A/N: This is my first splash into the OUAT Captain Swan pool. I've been a fan for a while, and I was mentioning (complaining) to a friend that there were not enough Captain Swan fics using the "fake dating" trope, which is, admittedly, one of my favourites. So this is the start of a little something to fill the void. Here we go! (Or as my friend would say, Tschacka!)
It was just an envelope. The expensive kind, sure, fashioned of heavy card stock and the address made out with some kind of ornate calligraphy, but just an envelope. But for Emma, the envelope held a weight that only she could detect. One that pressed against her chest, and squeezed at her throat. It felt like finality. Defeat.
He was really fucking marrying her.
It wasn't like she didn't know it was coming. Neal was a pretty shitty father, all things considered, but he'd at least pretended to consult his ten year old son before he'd gotten engaged. Which of course meant that it had only taken Henry, freshly dropped off from a weekend with his Dad in New York (of course Neal didn't walk him to the door) all of five seconds to spill the beans. His backpack was still on, for chrissakes.
Neal and Tamara were getting married.
Henry had continued waxing lyrical in that adorably precocious way of his, putting away his toys whilst talking pizza and ducks in Central Park and bagels with cream cheese, without pausing for breath. He didn't seem to realise that Emma wasn't listening. Couldn't listen. Until the glass she'd been holding had exploded in her hand.
Emma looked down, dazed, at the mess of broken glass, and the thin trail of blood that was starting to run down her palm
"Mom?" Henry had stopped mid-anecdote. "Are you okay?"
Emma shook herself. "Son of a bitch. Sorry kid, stay right there, okay? I don't want you cutting yourself."
"You're bleeding." She looked down. The blood had trailed down her finger tips now and was dripping onto the floor.
She shuffled towards the sink, trying to avoid stepping on any broken glass in her socks, and ran her hand under water. It didn't seem to be stopping.
"Hey kid, would you be able to get me the first aid kit, under the sink in the bathroom?" Henry disappeared down the hall, reappearing a few minutes later with his quarry. Getting it to her would prove a bit more challenging, separated as they were by scattering of broken glass. Henry squished his face up in that endearing way that meant he was thinking, until he just climbed onto the breakfast bar, and walked across the kitchen benchtop towards her.
He sat down on the draining board, little legs swinging against the cabinets, and reached into the box on his lap, pulling out a handful of Band-Aids bearing Disney characters.
"Do you want Peter Pan, or Captain Hook?" Henry asked, examining the options. Emma froze involuntarily.
It was entirely the wrong moment for this. The association wasn't a pleasant one. Once upon a time, Emma had been a Lost Girl. Neal a Lost Boy. It was something they'd bonded over, having been abandoned and rejected over and over, by their parents, by the system, by everyone who should have known better. Emma thought she'd finally broken the cycle when she'd met Neal. Finally been found. She should have known better.
"Captain Hook," she replied, more than a hint of vindictiveness in her choice. Henry nodded approvingly.
She patted her hand dry with a dish towel, and presented it to her son, who very carefully applied the Band-Aid.
"Nice work, kid." She went to move her hand away, but Henry stopped her.
"You're forgetting the most important part!"
"I am?" He shot her an exasperated look, one which clearly said grownups are idiots.
"A kiss, to make it better!" He bent down, and delivered a very soft kiss to the bandaged cut, and Emma felt her heart swell with love for her son.
One day soon, he'd stop believing in this stuff. She suspected he already had his suspicions about Santa and the Easter Bunny, but was milking it for more presents. Soon, he wouldn't even bother pretending anymore, and he would metamorphoses into a grumpy, monosyllabic teenager seemingly overnight. But for now, she still had her sweet boy, and he was all hers. Well, except for summer vacation and alternate weekends, anyway.
"Are you sure you're okay, Mom?" Henry was using the big eyes on her. Neal's eyes. She loved her son, but how she wished he looked a little less like his father sometimes.
"I'm just a klutz." She ruffled his hair. "You said something about a castle in Central Park?" And suddenly the motormouth was running a million miles an hour, and the eyes darted away as he recalled adventure after adventure, and Emma could breathe again.
So when the envelope arrived it was not entirely unexpected. That was what happened, after all, wasn't it, when someone agreed to marry you? You got married. That's how it was supposed to go. And so here it was.
Once Emma had gotten her breathing under control, she had called Henry into the living room, and they'd opened it together. It contained a written formal request that Henry do Neal the honour of being his best man. It was a move which some would have considered sweet, and Henry looked suitably proud. Emma found it cloying, but she bit her lip to keep her tongue in check. She wouldn't ruin Henry's moment. He was going to have an important role to play in his Dad's life, which was something that he deserved, something that she knew he craved, and she wasn't going to let herself be bitter about it.
It also came with two invitations. One addressed to the best man. Henry Swan. Which she'd expected. And one to her. Emma Swan and guest.
Was it usual to invite your Baby Mama to watch you waltz off into the sunset with another woman? Was Tamara really okay with her being there? Or was she just a convenient babysitter for Henry? She almost picked up the phone, determined to find out, but she found her attention drawn back to the invite.
Emma Swan and guest.
A plus one? Surely Neal didn't expect her to bring a date to this thing? Not when her role would clearly be wrangling an overexcited Henry, so as not to overwhelm the newlyweds. It's not like she was seeing anyone. He knew she wasn't seeing anyone. Never saw anyone. Not since, well… Henry. And whose fucking fault was that?
Was it a none-too-subtle reminder that she was alone? That she needed to move on already? Or was it just a simple courtesy?
She didn't know. But something about it bothered her. As she examined the invitation again, an idea began to form.
"You're out of your fucking mind, Swan." Killian handed her back the invitation, so that he could line up his final shot. The dart missed its mark by rather a lot, and he scowled. He whirled around again, fingers searching for his glass. Emma grabbed it before him, and held it out of his reach.
"What is this, ransom?" he looked affronted. "There's no fucking way, love. Good thing for me, there's more where that came from," and he sidestepped her, making his way back towards the bar.
She grabbed him by the elbow, and to his detriment, he glanced at her. She was pulling out all the stops, doe eyes and pouted lips.
"You know it isn't in my nature to beg." He snorted in agreement.
"So why change the pattern of a lifetime, eh?" he looked pointedly at her hand still on his arm, and reluctantly, she let him go. He took advantage of her lapse in attention to grasp the glass out of her other hand and drain it in one gulp.
"Anything from the bar, love?" he smirked, rolling his empty glass in his fingers. Emma groaned.
"The usual. And make it a double." He grinned wickedly at having won the exchange, and turned away.
It was a terrible idea. Emma couldn't deny that. But it was one that had planted itself in her mind, and now her course was set. She wouldn't be dissuaded from it. Not even by a stubborn Irishman without an ounce of human compassion.
Killian hadn't exactly been her first choice. Not that there were a lot of viable candidates, exactly. Emma was a bailbondswoman. The kind of guys one encounters in that line of work are usually confined to the ones buying a one-way ticket to Mexico, unconcerned their grandmothers are going to be tossed out on their asses after having put their houses up for collateral. Not an altogether savoury or thoughtful bunch.
The agency Emma worked in was small. One might even go so far as to say tiny. David Nolan ran the place, and Emma and Killian traced the skips. David's wife, Mary Margaret, handled the phones. It was a ramshackle little endeavour, but between the four of them, they made it work.
Not a lot of people would have given someone like Emma a shot, with a record and a kid to boot, but the Nolans hadn't even hesitated, welcoming Henry and Emma both into their little patchwork family. They spent Thanksgivings together. Christmases too. They didn't judge. And when Neal re-entered the scene, just before Henry turned eight, apparently eager to connect with the son he'd never known, they'd refused to fully warm to him, like the true friends they were.
"No little lad tonight, then?" Killian returned, a double whiskey in hand. Emma never drank on nights she had Henry. But he was in New York this weekend with Neal, getting fitted for his little Best Man outfit. As much as the whole idea of the wedding grated on her, the image of her little man in a tiny tux wasn't an unappealing one, and she made him promise to take pictures from the fitting.
"He's in New York," she replied, taking the offered drink, and draining it with one tip of the glass. Killian gave her a wary look.
"Steady, love. I shan't go easy on you just because you're inebriated," he turned his attention back to the game.
"There'll be an open bar," she sing-songed, her case still not finished.
"Swan, it's not the free booze I'm opposed to. It's the occasion." He gripped her by the shoulders, and looked her level in the eye. "I. Don't. Do. Weddings."
"Are you sure? You'd look pretty good in a suit…" She let her eyes rake over him briefly, and she saw something spark in his eyes before he shook it away.
"Don't appeal to my vanity, Swan. It's beneath you."
"You're really going to let me go alone? To be shunned and whispered about by strangers?"
"You're being dramatic."
"I don't want him to win," she admitted, defeated.
"To win?" He raised an eyebrow.
"The break-up. I don't want him to win."
"Why, because he's moved on faster?" He shook his head. "Whatever happened, you got the little lad out the break-up. I'm pretty sure you won." She smiled at his logic, but it didn't help her case.
"No one else will see it that way. You know they won't. I'll look like the pitiful ex-girlfriend, secretly wishing the happy couple ill."
"Which you may or may not be?" He had her there. "Who cares what a bunch of strangers think anyway? It's not worth concocting this elaborate deception."
"You're a bailbondsman. You deceive people all the time!"
"Aye, for the greater good," he scratched behind his ear.
"And this isn't for the greater good?"
"I'm not going to be your pretend boyfriend, Swan. So shut up, have a drink, and stop distracting me while I'm taking my turn."
Emma awoke to the sound of incessant banging. Had her neighbour decided to engage in a little impromptu DIY? Was she going to have to kill him? Her head was pounding, and her mouth felt like dry cotton. The banging continued unabated.
"Swan?" Confused, Emma sat up, which was evidently a mistake, because her headache worsened considerably. It was Killian, standing in her doorway. Shirtless Killian. And for a second, she couldn't recall why he was there, until something clicked and the previous night returned to her in a flash.
Whiskey. Lots of whiskey. More drunken singing than was usually advisable. Killian walking her home. Her offering him the couch. And blessed, uninterrupted sleep. Until now.
"Expecting someone?" He asked, eyes shooting to the front door, which was apparently the source of the commotion. He was trying to smooth out his bedhead, and the sight was somewhat distracting to her hungover brain.
"Swan!" Killian's voice shook her from her reverie. "Is the little lad due back?"
"Not 'til tomorrow," Emma couldn't keep her head raised any longer and fell back onto the pillows.
"Alright," Killian voice rumbled. "I'll get rid of them."
She heard him as he made his way to the front door, muttering curses under his breath the whole time. And then she heard him open the door.
"Emma?" Killian shouted. He never called her that. "You'd better get out here." His tone was urgent, and Emma scrambled out of bed, stopping only to grab a robe to pull over her nightdress. Rushing into the living room, she was caught off guard by a hug from her ten year old son.
"Henry? What are you doing back this early? And why didn't you use your key?" And then she looked past him to see Neal standing in the doorway, giving Killian a death glare. Just brilliant. Of all the times to walk Henry up to the apartment.
To his credit, Henry seemed completely unaware of any and all tension in the room.
"Hey Killian." Henry greeted, nonchalantly, kicking off his sneakers.
"Hey lad." Killian clapped him on the shoulder. "Want to come into the kitchen for a snack with me real quick? If I know your mother, there's got to be some Pop-Tarts in there somewhere. I think the grownups need to talk." Emma gave him a grateful nod.
At the magical word snack, Henry was sold, and his eyes lit up.
"I'll see you, buddy," Neal called from the doorway, raising an arm in farewell. And then the prospect of food won out, and Henry trotted after Killian.
Neal waited until he'd disappeared from view to launch in.
"What the fuck, Emma?"
Her head was still throbbing, so surely she hadn't heard him right.
"Me? What the fuck Neal? It's Saturday. You had him the whole weekend."
"Something came up with the church. We have to drive to Maine to sort it out."
"And you couldn't call me?"
"Had I known you spend your weekends off fucking a random leprechaun, maybe I would've."
"Are you kidding me right now?" He paused to give her a once over. His look said he wasn't impressed.
"Are you… hungover?"
"It's Saturday! And you didn't call me! I can do whatever the fuck I like!"
"Including the leprechaun."
"Jesus Christ, you aren't doing this."
"I deserve to know who is spending time with my son." Emma knew a cop out line when she heard one.
"Henry wasn't even supposed to be here! And it's Killian. You know Killian. You've met him. More than once! At David and Mary Margaret's? I've worked with him for the last five years!"
"And that's not all, apparently," Neal sneered. Emma was ready to launch herself at his throat, when Killian appeared around the corner.
"I'll give you both fair warning. These walls," he rapped a knuckle on one. "Pretty thin." That sobered both of them pretty quickly, but Neal was still eyeing Killian, or moreover Killian's shirtless figure, with more than a little suspicion.
Emma located his shirt from last night hanging off the edge of the sofa, and bundled it up in her hands.
"Perhaps if everyone was decent?" she offered, throwing Killian the shirt. Mercifully, he put it on, but not without an incendiary wink at Emma first.
Emma watched Killian hesitate, and then amble forwards towards Neal, a false smile plastered on his face.
"I haven't had the chance to congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials." He brandished a hand forward, and Neal took it by instinct, staring at his own traitorous hand in surprise as it shook Killian's, the picture of civility.
"Bloody brilliant news. I know the lad is really excited." Killian chanced a glance at Emma, who was sending him abort mission signals with her eyes. He grinned wider.
"We hadn't told Henry about all of this, you see," Killian motioned between he and Emma. "Hadn't found the right moment, as it were. What with your news, we didn't want to overwhelm him with change, so you'll excuse the shock. It appears the jig is up!" And with that, he went and stood next to Emma, and placed a hand around her waist. If she'd had any presence of mind, she'd bat him away, but what with the hangover, and the surprise sneak attack, she was too curious as to where he was going with this. She leaned into him a little, and the opportunistic bastard went in for a boob grab. Emma subtly brought her foot down hard on his, and Killian faltered a little, and became instantly less handsy. Fortunately, Neal didn't notice any of this, busy leaning on the doorframe, grappling at the news.
"So, you two are…" Neal began.
"Together." Killian supplied. "Yes. A rather surprising but very welcome development." He smiled at Emma an infuriatingly smug smile.
Emma wasn't sure how he bought it, but Neal looked suitably sickened by the display.
"And we'll be seeing you at the wedding, looks like!" Killian responded jovially.
At the word wedding, Neal seemed to remember his very urgent trip to Maine, and his future bride he'd left downstairs in the car.
"Ah, yes. Wedding. Speaking of…" he motioned out into the hallway. "Better get going."
"Of course," Killian replied, hugging Emma tighter to him.
"Ah, sorry again Ems. I'll call you about another weekend."
When Neal finally left, Killian removed his hand and took a step away from Emma.
"What the hell was that!?" Emma whispered angrily as Killian flopped down onto the sofa.
"I've decided I am going to help you win your break-up, after all," he answered breezily.
"So what happened to Mr. "I Don't Do Weddings"?" Emma asked, failing in her imitation of his accent, before taking a seat beside him.
"Pop-Tarts are ready!" Henry's tiny voice called from the kitchen.
"Ah! Excellent!" Killian stood up, and raised an eyebrow at Emma, who hadn't moved. "Not coming to breakfast, then?"
"Killian…" Her voice was weary. He bent down until their faces were level, his impossibly blue eyes meeting her green ones.
"He called me a leprechaun, Swan. A leprechaun."