Emma Swan hated airports. She hated the way they looked, she hated how many people were always in them, and she hated that things never ever went as planned, no matter how meticulously the plans were laid out beforehand.
Case in point: Emma had been standing at the Southwest Airlines help-desk for nearly twenty minutes, and was no closer to getting on an airplane than she had been at the beginning of this tiresome conversation. Yes, she had missed her original flight. But really, she had barely missed it. She had been late arriving to the gate by just a few minutes (those minutes she was late she firmly blamed on the TSA for the extra thorough search they had bestowed on her), but it shouldn't have been enough to make her miss her flight.
Alas, here she was.
"We're sorry ma'am, but the next flight isn't until tomorrow morning."
"Excuse me?! What am I supposed to do for the rest of the day and overnight?"
"We'd be happy to sort out accommodations for you ma'am, but there would be a small fee attached."
"Of course," Emma muttered, "Are you sure there's not an earlier flight? I don't need a direct; I can take one with a layover. I just need to make sure I'm in Maine by tomorrow."
The woman at the desk eyed Emma with distaste until Emma arched her brow and the woman resumed typing at a million miles per hour. "Ma'am, there's nothing in Coach until tomorrow morning -"
"Put the both of us on first class for the next flight to Maine," a deep, accented voice said from Emma's left, a credit card appearing in her line of vision.
Emma whipped her head around and saw a man about her age standing just to her left and behind her. He apparently had been the second person in line and had overheard her entire complain, much to Emma's embarrassment. "No," Emma said quickly, flushing, "no, I can't let you do that."
"Please, it's the least I can do. I was meant to be on the same flight. No reason we both can't get to where we're headed." His eyes met hers and she was distressed to see that they were a devastating shade of blue, and the contrast with his eyes and his dark hair and stubble were leaving her embarrassingly speechless.
"Ma'am, I need your driver's license or state ID if we're going to make this transaction," the desk clerk interrupted Emma's ogling, and she cleared her throat and tried to remember why she had been declining this man's offer.
"Just a second," Emma said to the woman, and turned to face the stranger. "I'm sorry, I just… that's really nice of you to offer, but I can't accept that. It's too expensive. Besides, you don't even know me."
"It's no trouble, really, lass."
Emma's embarrassment only grew as she became aware that everyone in the surrounding area could hear their conversation, and probably thought that Emma couldn't pay for a flight on her own. She narrowed her gaze at the handsome stranger, "I can pay for my own flight, thanks."
His eyebrows shot up into his hairline, "I never meant to imply that -"
"It doesn't matter. Look, I appreciate it, but I've got this."
The man held up his hands in surrender and took a few steps back so that Emma could continue her transaction.
"One for the first class flight, please. I really need to be in Maine tomorrow."
The desk clerk was clearly trying not to laugh at the scene that Emma had caused, and Emma flushed again, nearly ripping her new boarding pass out of the woman's hands once it was printed. "The flight isn't for about six hours, so I suggest you get a bite to eat and come back. Otherwise, try to get comfortable."
Emma rolled her eyes, but thanked the woman, and stormed passed the stranger on her way to the Duty Free shop. She swore she could feel his eyes on her even long after he was out of sight.
Killian turned slightly as the blonde woman stormed by him, after purchasing her ticket for a later flight that they apparently would both be on. He tried not to be amused, he really did, but he couldn't help it. She was intriguing, to say the least. He was a little concerned that she thought he had pitied her, however, when all he really wanted to do was do something nice for a stranger. (An attractive stranger, his mind yelled at him, but he shoved the thought away)
At the help desk, he bought his own ticket for the later flight, trying to ignore the way the woman behind the counter was fluttering her eyelashes and making remarks about his accent. He was in too foul a mood to flirt, which was really saying something. He had been on time for his flight until his ex-girlfriend had called and started demanding that they 'talk' about what had happened between them, and even though he tried to tell her he was in need of catching a flight, she hadn't relented, and he had given up any hope of making it to the gate in time.
Taking his boarding pass from the desk, he slung his duffel bag over his shoulder and made his way to the long row of chairs in the waiting area. A perk of missing your flight and having to wait six hours for the next one: the waiting room was virtually empty, leaving him room to take up a few chairs and attempt to take a nap. He got into a position that hopefully would leave him without any cramping muscles or a sore neck, and shut his eyes.
He felt like he had only been asleep for a few minutes when he felt someone kick his foot, causing a jolt of surprise to run through his body. He nearly fell off his chair as he woke up and heard a light laugh come from above him. Glancing upwards, he saw the blonde girl from earlier looking far too amused for her own good. "Can I help you?" He asked irritably, and she grinned.
"You were snoring."
He pinched the bridge of his nose, "So that means you needed to kick me awake?"
"You're also hogging all the chairs," she pointed out, and she was right. The next flight must be leaving soon, because the waiting room was quickly getting filled with passengers. "You're not the only one who could use some sleep."
Killian didn't say anything, but sat up slowly, stretching out his cramped muscles. He pulled his duffel bag off of the chair next to him and watched as she nearly collapsed into the newly vacated seat. "Tired?" He asked her and smirked when she glared at him out of the corner of her eye. "Look, I don't know why you seem to hate me so much, but I assure you, that was not my intention."
"And what was your intention then?" She asked sharply, turning to face him. Her eyes blazed with some identifiable emotion (anger?) and he was taken aback at how green her eyes seemed.
"I was just trying to do something nice for a person who seemed like they needed help," he said, just as angrily.
"Well, I didn't ask for your help."
He heard the unspoken words in her answer. I don't need anyone's help. "It won't happen again, trust me." He muttered, and tried to figure out why she was getting under his skin so much. Obviously she wanted nothing to do with him, so he couldn't figure out why he felt the need to try to get under her skin, as well.
They spent the next few minutes in silence until a commotion started at the check-in counter, and they both watched in amusement as a woman tried to insist that her carry-on was indeed a carry-on and not full sized luggage, even though Killian probably could have zipped himself inside of her suitcase with all of his luggage as well as hers, and he was amused even further when he heard the blonde next to him emit a very un-ladylike snort. He glanced at her out of the corner of her eye, and could tell she was trying not to laugh, and felt a laugh start to bubble up in his throat as well. He was having a harder time trying to stifle it, however, and when he let out a chuckle, Emma snorted even louder when the woman causing the scene glared at Killian so intensely that he was surprised he didn't burn up on the spot.
"Oops," Killian whispered, and when he looked at his companion, he was not surprised at all to discover that she was even lovelier when she was laughing. For a minute, their eyes locked, and the smile slowly faded off of her face when she realized that they were actually getting along. "I'm Killian," he said after a minute, holding his hand out for her to shake.
After a beat, she shook it, and returned his small smile. "Emma Swan," she said, "And I'm sorry about earlier. I'm just… I'm not used to people offering to do things for me, especially not strangers."
He waved a hand at her, "Don't worry about it. I shouldn't have insisted, I just… I wanted to help you." He said the last part quietly, inwardly cursing himself for saying it out loud in the first place. He could tell that Emma was not a person who trusted easily, and he was worried that this comment would put her off even further. Surprisingly, she didn't say anything, though her eyes widened slightly.
"Thank you," she said, just as quietly, and he could tell that she wasn't in the habit of thanking people. Probably because she never had a reason to, a voice in his head added.
The commotion in the waiting area died down, and the next flight was in the boarding process, leaving Emma and Killian as nearly the only passengers in the entire gate area once again. He noticed that she kept stealing glances at him out of the corner of her eye, so he turned to face her. "Go ahead, ask." He said, smirking at her, and she flushed.
"You looked like you had something to say, Swan."
"How could you have afforded two first class seats for this flight?" She blurted, her cheeks reddening immediately afterwards.
Killian smiled at her, a slow spreading smile, and was rewarded when she flushed again. He really was enjoying the reactions he could get out of her. "I own a marina in Boston, and one in Manhattan," he said, his smile only growing as he talked about his business, "it's the family business, really, but we've been doing really well over the last few years, and it's been pretty lucrative." He shrugged, looking down at his shoes. He was successful, yes, but he didn't like to brag about it. It wasn't that long ago that he had considered leaving everything he knew behind due to his brother's death, and he would have lost everything. He had to work hard to make sure that the business stayed afloat, no pun intended, and he was proud of that. "What do you do for a living then, Swan?"
"I find people," she said after a minute. He got the sense that she wasn't used to revealing anything about herself and for whatever reason, she felt comfortable enough to do so with him, and he had to restrain the urge to grin at her. "I'm a bail bondsperson."
He had not seen that one coming. "Wow," he said, voicing his thoughts, and waited for her to continue, "I… I got into some trouble when I was younger, and ever since then I wanted to do something in criminal justice." She didn't elaborate, and although he found himself intensely curious about her past, he didn't ask.
"That sounds interesting," Killian said, trying to encourage the conversation to continue, but Emma was silent, her face scrunched in what he assumed was contemplation. He cleared his throat quietly, getting her attention, and she shook herself out of her thoughts.
"I'm… um, I'm going to try to take a nap."
"Sure," he replied, and Emma turned her back to him, curling up in her seat. He kept his eyes on her for a few seconds, hoping that he hadn't caused her to shut him out completely.
Emma was trying to sleep, she really was. For whatever reason, Killian had a way of getting under her skin. She had told him about her job and had nearly spilled the truth about her troubled teenage years to him, a complete stranger. The thought unnerved her, and so she had turned her back on him, hoping that he would take the hint that she didn't want to talk anymore. He had, but she could feel his eyes on her every now and then.
She wasn't an idiot, she knew that he was attractive, and if circumstances were different, she might have even considered flirting with him a little bit, but he had thrown her off earlier when he had tried to buy her ticket. No one had ever offered to help her like that. She had been angry, assuming that he had pitied her, but in hindsight she knew that she had overreacted. Obviously he had money, and was just trying to be nice.
She wasn't used to that.
After a few minutes, Emma found herself drifting off. She didn't know how long she fell asleep for, but when she woke, she was immediately aware that she was entirely too comfortable and too warm to still be sleeping in an airport. When she cracked open one eye, she was embarrassed to see that she must have shifted at one point while she was asleep, and had ended up with her head resting on Killian's shoulder, and his arm had found its way around her shoulders, pulling her as close against her as she could get with the armrest of the chair in between them. He apparently was asleep as well, his cheek resting on the top of her head.
She was torn between wanting to move and wake him, in order to get away from him and the feelings he was stirring in her, and staying right where she was. She was warm, comfortable, and felt strangely safe tucked against him. He murmured something in his sleep and pulled her tighter against his side, and she winced as the armrest dug into her skin under her ribs.
"Killian," she said quietly, trying to wake him. She tried to elbow him in the stomach as gently as possible, but he still jolted awake, nearly elbowing her in the head in the process.
"What?" He slurred, his voice gravelly from sleep, and damn it all if the sound of his voice didn't go straight to her stomach, causing a warm feeling to spread through her. His eyes focused on her, and he actually looked a bit embarrassed. "Emma," he said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to…" he trailed off, scratching his neck.
"It's fine. I just got a little cramped." She said, sending him a reassuring smile. "Besides, I knew you couldn't keep your hands off me," she teased, regretting it immediately when she watched his impossibly blue eyes darken, an edge of heat creeping into them. She looked away from him quickly, shifting in her seat until there were a few feet in between them.
After a few moments of awkward silence, Killian announced that he was going to the restroom and asked Emma to watch his bag while he was gone. She agreed, still not looking at him, and felt relieved when he walked away, finally feeling like she was able to breathe. She didn't know why he seemed to have such a way of getting under her skin; she didn't have reactions like this to men, not anymore. Not after Neal. Killian was bad news – he was someone who seemed to understand what she was feeling and thinking just by looking at her, and she didn't like the feeling of vulnerability that gave her. She couldn't deny, however, the connection that they seemed to have. He was ruggedly handsome, from the stubble that lined his jaw, to those piercing blue eyes, and right down to the leather jacket that he wore. She sensed that he knew it, too, from the way that a lazy smirk seemed to grace his face every time he caught her looking at him (which was more often that she liked to admit).
She shook off those thoughts as she noticed Killian walking back towards the gate, sauntering really. Now that she had noticed his looks, it was nearly all she could think about and she cleared her throat in an effort to center herself. As he approached, she could see that he had two bags in his hand from the Duty Free shop, and he was smiling at her. "Why don't I trust that look on your face?" she asked once he got closer, and he grinned even wider.
"I haven't the foggiest, love." The endearment slipped by his lips seemingly without a second thought, and the warm feeling in Emma's stomach returned.
"This is for you," he said, handing her one of the bags. "Go on," he prompted, and she took it, her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
The bag had an assortment of candy and snacks, as well as a few magazines and a Diet Coke. When she raised an eyebrow, he shrugged, "Figured you were hungry. Also I figured you were a Diet Coke person," he said, digging into his own bag filled with snacks.
Emma was embarrassed to realize that tears were beginning to well in her eyes at his gesture. She definitely wasn't used to this; someone looking after her like this. She didn't know why it was hitting her so hard, but she tried to sniff as quietly as she could while she took out a package of Skittles. He heard her, however, and his head snapped up, his eyes meeting hers, and they widened when they saw how her eyes had glazed over with tears. "What… what is it?"
"It's nothing," she said, waving a dismissive hand at him.
"Are you allergic or something? I can get you something else, just don't cry," he said, sounding nearly close to a panic, and Emma couldn't help it – she let out a watery laugh, which only added to Killian's confusion. "Emma?" He asked her, sounding so concerned. He probably thought she was mental.
"It's nothing, really, I'm just… I'm sorry, I'm just not used to people doing things for me. First you almost buy my plane ticket and now all this… it might seem like a small thing for you, but for me it's not." She spoke the words quietly, seriously, and his gaze softened.
"You deserve to have things done for you, Emma." He said it equally as quiet, and it was like they were in their own little bubble even in the large airport. Their eyes locked, and Emma could have sworn that he leaned in before he shifted abruptly, causing her to sway back into her seat. What the hell is going on, she wondered, her nerve endings sparking to life at his close proximity.
I'm so screwed, she thought.
I am so screwed, Killian thought as Emma's gaze focused on everything but him. He had never felt like this towards another woman in such a short amount of time, and the fact that they were still practically strangers spoke volumes. He wasn't sure what it was about her that seemed to have a magnetic pull on him. She was gorgeous, that was a fact, but she was also closed-off and sarcastic, and normally that combination would have put him off, but for her, it seemed to work. She didn't seem like other girls he had met, she seemed like someone who had insecurities and vulnerabilities hidden behind the walls she built around herself, and he wanted to get behind those walls and get to know the person behind them. She represented a challenge, and Killian Jones was never one to back down from a challenge.
It was more than that, though. He felt connected to her in a way that he had only read about in books or seen in movies, and part of him was desperate to know if she felt the same way, or if he was imagining the entire thing.
"So what are you going to be doing in Maine?" Her voice broke him out of his thoughts and he found her watching him, chewing thoughtfully, a pile of Skittles in her hand.
"Just going on vacation."
"No particular reason?"
He raised an eyebrow, "Not especially, no. Why so curious, darling?"
"I'm not, I'm just… I've never heard of anyone taking a vacation to Maine."
"What will you be doing there, then?" He found he was genuinely curious at why she was traveling there, the knowledge that they likely wouldn't see each other again after this flight hitting him hard in the chest. She's just an acquaintance; his mind yelled at him, don't get attached! He feared it was too late for that, however.
"I'm going to see my… my family." She said the last part so softly he almost didn't hear her.
"You sound unsure," he replied, wanting to laugh, but he sensed there was a lot more to the story than he was privy to.
"I… I was in the foster system until I was 18. Just recently I was contacted by a couple in Maine."
"Your parents," he surmised gently.
She nodded, but didn't speak for a long minute, choosing instead to stare intently at the bag of goodies he had bought for her. Without thinking twice, he reached over and placed his left hand on her forearm, trying to provide comfort and reassurance. She looked up at him and even though somehow he knew they'd be there, the tears in her eyes still made his heart hurt. "This is our first time meeting face-to-face. We've talked on the phone, but I… I don't know how this is going to go, and I'm…" she trailed off, realizing that she said more than she intended to, and he moved his hand from her arm. "Anyway, that's why I'm going there."
"I'm sure it'll be fine, Emma." His words were sincere, and she looked at him with such uncertainty in her eyes and he was overcome with the desire to hurt anyone who had ever done anything to cause her to doubt herself. "I've only known you a few hours and I already like you well enough, so I'm sure you have nothing to worry about," he said, winking at her, relieved when she chuckled in response.
"Thanks," she said, and he shrugged.
"Think nothing of it, Swan."
"No, I mean it," she said, "I was really rude to you earlier, and you've been nothing but nice to me since. That means a lot to me, so thank you." In a move that surprised him more than anything else had that day, she reached over to grip his hand, squeezing it lightly before threading their fingers together. Their eyes met as she smiled at him, and he found himself smiling back despite himself.
A few hours later, Emma awoke to the woman from the check-in counter shaking her awake. "Ma'am? Your flight is going to be boarding soon," she said quietly. "Best wake up your boyfriend too," she said, gesturing to Killian.
"Oh, no, he's not -" Emma said, but stopped when she looked to Killian next to her, who was stretched out, his left arm around her waist, keeping her secured to his chest, her back to his front. His right hand was still firmly laced with her other hand, and she blushed. How long had they been sleeping like this? She slowly extracted herself from his grip, and suppressed a grin when he mumbled something in his sleep, something that sounded like her name.
"What's going on?" He asked, slowly sitting up, grimacing. "Bloody hell, my neck hurts."
"Our flight is boarding soon," Emma told him, trying not to feel the chill of the room now that Killian's body heat wasn't keeping her warm. "I'll be right back. Watch my stuff?" At his nod, she headed for the bathrooms. Once inside, she took care of her business and then spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to fix her sleep-tousled hair. She touched up her makeup before heading back to the gate, where Killian was watching her, his eyes running a slow path up her body. She blushed, wondering what on earth would make him look at her like that. She had on black leggings, canvas slip-ons on her feet, and a simple hoodie on over a short-sleeved shirt. She was dressed for comfort, not for style, but the way he was looking at her made her feel like she could have been wearing a paper bag, and he probably wouldn't have minded.
She hadn't felt that way in a very, very long time. "Where is your seat?" She asked, and he shuffled through his things for his boarding pass.
"32E," he replied.
"I'm 32F," Emma said, "I think the clerk is playing matchmaker."
Killian smiled lazily at her, "Well can you blame her? We'd make a devastatingly attractive couple."
Emma rolled her eyes, fighting off a smile, and started to get her things together for boarding. As she got her boarding pass and license out, a thought occurred to her. She thought over it for about two minutes before voicing it. "Would you… would you want to come with me?"
"Come with you where?" He asked.
"To my… to my parents' house." She said quietly, and he froze. "It's just… I haven't been there before, and I don't want to feel awkward. It'd be nice to have a familiar face there. I know we haven't known each other that long, but…" she trailed off, straightening as she slung her backpack over one shoulder. "Forget it, it's stupid. You probably have plans."
After a minute, he got to his feet as well, and stepped well into Emma's personal space. She looked up in surprise, and was surprised by the look in his eyes. "It's not stupid, and I don't have plans. I had a room booked, but I could cancel it." He smiled softly at her, "You really want me to go with you? I don't want to intrude."
"I'm not…" Emma struggled for words, "I'm not good at trusting people, or opening up to people. The few times I talked to Mar- my Mom, that is, on the phone, she was very… well, let's just say that I think there's going to be more than enough awkward silence to go around."
The look on Killian's face could have caused Emma to melt on the spot if she hadn't been so nervous about what he was going to say, but his next words eased all her anxieties. "If you want me there, I'll be there, lass."
"Are you sure? I don't want to keep you, I just thought -"
Emma was cut off at the soft press of Killian's lips to hers, and all coherent thought flew out of her head. She responded after a minute, her hand reaching up to touch the side of his face gently. His arm slipped around her waist, tugging her slowly closer, and she felt his bag slip off of his shoulder as hers did the same. She was aware that they were probably causing a scene, but in the moment, she didn't care. They broke apart slowly, and that shit-eating grin was back on his face. If he wasn't so attractive, she would probably want to slap it off.
"C'mon, Swan, let's board the plane so you can take a nap. I can tell how much you like to use me as a pillow."
"Shut up," she said, trying not to smile. They walked past the desk and the woman there winked at her, causing her to blush further.
"Don't deny it, I'm just a piece of meat to you!" He said dramatically, causing the woman to snicker.
"Killian, shut up." Emma repeated, and he chuckled before they walked on to the jet way. She wasn't sure what was going to happen once they got to Maine, but even though they were still virtual strangers, she felt infinitely better with Killian at her side.