Summary: Killian's a royal (ass) and he and Emma have a one night stand that ends up in the headlines. She'd totally kill him if she could, but having Regina take the throne is not a preferable choice. / Modern Royalty AU
Notes: So, this 100% was meant to be for my captain swan big bang, but as I've realized that this is going to go far beyond 50K, I've decided to post it as a multichapter. Inspired by this au prompt: I drunkenly tried to fight you and knocked myself out but you are kind enough to take care of me till I woke up. Special thanks to bluestoplights for the gorgeous cover and blondecrowns for being wonderful as per usual and encouraging me as always.
The easiest part of avoiding the drunken moron trying to fight her is to step out of his way and let gravity do the rest.
The hardest part is avoiding a third strike on her record. She's only worked at the expensive Gold Club for a month, and Emma can't afford to lose this job. Rent is due, Netflix doesn't pay for itself, and she likes being able to eat. The wink and grin, "Would you believe I knocked him out with my charm?" won't work, even if Belle herself assures Gold that Emma isn't abrasive enough to deliberately concuss a patron. Gold is too clever for that, and Emma is not that charming.
Especially now when she's finally ended her double shift only to have an absolute dumbass decide that it's a good idea to start a fight. With Emma. The bouncer. Who is so close to freedom that she can see it racing away to the DJ's beat.
Emma makes it work in the only way she knows how. She improvises the hell out of the situation. With her tight red dress, required by Gold to help the bouncers blend and preserve the club's "atmosphere", and a smile perfected to disarm, it's easy to convince the guy who rushes to the passed out drunk's aid to help her.
"My boyfriend is so drunk that he's fighting shadows, and look, he's hit his head! Can you please help me get him to a cab?"
It's a piece of cake up until the moment she searches through his pockets and realizes he has no wallet or any identifiable piece of information on him.
Bullshit, she thinks all the way to her apartment as she hauls his too slowly awakening form up the stairs in her pumps. She considers stabbing him to death with them, but that would defeat the purpose, so she just kicks them off at the door instead.
Unfortunately for Emma, the bullshit just keeps coming while she grapples with him in an attempt to clean the light wound from his fight with the floor.
"Stop fighting me!"
"I can take care of myself – I don't need you," he hisses in a slur.
"Yeah? I don't need this either, but you're drunk, and with no ID I'm stuck dealing with your idiocy until I can send you back to wherever you came from."
"I'm not drunk," the man hisses again, rubbing at his scruffy jaw. "I'm injured."
He doesn't fight her when she comes at him with the rubbing alcohol this time, and even though he twitches at the pain, she counts it as progress.
"You're that, too," Emma says. Very little blood comes away with the cotton pad, so she breathes a sigh of relief and tilts his chin up to look at her.
His eyes are wide open and he focuses his blue gaze on her.
She drops his chin and dabs at the cut with the cotton pad again for good measure. He swats her hands away and says drily, "That was a compliment."
"Compliment me by getting the hell out of my apartment."
He clutches his chest with a grin, his fingers stiff - it's a prosthetic, she realizes as he says, "But, alas, my head feels like it's been split open and I cannot safely leave on my own." Reaching behind him, he searches the back pockets of his dark Levis and finds the same thing Emma had: nothing. "With no money, either."
"Pity that," Emma replies with all the teeth of a smile and none of the humor.
He takes that as a challenge because of course he does. Wouldn't be a difficult evening if the guy actually agreed to leave when she asked him.
"Don't you want to know why I've ended up here?" he presses.
Emma considers this for a moment.
"Oh, come on, you must be curious. Think of this as a way to pass the time."
The wiggle of his eyebrows, his wink and his grin is a ridiculous combination of flirtatious and disastrous. Emma laughs and taps his chin with her hand.
"Yeah, buddy, we can pass the time with you calling whoever you need to come get you."
The man falls back against the couch, hand sweeping over his head like a fainting maiden. Emma's amusement racks up a notch and despite the over-dramatics, her annoyance starts to fade. He's taking advantage of her unwilling hospitality but at least she's home and in no danger of him doing anything - she'll crack his skull again if he tries it.
"I only have myself to rely on in these dark times," he says.
Emma quirks an eyebrow; he's not lying but there's something off about his response. "Dark times?" she probes.
"Yeah, I think my vision's fading out. Is that supposed to happen?"
Emma sighs and moves back into his reach. Pulling his arm away, she takes his head in both hands. His bearded cheeks tickle her palms, and she'd be a liar if she didn't acknowledge the fleeting thought about what it'd feel like on her.
"Look at me," she says.
He opens his eyes. The focus hasn't left but he does seem a bit out of it. He stares at her with glazed blue eyes.
"I was wrong," he manages faintly.
"What were you wrong about?" she asks, his face still in her hands.
"You're not hot. You're beautiful, stunning, dazzling -"
Emma drops his head in a move that no one could mistake for gentle, cutting his compliments short. This can't go on any longer. She moves to go get ice for his head, but he stretches out a hand between them and says, "My name's Killian. Yours?"
She drops back down. Probably a bad call to introduce herself.
"No last name, huh?" she asks.
Killian shakes his head with an apologetic smile. "You can't trust anyone these days, can you?"
It catches her off guard, the way he looks at her as he says it, acknowledging her deflection with understanding, and it's a bit too much of a turn from the wounded flirt of only a minute ago; she's not looking to get deep with him, she's just looking to get him out of her apartment.
So, she deflects again, says, "No, you can't. Not when they can press charges against you for attempted assault."
He takes the hint like the floor to his skull: not very well. "Hey! I did not try to assault you, I would never – speaking of, let me tell you what really happened, love."
Emma knows she is veering dangerously into entertaining him territory, but she can't stop herself from whining, "Why?"
"To keep me awake until this pain wears off and I can be on my way. Besides, we can make the telling interesting. A game, perhaps? You seem like the type to like a challenge."
Killian isn't wrong.
Grudgingly she asks, "And what kind of game would this be?"
"A guessing game."
Emma smiles because of course it is. His creativity is simply astounding.
"Simple enough. If I guess right, do you leave?"
"I will vacate your premises and allow you to settle down for the evening," he swears, holding his hand over his heart as if he's swearing fealty to her.
It's amusing enough to draw another smile, and when, after a quiet moment, Killian says, "I still don't know your name. It'll be good to have it when I send you the 'thank you' gift basket," Emma gives, just a bit.
"Emma Swan," she says.
"That's a lovely last name. Compared to mine…"
He sighs sadly.
"Which is?" Emma lifts both eyebrows, not even trying for subtle.
"It wouldn't be a proper guessing game if I just told you," he says.
"I'm guessing why you ended up on the floor, not your last name," Emma says. "I don't have the energy for more than that."
His brows draw together as he studies her. "Tired?" he asks.
"Exhausted," she corrects.
"And I'm keeping you up. I do apologize, Emma. I'll leave as soon as I can."
He swipes his hand over his face again, his frustration with himself as sincere as his apology. He looks tired, too, when he's sagging like that against her couch cushion, the kind of weary that speaks of more than a possible concussion. The question settles at the tip of her tongue - and Emma nearly stumbles getting up, but she waves off his concern, and takes determined steps to the fridge.
The night could be worse, and while she may be digging ice out her broken freezer for a man with no last name when all she really wants to do is curl up in her bed, at least he's apologetic about the situation. She'll count that as a win. She hasn't had enough of those lately to just be tossing them aside.
Returning to the living room with a Ziploc bag full of ice, she takes her seat again as she hands off the bundle.
"Thank you, love," Killian says. He leans the ice against his head, hissing at the cold, but once that initial shock eases, he smiles at her. "So, we were playing a game, weren't we?"
"So, you weren't trying to fight me," Emma says, not exactly to him, just testing the truth of his words now that he's more conscious.
"So, you were trying to fight someone else?" she suggests.
He shakes his head. "Try again."
"But you had fists flying," she protests.
His smile is teasing as he says, "Is that what you saw?"
"I'm not the one who hit my head," she says.
It's his turn to protest, "I wouldn't be either if you hadn't moved!"
The offense in his tone is a shade beyond necessary, just over the line of dramatic and into the histrionic. He's not the only wounded party here.
"No, you'd just have knocked me to the ground and I'd have had to actually grievously injure you," she snaps.
The conversation turns with a narrowing of his eyes and a curving of his lips - 'Gotcha!' the look screams, but she's the one guessing here not him.
Oh gods, she's getting into this stupid game.
"So you do work there? Bouncer, then?" he says.
He must've known all along, but she doesn't remember seeing him at all. Emma stifles a curse, deadpans with blank stare, "What gave it away? My charming personality? Winning smile?"
He chuckles. "Very few of Gold's patrons wear their dress slits high enough to kick a man in the groin."
Intent on not letting him get the better of her - he's right, she wears her dress slit high enough to maim, but that's not her only weapon, and she can see through his distraction. Tired as she is, she'll rise to his damn challenge, stupid as it is.
"How long have you known Gold, then?" Emma retorts.
It's his turn to stifle a curse, but he does it better than her, his voice less attacking, more curious when he says, "What makes you think that I know Gold?"
"You could try to lie to me, but that would just be stupid. I can always tell," she says.
"And you're proud of that," he says softly, wonderingly, his look measuring.
She feels identified. Recognized. Acknowledged.
She feels seen.
Emma shrugs under his gaze, at how he seems to tuck the information away, something to remember. She shrugs, but he's the first one to look away, with a nod of his head and a blink of his eyes.
His tone shifts abruptly, and Emma no longer feels like curling her fingers into her palms when he says, "The better part of my life. He's helped my family through some rough times."
He's omitting a lot, but it's not like she needs to know his past when she can hear the grit in his teeth, sees more than enough in his frozen smile and the slight furrow in his brow. Emma doesn't know a thing about family (surprise, surprise, an orphan doesn't know family) but that bitterness? Some days it takes all her strength not to let it get the better of her, and some days, she just lets it.
Gods, she's tired.
"So, not a fight. But you were going for someone. But not me," Emma poses. "The question is why?"
He doesn't say anything, and with his eyes closing again, Emma leans forward, not sure if he's heard her, not sure if he's starting to doze off. As she's reaching out to touch him, he opens his eyes, and his mouth twitches into a smile.
"You just can't resist me," he murmurs.
"You knew him," Emma says, sharply drawing back.
He huffs, not subtle in the least about his disappointment, but lets it pass and says, "Aye." Shrugs his shoulders like it was obvious to begin with.
Should it have been obvious to her? She finds herself considering this, whips back through her memory of the scene. She was moving too fast to notice him amongst all the other well-dressed men, not until he went for her - didn't go for her, they've established that, right, but he looked remarkably like he was going for her and - if she keeps considering this, she's going to find a way to make it her fault, but shit, she assessed the situation the best she could. Reacting to his lunge is not her fault.
He should've calculated his balance better.
"How did you know him?"
"How do you?" Killian shoots back.
She restrains herself with difficulty, the smile tickling her cheeks. "Don't pull that 'I know you are but what am I?' crap with me."
His brow wrinkles. Stupid insults are universal, right? Or maybe not. His accent, she doesn't recognize it, vaguely European, but honestly, she's no good at accents. Hollywood does them so badly that she can only truly identify five - Jersey, Southern, Boston, Brooklyn, and California Girl, and those are probably horribly mangled too. Maybe 'I know you are but what am I?' is only in the States.
Tossing his lack of knowledge on playground taunts aside, she says, "Fine, I'll keep playing. You know him and supposedly I know him. So, he's a regular of Gold's."
"Maybe. I don't know."
"You don't know?" Emma demands.
Killian pays no heed to her tone - maybe she is a little more heated than she should be for a guessing game with him - and he says, "That's not a guess."
"You're not a guess," Emma grumbles. She rolls her neck tiredly.
"I thought we weren't pulling that, 'I know you are but what am I' crap," Killian quotes. Emma glares him - maybe she should be more heated. He must sense this for he sighs, "You're never going to guess, love, which is a wonder, actually."
Alright, fine, it isn't like she wanted to win. She yawns, "Whatever. I don't like games anyway."
"Now that is a lie," Killian says.
"What makes you so certain?"
He lifts his gaze from her knees and looks past her shoulder. "The PlayStation hooked up to your TV?" He stretches his neck a bit more and his eyebrows nearly hit his hairline in excitement. "Is that Skyrim, I see?"
"Stop scouting out my apartment. I don't have anything worth stealing for someone who can afford Gold's club. Buy your own game system," Emma says.
He scans her apartment again and nods, "I can see a dozen things worth stealing in here. Take that clock hanging on the wall, for example."
Emma does not glance back at the creepy cat because it's seriously creepy and it's bad enough that the landlord insisted she not rip it from the wall when she moved in. The things one does for a cheap apartment.
"That was there when I bought it."
Killian appraises the clock - and she can feel its creepy eyes appraising her, shit.
"I could fence it for about $750. Clean it up a bit, fix that pendulum tail so its swing isn't so off, I could get even more."
He meets the disbelief in her eyes with a serious nod. His eyes no longer look glazed. Clear headed. This is a clear-headed thought.
Emma whistles low. "You must know some people."
She looks at him expectantly, which is probably her mistake because he just downplays it, "I do know some people. I know many people in fact."
He's good at this. It's not as annoying as it should be. He shouldn't have started this game thing, because fuck it, Emma wants to win.
She presses her face into her hands and groans, "Don't tell me you're a part of some kind of Thieves' Guild."
"So, that is Skyrim, I see."
When she pulls her hands away, he's dropped the ice pack to the couch beside him, has his fingers pressed gently to the knot in his head, some kind of Professor-X imitation.
That is Skyrim he sees. And if looks closer, he'll find her Star Wars and X-Men collection.
"Second hand copies of Skyrim won't net you much," Emma reminds him.
He swings his head to the other side, a motion that makes him flinch in pain. "That painting will if I claim it's a forgery by a particular forger," Killian says. He works a hand over his jaw, and murmurs, "Maybe Alonzo? Jensen & Son? Or someone else...Elder?"
Emma cuts his musing short, says, "That's a thing? People pay for forgeries deliberately? The world is amazing."
"People are stupid," Killian translates her sarcasm.
"People are beyond stupid," Emma corrects.
He chuckles, acceding to her wisdom with a nod of his head, "I'm sorry that you've had to encounter so many in your time working for Gold."
"Fewer than you think. They make the particularly stupid ones use the other door. For some reason, Gold doesn't think I'm enough of a people person to deal with them. Something about me not appreciating people who stare too long at the slit in my dress high enough to kick a man in the groin - and knee them in the chin when they fall to the ground, clutching at the goods."
If he gets the hint in her words, that she didn't see him come through the door, and look, she ended up sort of (not really, it was his own fault really) causing him the same kind of injury then…
Well, he doesn't show it.
"I don't think it's the lack of appreciation he has a problem with. Maybe it's the part where you've imagined in loving detail just how you'll incapacitate them for the rest of their life?"
She looks at Killian, and all it takes is a long onceover to get him frowning and lifting his hands. His left hand is a good prosthetic because the fingers splay as well as his right. Yeah, he doesn't need a single thing from her apartment, but his knowledge of fencing net profits is interesting. Perhaps, worrisome. Perhaps, criminal. Maybe all three.
Emma shifts forward and he presses himself against the back of the couch, and says, "Hey now, lass. You've already incapacitated me. No need to look at me like you're considering far worse."
She yawns in response. He relaxes, his smile soft.
"That table must be uncomfortable. Join me on the couch?"
This time when she gives him the 'possible incapacitation: incoming' look, it isn't deliberate. But his observation isn't wrong, nor is his suggestion unwelcome on her stiff back. Carrying him up the stairs wasn't kind on her.
She gets up from the table and slumps on the couch next to him. As exhausted as she is, even the slight comfort of her lumpy couch would normally take her out, but with him so close, she feels more awake. The closer to danger she is, the more awake she becomes. Adrenaline? Not just a myth.
"Good, good. Now prop your feet up, relax a bit," he encourages. He smiles at her when she rolls her eyes. "I'm just going to close my eyes for a spell…"
"Killian, don't do it," she warns.
She may not be annoyed anymore, but that doesn't mean she wants him staying the night. Or, in the horrible teeny tiny likelihood that he slips into a coma, she doesn't want to have to explain any of this to the paramedics.
Or have to hide the body.
Her back is wincing at the thought.
She snuggles down deeper into the couch but lifts one eyebrow in response. Killian pouts. He must think it adorable because he tugs his bottom lip between his teeth, too, drawing a laugh from somewhere deep in the pit of Emma's stomach.
Gods, she's tired.
"I'm glad my despair can cause you such delight," Killian says.
"I have to find humor somewhere," Emma says. "Look at this situation from my point of view."
"I'm trying to. Let's see, dashingly handsome man at his weakest in your apartment, flirting wildly, and making it clear that he'd love for you to have your way with him and you just...insist on glaring at him. Your point of view is a bit hard to get into, love."
She wags her finger at him. "Not when you're acknowledging the context. Dashingly handsome man in my apartment, flirting wildly, drunkenly, concussedly -"
"I do believe that's not a word," he latches on to that last part.
Funny, she'd thought he'd latch onto her agreement with the 'dashingly handsome' part. Funny how his dimples flash for a second, like he knows she expected something different.
"You're in no position to dispute it," she says.
"I didn't forget the workings of the English language just because I hit my head on the floor," he drawls.
"You get my point. Context - context is important."
"You must be a pleasure to watch movies with," Killian says.
His eyes twinkle, crinkling like he's imagining it.
Emma's on the verge of suggesting they pop on Netflix and see when she realizes just how indulging that sounds. She crosses her arms over her chest and says, "Wouldn't know," instead. It's a bit too much on the nose, but it's a better shut down than inviting him to stay even longer.
"Well if you have any plans to find out..."
"Count you in?" she finishes.
His lower lip dips, his eyebrows rising suggestively, "Please."
"Please," Emma parrots with a derisive roll of her eyes. And because she can't shut her stupid mouth, she adds, "I like to watch my movies without interruption."
He more than exceeds her expectations this time, shifting noticeably, "What kind of interruption do you think I'd have in mind, Emma?"
She searches for some way to twist the conversation back to safer waters - finds herself thinking that there's nothing safe about Killian No-Last-Name and stuttering a response, "I don't know - something -"
"I like to watch my movies without interruption, too, Emma," he says gently. His smile grows again. "And I also have a fondness for Star Wars."
"Stop scouting out my place," Emma emphasizes.
Still, she smiles - which turns into a yelp when she pulls her legs up onto the couch and her bare ankle brushes the melting ice pack. He picks it up, wincing apologetically and says, "I think the swelling's gone down."
"Let's see," he says.
He stands and she follows, touching her hand to his arm as he takes a few careful steps. If she has to catch him again...but no, he walks easily, even though his hand does reach up to touch his head again.
"The headache isn't going to fade for a while, I suspect. Can you believe this is my first head injury?" Killian asks.
"You're doing well for a first timer," Emma comments sardonically.
He steps around her apartment, walking towards the creepy cat clock.
"You weren't lying about the value," Emma says.
"I wasn't," he confirms.
"People are so stupid," she moans.
She taps him on the shoulder and he turns around to face her, tilting his head down towards hers. Emma means to take the ice pack out of his hands, but Killian lifts his hand to scratch at the back of his neck, looking sheepish.
"I don't think I'm truly capable of leaving just yet. I'm sorry, Emma."
Emma shrugs. "I didn't win your game."
His brows shoot up in surprise, his mouth parting slightly, and Emma uses that moment to go for the ice pack, staring at the blue thing with an intensity that she usually saves for hot pockets and her alarm clock.
"You said if I won your game, you'd leave...and I didn't win," she says, like explaining her thought process will make it any better.
"I'm growing on you," Killian says.
"Like a tumor. Look, let's just say I'll feel bad if you leave here and end up sprawled out dead on my street. And it'll make me look really bad."
A curious look passes over him - shameful, scared, even - and then he just smiles, tighter than before, but there's only humor in his voiced, "I doubt anything could make you look bad."
"Yeah, tell that to 5am me," Emma says.
"I am," he says, glancing at the creepy cat clock.
"I don't know a thing about concussions, but um," Fuck. "Best give it another half hour or so before you go to sleep."
That'll mean another half hour or so of her staying awake but she can't just leave him in her apartment. Her landlord will never forgive her if she lets Killian No-Last-Name run off with the cat.
She walks around him though, leaving him standing there while she takes the makeshift ice pack and tosses it in the sink, dries her chilled hands on the dish towel and stares at her box of pop tarts forlornly. She's a shit eater, but her stomach wilts at the thought of eating one at 5am after a double shift. She'll need real food.
Emma makes her way back to Killian's side where he's leaning against the wall next to the clock, waiting for her. He stands straighter when he sees her and says, ""So...since I'm not allowed to sleep…I know another way to keep me awake."
She laughs aloud, choking on it. He's still trying, and honestly...
"That usually just puts guys to sleep," she counters.
"Emma, you underestimate me."
He seems genuinely wounded, which technically he is but not so much anymore - not so much when he's staring at her so intently, his gaze on her lips as he steps just that inch closer. The way he licks his bottom lip isn't unattractive, and she isn't exactly unaffected by it. She has to be completely exhausted, or just concussed to be considering taking him up on his offer. Or worse, taken in by his charm. Knowing herself, it's the worst of the three.
"That'll put me to sleep," she says.
"Isn't that what you want?"
Yeah, Emma's charmed.
Emma kisses him first, grabbing him around the collar and tugging him against her. She's dead tired and she might (will, definitely will) regret this after she's spent so long trying to kick him out, but it isn't a bad kiss.
In fact, he might be right because he definitely seems to wake up when her lips touch his. The second kiss is much better, and the third – well, she isn't so certain she'll regret this at all as she drags him away from the creepy cat clock - it's probably judging her but who cares? Not Emma - and into the other room.
When she wakes up, Killian's gone, which is...well, she vaguely remembers seeing him go, clearly remembers him dropping kisses on her chest, her neck, her lips, and lastly her forehead, something softer than the others, reverent, desperate, wanting.
And she remembers his words right after, "I put my number in your phone. In case…"
She doesn't even have a last name for him, but somehow she knows if she calls, he'll pick up.
Speaking of her phone, she searches for it in the sheets, eyes still closed until her hands clasp around it and she peels open one eye to the brightly lit screen. With difficulty she pulls open the other, only when she notices the flashing light. Text message? Voicemail?
The text message is a confusing jumble of words that would've worried Emma coming from anyone else, but shatters her nerves coming from Belle. The "Emma, what is going on? Emma!" freaks her out, as do the question marks, exclamation points and links, lots of links.
Emma opens the first one with trepidation.
Bouncer Kidnaps Prince.
"Wait, what the fuck?"
Emma feels more awake than she has in months as she scrolls through the article, a picture of her stuffing Killian in the cab at the top, more nonsense written at the bottom - nonsense about her kidnapping a prince. Said prince being Killian.
Said prince being Killian.
Say it again for the people in the back: said Prince being Killian of Socaea.
Emma closes her eyes and runs through a series of emotions that can vaguely be categorized as panicked. There's some labored breathing, racing thoughts, and a numbness taking her limbs, leaving her phone dropping from her hand and her head falling back against her pillow.
It takes her a while to get everything back under control, as much as it can be when her life is slipping from her fingers.
There are no cops knocking at her door. Or banging it down. In fact, her apartment is as quiet as it ever is on a Sunday afternoon. She can hear her neighbors moving around next door, dishes clattering, and her other neighbors trying to wrangle their screaming toddlers.
She takes a deep, calming breath, picks up her phone again, and clicks the second link.