Written as my Captain Swan Secret Valentine gift for ayeayecaptswan on Tumblr (she also has a Youtube and makes some great fanvids, check her out).


"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh." ― W.H. Auden

-xxx-

The night gets off to a fine start: she opens the door, takes one look at the flowers in his hand, and bursts out laughing.

"Oh god, who told you?" Emma snickers, hair tumbling about her shoulders in thick curls, and Killian swallows twice before attempting to speak.

"I may be somewhat unfamiliar with this world's customs, love," he says with a deliberate smirk, attempting to conceal the nerves building in his gut, "but I did inquire when the entire town turned pink."

He bows slightly, proffering the bouquet with a quiet, "I understand flowers are customary, milady."

Emma's cheeks tinge pink as she accepts it, and she ducks her head slightly with another stilted snicker. "No, I – I get that. Just, uh, this is pretty much all buttercups," and she stares at him with wide eyes like that's supposed to mean something very important.

Slowly, Killian nods. "Like your tattoo. I thought… But if you don't like them, I can take them back –"

"No!" Emma snaps, and yanks the flowers closer to her chest as though afraid he'll steal them. "No, it's fine, I love them. Just, just give me a minute to stick them in a vase before we head out."

Killian shrugs, a little confused but glad at least that his gift was not so ill-conceived after all. He's leaning in the door, ready to follow Emma toward the kitchen, when she half-turns round and waves him back.

"Wait there, I just need to grab my purse and then we can go."

"As you wish," he murmurs, settling back against the doorjamb with his arms crossed over his chest.

Emma stumbles, coughs loudly, and doesn't speak to him for the next five minutes.

-xxx-

When she finally opens her mouth, it is in her jaunty little vessel, rather aptly christened The Bug. "So," she says, flicking a switch to the left of her steering wheel that sets a small light in the shape of an arrow blinking on and off, accompanied by a steady clicking. Moments later, they round a turn in the direction of the arrow, and the noise and lights stop. He really will have to learn how to operate these cars at some point. "Where are we headed?"

"Granny's," Killian says, and tries to ignore when Emma winces. Instead, he places his hands – both wooden and natural – flat on his thighs and attempts not to blatantly stare at her. She's in a tight red dress and it's been over three hundred years since he last tried to court a woman properly; by the awkward silence he's cocking it up already. Oh, they've been going on what Emma calls "dates" for several weeks now, but in a very casual capacity, informal and comfortable and with as little tension as is possible when Emma is amazing, everything he could ever wish and he's so desperately in love with her he can't think straight. Today is different. Today is a day specifically set aside for courting, for lovers, and Killian's hand is sweating.

"Granny's, right," she sighs. "I guess that's pretty much the closest Storybrooke has to a fancy restaurant. Oh, god, I really hope we don't run into my parents…"

"I doubt that will be an issue, love," he says, as they pull up to the curb outside the diner, then gestures at the console before them. "If you could – how do you make it beep?"

Emma blinks at him. Raising an eyebrow slowly, she pushes on the center of the steering wheel, blaring the horn several times in short succession. She's just opening her mouth, no doubt to ask why this was necessary, when the front door of the diner opens and Ruby comes rushing out, dressed in a very short, very sparkly red dress and tugging a heavy basket over to them.

Once again, Emma starts to laugh.

Worse, the wolf girl also seems to get the joke, as she breaks into a wide grin while shoving the basket at Killian through the window (he learned how to operate them on the journey back to Storybrooke from New York; Emma was alternately amused and frustrated by his fascination with the automatic mechanism).

"He didn't know! I swear, he has no idea," Ruby says defensively, but Emma just shakes her head and laughs harder. The sound of it is gorgeous, full of mirth and slightly throaty and normally Killian would walk around for the next week bursting with pride at having caused it, but he's trying so bloody hard and she's laughing at him.

"What?" he says, yanking the basket onto his lap and glaring at it. "What don't I know?"

The best this gets him is a pat on the shoulder from the waitress, and Emma biting her lip to hold back the snickers still bursting through.

"Well, you two crazy kids have fun," Ruby winks, then jerks a thumb over her shoulder at the diner. "I've got a monster of my own to tame tonight now that I'm off work – he's being harassed by Granny right now actually, I should go rescue him."

Emma waves her off with a smile, and starts up the engine again, still chuckling quietly. "All right, we've got…" her voice wavers, "Red Riding-Hood's basket, where are we off to now?"

There was nothing that could have been remotely construed as a riding-hood about that woman's outfit. Killian grips the basket on his lap tightly and glares out the window.

"The docks."

-xxx-

Emma doesn't seem especially pleased by the idea of having dinner on the Jolly Roger, but Killian's made his course and he's determined by now to stick to it, no matter how bloody much she hates it – so he insists.

"Fine, I'm just really not dressed for this," she grouses, after several minutes spent trying to suggest alternate venues, and grabs at his arm for support on the gangplank, ankles wobbling in her high heels. Killian escorts her swiftly across the deck and straight down to his cabin.

"Whoa, that's kinda presumptuous, don't you think –" She starts, and she's bloody smirking, laughing at him again, and damn, damn this is not going well at all, he shoves her into the room and slams the door behind her, bolts it shut and then blocks it with a heavy barrel for good measure.

"What the hell – Hook!" She starts hammering on the door instantly. "Hook, what the fuck are you doing?!"

"Just – wait there!" he shouts back, cringing at how bloody stupid he is, gods, he should have just taken her to Granny's even if it did mean eating with her parents, "I'll be back, I promise!"

He flees to the sound of his beloved attempting to batter the door down and hurtling insults after him.

Invoking every deity he can think of to curse both himself and that damn Valentine who started all this nonsense in the first place, Killian sets sail.

-xxx-

He dithers about it.

Dropping anchor, setting everything up – Killian takes his time about it, doing everything he can to delay his trip back to let Emma out. She's going to punch him for tricking her like that. Worse than punch him. She's probably going to knock him out and laugh, and when she sees what his plan was she's going to hate it. He's never going to recover from this in her eyes, this was the worst idea he's ever had, bloody buggering fuck why didn't he at least see what Dave thought before going through with it?

He can't leave her locked in there forever though, so eventually Killian takes a deep breath, tries to ignore both the memory of her reaction when he kissed her in New York and the strong suspicion that he'll be feeling that pain again soon – and gently opens the door.

Nothing happens. After a moment, Killian opens his eyes (he was bracing himself) and hesitantly steps inside, looking awkwardly around the room.

He could swear his heart stops when he sees her sitting at his table, bent close over the letter open in front of her.

"Bloody hell," he whispers, and Emma jerks her head up. Her eyes shine wetly, and Killian hates himself. "No, I – I didn't mean to... I thought I threw that away, it wasn't intended, just - pretend you never saw it."

It's a ridiculous request, of course – the words he'd written down for her aren't the sort that can simply be brushed away and forgotten, that's why he'd written the letter in the first place. It's why he decided not to give it to her after all, right before leaving to meet her, because Emma isn't ready to see this, not yet – he hadn't wanted to put that kind of pressure on her, hadn't wanted to ruin the slow but steady progression of their relationship. Hadn't wanted to say those words first in a letter, after all, and – there's no way Emma can pretend not to have seen it.

Miraculously, however, she simply nods. She runs her hand across her eyes, blinks a few times, and then stands up with a smile. Slightly wooden, but a smile, and she takes his arm when he offers it.

Killian's heart is aching, heavy with love.

"So I noticed we were moving," Emma says, and her smile edges a bit closer to genuine. "Have I been kidnapped?"

"Well, you are a princess," Killian retorts, deliberately light as he escorts her down the hall towards the stairs. "And I am a pirate."

Emma scoffs, as they ascend onto the main deck. "Yeah, and – oh."

She falls silent, staring at the product of Killian's efforts, and he watches her anxiously, unable to tell if that expression is awe or distaste.

"I – it's a beautiful night," he offers, gesturing up at the sky, but Emma doesn't look. "I thought we could enjoy dinner under the stars."

It is a beautiful night, and hardly cold at all. The water is still as glass and the stars are vivid and bright with the full moon shining almost painfully clear in the center of the sky, but Emma pays no attention to any of it.

Instead, she steps forward slowly, kneeling down to sit on the blanket spread out across the center of the deck, held down at two corners by a pair of lanterns. She runs her hand over the blanket, then across the edge of the basket, slowly, still with that inscrutable expression on her face (but he's starting to hope).

She finally looks up at the stars, and keeps looking, breathing slowly with lips slightly parted as she cranes her head back. Killian sits down across from her and gets out the bottle of wine – red, one of his finest, it had been sitting in his hold for at least a hundred years before tonight – and pours her a glass carefully, trying not to spill or to stare at the long line of her neck, the pale curve of her breasts.

"Swan," he says softly, and when she glances down to see the glass he's offering, she finally grins, sudden but wide.

"This is… wow, this is so ridiculously cheesy," she mutters, but waits for him to clumsily pour his own glass, and toasts him when he's done.

"To Valentine's Day," she says, meeting his eyes as their glasses clink together, and laughs again.

Somehow, he doesn't mind so much this time.

-xxx-

(She laughs seven times more throughout the evening.

Once, when they both realize that despite packing everything else, up to and including a long chain of square little plastic packets that make Emma's face go red for some reason, Ruby has forgotten silverware. Luckily, Killian has some of his own in the galley.

A second time at his story, shared over their dessert of chocolate-dipped strawberries, of the efforts he'd gone through to taste chocolate the first time, long before he was Captain Hook. Milah had heard of the substance and was desperately curious, so they'd spent over a month tracking down a merchant ship working for his old king and boarded them in the dead of night, demanding all their chocolate. Once gained, at first their cook hadn't known what to do with the expensive cocoa powder, and they nearly choked at the bitter taste until it was sweetened heavily with sugar. His voice grows slightly hoarse when speaking of Milah's enthusiasm once they'd managed to properly prepare the beverage, but Emma just smiles, her fingers stroking softly over his as she picks up another strawberry.

A third time, when she shivers and he takes off his jacket, wrapping it about her shoulders. "Oh, I forgot, you're a gentleman," she says, rolling her eyes, and he leaps to his feet simply to bow as deeply and ostentatiously as he is able, not straightening until she snorts and smacks at his head.

The fourth time she laughs is when he requests a dance under the moonlight, and it's as nervous a sound as it is amused. She cites many reasons for her refusal, each one of which he swiftly dismisses – she doesn't know how to waltz, first of all (all she has to do is follow his lead), she won't be able to balance in heels on the deck of a ship (he'll support her), they don't have any music (he's willing to sing), she cannot believe he is actually this ridiculous, is it some kind of requirement for fairy tale characters that they be stupidly romantic (if so, it must apply to her more than anyone, given that she is the daughter of the famous Snow White and Prince Charming) – and finally gives in, snickering every time she steps on his feet. She laughs the whole dance.

The fifth time Emma laughs is when they lay back on the blanket, pressed warmly against each other's sides, her head on his shoulder as he teaches her the different constellations. She is completely unable to tell how a series of dots can look at all like a chariot, or a woman, or much of anything at all besides a series of dots, and laughs at his insistence that it's obvious.

The sixth time Emma laughs is very late at night, after Killian has reluctantly raised anchor and returned to Storybrooke. He's just finished mooring the ship, and is bidding Emma a farewell frequently interrupted by long kisses, when she whispers that actually, Henry is with Regina for the night and she'd already told her parents she would be sleeping at Granny's inn so they could have the apartment for the evening. "I thought we could make use of these," she says slyly, producing those small plastic squares from a pocket of his coat, only to laugh at his confused expression.

The seventh time Emma laughs is after she has whispered what condoms are for into his ear; after they have retired to his cabin; after he has peeled her red dress slowly down her body, kissing every new inch of skin it exposes; after she has done much the same with his red vest, growling that it's been driving her mad all night and biting at his stomach; after they have stroked and kissed and fondled and kissed and gasped and kissed some more; after he's managed to easily unclasp her bra, as she calls it, with one hand and her eyes have darkened noticeably; after she's slid the condom on smoothly and he's shuddered, said her name desperately, asked if she was sure; after she's said she needs him now, so get on with it, Killian

The seventh time Emma laughs is when he jerks back in surprise at the sound of his first name on her lips, and smacks his head right into the curve of the wall. When Emma rises up to help him, as he clutches his skull and curses viciously, she nearly falls off the narrow bed. She clings to him for balance, he yanks her back up towards him, and for a moment they sit frozen, naked in each other's arms, eyes wide. Then a grin lights up her face, and she says, "You need a bigger bed," and he's trying to kiss the laughter out of her mouth, which doesn't work so well since he's laughing too, and they're fumbling together on the tiny bed, anything but graceful and it doesn't matter, doesn't matter at all, this is the happiest he's ever been.)