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one.

wedding day. emma’s hotel room, NYC.

Emma Swan is nervous.

Her fingers are trembling and her stomach is churning. She can’t keep any food down if she even wanted to and she keeps turning on her phone to check the time.

“Emma, it’s still ten fifteen,” Mary Margaret says to her, reaching out to take both of her hands as she leans down to be eye to eye with her. “And you, my dear, need to be getting ready.”

She takes a deep breath and nods.

“Right. Wedding. Marriage. Today.” Emma huffs a breath. “Why did I ever let you talk me into going to see what this experiment was all about?”

Mary Margaret smiles.

“You’re twenty-eight, Emma, and it’s been ten years since your last real relationship. It’s about time that you settle down and have that honest connection you’ve been waiting for your entire life.”

Emma manages a soft smile, though her stomach is clenching and her heart is racing. She’s feeling only the slightest bit light headed and she knows that it will get worse as the day progresses.

“Okay, then help me get ready.”

Mary Margaret’s smile widens and she rises back to her feet, letting go of her hands and turning to the bustle of the bridesmaids. “Ruby, Emma’s ready for makeup, I think.”

The makeup artist grins and raises her eyebrows excitedly as she approaches Emma, who is, and has been, sitting in the chair in front of the mirror and her laptop. She doesn’t know what she’sdoing. This is insane.

“Okay, let’s make you into a princess, sweet cheeks.” Ruby sets down her makeup bags and Emma nods, smiling weakly through closed lips.

She turns up the sounds of calming music on her laptop and allows her friend to start preparing her face for the most intense day of her life.

Which, by the way, is saying a lot for a New York City police officer. She’s had days where she’s been in tight spots with criminals with guns pointed to her head, and she’s more afraid for what she’s about to do today.

She hasn’t met her groom. She hasn’t seen his face. She hasn’t learned his name. She doesn’t even know if they have any common interests or if he’s attractive. She doesn’t know if he’s her perfect match. The experts say he should be her perfect match, and she’s inclined to believe them, based on the various tests and questionnaires and interviews she’s had to do in order to get to this point.

She’s been assured several times by Doctor Hopper, a psychologist, that this marriage should work, that they’re compatible, and that’s why this little experiment exists. To see if it’s possible to match two people up based on science.

First is the wedding, which is simple and small, taking place in this hotel she’s staying in with her friends. Then, they’ll have the reception and she’s going to have to dance and take wedding pictures with him and there will be toasts and all she can think is: awkward. Because she doesn’t know him. She’s marrying a complete stranger.

“Emma, he’s gonna be hot, like, some sexy, muscle-y, gritty, guitar player with a beard,” Ruby tells her as she applies foundation. “Oh my God, and what if he has an accent?”

“He’s not going to have an accent.” Emma rolls her eyes, trying to comfort herself. Because noshe’s not getting any ideas in her head to have them shattered at the altar.

“Oh, so you’ve thought about him, then? This Future Husband of yours.”

Emma sighs and holds in a smile.

“Maybe,” Emma reaches over to grab the envelope with the message she’s planned to send him before they have to even think about going downstairs. “I’m going to have this sent to his room.”

Ruby peels back a grin and sets down her brush so she can open it up and read it.

After the reception is the honeymoon. God, she hopes he doesn’t want anything from her. She’s been contemplating it all day and she’s serious. She isn’t going to sleep with him, even if he’s this accented bearded sexy man Ruby thinks he is.

And after their honeymoon, which was his decision in the wedding planning, they’re going to move in together for a month. After that month, they’ll have to decide if they want to stay together or if it just doesn’t work.

Mary Margaret is certain this guy is going to be her True Love and that she’s going to want to stay with him for all of eternity.

But, Emma is only doing this because of the money she’s getting from the network that’s having her do this experiment for television. College had run her dry and working and living in New York City isn’t helping much.

And, if she’s being honest, she’s doing it because she’s done with dealing with life alone.

Neal had wrecked her and broken her from ever wanting this type of relationship again. Ever since him, it’d been one night stands when she was feeling lonely and sometimes not even that. She never shared her name, she never got theirs.

So maybe a little part of her is a hopeless romantic thinking that giving this experiment a try will be her One and Done solution to her love life issues. She needs someone that’s going to be there for her and that won’t try to pull what Neal did. She needs to get out of the past and think about her future.

At least, that’s how Mary Margaret got her to do this.

“It’s cute,” Ruby says, handing the card back to her. “You think he’ll like it?”

Emma shrugs. “I just figured that I should put it out on the table that I’m thinking about him and that I know he’s probably as nervous as I am.”

Ruby smiles. “Well, sweet pea, I’m here for you. Mary Margaret’s here, David’s here, Belle should be back soon-” Ruby spins around, searching for the girl who had gone out for hot chocolate to calm Emma down. “And you know, if the guy isn’t what you want, then it’s just a month.”

“Right,” Emma nods in agreement. “Just a month.”

///

wedding day. killian’s hotel room, NYC.

Killian Jones is a mess.

He’s never been so nervous in his life. His stomach is in knots and he keeps pacing around in his hotel room, running his fingers through his hair like it’ll make a difference in helping how he’s feeling.

Liam, Will, and Robin have been watching him from the bed and he finally plops down in the chair at the desk, swiveling a bit as he bites down on his tongue.

He tosses his head back and presses his hands to his face. “Why the hell am I doing this again?”

“‘Cos you’re an idiot.” Will says, making Killian sigh into his hands.

“Come on, little brother, it’s just a month.” Liam says. Killian drops his hands and rolls his head down to look at his older brother. There’s a warmth in his eyes that makes this just a little bit easier to do.

They’d been mostly supportive when he’d told them that he was taking part of a paying experiment that would have him marry a stranger that was somehow perfectly matched to him.

He’d been grieving for far too long over Milah, and they’d tried to get him out there. He’d signed up for online dating, but it never made sense to him and he ended up deleting the account after this woman sent him an inappropriate photograph of herself.

Robin had tried setting him up with a cousin but that didn’t work out. He’d tried even going out some nights after playing a show, thinking his devilishly good looks would land him a woman, but the girls he picked were never quite right and he always regretted it.

He’s mostly doing this for the money. The band has been struggling a bit lately and with what he’s going to be earning, they’ll have enough to put out an extended play at the very least. They’ve a good enough fan base for it.

“A month,” Killian nods in agreement. He leans forward with his elbows on his knees, cupping the back of his neck with his hands. “Alright. Someone help me get dressed.”

He forces himself to stand and his groomsmen all sigh.

“Where’s Jefferson?” Will asks. “I thought he was getting us rum.”

As if on cue, the door opens and Jefferson stumbles in with a wide grin on his lips.

“Rum,” he says, holding out the bottle. “And, I was given direct orders to hand this to thegroom.”

He holds out the white envelope and Killian takes it with curiously quirked eyebrows.

“Who’s it from?” Killian asks, stupidly, before his eyes read the delicate print on the front. Future Husband.

“Oh,” he says as he flips it over and pulls the card out. He can’t help but think that she must be quite thoughtful if she’s sent this. He never even considered it. He wasn’t sure it was allowed, actually.

Inside, she’s written him a small message, which he’s prompted to read aloud by the petite producer lady who stands beside the camera man with her clipboard in hand. He gives the camera a little look as his groomsmen all surround him.

“Dear Husband,” he reads, his voice wavering slightly with nerves. He literally has never been this nervous in his life. “Today is the start of something new, and while we haven’t met yet, I’m excited to see where our lives will go. I’m so nervous,” He laughs a little. “and I’m sure you are as well. So I promise I won’t scream or run away or throw up all over you, no matter how badly I think I might want to with how my stomach feels right now. Let’s go on this adventure together and forget that we’re both criminally insane for thinking this will work.” He’s smiling now. “Signed, your wife-to-be.”

His groomsmen all clap him on the back and he can’t wipe the smile off of his lips. She’s a little firecracker, his wife.

///

wedding day. emma’s hotel room, NYC.

“Emma, you’re so beautiful,” Mary Margaret says with her hands clasped over her heart.

Emma has to smile a little, twirling around in the dress they’d shopped for and purchased just about a week ago. It makes her feel like she’s a princess.

And no, she’s not completely hardened that she doesn’t think so. When she was a little girl, she dreamt about her wedding day just like any normal girl should. Except her dreams were always dreamt from the bunk in a foster home or orphanage.

And they didn’t involve marrying a perfect stranger.

“Thanks, Mary Margaret.” Emma smiles softly.

She takes a deep breath before she embraces with the woman who had become not just her closest friend, but more of a mother figure than anyone she’s ever lived with in her entire life.

David pokes his head in through the hotel door and Emma beams more when he sees her.

“Hey! Can I come in?”

Emma nods and the man enters her room wearing his tuxedo. He slides past the camera man and the producer carefully so he can give her a warm hug. She closes her eyes and wraps her arms around his neck, holding him as tightly as he’ll allow.

David is Mary Margaret’s husband, and he also happens to be the lead detective of her unit at work. He’s going to be walking her down the aisle. He pulls back from her embrace and looks her over.

“You’re absolutely stunning, Emma.” 

She laughs, tears forming in her eyes. The man who she’s considered a father actually thinks she’s worth something, and that’s been hard to accept. He reaches out and brushes the stray tears away. 

“And you know what? I think this whole wedding thing might actually be good for you. It’ll help you find what you want in life.”

Emma nods. “Thank you.”

David smiles at her and Ruby comes bursting in, nearly knocking over the cameraman on her way in.

“Emma! The wedding planner says that everything is in order.” Emma nods.

“Okay. So we’re going to let him go down first, then?” she asks the producer.

The woman nods. “We’ll give him about twenty minutes to get down there and to get some footage of him and his groomsmen waiting. Then I’ll bring you guys down.”

Emma nods, letting out a sigh. “Alright.”

She looks at David and Mary Margaret and she swears her heart has never felt like collapsing out of pure fear or screaming with excitement all at once before. She can’t sit down again. She thinks she’ll probably never get up if she does.

Belle had given her the hot cocoa, which had helped, but now it’s gone and all that remains is the hushed vocals and acoustic guitar coming from her laptop speakers, and the comfort of her closest friends. She bites on her lip and goes to the window, listening to the song and mouthing the words as she stares down at the city below.

She doesn’t know if this experiment is going to be worth all of this anxiety or stress. The week to plan the wedding had barely been enough, but the producers basically had everything pulled together already for the two other weddings happening at some point today or tomorrow.

Her breaths are coming quickly and she closes her eyes, slowing her breaths as she’d been taught to in the academy under intense situations, and opens her eyes again. It’s going to be okay.

It’s just going to be weird and awkward and… she doesn’t know why on Earth she ever agreed to do this.

///

casting day. conference center, NYC.

“I mean, you’ll spend your life wondering what could’ve happened,” the girl beside her is saying. “If you had stayed and went through with it.”

Emma stares at the girl and hums, nodding slightly.

“That’s true.” She whispers.

The executive producer at the front looks at them hesitantly, waiting for the last of the women who don’t want anything to do with this experiment to leave.

“It’s not guaranteed you’ll be selected to marry anyone,” the producer says to the girls that remain, Emma included. She’s not sure why she’s still here. Maybe it’s what this girl beside her is saying. Maybe she’s just crazy and needy. “We’ll have you all interviewed and questioned and there’s the possibility that some of you will be matched up with who we deem to be your True Love match.”

Emma can’t help but think about how insane it sounds. But it also kind of interests her. She wants to know if there’s a guy that could match up perfectly with her. She wants to know that kind of relationship.

And, as this woman says, there’s no guarantee it’ll happen. Maybe her True Love doesn’t exist. Maybe she’ll fill out the questionnaires and answer questions and go to interviews and find out that there’s no one for her. She’ll get her money and be on the way, either way.

It’s enough to make her stay.

///

wedding day. conference room in the hotel, NYC.

Killian licks his lip nervously before he enters the conference room.

On either side of the aisle, there are a few rows of chairs. He sees the few distant family members of his that managed to make it sitting in the row behind his groomsmen, and in the row behind them a few extra friends. Liam smiles at him when he sees him and it calms him only slightly.

His hands are shaking still and he’s probably going to end up stuttering around like an idiot when it comes time to say the vows and such, but that’s not happening yet.

He manages to smile a little at the people gathered on the other side of the aisle, his bride’s side, and they smile right back at him. There are only a few people and it makes him slightly saddened for his bride-to-be.

He shakes hands with them politely. A grandmotherly figure who smiles at him, a dark haired man around his age that gives him a curious once over, a blonde that grins widely at him, and a young boy, probably five or six, whose eyes are vivid and excited when he shakes his hand.

He figures her bridesmaids will occupy the front row as his groomsmen have and itches at his ear nervously as he paces up to the officiant.

“It’s rather warm.” he says, trying to make small talk with him.

He chuckles. “Yes, it is quite warm in here.”

Killian takes a deep breath and turns to look at his bandmates, then at Liam, who looks prouder than anything.

“Let’s get this thing over with.” Killian says, trying to ignore the buzzing in his body.

The rum had dampened the stomach churning and the heart racing, but he still feels like he’s going to, well, throw up all over the place, as his wife-to-be had so delicately expressed in the note.

It’s probably the only thing that gives him the slightest bit of comfort as he nervously rocks in place, rubbing his fingers over his lips and taking repeated deep breaths.

///

wedding day. outside hallway, NYC.

She has her headphones in and she’s closing her eyes, pacing around in small circles for as long as she’s allowed. The cameras are trained on her, she knows it, but this music is the only thing that’s keeping her from melting down and running out and away from this stupid, stupid experiment.

She feels a warm hand on her arm and she opens her eyes, plucking the headphones from her ears as she stares with a soft expression at David.

“It’s normal to be nervous,” he tells her, “just remember that we’re all here for you, alright?”

She nods firmly.

Her bridesmaids are all chatting and mingling to her right and Mary Margaret breaks away after a producer speaks with them. She comes up to she and David and smiles, letting out a breath before speaking, “Okay, Emma, they’re ready for us in there.”

Emma nods. “Okay.”

Mary Margaret takes the phone from her hands when she holds it out for her and she goes to grab the little clutch purse she’ll carry in with the flowers.

It seems like no time has passed at all when her bridesmaids, who each give her a kiss to the cheek and an excited hug beforehand, start chaining into the room. There’s a bit of a timed delay, given to her by the producer, so that the cameras can capture the girls and give a little bit of tension to her anxious groom.

Then, the woman nods, and David walks her in through the door.

She’s kind of surprised to see that his side is about as empty as hers, but she’s comforted to see her guests, especially little Leo, Mary Margaret and David’s small son, who is beaming and waves at them. Emma has to smile and wave back, before she finally, finally turns to see the man who she’d been waiting to see for a week since learning that she has a match.

Her heart skips a beat and her eyes widen slightly, her smile from Leo widening a little more at the sight of how completely nervous he looks.

Damn that Ruby. She was right. He’s hot.

He has a scruffy beard and his brown hair seems to be nervously combed through a few too many times, but still maintains a good form. His eyes, oh his eyes, they’re a shimmering blue. She can see them from where she’s standing in the middle of the room.

She wonders how he thinks of her. His smile, almost relief filled, makes her think he’s glad to see her, rather than someone else, and she feels oddly at home knowing she’s about to marry him.

David kisses her cheek and releases her arm when she’s close enough and Emma bites at her lip slightly when she steps over to this man.

His eyes search hers and she feels like she’s going to collapse. She’s not sure why. Maybe the nerves, maybe the fact that she hasn’t really eaten all day, or maybe the fact that she’s sorelieved that he’s… him.

Not that it would’ve mattered. She likes to judge people on their character, especially now after Neal. Maybe it’s just instinct. One night stands with men she thought attractive kinda did a number on her.

“Hey,” she says softly, making his eyes warm. “I’m Emma.“

“I’m Killian,” he tells her.

Damn that Ruby again. He has an accent.