A bit of fluff to mend our hearts after that Winter Finale.
The characters still continue to belong to Kitsis and Horowitz and this is may the last time I'll bring them out here to play.
Two months later
"What did I tell you about wearing the merch of the competition Emma?" Ruby grumbled from beside her.
Emma looked down at the sweatshirt she had just put on and raised an eyebrow at her.
"It's not even from a tattoo parlor and at least this time it's from a business in the same town. We did remember the snacks and water though, so points for that."
Ruby huffed, crossing her arms and watching the crowd roam past their booth. Laughing to herself Emma pulled the appointment book towards her to see what they had scheduled for the rest of the day.
It was a no brainer that they would return to the Portland Tattoo Expo. Regina's only demand being that they stock up enough merchandise before hand so Robin wouldn't have to make the trip down like he had the year before. Even August had arranged it so he was in the country the weekend it was going on.
Once again their time there had been a success, they had been booked solidly through the weekend, many appointments having been made weeks in advance through their website. They'd even had Mick design custom shirts for the Expo, all of which had sold out on the first day. Even the seminars Emma had to attend had been interesting, if not enlightening.
One of the highlights was a guy who had been tattooed by Ruby the year before stopping suddenly in front of their booth on the first day and exuberantly welcoming them back. It took a moment for Emma to drag his name out of the recesses of her memory but Eddie had looked ecstatic when she finally remembered it. He was one of the last people to book one of the spots they had left open for walk-ups, insisting that he needed a tattoo from Emma to compliment his one from Ruby. Eddie had only just left with an eagle adorning his other forearm.
"Looks like there's just one more tattoo for today, the rest is all August," Emma murmured running her finger down the page.
"Yeah, we could be walking the floor but someone had to invite her boyfriend down to spend time together," Ruby grumbled.
"Please, Graham's been here the whole weekend and you don't see me complaining," Emma said rolling her eyes. "And Killian's bringing Henry too. They got in this morning and I think they were going to Old Orchard Beach."
"I still can't believe you let them sail down here. What time did they leave Storybrooke? Midnight?"
"Four thirty, actually," Emma laughed.
She had watched the video of Killian waking up Henry by ripping off his blankets several times since Killian had sent it to her that morning. Henry hadn't been amused and told her as much in a text of his own. He also mentioned that the beds at the hotel better be more comfortable than Killian's couch or he'd go back to Storybrooke with August.
They planned on spending the rest of the day exploring Portland. Ruby, August, and a chipper Graham were the ones going to be packing up the booth and getting it all back to Storybrooke. Emma had ridden down with August and would be sailing back with Killian and Henry the next day. She had been smiling giddily to herself about it the whole weekend.
"So what's the poor unfortunate soul who has to deal with your distraction getting? I hope it's something simple because I don't want to have to listen to any complaints about it coming out weird," Ruby said, craning her neck to look at the appointment book herself.
"I'm not sure, they didn't leave anything in the comment section of their appointment booking and they haven't stopped by the booth at all this weekend."
Emma was confused but not worried. A lot of times the people had seen her work on the studio's website and just wanted a piece done by her, regardless of what it would be. She always found that a little humbling but also kind of amazing.
"Does that say John Bonham?" Ruby snorted.
"Yeah, why?" Emma asked looking back down at the book.
"Isn't he the drummer from Led Zepplin?"
"Quite perceptive of you, Ruby. Although I'm surprised August didn't happen to mention something earlier."
Emma and Ruby looked up to see Killian standing in front of them with a wide grin. Henry was at his side, grinning just as widely. They were both dressed in grey shirts, Killian had a red flannel with the sleeves rolled up over his, and cargo shorts. It was easy to see that had been in the wind, their hair was a mess on top of both of their heads.
"August never looks in the book, he just goes and pierces whoever sits in the chair in front of him," Emma said with a grin of her own. "I guess this means I get to leave early."
"Not so fast, Swan," Killian held up his hand to stop her from getting up. "Just because the name is fake doesn't mean the appointment is."
"Wait, you want a tattoo from me?"
Killian had never mentioned it before, even when he'd spent a whole evening pouring over her portfolios and sketchbooks marvelling at her work.
"Of course, love. Wouldn't trust anyone else with the task," he said, tipping a wink at Ruby.
"Good thing I like you, Blue Eyes," Ruby drawled back. "Hey, kiddo you want to go see if one of the booths is handing out temporary tattoos? We can see how many we can get before they notice."
"Sure, but only if we can also see how many we can get on my face before Mom's done with Killian," Henry said bouncing on his toes.
Before Emma could protest Ruby and Henry had disappeared into the crowd. She was just glad Henry's summer program was a little lax in the dress code.
"Is that my sweatshirt, Swan?"
Looking back down at the sweatshirt she'd stolen from his truck when he dropped her off at August's she grinned and pushed the sleeves up to her elbows.
"Maybe, it might belong to someone else. There are plenty of people who work at Anton's you know."
"Funny thing, love, Anton changed the logo ever so slightly after I bought the flower shop. I may be the only one who still has the beanstalk on my sweatshirt. So if you're trying to make me jealous I'd say you're still doing a spectacular job," Killian frowned dramatically as he rounded the table to her side.
"Stop pouting and let me give you a proper hello," she all but demanded.
Her fingers curled into the hair on the back of his head as he bent down to do as she asked. A happy hum escaped her as his lips met hers briefly but intensely. She was fully aware they were in public and dozens of people could see them but she hadn't seen him in four days, the longest stretch since he had returned from England. Killian pulled back before she was ready to let him go, chuckling at her refusal to move her hand from his neck and conceded to dropping into Ruby's abandoned chair and pulling hers closer.
"Miss me, love?"
"Like you wouldn't believe," she answered honestly, dropping her head to rest on his shoulder.
"I think I know the feeling," he murmured quietly, draping his arm over the back of her chair, rubbing her arm absently.
Emma let herself get lost in the quiet moment with Killian. It had been easy, opening herself up to him and falling into a relationship. Even their fights were easy things, more of a means to making up than anything at this point.
"So, you want another tattoo?" She asked, turning her head slightly to look up at him.
"Is that such an awful thing?"
"Of course not. You've just never said anything about it."
She sat up, turning to face him. Aside from the heart on his right arm Killian only had one other tattoo. Emma had discovered it unintentionally after one of their dates when they had gone back to his apartment. She'd been a little eager, straddling his lap as they sat on the couch, running her hands over his chest and his shirt had ended up on the floor. Hers was well on its way to joining it when she had stopped him, entranced by the anchor on his left hip that was smaller than the palm of her hand. He had told her that he'd gotten it when he was sixteen but the explanation had stuttered to a stop when her fingers began tracing the tattoo, toying with the waistband of his pants where the ink dipped below it. Killian had stood up with a growl, her ankles locking at his lower back as he carried her to his bedroom and she had never been more grateful that Henry had been staying with David and Mary Margaret for the night.
"You alright, love?" Killian's concerned voice dragged her thoughts back.
"Yeah, fine. I'm fine," she answered, suddenly way too warm for the sweatshirt she was wearing.
Killian watched her bemused. She was pretty sure he didn't know what she had been thinking about but he probably had a good idea. He was the only one who could make her blush and he revelled in it.
"Thinking about me perhaps?" He asked as he bent down to murmur in her ear. His voice was low, gravelly, and she had to suppress a shiver. "Thought so. Too bad Henry's sharing the room with us tonight or I'd have made indecent plans."
"I hope you can come up with something last minute because I may have booked August's room through tomorrow as well," Emma said, turning her head to let her nose graze his cheek and pressing a kiss to his jaw, feeling it clench under her lips. She pulled back with a wide smile, "So, Mr. Bonham, what exactly did you want permanently inked on your body today?"
He huffed out a tense laugh, shifting slightly in his seat.
"Bad form, Swan, teasing a man so."
"Thought I'd give you a taste of what I've been dealing with all weekend."
"Once again, I know the feeling," he said pointedly, looking at her as if he hadn't seen her for weeks instead of days.
"So, you seriously want me to tattoo you?" Emma asked after taking a moment to collect herself. "Why now? You could've come into the studio at any time."
"Yes, but I didn't meet you a year ago at the studio. Hardly a romantic gesture when there's no significance behind it," Killian said flippantly. "Besides you're booked solid for the next three months and I didn't want to wait."
"I'd make time, you wouldn't have to twist my arm to get me to do this without an appointment," she paused. "It has been a year hasn't it? Imagine that."
"You didn't remember, Swan? You wound me," Killian pouted, holding his hands over his heart.
Emma almost rolled her eyes but something in his expression stopped her.
It wasn't that she hadn't remembered, she'd remembered as soon as she'd opened the email inviting the studio to be at the Expo again. It was more that she wasn't the type of person that made a big deal out of every little moment in a relationship, not that she'd had much experience, but she had wanted to about that first moment with Killian.
She had wanted to mark the date in her phone so she'd never accidentally forget, to buy him a ridiculous card with cutesy bears or a cheesy poem just to watch his reaction, to eat at a fancy restaurant and argue over what kind of dessert to get. It wasn't even an anniversary of their first date or when they started actually dating but for Emma it almost felt like so much more. When Killian had shown up at their booth the year before it had set in motion a chain of events that opened her eyes and her heart to a better life than she had been living before.
Emma, however, had done none of those things. She hadn't wanted to make a big deal about it when it seemed clear that Killian wasn't going to. When she had mentioned going to the Expo again he had just smiled and asked if she wanted to borrow his truck when the time came. The idea for him and Henry to join her had been hers and she'd only suggested it after going back and forth with herself about it for days.
It was clear to her that Killian had been thinking about it almost as much as she had. His appointment had been one of the first ones booked when they opened them on the website.
"Killian, what do you mean by romantic gesture?" She asked slowly, carefully, not wanting to read more into it than she already was.
"Ah, caught that did you," the tips of his ears went red and he looked down at the table for a moment before looking back at her with a soft, emotional smile. "You mean a great deal to me and I know we've only had a few months together but this Expo, this day was the start of everything. Meeting you brought me back from an edge I didn't know I was on and there's nothing I can say to thank you enough for that. So I thought I'd show you instead."
She was still trying to make sense of his words as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. With fingers that were trembling slightly he unfolded it and laid it flat in front of her.
It was a sketch, an extremely rough one, of a rose. Specifically a sketch that she had done of the rose he had given her when they had gone on their second first date, the one she had accidentally left in his office earlier that day. Emma had filled almost a quarter of a sketchbook with idle drawings of that rose. She had thought she'd kept her little obsession with it from him but apparently not, she could see the rough edge of the paper where he had torn it out of her sketchbook.
Suddenly a feeling that had been growing slowly over the weeks surged up in her. She hadn't wanted Killian to see her sketches because he would know that she had placed more meaning into that rose than he might have meant. Him wanting her to tattoo it on him, a permanent choice to have a tie to her and to them, made her to realize he had placed just as much meaning into the bloom as she had.
"Tomorrow," she whispered as her fingers traced the sketch.
"What?" Killian asked, sounding confused.
"The official date that we met is tomorrow. That's the date I want to celebrate on," Emma looked up at him with a smile. "I want to celebrate it, with you, every year from here on out. I want to do the fancy dinners and ridiculous cards and make Henry blush with how mushy we are together because I love you."
Emma wanted to pull out her phone to capture the look Killian was giving her. His eyebrows had lifted in surprise and even though his eyes were wide with shock they were filled with glee and awe, dancing across her face. She barely had time to brace herself before his hands were cupping her cheeks and he was kissing her without restraint. He only pulled away when they started getting appreciative whistles and hoots from the crowd that had gathered, grinning like a fool.
"I love you too, Emma," he murmured, forehead gently resting on hers.
She had been about to pull back but hearing his words she ended up pulling him back to her by the collar of his shirt. It took a woman's shout of 'get it honey!' that finally broke them apart, laughing.
"Why the rose?" She asked him as soon as the crowd dispersed and her cheeks didn't feel like they were on fire.
"I thought that should be obvious, love," his eyes crinkled with his wide smile as he said the endearment. "You kept that rose in water on your desk for two weeks, then hung it to dry out, and then put it right back on your desk. Not to mention all the drawings of it I found while perusing through the sketchbook you tried to keep a secret from me. You may say that roses are overrated, Swan, but the evidence proves the contrary."
"Maybe it's not the rose but what the rose means," she countered.
"Which is exactly why I want you to do me the honor of tattooing it here," Killian tapped his fingers gently on his chest, over his heart. "I'd also like you to do it freehand, if you would."
"Freehand is Ruby's specialty," Emma glanced down at the sketch then back up at him blushing slightly at the intense look he was giving her. "What?"
"Swan, you've drawn that damn rose more times than I can count and every one of them is breathtaking. I have faith that you can do this with your eyes closed."
"I might have to, since I'll have to shave part of your chest and god knows I might not be able to keep from laughing at you looking like a mangy cat for a couple of weeks."
"Ha, bloody, ha, love," he drawled. "Shall we get on with it?"
"I'm ready if you are," she said, nodding her head to the back of the booth where the equipment was set up.
Killian stood up with a grin and started pulling off his shirts, winking as she watched him unabashedly. Rolling her eyes she gave her sketch one last cursory glance before moving around the booth to set everything up. As she snapped on her gloves she wondered if Ruby could squeeze her into her schedule. Emma suddenly had the urge to get a new tattoo of her own.
Killian had once wondered if she had a rose on her hip. She couldn't wait for him to discover that she would.
A.N.: And there we are folks. This was always intended to be a story of how Killian and Emma fell in love and I do have a few little threads dangling about that might become bonus chapters at some point, but for now this is The End. I want to thank every single one of my readers and especially those that have left such amazing comments as we went along. What started as a little birthday gift to my sister has become this much bigger thing that I couldn't be more proud of.
Don't despair, however, because while this story may be over I'm already starting to plan out my next one and it's going to be a doozy.
Thank you all and see you around some time.