The Sabbatical or how Emma Swan brought Valentine's Day back
Killian Jones abhors his neighbors. He really does. These people clearly have not been properly civilized. There is no other logical reason to explain their constant need for chatting, "borrowing" items (you can't borrow sugar or coffee, not really) or their distaste in music. There is no other explanation for the little hearts taped on everyone's door - including his - with the words Let's all be Valentine's carefully scribbled on all of them, an extra heart added at the top of the i.
He'd always find Anna, his next door neighbor, a little too free-spirited and decidedly too much of an optimist for his taste. Her predisposition to try to engage him in conversation each time they cross paths in the hallway is borderline stalkerish. And the fast pace of her speech, combined with her high pitched voice and a keen inclination to pivot from one topic to another as if she had the attention span of a three year old left him as dizzy as a day sailing in a turbulent sea.
Which is why, as he entered the second hour of his neighbor playing Celine Dion's greatest hits, and the fifth consecutive rendition of My heart will go on - after playing All by myself six times - Killian finally snapped.
He promptly trotted out of his apartment and into the hallway, heading purposefully towards the door that shielded the offending music, his eyes almost blinding with vengeful rage. He pounded on the door, his fit hitting the wood forcefully before he pinched the bridge of his nose and averted his eyes to the floor, feeling an incipient headache.
He spoke directly when the door opened, his voice laced with hatred, "I'm bloody tempted to go freeze myself into the sea if it means I don't get to hear this wretched music anymore!"
A gasp came to his ears and he lifted his eyes to continue his litany, "You bloody well know-"
He stopped in mid-sentence at the sight of a foreign blonde with green eyes, clad in yoga pants and a grey oversized sweater looking at him bewildered.
"You are not Anna." He cleared his throat.
"Clever conclusion, Sherlock. What gave it away?" She smirked at him, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning on the doorframe.
He took a step back, reaching to nervously scratch behind his ear. "Uh - I-"
"Cat got your tongue?" she teased, cocking an eyebrow at him.
Killian felt the tips of his ears turning pink before he reined himself in, lifting an eyebrow to the feisty blonde. "Listen, lass, I'm not sure who you are nor do I really care -"
"I'm Emma. Emma Swan," she offered.
"Right, Emma." Killian nodded. "As I was saying -"
"Aren't you going to tell me your name… it's the polite thing to do," she interrupted him, a hint of entertained annoyance lacing her voice.
"Killian Jones," he said, nodding again and trying to organize his thoughts. He knew he'd come here for a reason, but somehow, his former rage had subdued and he just felt tired and unsettled.
The sudden echo of the music signaling a new rendition of that blasted song reminded him of the purpose of his visit.
"Look, love, I don't know where you come from -"
"Did you just call me love?"
"It's impolite to interrupt," he pointed out, irritated.
"It's impolite to bang forcefully on someone's door," she countered, her stance still relaxed, but Killian could see a small fire lighting in her eyes.
"It's more impolite to torture the entire building with that accursed song," Killian refuted. "I'm not sure where you come from, lass; but in this building we try to respect other people's right to quiet moments. Keep it down, or for god's sake, just turn the darn thing off."
He turned around and purposefully stormed out. He was about to reach his door when he heard a voice calling for him, "New York. That's where I come from!"
"All I'm saying," Belle started, balancing herself on the top of the old wooden ladder and handing him a couple of old leather bound books, "is that perhaps it's time for you to meet some new people? You've been slightly more cantankerous than usual."
Killian chuckled, grabbing the books and carefully placing them on one of the adjacent tables, his fingers nimbly tracing the pattern on the tooled leather. "Cantankerous? It's that what the lads call it these days?"
Belle smiled with a hint of playful annoyance as she started to step down the ladder. Killian offered his hand and helped her reach the floor. "I figured you of all people would appreciate the flowery vocabulary. Or do you prefer me to call you grumpy directly?"
"Aye. I treasure the effort, indeed. However, I take offense to you making such assumptions. I'm as tetchy as I've ever been."
Belle approached the table and picked up a couple of books. "You know that's not true. You used to be more amicable. Ever since-"
"Don't say her name," Killian interrupted, his hand fisting over one of the books, his jaw clenching painfully.
Belle put a hand on his arm reassuringly, her voice soft and soothing as she spoke. "It's not that I don't value the countless hours you've spent volunteering in here, Killian. But sooner or later, you'll have to get out of this funk you've imposed on yourself and you know, get out there. Don't you want to find someone?"
"Just because you've found love in your life, doesn't mean it's meant for all of us, my dear. Besides, you're too marvelous for that arse," Killian reminded her.
"I resent your conjectures over the gentleman that is courting me," Belle replied, raising an eyebrow and mocking his tone while giving him an offended look. "You shouldn't talk like that about your brother," she reprimanded him.
Killian snickered, moving gracefully through the room as he placed the books on the shelves. "He's a lucky bastard… but the good thing is, he knows it."
Belle beamed at him and patted him on the shoulder. "Indeed. But nevertheless, I got someone else to help you manage the booth this Sunday."
"Belle…" Killian groaned but she didn't let him finish.
"It won't kill you to meet someone for a change. And be nice," she finished, pointing at finger at him.
Famous love stories in History and Literature
That was what the banner said on top of the booth, little hearts and snippets of novels decorating the area. Emma smiled, running a hand over the brocade of her white period dress, her fingers tracing the pattern of the silver clasp that garnish it.
"Thank you so much for volunteering your time, Emma." Belle beamed, a friendly smile on her face as she showed Emma the inside of the booth. "Your partner will be here any minute and I'm sure the two of you -"
"Oh blazes, no! Please tell me this is a figment of my imagination!" someone groaned behind her and Emma turned around to find the grumpy dark haired man she'd met a few days ago.
"Killian Jones," Emma announced, leaning towards the side of the booth.
"Emma Swan," he replied, moving to the other side and grabbing a set of leaflets, carefully placing them over the surface, ensuring they were aligned. "From NY. Terrible taste," he added.
"Killian!" Belle admonished, but Emma waved her hand dismissively, not in the least bit offended.
"It's ok… Mr. Jones and I already had the pleasure of meeting, considering I'm staying with my friend Anna until I find my own place." She grinned sarcastically at him and he grinned back. He looked remarkably handsome clad in leather pants and a black shirt that was mostly unbuttoned. A red vest was laid on top of the shirt, but it didn't obstruct the sight of a charm necklace lying over his chest hair. A long leather coat finished the ensemble, the collar popped up to add more charisma to it. It was an interesting change from the plaid shirts and glasses she'd seen him before.
Well, at least he's easy on the eyes.
Killian noticed her staring and cocked an eyebrow at her before he turned around and looked at Belle. "Don't you have a date to attend? You know, instead of staying here with us poor unfortunate dateless and loveless souls?"
"You're dateless because you chose to be," Belle retorted, reaching to grab her coat and purse. "You could have-"
"Spare me the lecture, darling, you and I both know it won't do me any good."
Belle beamed at him and patted him on the shoulder before getting on her tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek. "Be nice," she commanded before turning around and smiling at Emma. "I apologize. He isn't always like this."
Emma smiled back and waved Belle goodbye as she sat on one of the chairs. Killian sat next to her and leaned over to whisper in her ear, causing Emma to shiver. "I assure you, love, I am."
Well, it sure was going to be an interesting night.
"You're dressed like a pirate," Emma said after a few people had come by and took some of the books they had on display.
"Beg your pardon, love?"
"I thought we agreed it's impolite to call me love," Emma pointed out, smiling at a group of teenagers that were clearly ogling Killian. "We are at the Public Library, managing the romantic couple's booth on Valentine's Day and handing books to people. We are supposed to be in character and you showed up in pirate garb!?"
"I am not dressing like a boring, stuck-up prince," He scoffed, throwing a quashing glance at a pair of college frat boys that were ogling her. "And pirates always get the lasses, Lady Swan."
"Not the princesses," she countered.
"Are you sure about that?" he asked smugly, reaching to grab one of the little hearts that decorated the booth and huffing in annoyance.
"What is it? Not a fan of romance?" Emma teased.
"Please, Swan, this is a fabricated holiday created with the sole purpose of selling small chocolates for obscene amounts of money and getting people to believe in the possibility of true love. Not to mention, the terrible, terrible attempts at poetry and rhymes."
"It's not that bad," Emma offered.
"The poetry surely is," he protested vehemently.
"What is it that you do for a living?" Emma asked, wondering how his coworkers could put up with such negativity.
"I'm a book editor," he replied, as he reached for the novel a young couple had in their hands and changed it for another one. "Read this one, at least it's well written," he said with a little too much conviction, causing the couple to give him a horrified nod and retreat carefully.
Emma sighed, running a through her hair before finally bursting in small laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing… just wondering how you ended up alone on this night," she said.
"I'm on a self-imposed sabbatical from women," he stated proudly.
Emma chuckled. "You are on what?"
Killian ran a hand through his hair, reaching to scratch behind his ear. "I had a relationship end very sadly and after that - I just wasn't into it. My friends, obnoxious pricks that they are, kept insisting for me to date. But after a few bad attempts gone horribly wrong, I've decided a sabbatical is what I need. Peace and quiet," he asserted.
"I wonder why your dates have gone wrong." Emma cocked an eyebrow teasingly at him.
He smirked. "No clue. I am a charming fellow after all."
"Please, you terrorise people over their taste in music," she accused, shrugging.
Killian pointed his finger at her. "Swan, what you listen to hardly qualifies as music."
"As opposed to your nightly renditions of Muse and Radiohead," she countered. "There's a word for people like you."
"Music aficionado?" He offered, cocking an eyebrow at her.
Killian took a hand to his chest, mockingly motioning to grab his heart as if she had wounded him. "Low blow, princess."
"You are a pirate, you can take it." She smirked at him.
As the evening wore down, Killian made ready to leave. Emma was scheduled to stay behind and finish tidying up the booth before closing for the night. Killian entered the dressing room and searched for his clothes as he unbuttoned his vest. The door behind him opened and closed forcefully and he didn't have time to react before Emma was pulling him by the lapels of his coat and crashing her lips to his.
"Don't say anything, Jones," she ordered when she pulled away from him. "Someone needed to end your self-imposed sabbatical." She dove in to kiss him again, tightening her grip on him. Killian moaned, his hand reaching to tangle in her hair, his other hand grabbing her waist and pulling closer to him. He chased her lips as she pulled away, a glint of mischief in her green eyes as she retreated back to the door. "Perhaps now you'll smile a little more at neighbors that are only trying to be nice to you."
She left the room and he stood there aghast, his fingers softly touching his lips.
When Emma finally left the library, he was the last person she expected to see. But there he was, Killian Jones, dressed in jeans, and a black wool coat, leaning by the wall.
"What are you doing here?" she asked curiously.
He smiled and handed her a steaming paper cup and a red rose. Emma took them both and took a sip from the cup. It was hot chocolate with whipped cream and cinnamon. She raised an eyebrow questioningly at him, her eyes darting from Killian to the cup and the rose.
"I had to battle two yuppies for this rose, milady. I thought one of them was going to cut my hand at some point," he started nervously, slowly taking a step closer. "And worse, I had - I had to interrupt Anna's Valentine's date to request her assistance in finding out about your favorite drink. That lead to fifteen minutes of constant chatter that I do not want to ever relive. Do you know she keeps spare heart shaped chocolate boxes in case of an emergency?"
Emma chuckled. "Yes, I am fully aware. I can only imagine how painful that was for you."
He smirked. "Aye… she wouldn't stop talking."
"I'm sure," she said softly, tilting her head.
Killian cleared his throat. "I know this is a little...impetuous, but would you consider having dinner with me tonight?"
"Where?" she asked.
He gave her a small smile. "As this is a last minute plan, you can understand there is no chance we can get into a fancy restaurant, but Granny's is open and I heard they even have a Valentine's Day special..." he trailed off.
"Really?" she took another sip of her drink.
He waved his hand flourishingly. "Oh yes, grilled cheese and onion rings in the shape of a heart, 2-for-1 strawberry milkshakes and one chocolate cake with two forks if you are in the mood for a romantic dessert tête-à-tête," he finished and bit his lower lip, rocking back and forth on his heels.
"Wow, I'm not sure I can take all that romantic extravaganza," Emma replied slowly.
He made his move the moment her eyes darted to his lips, tangling his hand in her hair and pulling her closer to him. He kissed her languidly at first, reveling in the feeling of her warm lips moving against his. Emma tilted her head to deepen the kiss, careful not to slosh her drink on him.
"What about your sabbatical? You know, peace and quiet?" she teased him as they pulled away.
"It was getting a little boring, to be truthful," he admitted.
One year later
"And that is how the pirate was able to finally able to win the heart of the princess," Killian said, waving a hand flourishingly around as the kids in the audience clapped excitedly.
"Actually," a voice behind him spoke and he turned around to watch as Emma made her way towards him, her white dress making her look like a vision. "That is how the princess got the pirate to stop being a numbskull and finally change his quarrelsome ways." She cocked an eyebrow at him and he bit his lower lip, before giving her an overly dramatic bow.
She hadn't made it to the dressing room when he had cornered her, pressing his body against hers as he kissed her forcefully, praising the effect her use of flowery vocabulary had on him and whispering words of eternal love against her skin.