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A Mate by Any Other Name Would Sound as Sweet

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David Nolan likes to think of himself as a laid back, chill kind of man, no matter what his daughter may say. He is a cool dad, a fun grandpa, and a relaxed boyfriend. Well, he thought he was the last one. Now he’s not so sure. The key to being a laid back man is to not care about labels, to go with the flow so to speak. So when he and the pirate known as Captain Hook started hooking up (no pun intended), he thought they were more than just the drunken booty calls (again, no pun intended) that started their relationship. But it turns out, turning from mates to boyfriends is harder than one may think.

1

“Oh my God, that was bloody amazing.” Killian pants, catching his breath after his second round of sex with David that night. David is also trying to get his even breathing, a satisfied grin spreading across his face.

“Yeah? You weren’t so bad yourself.”

Killian snorts but is smiling dopily, “Don’t get so cocky prince. I played a pretty big part too you know.” David gives him a genuine smile and lays his head on Killian’s shoulder. He starts to play with his soft black chest hair, running his fingers up and down the pirate’s chest. Killian shivers and hums approvingly from the intimate touch as he wraps his arms around David. The prince was surprised at first to find out that Storybrooke’s resident pirate was a cuddler, but honestly can’t complain since he’s one too. That is especially true after sex.

But besides being a post sex cuddler, David also tends to think. A lot. Right now he is thinking about his and Killian’s relationship. It has been two months since the first time they did it and deemed it a mistake but continued to do it anyway. Now, they spend most of the day together and the sex they do have has become less wild and more familiar. They even went on their first real date the week before. In David’s head, he would like to think of them as in a relationship, but has no idea what his pirate would call themselves.

Sensing that Charming has what Killian has dubbed his ‘thinking face’ on, he nudges David’s shoulder. “What are you thinking about? Usually my bedmates make a different face then you do after what we just did.”

Charming snaps out of his thoughts and frowns at the man next to him. “Bedmates? Is that what we are?”

Killian looks uncomfortable and shifts in his spot. “Well I suppose so. We are mates and I am in your bed,” He turns and looks David in the eyes. “Is that fine with you?”

David turns his back to Killian but wraps the man’s arms around him. He doesn’t want Killian to see the hurt in his eyes. Of course they’re just mates. They’ve been mates since they met and they’re still mates now. What they have so far has been fine. Really it has. It’s not like Charming needs a label on their relationship right now. He is completely fine with what they have. Honestly.

“Yeah, of course it’s fine. Definitely.” If Charming isn’t as enthusiastic in his cuddling that night, Killian doesn’t say anything.

2

Storybrooke’s is a small town. Everyone knows everyone even if only by first name and nothing else. So it surprises David that Killian is not familiar with everyone in town like he is. Sure he wasn’t a part of the first curse and spent his first time in town as a ‘villain’, but he has been living in this town for a while now and to not know Geppetto is basically a crime. David is honestly pretty tempted to handcuff, lock, tie Killian up, force him to his knees and- wow his thoughts got dirty fast. But the point is, that when David mentioned Gepetto and Killian had no idea who he was talking about, David knew he had to bring him to the sweetest old man in town.

When it’s time for David to pick up the sign for the animal shelter he had the carpenter make, he decided to drag his not boyfriend along. Since they began their not a relationship, David has made it a goal to bring Killian to other places in Storybrooke that’s not the dock, the bar, or his living room couch. David understands that Killian is not exactly a people person but if he is going to spend his life here, he might as well know the town and residents.

Once they get to Geppetto’s workshop, David greets the old man with a handshake that the man readily returns.

“Good to see you again David. Here’s the sign you asked for the animal shelter.”

“Thank you Gepetto. The shelter hasn’t had a sign since the last storm and there is no one better in town to go to then you.”

“Oh thank you. It was my pleasure,” Geppetto then notices Killian standing a bit away next to the pickup. “Who is that man over there?”

Killian reluctantly takes it as his cue to come forward to meet the man. He takes out his hand to shake with the old carpenter. “Killian Jones. I’m David’s mate. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

And there’s that word again. Mate. David shouldn’t be mad. He really shouldn’t. It’s been months since their relationship started. Killian is spending most of his nights in David’s house like he practically lives there. But he has to admit, the word bugs the hell out of him. Killian has used that word flippantly since before they could call themselves friends and to use it now, especially since they are sharing each other’s bed, hurts like hell.

So David reminds himself again that it’s no big deal. Who cares if they’re only mates? He knows Killian cares about him and he hopes Killian knows how he feels. What they call each other shouldn’t matter.

“David,” The prince is brought out of his thoughts when Killian calls his name. He turns to see the carpenter and pirate stare worriedly at him, like they have called his name a dozen times already. Killian’s face is doing that thing where both his eyebrows are knit together and his eyes calculate every move David makes. “Are you alright? I thought I lost you for a minute there.”

David gives him his most Charming smile, even though that smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “Yeah I’m fine. Don’t worry. Just spaced out for a second.”

Killian gives him the ‘I know you’re talking bullshit but I’ll let it go for now’ look. David is saved from any more of Killian’s worry as Geppetto invites them in to look at some of his latest work.

And when Killian asks him later why he was so distracted, David blames it on the flu he ends up catching the next day.

3

The current record for Storybrooke being free of any evil magical creatures hell bent on revenge is 12 days, 8 hours, and 15 minutes. It has been two days since their last magical fiasco so Storeybrooke’s local gang of magical defenders is running on fumes fighting off… rock trolls. Yeah. This has become David’s life, but he has to admit it’s more exciting than herding sheep and milking cows.

Usually fighting off the monster of the day is pretty easy thanks to Emma and Regina’s magic, Snow and Robin’s bows, and David and Killian’s swords, but these rock giants are a lot trickier. For one: they are rocks. Two: they are over twelve feet tall. And three: They. Are. Rocks.

So far they were able to steer the rocks into the forest so that the town will be safe. Unfortunately, this gives the rock trolls more ammo to hit them with like tree debris and even bigger rocks.

Now David knows Killian hasn’t been the most honorable of men in the past. He was a pirate after all and although they have gotten very close and talked a lot about their past, David doesn’t know everything about him. But he does know Killian is a good person now and he knows he must have not done something so horrible to become what Regina has called ‘hook bait’. Whether they are fighting demonic pixies or frost giants, Killian gets hurt. His injuries range from minor headaches from being thrown across the floor one too many times or to breaking his ankle from being thrown across the floor another one too many times.

All David knows is that he hates it. He especially hates it when at one moment he and his not boyfriend are doing their playful banter while defeating rock giants, and the next Killian is thrown ten feet in the air and hits a tree.

David deals a last blow to the giant before running to Killian who has fallen seemingly unconscious on the ground.

“Killian!”

His voice does nothing to rouse Killian and as he nears, he sees blood gushing from a wound on his forehead. David feels for a pulse. It’s there but becoming faint. “Killian! Come on Jones. You better wake up damnit!”

Nothing. Charming rips off a piece of his shirt and wraps it around Killian’s forehead to stop the bleeding. Emma and the others are still fighting off the giants so help is not coming. David cups his hands on Killian’s face, finding comfort in the touch.

“Please Killian. Wake up you idiot. If you don’t wake up right now I’m kicking you out of my house. You don’t even pay the rent anyway you leach! How would you like that?”

Still Nothing. David feels his eyes begin to water and he can’t help the few tears that rain down his cheeks.

“Please Killian. Don’t leave,” More tears escape as he buries his head in the crook of Killian’s neck. “Don’t leave me.”

He suddenly feels movement beneath him as Killian takes in a labored breath. David sits up and elevates Killian’s head upwards when he begins to cough. David becomes panicked but is also relieved that the pirate is at least mobile and not unmoving like he was moments before. Killian’s coughs subside and he looks up at David, his brilliant blue eyes shining with mirth. “If you wanted some money, you should have told me. I have plenty of booty.”

“Killian.” David pulls Killian close to his chest, burying his face on top of his head. He isn’t ashamed of the more tears he sheds because he hasn’t felt fear this raw in a long, long time.

“Hey, shush…” Killian hushes, comforting the prince. David feels guilty for a second, thinking it should be the other way around. “I’m not leaving you mate. I’m not going anywhere.”

It isn’t until later that night in their bed, after Killian begged him to leave the hospital, which he recalls the day’s events. The panic as Killian flew into the tree. The crippling fear as Killian lay motionless. And the disappointment as he was called mate. He knew in his heart that Killian is so much more to him.

4

Prince Charming and Captain Hook are not together. They are simply two mates, who live together, who happen to have sex a lot. That’s all. So when Valentine’s Day approaches, David should feel no obligation to get Killian a gift. Why should he? They are mates, not boyfriends.

But who is he kidding. He is Prince Charming. Valentine’s Day is when he shines. Just because he feels more strongly in their so called relationship, doesn’t mean he should hide his feelings because his dumb pirate won’t admit they are together.

But he’s not a pusher either. If Killian needs their relationship to move at a slower pace, then move at a slow pace it will. So on February 14th while the rest of the people Storybrooke are having dinner in fancy restaurants, buying flowers, and declaring their undying love for one another, David and Killian spend the day inside.

Sure they had an extra round of morning sex, but the day didn’t differ much from any other day. David went to work and Killian did whatever it was he did when David was gone. When work was done they cooked dinner together, cleaned the mess, and were getting ready to settle down on the couch to unwind.

Today was different though. David could not help himself from getting a gift for the man who somehow wormed his way into his heart. Even if Killian wasn’t as invested in what they had, David knew he wouldn’t be so cruel to dismiss David’s gift. And, should he dare hope, this could be a stepping stone into something more than mates.

As Killian got the beers out of the fridge, David snuck into the bedroom to get the gift hidden on the closet shelf. When he came downstairs, Killian was already on the couch, beer in hand. Their eyes met and then the pirate’s eyes landed on the simple flat box in the prince’s hands.

“Whatcha’ got there Dave?”

“Well,” David sat down next to him, setting the box on the coffee table. “I just wanted to get you something. And today seemed like a pretty good day to do it.”

Killian raised his eyebrows and his lips twitched upward. “You got me a gift?”

David shrugged, “You could say that. It’s kind of a gift for both us actually.”

“Both of us?” This increased his attention as he grabbed the box and ripped off the wrapping paper. Then he lifted the lid and his eyes widen in surprise, taking his gift out.

“A jacket? How is this for both of us? I don’t plan on sharing Dave. You’ll stretch it out.”

David laughed and his eyes crinkled. “First, it’s a leather jacket, so you’re welcome. Second, it’s for me because now you can throw away your other one, which is old and stinks and I hate it.”

Killian put his hand over his heart and sighed dramatically. “Oh how you wound me love. I thought you loved my pirate coat. You said it was sexy.”

“Yeah, it was sexy when I didn’t have to wash it once a week and patch the seams. I pricked my fingers.”

Killian looked at him with mock concern. “So sorry love. But I have something that will make you feel better though.”

“Oh really?” Expecting Killian to jump him at any moment, David was surprised to see him leave the living room and go upstairs. When he came back down, his arms were behind his back, blocking whatever was in his hand from David’s sight.

He had his ‘I’m a little shit but I don’t care’ face on. “Now I’m sorry if you get mad but I couldn’t help myself.”

He moved his hand from behind his back and in it was a brown teddy bear with a red heart attached to it. The bear also wore a red cape with a huge brown white fur collar. It reminded him of the one had in… oh God.

“Killian! Are you serious!”

Killian was full out laughing, clutching his hand to his side. David’s face grew red with anger, but seeing how it was obviously only a joke, he began to chuckle along. “Shut up, pirate.”

“Oh man! You should see your face!” He continued to laugh and although David could take a joke, this was getting out of hand.

“Okay, okay, stop it,” He shoved Killian to the couch as his laughs began to dwindle. “I give you a leather jacket and you give me a joke.”

Killian sobered up and gave David a peck on the check. “I said I was sorry love. It was too obvious to resist. Besides, I thought you looked very cute in your princely outfit.”

David’s anger dissipated but he was still a little ticked off. “You’re such a jerk sometimes. But thanks anyway. For the bear. No matter your intentions.”

Killian hummed in agreement. “You’re welcome mate. And thank you. But I’m still keeping my old jacket.”

“Fine. But I’m not cleaning it anymore.”

They spent the rest of the night curled up on the couch, wrapped in each other’s arms. Not the most romantic of Valentines days in Charming’s opinion, but it was them. It felt natural. And although he has not left mate status, he felt like he was making progress. The teddy bear did have a heart after all.

5

Evil magical big bad of the day turned out to take a month to get rid of. After magical potions, dozens of spells, and a few true love’s kisses, Storybrooke was finally safe. For a few days at least. The gang and the town decided to celebrate their latest victory by throwing a party at the Rabbit Hole.

After a few drinks, the party livened up as people started to dance and interact with people they wouldn’t normally interact with. That meant David and Killian drifted apart, much to Killian’s disappointed since social conversation were not his strong suit.

David was having a riveting conversation with Archie of Freud’s and Erikson’s theories of development when he heard the booming laugh of his pirate across the room. He was leaning heavily against Robin Hood as they both laughed at something probably ridiculous over at the bar. There were a few bottles around, most likely empty. It was safe to assume they were drunk and David would eventually end up dragging Killian home, which was always fun.

“I think your boyfriend is drunk David.”

David turned to Archie, who was smirking, which looked weird and out of place on his normally neutral face. Maybe Killian wasn’t the only one drunk.

“Not quite but I should take him home now.”

He left his friend to approach the bar and his heart clenched at Killian’s closeness with the thief. Killian and Robin have become good friends. In fact, all three of them did. But that didn’t stop the flares of jealousy spring up whenever he saw them get too close together. He knew it was illogical of him to be jealous. Robin was taken and he and Killian were… well they were together. Neither of them would ever cheat but the fact that Killian had someone else besides him to talk to and hang out with drove him crazy sometimes.

Both men were now drinking something blue and fruity smelling. They were also laughing obnoxiously loud and David hoped Robin’s wife would take him home soon. Once Killian saw him, his laughing reduced to chuckles and his smile grew. He lifted his arms to reach out to David and pull him close.

“Hey...” He slurred, drawing out the last syllable and leaning his head on David’s shoulder. “It’s my mate! Look Robin! It’s my mate Davey. My matey Davey. I like that. Ima start saying that.”

David was annoyed that Killian got drunk but had to admit he was a cute drunk when he wasn’t completely plastered.

“No you’re not. Come on, let’s get you home. You’re drunk.”

Killian looked honestly offended. “Am not. I didn’t even finish my drink.” He lifted his blue drink up, as if proving a point. “Look! It has the color of your eyes! I told you Robin!”

Robin bobbed his head up and down. “Yes, yes you did. He did say that!”

David’s cheeks turned red as other party goers took in the amusing sight of a drunk pirate and thief talk about the color of the prince’s eyes. David helped Killian off the stool and put an arm around his waist.    

“Where we going matey Davey? Are you taking me to bed to ravish me?”

If it was possible for David to turn any redder he would have. “No Killian. You’re going to sleep.”

A whine escaped his lips. A literal whine like a cranky toddler would do. “You’re no fun mate. No fun at all. You’re a bad mate.”

David rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. I’m a bad mate.”

They were now outside the Rabbit Hole, stumbling home. David was practically dragging Killian, the pirate’s head buried in his shoulder. Killian’s happy buzz was wearing off and was replaced by drowsiness.

“I didn’t mean what I said,” Killian mumbled after a few minutes. “You’re a good mate. The best really.”

Not sure how to respond, David held him closer as they reached the front door. If he was going to stay Killian’s mate, at least he was the best.

+1

Living in the 21st century meant there wasn’t many opportunities for pirating, but that didn’t mean Killian couldn’t have a ship to call his own. Nothing would ever compare to the Jolly Roger but David knew Killian’s new ship was coming in at a close second. Not long after settling in town, Killian brought an old wooden boat. It was a few decades old, definitely needed a lot of work to be in working condition, but Killian loved it.

Whenever he had free time, he would come to the docks and spend hours working on it. He loved the feeling of being out on the sea again, the fresh water breeze ruffling his hair as he used his own hand and hook to fix whatever needed to be done. David loved to watch Killian at work. He was his best at sea, out on the water.

That’s why when David didn’t have to be at the animal shelter or the station, it was common to find him working with Killian on the boat. Occasionally Mr. Smee would join to help which David was thankful for. He knew next to nothing about boats and he liked that Killian had a friend to help who actually knew what they were doing.

Currently, it was only David and Smee on the boat while Killian left to get more supplies. Working on the boat, not having much of a clue on what he was doing, gave David a lot of time to think. Sometimes his thoughts were peaceful as he took in the calming sea air and other times they just made him sad. This was one of those sad days.

In one month it will be a full year since his and Killian’s ‘relationship’ began. David didn’t mind being mates. Mates equaled lots of sex and fun times, but was it so hard for his stupid pirate to acknowledge that they were more? Was it so difficult for Killian to just call him his boyfriend already? Did he not want a serious relationship? Was this whole year a waste of his-?

“David!”

David was abruptly aware of a small hand snapping in front of his face. He pushed Smee’s hand away and acknowledged the worried man next to him.

“I’m sorry Smee. What were you saying?”

“I was asking you to hand me that wrench but your face went blank.”

David reached for the wrench inside the tool box and handed it to the shorter man. “Sorry. I do that sometimes.”

Smee smiled and waved his hand. “No worries. Killian told me you do that. I just never saw you do it before. What were you thinking about?”

David wondered if it was a good idea to talk to Smee about his problems. So far he hasn’t told anyone about his aversion to the word mate. But his feelings on it would not go away and if he was going to talk to anyone about Killian, it might as well be the man’s closest friend.

“I was thinking… well, I was thinking on if, if Killian cares about me.”

Smee looked completely startled and the laughed. “Are you joking! Killian is crazy about you. He won’t shut up about you.”

That did make him feel a little bit better. “I’m crazy about him too but the thing is, we’re not even technically dating and we’ve been together a whole year.”

The smaller man’s face was shocked. “What do you mean you’re not dating? Did you break up?”

Now David was confused. “Break up? How could we break up when we are not even really together? I’m just his mate.”

Poor Smee looked as if someone told him the sky was brown. “Not together? You and Killian have been together for a year. I should know, like I said, he won’t shut his yap about you.”

Frustration over the past year built up inside David and he let all his anger out. “Well if he liked me so much, why am I still his mate? He keeps calling me that and is so casual about it. It’s fine with him that we’re mates but I want to be more.”

Smee stared at the prince like he was crazy and then cracked up laughing. This only made David angrier. “Why are you laughing?”

“Because you have no idea what mate means.”

“Yes I do. It means friend.”

“Well to some people. When Killian calls you mate, it means what you may call a lover. It is almost like a term of endearment.”

Well this was news. All the times he was called mate, it meant that they were together?

“Let me get this straight. When he calls me mate that means he’s calling me his boyfriend?” He asked hopefully.

Smee shrugged his shoulders as he continued his work. “Sure. Whatever keeps you happy.”

David was happy. Finally, the last year of his life made sense! They were a couple all along and he didn’t even know it.  

“Hey!” David looked down as his mate, yes his mate, walked on the boat from the deck below with supplies in hand. “Why are you smiling love? Don’t tell me Smee is stealing you away from me now. I knew I shouldn’t have left this rat with my mate all by themselves.” He joked.

Smee snorted and David could swear he heard him mumble ‘idiots’ under his breath.

David was too happy for words so he grabbed Killian’s face between his hands and kissed him. The kiss was long, and sweet as he poured every ounce of love and affection he could into it. When he pulled away, both men were smiling deliriously.

“No, mate. I’m yours. All yours.”

Killian’s smile widened so far, David was concerned he might split his face. “Thank God. I was beginning to believe you were never going to say it back love.”

“Are you kidding? It’s my favorite word.”