A/N: I know, I know, it's been way too long. I love you all for sticking by me and leaving comments and still following through my terribly long hiatus on this fic. And even more thanks to those that nominated this fic for the CS Fanfic Awards, I screamed when I saw it, you guys are the best.
But anyway, this chapter could be considered a second part to the last one because it picks up immediately after. And a few artistic liberties have been taken in regards to the needling of information via software since I know little to nothing about that. But I did do my research, and I hope it doesn't come off as too far fetched of a concept.
She stays put on the bed for as long as she can, fighting a hard battle to keep her eyes open against the harsh light of her laptop.
She's scraping together pieces of information that could possibly be considered lead-worthy, thanks to the attachments in the email that redirected her to a few buried reports about Jefferson before he disappeared. She'd sent a silent blessing to August for the information, his shady friends in highly low places finally coming through for once in their lives.
Emma doesn't know if it's legal that she's clicking through the financial information of a man whose daughter she sees a few times a week. Emma, frankly, doesn't give a damn.
Despite the unreliability of the source, it's still something. A jumping off point. And she's caught more with less to go on, so factoring in the fact that she could have not heard from anyone at all and be stuck goading Grace for some kind of clue, it could be a lot worse.
She cranes back her neck to loosen the crick in it for what she's sure is the sixth time in the last two minutes and that's when she sighs. She's loathe to leave the room, the comfortable mattress, the smell she identifies with Killian wafting in and out of her senses. But the need for coffee wins out.
She makes sure to turn the brightness and volume of the laptop down before taking it out into the kitchen as she waits for a few webpages to load. She glances over at Killian, curled up on the sofa under a beige blanket, his breathing even. She doesn't bother fighting the smile that forms.
Even though she takes extra caution, the purring of the coffee maker rouses him, and Emma curses under her breath when he mumbles her name and sits up in confusion.
"Is everything alright?" She's seen Killian in his sleep-rumpled state before, but she still isn't prepared for the way her stomach jumps at the roughness of his voice, the prominence of his accent.
"Yeah," she breathes out, "yeah, sorry, go back to sleep."
Killian Jones, stubborn idiot, pushes himself up off the couch with a sigh, and manages not to stumble over any of his furniture on the way to the kitchen. His eyes are still half closed by the time he gets to her.
"Good morning," he mumbles, expression soft.
"Morning." She pushes a strand of his hair back from where it's fallen in front of his forehead and he hums.
"Care to explain why you're awake?"
Her eyes dart to her laptop, and then the coffee maker clicks with completion. She uses the excuse to slip away from his attentive gaze (how he manages that even when he's half awake, she doesn't know) and reach for the mug in his lower shelf. His kitchen is easy to navigate around, and she hasn't missed how devoid of personal touches it is - his fridge door bare in comparison to David's, which is littered with photos and lists and reminders. Still, she likes the way he organises his spices alphabetically and keeps his teabags well stocked.
She stirs sugar into her coffee and sidesteps him to stand in front of her laptop.
"Swan?" he mumbles. His hands come up to rest on her waist loosely and he props his chin on her shoulder.
Emma places the mug down on the breakfast bar. "I'm looking for someone." Despite David's assurances, some part of her knows the whole idea is kind of ridiculous. She isn't involved in any of this; she could very well make all of it worse. But Killian in comforting, in the way he inches her (well, his) sweater high enough to draw small, lazy, circles above her hipbone with his thumbs. "He's- uh- his daughter is at the centre."
He nods. "And how did the lass end up under your care?"
"Foster family didn't work out." She presses herself into his chest unconsciously. "And her dad kind of vanished off the face of the earth."
Emma hums distractedly, eyes intent on scanning over the last of Jefferson's credit card transactions she'd pulled up. Which is why she misses Killian's tense tone, only notices him stepping away when his hands fall from around her waist.
"Hey, is everything okay?" She crosses her arms as she faces him in an attempt to replace his warmth.
"Are you sure it's a wise idea to look for this man?" He scratches the back of his neck, eyes trained on the computer screen. When he looks back at her, they're hazy; somehow she can tell he's stuck somewhere between the past and the present. "I don't mean to discourage you," he adds hastily, "it's only that some people are better off not being in our lives."
The past, she knows, has one bitch of a chokehold. And a surefire way of creeping up on you when you least expect it.
"I get that," she sighs, reaching out to curl her fingers around his, "but if I don't try, I'll never know." When he doesn't reply, she squeezes his hand to get his attention. "It's a gut thing, and I think I'm going to trust my instinct on this one." Instinct, and a little bit of evidence that indicates he spent what little earnings he did have on his daughter, according to his expenditures on paper.
It takes him a moment before he nods, the fog clearing up slightly. "I suppose not all fathers are terrible," he says with a casual shrug, but the tenseness in his jaw betrays him.
She reaches for his other hand then. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you up so early to dredge up shitty memories," she winces. Killian lets a small smile grace his lips and it eases the tightness in the air.
"I suppose you didn't mean to wake me up at all." He runs his thumbs along the backs of her hands. "It isn't your fault, Swan. I've dealt with these demons long before I met you, it's nothing new."
The words are a reminder. As far as she knows, he doesn't have much left in the name of blood family. It's not something that sits well with her - the fact that he's been so alone for such a long stretch of time, no one around that could recount what he was like as a kid. No one to embarrass him with stories from his awkward teen years, or fuss over his achievements with pride.
In that second, more than ever, Emma feels her affection for him surge. Her toes curl against the cold tile.
"Is this what you did before you left New York?" He moves closer to the laptop, peering at the screen while successfully drawing the conversation away from harder subjects.
She shakes herself out of it. "Yeah, I guess. There was a lot of research and even more late night stakeouts in that job." She thinks of the amount of caffeine she'd consume, how the backseat of her car would look like a dump of takeout containers and burger wrappers. She'd liked doing what she did. She was good at it, too.
"Sometimes I had to run behind some jackass while wearing heels and a dress," she adds, and is rewarded with a chuckle from Killian.
"That's a wonderful visual."
She shoves him playfully in the shoulder before sliding on to the stool. He sits down beside her, rubbing at his eyes. Emma starts to tell him about the fake dates she'd set up with perps, how so often it would come down to relying on a profile off of a dating site to pick the perfect moment to handcuff bail jumpers. She mentions the other times, too, the ones where she'd track them down to bars, dingy motel rooms, or their favourite hot dog stands, the falls she'd take on the sidewalk, the punches she'd get in every now and then, the exhilaration of it all when she'd hand them in and swipe up her payment.
"Do you miss it?"
Emma shrugs, opting to scroll down the screen even though she isn't quite sure what she's looking for. "Sometimes." She'd gotten into it about a year and a half after college, and it stuck with her. She isn't sure if its sadness she feels over losing a part of herself, or anger at Walsh and at herself, for letting her lose it.
Killian doesn't say anything but after a moment, he brings a hand up to run slow circles at the back of her neck, fingers applying gentle pressure. She realises then that her shoulders have tensed up, and she drops them with an exhale. The unwelcome thoughts of Walsh bother her, but she knows to not waste her time on that when there are more pressing matters to be dealt with.
Pressing matters like Killian pressing his fingers into her skin.
Killian, who she knows little about to be kind-of-going-out with him. Unlike her, though, he's more forthright with his thoughts and feelings, and she knows that he'll tell her whatever she wants to know. She only needs to ask.
And she could ask of his father, or more of his brother. Or ask why he left England in the first place. Or-
"Hm?" His hand moves to play with the strands of her hair in a movement that's become quickly familiar to her.
Or she could start smaller, the sum of the parts that make him up.
"What's your favourite colour?"
Killian chuckles and regards her with a bemused expression like that was the last thing he was expecting her to say. "Sea green." He nods at her. "And yours?"
He tugs at a curl. "I think I may be a bit partial to that myself."
She scoffs at the cheesiness, her heart beating a thunderous rhythm in her chest because apparently she will never get properly used to his flirting.
He steals a sip of her coffee and asks her, with genuine curiosity, what she's doing now. So, she points out her attempt at looking through his purchases, his credit card transactions and his cost of living broken down by month. He listens intently, inching closer to get a better look at the screen.
"Rather impressive research, love. I have no doubt you'll be able to find the man."
"We'll see," she says on a sigh, running a hand through her hair. And then, "You can take the bed if you want, I don't know how long this will take me."
Killian hums, but doesn't go anywhere except to wash his face and brush his teeth. He drags his own laptop to sit beside her, leaving a lingering kiss on her lips before leaving the both of them to work on their own. When the sun comes up, he promptly gets up to make them breakfast, insisting she take a break to eat.
"You need your strength to save the day, Swan," he says with a grin.
She rolls her eyes, but accepts the break and the kiss he offers her, all the while wondering what she did to deserve him.
There's a stain on the dark beige carpet, and more cracks in the ceiling of the living room than she could follow with her eyes in one attempt. Emma leans forward, the old couch protesting under her weight, and fixes the woman sitting opposite her with a pointed glare.
After waiting around for what felt like forever, but was only a few days, Emma couldn't handle it anymore. She was never one to sit around twiddling her thumbs. When she wanted shit done, she got shit done. And since August and his exhaustive list of contacts wasn't getting very far, she knew it was time to get her hands dirty. Emma glances at the grimy surface of the coffee table to her left. Maybe literally.
She'd pulled a few files out on Grace Hatter during her volunteer shift and promptly found herself on the doorstep of her last foster home. The one that she was pulled out of because of the care she was being given. Or, lack thereof.
Miss Faustina - or Madame, as she insists on being titled (seriously, this system is full of nutjobs) - cross her legs and smiles in a way that toes the line between calm and disturbing. Emma had read the file; Faustina Simmons, late 30's, blue collar job that clearly didn't pay for her flat screen and the rings of real silver on her fingers.
"There's nothing more I can tell you," Faustina says.
"Really? Because I think the fact that you were using a little girl to earn money that you kept for yourself would mean you had something to tell me." Emma knows foster houses like these, she's been in them before. And she reminds herself to thank whatever kind of power is looking out for Grace to have pulled her out of it.
Faustina pushes her long red hair back over her shoulders. "That little girl didn't like being here," she insists, a forced calmness in her voice.
"Any much as you liked having her."
"I don't know what you're trying to say."
Emma, despite herself, rolls her eyes. Honestly, nutjobs. "Look, lady, you're gonna get what's coming to you but that's not what I'm here for. I need to know if you know anything about Grace's family." Faustina opens her mouth but Emma cuts her off with a lowered tone, "And I'll let you in on a little secret, I can tell when someone's lying to me."
In the minutes that follow, she stares at the woman cloaked in jewelry and surrounded by possessions. Faustina looks like she wants to say something a few times, but stops herself. Emma waits, even though all she really wants to do is knock over a few pricey looking lamps and rummage through her drawers and emails.
"Lady," Faustina finally says with an exasperated huff, "I don't know what you want. That girl is an orphan, if you want her parents go pull up her birth certificate."
"All I need to know is if you've ever heard her talk about her family, or if anyone's tried to contact you about her." The second the words leave Emma's mouth, Faustina's eyes widen a fraction. She would've missed it if she hadn't been looking for a sign of dishonesty. It takes everything in her not to jump up and get in her face. Emma watches her for a beat, and then, "You know something, don't you?"
Surprisingly, the woman relents, a sigh escaping her lips. Emma doesn't know what it is that's tired her out, but she's glad for it. "There was a letter once, a few months ago. It had no address or anything, just a note inside that said 'For Grace'."
Emma's brows furrow. "What was in it?"
"Money," Faustina says with a shrug. Money, which Emma has no doubt, was spent on everything other than Grace.
"Do you still have the letter?"
"What's in it for me?"
"Really? You're being investigated for child neglect and you're asking me for a bribe? If you want to give the state more reasons to root against you, then be my guest." Her words must hit, because in a matter of seconds, Faustina's getting up and opening and closing drawers until there's a white envelope being shoved into Emma's hands.
She runs her thumb over the faded stamp at the corner and promptly turns and sees herself out, silently priding herself for not decking the woman across her face.
Staring, Emma knows, is never appropriate. Most of the time it's just plain creepy.
But there's just something about the scene in front of her. Something about Killian Jones in his black leather jacket, sitting cross legged on the floor, and hunching over a book, with Grace Hatter narrating it by his side; it has her frozen in place. The stuffed bunny sits between them and it's all just so domestic.
David had dropped her off in the morning after she'd found her tires blocked in because of the snow. She'd been debating her options, crouched next to her Bug, when David had spotted her and coerced her into his very warm pickup, while holding up a thermos of coffee.
He really did know her weak spots.
She hadn't actually thought far enough to wonder how she'd get back, but her answer came in the form of a phone call from Mary Margaret, asking if she was free for drinks in the evening and that Killian would be happy to pick her up considering it was on his way anyway. Emma hadn't even had a chance to get in a word edgewise, had only gotten an enthusiastic, "See you!" before the call had ended.
Apparently she was going for drinks, and Killian was the one taking her.
From personal experience, Emma knows that spending extended time with Mary Margaret is giving her an open invitation to meddle with your life. Staring at her phone after the call, she was abruptly thrown back to sophomore year when Mary Margaret had shoved her into a bathroom with Paul Castello at a dorm party, and she'd had to awkwardly explain to the poor guy that she wasn't interested.
Subtlety was not a trait Mary Margaret thrived on.
Not long after, she'd gotten a text from Killian asking if she was alright with him driving her. It wouldn't be the first time in a car with him, but something made her hesitate for a second, her thumbs hovering over her phone. She wasn't good at these things, was even worse when she was metaphorically being pushed into a bathroom.
But she took a deep breath and let herself think of the feeling of his sweater on her, his arms around her, the way he'd watched her heavy-lidded and smiling softly a few nights ago. She'd typed out Pick me up in two hours? before she could second guess herself.
Being the gentleman he claimed to be, he'd shown up five minutes early, and she'd had to shoo him away to the library while she finished her work and gathered her things. Which is where she finds herself now, lingering in the doorway like she's planning a kidnapping.
She clears her throat and his eyes immediately lift up to catch hers.
"Emma!" Grace says enthusiastically. The smile that forms on Emma's face is automatic. In the days she's been here, Grace has grown on her like she didn't think was possible. Since the centre doubles as temporary shelter in cases of need, Emma sees Grace whenever she's volunteering, provided the little girl doesn't have school.
Emma knows all about her love for rabbits, how she wants to grow up to be a vet, her excitement when it comes to reading, her fondness for drinking tea, and her inability to braid hair.
(Emma had attempted to teach her how afterwards, and a few days later had seen her trying it out on a younger girl during their lunch.)
Attachment, Emma is coming to find, is something she can't avoid no matter how hard she tries. Grace is Exhibit A, in all her pigtailed, adorable, glory.
"Hi, Grace," she smiles, "what are you up to?"
"We're reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it's one of Killian's favourites," she replies with a nod. When she says his name, she elongates the 'l''s, tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth, like she's having trouble with it, and Emma feels her smile grow wider.
"Is it, really?" She glances at Killian and he shrugs, his own smile a little goofy. He is most definitely Exhibit B.
"Yep," Grace says, pulling the bunny into her lap. Emma had found out his name was Mr. Rabbit. "My daddy likes this book, too. It has his name in it and everything."
Emma leans closer to see where exactly Grace is pointing on the page. It was at an illustration of the Mad Hatter, and she makes the connection with their last names. It's sweet, she thinks, to be able to dive into a world of fantasy like that; to tell yourself that if you related to the characters hard enough, that maybe you could get a happy ending, too.
"Well," Killian says, "he may be the Hatter, but you sure are far prettier than any Alice."
Grace grins widely, and Emma is more than grateful for Killian's deflection skills. He gets up, telling her he has to go, has to "take a Princess out for a feast before our time expires and the car turns back into a pumpkin." He winks at the little girl and her pout turns into a giggle.
"See you," Grace calls out with a wave to the both of them as they exit the room, Killian's hand leading her out as it hovers over the small of her back.
She must still be staring when he starts his car because he turns to her with a raised eyebrow and forming smirk. "Care to share your thoughts? Or does your act of admiring beauty require silence?"
She shoves his shoulder in retaliation. He pulls out of the parking and she mulls over her thoughts for a few quiet moments before speaking up. "Just didn't think you'd have a soft spot for kids."
He glances at her for a brief moment before looking back at the road. "I must be a man of many surprises, then."
She hums. "So, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, huh?" she asks, trying hard not to stare at his profile.
"I prefer Peter Pan," he replies, "as I know you do if your inclination towards a certain pirate is any clue."
She feels the heat on her cheeks, reminded of a time that feels like forever ago; getting drunk and waking up in his apartment, slow dancing to his humming. "Yeah, well, it's a good book," she mumbles.
"That it is. I think we've all a bit of lost boy in our souls. Some more than others." He says the last sentence while holding her gaze and she knows what he means. They've been through similar things in their lives, even if they don't know all of each other's' stories. A lost soul always recognizes another.
"I liked Snow White while growing up, too," she says in attempt to stray farther away from thoughts that aren't meant for this time of day. "I didn't have a lot to read, but that was one of the good ones I found." It's something else, having the freedom of admission, knowing she can hand him parts of herself without the need of preservation.
"Aye," he nods. "We weren't very wealthy growing up, but Liam liked to read, and he'd bring home all sorts of things he could find. I suppose I got it from him."
She wonders if he got his way with kids from him, too. Or if it was from his mother. She likes that they've been doing this, getting to know each other in brief stories or small moments; it's like looking through a scrapbook, never extremely detailed but enough to create a whole picture.
She finds that she might just like his story better than any others she's ever read.
Emma turns to the window, eyes tracing over the frosted glass. Guitar riffs from the classic rock radio station fill the comfortable silence that stretches between them. Strangely enough, Emma feels like she's on a first date. Which is ridiculous. They're way past that stage, aren't they?
"She's a sweet lass," Killian says abruptly, and she turns back to see his hands gripping the wheel a little tighter. "Grace," he adds by way of explanation.
Emma nods. She hasn't told him about her little scavenger hunt yet, she's still waiting for a few more pieces to fit together before she can let him in on her discoveries, no matter how eager she finds herself to share. "She didn't take to me as easily as she took to you, but, yeah," she huffs out a laugh.
"Is that true?"
She nods. She doesn't exactly possess maternal instincts or anything.
His hand leaves the wheel to reach out of hers, hesitantly at first, but gaining confidence the longer she doesn't move hers away from the edge of her seat. It's such a simple gesture, his hand on top of hers, and yet it warms her from the inside out, the cold outside doing little to pierce the bubble they're in. "If it's any consolation," he says softly, "I took to you most immediately."
Emma scoffs in disbelief, but turns her hand to lace their fingers together. The smile stays on her face until Killian pulls into the parking of the bar, kissing the back of her hand before dropping it.
"Shall we?" he asks.
She finds herself increasingly surprised by how agreeable he is to the fact that she wants to keep this, what's between them, theirs for a while longer. It's part selfishness, and part not wanting to fall under the pressure of her friends' questions and expectations. Emma knows they aren't like that, not really, but she's wary as always.
"Yeah," she says, letting herself linger on embracing the idea of we.
Despite the occasional despondent glance she casts at her phone in wait for August's text, she finds herself enjoying the ease of company and the taste of rum on her tongue.
David and Mary Margaret had apparently insisted that Robin and Regina join them, too. So the six of them it is, under the dim lights and with the voices around them getting louder as the crowd grows.
(When she'd gone up to the bar to order drinks with Robin, Emma had asked him why he didn't come along with Killian considering they work together, and all. He'd given her a sidelong glance and a secretive smile, and asked her about her volunteer work, instead.)
(Maybe there's more than just Mary Margaret behind this.)
"Do you remember the time you looked like Jesus?" Mary Margaret teases David over the noise.
"Don't remind me," he grumbles.
"Oh, I've got to see this," Killian grins and pleads Mary Margaret for a photo until she's scrolling through her phone for an old one of the three of them in college. David's long hair phase didn't last more than a few months but they all love reminding him of it as much as he wishes he could erase it from existence. Killian laughs loudly before passing the phone to Robin.
"Is the long hair a thing every guy goes through?" Emma asks.
"I never had it," Robin shrugs.
Emma looks at Killian with a smirk teasing her lips. Sitting across from her, he avoids her eyes as best he can, but David catches her raised eyebrows and pointed glance.
"Wait," her brother says, smile growing wider, "Killian?" It only takes a few moments of all of them goading him for him to sigh and take his phone out, sliding it across the table for them all to see the lock screen wallpaper he still has on.
Killian looks at her and scowls, mouths Just you wait, Swan, but it quickly turns into a smile he tries really hard to hide when she taps the side of his shoe with her boot a few times.
Regina mentions a time a few years ago when she wore her hair in nothing but an extremely high ponytail like she was out of an 80's aerobics video, and then Killian's laughing, scrolling down her Facebook timeline as fast as he can to see if he can unearth the photos.
It's strange to think that this is her life now. It's like she blinked and the world started righting itself from where it had tipped over. Emma feels the shake of the earth under her arm, but she quickly realises that it's just her phone vibrating, clearly trying very hard to aid in being an extended metaphor.
Maine, August's text says. More details in 20.
Emma smiles at her screen. There was no return address, but there was a postage stamp, as faded and indiscernible as the ink was. She'd sent August a picture right away, days ago now, hoping he could make it out and come back to her with a general area, at best. Emma had no doubts he'd get into the USPS database if he had to.
If Emma was right about the closeness of Grace and her father, then it wouldn't hurt to consider that he'd send money to make sure she was taken care of properly. She doesn't agree with it, if that's what he's doing, but it makes her work a little bit easier.
She waits a whole fifteen minutes before she excuses herself and slips out from her seat at the end of the booth and walks over to the nook that leads to the bathrooms. She calls August.
"Emma?" says August, his familiar voice hitting her with a wave of nostalgia.
"Hey, August," she says with a smile, "I got your message. Any more details on it?"
He chuckles. "Did I not say I'd get back to you in twenty minutes with more?"
"Well, I needed to be sure. You can be pretty cryptic."
"Should have taken your impatience into account," he says, and she can imagine the smug grin on his face. "Plus, how else would a mystery be a good one without a little bit of ambiguity?"
"Seriously? Not everything in life is straight out of a film noir," she reminds him.
"So you've told me," he hums. She hasn't heard his voice in a very long time, but it's like she never spent all those years jumping cities after she met him; like she's still sitting across from him in that run down little room he called an office and swapping cases over fried shrimp. "Anyway, this is as fast as the software can work, which is why I gave you a time frame. Hold on." There's a few beeps on the other end and then silence.
Emma sighs, stares at the faux wooden paneling of the walls and wonders about the logical reasons someone would leave their kid only to want to support them from afar. She comes up with nothing.
"Still there?" August asks, and she hums. "You're going to love me. This was issued from a post office located a few miles south of Portland. You up for a drive to the scenic coastal town of Storybrooke, Maine?"
Emma pauses, blinking in disbelief. "Storybrooke? Seriously?"
"Google says it's real," he confirms. Then, a small warning in his tone, "Look, this thing is months old, there's a chance it might be nothing." He doesn't want her to get her hopes up, but Emma knows how this works, she's done it a hundred times.
"Yeah, but it's something," she replies. "Send me all the info and I'll check it out."
"Already texted you." Her phone buzzes under her hand right on cue.
"Great," she takes in a deep breath. "And August? Thank you."
"That's what friends are for, right? Just be careful, Emma."
"I always am," she says, a small smile quirking at her lips. She hangs up after a quick goodbye and stares at the text message until the lines all blur together. There's a new sense of anticipation building up, making her chest feel lighter and her limbs jittery. It feels good, exhilarating.
She wants to get on this as soon as humanly possible before it slips out of her hands.
She's finally, finally, catching a break.
For a brief second, she feels bitter about not fighting harder to keep this part of herself. But it falls away quickly, especially when she steps back into the noise and sees Killian leaned heavily against the bar, talking to the bartender. Her bad moments led her here, she reminds herself.
She sidles up next to him just as he's done ordering. When he notices her, a grin blooms on his face, starting at one side of his mouth and pulling up until it's practically taken over his whole face. Emma doesn't know if he's always worn this smile when he's seen her, and she just hasn't noticed before, or if it's something new. Either way, she likes it. Her earlier feeling of anticipation seems so small compared to the one that overcomes her now. She wants to kiss him, here, in this very loud bar, with far too many people around them. But instead, she smiles.
"Alright?" he asks, nodding at the phone she's twirling around and around in her hands.
"Yeah. I think," she exhales, "I think we might have him."
"Jefferson. We found him. Well, maybe, I don't know yet. But we found a lead anyway, and I need to check it for it to get anywhere but-" she cuts off her useless rambling and looks up to see him beaming. "But it's something."
"It is something, indeed." He stands there, pride in his eyes, and even though she'd rather do much more, she steps forward and wraps her arms around him in a hug. Because no matter how she looks at it, the first thing she wanted to do once she got off the phone with August, was tell Killian. He pulls her in closer with his arms around her waist. "I knew you could do it," he says softly into her hair.
She pulls back but keeps her hands on his shoulders. She shakes her head. "I haven't done anything yet."
"Aye, but you will. I have no doubt about it. And you will find him, Swan, I believe that."
"Bet my life on it, love." And he smiles so hard that the corners of his eyes crinkle, and then his fingers squeeze her waist. If her world tipped over right now, his grip would stop it.
If it was possible to stop the world altogether, she'd choose that. Only for a moment, so she could keep reliving Killian's faith in her, and the way he almost encourages it when she sways into him by tilting his head closer.
But, she'd also choose that, because then she wouldn't hear David clearing his throat very loudly and pointedly beside them, and making Killian jump back and nearly out of his skin.
"What exactly is going on here?" David says, near demanding, using what Emma is sure is his Cop Voice. His arms are crossed and his glare is fixed on Killian, and Emma almost groans in frustration because honestly, is one fucking break that hard to ask for?
Leave me your thoughts?
(Psst csfanficawards dot tumblr dot com / csfa2016wip-50 if you're so inclined.)