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just a ride

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Having a teacher mom sometimes was cool. Teacher moms always knew what to say, how to break a stupid argument, helped out with homework and sometimes even managed to call in favors from her colleagues to help her out in case she needed it (a missing book, a tip for an approaching test, you named it.)

It didn’t rock so much when she dragged you to weekend field trips along with her homeroom - apparently some kid in her class got mono two days before the date was due and Mary Margaret Nolan wasn’t willing to see the already purchased tickets to waste. Emma had been the unlucky student who Mary Margaret had picked to join the senior class, and that was it.

Who cared if she didn’t even attend her mom’s high school, anyway, right? Or at least that’s what her parents had said, shrugging as if it wasn’t a big deal - ‘my boss doesn’t mind, she told me to go ahead, honey,’ - and consequently acting as if it actually wasn’t a big deal.

Which only made Emma consider it a big deal. It was like some psychological knee-jerk reaction of hers, really.

That translated to Emma Swan, 17, trying to curl herself into a ball as much as possible in the school bus seat for the entire five hour ride until they got to New York. She could already feel a crick in her neck, but whatever, right?

You know what else didn’t rock about your mom being a teacher?

Her constant need to tell her through the years what guys in her class were suitable for her daughter. Emma had had about enough with it, already.

Needless to say, even if Emma never attended the school where Mary Margaret worked - she had planted her feet before she started freshman year and they gave her the choice to either go to Storybrooke High or Central - she knew of most of its male population. Mary Margaret Nolan was nothing but insistent - or subtle, as countless walks around town tugging on her daughter’s sleeve and loudly whispering in her ear ‘ISN’T HE CUTE?’ whenever any of her candidates showed up in the vicinity had proved.

Ruby found it hilarious. Emma, not so much.

Since slipping inside the bus trying to look as inconspicuous as she could, she had counted some of the familiar faces in her head. Mary Margaret had even gone as far as using the pictures for her class list as a way to persuade Emma into considering some of them as potential suitors - ‘I know he is not really photogenic, but he’s very sweet!’ ‘I thought you liked the - how did Ruby call it? ‘McScruff’?’ ‘He wore this shirt to class the other day. I thought it was funny.’

There was Neal Cassidy, one of her mom’s favorites. Emma found him cute enough, she guessed, if she were into the whole hobo look thing he got going. Or the ‘if you marry him you’ll own the entire town’ thing, with him being Mr. Gold’s son and all.

There was Walsh Green, the guy who helped at the furniture store in Main Street and coincidentally had delivered a coffee table to her place the year before. Once he had gotten a glimpse of Emma in the kitchen, he had been so startled, he dropped the box he was carrying on his feet. Mary Margaret claimed he was sweet. Emma shrugged, not really sold. Her father muttered something about the boy resembling a monkey.

To this day Emma still had no idea why her mother even considered the idea of Jefferson Hatter dating her daughter. The guy was known for his outbursts during his classes, or mad giggling here and there. Mary Margaret had argued that once past his issues, he was pretty fine. Emma suspected if her mom knew about the pot dealing, she wouldn’t have even brought him up.

More names had flown by through the years, like August W. Booth’s, who insisted on giving his middle initial as if it didn’t make him look as such a pompous ass - or as if turning in all of his assignments written on his hipster typewriter wasn’t enough. Or Victor Whale’s, whom she knew better because of Ruby and the epic hangovers he had nursed at Granny’s diner while she waitressed there with her best friend. Even Will Scarlet’s, whose name spelled trouble no matter the day.  

And, of course, there was Graham Humbert, her mother’s champion. Emma would be lying if she said she hadn’t considered him more than once. He was sweet and charming, even if he was equally fond of bomber leather jackets and terrible, terrible jokes. He also didn’t seem to realize how the girls around him swooned over his thick accent, which made him even cuter in their eyes.

But then again, Emma wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. Nor was she looking forward to any kind of matchmaking, especially not from her own mother, of all people.

The girl sitting beside her suddenly turned in the seat to stare at her, her dark, glossy hair hitting Emma in the face as she did so. She wasn’t sure if her name was Tamara or not, - Emma vaguely remembered Ruby telling her about her cheating on Neal last semester with some other guy, - but one thing was for sure: she overdid with the vanilla perfume. The mocha-skinned girl smiled apologetically at Emma, and asked if it was okay if she swapped seats.

Emma wondered if she was ditching her to go suck face with her new boyfriend.

She sighed, ignoring the movement at her right as she busied herself with her phone.

It was the tingling at the back of her neck that made her fingers freeze as she typed Ruby a text. Taking her sweet time, she turned to find bright blue eyes framed by long eyelashes fixed on her.


She tried not to fidget as he kept his unabashed staring, and silently scolded herself for almost failing under the pressure and brushing her hair with her fingers. Annoyed both with herself and him, she scowled. “May I help you?”

“Actually yes.”

(Oh, Jesus. Another one with an accent.)

(She was curious as to why her mom hadn’t talked about this one, though.)


He shrugged. “Nothing, just staring at you is fine.”

She snorted, leaning the side of her head against the cool windowpane. “Smooth.”

“Thank you.” He sounded incredibly pleased with himself, and even went so far as to stretch his legs in front of him as if he were sitting on some push futon instead of the worn bus seat with gum stuck on its back. Even if she was curious about who he was - a tiny little bit, just enough to make her wonder, - she rolled her eyes and shuffled on her own seat in search of the less spine break-threatening position and went back to her text.

(And no, of course she wasn’t asking about a guy in her mom’s class that she hadn’t seen before and could Ruby please tell her if she knew of blue eyed pants there, please?)

Just as she was hitting the send button, she heard him tsking under his breath. “You don’t talk much, do you?”

“Who are you, again?” she asked, irritation seeping into her voice. He tilted his head in response, smirking knowingly.

“I thought Mrs. Nolan’s daughter knew everybody in Storybrooke High, or so says the rumor mill?”

She groaned internally. Great, so not only did her mother publicly embarrass her whenever there was an XY specimen around, now everybody in both schools knew about her matchmaking obsession. Great.

Before she could a) keep ignoring him b) come up with something to say, he offered her his hand, and she just gaped at it with a start. “Killian Jones. And you must be the lovely Emma Swan.”

She blinked, staring both at the hand and his face, a warm feeling spreading through her. She told herself it was because he was new - he had to be, or she’d have heard of him already, Storybrooke knew nothing about keeping to themselves whatever news there was in town, - and was trying to be polite, or just mess with her after hearing of her joining their field trip. So she stared blankly at him, pointedly ignoring his hand. “Look, Killian Jones: I’m here because my mom begged me to and promised to let me go to this stupid festival next month, so don’t get any ideas.”

She vaguely wondered if he expected her to be kind and welcoming, with him being new in town and all. If he did in some kind of way, he didn’t show it, smiling at her as if she were a particularly adorable kitten.

“I’d never. I’m just trying to be polite,” he promised, lifting his hands in front of him in surrender. She eyed him from the corner of her eye, and shook her head.


She sighed and went back to ignoring him, going to iBooks and telling herself he’d leave her alone now he’d gotten the hint.

Spoiler: he didn’t.

Spoiler #2: once they got to talking, she didn’t really mind.

(And no, it wasn’t just because of his voice. Or the accent. Or the way he kept wiggling his eyebrows at her whenever he made a double-entendre - which was pretty much 85% of the entire conversation.)

He vaguely explained he had just moved to the States and was living with his father after his mother and brother had passed. He didn’t say much about it, but Emma could fill in the blanks by the way his face pinched in distress as he changed the subject. She told him how it was living with a reincarnation of Cupid under the same roof, about Ruby and their shifts at Granny’s and her father’s job at the shelter. At one point he asked about the festival she had mentioned earlier, and they were gone: they spent the rest of the journey exchanging recommendations, sharing past experiences at attended concerts, rating bands and albums and humming songs together.

Soon before they got to the city, Emma spied her mother trying to get her attention from the front of the bus where she sat with Miss French. Mary Margaret smiled brightly at her, and then her gaze wavered between Emma and Killian, and for a moment she saw the surprise flashing through her mother’s face. It soon morphed into a reproachful look, which Emma liked to think meant something as ‘seriously? All these years trying to get you with my kids and you go for this one? Seriously?’

Well, mom, what could she say - he was something else.

She waved at her, giggling softly as she did. Her mother’s frown deepened, but not as much as when Killian joined in and waved with her.

This guy definitely had a death wish, and Emma couldn’t help but laugh along with him.

Proof number one of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: he kept asking her mom to snap pictures of him and her daughter together.

Proof number two of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: at each one of them, he kept finding ridiculous excuses to touch her. Flinging an arm around her shoulders, hugging her from behind, pulling her to his side so their cheeks ended pressed up together, linking hands in silly positions in front of each monument and sculpture they visited.

Proof number three of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: his classmates had an ongoing bet as soon as they caught on on how long it would take for Mary Margaret to snap.

Proof number four of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: he knocked on her motel room’s door in the middle on the night, insisting on how his TV didn’t work. That left Emma and the shy student Mary Margaret had arranged her to share a room with for the weekend, Elsa, to spend a good part of their night playing cards together and raiding the candy bag Elsa’s sister had insisted she brought with her.

Proof number five of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: the second and last night of their trip, Mary Margaret received a prank call on her motel room.

Proof number six of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: it wouldn’t have been so bad if Killian hadn’t purposefully misdialed and apologized, stating how he thought it was Emma’s number instead.

Proof number seven and final one EVER of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: when their last morning in the city Miss French and Emma’s mother took the group to Times Square, Killian gave Will his phone, exchanging some guy code silent instruction via eye contact, and with no warning, came up to her, snaked an arm around her waist and kissed her, to the delight and neverending cheering from the rest of their group - Mary Margaret withstanding, - clapping from several tourists and amused gazes from busy New Yorkers on their way to work. Too stunned to function, she gripped his arm, but didn’t pull away, and after a moment of hesitation, she fisted her hand in his hair, and kissed him back as eagerly. They pulled away excruciatingly slowly, or at least that was how it felt to her, and not even the flashing lights around them caught her attention as she stared up at him.

“What was that for?” she breathed, still a bit lightheaded.

She flinched when she heard her mom’s voice behind them. “Yeah, Mr. Jones, what was that for?”

Killian pulled her steadily on her feet, his fingers lingering for a moment longer than necessary on her hip, and then hid both of his hands behind his back. He shrugged, doing that feet shuffle thing she had seen him do whenever he was about to come up with something on the spot. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Nolan, but I was just trying to revisit the famous Times Square kiss. You know, the one with the sailor who planted a wet one on a girl, celebrating the end of World War II? It was right here, on August 14, 1945. V-J Day.”

“I know which one it is, Mr. Jones,” Mary Margaret drawled flatly, but Emma caught Miss French hiding a smile, eyes soft and glinting as she took in the scene. Killian bit his lip.

“It helps to associate memories to historical events. Call it a memory enhancer.”

Mary Margaret sent Emma a pained look. She bit back a smile, and shrugged in silent apology.

When Miss French called for everybody’s attention and instructed for them to follow her, she stayed at the back with him, stalling by checking everything was still in her bag. She stared up at him, waiting for an explanation. He grinned, face beaming.

“It was too good to let it pass, Swan.”

Sunday night, already at home in Storybrooke, Emma went to brush her teeth and change into her pajamas when she heard her parents talking from the kitchen.

“I thought this was what you wanted? You’ve been playing matchmaker since forever,” David asked.

She heard her mother huff. “I had thought he’d court her first or something…”

Emma laughed to herself.

Two weeks later, after Mary Margret had dropped a stack of exams on her desk and had begged for her help to mark them, Emma sat on the couch, cocoa cup almost empty on the coffee table and a spare red pen stuck on her bun. She hadn’t noticed earlier before her mom left to meet a student’s parents, but reading the names on the top of the papers she realized most of them belonged to the class that had attended their trip earlier that month. She rolled her eyes at August’s fancy words, smiled fondly at Elsa’s neat handwriting and almost cried when she tried to decipher Will’s illegible scrawls.

She held her breath when she read Killian’s name. She took in the wide loops of his ‘l’s and ‘e’s, and the way he connected the letters, as if he didn’t have time to lift up his pen from the paper. Her mind went back to those three days, her lips curving despite herself as she recalled the wrinkles in his eyes when he laughed, his fondness for red skittles and the way he had looked at her after he kissed her.

Sighing, she looked back at his test, until something else caught her eye. A moment later, she almost knocked back the rest of her cocoa as she jumped to her feet in search of her phone.

She had been wrong.

Proof number eight of how she was 100% sure Killian Jones had a death wish: There, in pencil, right under his name on the dotted line, he had written HEY MRS. NOLAN WOULD YOU PLEASE ASK EMMA IF I MAY ESCORT HER TO THIS FESTIVAL SHE’S GOING TO? MUCH APPRECIATED.

(Mary Margaret eventually warmed up to him, after much ass-kissing on his part.) (It still didn’t stop him from doing stupid things that almost classified him as a masochist, though.)

(Not that she complained.) (Idiot.)