaned, letting her head fall onto Killian’s shoulder. “What do you want, David?” she asked, the question barely audible when it was, mostly, spoken into cotton.

“There are people here. For the party you guys agreed to. With food because Mary Margaret didn’t listen to you so she made those cookies you’ve been demanding for weeks. And also Regina wants to know where Killian disappeared to because, this is verbatim, he ran away before we could figure out the vacation plans.”

Emma’s neck was going to sustain permanent damage.

And Killian was going to glare David to death. Or something that made more sense. The English language was, clearly, something Emma didn’t entirely understand anymore.

“What does that mean?” she asked, but Killian seemed far more interested in the waffle batter and Eric was trying to ask about how hot the oil should be for empanadas. “Oh my God, Eric, we planned all of this. Three-hundred and fifty degrees. It was all on the list.”

He mumbled a string of words that might have been an apology.

Killian didn’t move.

David looked a little stunned.

“Has everyone in this restaurant been making plans without me?” Emma asked, pointing at her stomach like that proved how involved she should have been. “I am pregnant. Not incompetent.”

“No one said that, Swan,” Killian muttered. David now looked a little terrified.

“That’s not how it sounded.”

Killian sighed, glancing at Eric and shouting a string of instructions they’d discussed in detail a week before. “C’mon, love,” he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and directing her back towards the short hallway between the kitchen and dining room.

Emma counted to ten, and then added five more just for good measure, waiting for David to retreat back to Mary Margaret and the cookies she really did want, before lifting her gaze to Killian. He blinked.

“It was not an active attempt to keep you out of the loop, Swan.”

“Then what was it? You’re going on vacation?”

“Leave, technically. From filming. At least for a few months.”

Emma blinked. And blinked again. And Killian blinked. And blinked again.

They both kept blinking and staring and she was a mess of hunger and hormones and the laughter lingering in the back corner of her mind because this was her life and they were going to have a kid and keep making out in front of their other kid and, really, there was no other choice except to push up on her slightly wobbly legs and press her lips to Killian’s.

He didn’t flinch, didn’t stumble, barely even took a deep breath – he just reacted. And there were probably several different reasons behind that, one of which might have been the psychic ability he’d apparently picked up at some point, but most of it was likely just because he loved her right back and wanted right back and didn’t want to miss a single damn thing.

“Swan, are you crying?” Killian asked, voice just a bit breathless and if she weren’t, in fact, crying, that would have done some seriously good things to Emma’s ego.

“No,” she lied. “I am pregnant with your kid. I get to do whatever I want while I’m making out with you. Those are the rules.”

“Those are the rules?”

“Yes.”

“When were these rules decided on?”

“Probably at a meeting I wasn’t invited to.”

He clicked his tongue, another quick kiss and his fingers were absurd, dancing over her side and across her skin and pushing into her hair until he’d cupped the back of her head and pulled her away from the wall. “That’s not what happened, love,” he whispered. “But Lucas knew you were worried about the show and the numbers and Mary Margaret did too. I don’t think any of them were expecting you to take matters into your own hand and storm the offices this afternoon.”

“Ok, there was no storming.”

“No? Gina said you looked rather determined.”

“Determined is way different from storming,” Emma said. It was getting more and more difficult to think when Killian’s fingers kept moving. There was a game playing in the background. “You’re really not going to film for a couple of months?”

Killian shrugged, eyes falling to his feet. “I was going to talk to you about it first. I just wanted to ask Gina what the schedule looked like, but uh...it’s just a thought.”

“A good one.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Emma echoed, slinging both her arms around Killian’s neck until every extra inch of her touched every single inch of him. “That’s absurdly, sweepingly romantic.”

“I don’t...I want to be there, Swan. For all of it. And I’ll still cook here, but it’ll be a little less hectic if I’m not filming all summer as well and rumor had it Zelena wanted to do some kind of special thing with all the Iron Chefs and we should probably be thinking about college, but--”

“--If you’re thinking about college already, then you’re way ahead of where I’m at. I’m still trying to decide what to name it.”

“It?”

Emma groaned, head lolling back and not hitting the wall because Killian’s hand was still there and still vaguely overprotective and her back really was starting to hurt a lot. Like. A lot. “We probably should have figured out if it was a boy or a girl,” she mumbled. “I’m kind of regretting it. They should have a name.”

“Presumably he or she will have a name eventually. I can’t imagine we’d be so irresponsible not name our own kid.”

He’d absolutely done it for the laugh he worked out of her, Emma’s smile settling on her face with practiced ease. “Henry’d pick if we didn’t.”

“You bring up a very good point, Swan.”

“You guys really weren’t plotting plans without me?”

“No, love,” Killian promised. “No plotting. Unless you count Henry trying to organize the watching schedule for the entire tournament.”

“I wasn’t, actually.”

“Then none to be had.” His right hand fell back to her waist, thumb brushing over her side and the quiet laugh he let out when the hopefully-named-pumpkin kicked in response was enough to leave Emma wiping away more tears. “You’ve got to stop crying though, Swan,” Killian muttered. “You’re making me nervous.”

“This has absolutely nothing to do with you.”

“Eh, some of it had to do with me.”

“Oh my God.”

“I love you,” he said, and he’d said it enough times in the last few years that it had almost become second-nature to hear it. The words mumbled in her ear and her hair and, more recently, reverently against the curve of her stomach, tucked against each other in the middle of their bed in the apartment they were, eventually, going to have to move out of, tiny pinpricks of light dotting his face and making his hair look even darker than it was.

And despite all of that, the promises and the certainty and the plans that they’d come up with, eight letters in that very specific order still made Emma’s pulse sputter and butterflies erupt in the pit of her stomach and she had in a way she’d never believed she ever could.

She was ridiculously happy.

“I love you too,” she whispered, tracing the tips of her fingers over the stubble on Killian’s cheek. “Just like an absurd amount.”

“Bodes well for the future.”

“Yeah, I thought so.”

“Tell Regina you’re not going to film that stupid special.”

“You want me to use those exact words?” Killian asked. He arched an eyebrow when he leaned back, ignoring the loud clomping of footsteps that could only be a slightly disgruntled and likely very hungry sixteen year old who didn’t want to walk in on anything again.

Emma nodded. “If you don’t use the word stupid to describe that special then I’m going to be really disappointed. And as a reminder, still pregnant with your kid.”

He kissed her.

And Henry saw.

“Oh my God,” he yelled, but Emma felt Killian’s smile against her own and at some point Henry had also started running his hand through his hair. “I pretty much jumped down the hallway so you knew I was here.”

“That’s suggesting it was going to make a difference,” Killian said. Henry’s whole body sagged with the force of his groan.

“Did Uncle David send you back here?” Emma asked, but Henry shook his head before the question was entirely out of her mouth. “Robin?” Another head shake. “Eric via telepathy?”

“Will,” he answered before they could circle back to Regina or another Ruby-planned intervention. “Mostly so we can toast the start of the party and the arrival of the kid that is definitely a boy and we all want to eat.”

“You want to eat.”

“Yeah.”

Emma laughed. “We all know these games aren’t actually live, right? We’re all keeping that perspective.”

“Crystal clear,” Henry nodded. “Can we eat the empanadas now?”

“I’ve still got to finish that waffle batter,” Killian said. “And whatever we came up with for Poland.”

“Perogies. That was the most obvious one.”

“C’mon, Killian,” Emma teased, pulling on his apron again and Henry gagged. “You’ve got to tone down the teenage angst, kid. Or I’m going to eat all your perogies.” He stopped groaning immediately. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Alright, we’ll toast so Will stops whining as well and then we eat some empanadas and tour the world while you explain offsides to me again.”

“It’s really not that hard, Mom.”

“Try me.”

“Deal.”

Henry, to his credit, did an admirable job of trying to explain offsides, but eventually lost interest when someone who was super famous, Mom, seriously ask Killian about him did something super crazy just outside the box and Emma, at least, knew what the goddamn box was.

There was more yelling and jumping and Leo Henry Nolan tried to climb on top of a table at one point to join in the fray – which sent several parent-type figures into several different spirals of emotion and Regina was the first one to wrap an arm around his waist, tugging him down before he could do any lasting damage to any of his limbs. And Emma ate far more perogies than she probably should have, something that felt like a fourteen-pound weight sitting in the pit of her stomach by the time Portugal beat Spain by several goals.

“Try and get some sleep,” David muttered, hours and far too many empanadas later and Emma’s beamed when she noticed the Tupperware container in her brother’s hand. “The circle of life,” he added. “Or something. And a very stubborn Iron Chef.”

“Yeah, he gets that way,” she whispered. Henry was, after all, asleep next to her, his head on her shoulder and legs twisted up underneath him in a way that reminded of her of just how far they’d come.

So she was clearly on some kind of absurd sentimental roll.

And she’d eaten so many goddamn perogies.

“You pick a name for your kid yet?” David asked, grinning when Emma rolled her eyes and he barely fit on the edge of the chair, her feet propped up in front of her.

“No, you have any idea where your kid is?”

“Yeah, asking that aforementioned incredibly stubborn Iron Chef to give him more cake because he really enjoyed the cake and Mary Margaret is getting the recipe written down.”

“Oh, you can’t just say shit like that, I’m hormonal.”

David’s grin got wider. “Henry thinks it’s a boy.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“He’s probably going to want to name him after Ronaldo.”

“That’s his name,” Emma hissed, Henry mumbling when her voice got too loud. She muttered a quick apology, pressing a kiss to her kid’s head and her other kid tried to make its presence known by possibly killing her with heartburn. “I could not for the life of me remember that guy’s name. He’s got the crazy kick.”

“He’s the best soccer player in the world, Em.”

“That’s fundamentally untrue,” Robin added, appearing out of seemingly nowhere and maybe the restaurant wasn’t as empty as Emma thought it was.

“Who are you picking then?” Emma asked. She rolled her shoulders when she felt another twinge in her back, brushing off David’s lowered eyebrows.

“If I tell you David Beckham are you going to call me a homer?”

“That would suggest I know what any of those words mean.”

“Then, yes, David Beckham. But please don’t tell Killian that.”

Emma nodded, eyelashes fluttering and she hadn’t been sleeping all that well, but it definitely had something to do with all that unwieldy and extra and she wondered if she could get Killian to just let them go upstairs and, like, sleep on the floor or something.

That absolutely would not work.

“Christian Jones,” David said, pulling Emma’s attention back and they were talking about names. Names based on reportedly famous soccer players. Names based on reportedly famous soccer players while her husband hand-wrote recipes and sent her family off with leftovers.

And, really, she should have known something was going to happen at that point.

She had, after all, done this before, but none of this was the same as it was before and Emma was comfortable and Henry was asleep and Killian came up with that cake recipe on a Saturday afternoon when it had snowed a foot and a half and the city shut down and they hadn’t left the apartment all day.

Emma came up with the ganache frosting.

She gasped when her water broke.

“Killian,” she yelled, Henry jumping up with wide eyes and mouth hanging open. The kitchen door left a dent in the wall when it slammed open, but Emma barely had time to think about that or the cost of fixing that before Killian was crouching in front of her.

“Swan,” he breathed, resting a hand on her knee, and, really laughing was not the best response, but he sounded so stunned and this was way too early and it so figured.

“We should probably call a car. And maybe the doctor.”