A/N: This is the final installment of my "Drinks with the Prince" series and I'd really like to thank those of you who have stuck with it and read each piece. I really appreciate all your reviews, messages, and favorites. It means a lot to me that there were people who enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it. Here's to new Captain Charming adventures next season! Thanks again! ~SA
David walked into Granny's Diner ahead of his family, laden with one large bag, baby paraphernalia bursting out of it, and a platter of meats and cheeses occupying his hands. He slid the food to the counter and dropped the bag on the table of a booth, greeting everyone congenially as he went.
Snow and the baby, accompanied by Emma and Henry, all slipped into the booth where David had left the baby's bag. Hook caught Emma's eye, a ghost of a smile flickering across her face before vanishing along with her gaze. She looked preoccupied and distant even as she cooed over her brother, and Hook had no doubt New York was still on her mind. He could see it in the tense set of her shoulders and the way she found it difficult to keep her eyes on her family for long before becoming sad. He wondered for the umpteenth time what it was going to take for her to see she belonged here, the stubborn lass.
The Prince moved slowly through the crowd, as if looking for something, while Hook approached him from the far end of the counter where the alcohol was being set up. He had tucked a mug of beer for himself into the crook of his hooked arm, the mug he'd procured for David in his hand. They met in the middle of the room, guests of the party maneuvering around them to get a glimpse of the royal child.
"You're looking a tad worse for wear, mate. How was your first night with the new babe?" he asked holding out the mug. They moved toward the back of the room out of the way of fawning guests and thirsty dwarves.
Nodding in thanks then taking a big sip and relaxing a bit, David said, "You know that saying 'slept like a baby'?"
"Aye," Hook said, waiting, as always, for the punchline.
"Lies. All lies," David proclaimed. He nodded to his son, sleeping peacefully in the arms of his wife. "That one's a night owl. Sleeps great during the day though — I mean look at him...out cold...must be nice," he complained.
The enormous smile on David's face belied his grievance and Hook laughed. "You wouldn't have it any other way, would you, mate?"
David chuckled. "Nope. I could watch him all day." He downed another large gulp of beer then continued. "I am hoping he'll at least want to stick around when he gets older though," he said with a sigh.
Hook understood immediately. "Emma talking about New York again?"
"Not in so many words, but I know she's determined to go back. She's breaking her mother's heart...not that Snow would admit it, stubborn woman," David muttered. "I don't know how to get Emma to stay without pushing her away more," David said, and Hook could see his own helplessness reflected in David's eyes.
"She just needs time, mate. She'll come around," he said, the platitudes not sounding as assuring as he'd like.
"I hope you're right."
Me too, Hook thought.
~.~ Time travel mischief managed ~.~
From his seat at the counter near the back of Granny's, the noise of party-goers hummed all around Killian, but the only sound that registered in his ears — a single golden thread holding together a chaotic tapestry of noise — was Emma's voice. He heard her lilting laugh, the low timbre of her voice as she shared a secret story with Henry rising an octave when her excitement got the better of her. The echoes of the soft sounds she made as they sought each other's lips in the cold night air rang in his ears like a ship's signal bells, and he was sure he would never tire hearing her call him "Killian." He hadn't realized how much he missed not just the sound of his own name, but what it meant to be Killian Jones, until he heard it from her lips and then he knew for sure he was home too. But at that moment, he wanted the bloody party to end so he could be alone with her, feel her whisper his name against his mouth as he gave her one last...no, one more... kiss before sleep.
But the festivities dragged on, and slowly, other voices started seeping into his consciousness, some having more meaning now than others, one in particular coming through loud and clear, practically bellowing from across the way.
"Charles!...Or can I call you 'Charlie?'" David asked cheekily as he handed Killian a fresh beer.
Raising the glass, his eyebrow, and the corner of his mouth in unison, Killian thought, This should be interesting.
"Killian will do," he informed the Prince with a slight bow.
"Charlie it is then!" David clinked his glass with a little too much enthusiasm against Killian's, causing both brews to slide up over the lips of the mugs and splash to the floor. David shrugged and took a deep gulp from his mug and sat down next to Killian at the counter.
Killian chuckled, shaking his head at the forever presumptuous Prince, and took a sip of what was left of his own beer. He licked the foam from his lip as he spared a glance at Emma, who was cradling her new brother, Prince Neal, talking softly to him and nuzzling his tiny hand. She was practically glowing and he wondered if he could be held responsible for even a fraction of it. He would happily shoulder that weight and take on more when she was ready.
Dragging his eyes from Emma to his drinking buddy, he caught David looking at him thoughtfully.
"I looked for you — well Prince Charles — you know, after that day we saved Snow. No one had heard of you or 'Princess Leia.' No one had ever seen you before or after either. It was like you...you never existed," he said.
Killian looked down at the gray speckled counter, his finger tracing random shapes in the beer puddle, and shook his head. "Couldn't risk sticking around and mucking up anything else," Killian offered as an apologetic explanation.
The look of worry in David's eyes when he looked back up took Killian by surprise. "I thought maybe you'd been captured and executed after all for helping Snow. We wanted to thank you for helping us find each other, invite you to the wedding, but when we couldn't locate either of you we feared the worst," he said, the anguish fresh in his voice.
"Sorry, mate. Truly," Killian said, touched that the Prince carried that guilt with him even now and sorry he and Emma were the cause of it. This was one side effect of time travel he was wholly unprepared for. He wanted to make up for the consequences of their necessary deception, but was at a loss. "At least it all makes sense now, right?" he asked hopefully.
David nodded slowly, a sad smile taking over. "You know, I grew up on a farm. Just me and my mother. Didn't have many friends — especially if you don't count the sheep — and becoming James didn't improve that."
"King George wouldn't let you bring your wooly entourage?" Killian teased.
"Surprisingly, no," David deadpanned. "What I'm trying to say is that Charles was the first person I ever considered a friend...and then he was...gone. I thought I had missed out on my opportunity to have that."
Killian didn't know what to say, so he took a long pull from his beer instead. He knew all too well what David was talking about, even if he couldn't express it aloud. His crew were never friends — not even Smee who might have come the closest if he could've ever trusted him completely. Liam was his brother and Milah his lover, but true friendship was not something his life had afforded him...until now.
Pressing his lips together, David huffed out a breath through his nose and confessed, "I'm happy I was wrong about that. I'm glad you're back, Charlie."
Killian couldn't help but laugh. Two could play at that game. "Me too, Jimmy," he said, scratching behind his ear, trying to contain his laughter at the absurdity of David's insistence he be called 'Charlie.' Still, he thought he preferred it to 'Hook.'
David snorted then leaned over the counter, putting his weight on his forearms. He looked over at Killian, serious again, and pressed on. "It still wasn't easy for me and Snow. Getting together. So many days I wondered what the hell I was doing, but then your words...what you said about true love...would come back to me and I would find the strength to fight for her. Because you were right. Just took meeting Snow for me to fully understand it. So, thank you."
Killian smiled softly then tipped his head back and looked at David with a sly grin. "And I hope you remember what you said to me, mate. You know, that bit about being crazy not to approve of someone who had gone to such great lengths to save his princess. Someone like me."
David sat up and furrowed his eyebrows, frowning and tapping his lips with his finger. "Hmm...let me think...Nope, doesn't ring a bell," he said, a look of concentration laying atop a poorly hidden smirk.
Killian ran his tongue between his teeth and lower lip, eyebrows making their way toward each other. "Humph," he intoned.
"Oh, come on, Killian!" David teased. "Do you really believe for one second I would think the man who followed my daughter to the end of the world and time wouldn't deserve a place in our family?" he asked, hand now gripping Killian's shoulder.
"Tough to be certain with you lot," Killian countered.
David smiled at him. "I see the way Emma looks at you — you are important to her and she cares about you a great deal. I can't — and won't — ignore that. I've only ever wanted her happiness. I can see that's with you. Here." He let go of Killian's shoulder and cleared his throat. "But beyond that," he said magnanimously, "the fact that I saw you two through the window earlier making out like a couple of teenagers and didn't rush out with my sword drawn should tell you all you need to know."
"It tells me you know I'd kick your arse," Killian challenged with a cocky grin.
David gave him a shove and rolled his eyes. "Keep on believin' that, Charlie. I've no doubt Emma would be the ass kicker in that scenario. Don't fool yourself."
"When it comes to her, mate, I never do," Killian said with a smile directed at Emma who was looking at him and her father with a curious tilt of her head. Killian winked and mimed her a small kiss, causing her to roll her eyes and snicker before giving him a beautiful, blinding smile in return. Reluctantly turning back to his conversation with David, Killian's sweeping glance stopped short at Snow. She gave him a hard, suspicious look before rolling her eyes too. Her gaze shifted to David and she arched her dark eyebrow at him and inclined her head toward their son.
David whispered in Killian's ear as he moved toward his wife's side. "It's not my approval you need to worry about, by the way. It's Snow's. I'll put in a good word for you though. She seems to like me."