It's December 3rd, exactly 5 days since Emma found out she's pregnant, and she still hasn't told Killian.
Every time she opens her mouth to tell him, something stops her, some jolt of fear that shoots up her throat and strangles her vocal cords, forcing her to choke the words back down.
There haven't been many good opportunities to bring it up, things being incredibly hectic with their jobs and school and getting Henry back to college and with hockey season being in full swing—hell, their weekly Monday night "date night" got cancelled because Ian forgot to tell them he had homework over Thanksgiving break, so they had to spend the evening at the kitchen table supervising him do the two math worksheets and the book report that Ian's teacher was kind enough to provide additional copies of to replace the ones Ian "lost".
But none of that is really an excuse.
The only real reason Emma can't bring herself to tell Killian is because she's not ready for Killian's reaction, and she's not ready for how her announcement might change things.
Part of her feels like things have been going really great for the past 3 months and that this...this might ruin it.
Because they're just...not ready. It's not the right time. Like, at all. And Emma honestly doesn't know if Killian even wants more kids. They've never exactly discussed it—or gotten anywhere remotely near the subject.
Sometimes, she catches herself thinking about going back in time, stopping this pregnancy from happening in the first place...but even while her brain tells her it would probably be better if this baby didn't exist, her heart rebels at the thought.
Emma doesn't know who this baby is yet, but she's already in love with it, and despite how pissed she is at herself for getting pregnant while the Final Battle looms in her very near future, she can't bear to wish away the life growing inside of her, the life that's part her and part Killian, the life that's Ian and Henry's little brother or sister.
She just doesn't have it in her.
So, she's currently suffering in silence while she both wraps her mind around the fact that she and Killian are about to have a baby and tries to work up the courage to tell him that they're about to have a baby.
The morning sickness has been difficult to hide, but she's managed so far; she's careful not to mention how tired she feels and she avoids the foods that trigger her nausea—unfortunately, that seems to currently be most foods. Chicken and raw eggs, two foods she didn't even notice had smells before, now make her vomit on sight; anything fried or buttery makes her cringe; and on Sunday night she cooked real hot chocolate on the stove for her and Ian, and the blended scents of the cocoa and the cinnamon gagged her.
Luckily Ian was watching hockey in the den and didn't witness her puking in the kitchen sink.
Maybe its punishment, Emma thinks, as she sits at her desk in the otherwise empty station with her face in her hands.
Maybe the baby's torturing her for not telling its dad about them yet. Maybe once she tells Killian she'll be able to keep something besides Saltines in her stomach.
Or maybe you'll pass out from malnourishment first and the doctor can tell Killian you're pregnant.
Emma sighs into her palms.
She has not been eating enough these past few days. Her head hurts and her joints ache and she thinks she actually lost weight since Thursday.
She knows it's not just the nausea that's twisting her up inside and killing her appetite. It's anxiety, the sheer burden of a secret that grows heavier by the minute.
Today, she tells herself. I'll do it today.
But she's been saying that for five days so she doesn't really even believe herself at this point.
Plus, Ian has hockey and then they're buying a Christmas tree and then they'll probably watch whatever Christmas movie is on TV and then it's bath time and bedtime and after that it's only a matter of a few hours before Ian has another nightmare so will Emma even have time to tell Killian that she's pregnant?
Fuck, someone needs to slap her—she'd slap herself but she doesn't have the energy for it.
Emma startles and pulls her hands away from her face. Something drops onto her desk, scattering her papers, and someone drops into the chair beside her desk that's usually reserved for the criminals she's writing up or the witnesses she's interviewing.
The someone is Will, and the something is a family size bag of pretzels.
"Howdy?" she asks, ignoring, for the moment, the pretzels.
Will grins. "It's what people say here, isn't it?"
"Here meaning where? The Wild West?"
"No, I meant...here." He waves his hand vaguely in the air, and Emma assumes he means Storybrooke.
"This is Maine," she states dryly. "No one here says 'howdy'." She glances at the pretzels, decides she doesn't want to know yet, so instead she asks, "Where'd you pick 'howdy' up from?"
"There was a movie marathon on TV last night, all starring this bloke Clint Eastwood."
"Ah," she says, as though that explains it. She supposes it does explain it; she's never actually seen a Clint Eastwood movie, and while she can't picture him saying "Howdy!" in a cutesy cowboy drawl, she imagines other people in the movie probably say it. "So, how was babysitting?"
Will was released by Emma and Killian from babysitting duty last night only to be immediately drafted into service by Robin and Regina.
"It was fine," Will says.
"Is he...how's he getting along with Regina? Any better?"
Will shrugs evasively, but it's answer enough for Emma to understand that there's been no change.
It's fitting, she thinks, that after a decade of mistreating Henry Regina's now facing a 9-year-old that's not particularly pleased with her presence in either his or his dad's life. It was surprising to see easygoing Roland give Regina the cold shoulder—the most devastating rejection Roland's sweet little soul is capable of—but it makes sense that he's having a tougher time adjusting now than he did when he was 3.
Emma told Regina to give Roland time, to be patient. She didn't say "be yourself" because she's truthfully terrified of what that would entail, so instead she advised, "Let him see that you're a good person and that you love Robin and that all you want is for the three of you to be happy together. Show him you're not a threat and that you're not trying to take his dad away from him."
That was one of three interactions Emma's had with Regina since Regina brought over apology ice cream when Ian had his allergic reaction. She tries to keep things brief with Regina, and it's worked out fairly well so far—at least, Regina hasn't reverted to hating Emma yet.
(Or remembered the real reason she ever hated Emma in the first place.)
Thinking about Henry reminds Emma of how much it sucked sending him back to Boston on Sunday even though she knows he'll be home again in 2 weeks, so to prevent her thoughts from straying down that painful path she turns to the enormous bag of Rold Gold occupying her desk.
"So, what's going on with these pretzels?" she asks.
"Oh, I brought you this too." Will lifts a hand away from his lap, revealing a paper coffee cup with a piece of string and a little paper tag dangling from the lid.
"What is that?"
"Killian dropped by the ship this morning and said you weren't feeling well."
"Killian sent you?"
A flutter of fear in her chest. Does he know?
"No," Will says gently, as if answering her thoughts directly. "He just said he thought you might be getting sick again, and, well...yea."
He looks away and shifts in his chair.
Emma gets it: Will knows why Emma's not feeling well and he also knows that Killian doesn't know why, and he cares about her enough to risk overstepping in order to ensure she's not about to drop dead.
It's a touching gesture that Emma can acknowledge even while she's still pretty annoyed at him for teaching her kid how to pickpocket.
(Despite a stern talking to on the matter, Ian continues to practice when he thinks no one's paying attention. He's not even doing it for profit, he's just doing it for fun, because whatever he takes he always leaves where the owner will find it or he returns it a smile and a, "Here, you dropped this!")
(Emma's just waiting for the day her little pirate works up the confidence to try it on her or Killian.)
She takes the cup Will offers her. "Thank you," she says quietly, and even though she hates tea she takes a sip. It's awful but it's hot, which is nice, and if she swallows quickly she only barely tastes it.
"Alice used to drink it," Will says, hesitantly. "She said it helped the nausea."
Emma takes a giant, guilt-filled swallow of tea and tries to look like she enjoys it, then she rips open the bag of Rold Gold.
"Did Alice eat pretzels too?" she asks. The pretzels taste fine, thank God. She stuffs a handful in her mouth, then washes it down with another sip of the tea—and, surprisingly, it stays down.
Will smiles sheepishly. "No, Alice ate some sort of bread that Cyrus made for her. For two weeks it was the only thing she could eat. I couldn't remember what it's called but I didn't think you'd appreciate me asking around the grocery store for 'pregnancy bread'."
Emma returns his smile. "I do appreciate that, yea. And the pretzels are perfect. Thank you."
Something happens to Will when he talks about Alice. It's as if the wall he built around his heart cracks a bit every time he says her name, and through the crack escapes some light, and Will glows with it.
Emma knows what it's like to lose your family then get shuffled around from place to place until there's no one left who wants you and you're just alone. That was her life growing up, moving from group home to group home, occasional stints in foster homes that always ended horribly. She doesn't want that to happen to Will. She doesn't want him to fall to the wayside and get lost. She and Killian have to hold onto him.
"Well," Will says, slapping his thighs, "I have to go. Someone is making me prep the bar all by meself today because someone wants to spend the evening with his family desecrating trees."
"We're decorating a tree, not desecrating it."
"Same difference, if you ask me."
Emma rolls her eyes. "We'll make it up to you."
"I take cash, checks, or credit cards."
Emma resists asking, "Where do I swipe?" because she knows what his answer would be.
He grins toothily at her in farewell, then stands and straightens his jacket. Before he can step away, however, Emma says, "Hey, Will?"
"Did Alice have a boy or a girl?"
Will smiles, and more light seeps through. "I heard she had a girl."
Emma nods and sips her tea. She listens to Will's footsteps receding as he passes out of the office and into the lobby, and when she hears the front door open, she lets out a shaky breath.
She did some rough estimating and figured that she's around 7 or 8 weeks pregnant.
(Which means the baby is currently either the size of a blueberry or a raspberry, depending.)
Her symptoms line up with that time frame, not just with what all the websites say but with her previous experiences.
Only she thinks the morning sickness is way worse this time around. She only recalls being a tiny bit nauseous with Henry and Ian, and only ever in the actual morning as opposed to all the fucking time.
She's always heard that there are ways of telling if you're having a boy or a girl besides playing genital "I Spy" on an ultrasound, something about the shape and size of your belly or if you're carrying high or low, your cravings, how dark your nipples get, the baby's heart rate...
Could her ridiculous nausea be a sign that this pregnancy is different than the other two because this time she's not carrying a boy?
Totally uninvited, an image of a little girl with Killian's blue eyes and dark hair flashes across her mind. She looks more like Emma than Ian does but she's got the same smirk.
Emma shoves the thought away so hard she physically flinches.
There she goes again, letting herself daydream, letting herself pretend they're not in mortal peril, letting herself pretend this pregnancy is good news.
(She almost laughs at the memory of the way she pressed Killian's hand to her belly while he slept. She let herself feel safe, and that was a huge mistake.)
(This baby is not safe.)
She grips the edge of the desk with her free hand to keep it from falling to her belly and looks up at the clock.
It's a little after 3. In one hour she's going to go home, have a snack with Killian and Ian, and then they're going to take Ian to the rink for his 5:30 practice. Afterwards they're going into town to get a Christmas tree. Ian will go to bed at 9 because it's a school night, and when Ian's in bed Emma will tell Killian she's pregnant. The timing doesn't matter at this point, she just...she has to do it.
Her stomach flip-flops nervously, but the half pound of pretzels she's ingested miraculously stay put.
Apparently, Will was right about that ginger tea thing.
Emma rehearses what she'll say to Killian the entire rest of her shift, during the drive home, while she pretends to eat the apples and peanut butter Killian prepared for the three of them to snack on, and while she and Killian are sitting in the bleachers at the rink alongside all the other parents watching their kid do more falling than actual ice skating.
Okay, rehearsing is a strong word. Emma's not so much rehearsing as she is babbling incoherently in her own mind.
Her anxiety twists every scenario into a worst-case scenario, until she's imagined a thousand disappointed and angry Killians, a thousand Killians rejecting her and the baby.
Rationally, she knows it's way overdramatic and definitely not how things will play out; she knows it's just a defense mechanism, that her brain is tired and stressed and that she's been let down too many times in her life and also that she's barely come to terms with her own feelings and is therefore not at all ready to deal with Killian's feelings.
But she also can't stop the shitstorm inside her own head.
She presses close to Killian on the bench, micro-adjusting until every inch of her that can possibly touch him right now is touching him and she can feel his body heat on her skin even through all their combined layers of clothing.
"Are you cold, love?" he asks.
"I'm fine," she answers, even as she loops both of her arms around one of Killian's and hugs it tight. "How was Ian before I got home?"
"He napped for a bit but it didn't last long," Killian says quietly
"He had a nightmare while he napped?"
"Same thing, Swan."
The black feather lady.
Emma shivers, a reaction that has nothing to do with the arctic temperature of the rink.
All anyone can tell her about the Final Battle is that she's apparently part of some prophecy Rumplestiltskin told to her parents that mentions it.
The child will find you, and the Final Battle will begin.
Not exactly a lot of information to go on there.
Emma tried pointing out multiple times that technically the prophecy doesn't mention the Black Fairy, but the other fairies insist that they have their own prophecies that identify the Black Fairy's return to power as the Final Battle—prophecies they're refusing to share.
Emma suspects their prophecies contain additional information, information that alludes to her role in the Final Battle, because otherwise there'd be no reason to keep them a secret from her or for them to be so adamant that she has a part to play, since Rumplestiltskin's prophecy only states that the Final Battle will begin, not that Emma has to actually fight in it.
It is what it is.
No matter what they know the Black Fairy's coming, and no matter what Emma knows she's going to have to fight her, whether it's this big Final Battle thing or not because she's the Savior and she has light magic, blah blah blah.
And you're pregnant, Emma. Good job.
A tremor starts in her hands and travels up her arms. Killian's heard jerks sharply in her direction when he notices her shaking, and for a moment fear pounds in her chest like a second heartbeat, but he only sloughs off his jacket and places both it and his arm around her shoulders.
Fewer kids tried out for hockey than signed up for soccer. Emma thinks the cost of ice time and the cost of the equipment probably turned a lot of parents away. As it is, there are just enough players for the coaches to shuffle around into two teams every Saturday morning for a scrimmage.
It's not the same sort of experience Ian would have gotten in Boston, but it's going to have to be enough.
And honestly Emma doesn't think Ian's even aware that he's missing out on anything. He's just happy to be living his lifelong dream, zooming around the ice with an energy that contradicts the week of sleepless nights he's been having.
Practice lasts an hour, and then the shifts change, the younger kids file out, as awkward on the rubber floor mats as they are on the ice, and the older kids pile in, slightly more steady, their voices a bit deeper, louder, and more rowdy.
Emma and Killian stand to follow the flood of parents off of the bleachers and into the locker room.
The moment Emma rises a wave of dizziness hits her, an awful sensation of all the blood draining from her body. Her vision goes speckled and black around the edges and her knees buckle. She staggers, but Killian's hook catches her around the arm and keeps her upright.
"Emma?" His hand appears on her hip, steadying her further.
"I'm okay," she says automatically, blinking away the blurriness. "I just stood up too fast."
Killian's hand stays on her hip until they finish sidling along the bench and reach the stairs. Emma stays ahead of him and avoids his eyes, lest he see the lie in hers.
Ian's waiting for them in the locker room, sitting near his bag with his gloves off—the only thing he's capable of removing on his own.
"Hey, kid," she greets him. "You looked pretty good out there tonight."
Ian preens, and while Killian starts removing his helmet, Emma kneels down to untie his skates.
And nearly throws up.
The dizziness faded but nausea settled in its place. Emma swallows hard and holds her breath.
Not here, not now.
She forces herself to focus on loosening the knots Killian tied in Ian's laces, because of course Killian tied some sort of infernal sailor's knot in his son's ice skates.
A familiar feeling of mixed amusement and annoyance fills her. It's comical because it's 100% Killian to be that stereotypically a pirate dad, but it's frustrating because she can't figure out how to undo the damned knots and she's pretty sure Killian knows this and is watching and grinning behind her back, waiting for her to ask him what the trick is.
Over her head, Ian chatters away while Killian strips him of his jersey and all his protective gear from the waist up.
"Did you see me do a slapshot?"
Emma glances up. Ian's hair is sweaty all the way through and dark gold, plastered to his skin in some places and sticking up in others.
"Aye, lad, I did. Very impressive," Killian responds, as attentive to their son as ever.
Emma's grateful for this on two levels: One, it's keeping Killian from noticing her about to puke in the hockey bag he just tossed some sweaty elbow pads into, and two, this is the guy she's about to have another kid with, this guy that relishes every moment of fatherhood.
Killian's not going to be angry when she tells him she's pregnant. He'll be as scared shitless as she is, but he won't hate her and he definitely won't reject the baby—her brain needs to chill the fuck out and stop imagining otherwise.
Emma finishes unraveling Killian's knots (all by herself, thank you very much) and tugs Ian's skates off, one and then the other.
"Alright, kid," she says. "Stand up and untie your shorts."
Ian hops off the bench. "I didn't fall down as many times today either!" he proclaims proudly. "Not even when I did the slapshot."
"Oh?" Killian prompts.
"Yea! I only fell down 8 times. On Tuesday I fell down 10 times. I'm getting better!"
"It must be all that practice."
(Sarah Fisher, whose powers have flourished since it snowed on Thanksgiving, froze a portion of their backyard into a mini skating rink that Ian's practically been living on all week.)
Once Ian's padded pants are off he has to sit back down so Emma and Killian can get the socks and his shin guards off, and after that Ian peels himself out of his sweaty under-layers and trades them his balled-up shirt and jock shorts for a clean change of clothes.
Emma stuffs the damp wad of clothes into the bag, then turns to Ian.
"Is your water bottle in there?" she asks. The other day he left it on the ice and didn't realize it until they were halfway home.
"Yea," Ian says, nodding for emphasis as he tugs his t-shirt over his head.
"How about your mouth guard"
"Is it in its case or is it just...in there?"
Killian snorts, and just for that Emma decides he can be the one to fish out Ian's mouth guard later and clean it.
Main Street has been transformed into a winter wonderland.
The moment the Fall Carnival came down on Sunday night the Christmas decorations went up. There are garlands of evergreen suspended above the street, every building and tree and pole is strung with lights, every door wears a wreath or a red bow, and the roofs are frosted in a layer of snow provided by Sarah.
Just down the block from Granny's and the Crow's Nest, on the side street in between the library and the Chop Shop, is a public skating rink, and the parking lot next to Gold's Pawn Shop is now a Christmas tree lot, which is where Emma, Killian, and Ian are currently headed.
There was a lengthy debate on whether their family Christmas tree should be bought now or in two weeks when Henry returns.
Emma didn't want to get it without Henry, but Ian didn't want to wait; Killian refused to offer an opinion, and in the end Henry reasoned that they always put their tree up as soon as possible and that it would be a waste of valuable tree-time if they didn't get one right away.
So they're getting one tonight.
Emma's compromise—for Henry's sake—was to declare that they would put the tree up and put the lights on it, but the ornaments stay off until Henry's home.
Ian agreed readily, likely because the only reason he wants the tree in the first place is for Emma to start putting presents under it. The joke's on him though, because Emma hasn't even started her Christmas shopping yet.
They find a parking spot near Gold's but spend three whole minutes stuck in the car arguing with Ian about his hat.
("I don't need it!"
"Yes, you do."
"Because it's cold outside and your hair's wet."
"Ian, you're not getting out of this car without it. So either put it on or me and your dad are going to go pick out a Christmas tree without you.")
By the time they finally make it to the Christmas tree lot, the first flakes of the winter storm that was promised are already drifting down from the sky.
"We're supposed to get a foot tonight," Killian says, tilting his face upwards.
"Yea, I heard." Emma looks up too.
It hasn't snowed all week, not since Thanksgiving when they got a full 2 inches. The storm isn't supposed to happen for another few hours, and still visible through the heavy gray clouds hanging overhead are patches of pitch black sky.
"We should probably pick a tree pretty fast," she advises. She wants to be at home in her pajamas by the time the real snow starts.
"I hope we don't have school tomorrow," Ian says, grinning savagely at the snowflakes floating in the air.
"I don't know, kid. Even if we do get a full foot, Ms. Sarah is basically a magical human snow plow. I'm pretty sure you're gonna have school."
Ian halts and frowns in contemplation. "Can Ms. Sarah make it snow more?"
"Probably," Emma responds slowly, already not enjoying where this is heading—she enjoys it even less when Ian doesn't reply to her statement and instead his frown deepens. Needing to divert him from whatever he's plotting, Emma gives him a gentle push towards the tree lot. "Why don't you go ahead and find us a tree?"
"Can we get a big one?" Ian asks over his shoulder.
"Like a really big one?"
"My only requirement is that it actually fits in the house."
Ian nods and trots away, the little pom-pom on top of his hat jiggling cheerfully. Emma smiles at the sight. Ian may hate the wool ear-flap hat she bought him, but she loves it.
With Ian gone, Killian fills the gap between them, slipping his hand into hers, his skin warm but the metal of his rings cold pinpricks against her fingers.
"I didn't get a chance to ask how your day was," he says, voice low and intimate.
"It was fine," Emma huffs. "Lots of paperwork. How was yours?" Her stomach both clenches and writhes at the same time, a reminder of the secret she's carrying.
"Lots of paperwork," Killian agrees with a grin, then adds, "Oh, I saw your father today."
"Aye. He was at Granny's when Ian and I went there for a hot chocolate after school. He introduced us to the deputies he's training."
Emma was alone at the station all day because David had their three new deputies out on patrol, showing them the ropes. It's two men and a woman, all in their early twenties but all sharp-minded (according to their entrance exams) and eager to learn.
"Did my dad also happen to tell you he's thinking about buying a farm?" she asks.
Emma finds herself giggling at his incredulous tone, and the jittery feeling that's been travelling upwards from her stomach towards her throat halts. "Yea."
Killian tugs her hand, forcing her to stop.
"Are you having me on, Swan?" he asks, head tilted, one eyebrow raised.
"Nope," she says.
They smile at each other. Emma's about to elaborate when she notices the tiny snowflakes caught in Killian's lashes and standing out like diamonds in his black hair. The moment suddenly feels as delicate as those snowflakes, and Emma realizes that this is the moment. It's unplanned and it's not perfect but that's sort of them.
The butterflies in her gut go still and before she can change her mind, before the same fear that's stopped her thus far can stop her again, Emma says, "Killian, I'm-"
"WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!"
Leroy speeds past, knocking Emma's shoulder as he does and sending her stumbling into Killian. His arms lock around her, holding her steady and shielding her as several more people sprint by, buffeting them on either side.
"Alright," Killian says. "That's a new one."
Emma turns. Everyone within sight is motionless, looking around wildly for the source of Leroy's panic, and it takes Emma a few heartbeats to spot what Killian's staring at with a gaping mouth.
Down the street, skittering towards them on spindly black legs the length of telephone poles, is a giant tarantula.
"EVIL SPIDER!" Leroy bellows, his voice growing fainter by the second. "RUN!"