So I'm working on writing a story on spec for a publisher…yay and scary all at the same time. While editing, I kept picturing some of the characters as OUAT characters and this popped out. I'm in the process of updating my other fics as well, but this one just won't shut up.
"Henry," Emma Swan called out, her voice frazzled and eyes burning from looking at the same pages spread out on the floor in front of her. "Henry!"
A noise akin to an elephant being trampled sounds from the bedroom to her right, making her wince at the painfulness of what was probably supposed to be a note in a song. Her son, still clutching a rented trumpet leaned his upper body into the living room with a flushed face and hair that was just a little too long. "Yeah, Mom?"
"I thought we had a deal," she answered carefully. "You can practice your trumpet until dinner, but after that is quiet time. I really don't need to fend off complaints about noise from the neighbors."
He looked down at the brass instrument in his hands as if he hadn't realized it was there before, quirking up a half smile at the realization. "Sorry," he said without much sincerity. "Auditions are coming up and my teacher said I need to master another octave on the scales before I am a shoe in for it."
Emma knew that her son was trying his best, having picked up the instrument for the first time only a few months before when the school year began. He had been reluctant about the switch from soccer to band, but a badly injured ankle had made the former much too risky for him that year. Band fit into his schedule and he seemed to enjoy the friends that also made up the group. However, Emma thought his enjoyment of it might be the new teacher who had taken over the class that year. Everyone raved about the man's good looks and patience that seemed unequal to most saints. He spent hours every day with 11-14 year olds squawking away on instruments in some attempt to make music, never losing his temper or sense of humor according to Henry.
"I'm sure you're going to get it, but remember we don't live alone in this building. Phillip and Aurora just had a new baby. I'm sure they would appreciate a little quiet time to get the kid to sleep without a trumpet lullaby." She smiled affectionately at her son. "Maybe you can practice more this weekend, okay? Here and at your dad's?"
"I was hoping to go with some of the guys on the overnighter to the quarry," Henry said, his eyes shining with excitement. The trip had been planned by the preteens with the idea that they could escape from the confines of parents and rules for an overnight trip with sleeping bags and battery charged video games. Emma had already said no to that idea, pushing aside the feeling that she was stifling him for the better emotions of protecting her one and only son.
"And your father and I already said that wasn't happening. No wandering around the mines or the quarry. No staying the night with friends with no adults. Do I need to make the list again, kid?"
With a sigh, the 12 year old dropped the instrument into the seat of the chair by his door and smiled. "I could work on my English assignment," he suggested helpfully. "Ms. Blanchard said my rough draft was pretty good."
Sitting on the floor of the two bedroom apartment with her back against the couch and her legs crossed in front of her, Emma nodded. "The computer is all yours," she said. "I'm just going to finish getting these documents in order."
The two soon fell into their silent work, only interrupted by the occasional mumbled words to themselves or a grunt of frustration when things didn't go that well. There was also the abject horror when Emma realized she had put the wrong end of the highlighter into her mouth and now was boasting florescent yellow lines around her lips. Henry's laughing at that incident did not make her feel any better.
The boy sitting at the computer was her entire life, she admitted to herself as she restacked the papers that were beginning to take the form of a contract. Growing faster than she cared to admit, he was no longer the toddling child with the sweet smile and love of fairy tales. She couldn't count the number of times they had curled up under the covers and read of princesses and fairies, evil spells, and villains. He had friends and interests outside of her now, growing up to be a man instead of a little boy.
"Can I have some hot chocolate?" he asked, interrupting her thoughts as she managed to stand on legs weak from sitting for so long. She smiled. Maybe there was a bit of the little boy left in him after all.
"There is a new invention, brother," Killian Jones called out early the next morning as he balanced two plates and a glass in his left arm and flipped up the handle on the faucet with his right hand. "It's called a sink. Marvelous thing really. Water literally pours from it and you can clean all sorts of things."
The elder of the Jones brothers muttered something unintelligible into the pillow on the couch and threw a bent arm over his head in defense. Liam was not a morning person, nor was he thrilled at his brother's early morning lesson of cleanliness when he was trying to sleep. He knew that Killian was not fully scolding him for leaving the dishes out overnight, but there was always some truth even in joking.
"We'll go over the details later," Killian said when his brother's middle finger shot up in response to another bellow of his name. "I'm sure there is a schematic some place around here."
It was a wonder that Liam Jones could even sleep in the noise of the cottage that his brother called home. While the city staff boasted about the quiet and unobstructed seaside views, the living area of the two bedroom cottage was hardly silent. A coffee maker was hissing to life and the garbage disposal growled incessantly at Killian's command. Fishing ships and tugs just inside the channel all seemed to blow their horns directly down wind of them. Even his brother's printer was humming in the second bedroom turned home office, probably printing out some assignments for his students.
Killian laughed amusedly at his the sight of Liam lifting his head off the pillow and sniffing the air as if a bloodhound. "Is that coffee?" he muttered, blinking at the bright sunlight that was reflected off the water just outside the windows. "Did you make me coffee?"
"I made myself coffee," Killian corrected, pulling a red mug from the cabinet. "You're welcome to the dribbles though. You know how to make your own and it isn't like you have a boss who'll be tracking you down if you're late this morning."
Liam rolled his eyes in defiance, pushing down the makeshift bed covers to stand in the center of the room. While Killian had readily welcomed his brother to live with him a while, he was sure that the younger of the two was never going to give up a chance to joke about the state of his employment. Newly resigned from the British Navy, Liam had bantered back and forth a few ideas for a job. However, finding none in their home in London, he had traveled to visit his brother in Maine with the idea that maybe inspiration would strike. So far inspiration had led to a few late night poker games with their childhood friends and Killian's neighbors, Robin and Will. With his visa in order he'd applied for a few things, but so far no bites.
"You do realize that one of the chief downfalls of unemployment is depression," Liam said, folding the blankets and sheets for their spot in the closet. "And since when do you drink coffee in the morning? I thought you said you'd never give up your tea."
Leaving just enough for Liam to have a cup, Killian lifted his own mug in a mocking cheers motion. "Since I have 42 sixth and seventh graders murdering the beauty and serenity of Chopin during my first class this morning. I needed something stronger than a spot of tea."
"I think we left some rum in the bottle for you. But knowing Will probably not." Frowning at the table where the card game had been played that night, he ran a hand through the curly hair that made him distinctly different than his brother. "You know we were talking last night after you went to bed."
"Aye, I heard you three cackling like hens sitting on eggs out here. Some of us have responsibilities."
"We were discussing," Liam said, ignoring the second crack about his employment status, "the possibility to trying to put the band back together."
That did surprise Killian, who held his mug part way to his lips and paused. "Why would you do that? And why bother to tell me about it? It's not like I'm about to go out on the road with you. That ship has sailed, brother."
"No, don't even try it. I did that for a good part of my youth and won't try it again. If you want to play in smelly garages and bars for a few coins be my guest." He found his mouth again with the mug and gulped down the liquid, the frown evident even in his blue eyes.
"Nobody's asking you to play again," Liam said softly, circling round the kitchen island to pour the rest of the coffee. "But we could use your voice. You aren't that bad when you try."
"We're running late so no big orders, kid," Emma announced as she pointed to one of the only empty booths at Granny's diner. Not in the mood for the morning dose of Mommy guilt, Emma pushed past the other patrons to grab two menus from beside the cash register and signal to Ruby that they were ready to order. If Ruby got their food within five minutes, she could wolf down a few pancakes and drop Henry off at school all before the first bell. However, plans like that seldom worked out, she realized as Ruby sauntered over with more than just order taking on her mind.
"Food first and then gossip," Emma said hopefully. "I'm in a hurry."
The statuesque brunette flipped her pony tail over her shoulder and suggested the morning special to both of them. Not waiting for a response, she called out the order to Harold and then nudged Emma over with her hip so she could sit next to them as she poured a cup of coffee for her friend. "So Granny and I were talking."
Rolling her eyes, Emma crossed her arms over her chest and waited for the punchline. "Not fighting? Because usually your talks end up in an argument."
"Talking," Ruby insisted, winking over at Henry who was trying to act disinterested with his comic book. "And she has someone she wants you to meet."
Mrs. Lucas may have only had one grandchild, but she was Granny to everyone in town. New or old, she was the town matriarch and demanded respect from her patrons and guests. In addition to making the best clam chowder and second best lasagna in town, she was a bit of a matchmaker. If two lonely souls so much as ordered the same side dish, she was busily plotting to put them together.
"Of course she does," Emma said with no filter on her sarcasm. "And what's wrong with him? I thought she was saving the best guys for you."
"I'm a lost cause," Ruby answered. "It's not like I'm looking."
Emma knew that Ruby had no intention of settling down, despite her grandmother's wishes to the contrary. Working in the diner to please the older woman was about as far as Ruby would go in order to stay in the last will and testament. She worked on her fashion design career at night and in any of her free time, but that wasn't all. She had an active social life that included dating most all the eligible men in town. Her stories and adventures were legendary. However, Emma always censored her around Henry.
"So who is this guy?"
"He's English," Ruby said, her face lighting up as though she was relishing the thought. "He's living with his brother over by the marina, which is cool since he's really into sailing. He's a musician type, Granny said. He's got the most striking blue eyes and has an accent. He's tall and lean. Just your type, Emma."
Henry blew a few bubbles with his straw until both women glared at him. "He sounds like my music teacher, Mr. Jones."
"That's his name," Ruby said with a slap of her palm on the table. "Isn't that fabulous. He's a music teacher and you're a talent scout. It's fate."
Pursing her lips into a frown, Emma shook her head. "First of all, I'm not interested in dating right now. And second, he teaches middle schoolers their scales. I am looking for people to record music and win Grammy Awards. That sounds like Mary Margaret's type not mine."
The waitress sighed in temporary defeat as she stood and smoothed her apron down with her hands. "Fine, grow old alone and get a million cats. I'm not stopping you. But people offer to pay Granny for her matchmaking skills. And Mary Margaret is happily dating David, which is not going to change."
"Unless I can get Bono and U2 to come perform in Storybrooke. She's sort of a groupie." Emma laughed, hoping that the humor would help bandage the feelings under the surface. "Come on. Why is this guy single? What's wrong with him?"
"Nothing," Ruby declared, a hand on her hip. "He and his brother are both dashing and full of fun. In fact, I heard Granny plotting to put the brother together with that client of yours, Elsa."
Rolling her eyes again, Emma took a long draw from the coffee cup. It wasn't her favorite, but it was a good way to wake up in the morning. "Elsa is not going to like this either." Turning to Henry and clearly ending the conversation with Ruby, she pulled down the pages of the comic book with her finger. "I thought you were going to study for your vocab test today."
"I have a note for you to sign," Henry said, changing the subject and pulling a crumpled page out of his backpack that had its own seat at the table. "Like I told you, Mr. Jones is recommending me for honor band. Auditions are in a month."
"And you want to do this?" Emma asked, carefully unfolding the paper. "I thought you were just doing band because you needed an extra class that wasn't newspaper or yearbook? You didn't even like playing trumpet last month. You actually asked me to write you a note to get you out of the class."
Looking at her as though her memory was faulty, he smiled in that patronizing way he had that made him seem 40 years old instead of 12. "I like it now," he drawled out. "Mr. Jones is kind of cool. He is a good teacher."
"And how much is this going to cost?" Emma asked after chewing a bit of the bacon was hanging off the plate Ruby slid in front of her. "I've already spent like $500 on that writing camp for you this summer. And then there's the tutor to help prepare you for the advanced math class. Don't forget we're still paying off the trumpet."
"Mr. Jones said that I would be eligible for a scholarship," Henry said, ignoring the way his mother huffed at the idea. "He's even going to help me practice for free if you can pick me up. See he has ensemble practice until 4 and that's when the last bus runs. So he can work with me for an hour after that. I said you'd probably be okay picking me up, but he wanted me to ask to make sure."
Groaning, Emma curled her hand around her coffee mug and soaked in the warmness of it through her fingers. "And I'm just supposed to take off early to pick you up? No thoughts about my schedule at all?"
The boy's eyes fell sharply, a light pink on his cheeks. "I just thought…"
"You really want to do this?" she asked again, taking another sip of the dark liquid. "I mean really?"
"Yes," he assured her. I'll even do my homework before rehearsal every day. That way when you pick me up I can help cook dinner." It was bribery, but she had to smile at the earnestness of it. "Maybe even help wash your car this weekend."
"Yes, you will do your homework at school before these rehearsals. And yes, I'll pick you up at 5 each day. But no later than 5. Deal?" Henry shook his head so fast that she was surprised the crumbs of his breakfast didn't go sailing off his face. "So when does this start? Next week?"
Shifting in his chair, Henry looked down at the plate that was now nearly empty. "Today?"
The benefit to teaching music instead of some of the academic subjects was that Killian Jones did not have lunch duty. He had no homeroom class and few papers to grade, as his classes were more about playing music than the theory behind it. Sitting at his desk, he pulled open the lowest drawer and reached for the insulated bag that was supposed to contain his lunch. Fingers flexing for the smooth material, he came up empty and angry as he realized that he had left it on the counter in his small cottage.
"You'd starve if it wasn't for me," his brother said, arriving a few minutes later. "Lucky for you I was sharing a plate of those fries at the diner with Will." The taller of the two brothers dropped a grease stained bag onto the desk and smirked. "That old woman who runs the place is hardcore."
"Sounds cozy, but Granny is a different sort," Killian admitted, tearing into the bag. "She insisted on bringing me soup for the first weeks after I got into town. Said she wasn't going to have me wasting away because I was too embarrassed or proud."
"Sounds rather kindly indeed," Liam noted, plopping down on the shorter of the filing cabinets. "Actually she was asking about you. Said she had an inkling that she might have found us each a match. Something about two blonde women she said come into the diner quite a bit." Linking his hands together at the fingers, Liam stretched and grunted loudly. "Could be fun, you know? Double date with the Jones brothers?"
That was hardly a draw, Killian wanted to say. "Aye, we are irresistible. Me with one hand and you with no job." His teeth sank into the overloaded sandwich, chewing methodically while his dining companion pretended to dig a knife out of his back.
"It's a date, Killian. Dinner, maybe a movie, or a walk in the park. We aren't talking about settling down and marrying these lasses. Let's just consider it. From what I hear, Mrs. Lucas has a knack for matchmaking. And we aren't getting any dates hanging a bout with wankers like Will and Robin all evening."
"You're on your own for this one, brother. I'm not interested."
Emma propped her hip against the counter in her boss's office, listening to the latest in an unending succession of recordings that people sent into Storybrooke Records in hopes of being the next big thing. As a scout, Emma had learned to trust her gut instinct on finding talent, understanding that the best artists did not send in their work. No, she had to find them where they played in garages and smoky clubs where she tried to knock off flirting patrons so she could assess the talent better.
"I like them," Emma said with a nod to Regina Mills, the proprietress and daughter of the founder. "But they remind me of someone."
Pressing a button on her computer, the dark haired woman smiled into the silence. "Me too, but I'm sure we can figure it out. I hear they are playing in Boston this weekend. Up for a trip?"
"I guess I can rearrange a few things," Emma mumbled, pulling out her phone to check her schedule. "I've got that recording session I need to oversee with the two sisters, Elsa and Anna. But I just need to make an appearance there. It's just a demo."
Regina was not into details when it came to her employees, as she believed once she passed an edict that everyone should listen. Tapping a well-manicured finger on the top of her glass desk, Regina smiled to herself. "I knew I could count on you Ms. Swan. And on your way out can you tell my assistant that I'm free to meet with my sister now."
That was a meeting that Emma was grateful to miss, as the thought of mediating between the warring sisters was something she was eager to avoid. Both attempted to run the company that had been their mother's brainchild, each declaring that she was more suitable at the helm. Zelena was known worldwide for her ability to produce hit music and be just on the edge of the latest trends. Regina was more known for her business savvy. Each fought over every detail from the logo and stationary to the employees. When the decision was made to promote Emma from assistant to scout, Regina had said it was her who found the young woman while Zelena insisted she had been the one to pluck her up. Emma merely smiled and said thank you.
"She's in a mood," Aurora, Regina's latest assistant moaned as she reached for a phone to call the other sister. "It's going to be one of those days."
"I'm sure you'll manage," Emma said with a careful smile. She knew that Aurora was known to complain about the conditions at Storybrooke Records, usually over drinks with friends at one of the local establishments. She whined that she was underpaid and overworked, a frequent complaint of the company's employees. However, Emma was careful not to join in the discussion. She knew that Regina was eager to fire anyone not deemed loyal and Zelena had her spies everywhere. You never knew if someone you complained to was one of them or not.
"You should join us for drinks tonight. Mulan is buying the first round." Aurora smiled sweetly at the blonde and looked eager to have her join them.
"I don't think so, but thanks for asking," Emma said, already heading toward the stairs. "I have to pick my son up at five and you know I never go out after I get him home." It was a bit of a lie, especially on a night when her son was having dinner with his father. However, it seemed easier to make an excuse than baldly state she wasn't interested in work friends.
The mention of Henry seemed to strike something in the strawberry blonde behind the counter. "I almost forgot," she screeched, digging through a pile of papers in front of her computer. If there was one thing that Emma disliked about the company it was the lack of technology. Recording studios were outfitted with only the best, but an assistant like Aurora was still using pink message pad notes instead of her computer. She waved it in front of Emma with a smile. "A Killian Jones called to make sure that you were aware of the practice schedule. And Mrs. Lucas called to invite you to dinner. Is that what I think it is? Granny always calls it an invite to dinner when she wants to set a couple up. This is so exciting."
"Thank you, Aurora." Thankfully Emma didn't have to add any more as Zelena Mills appeared to be escorted into her sister's office.