A/N: Well here it is...the last chapter. I almost feel like I need some kind of acceptance speech here, so I can thank all the people who have helped me bring this random idea inspired by our beloved Irishman and his love for music to life. As someone whose first writing efforts were 100 word drabbles this feels like quite the achievement! With the added bonus of sharing my love for INXS with the world!
Thank you so much to everyone who has read, liked, reblogged, commented or some combination of the above throughout this story - you will never know the thrill I got from reading tags and having people send me random caps or even shouting at Neal in Spanish.
Chapter 12: And they can never tear us apart
Piercing blue eyes stared intently at her as his hand disappeared into her blonde hair and pulled her into a kiss. His lips were on hers, insistent and searching as he sucked her bottom lip into his mouth. When he pressed her back against the wall, she barely recognised the low and needy moan that escaped her lips. His hand moved along the curves of her body, sending a shiver of anticipation through her as she snaked her hands around his waist and pulled him hard against her…
The shrill beep of her alarm woke Emma with a start. A string of curse words flew out of her mouth.
These particular dreams had become more frequent recently and she would be lying if she said she wasn't keen to see one through to...completion.
It had been six weeks since Neal had disappeared and her life had been an unsettling mix of disconcerting and comforting ever since. When she thought back to the night he left, sitting in the hallway outside the apartment, the sense of loneliness she had felt was overwhelming. She had steeled herself to accept that she was clearly meant to be alone, to never be enough for anyone.
Until those elevator doors slid open and those long-held fears disappeared at the sight of him.
She was enough in the eyes of Killian Jones - the way he looked at her when he thought she didn't notice would attest to that. And she was beginning to realise that more than anything, she wanted to agree with him.
Swinging her legs over the side of her bed, she looked around at her now familiar surroundings, thanking her lucky stars yet again for the Nolans and their unflagging hospitality. Without them providing her a home on a moment's notice, she could only imagine where she would be emotionally at this point. Certainly a hell of a lot more angry, she thought. There had been plenty of abandonment, plenty of loss, in her life before and it had hit with a vengeance. But somehow this time, surrounded by people who genuinely cared for her - love you, even, said a small voice as an image of dark hair and blue eyes flashed in her head - this time it was very different.
There was a quiet knock on the door.
"Emma?" Mary Margaret's head appeared around the door. "Oh good, I was just coming to make sure you were up. Is it still OK to drop me at school this morning?"
This moment of domesticity was so normal and yet so foreign that Emma had a sudden urge to hug her housemate, which brought a wide grin to her face.
Yep, definitely a different set of feelings, she thought. Take that Cassidy, you moron.
Apparently a little of the old anger remained.
"It's the least I can do," Emma said, moving towards the other woman. "Have I told you how much it means that you guys let me move in?" Mary Margaret hesitated for a fraction of a second before pulling Emma into a hug.
"You have," Mary Margaret said into Emma's shoulder, before pulling back to look her in the eyes sincerely. "And we are so glad you did. We already adopted Killian. There is plenty of room in our family for you, Emma."
Mary Margaret had turned and headed downstairs before Emma moved again, biting her lip against the threat of tears prickling in the corner of her eyes.
"Oh, looks like Killian isn't here yet."
It could have been a coincidence. Emma was sure she had been subtle in her visual sweep of the elementary school parking lot, but her travel companion had piped up almost as soon as they drove in. Pulling into the nearest vacant spot, Emma turned off the engine as Mary Margaret gathered her numerous belongings. Apparently teachers didn't travel light.
"What time do you need to be picked up?" Emma asked, but Mary Margaret was smiling widely at something over Emma's left shoulder. There was a rap on the window behind her and she turned, coming face to face with Killian. She wound down the window, and he leaned into the car, his folded arms resting on the sill.
"Morning Swan; milady," he said, nodding to each in turn.
"Hey, Killian. All ready for the staff meeting? Aren't you sharing that new music app with us today?" Emma was grateful for Mary Margaret greeting him with a barrage of school-related questions. Between the definition of his muscular forearms and the spicy scent of his cologne, she found herself slightly distracted, flashes from the dream she had been having that morning colouring her cheeks with a tinge of pink. She stared out the windshield, her breathing focused and steady, in an attempt to regain her composure before he - or worse, Mary Margaret - realised the effect he was having on her. And apparently on some of the other staff, she noted, as more than one of the teachers arriving to start their day took a second look at him and his tightly-clad ass extending from her car.
"Swan?" he asked, looking at her expectantly. Clearly she had missed something in her distraction. She shooed away thoughts of chasing down ogling women and telling them to back off to return his gaze.
"Sorry," she said. "What was that?"
"I was just saying the boys have been asking about you. You haven't been to a gig since...well, since Cassidy...and they would love to see you." Killian was looking at her hopefully and she bit her bottom lip, unsure of what to say. She hadn't felt like stepping foot in the bar again - it was too connected with Neal and Zelena and her own blindness to the truth, coupled with the niggling fear that without Neal she was no longer part of the group, would be an outsider again - but something about his eager expression made her want to rethink. She missed listening to them play, if she was honest, and they had asked for her.
"We are rehearsing this afternoon, maybe you could drop in? If you didn't want to come to the gig tomorrow night." Emma didn't even have a chance to respond before Mary Margaret cut in.
"Great idea. I could go with Killian and you could meet me there. It will save you the trip back here to pick me up." The enthusiasm was contagious. Killian was smiling, Mary Margaret was planning and Emma was going along for the ride.
"Sure, why not?" she said, unable to help matching the grin on Killian's face, and pointedly ignoring the satisfied look on the face of Mary Margaret. It looked like she was going back to the bar after all.
The rehearsal must have already started, she thought, as she pushed open the rear door of the bar because she could hear a guitar softly playing. As she came closer to the stage area, a soft smile came over her face as she realised it was Killian's original song she was hearing and she paused just out of sight to listen. The melody gave her the same chills as it did the first time she heard it, but just as she was about to make her presence known, Killian began to sing.
Met you when you couldn't be
More than just a friend to me
And now you're hurting
Could I be the one you need?
I can't help the way I'm feeling
Right girl, wrong time, heart needs healing
Loving you comes easy, darling
We've got all the time in the world
Scared to take a chance again
Love opens up your heart again
No use pretending
You're my happy ending
I need to be more than just your friend
Inhaling deeply, she let his lilting voice infiltrate her head, the realisation that this was for her hitting hard. No matter how many times she had watched him sing other people's songs, how many times she had half-known he was singing to her, this was something very different. She leaned back against the wall, heart racing and mind whirling. Half of her wanted to run, not ready for the feelings this song - her song - represented. How could she be ready? She was weeks out of a three year relationship, weeks since she was betrayed and abandoned by a man who had said he loved her. And yet all the other half of her wanted to do was wrap her arms around this man - who it seemed did love her - and love him back.
She was saved from the decision by the sound of male voices making their way into the room. Will and Victor barrelled in, each grinning widely when they saw her standing there.
"Emma!" The singing from the other room stopped abruptly. She didn't have time to worry about that before Will enveloped her in a bear hug, refusing to let go until she returned the favour. "Ain't you a sight for sore eyes." He released her and stepped away as Victor came in close, planting a kiss on the top of her head.
"It's good to see you, Emma. It's been far too long." He draped an arm around her shoulder and led her into the rehearsal room. Mary Margaret was sitting beside Killian on a battered old couch, his guitar resting on his lap, and worry etched onto his face.
"Swan," he said quickly, the tension clear in his voice. "I, uh…" Mary Margaret watched Emma anxiously, and she saw Will and Victor exchange curious glances. She was saved from further awkwardness by a loud drum rhythm from Will, obviously eager to get started.
"Come on, you lot," he said, twirling his drumsticks masterfully through his fingers. "Enough jabbering. I need to get that section of By My Side sorted." Clearly grateful for the redirection, Killian slipped into musician mode immediately and the room was soon filled with his voice, rich and full. She sat next to Mary Margaret, her eyes drifting constantly back to him, despite her best efforts to stay casually neutral. She knew the song a little, another INXS selection, one he had suggested she listen to back before it had all gone to hell.
When they finished and began discussing their next selection, Emma turned to Mary Margaret, who was clearly eager to avoid the conversation she knew was coming.
"You must have missed this," she said quickly, "I know you and Killian spent a lot of time talking music and you always loved the gigs…"
"Mary Margaret," Emma said firmly, "What was he singing before?" Mary Margaret took a deep breath in, casting a cautious glance at Killian, who was still deep in discussion with the band.
"Maybe…" she began, but they were interrupted by the sound of high heels clicking towards them. A dark haired woman burst into the room, her mouth in a tight line, her eyes flashing from side to side.
"What are you all doing here?" she snarled. "I didn't authorise anyone on site today."
Killian stepped forward to face her. "Good afternoon to you, Regina." His voice was measured but the sarcasm was clear. She humphed out a breath, but said nothing. "Our Friday rehearsal has been a standing arrangement for some time."
"Well, my sister made a lot of arrangements with this band and its various associates, but that doesn't mean I will be." Emma felt her body tense at the implication, catching Killian's eye as he checked to see if she was all right. She gave him a small nod as he turned his attention back to the woman. "I am managing this bar now, thanks to her inability to recognise a deadbeat when she sees one, and a few things are going to change around here."
Mary Margaret put a subtle arm across Emma's legs, clearly sensing her need to respond to the last comment but Killian beat her to the mark. "That's enough, Ms Mills," he said. "I am happy to arrange a meeting to renegotiate the terms of our engagement here but this is getting us nowhere. We are performing tomorrow night and would appreciate," this word came out almost as a hiss - "the opportunity to practise as we have done in the past."
"I'm sure you would," Regina smirked, "but I would appreciate you and your groupies," at this she waved a dismissive hand at Emma and Mary Margaret - "vacating my premises." Emma was on her feet before Mary Margaret could even attempt to calm her.
"I'm sorry, just to be clear about what is happening here, you are throwing out the house band from their rehearsal?" Emma stood toe to toe with Regina, her eyes flashing although her voice was eerily calm. "The band that have had a queue out the door and down the street of this establishment every time they have played for the last two years?"
"And who the hell are you?" Regina asked, the corner of her mouth raised in a sneer.
"Emma Swan," she answered, not breaking eye contact with the woman, who raised a sardonic eyebrow at her brazenness. Killian moved to stand beside her, a show of quiet solidarity as his shoulder brushed hers.
"And is that supposed to mean something to me?" Emma was silently fuming at the arrogance of the woman but she knew she had to remain calm. She exhaled slowly, realising she really had no helpful answer to that question.
"I am…" she began.
"...our new manager," Will finished from behind his drum kit. Emma turned to him in disbelief but his only response was a wild grin accompanied by a rakish wink. Victor nodded his agreement enthusiastically and she felt Killian nudge her shoulder more firmly. Casting her eyes across the three of them, their faces hopeful and encouraging, she sighed in resignation.
"That's right," Emma agreed, smiling tightly at Regina,"I'm their manager."
Regina raised her eyebrows sky high. "Indeed. Well, we will have that renegotiation meeting now then, shall we?" Regina indicated towards the door, an attempt to usher Emma out of the room. There was no doubt the bar manager was counting on her being unprepared and desperate to seal a deal of any kind.
She had not counted on Emma Swan being Emma Swan.
"Great," Emma answered. "I need a couple of minutes with the boys and I will see you in your office." Emma mirrored Regina's arm sweep towards the door, a smile fixed on her face. Frustration flashed in the dark haired woman's eyes for just a moment, before she fixed her professional expression in place once again and stormed out the door.
They all stood in silence for a few seconds and Emma felt the tension she hadn't even realised was in her seep away. As she recovered her composure, Killian swept her up into a bear hug, laughing heartily as he planted an over exaggerated kiss on her cheek.
"You were amazing, love," he grinned.
"Bloody brilliant," added Will as he rushed towards her, wrapping his arms around both her and Killian. Emma could not help but grin back at them, the feeling of belonging to this group overwhelming. Victor winked at her and Mary Margaret squeezed her shoulder, struggling to get closer as Will rocked them from side to side.
"OK, OK," she said, extricating herself from the drummer's long arms. "That'll do." Emma pointed a finger sharply at Will. "That's the last time you blindside me, mate." Her attempt at his accent was pitiful at best and he snorted with laughter. Beside her, Killian snickered in her ear, his arm still draped casually around her shoulders. Emma turned to add her two cents about him laughing at her, but she was stopped in her tracks by the look of unadulterated pride she could see in his eyes.
It had been a long time since someone had looked at her like that. It was so real, she almost believed it.
"Give her hell, Swan," he whispered, tightening his arm around her for just a second. "You'll be magnificent."
The sounds of Will recounting her conversation with Regina to an already well aware Mary Margaret and Victor seemed to fade as they stood there. His blue eyes seemed deeper, somehow, seemed to say so many things that his words had not. She bit down on her bottom lip, supremely aware of him - his arm firm across her shoulders, the tang of his cologne, his lips smooth and pink and so close that all she could think of…
She shook her head, breaking the spell, knowing she still had a job to do. Disappointment seemed to flicker in his eyes, just for a second, but when she looked back to him again, his faith in her was once again all she could see.
She raised her voice over the noise. "Well, if I am going to do this, you better hold up your end of the bargain. You are going to need to be bloody brilliant -" she grinned at Will - "if you are going to back up the praise I am about to heap on you. So, practise." Turning to Mary Margaret, she added, "I haven't forgotten what we were talking about. Still glad you roped me into this?"
Mary Margaret smiled knowingly. "Very. Now go manage." And with one hand placed firmly between Emma's shoulder blades, she marched her out the door.
She had been in her car, parked outside Killian's apartment for close to thirty minutes, the day's events replaying over and over in her mind. The song, the stand off with Regina, managing the band, Killian's face when she told the boys about the extra rehearsal time and little cash bonus she had got them, the song.
Mary Margaret had insisted she needed to talk to Killian directly, despite the fact she clearly knew the whens and whys of Killian writing a song for her. She gave away nothing, just repeated over and over for Emma to follow her heart.
So she had. And it had led her here.
Gathering her courage, she pushed open the door of the bug and strode towards his door, step after step, not allowing herself the opportunity to turn around and chicken out. Her hand went up to knock, but she hesitated, placing her palm flat against the solid wood and her forehead resting next to it.
He loved her. And she…
Steeling herself, she knocked firmly on his door. Emma heard his footsteps, louder with each step he took towards the door until the locks clicked and he appeared, sweatpants low on his hips, his chest bare and his shirt flung over his shoulder in his hurry to open the door.
"Swan," he breathed, his face alight at the sight of her, sending a wave of pleasure down Emma's spine and turning her legs to jelly. He was beautiful - there was no other word, she thought - as her eyes roamed from his face to the dusting of dark hair on his chest, trailing down across his taut stomach and out of sight. Bracing herself against the door frame, she tried to focus on the reason she had come, on the grain of the wood, the bevelled edge of the number on the door - anything that wasn't the overwhelming desire to push him back against the wall and find out how those dreams should end.
Breathe, Emma, she told herself, and she counted to five in her head as the air went in and out. Her words, when they came, came in a rush.
"You wrote a song for me." It wasn't a question. Killian ran his tongue nervously across his lips - no, don't do that, she thought - and reached up to scratch behind his ear, a telltale sign he had been thrown off guard.
"You'd better come in, love," he said matter of factly, ushering her in the door as he pulled his t shirt over his head. He followed her to the living room, indicating to the sofa, where she sat and tried to calm herself. He appeared beside her, two glasses and a bottle of dark rum in his hand and poured a generous amount for each of them. Killian took a measured sip of his and Emma did the same, the liquor warm as it rolled down her throat, somehow calming amidst the chaos of her mind.
He said nothing, but reached for his iPad, and with a couple of swipes the room was filled with music. Emma swallowed hard as Killian's voice came in on the track, pulling her legs up to her chin and wrapping her arms around her knees as she listened. She had always loved his voice, loved the feeling that was always behind the words he sang. But these - these were his words.
As the song came to an end, he refilled the two glasses before taking Emma's hand in his. "I wrote a song for you, Swan."
"It's beautiful," Emma said simply, her glass untouched on the coffee table. The first shot had calmed her, but she didn't want any more to be clouding her own emotions - or her judgement.
"It's true." His thumb moved rhythmically across the back of her hand as he breathed in deeply, waiting for her to respond, letting her take the lead. "But it is far from the first time I have sung for you, love."
Emma remembered. Watching him sing, knowing he was saying goodbye to her, had nearly broken her heart. Before Neal managed to make sure the job was done properly.
"It's not the same, Killian. That was a goodbye, this…" She could feel a tear spill over and run silently down her cheek.
Before she could finish, he leaned over and took her face in his hand, a wry smile on his lips. "I was singing for you well before that, love." He paused, eyes locked with hers as his thumb moved to brush away another tear that had begun to slide down her cheek. "It's always been for you, Emma. You must know that."
Emma wasn't sure what she knew any more - except that she was tired of fighting the fact that she wanted him. Unfolding her legs from under her, she moved towards him on the sofa, wrapping her arms around his waist and nestling her head into his shoulder. She felt him tense, just for a moment, before he embraced her, his lips brushing the top of her head.
The music from his tablet changed and the opening bars of Never Tear Us Apart swelled through the apartment. Emma felt him chuckle and she pulled back, her eyes questioning. There were still tears dotted on her cheeks and he kissed them away with feather soft touches before touching his forehead to hers.
"This one has always been for you, Emma. Since the first day I sang it and you messaged me in the middle of the night about it." He laughed at the memory and Emma reached up to trace her finger over the crinkles that formed by his eyes, any doubts she had pushed aside in the warmth of his smile. There was only happiness remaining; the fear had melted away in the closeness of him, in the simple joy of him loving her.
Her hand curled around his neck, pulling him to her as she touched her lips to his. She could feel him smile against her mouth, his arm pulling her closer before he kissed her in earnest. His lips worked against hers, hands pulling through her hair as Emma ran her fingers lightly along the vee of his t-shirt, fingers toying with the dark whorls of hair escaping from the fabric. She
paused for breath, pulling back slightly as the hand that had been tangled in her curls moved to caress her face, his thumb brushing across her chin - a touch so intimate she felt a tug of desire deep within her and she let a soft moan escape her lips.
He raised an expressive eyebrow at the sound, before following the path of his thumb with a line of tiny kisses. He continued up the soft skin of her cheek until his lips ghosted over her ear, nose nuzzling into her hair. Emma rolled her head back, the sensitive skin of her neck screaming out for his attentions, but before he followed her lead he whispered in her ear.
"God, Emma, I've wanted you like this for so long. Will you let me love you?"
Emma nodded, her smile soft as he pressed his lips to her forehead. In that moment there was nothing she wanted more than for him to love her. And to know that she felt it, even if the words didn't come as easily to her.
She caressed his cheek. "I want to be with you, Killian. More than anything." His hand captured hers and he placed a kiss on the inside of her wrist, the crook of her elbow, her shoulder before his lips found the pulse point on her neck, nipping and sucking until she moaned again. Emma's hands roamed his chest and down the hard lines of his torso until she found the hem of his shirt, slipping eager hands up and under the fabric, his skin warm and inviting under her fingertips.
"Should have left it off," he groaned, all the encouragement Emma needed to work the soft material up towards his shoulders until he pulled the offending garment over his head and tossed it aside. She let her fingers wander over him, wanting to map every inch with her touch. His lips found hers again as he gently lowered her on to her back, his tongue swiping across her mouth till she allowed him entrance. As the kiss deepened, his fingers teased at the hemline of her sweater before making their way up her body to caress the soft swell of her breast. She sighed into his mouth, desire pooling low in her belly at his touch.
She had no idea how long they were like this - tongues curled together as their hands explored each other desperately, months of unresolved tension finally released. Her body thrummed with the nearness of him, his arousal evident as he lay above her. When they came up for air, his eyes spoke of love and want and long held dreams fulfilled. She hoped hers told the same.
"Come to bed with me, Emma," he said, his voice deep and gravelly, a sound that made every nerve in her body twitch. She nodded and he stood, reaching out a hand and pulling her to her feet. He kissed her again, hard and insistent as they stumbled towards his room. They stopped once to wrench her sweater off, his eyes widening at the curve of her breasts contrasted against white lace. "Jesus, Swan, you're incredible," he whispered into the valley between them as he kissed the delicate flesh, and she shivered beneath his touch.
They stopped again when she bumped into the wall, and she took the chance to pull him hard against her, arching her hips into his erection, his urgent groan making her want him even more. "I need you," she breathed into his ear, wetness pooling between her legs as she slipped her hands beneath the waistband of his sweats.
They fell onto his bed, their clothes discarded as if by magic, hands and mouths roaming freely in a tangle of legs and bedsheets. When finally they came together, they sighed in unison as their bodies melded, Killian whispering words of devotion as he brought her to the edge. They fell together, her hands in his hair and his lips on her neck, their lovemaking all she had hoped for and more.
Sated, they curled together under the sheets, Killian's arms circling her while Emma drew lazy patterns on his forearms with her fingers, enjoying the quiet intimacy. She listened as his breathing began to equalize, a murmured "Amazing, love," his last concession to wakefulness. And Emma followed close behind, relaxing into the warmth of his arms and his love.
The surroundings were not so unfamiliar this time, no alcohol fuelled pain to dull her senses, but Emma awoke disoriented nevertheless. As her eyes blinked and adjusted to the dark, she felt the hardness of his body behind her, his arm draped across her hip as he slept and she remembered all he had said and done. Her breathing quickened as she realised how long he had loved her, how long he had waited to be with her like this. That he was all in, and if she messed this up she would break his heart.
He didn't know how badly messing it up would break hers.
Emma could feel the tension building in her muscles as her now wide awake mind began to catalogue all the possible disasters that lay ahead. She battled to focus on Killian sleeping peacefully beside her, on the way he had looked at her when she had said she wanted him, on the way his body had worshipped hers - anything to try and quell the niggling voice of doubt that a lifetime of abandonment had instilled. But every joyous thought of love and hope was turned on its head by what ifs and worries. It was too soon, she was rebounding, she didn't deserve happiness. Didn't deserve him.
Panic setting in, Emma slid out from under Killian's arm, looking back at his sleeping form and biting her lip in regret for what she was about to do. Her hands were shaking as she gathered her clothes, making her way out of his room and towards the door. She dressed quickly, tears rolling down her cheeks and made for the door, pausing only to look at the bottle of rum abandoned on the coffee table. With a deep sigh, she picked it up and went out the door and into the night.
"Emma?" The voice that jolted her awake was full of concern - and loud. Much too loud. Emma blinked several times, focusing her eyes on the objects she could see close to her - an almost empty bottle of rum and her white lace bra. Her head was fuzzy and her eyes felt swollen and sore. She sat up slowly, pressing her hand against her throbbing temple, and found herself face to face with Mary Margaret, a worried expression on her face.
The teacher put her hand on Emma's knee. "What happened, Emma? Did you see Killian?" Emma rubbed the heel of her hand across her eyes then hung her head, tears welling in her eyes.
Mary Margaret was insistent. "Emma, talk to me. You went to see Killian and now here you are passed out on the couch." She picked up the discarded underwear. "Minus this, apparently. What on earth happened?"
A huge sob wracked Emma's body and Mary Margaret came to sit beside her, a comforting arm around her shoulder as she fought the tears. "I slept with him," she whispered, memories of being in his arms, of his fingers, his lips, flooding her mind and overwhelming her.
"You love him, Emma, it's okay that you slept with him."
Emma turned abruptly to her friend, her head rebelling against the sudden movement. "Is it okay that I snuck out in the middle of the night and left him? Because that's exactly what I did."
A look of dismay flashed in Mary Margaret's eyes, before a tender smile reappeared and she tightened her embrace around Emma's shoulders, pulling her in closer. They sat in silence, until Mary Margaret stood and walked from the room. Emma watched her walk away, confused for a moment until she realised what was going on. Mary Margaret was Killian's friend, not hers. She knew how hurt he would be when he woke to an empty bed and so did Mary Margaret and she had chosen her side.
But before Emma had mentally packed her belongings for the inevitable move out, Mary Margaret returned and placed a box of tissues and a large water bottle on the table in front of her. From her pocket, she pulled Emma's phone and handed it to her. Emma vaguely remembered dumping it with her keys when she had come in, afraid to face a barrage of messages from him when he realised what she had done. Or worse, none at all.
The message light was flashing blue.
"Do you want to tell me what happened, sweetheart?" Mary Margaret asked softly. "Killian obviously wants to know."
Emma sighed deeply and swiped across her lock screen. You have 10 unread messages. She knew she wasn't prepared to face his heartbreak quite yet so she placed the device face down on the table and took a long swig from the water bottle. She turned to Mary Margaret, calmed by the look of support she saw on her face, the patient hand that now rested on Emma's knee.
"He wrote a song for me, Mary Margaret," she began, faltering as her breath hitched in yet another sob. Mary Margaret nodded and waited for her to continue. "He wants to be with me so badly, and I was so scared I would let him down that I ran."
Mary Margaret looked at her intently, a soft smile on her lips as she took Emma's hands in hers. "Do you want to be with him, Emma? If there was nothing to stand in your way, no worries or doubts?" Emma nodded slowly. She wished it was that simple - but clearly the biggest obstacle to her happiness right now was herself.
"Then talk to him, explain what happened. He will understand."
"Why? I wouldn't." An image of Killian's face when she had said she wanted to be with him flashed before her, his eyes alight with hope. And she had walked away. How could he possibly be okay with it?
Mary Margaret had not let go of her hands and her eyes had a knowing look, as if she had had this conversation before. Emma had the disconcerting feeling that there was nothing happening in her own head that wasn't immediately clear to her housemate
"Emma, has Killian told you about Milah?" Emma's brow creased in confusion, unsure what Killian's ex had to do with the mess she had made of things.
"Yeah, he did. She broke his heart and now I've done it too." Her voice was harsher than she intended but Mary Margaret actually laughed.
"Oh Emma, you have no idea what meeting you did for him. He was just like you after Milah, guarded and frightened and he chased off more than one lovely woman because of it." Mary Margaret brushed a lock of Emma's hair off her face, her smile warm and reassuring as Emma considered her words. "Until he met you and he started to feel again - you made him better, even if you couldn't be with him. That's how I know he will understand."
Emma could only imagine what her face looked like as the realisation dawned that all hope might not be lost.
"Call him, Emma, let him know you are all right." Mary Margaret handed her her phone but she faltered, finger hovering above the screen. She couldn't apologise and make it right by phone. He deserved more than that. Clearly the reason for her hesitation was clear to her housemate as she squeezed Emma's knee and said, "Text him then. At least apologise for taking the man's rum." This was accompanied by a mischievous wink that Emma could not help but chuckle at. "You'll see him tonight - you have a band to manage after all. Then drink that water and go and get some sleep."
"Thanks Mom," Emma smiled, earning a playful swat from Mary Margaret as she got up to leave. As she swiped her phone, she did feel lighter somehow, more sure that there could still be a chance with Killian, despite her mistake.
Emma: I'm so so sorry. Can we talk tonight? E
The reply came back almost immediately.
Killian: I think we should. Till tonight, love.
The band was on the stage before she arrived - a combination of hungover sleep and procrastination making her far later than she had intended - and she stood at the rear of the bar, just watching. Always professional, there was no sign in his voice that anything may have been amiss, but knowing him as she did, his eyes told another story. She saw concern and hurt, mixed with something she could only pray was hope that they could fix things.
Emma found herself drawn to him, despite her intentions to stay back until a moment arose. Making her way closer to the front, she stayed towards the edges of the floor, amazed as ever at the way his voice could draw the people in, how it captured them in the slow songs and had them dancing for the quick. She found herself in the middle of the dance floor, with no knowledge of how she got there, when he saw her. His shoulders seemed to relax, his eyes softened - and she breathed out a breath she didn't know she had been holding in relief.
When the song ended, he flung his guitar strap over his shoulder and jumped from the stage, leaving Will to announce a break. His eyes stayed steadily on her as he moved through the crowd, seemingly unaware of people in his path. He stopped just in front of her, but made no move to reach out.
"Swan." There was a waver in his voice, infusing her name with more meaning than she had ever known. Her apology sat on her lips, but she was unable to say the words with the image of him waking alone so clear in her mind. She swallowed hard, trusting her voice to do what it needed to.
"I stole your rum."
The corners of his mouth twitched and his blue eyes flashed before his expression became stern. He had closed the gap between them slightly and she felt his closeness like a bolt of electricity.
"That you did, Swan. Poor form, stealing a man's rum." She hung her head, and he placed a gentle hand under her chin and tipped her face up to meet his. "Especially so soon after stealing his virtue."
Emma could not contain the snort of amusement, closely followed by a bolt of desire at the memory of that apparent theft. She moved subtly, until there was no space left between them, their faces almost touching. Despite standing in the middle of the dance floor, in that moment there was nothing but him.
"Really," she teased, her hands sliding up his chest as he hooked his fingers through the belt loops of her jeans, "because that didn't feel like a first time performance."
He pulled her hips against his, his nose in her hair before whispering, "What about a last first time performance, Swan? Because I am in this, with you, for the long haul."
She breathed in deeply, suddenly aware of her surroundings, of eyes trained on them from all corners. Music was again filling the air around them, and as she grabbed his hand and pulled him into the relative privacy of the hallway behind the stage she realised his bandmates had taken up their instruments and were playing something soft and romantic.
It was only when she found herself with her back against the wall and Killian's hands tangling in her hair that she realised it was Kiss The Girl from The Little Mermaid. She laughed softly, and he raised his eyebrow in surprise, before the same realisation dawned on him.
"Smarter than I give them credit for," Killian murmured, his lips nuzzling against her neck with soft little kisses that made her heart race and her hands pull him close. As his mouth meandered its way towards hers, she pulled away, staring intently into his eyes, now dark with desire. His look was questioning as she took a deep breath, her hand reaching up to caress his cheek softly.
"It was so amazing - you are so amazing - and I panicked." He said nothing, just rested his head on hers and breathed with her as she gathered her courage. "But I love you, Killian, please believe that."
She waited for him to speak, to respond to her admission but instead he just smiled, his eyes roaming her face as if he was memorising her in this moment. Then in an instant, they darkened and he pulled her towards him, his fingers cradling her head as his lips devoured hers, firm and insistent. His tongue swept across her bottom lip, leaving Emma grateful for the solid wall behind her as his kisses left her dazed and desperate for more. He trailed a thumb along her jawline as they came up for air, before placing the softest of kisses to her swollen lips.
"I believe you Emma Swan," he breathed, "and I love you." He folded her into his embrace, and she breathed in the comfort of knowing he was hers, her head tucked into the crease of his shoulder.
"Um...pardon me, folks," came an amused voice and they both turned to see Will leaning casually against the wall, a wide grin splitting his face. "I 'ate to interrupt such a precious momen' but there is the small matter of a gig that we need to finish 'ere. You know, if it's not too much trouble."
Laughing, Killian kissed her cheek and with his arm across her shoulder, led her towards the bar. As they passed Will, he looked her up and down before winking wickedly. "And you call yourself our manager."
Emma suspected it wasn't the last eye roll she would be dishing out in that position.
As they reached the stage, Killian took her hand and raised it to his lips, his eyes never leaving hers for a moment. There was a chorus of applause from the waiting patrons, bringing a deep flush of red to Emma's cheeks and a hearty laugh from Killian, who took an exaggerated bow before leaning in close to her. His breath on her sensitive skin set her aflame yet again, mental calculations of how much longer before he could take her home running madly through her head.
"Now, Swan," he whispered. "I better get back to work. Please don't run off while I'm gone." With a lascivious wink he had jumped onto the stage and taken up his guitar, pointing behind her at something or someone. She turned to see a table full of familiar faces, Ruby, Belle, Elsa, even Mary Margaret and David all waving and blowing exaggerated kisses at her. Emma grinned and went to join them, sliding in the booth to eager voices and enthusiastic congratulations.
Killian's voice cut through the noise at the table. "Thanks everyone. Just a small personal matter I had to take care of there." There was a deafening round of applause, cheers and catcalls filling the air as Killian ran his hand through his hair before speaking again, his voice lower, less playful.
"This one is always for you, love."
The opening bars of Never Tear Us Apart rang through the bar, before Killian's voice began, rich and soulful as he sang the words she knew now had always been for her. Her eyes stayed fixed with his, the man who had been her dearest friend and was now that and so much more; her body warm and alive with thoughts of him and the life that lay ahead of them. And over that, the soundtrack of them - a playlist that would always come back to this song.
With a smile, she pulled out her phone, knowing there was a message she needed to send.
EMMA: Never Tear Us Apart. INXS. Australian. Our song.