Set me on fire in the evening
Everything will be fine

Waking up strong in the morning
Walking in a straight line
Lately I'm a desperate believer
But walking in a straight line - "Straight Line", Silverchair

He has time to think that the bright light in the bathroom makes her eyes look even more green, then she's grabbing two handfuls of his sweatshirt and jerking him towards her. When her mouth covers his, he stops thinking about anything apart from the fact that Emma Swan is kissing him so fiercely his legs almost go out from under him.

Bloody hell.

Her mouth is warm and slick, her tongue curling around his as though she's studied handbooks on how best to drive him out of his mind. His pulse is hammering almost painfully in his head and his cock, the blood roaring through his veins, fuelled by alcohol and months (fuck, who is he trying to fool, it's been years) of gallantly pining for this woman. He brings his hands up, vaguely meaning to ease her body away from his, but all that happens is that one hand buries itself in her hair, the other planting itself firmly on her back.

"God, what am I doing?" Her throaty whisper is breathed against his jaw, and unfortunately has the effect of being doused with a bucket of iced water.

What is she doing, indeed?

Emma Swan is not only his long-time college friend and flatmate, she's also currently enmeshed in a serious relationship with another man. She has no business kissing the living daylights out of him in their apartment's bathroom after a raucous evening of shots and trying to outdo each other with their choice of 'bad' music.

In his defence, he does try to put a halt to proceedings. His hand still buried in her hair, he pulls back, trying to catch her gaze with his. Her eyes are fever-bright, and he knows she will regret this in the morning, even if he won't. "I don't know, darling, what are you doing?"

"Shut up." She kisses him again, shifting closer, nudging him backwards until his arse hits the edge of the bathroom vanity. He'd come in here to clean his teeth before staggering off to bed, hoping to put some distance between himself and Emma's seeming determination to match him in the flirtation stakes. She'd followed him into the bathroom, his phone in her hand, muttering something about how she hardly has any pictures of them together, then everything had gone a bit mad. He knows she'd had a fight with Walsh this morning, but this reaction seems more than a little over the top, even for her.

He's trying very hard (poor choice of word, perhaps) to stop himself from taking advantage of the situation, but he feels as though he's fighting a losing battle. "Fancy a cup of tea?"

She bites at his bottom lip, and he feels a jolt of raw lust tug at his groin. "I hate you sometimes."

He tries to be offended, but it's proving difficult when her hands are exploring his arse. "What?"

"Strutting around like God's freaking gift with that face and that voice and being all sweet and funny and God damned charming." Her voice is muffled against his neck, and when he feels the scrape of her teeth on his skin, he can't swallow back the low groan that rumbles up from his chest. "I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do with all of that?"

He's beyond confused now, and the copious amount of alcohol they've consumed certainly isn't helping. Deciding to inject a note of humour into the conversation (they've always communicated best that way), he bumps his nose against hers, more than a little overwhelmed by the scent and feel and everything of her. "Are you saying that you like me, Swan?"

His attempt at levity backfires. She leans into him, her breasts pressing softly against his chest, one hand leaving his arse to grope for something on the vanity beside him. "I'm saying I really hate seeing women at our breakfast table the morning after you've fucked them." Her voice is thick with emotion and vodka, never a good combination, but he still can't help the little thrill of excitement that goes through him. "Hate it. You and me, though, we're a bad idea, 'cause we're friends and I have Walsh and, fuck, my timing just sucks so much."

It suddenly dawns on him (perhaps he can be forgiven for being slow on the uptake, given the fact that his reflexes have been muffled by lust and vodka) that she has thought about him - them - in a manner not quite befitting their 'just good friends' status. Before he can speak (he still feels like he's two steps behind, she's always been the only one who can reduce him to a blithering heap of silence), she has his phone in her hand again, and her lips are a whisper away from his. "I've messed things up now, I'm sorry."

Then she's kissing him again, her mouth both soft and urgent, letting him taste the desire shimmering beneath the surface, making his whole body clench with an answering hunger that shocks him with its intensity.

He's not about to demur a second time.

He kisses her mouth, then her throat, tasting the furiously fluttering pulse just below her jaw. Her right hand slides underneath his sweatshirt to stroke his back, and hunger slams through him, urging him to go further, faster, pull her into him and let her feel exactly what she's doing to him. When she sighs softly, pressing her hips against his with clear intent, he blindly finds her mouth with his once again, kissing her until they're both panting and clutching at each other, holding each other up against the bloody bathroom vanity.

The sudden flash of his camera phone going off brings him back to his senses, and just in the nick of time, it seems. It's as though the fight suddenly goes out of her, and she sags into his arms, his phone dangling dangerously from her fingertips.

"Okay, Swan," he tells her as he liberates his phone and wraps one arm around her back to keep her from stumbling. Seriously, what the hell is going on here? She's always been able to drink him under the table, so this early capitulation to the power of vodka is most unlike her. "I think it's time you went to bed," he says with an effort, doing his best to steady his shaking voice. "We've both got work tomorrow, remember?"

She mumbles something that sounds like agreement, and he tells himself that he's relieved. His heart is still pounding, his breath still coming short. For all the times he's imagined kissing Emma Swan, his imagination has never quite managed to encompass the glorious reality. Feeling as though he's just sprinted around the block several times, he slides his phone onto the bathroom vanity, then decides not to bother forcing his flatmate to brush her teeth or wash her face. Best to get two closed bedroom doors between them before he does something incredibly foolish like listening to his body rather than his head.

A moment later, he's managed to wrangle her into her bedroom, profoundly grateful that they'd both dressed for an elegant evening of shots and bad music at home. What she's wearing resembles pyjamas enough that he has no hesitation in simply pulling back her covers (Duckling sheets? Really? Far less hardcore than he'd expected for a tough bail bonds woman, his glorious blonde Valkyrie) and gently coaxing her into bed. He takes another moment to put a glass of water beside her bed (he has the feeling that tomorrow morning is going to be most unpleasant for her), then flicks off her bedside lamp, feeling uncomfortably like a voyeur in his own home. "Goodnight, Swan."

He reaches the door before she speaks, and when she does, it's all he can do is turn on his heel and retrace his steps. "Killian?"


Her voice is small and rough, and it makes his heart ache. "Sorry."

"Don't fret, love." He fumbles for the doorknob, forcing himself to take that final step out into the hallway. "I'll see you in the morning. I'll wager we'll both need a strong coffee."

There's no answer, and again he tells himself that he's relieved.

He returns to the bathroom, his head all over the place as he perfunctorily cleans his teeth, splashing his face with cold water for good measure. He briefly considers a cold shower (God, those kisses) but it's November and he's not in the mood for hypothermia. A few minutes later, he's in his own bedroom, the door firmly shut against temptation, lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling.

Well, he thinks wearily, torn between confusion and elation. This is quite the interesting development.

He's wanted Emma Swan from the moment they met on campus, introduced by his friend David, who was dating one of her friends, Mary Margaret. He's been ridiculously, silently in love with her for almost as long. He's a man who believes in going after what he wants, but he also likes to think of himself as a man of honour. Not once in the history of their friendship have they both been single and in the same city at the same time, and he had long resigned himself to the fact that close friends was all they'll ever be.

Mind you, being Emma Swan's close friend is quite something, and six months ago, when David had told him that he and Mary Margaret had two spare rooms in their converted loft apartment and that Emma was taking the other one, he'd jumped at the chance to torture himself on a daily basis.

He had been so sure he could handle it. Emma was hot and heavy with Walsh, after all (they'd been dating for almost a year) and would surely just continue to roll her eyes at his outrageous flirting. They'd set the rules for their friendship a long time ago, and he certainly wouldn't be in danger of embarrassing himself by confessing his love for her over scrambled eggs one morning.

Even now, his powers of self-deception astound him, because it turned out that he was in danger of doing just that every bloody morning.

And now he's lying here in his bedroom, with Emma sleeping down the corridor, and he thinks he can still taste her kiss despite the liberal application of his favourite spearmint toothpaste. What the hell had she been thinking? They've gotten to that level of plastered together many times before, but it had never ended with them in a heated clinch in the bloody bathroom. Rolling over, he punches his pillow and wills himself to fall asleep. The faster he falls asleep, the faster morning will come, and the quicker he can get through Emma telling him that she's sorry and it was all a mistake and would never happen again.

Best laid plans and all that, because despite the fact he suspects the level of vodka in his body would be enough to fell a stone donkey, it takes a very long time for him to fall asleep. Perhaps he should stop replaying kissing Emma Swan on a loop in his head, but if tonight is going to be a one-time thing (and he fears it will be just that), then surely he's allowed to torture himself a little while longer.

He punches his pillow again. Perhaps he should have had that cold shower after all.

This is, Emma thinks as she lies very still and wishes for death to claim her, definitely one of the worst hangovers she's ever had. God, what the hell had they been drinking last night? She remembers wine with their dinner, then David and Mary Margaret had gone out for coffee and cake (date night, no other flatmates invited, thanks very much), then she and Killian had set up camp in the living room with the stereo and -



She squints at the old-fashioned alarm clock on her bedside table (a gift from Mary Margaret, that girl is hopelessly retro) but the hands and numbers made no sense. Her room is still vaguely dark, so it takes her a moment to notice the glass of water beside the clock. I don't remember doing that, she muses, but she isn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak. Struggling up into a half-sitting position, she drinks the whole glass in one go, gulping it down as though it's a miracle cure for the pounding in her head.

It makes her feel a little better (at least her throat doesn't hurt any more) but it sure doesn't make her feel like leaping out of bed and facing the day. Instead, she flops back onto her bed, trying to piece together the night before. Fuck, what the hell had she been thinking, getting trashed on a Thursday night? Stupid Jones and his vodka shots and his cringe worthy 1980's CD collection, she thinks with a scowl at her ceiling. He should know by now that she can't resist his 'I can find a worse song than you can' game.

God, her head is pounding, but she's pretty sure she has a 10am appointment at work, so there's no way to call in sick without messing a heap of people around. She should not have been drinking last night, not after she took those antihistamines before dinner for her allergies, but Walsh had been a dick about cancelling their date at the last moment (not for the first time) and she'd wanted to forget that being with him was starting to be harder than being single.

She closes her eyes again, hoping to ease the dull throbbing in her head. At least her allergies seem to have subsided. How the hell does someone get hay fever in November? She grumbles to herself for a few more moments, then decides to get her shit together and accept the inevitable. She's not dying, and she needs to go to work today.

Sighing, she slowly emerges from beneath the bed covers (it seems she went to bed in her gym clothes last night) and sits on the edge of the mattress for a few minutes. When she's relatively sure that she's not going to throw up, she gets to her feet, and slowly gathers up her bathrobe and clean underwear. What doesn't kill her might only make her stronger, but a hot shower and hot coffee will go a long way towards making her feel human again.

It's still early, but the shower stall is misted with the remnants of someone else's visit, and she feels a mild sense of surprise push through her muddled head. David and Mary Margaret always use the en suite attached to their bedroom (there's two of them, it only made sense that they have the biggest bedroom) so that means that their resident lawyer, who is usually the last one to stagger out of his bedroom on any given morning, is already up and showered.

I bet he doesn't even have a hangover, that smooth bastard. It would be just like him to drink her under the table and then turn up as fresh as a freaking daisy the next morning, she thinks darkly. Stripping off her clothes, she steps into the shower and makes the water as hot as she can bear it, and hopes that he's at least had the good manners to make coffee.

He has.

She smells the mouth-watering scent of his favourite espresso blend as soon as she opens the bathroom door, and she pads slowly towards the kitchen, tightening the belt of her bathrobe as she walks. The almost-scalding water on the back of her neck has almost managed to make her feel halfway decent, but she needs a caffeine hit like she needs air. Her hair is still wrapped in its usual towel turban, but they've long stopped standing on ceremony in this house. "I hope you left some of that coffee for me, Jones," she announces as she steps into the kitchen. "It's your fault I feel this bad, you know."

There's a clatter of coffee mugs as he starts, turning to look at her with those impossibly blue eyes. He's already half-dressed for the office, his customary black waistcoat over a white business shirt, his tie and suit jacket draped over the back of one of the kitchen table chairs. "Uh, morning, Swan."

She narrows her gaze at him. Just as she suspected, he's showing no sign of their night of vodka and loud singing that's still scratching at her brain stem. "You're up early."

"Couldn't sleep."

He gives her an oddly shy smile which, to her despair, sends a tiny flurry of butterflies through the pit of her stomach. Shit, not this again. She really thought she'd managed to put all that behind her over the last few months, but apparently not. She's not the first person to stupidly fall in love with one of her best friends (who only has eyes for other women, plural) and she won't be the last but sometimes it feels like there are burrs under her skin when he smiles at her.

And yet she's the sucker who agreed to live in the same apartment with him.

He slides a mug of coffee in front of her as she drops into the nearest wooden chair, then adds two aspirin and a large glass of water. "Thank you," she breathes as she reaches for them with faintly unsteady hands, but he says nothing in return. She peers up at him, but he seems in something of a rush, which is weird, considering they're both at least an hour ahead of their usual workday schedule. "At least you could have the decency to look a little hung over, you know," she grumbles at him as she finally reaches for her coffee. "I feel like I cracked open my skull and poured that damned vodka of yours straight into my brain."

Leaning against the counter beside their battered espresso machine, he gives her a long, searching look, his gaze sweeping over her face. "Not my fault you can't keep up, Swan," he finally says before burying his nose in his own coffee mug.

There's something in his tone that she can't quite decipher, something unfamiliar and wary, but the coffee is hot and sweet and tastes like heaven (she can literally feel it spiking her blood) and she chalks it up to too much vodka and not enough sleep. It seems he's only human, after all. "Where are the others?"

"Still in bed, I assume." He refills both their mugs without her having to say a word, and she flashes him a smile of thanks. He blinks at her, his lips parting as though if to speak, then he seems to give himself a shake. "They rolled in just after midnight, so I doubt we'll see them before their designated alarm time."

"Midnight?" She's impressed. "God, what time did I go to bed last night?" She looks at the refrigerator, wondering if she can stomach some toast, then decides against it. "The last thing I remember is beating you at remembering every word to that stupid Bon Jovi song."

Killian's coffee mug pauses halfway to his mouth. Once again, he stares at her with those ridiculously blue eyes, and she suddenly has to fight the urge to squirm in her chair. It's like he's literally trying to peek inside her head and, with her hangover, there's definitely not enough room in there for anything else. "What?" she finally asks, hearing the defensive note in her own voice, and he gives her a shrug that looks way too casual to actually be casual. "I didn't do anything embarrassing, did I?"

"Not at all, love." He turns his back to her, rinsing his coffee mug in the sink with unnecessary vigour, and she has to strain to hear him over the sound of the running water. "Well, I'm off."

She shouldn't feel disappointed (they don't always catch the train into the city together, after all) but she is. "I can be ready in thirty minutes tops, I swear," she says teasingly, but he only shakes his head, his smile strangely tight as he glances at her over his shoulder.

"Actually, I've got a lot on at work this morning, so I thought I'd take advantage of the early start."

It's not a real brush-off by any means, so why does she feel like it is? "Sure, okay. Thanks for the coffee," she tells him as she pulls the towel from her head, running her hands through the damp strands of her hair. Definitely a plait today, she thinks, then belatedly notices that the sound of running water has stopped and Killian is snatching up his tie and jacket from the chair beside her as though he's running late for work rather than an hour ahead of schedule. "See you tonight?"

He pauses, his gaze finally meeting hers with an intensity that has the heat unexpectedly rising in her cheeks. "Not seeing Walsh?"

The warmth in her face increases at the oddly accusing tone in his voice, and her heart sinks. Fuck. It's way too early to be dealing with this, with him and his face and the fact that despite filling her life and her bed with Walsh, she still has this stupid schoolgirl crush on someone who has made it quite clear that she isn't his type. It'd be hard to miss the parade of brunettes through his life over the years, after all. "Yeah, maybe." She runs a hand through her damp hair, wondering how the hell she can be almost thirty and still so messed up in the emotional attachment department. "I guess I should let him make it up to me for cancelling our date last night."

Again, his smile is tight and doesn't reach his eyes, his gaze following the path her hand takes through her tangled hair. "Ah." Draping his tie around his neck, he picks up his wallet and keys from the kitchen counter, then gives her a little nod. "I'll most likely be going out for a drink after work myself."

She doesn't want to analyse the hollow feeling his words invoke. It's Friday night, so she guesses there will be yet another willowy brunette at their breakfast table tomorrow morning, being placated with gourmet scrambled eggs before being gently eased out of his life. "Have fun, then," she says with her best airy wave, and his brow furrows.

"You know me, love." He heads for the front door, tossing his parting words over his shoulder. "I always do."

Emma listens to the front door slam behind him, then frowns at her empty coffee mug. That would have to have been the most awkward conversation she's ever had with Killian Jones, and they've had quite a few. Maybe he's not as immune to the perils of vodka as he'd have her believe.

Shaking her head, she dumps her coffee cup in the sink without rinsing it (Mary Margaret won't be happy with her, but she doesn't have the energy to care), and shuffles back to her room to get dressed. She'll go to work and forget about Walsh and Killian and the unhappy fact that while her hay fever might have vanished, she seems to have acquired a pink rash around her lips and down one side of her neck. Nothing a bit of make-up won't fix, she decides, then stops dead in her tracks to stare at the debris littering the living room.


There are empty pizza boxes and CD cases strewn everywhere, and the surface of the coffee table looks suspiciously sticky with alcoholic residue, not to mention an empty bottle of vodka and two shot glasses.

Wait, they ordered pizza? When did that happen?

Mentally vowing to swear off mixing antihistamines and shots, she takes a deep breath and begins to clean up, silently cursing Killian with each new CD case she almost steps on. Typical of him to contribute to this mess and then take off, then realises she's being a little unfair. Out of the two of them, he's always the one who cleans up and organises and makes sure there is milk and butter in the fridge and the bills are paid on time. He must really be busy at work to have left her in the lurch like this, she thinks, then she hears the sound of the master bedroom's door opening and closing.

"Wow." Mary Margaret comes up behind her, resting her chin on Emma's shoulder, her short dark hair looking unfairly perfect for so early in the morning. She surveys the damage, then looks at Emma with obvious amusement. "Exactly what did the two of you get up to last night while we were out?"

"You know, I'm not exactly sure." Emma tosses yet another CD case belonging to one of Killian's terrible 80's compilations onto the coffee table, smiling with grim satisfaction when it lands in a particularly sticky patch. "But if my headache is anything to go by, I had a great time."

Killian stares out the window of the train as it approaches Central, his phone burning a hole in his coat pocket. He hasn't allowed himself to check the camera roll this morning, hoping that perhaps if he pretends a particular photograph doesn't exist, he can pretend that last night didn't happen. In the interests of self-preservation and all that nonsense, given that Emma apparently doesn't remember a bloody thing.

She doesn't remember kissing him.

Neither does she remember confessing that she fancies him (well, she hadn't used those exact words, but it had been pretty bleeding obvious) and tonight, she will be going on a date with her boyfriend which will no doubt end with said boyfriend in her bed.

He closes his eyes, furious with himself for the hot twist of jealousy that cuts through his chest (and with her for kissing him in the first place, he's man enough to admit it), then tugs the phone from his pocket. Five seconds later, he's looking at a perfectly framed image that makes his gut clench.

In the photograph, he's kissing Emma as though he's a condemned prisoner and she's his last meal. More importantly, she's kissing him exactly the same way, with apparently no objection to the fact that his hands are all over her back and buried in her hair. Just looking at it brings everything all back with a rush, the taste of her mouth, the feel of her pressed against him, her soft sigh as he'd kissed her neck. Even now, he knows he'd be able to pick her perfume out of a line-up of thousands.

He thinks of how she'd looked this morning, all damp skin and wet hair and soft lips, smiling at him as though she had no clue she'd turned his world upside down the night before, and briefly allows himself to imagine what might have happened if he'd hauled her out of that kitchen chair and kissed her until she'd been soft and pliant in his arms, just as she had been last night.

He looks at the photo again, immediately regretting his decision when he shifts awkwardly in his seat. If he wasn't dealing with the prospect of an ill-timed erection while sitting on public transport, he'd be impressed by Emma's photography skills, because that drunken shot had definitely captured the moment as far as he remembers it.

Sadly, it seems he's the only one who does.

(He should delete the photograph.

He knows he won't.)

He grabs his satchel and prepares to get to his feet as his stop approaches, strangely thankful for the prospect of the nightmare pile of work that awaits him at the office. It should keep his brain occupied at least, if not the more easily distracted parts of his body. He can blag on all he likes about being a man of honour but, as of last night, the playing field has irrevocably changed. Now he knows that this thing between them is far from one-sided. Now he has hope, and he can't help thinking that a little hope can be a very dangerous thing.

The big question is, he muses as he slips his phone back into his pocket and prepares to face another day in corporate purgatory, what the hell does he do now?