It's not a night for thinking. It's a night for walking into the first bar that looks like it won't serve her a drink in a glass last washed ten years ago. Everything else isn't important.
So that's what she does. Her shift is over. She loves her job, but sometimes, sometimes it's too hard to do it. Today has been one of those days. The details of the case have made her want to bleach her brain, wipe away the crime scene photos with something, anything. This isn't what she signed up for when she took a detective job in Portland, Maine. Portland is supposed to be a place for rich tourists and good lobster, a quaint city town tucked into the coast. It's not supposed to be a place for horrific murders.
The Jolly Roger is in the Old Port, a bar shoved in between the cobblestone streets and colonial buildings. It's not a place she's been before, but Emma doesn't have the energy for her regular haunts. She doesn't want to explain why she needs to drink liquor straight tonight, why she needs to just be left alone. So this place, a tourist trap if she ever saw one with its pirate ship paraphernalia and ship's lights outside the scarred wooden door, it will do nicely.
Inside, she's shocked to find the place isn't quite as cheesy as she may have originally thought. Its theme is obvious; rigging and nautical rope decorate the walls, and the lights are ship's lights, but the place is surprisingly cozy. It's all dark wood and rich leather, and obviously well cared for. She wonders how she's never been inside this place before, her loft only a few blocks away, but she doesn't really have to search hard for an answer. Emma is a creature of habit, and her habit is to go out with Ruby, her partner, and get their drink on with all the other cops over at Gold's.
She should be there now, letting herself be swept away in the family of the Portland PD, the horror she and Ruby witnessed a shared hell. But she can't. Ruby is better at it, better at talking to their sergeant, Graham, when things get rough. Ruby jut handles life better, Emma thinks wryly to herself. She isn't a festering, walking wound like Emma, lost in her memories and demons.
Which is why tonight, Emma chooses to be lost alone. She finds it fitting that she's ended up here, in this bar that reminds her of the bowels of an eighteenth century galley (she's always liked history); if she has to be alone, being lost at sea isn't so bad. She's always like the ocean; it was part of the reason she took the job in Portland.
It's a week night, and it's late. There's a few guys sitting at one table, clearly underage, clearly drunk and from the nearby college, but she pretends not to notice. Emma clocked out hours ago. She's on her time now. They're mostly keeping to themselves, and since there aren't a whole lot of other people in the bar, she doesn't care. If they start to bother her, she'll let them see her badge and hope they're smart enough to be on their way before she has to deal with them.
The guy working the bar has been watching her, watching as she lingered in the doorway halfway in and halfway going somewhere else. He's tall, a mop of unruly black hair falling into his eyes and stubble covering his cheeks. There's an image he's obviously going for to fit in with this bar, from the tattoos and the piercings and the all black attire, but there's also a keen intelligence in his eyes as he watches her make a decision.
It's the intelligence that makes her stay. A conversation with a stranger isn't entirely unwelcome. It may even distract her long enough to not see all that blood for thirty seconds
"Rum, please. Straight." She doesn't know why she orders it. Maybe it's the bar and its seaside theme, maybe it's the horror of the day. Emma is usually a wine sort of girl, but tonight she needs something stronger.
"You'll be a lass on a mission, then." His voice is a surprise, low and smooth with the hint of an Irish accent. When she glances up, he's wearing a crooked grin and setting down the glass of rum.
"Something like that." She picks up the glass he's set down before her and throws the drink back, the cheap rum burning through her in a fiery gulp. He's surprised by this, blue eyes widening as she sets down the glass and nods toward it for a refill.
"Quite the mission it must be." He's brought the bottle out from under the bar and is pouring it into her glass, his eyes fixed on her instead of his task. "Bartender makes a good listener, yeah?"
"Don't want to talk about it," Emma snaps back, grabbing the glass and taking a swallow. She's trying to go slower with this one, savor the burn, but the blood is everywhere when she blinks and she needs it to stop.
He's staring now, unabashedly staring, and she can't help but notice he has the bluest eyes she's ever seen. They're curious now, questions in them, but he's either too polite to ask or just plain knows better.
When she asks him to pour her a third, he raises an eyebrow and glances around the nearly empty bar. "Lass, perhaps…perhaps you should slow down, yeah? Might snow tonight and the cobbles get a might bit slippery this part of town."
"I live around the corner. Not driving."
"Ah. Well, alls the same."
She glares at him, the warmth of the alcohol now blessedly reaching her arms and legs, making her feel boneless. Her minds drifts, taking in his broad shoulders and powerful arms. He could make her feel boneless, she bets, with his generous mouth and long fingers. If only he wasn't such an interfering bastard.
"Listen, Captain Hook, whoever you are." The pirate crap outside the door inspires the nickname, as does the faint smudge of makeup he's wearing. Maybe it's the Jack Sparrow look he's going for, but that particular captain has a certain coolness she doesn't want to afford this guy getting into her business. "I'm a cop, okay? I'm not driving. I'm not working tomorrow. I'm just having a few drinks before I go home. Your pour, I drink. I pay, and usually, I tip pretty decently but I can make an exception for you. What I don't do is take shit from bartenders who think they know me after two drinks and five minutes."
She sputters at him, his response the last thing on earth she would have expected. He's grinning at her, a broad grin of mirth, and she wants to punch him. That is not a reply you give an angry woman you've just met, she seethes.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" The words come out louder than she intends, and she lowers her voice to an angry hiss to avoid drawing the attention of the other patrons. "Who the hell says something like that?"
He shrugs, one-hundred percent unapologetic. "You've got fire, lass. You're beautiful."
"Did you think, for a second, that I would say yes to something so absurd?"
"Hardly. But you do flush in quite a lovely manner when you're riled."
Her hand reaches for her gun, but she's able to stop herself from shooting the bastard before her fingers curl around the weapon. "You should know I carry," she threatens, but despite the irritation, a small part of her is grateful for this ridiculous stranger. He's keeping her mind occupied and she needs that.
"You should know we've witnesses," he replies with an exaggerated eye motion toward the drunk college kids. "Can't just go shooting the locals, cop or no."
"You are the single most infuriating man I've ever met."
"Aye, I expect you may be right."
"Are you going to pour me another drink or what?"
He eyes her for a long moment, but then he pours the glass, the amber liquid sliding around and splashing. She's reaching for it before he's even done, but in a surprisingly quick move, his fingers curl over the top of the glass, stopping her. "A little slower this time, yeah?"
"Whatever." Emma snatches the glass away from him, tossing her long blonde locks over her shoulder. The wind has done a number on her hair, snarling the strands into one massive tangle she'll be sorry about tomorrow. The rum burning down her throat reminds her there's a few things she'll be sorry about tomorrow, but that's not tonight's problem.
He leaves to go check on his other customers, ferrying back another pitcher of beer, before returning to her spot at the bar. She doesn't really want to talk to him anymore; she just wants to drink her liquor until the haze starts to descend and then make the quick trip back to her apartment.
But he's persistent, this stupidly attractive bartender.
"Whatever it is you're trying to forget, I assure you, there are most pleasant distractions." He's all but leering at her, his eyes roaming over her body in a manner that leaves no room for misunderstanding. "I'm a generous man, love. I'd be willing to help you out."
"Does that line of garbage work on anyone?" She's astounded by this behavior, incredulous that he's so direct and so blatant with his innuendo. And she's defensive, because her body is a traitor and can't help but think perhaps she should accept his offer. She's not going to sleep tonight anyway, and he certainty seems like an attractive enough way to pass the time.
He shrugs, grinning madly. He's got a towel in his hands, and he's pushing it around the bar surface without seeming to have any actual intention toward cleaning. "You tell me."
"Absolutely not. You're disgusting." There's no real malice behind the words, though. The rum is definitely getting to her now, and a part of her softens ever so slightly toward this man. Whether he knows it or not, he's helping her, and that makes her a tiny bit grateful.
"Aye," he agrees cheerfully with her assessment of him, straightening to his full height and discarding the towel in the sink. He grabs a beer from under the counter and cracks it open, leaning back to stare at her some more. His eyes linger on her mouth in what should be a nearly scandalous manner, but she finds herself biting the inside of her cheek to keep from licking her lips.
"You're drinking on the job?" she accuses instead, gesturing to the beer in his hand. "Isn't that something you can get fired for?"
"That would require the boss having concerns about my drinking habits."
"Perhaps on occasion he finds I drink more than I ought, but he's a reasonable man. Everyone needs a little excess on occasion." He looks pointedly at her glass, once again nearing empty. He doesn't make a move to refill it.
She wants to keep fighting with him, but she doesn't have a witty comeback and she can feel the flush of her cheeks that tells her she's really had enough. The cheap rum is going to give her a hell of a headache when she wakes up as it is.
"On that note, I believe I'll be going." Emma has to grip the edge of the bar to steady herself when she stands faster than she should have, the liquor making her legs wobble slightly. She's warm in her leather jacket, though she knows the wind coming off the water will make it a chilled walk home.
"Nothing I can do to entice you to stay a wee bit longer?" There's genuine hope in his voice, and for a second, she thinks she sees something flicker across his face, something real and tangible and frighteningly familiar, but then it's gone and he's grinning at her. "I do make fine company on a cool autumn night, I say so myself."
"How nice for you." She's managed to fish her credit card out of her pocket and tosses it toward him, not even waiting for him to produce a bill. It's time to go home, before she does something stupid like give in to her body's yearning for a man in her bed. It's been a long time, and he's a fine specimen of man, but she just can't. Not when she's feeling raw and fragile and exposed by the way her emotions are churning from that crime scene. She can't keep herself quite insolated enough to sleep with this man and feel nothing, and she can't go down the other road. Not again. Not after last time.
He hesitates before scooping up the card, but doesn't say anything as he runs it through. It's only when he's handing her the receipt and the slip to sign that she understands the smirk he's wearing. "Well, Emma Swan, it's nice to meet you. Killian Jones, at your service…whatever sort of service you require."
It's the eyebrow wriggling that gets her on the last line, and it's all she can do to not fall down on the dark floor with the force of her laughter. The lines he's trying to use on her, they can't be for real, though she has to admit he's a little clever for finding out her name from the card.
"I see, Mr. Jones." She manages to stop laughing long enough to scribble her name and a generous tip on the receipt. She wasn't kidding; she tips well. Too many years spent waiting tables herself. Dropping the pen on top of the paper, she shoves the pile back across the bar toward him. "That's generous of you and all, but I'm sure I've had all of the service from you I care for."
It should be a dismissal, and she intends it as one, turning on her heel and making for the door. But it doesn't stop him.
"When you change your mind, Miss Swan, you know where to find me," he calls after her. It irritates her, the use of when instead of if in his sentence, but she keeps walking without turning back – mostly so he won't see the smile she can't quite prevent.