The rhythmic tapping against the wall of her bedroom grows in intensity, becoming louder, faster – the wall practically shaking as something (or someone) hits against the opposite side repeatedly. A low, guttural moan drifts through the thin barrier and she scowls, picking up one of the books neatly stacked by her feet and hurling it against the wall. There is a brief pause as the book makes contact with a loud thud, and then the banging (she snorts) continues. The moans increase in both frequency and volume and she rolls her eyes to the ceiling, praying to some unknown deity for patience to endure her ridiculous neighbor.

She hasn't had the pleasure of meeting him in her two months at her new apartment, but she's certainly become intimately aware of his extracurricular activities.

Like how he is apparently fucking his way through the entire female population of Brooklyn.

Luckily he manages to wrap things up fairly quickly (she snorts again when she thinks of wrapping it up and hopes to god for his sake that he does indeed use protection and what the fuck, why is she thinking that) – a peaceful silence descending over her apartment. She sighs and turns back to the law book propped open in her lap and starts to read.

Until music comes drifting through the wall – some 80's power ballad causing her to jump in her chair. He plays music a lot, but it's usually at a decent level and something tolerable. She slams her book shut with a muttered curse and she's halfway across her tiny, tiny apartment in five long strides, wrenching open her door and stomping over to his. She bangs on it with a closed fist and crosses her arms over her chest as she waits, foot tapping impatiently.

The door swings open a second later, a woman with wild hair and mussed makeup giving her a dirty look. She's clothed only in a large men's shirt, bare legs peeking out, and if looks could kill – well, Emma would be dust. She pushes past the woman and storms into the apartment (a mirror replica of her own, down to the fake wood cabinets that line the kitchen), practically kicking in the bedroom door.

Whatever she was going to say dies on her lips as she takes him in, lying casually in his bed, arms propped behind his head, sheets pooled low around his hips – exposing just how very naked he is. Her eyes trace the strong v of his hips before dancing along his abdomen – all tan skin and chest hair and jesus fucking christ, this was a terrible idea. The 80's music blares around them (INXS, really?) and she blushes and fidgets as her eyes finally land on his face.

She freezes.

He looks surprised, familiar blue eyes widening in shock and then recognition. The smile that curls his lips is downright sinful and nothing like the bashful boy she knew in middle school. He sits up slightly on his elbows, sheets slipping lower with the movement and – nope - she keeps her eyes steadfast on his face. His blue eyes twinkle.

"Emma Swan." He says quietly and his voice is deeper, more gravelly. And jesus, puberty was good to him because he looks drastically different than he did back then - his thick glasses exchanged for contacts, acne traded for wild scruff that lines his strong jaw.

She smiles slightly because she can't help it, never could with him. He was her first real friend – the two of them thick as thieves, outcasts together.

"Killian Jones." She replies and he grins, wide and blinding. They stare at each other in silence and the sinking realization that the man banging women on an almost daily basis with ferocious determination is actually her best friend from childhood causes an almost hysterical laugh to bubble in her throat. His eyebrows knit together as he sits up fully, scratching at the back of his messy black hair. It sticks up in every direction (like it always used to, but she pushes away that thought) and she feels her earlier hostility ebb back in slowly.

"Uh, not that I'm not pleased to see you, love." He gives her another small smile. "But what are you doing in my apartment?"

She frowns, anger rising in her at his complete lack of decency (old friend or not), intending to let him have it when a voice behind her stops her pre-diatribe.

"Good question." The snarky woman with makeup induced raccoon eyes slithers (because that's the only word to describe the way she's moving, really) back in the room and Killian visibly jumps at her presence. Emma fights the very strong urge to roll her eyes because it's now clear he thought she left and if her two months living next to him has taught her anything, it's that the man does enjoy sleeping around.

It's odd – imagining the soft and quiet boy from her childhood as this pig-headed man-whore.

Emma opens her mouth to finally tell him off for the amount of noise he creates on daily basis while she tries to study for exams, but he beats her to the punch.

"Ex-girlfriend." He says quickly. Blue eyes slant towards her and she recognizes the pleading look on his face. If possible, the anger doubles inside her.

He's trying to get the scary girl with the scary eyes out of his apartment, and he's trying to use her to do it. She grits her teeth and clenches her fists. "You wish."

He chuckles and collapses back to the bed. "Well if you're just here for a romp, darling, by all means –" He gestures to his body with a lazy twist of his hand and she bites the inside of her cheek until it bleeds in an effort not to scream. This seems to be the breaking point for their companion because she lets out an indignant huff, wrenching on her pants underneath the shirt and pushing past Emma to the door. Emma stares at him for a long moment as the door slams shut behind her, urging her rage to simmer back down from cataclysmic apocalypse levels.

She raises a finger in what she hopes is a menacing gesture. "I live next door. I'd appreciate it if you lowered the noise to a dull roar." He gives her a blank look, taking in the information. She plants her hands on her hips and arches an eyebrow.

"You owe me." His grin spreads and he runs his tongue along his teeth. His eyebrow hops up in a look she certainly does not remember and her stomach clenches.

He opens his mouth to respond and she just knows it's going to be something inappropriate so she turns and flees before he has the opportunity. His loud laugh follows her back to her apartment and it reminds her of sweet summer days spent under trees, thick dark glasses sliding down noses, and butterflies in her stomach.

Luckily the music drastically drops in volume and she picks up her book, falling back in her chair. But it's impossible to concentrate and she has to get ready for work before she knows it – not a single word of complex law theory sticking in her mind.

-/-

The knock on the window of her small living room makes her jump and she almost drops her bowl of mac and cheese to the kitchen floor. She peers over the counter to the window, half wielding her fork like a weapon because she does live in Brooklyn and the fire escape does go all the way to the street and people are weird –

It isn't a lunatic - just Killian. But he is grinning at her like a madman through her window, six pack of beer held loosely in his hand. He swings it across the window with wide eyes as she walks hesitantly across the apartment, opening the old, rickety thing with the hand not holding her precious mac.

"What's up?" He's stretched out across the fire escape like he belongs there and gestures for her to join him. He rolls his eyes when she doesn't immediately climb out the window, snatching the bowl from her hands and sliding along the escape so there's enough room for her.

"Come now, love. Let me apologize like a good neighbor." His face settles from obnoxious leer to soft smile and she immediately sees his younger self. "Plus, I do believe we have some catching up to do."

She contemplates it for a second before climbing out after him, plopping down and reaching for her dinner. He hands it back to her with a bow of his head and she snorts. He grins at the sound and passes her a beer, settling back against the brick wall and staring out over the city. She shifts next to him and shoves some noodles in her mouth because this is weird – it's like an actual flashback to her past, a past she doesn't necessarily want to remember – and he's been here the whole time, just next door.

Having a lot of sex her brain whispers. She ignores it.

"Do you often climb out on the fire escape?"

He chuckles. "No. In fact, I think I gave the old woman on the other side of me quite a fright when I started banging on her window." He shrugs. "Wasn't sure which direction you went."

She hums under her breath and pops another forkful in her mouth. "So –" She begins awkwardly and brings her knees against her chest, balancing her beer between them. "What have you been up to since you were sixteen?"

He laughs and it dispels a bit of the tension between them. "Well, you know, the usual." He tilts his head back and forth. "Growing up, getting contacts." He grins at her over his beer, turning and meeting her gaze. His eyes are still the same impossible blue and her stomach flips. She pokes at her noodles. "I go to medical school in the city."

She blinks at him in surprise and her smile is wide. She punches him in the shoulder lightly. "I told you! I always knew you were a freaking genius when it came to science."

He rolls his eyes at her but a light blush climbs his cheeks. He ducks his head and scratches behind his ear. "Aye, I certainly spent enough time in the lab – when I wasn't getting beat up." He takes a long pull from his beer, fiddling with the cap in his left hand. "What about you?"

"Oh. Uh, I go to law school." He gives her an appreciative nod and she returns his blush, picking at the label of her beer bottle. They sit in silence, the noise from the street below drifting over them.

"Where did you go?" He asks quietly and she knows what he's asking without him having to be specific. It's been looming over them since she first saw him sprawled out in bed and her stomach drops as she thinks back to foster homes and lonely nights.

"They put me in a new foster home." She responds and her voice is scratchy. She's annoyed with herself because it was a long time ago and it shouldn't cause her throat to tighten or heart to stutter anymore. "They were waiting when I got home from school, I had to leave immediately. I tried –"

She swallows when she meets his gaze because he's staring at her – open and honest and a little broken and she remembers how it felt to have to leave him. The only person who ever understood her - who ever cared about her – and they made her leave him. She remembers the way she cried in the back of the car – how she had begged to stay.

"I tried to write you." She whispers. He looks shocked at that and she gives him a little smile. "Couldn't remember your address and they didn't give me a computer at my new home."

They didn't give her a lot of things, but she doesn't dwell on it. He sighs heavily and leans back fully against the wall. He tilts his head and looks at her, a secret smile tugging at his lips.

"Interesting, isn't it, love?" He nudges her with his knee. "How we managed to find one another again?"

She doesn't believe in fate or anything like it so she rolls her eyes, shoveling mac in her mouth with renewed vengeance. "Interesting, indeed."

-/-

They fall back into their friendship easily – the years lost between them made up for in leftover Chinese shared on fire escapes and fresh baked cookies plopped in front of his door. He's funny – still the big dweeb she remembers him to be – and she finds herself sinking into the comfort of them. It's been a long time since she's let anyone in and it feels nice to have a friend.

A friend with insanely beautiful blue eyes and permanent sex hair and a smile that makes her feel things she definitely shouldn't be feeling about a friend.

She ignores her thoughts – pushing them away to the back of her mind because he's made it clear how great of a friend she is, how much he values their friendship. He's never made a move for more and she's just grateful to have him back – the boy who stood by her when she was young.

Even if he very clearly hasn't had anyone over in months and she sometimes catches him staring at her with a serious expression, his fingers grazing the back of her arm.

Enough. She can't.

She's just coming home from a late shift at the bar and all she wants to do is sink into bed and sleep for days. Tomorrow is Saturday – a rare day off – and she intends to sleep well into the afternoon. She slips off her shoes and crashes fast first into bed, not even bothering taking off the tight, low cut tank top. She's half asleep already when there's a low tap against the wall above her bed. She turns in the sheets and peers at the wall when it sounds again – a light knocking against the space where her head usually lies.

Her phone lights up. She reaches out for it and smiles when she sees it's a text from him.

You home?

She taps back against the wall with her finger. Her phone buzzes again.

Good.

She falls asleep smiling.

-/-

"What do you feel like tonight?" Both of their windows are open and he's shouting from his living room to hers – his lilting voice happy and she can tell he's smiling. She taps her fingers against her lips as she contemplates her choices, stirring the large pot on the stove.

"How about some Ella?" She shouts back and he groans, long and loud. She chuckles because he likes to pretend he hates the classics, but if he did he wouldn't own it in the first place.

Ella Fitzgerald comes drifting through the wall moments later and she smiles, humming under her breath.

-/-

She sighs heavily on her bed, rubbing her temples as she closes her eyes. She cancelled on her night shift at the bar, too much studying to get in before her next exam. She flops on her back just as she hears heavy footsteps from next door, the opening of his bedroom door through the thin wall alerting her that he's home. She hears him drop his bag to the ground with a loud thud and collapse in his own bed – headboard knocking into the wall against hers. He's quiet and she's just about to tap on the wall when she hears it – a low moan.

Her eyebrows furrow as she shuffles closer to the wall, practically putting her ear up against it. Is he hurt? Did something happen?

She hears him mumble the word fuck – sounding like it's underwater through the wall – and then the unmistakable sound of a zipper lowering.

Oh.

Oh.

Hot heat flashes through her, dropping her stomach and settling between her thighs. She listens as he pants and groans through the wall and its wrong – jesus, it's so wrong – but she can't help it when her own hand slides across her stomach. Her fingers hesitate at the band of her underwear and she shouldn't do this, she really shouldn't, but god, it's been so long and it's not because it's him

She slides her fingers into her underwear, sucking in a breath through her teeth when she grazes sensitive skin. She rubs herself in small, circular movements – cheeks flaming red when she feels how wet she is – falling back into her pillows as he lets out another groan.

She closes her eyes and imagines lips on her neck, strong arms around her waist. His headboard begins a soft rhythm against the wall, tapping against it lightly and she lets her fingers follow the same pattern. She presses hard against her clit, picking up the pace as he does, letting his moans coil her stomach tighter and tighter.

She imagines scruff against her chest, dark hair between her thighs. She pushes up and into herself with two fingers and her back arches, the heat burning hotter. She bites her lip hard when he lets out a string of unintelligible curses, hips thrusting hard into her hand. She's so close, god she's so close, she just needs –

Her other hand gropes her breast and she imagines blue eyes as his teeth close over her, shining above her as his hips piston against hers, crooked grin stretched wide over –

She comes suddenly, rutting her hips against her hand, riding out the wave of pleasure that washes over her. There's a low buzzing in her ears and she has never come that hard in her life, not ever.

Her chest heaves as she stares at the ceiling with wide eyes. Her phone vibrates next to her hip and she picks it up with a shaking hand. It's from him and he's asking her if she wants to go grab pizza after her shift at the bar. He will be up late studying, and could use the break.

He doesn't know you're home, idiot.

She carefully slides from her bed to the floor without making a sound, tiptoeing to her front door like a goddamned Disney villain about to stab Mickey Mouse. She opens and closes it with a loud slam – hoping to God he doesn't realize she's been here the whole time.

She is so fucked.