Alright, it might be too late for this, but I'm going to try to breathe some life back into this story! I don't know if anyone's still reading, but I want to try to continue this so we'll see where it goes. Thank you for continuing to support my writing, even though I've been all over the place with it lately! You are all amazing! XOXO

As always, I own nothing. All rights/characters/my soul belong to the creators and writers of OUAT.

Ridiculous. Smitten. Truly and completely dazed. There was an endless list of adjectives that could have been selected to describe the smile that had worked its way across Killian's lips by the time he found his way back to Robin and Regina's house. He was almost sure he'd been struck by some sort of lightning or magic, but truthfully, he knew it was much better.

He'd been struck by Emma Swan - and that was a whole other sort of electric.

Wondering which way or excuse would be best as he turned the knob to the Locksley residence, Killian moved stealthily inside. The house was quiet, absent of the noise that accompanied the daily workings of the happy little family who lived there. The faint scent of coffee drifting from the kitchen and the sound of a working dishwasher confirmed that the space was only recently vacated, a fact that prompted Killian's relieved sigh. The silence was pleasing for a few different reasons, but the first was that it meant he'd kept to his word - leaving her house post breakfast but before Henry's return. He wasn't particularly fond of the promise itself, but keeping his honor regarding things he'd committed to with Emma was important to him.

Even though honorable wasn't exactly how the previous night could be described - at least not once they landed back in the same spot where she kissed him senseless prior to their date. Returning to that particular position was an act that threw honor out the bloody window, something he was all too fine with when he pressed her carefully against the door in a moment he wanted to relive again and again.

He knew he should feel guilty. He hadn't been single for long and god knows he was still a mess of sorts over the whole breakup. Emma deserved more than the broken-hearted writer who was all but passing through. When he'd woken up to see her laying at his side, he just couldn't shove aside his unexpected joy long enough to feel remorseful. He liked her. She wanted him. Somehow, he'd found his way back to an emotion he didn't know he still had access to - he was happy . For the first time in ages, he wasn't going to question it.

He showered fast, running his hands through his dark hair with that grin still present. His eyes closed as he let the water rush over his body and steam filled the space. Allowing his mind to wander to Emma, he couldn't help but wonder how she'd look in this situation - relaxed and drenched in soapy water. It was a thought that could have distracted him mercilessly, but he brushed it away. He wasn't about to settle for something solo - not when he couldhopefully have the real thing again. Of course, that was assuming she'd want what he couldn't stop thinking about.

God, he sure hoped that was the case.

He'd barely dried off, his head still damp and a towel low on his waist when the phone began to ring on the counter. His heart pounded, knowing it wasn't Emma since she had gone in for a day of work at the bar. No, this was a different anticipated phone call - and one he knew he'd have to deal with eventually. Like a bandaid, Killian thought as he lifted the device and swiped the screen.


"Well, well, well ."

There it was - the arrogant, knowing, smug tone of his best friend's victory voice. It wasn't unexpected but god , it was annoying.

"Fair morning to you too, mate," Killian replied, trying to distract himself with finding his toothpaste.

"It is a lovely day, Jones," Robin smiled through the phone. "So wonderful that there's only one reason you'd opt not to start it at my house - and no, that reason is not that you drank yourself into a stupor at the docks."

"I suppose you won't accept time travel as an answer then either," Killian sighed. "Or that I lost my way while trying to get back?"

"We celebrated the anniversary of Back To The Future already, Marty McFly, so no-" Robin teased. "-and you clearly found your path this morning so I've got to call pure rubbish on that as well."

"Alright," Killian conceded finally. "Out with it, Rob."

"I think I'd much rather hear about your night out in person," Robin laughed. "Seems like a good day to have lunch or get a drink-"

"Actually we probably shouldn't go to the bar…."

"Not there , you gimp," Robin answered. "The diner on main. It's run by a little old woman who makes a hell of a grilled cheese sandwich. Flat out brilliant actually."

"Fine," Killian agreed. "But I think this time you ought to give me the name of the bloody place."

"Fair enough," Robin chuckled. "It's called Granny's - and I'll meet you there in an hour.

Bested again , Killian thought with a shake of the head. He didn't know how he'd become so talented at falling victim to his best friend's concerned and quite frankly intrusive questioning. Okay, that was a lie. That reason's name was Emma Swan - and he could definitely learn to live with the repercussions of this new distraction.

Emma didn't know how long she'd been standing in the position of contemplating what color of blue his eyes were before the noise of entering patrons pulled her back to reality. She was surprised she caught herself before she polished a hole into the bar top, suddenly stilling the towel she'd been using with a soft smile. She'd tried to come into work with a purpose that morning before they even opened - filling a few orders, getting a jump on the new payroll, setting a weekend schedule - but it was useless. The only thing she could think about was the man she'd woken up next to and how much she wouldn't mind being in that situation again. Well, or in a few others perhaps as well.

A subtle blush colored her cheeks at the thought and she instantly tried to will it away - especially once she noticed August and his amused smirk emerge from the back room. Oh god , she'd been dreading this moment.

"Morning to you, Em," he grinned, a knowing glint in his eye. "Didn't think you'd be in so early."

She saw the slight hint of bragging in his stare, a sight that warranted an eye roll as she turned back to making her distracted supply list. He wasn't going to ask about the date - it was obvious he already knew. Well, more like he'd speculated. Dammit Ruby , Emma thought without looking up.

"Well, the bar won't open itself," she commented as she tried to avoid his eyes. "Plus I've got a few things to catch up on."

"Well, it's that-" August contemplated, pausing to raise an eyebrow. "- or you're avoiding something."

"I don't see why you're so concerned with my motives for arriving early to work," she said with feigned nonchalance. "Maybe I just want to catch up with my big brother?"

"Right," he laughed. "As much as I'd like to believe that to be your solitary purpose, I don't think I'm a good enough reason to clock in hours before we actually open."

"Well, you're here too."

"True - I am," he nodded. "But you, Emma Swan, are hiding ."

"Hiding, huh? From what exactly?"

"Your feelings, your thoughts, your conclusions perhaps," he started, leaning back against the counter. "Maybe trying to keep away from a certain tourist?"

Ah, yes - there is was. She'd been wondering when the Killian conversation would happen. Nearly right on schedule , she thought with a soft sigh. August was truly far too concerned with her methods - or lack thereof.

"He's not a tourist - he's a visitor ," she explained, tossing the bar towel over her shoulder. "He's…. it's not even that big of a deal."

"He's enough of a deal that he's got your head in the clouds, Em," August retorted, tossing a rogue straw at her. "But I have to say I'm glad to see it. He's a good guy."

"You barely know him!"

"So do you," he defended, a victorious grin taking control of his lips. "But what I've seen so far, he's nice enough, has a solid career that's taken some extremely hard work, and seems to be completely mesmerized by the girl who runs the bar on main street."

"Why are you suddenly so invested in endorsing Killian Jones? You know he's leaving soon, August."

The reminder hit her like a bag of bricks, the air dying about in her throat. She knew he wasn't permanent - she'd known since she met him. His brief appearance in her world wasn't supposed to be like this. The idea of him boarding a plane in the opposite direction wasn't supposed to hurt. He wasn'tsupposed to be this man - the type she wanted to stick around. Between spilled coffee and street fairs, something had definitely gotten lost in translation.

She truly should have worried less about losing her luggage and more about keeping track of her wits. Damn airport , she thought with a slight smirk.

"That didn't sound like a permanent sort of leaving last I talked to him, Em."

"Oh," she said, a startled eyebrow lifting. "He….he said that?"

"He didn't have to," August grinned. "You are both pretty easy to read."

"Right," Emma sighed, trying to brush him off. "It's good to know you've got us both so figured out."

"I never said that ," he retorted, polishing a stray shot glass. "I don't think it'd be possible at this point, considering the fact that I don't think you two have figured yourselves out yet."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, we've been standing here bantering around the subject of Killian Jones and you've yet to answer the key question here, Em," August said, setting the towel down on the bar. "What do you want from him?"

Emma's mind spun at the blunt question, her brain firing a thousand answers at once. She liked him. She wanted to see him. Maybe wake up with him again among….well, among other things. She couldn't say any of that to August though. She wasn't ready for the prodding that was sure to come along with that admission.

"I don't….I guess….well, I guess I'll let you know."

"Hope so," August smiled, shaking his head at her vague response. "We both know I'll hold you to that."

"Mmm-hmm," Emma replied, wandering toward the back office. "I don't doubt that for a second."

"Yeah, we are not talking about this."

Killian smirked quite characteristically as he picked up his coffee mug, the porcelain warm as steam rose from the top. It was filled to the brim, swirled with a little sugar and zero guilt - the way he'd chosen to take it that morning. As the familiar smell woke up his senses, he realized that it was exactly what he needed on a morning like this one.

What he did not need was another chance to explain himself to his best friend - although Robin didn't seem to agree. The look on the inquiring man's face told Killian that this battle wasn't about to end with a quiet surrender.

"The neverending saga of the rogue and quite evasive Killian Jones continues," Robin chuckled, his grin victorious and happy. "If you're going to keep doling out that line, you should see if they'll let you use it for your next book title."

"Funny, Rob," Killian said with an eye roll. "That's assuming I'm writing another book."

"What do you mean you're not….hey, don't change the subject," Robin scolded, pointing at him when he recovered from distraction. "Just tell me about the date, dammit."

"I, uh ….well, there's not much to tell."

Killian didn't know if that sentence could sound any more like a lie than it already did. He toyed with the edge of his napkin as he tried to sift through the moments since he'd met her. There'd been something there since the beginning - since the instant he spilled coffee all over her at the London airport. The truth was that there was plenty to tell. He just didn't know how much of that Robin needed to know. He bit his lip as he decided to offer up a fact that might shut his friend up - well, at least for now .

"I like her."

"Stating the obvious a bit, mate," Robin smiled, tapping his fingers on the table. "The way you've been grinning like a fool since you sat down gave you away, Jones. Plus I spoke to Henry over breakfast. Apparently he caught sight of just how much the pair of you seem to like each other-"

"Oh, bloody hell ," Killian grumbled, rubbing his hands down his face. "That wasn't….we didn't…."

"Say no more," Robin interrupted with his hand upright. "I'd prefer to keep my lunch down if that's quite alright with you. For the record though, he didn't sound nearly as disgusted as he had every right to. The lad must think you're of the decent sort, mate."

Killian mused quietly to himself at that remark, trying to hide the small smile Robin's words had sparked. He had reveled in the idea of Henry liking him from the start and hearing that perhaps he truly did was butterfly inducing. The thought of being approved of had been rolling around in his mind for only moments when the little bell above the diner door shook with a soft ding. His eyes were pulled toward the sound of tiny dashing footsteps and wild, wavy hair.

Roland , Killian grinned to himself as the boy headed their way.


"Ah, there he is," Robin greeted, lifting the little boy onto his lap with a groan. "Out and about on the town with your brother today, my boy?"

Roland nodded as Killian realized he hadn't even noticed who'd trailed in behind the bounding kid. A genuine smirk found the corners of Killian's mouth as he noted the sight of that floppy dark hair and deep brown eyes, all equipped with that trademark backpack and striped scarf.

"Hey Robin - oh, and Killian," Henry smiled, adjusting the strap slung over his shoulder. "My mom said you guys were meeting for lunch and Roland wanted to come see you."

"No, I said I wanted to ask Uncle Killian about his date," Roland clarified, tilting his head to look at his dad. "Henry says it's called 'interrogating'."

"Oh, wow - yeah," Henry blushed, rubbing his neck. "I'm just going to….get some, uh , cocoa. Be back in a second."

"Ah, so you've come to victimize our favorite visitor," Robin laughed. " That'smy boy."

"Good to see you've spread your nosy demeanor to the next generation of Locksley men," Killian commented, narrowing his eyes at his best friend. "Poor quality to pass along in my opinion."

"Uncle Killian, do you like Aunt Emma?"

Roland's eyes were that big, pleading brown and he tilted his head to the side with adorable inquiry. Killian matched his expression with a narrowed, knowing stare which promptly gathered a giggle from the boy. His mind scrambled for a plan that might provide some distraction from the topic everyone was suddenly far too interested in.

"Hey, I'm actually running down to the library for a bit this afternoon," he started, raising an eyebrow at Roland. "Maybe if your dad says it's okay, you can come too if you'd like?"

"Me and Henry?"

"Oh - well….yeah," Killian stammered, annoyed that he was suddenly so nervous regarding Emma's son. "I mean if he wants to."

"I'll go tell him!"

Roland hopped down from his dad's knee and took off toward the counter at the only pace he seemed capable of. Killian tried to watch him in hopes that he might be able to observe Henry's reply, but his spying was quickly shattered by a loud clearing of the throat from the opposite end of the table.

"I know I've mentioned before that being subtle isn't your strong suite, mate," he glared, tapping the tabletop. "But turning the kid against me is bad form."

"Oh, please ," Robin groaned, finishing his coffee. "You've got the afternoon to convince him of whatever you want. I, however, have my answer and I'm sticking to it."

"I'm glad you've got me sorted, Rob."

"Someone's got to get you straightened out, you ponce," Robin smirked, pulling his coat on. "It's good to know that I might have Emma's help with that now as well."

He laughed a bit as Killian rolled his eyes, coupling it with a shake of his head to emphasize just how much he disliked a lack of holding the upper hand. He was in the process of conjuring and stowing a proper response when their banter was upstaged by Roland's tugging hand finding his own.

"Come on , Uncle Killian," he coaxed, pulling as hard as his little arm was able to. "Henry said he would come with us so we should go now….before Leroy comes in to eat. He's really loud."

"Oh yeah?"

"He's not wrong," Henry shrugged, offering him an awkward grin. "He's a nice guy, but he's definitely not quiet about it. You still want to go, right?"

"Yeah….yeah, I'd love to," Killian decided, his excitement suddenly quite real as he turned to Robin. "I'll see you later, Locksley, and I trust you'll be discreet about what you've…..well, what you think you heard today."

"I'll do my best," Robin laughed, clapping him on the shoulder. "Now try not to soil my son's mind with any dense literature, Jones. None of that Seuss stuff."

"Right," he said, a little victory sneaking into his smile as he nodded toward the door. "Come on, boys - let's go see if we can find out why a cat would want a hat."

Emma felt the day drift on in slow motion, her head in a total fog as she tried to play the competent business owner. The task shouldn't have been so difficult - she'd always been good at the ins and outs of her job, even in the beginning when the bar was anything but profitable. Today was different though. Today, her inability to get her professional act together was his fault.

"Oh my god! Emma!"

The sudden screaming coming from the front doors caused Emma's anxious hands to halt, dropping the stack of napkins she'd been absentmindedly rearranging. It wasn't necessarily startling - the shrill, ecstatic tone made a presence in the bar more than a few times a week. But there was a reason that the owner of that exclaiming voice sounded so excited and Emma was all too unprepared to deal with it.

"Hi Ruby," she said, raising her eyebrows in feigned nonchalance. "I was wondering when you might stop by to scare off our afternoon crowd."

"Normally I love your passive aggressive greetings, Em," Ruby grinned, hopping up onto a stool. "But we both know that today my interests are elsewhere. Now, start talking."

"Oh my hell ," Emma sighed, rolling her eyes. "What is this sudden fascination everyone seems to have with my love life?"

"Well, it's been awhile since you actually had one of those, Em," Ruby commented. "But maybe it's because we just want you to be happy….and if the smiles we saw last night at the docks are anything to go by, the pair of you seem to make each other very happy."

"It's good to know you guys were spying," Emma said with narrowed eyes. "But I don't know if any of that actually matters."

"Why wouldn't it?"

Emma couldn't help the way she bit her lip or the uncomfortable sigh that followed it. The hours she'd endured at work seemed to be getting to her as they continued to add up. Ever since she'd reminded herself and August that Killian wasn't sticking around, it was the only thing she'd been able to think about - and god, she hated the idea more than she wanted to admit.

"He's going home, Rubes," Emma told her, a matter-of-fact tone taking over. "It doesn't really matter how he makes me feel."

Ruby's expression shifted quickly, moving from a state of analyzing to a look of convincing. Emma wasn't sure where this conversation was about to go, but she certainly didn't expect the direction that her fiery friend was about to give her.

"Ask him to stay."

"Ummm," Emma stared, trying not to choke on her response. "What?"

"You heard me," Ruby repeated. "Ask him….or tell him. Something tells me that he'd probably take an order from you."

"Ruby, please," Emma laughed, trying not to blush at the implication. "It's not….like that…."

"Like hell it isn't," Ruby grinned. "I'm not blind - but seriously, Em….good for you."

"Good for me?"

"Umm, yeah," Ruby said with wides eyes. "You have seen the man, right?

"Ruby, I don't think-"

Emma turned away for a moment, reaching for a glass that could contain the drink she knew Ruby was about to request. Her fingers fumbled in the same pattern her words just had and it didn't take long for the crystal clear tumbler to fall into a shattered mess at her feet.

Bloody hell , Emma thought silently. God, that damn Irishman and his creative cursing - even that was getting to her now.

"I'll take that as a 'yes' on the 'seeing' him," Ruby confirmed, a victorious smirk on her lips. "So like I said - very good for you, Em."

"Okay, I got it," Emma groaned, retrieving the dustpan from under the bar and handing it to Ruby. "Now go clean that up while I pour you whatever you're drinking today."

"Whatever whiskey you deem appropriate," Ruby sighed, a teasing glint in her dark eyes. "Don't forget to grab a glass of 'I told you so' for yourself too, Em. I hate drinking alone."

Emma felt her face go scarlet as she let out a flustered huff. This was certainly going to be a long afternoon.

"So you finished up all the Arthurian stuff," Killian commented, tilting his head toward Henry's pile of books to be returned. "Did you like it?"

Roland had taken to running ahead of them, circling back once or twice with an energy Killian wished he could bottle. It was nice to see how comfortable the two kids had become with one another - Henry seemed to have the protective big brother role down to a science. Trying not to reminisce similar moments from his own upbringing, he fought not to envy the life they'd all built here. It was becoming increasingly difficult though - the more he learned and the longer he stayed, the less he wanted to leave. He liked this world. He wantedthis life.

"It was okay," Henry shrugged. "I liked the legends and all the stuff about knights, but some of it kind of lacked closure I guess. I think I'm ready for something different."

Killian tried not to beam too much - this was one hundred percent his playing field. He'd taken note of the things he had in common with Emma's teenage son over the course of their sporadic meetings and it all came back to the books. It seemed that a solid foundation to build a bond on and as Henry checked for cars as they stepped into the road, Killian lifted a scratching hand to that nervous place behind his ear.

"So, uh, what were you thinking of reading next?"

"Well, I'm still kind of debating that I guess," Henry sighed. "The history stuff is way cool, but I guess I kind of just like to read a good classic now and then."

"Oh - like a fairytale or something?"

"Yeah," Henry said, trying to hide his flustered cheeks. "That's stupid, isn't it?"

"No, not in the slightest," Killian chuckled, his smile achingly honest. "I've always been a sucker for those - heroes and villains alike. I was pretty partial to Peter Pan when I was your age actually."

"Really? I love ….I mean, uh , me too."

Henry's near outburst was reigned in, but not before Killian could get another glance at how much he had in common with the boy. He had to wonder how far those similarities stretched and the thought pushed him toward an idea.

"I could help you….I mean, if you want," he offered, a genuine interest taking hold of his words. "If you need it."

"You….aren't busy?"

Killian shook his honestly, hoping his smile confirmed his interest. He knew he should be writing - hours of battling his ideas via computer screen reminded him that this next novel wasn't about to write itself. There was something about wandering the shelves with this kid though. They were quite kindred souls in the oddest and most unexpected way.

What was hopefully a complying response from Henry was cut off instantly by the insistent chiming of Killian's phone. He yanked it from his pocket, giving Henry a glance of apology before swiping across the screen to see what was so adamantly seeking his attention. The email tab lit up and upon clicking it, he truly wished he hadn't.

The meeting is set up with the publishers. Send me your flight plans by the day's end, Jones. Vacation time is over.

Gold , he thought with an internal irritation. He knew this moment was coming. He knew he didn't have much time left to entertain the idea of this other life. He knew the past would come calling, but he never imagined how much he'd feel tempted not to answer. What to say was not a decision he should be making - not right now at least. His head spun with ideas on how to handle it, but they all came back to one starting place.

He needed to tell Emma.

"Everything okay?"

He snapped his eyes back up from the screen, trying to redirect his attention to the curious stare Henry was giving him. He suddenly recalled the conversation they'd been having before the technological distraction and he knew the boy was still awaiting the status of his schedule. He smiled weakly, trying to appear apologetic - although he wasn't sure why he felt like he needed to be.

"Yeah - yeah, all good," he nodded, shoving his phone back into his jeans. "I'd love to help, lad."

"Okay then," Henry said, a half smile given in return. "What would you suggest?"

"Well," Killian started, biting his lip pensively. "How do you feel about Greek mythology?"

Emma sat on an old, squeaky red stool as she sorted through receipts, a pencil behind her ear somewhat adding to her attempt at a businesslike persona. She had finally conquered the stack of bills that had piled up in her absence and had absorbed the shock of the bar continuing to be so profitable. She hadn't expected that in the beginning - honestly, it's not what opening the bar had been about.

It had been a step toward stability and safety. It had been about finding ahome . It had been about Henry and August and Ruby and even the frustrating relationship she had with Regina.

Now, maybe it was time for this to be about her. Maybe it was okay for her to finally be a little selfishly happy. Maybe even with him .

That pair of blue eyes he possessed would have agreed with her. She'd been contemplating them all day, their varying tones and shades serving as a slight distraction while she tended the bar during the lunch hour and sifted through computer documents for a while. It had been a substantial waste of time, but one that kept her smiling like a fool for the duration of business hours and well into closing time. She was currently biting back that same grin when the soft chime of her phone caught her attention.

Henry: Just finished watching Star Wars with August. You were right - his Darth Vader impression is terrible. Do you care if I sleep at his house since you're working late? He said we could break out one of the older sequels.

She smiled at the screen, thankful for her brotherly business partner and his willingness to hang out so regularly with her son. She hated missing out, but it made her happy to know that Henry had a standing guy's night with one of the best men she knew - well, except when they used that time to conspire against her.

Emma: No, that's fine. Just make sure you don't encourage him too much. It took me two years to get him to stop telling me to 'use the force' whenever I had to lift a heavy box in the back room at the bar. Do anything fun today?

Henry: Picked up some new books at the library with Killian today. He sent one home for you too.

What the hell, Emma thought silently as her fingers tapped the keys. When had Mr. Bestseller become thick as thieves with her son? She bit her lip gently, trying to decide what emotion she was supposed to feel at the information Henry had just offered. It didn't take long for the inexplicably giddy feeling to win out.

Emma: That sounds like an interesting way to spend your afternoon. Anything good?

Her mind dashed through the possibilities of what text that literary man could have selected for her now. He'd already done his fair share of damage with Salinger and that unexpected gesture.

Henry: I guess you'll have to see and decide yourself! August said I could go with him and Ruby to the diner to eat so I'm going to head over there. Is that okay?

God, of course her son would be vague regarding her curiosity. Now it was rather obvious he'd spent a fair amount of time with Killian earlier that day - he was acting just like him.

Emma: Sure thing, kid. I'll see you tomorrow. Love you.

Setting her phone down on the bar, Emma's fingers grew anxious as her mind turned back to the books - his book, to be more specific. She hadn't finished it yet of course - she'd been opting to spend her free time with the writer of the mysterious text instead. It was an intricately woven story from what she has seen up to this point, one that seemed rooted and coveted by the man with the pen. It didn't matter if he was describing the scene of a tragic shipwreck or the emotion in the protagonist's eyes when he accounted for what he'd lost - Killian Jones had an unbelievably beautiful way with words. What she had been able to go through was almost perplexing, filling her head with questions she couldn't wait to ask him - supposing she'd get the chance.

As scary as it could be, she truly wanted the opportunity.

She'd barely settled with that knowledge and allowed the truth of it to cause the curve of her lips when the ring of the bar's landline made her jump, the legs of the stool squeaking on the floor. A quick check of the wall clock made her wonder who might be calling at such a time, but the subtle thumping of her heart made her realize she probably already knew.


God, could she sound any more nervous? She shook her head at her insecurity as she waited for a reply.

"Ah, so you do answer the phone - even after hours. Glad to see the customer service is looking up, Swan."

His tone was light and happy sounding as his accent encompassed what was surely a devastatingly handsome smirk. Emma fought back her own smile as she wondered how she could read him like that, especially over the phone. It didn't matter truly - she liked being able to decipher the man behind the book. Killian Jones was a puzzle of the most addictive, tempting kind.

"I'm glad to see you've taken it upon yourself to give us a review," she teased in return. "Although I'm fortunately not at much risk - the pubs around here are pretty limited."

"So I've learned," he laughed. "In fact, there's only a few other places in town where a guy can procure a drink."

"Now this I'd love to hear about," Emma replied, folding her arms over the bar top. "Have you managed to get on Granny's bad side already? You shouldn't burn your bridges there - it's the only other establishment that serves decent alcohol."

"True, although I've yet to sample any of that," he commented. "I don't know if I dare - the looks that woman gave me over a coffee order today makes me think she might be a little more hands-on if I tried to order a pint at a later hour."

"Yeah, she probably had quite a field day with another Brit in town," Emma mused. "You'll have to ask Robin about that one."

"Duly noted, love," he said in that sultry tone. "Then there's always the docks, but that's a 'bring your own rum' situation and usually lands me with an unsolicited chaperone. I suppose I should say do not ask Rob about that one."

"Sounds like you're at a crossroads."

"Aye," he replied. " Unless …."

His voice drifted off, a hint of hope on the end of his abandoned sentence. Emma furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, but was brought out of it quickly when she heard the subtle knock on the large window where the business sign was confirming that the bar was indeed not open. A smile found her lips before she looked over her shoulder at the man standing behind the glass.

"Unless….I let you in, Jones?"

"Maybe I was in the neighborhood?"

"Hmmm," Emma said, tilting her head sideways as she moved to stand. " Were you?"

"How about you let me in-" he smirked, raising an eyebrow as his breath hung in the cold night air. "-and I'll tell you?"

She didn't miss the double meaning of his request - in fact, it was the exact reason she walked so slowly toward the window. He did look a bit chilled, the tips of his ears pink and his coat collar popped up to keep him warm. His eyes were a bright crystal blue, even in the early darkness of the night and his lips were pressed in the perfectly kissable position. She realized in that instant just how much she'd allowed herself to miss him in just the span of a day - so what the hell was she supposed to do when he was gone for longer than that?

"Pretty confident that I'd be working late, Jones," she said, smiling curiously at him. "Should I be worried about where you get your information?"

"While Henry and August did mention you'd be here," he laughed, the sound audible even through the glass barrier. "Perhaps I would have wandered over anyway."

"Oh? Why's that?"

"Well, maybe I wanted to see if the top shelf was open-" he continued, grinning a little more when she pulled open the adjacent door. "-but mostly to see if the woman who monitors it would be open to some company."

"It's nice to see you too, Killian."

His dimples went deep as he descended forward, his frigid hands cupping the sides of her face as he pulled her into a kiss that he seemed to need as much as she did. His touch was unexpectedly icy, but as his mouth parted and he breathed her in, Emma felt her entire body grow hot enough to rid herself of chills. One of his hands moved to tangle in her hair as the other rested on her jaw, helping them navigate the kiss as his tongue brushed hers. The moan that left her throat wasn't intentional, but the low growl he matched it with probably wasn't either. Her hands pressed lightly on his chest as Emma settled with the fact that she could kiss this man for hours and with the idea that she should definitely give that theory a try.

"See, now that -" he said softly, pulling back as his fingers trailed to her chin. "-is the right way to distract me from my request for a quality beverage, love."

"Well," she smiled, pressing her forehead lightly to his. "Did it work?"

"It would appear so," he nodded, tickling her back. "You're rather skilled at that, love."

"At distracting you?"

"Well, yes, that for sure," he laughed, pulling back to catch her dazed eyes. "But I was talking more about getting me to go after what I want."

The fire building in that cobalt blue gaze told her that he was definitely talking more about the 'who' rather than the 'what' with that sentence. The words were there, lingering between them - the hopeful scene where she could ask him to stay and he'd concede. Emma felt the gravity shift under her feet as she contemplated the statement and how it might change everything about the moment. She wasn't sure how long they stood like that, analyzing one another like some unknown novel that could be interpreted numerous ways. She wouldn't have minded doing so for longer, but even in the short time she'd known this man, she knew exactly where that would lead.

She bit her lip gently, trying not to think about the bar behind her as anythingbut a place for serving drinks and sorting bills. Yes, that is what she wassupposed to be focused on.

"So," she sighed, blinking lazily. "What exactly do you want?"

"I had hoped it might be rather obvious, love," he answered with that soft smirk that seemed to arrive like clockwork. "I wanted to see you. The rest doesn't really matter, does it?"

She'd spent so much time that day convincing herself that it did matter - that he was leaving and that it was going to hurt like hell when he did. Right now though, as he stood in front of her in the middle of the dimly lit bar, she didn't want to think about a time when he wouldn't be there to kiss her like that. She didn't want to spend any more time missing him while he was still there.

"No," she said softly, a little surprised at the slight smile that overtook her. "It doesn't."