It was impossible not to notice the way his alternate self watched Emma. Killian had always been very aware of the men who were drawn to his true love, other versions of himself included. He’d never been possessive of her - she was never some trinket and certainly could make her own choices. But there had always been some underlying current of attentiveness that coursed through him, most obviously when another Killian Jones was in the picture.
Because if there was one thing he had come to understand in his mind boggling journey with Emma Swan, she loved Killian Jones. Every part and every version of him.
Detective Rogers was no exception.
For it was another impossibility that the deaged version of himself from the Wish Realm wouldn’t end up in their lives. It had been strange at first, having a second Killian around Storybrooke at all times. Trying to a degree. But it had been all too obvious very quickly that Rogers didn’t have many people in his life he could consider close. And who could one be closer with than his own self?
They weren’t identical. Not even remotely. For one, Rogers had lived well beyond Killian’s Cora-cursed years. He’d had a daughter of his own, now grown and with her own true love. He’d gone through the hell of a poisoned heart, a curse Killian couldn’t even begin to fathom now that Hope was in his and Emma’s lives. Not to mention the giving up on rum…
And yet, down to their core they were kindred spirits. Shared the same past, were taken under by the same vices, and ultimately were driven by the same motivations and forces. Revenge, loyalty, stubbornness… love.
Perhaps it was Killian’s journey with Emma or perhaps it was because he was finally confident and comfortable with his life, within his own skin, as a married man and now father. But the attentiveness he now had towards Rogers with Emma hadn’t given way to the usual jealousy all other versions of himself had provoked in the past.
It had given way to understanding.
“A marvel, isn’t she?” Killian murmured as he lightly rubbed Hope’s back with his blunted wrist, Emma having just handed her off post-feeding to go change. He was seated in the kitchen, where the three adults had been eating dinner before Hope had cried out in hunger, eyeing his doppelganger across the table.
“What?” Rogers’ head whipped around from where he had been staring at Emma trail up the stairs, startled. Blue eyes identical to Killian’s went slightly wide.
Killian nodded his head in the direction his wife had gone. “Emma…” His eyebrow raised up knowingly, but Hope chose that moment to finally spit up and and he carefully adjusted her over to the other side and shrugged the dirty towel onto the tabletop. When he was certain she was settled in comfortably against his left shoulder, he returned his attention to Rogers. The man looked like some prey being cornered by a predator. “Bloody brilliant, she is.”
“Aye,” A red hue broke out over Rogers’ cheeks and he dropped his gaze to the table. “She… I’m...” He winced and shook his head, the shame in his voice matching his chastised look. “Mate, I’m sorry.” He looked up again, eyes now expressly apologetic. “I have no place to… I mean… she’s not… Emma is your true love-”
“Aye,” Killian repeated the same affirmation, effectively cutting off Rogers’ rambling. “She is.” He gave a nod. “And if there is anything my harrowing adventures these past several years have taught me,” He paused a moment as Rogers watched nervously. Killian shrugged the shoulder Hope wasn’t sleeping against and offered a soft, knowing smile. “Captain Killian Jones is unquestionably drawn to Emma Swan.”
“So you wanna tell me what happened?”
Killian paused while exiting the still slightly steamy bathroom, his hand stopping the towel he was brushing through his damp hair. He took in his wife lounging on the bed. She was on her side, head propped up in her hand with the baby monitor resting next to her, eying him expectantly.
“What happened with what?” He questioned back. He had an inkling he knew what she was referring to, but wanted to be sure they were about to broach a particular subject before he admitted to anything. He draped the towel over the edge of the hamper and moved over to his nightstand. He could feel Emma’s slightly exasperated gaze on him as he maneuvered his wedding ring back onto his right ring finger.
“You know exactly what…” Emma shifted over towards his end of the bed, tucking the monitor against her side as she went, to try and catch his attention. It worked, Killian’s eyes drifting over to her slowly. “Or more like who I’m talking about. What did you say to Rogers tonight?”
“What makes you say-”
Emma rolled her eyes. “Killian, he barely got out an awkward goodbye before he booked it the hell out of here after I came back downstairs. Please don’t tell me you let your silly jealous side out tonight…” She whined as she flopped back against the pillows. “You know with Alice moving in with Robin, Rogers doesn’t have a lot of people to really spend time with and it’s not his fault that-”
Placing a gentle hand over her mouth to quit her unnecessary speech, Killian gave Emma a patient look. “I know, darling. I assure you my ‘silly jealous side’ was not in play tonight.” She made a face behind his hand and he raised an eyebrow challengingly. “Are you doubting my honor?”
She rolled her eyes again and pushed his hand from her mouth. “No, of course I’m not.” Killian eyed her a moment then stepped back to pull his side of the covers down. “At least, I’m not doubting your sincere intentions.” Killian paused to give her a slightly affronted look. “Babe, you know what I mean.” She whined again as Killian returned to climbing in bed beside her. “I know you.”
Killian nodded as he settled back against the pillows and headboard. “Aye, I know me too. I know how I feel about you, Swan.” He turned his head to give her a serious look. “That’s what happened tonight.”
Understanding shifted the look on Emma’s face immediately and she bit her lip as she glanced down at the top of the comforter.
“So I’m right in assuming you’ve noticed the way Rogers looks at you?”
“Yeah…” Emma sighed awkwardly. Then her face grew wistful, and her tone matched as her words continued. “Reminds me of a pirate after saving Henry from Neverland.”
“My point exactly, Emma.” Killian leaned in closer to her as her green eyes glanced upwards at him. “Only this time, there won’t be some quiet moment outside of Granny’s where what he has so agonizingly been hoping for comes to pass. There’s no happy ending for him.” He stopped as a gurgle comes over the baby monitor.
They both looked down at it, waiting to see if Hope was waking or simply making noise in her sleep. When it became clear it was the latter, Killian continued talking again.
“He has his daughter,” He murmured softly, still looking at the device. “An important piece to the puzzle of his life, without question.” Tears were stinging in his eyes, and he didn’t feel it right to wipe them away, as he returned his focus to Emma. His heart felt lighter instantly seeing her eyes were watery too. Not for her pain, but for the understanding and connection they always shared. It compelled him to keep going.
“And you know I would do anything I had to for Hope. Nothing could ever stop me from giving her my very best,” The conviction in his voice made Emma smile despite the serious moment. “But even the very thought of trying to get through this life without you at my side destroys me. Has quite literally destroyed me in the past, come to think of it.”
Killian smiled slightly as she shoved at him, lightening the mood a little. He looked slightly guilty as the moment passed. “I didn’t mean to make him feel uncomfortable tonight. I was merely expressing an understanding and…” He shook his head and reached over to take her left hand in his, letting his thumb brush over the two rings there. “Hurting for something he can never have.”
Pulling her hand from his, Emma carded her fingers up through his still-damp hair and then brought them to rest on the back of his neck. She pushed herself up and pressed her forehead to his. Killian’s eyes fluttered closed, tears dropping down his cheeks, as she kissed him softly.
“I wish it didn’t have to be this way.” He mumbled after a quiet moment passed between them.
Emma pulled back and offered him a sad smile. “Me too, babe.”
It turned out, they weren’t the only ones who wished things were different.
“My papa likes you.”
Killian instinctively reached out to steady Emma as she almost fell off the edge of his desk at the station at the sudden intrusion of Alice Jones in her personal space.
Before Emma could get out whatever expletive he knew was likely coming, Alice continued on while throwing herself into the chair a desk over.
“But he can’t have you because of the other him,” She waved her hand at Killian this time. “Which is you. And I know he’s sad and alone. Not sad and alone like he was, of course, because we can be together now, but not like together like before because I’ve got Robin and… He’s not unhappy, mind you… he’s just not what he could be. Should be. He’s not…” This time Alice waved her hand to indicate both of them with a frustrated huff before collapsing back against her seat again and crossing her arms like she was five.
Emma glanced over at Killian, who still had his hand on her back. They shared a look before glancing at Rogers’ daughter.
“Good morning, Alice.” Killian offered at the same time Emma said ‘Been in the coffee again, huh?’. He gave her a slight pinch at the sass, causing her to swing back and slap him unseeing on the shoulder.
Alice sprung forward in her seat again, holding out her hands towards them. “This is what I mean. You have each other, like Robin and I have, and,” She pushed up from her seat and paced across the floor, tapping her fingers on her lips. “My papa never really had… I mean, there was the Milah lady…”
Killian instinctively tensed at the name and this time Emma’s hand reached around and squeezed at his hand still on her back.
Oblivious to the moment, clearly lost in her thoughts, Alice kept rambling. “I just… I want him to be the very best he can be. I wish-” She seemed to lose steam suddenly and both Killian and Emma started to move to provide whatever support the girl needed. But then she jolted just as suddenly, head snapping up and eyes wide. “I wish!”
“Alice…” Emma’s voice was hesitant, almost warning. “You don’t wanna-”
Grinning, Alice practically skipped past them. “Thanks for the chat, favorite not-mama and not-papa!” As quickly as she had appeared before them, she was gone from the station.
Emma immediately started to go after her. “Alice, wait!”
But Killian was just as quick to grab a hold of her wrist and gently pull her to a stop. “Hold up, darling.” He said slowly, his mind working through the scenario he was sure was about to play out. “Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hasty.”
Green eyes flashed sharply. “You can’t be serious, Killian?! We can’t let her use magic to-”
“To make something come to pass?” Killian finished with an eyebrow raise. “And what if someone had stopped Neverland’s magic from keeping me alive for centuries? Or the tree’s magic from sending you to this world?” Emma slouched, her lips pursing and arms crossing as she caught on to what he was implying.
Still, Killian continued. “Or Cora’s magic from once again keeping me from aging? Or the hatter’s portal from dropping you in the Enchanted Forest?”
“Or two enchanted cuffs that helped us climb a beanstalk.” Emma nodded petulantly. “Yeah, I get it, Hook.”
Ignoring her obvious annoyed jab, Killian stepped in closer to her. He brought his fingers up to brush under her chin. The childish look she fluttered up through her lashes at him only warmed his heart more.
“Magic has always played its part, my love. I think we need simply need to step back, let it and a little…” He pressed a small kiss to her nose. “ Hope run its due course.”
Emma rolled her eyes at what he was making quite clear, but still reached up and tugged on the collar of his jacket playfully. “You’re awfully fucking persuasive, you know that pirate?”
Grinning cheekily, Killian scrunched up his nose slightly. “I know.”
With a grin herself, Emma pressed up on her toes and smacked a quick peck on his lips. Then her look grew serious once again as she settled back to the floor. “This is gonna be big damn trouble for everyone, though.”
“Aye, well…” Killian squinted and glanced over her shoulder thoughtfully. “It wouldn’t be us if it was easy. ”