If she had met Killian Jones under any other circumstance, she would most likely be irritated with him for just about every aspect of his existence.

However, she meets him just in the nick of time, as she's being cornered by two zombies that just won't quit and her kid is screaming, "Help me! Help! Mom!"

Their dashing savior enters the scene on a motorcycle, armed with a small blade and a gun.

He pops the two monsters crowding her against the wall of the grocery store in the head first, then he throws a small knife straight into the brain of the zombie that was walking toward her ten-year-old kid.

Henry's eyes blow open wide and he gasps, "Whoa."

Emma gathers up their things and goes to her son, immediately stepping in front of him and holding an arm out to protect him as she draws her gun.

"Who the hell are you?"

The stranger holds up his hands, well one of them. Apparently, he lost fact makes her wary, because it either means he's been bit or it means he had lost it before. And either of these possibilities mean he's trouble.

He shakes his head, a gentle, friendly smile filling his lips as his accented voice rumbles smoothly from his lips, "Killian Jones. I swear I'm friendly. I've spent the last two weeks looking for any signs of life aside from these creatures."

His smile spreads further, and Emma, who has been wary of just about anyone ever since their last group went to shit, shakes her head.

"How do I know you're not lying to me?"

She steadies herself as she stands guarding her son. Her fingers tighten around her weapon and she feels her heart racing fast.

"Darling, why would I lie to you about something like this?" he asks, still smiling as if she'll be won over by his charm. "I just saved you and your boy's life. You should be thanking me."

Emma grits her teeth. He does have a point. However, she can't admit that he's right.

"Mom, I think he's cool," Henry says suddenly, and then it's all over.

There is no way in hell she's ever going to be able to get her son off of her case if she lets this man go after what he'd done for them.

She takes a breath, drops her arm, and settles her gun in it's holster.

"Good girl," Killian grins. He tips his head toward her. "Now, what's your name, love?"

"Swan," she tells him. "Emma Swan."

With a wry little lift of his eyebrow, she watches Killian eye her up. "A pleasure meeting you, Swan."

Not a moment later, Henry in all of his curious boyishness, steps out from behind her and asks, "How do you ride a motorcycle with one hand?"

She gapes at her son and gets slightly embarrassed because of it. "Henry-"

"No, it's okay," he smiles, tilting his stump to examine it. He pulls the leather of his jacket up past his elbow and reveals the raw skin. "I've learned that over time, you can do just about anything with one hand. It just takes practice."

Henry furrows his brow. "What happened?"

"Okay, kid," Emma says, shaking her head. "I think you should just leave him alone. Help me grab our crap so we can head out."

Henry lingers, staring at Killian Jones, and Emma sighs as she picks up her backpack and slings it over her shoulders. "Henry."

Her son turns to her with a defiant look in his eyes. "Mom, I'm just trying to be friends. You always said that once we found people we should be friendly to them. There aren't a lot of us left."

Emma gathers her hair up and throws it into a ponytail. It's far too hot in the summertime and she doesn't know what she was thinking, walking around with leather and jeans. She should be in a tank top and shorts.

When she looks at Killian Jones, she trails her eyes over his form, and considering the fact that he's a one-handed wonder with sparkling blue eyes that pierce her to her soul, she thinks, maybe, she's just foolish enough to let him tag along.

"Okay, well," Emma sighs. "Do you want to walk with us, Killian?"

A smile spreads on his face. "I'd love to."

:::

As much as she'd like to hate Killian Jones, she doesn't.

He actually has good ideas, sometimes. Other times, he's an ass and she hates everything about him.

They find a truck in the middle of a deserted town in a small town just north of New York City. The city had been a mess they'd avoided, but just barely, and with a couple more zombies mashed to their final death thanks to them and their dedicated teamwork, Emma can't help but feel just a little bonded to him.

There's a house in the middle of nowhere.

It's where they decide to make camp for the night. When Emma glances back into the backseat to find her son knocked out asleep, she turns to her partner in crime as soon as she turns the lights of the truck off.

"I'll check upstairs," he says, peering out at the two-story home. "You take the main house?"

She bobs her head. "Should probably check the garage too."

Emma shifts in her seat and reaches back for her gun. After settling it in her lap, she nudges Henry's arm. "Hey, Henry, gotta get up, kid."

Her son groans a little as his eyes open.

She smiles a little at the way his eyes are gently opening and closing as he fights staying awake. She strokes at his hair and laughs softly.

"You can stay put for a few minutes while Killian and I check the place out."

"Kay," he murmurs, his eyes sliding closed once more.

Emma's smile remains as she shifts her focus up to Killian.

He's staring at her, a warm look in his eyes, and for a heartbeat, she thinks back on the two days they've been traveling together.

He's good at taking down the enemy and he's exceptional where it comes to keeping she and Henry safe.

Earlier that day, when they'd been hiking through the forest, they'd come across a small herd, and Henry had tried to be brave with his small switchblade he'd gotten from his father, but it hadn't been nearly enough to save him from the monsters who want nothing more than to rip into his skin and turn him rotten.

She'd been just four steps ahead when his screams had broken out, and whirling around after knocking a zombie to the ground, she'd found Killian fast on his feet, eager to whack the creature to the forest floor.

As soon as the monster had fallen, Henry's face had been horrified, and she knows the feeling, because ever since this mess had started, she's had to shove down that feeling of sheer horror in order to survive and to keep her kid safe.

Killian, though, he'd wrapped her son in a gentle embrace, had cradled his head, murmuring something just soft enough that she couldn't hear.

Then, he'd pushed Henry back just so as Emma continued to fight off the beasts in the woods, and the next she saw, her son had a small blade of Killian's as he ran a small distance from them.

Two days. That's all it had taken for him to become part of their family.

"Are you okay, Swan?" he asks, smiling just a little so his teeth glow at her in the dimly lit cab of the truck.

"Yeah," she shakes her head out of the memory. "Let's just get the house checked out, Jones."

Emma gets out of the truck and shuts the door before her companion can say anything, and as she steps up the porch of the home, she listens. It's an art she's had to perfect over these past few months of the world turned to chaos.

She doesn't hear anything, and it's a relief.

Emma tries the door. It's unlocked.

After a thorough exploration of the house, they discover that it's been abandoned, and that there aren't any zombies to be found.

"It's safe for now," she tells Killian as he lights a candle on the table.

He nods. "Aye. We can rest up for a few nights, but we should probably get back on the road soon. We can't stay stagnant."

Emma bobs her head. "Yeah."

She retreats to the car, armed, and when she opens the cab door to the truck to gather up her stuff, Henry shifts restlessly in the backseat, moving so he's sitting up and squinting at her.

"Mom?"

Emma slides her seat forward and grabs her bag as well as Henry's. "Hm?"

"I want to learn how to fight," he says, almost timidly.

The words make her stop and she swallows the lump that forms in her throat.

She meets her son's eyes and all she can see is her little baby boy, with his soft fingers and toes, and it hurts because she doesn't want to see him grow up like this.

She doesn't want to lose him.

She doesn't want him to see half of the shit that he has seen in the past few months, doesn't want him to remember it. She wants him to know the world as a safe place, a place where he doesn't have to worry about hurting or death, a place where he doesn't have to be afraid for his life.

"Kid," she drops her shoulders and tilts her head at him. "I don't know. Are you ready for that?"

Her son gives no qualms about it when he says, deadpan, "I almost got bit today, Mom. I need to learn how to fight."

Emma glances over her shoulder when she hears the door to the house open. Killian stands on the porch, obviously checking on them to make sure nothing happened, and she steps away from the cab of the truck so Henry can join her outside.

"Henry, you're ten," she says, and it's a weak argument. She knows it is.

She closes the door to the truck and her son gives her a look.

"Exactly. I'm not a baby anymore. Remember what Dad said before he-" Henry stops himself and Emma physically clenches at the memory. Henry's tone lowers gently, "He said I shouldn't be afraid. He said I had to protect you now."

Emma swallows thickly. She feels tears burning at her eyes and her son just stares at her expectantly.

"Okay," she says, turning on her Mom Voice. "You can learn, but I don't want you to fight unless it's life or death."

Henry pulls on a grin and he practically bounces up the steps to Killian. "Killian, you can teach me how to fight. Mom says."

"I-" Emma starts to argue, but she finds it pointless, so she just sighs as she climbs the steps wearily.

Killian winks at her as he ruffles Henry's hair and the two boys head into the house.

Killian holds open the door for her and she supposes he'd like her thanks for being a proper gentleman, but she just enters and tosses her and Henry's stuff down on the sofa before heading to the kitchen to check for supplies.

They eat canned vegetables and sit at the dining table, all three of them, and it reminds her of before, except Henry's talking about firing a gun and both she and Killian are both stained with zombie from their encounters over the past two days.

She resolves this when she discovers running water and a shower in the master bedroom after dinner. The water's not hot, but it'll help clean her skin off.

As she stands in the bathroom with her towel wrapped around her middle, she realizes she could probably go through the woman of this house's closet for a new outfit, and she eagerly steps out of the bathroom to do just that.

Emma barely steps into the walk-in closet when she hears the bedroom door open and she sticks her tongue into her cheek as Killian enters the room as if he owns it.

"Oh, well, there you are," he teases, sauntering to the open closet door with his flashlight pointed at her.

She arches an eyebrow as he glances down at her in her underwear. "Are you just going to stare at me or did you have something to say?"

Killian's teeth pull at his lower lip and he shakes his head. "Henry's decided to take the bedroom downstairs. Leaves this one. The other bedroom was apparently a work-out office space."

Emma sighs. "Okay. Then I guess I'm sharing with him."

She slides a new shirt on over her head, and then pulls on a pair of soft sweatpants. She finds an outfit to wear tomorrow, hoping it'll fit, and sets the clothes aside.

"You don't have to," Killian says. "I can keep watch for a few hours. You can sleep up here."

Emma twists her wet hair over her shoulder and inhales deeply. "If you think we need to keep watch, okay."

She grabs her flashlight and points it his direction as she steps out of the closet. He turns to her as soon as she stands by him and he just stares at her as if he's lost all semblance of the English language.

It's kind of hilarious, because the man prides himself in his speech. But Emma doesn't laugh or smile.

She's far too tired and her body craves the warm embrace of the bed more than she desires to make Killian Jones feel bad about himself.

"Are we ever going to be friends, Swan?" he asks suddenly.

Emma narrows her eyes at him. "What do you mean? You're trailing along with us, aren't you?"

Killian hums and a little smile itches at his lips, pulling wide and shrinking again.

"Aye," he laughs softly. He averts his gaze, staring at the bedroom window, and then looks at her again. "I'm more Henry's friend than I am yours, love. I'm just saying it might be nice if we… talked or something."

At or something, he arches an eyebrow and she thinks he's trying to flirt with her, but she's not having it.

"We talk," she replies, sinking down onto the bed.

"About zombies," he says, as if he's desperate for companionship, and Emma can relate, no matter how badly she'd like to just wake Henry up and leave Killian here to rot on his own.

Emma's fingers fold together between her thighs and she swallows. "Okay. What do you want to talk about?"

She's not anticipating it when Killian decides to sit down beside her on the bed. He smells pretty bad, even with his jacket discarded and his tee shirt only slightly stained.

And it's not just zombie she can smell on him. Smoke and alcohol, too.

She realizes in this moment that she knows absolutely nothing about Killian Jones, other than the small details she's picked up on, and she has practically adopted him as part of their group.

"I was a pirate," he tells her, "before."

"A pirate," she repeats skeptically. "What? Like Captain Hook? With a perm wig?"

He gives her a look and sighs heavily. "Not even close. I… illegally imported goods from other countries." He puts on a smile for her. "Though, if you're wondering, yes, I was still devilishly handsome, and I could fight fairly well. Hence why I'm so good at… whatever this is now."

Emma watches him as he fidgets with his light source. He shakes his head. "Liam would've hated it."

"The apocalypse?"

Killian laughs. "The apocalypse, my turn to piracy… aye. All of it. He would've hated every second of it. My brother was always so…. damn perfect. I never stood a chance when he passed."

Emma's heartstrings tug at the idea of Killian looking up to a brother like that.

"That sucks," she tells him.

Her companion snorts. "Aye. A bit." Killian stares at her with eyes that admire. "What about you, Swan? Who have you lost?"

She gives him a dry look. "We're not talking about my shitty past tonight, Jones. Save that for another day."

"So you admit it has been bad," he supplies. Emma doesn't speak. Killian shifts so their knees bump and Emma's fingers slide onto her thighs. "The moment we met I could tell. Lost children have this… look in their eyes. I have it myself. Liam raised me from five years onward. Neither of our parents could've cared less about us."

And she knows he's just trying to know her better, but it's ridiculous. She never tells anyone about her past. Never. It's just one of the things she's decided to push down.

Her past shouldn't matter now to anyone anyway. They're in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.

But Killian cares. He cares with a passion so raw and real. She sees that in his eyes every single time she looks at him. And it terrifies her.

"I got left on the side of the freeway in Maine by my parents when I was born," she tells him in a voice so quiet it reminds her of a child. "I bounced around for years in the system. People claimed they wanted me but then they'd turn me away. I ran when I turned sixteen. I met Henry's father when I was seventeen. Got sent to prison. Had Henry. Straightened out my life as much as I could and then the apocalypse hit."

Emma's chest feels heavy with the weight of her words and she rises to her feet, heading for the door.

"So, yeah," she says, tears burning in her eyes. "I guess you could say my life has been bad."

Emma doesn't allow Killian to say anything to her. She just slips out of the bedroom and heads downstairs to find her son.

As soon as she curls up with him in bed, a blanket pulled up to their chests, she hears Killian climb the stairs, and then his light shines into the bedroom for a moment while her eyes are closed.

He's gone by the time Emma opens her eyes again. She just focuses on Henry as he sleeps, and on the way innocence fills his cheeks as he huffs out breaths.

God, sometimes she misses life the way it was before.

:::

There are three things about the situation before her that absolutely suck.

One: she is in the middle of explaining to Killian why pancakes are better than waffles, due to the fact that apparently the waffle iron he'd found in this place they're staying is infinitely more important than a griddle and he wants to bring it with them,

two: there are approximately fifteen zombies in the front yard,

and three: she's not wearing her contact lenses and she's blind as a bat.

"Henry, stay here," Emma tells her son.

He stands from his once seated position at the kitchen bar, trying to be strong and brave, but his fearful warble gives him away, "Mom. I want to fight."

She drops her shoulders. "Henry. Just stay here."

Killian nods in agreement. "We've got this, lad. Just stay put."

She grabs a knife from the kitchen and Killian takes two for himself.

"Pancakes are better," she says, opening up the back door to the house so they can head around front without drawing the zombies in close to Henry. "Because you can put anything in them."

Killian scoffs. "Well, you can do the same with waffles."

Emma hums skeptically.

They head around to the front of the house in silence and when they come to find the zombies awaiting them, Emma curses herself for her bad vision.

Leave it to her to get stuck in the zombie apocalypse without a pair of glasses.

"I can hardly see," she grits out after stabbing one of the zombies in the skull.

The creature crumples to the ground and Emma realizes a moment too late that she has lost her knife.

"God dammit," she curses. "Killian, I'm unarmed."

He's stabbing two zombies at once, bringing their skulls together for a glorious smashing sound, and then he yanks his knives out.

Emma steps backward. She keeps her eyes on the slow moving monsters approaching her.

"Are you going to help me?" She demands, glancing around for something to use as a weapon.

Everything is horrendously blurry and she thinks the blob that is Killian is moving close to her, but then she hears it groan, and she realizes she's way too close to a zombie for comfort.

And then she trips on something on the ground and falls onto her bottom.

The zombie reaches for her and she scrambles back just in time to be missed. She curses a few times. "Killian!"

He's battling a zombie and she realizes that he's about to lose his weapon, so she scrambles to her feet and finds her knife in the skull of one of the fallen, using it to send her attacker to it's end.

She runs to Killian and saves him from being attacked from behind while he's sending another to its final rest in front of him.

As soon as he turns to her, he launches his knife behind her and she gasps when a zombie collapses down on the ground next to her.

It's the last of them. Thankfully.

"That was way too close. For both of us."

He glances back to the house. "We need to pack up and find somewhere to live. Preferably with people that don't want to eat us."

"Yeah."

Their journey starts with Killian gathering up the waffle iron. She tells him it's going to weigh him down, but Killian just winks and says, "It'll come in handy eventually, love."

And then they head out, with hungry stomachs and weapons at their sides.

Henry is between them. Killian takes the rear while Emma leads and every so often, she turns back to check on them.

Her son has a disgruntled look on his face as they trudge up a hill toward the nearest road and he winces at the sun in his eyes.

"Mom, can't we get a car? I'm tired of walking."

Emma sighs. "If we can find one with gas, sure."

That shuts him up for about half a mile, and by then, they're in the middle of a new neighborhood and Emma's guard is high when she hears zombie groans coming from the tree line up ahead.

"Mom," Henry's voice shakes. "Mom, Killian's gone."

Her eyes blow wide open and she stops, causing Henry to run into her with a gentle oof.

She whips her head around, searching for the man that had saved their lives on their first meeting, and a sick feeling twists in her belly.

"Dammit, Killian," she curses under her breath.

There's a house next to them, and the door is wide open. But then again, there are a dozen other houses in the proximity of their position. He could literally be anywhere.

She stalks up toward the house and turns back to her son, "Come with me, kid."

Henry gladly joins her and Emma is on the defensive as soon as she enters the home. She keeps an ear out for zombie, and as soon as she crosses the threshold into the kitchen, she hears something coming from one of the rooms down the hallway.

Emma gives Henry a look, telling him silently to stay quiet, to grab a weapon, and he bobs his head in immediate understanding.

She slips down the hallway and finds the noise coming from behind a closed door. Emma takes a deep breath as she stands there, and when she opens the door, she discovers everything she'd feared.

Not just one zombie, but two.

"Henry, get out!" she yells over her shoulder. "Find Killian."

She whips a kitchen knife out of her belt and immediately regrets it when the zombies reach out for her. She really needs to find a new weapon of choice.

Emma backs the zombies out into the main open space of the house, searching endlessly for something to use to puncture their skulls, but she ends up stepping into the kitchen, backing up against the back door, and all she has is her kitchen knife.

She settles. It's a close call.

And there's still one reaching out to scar her skin.

It's then that a waffle iron hits the back of the zombie's head and she stares, wide-eyed, at Killian as he stands there grinning.

"What the hell?" she asks, mostly mad at him for leaving them in the middle of nowhere.

He shakes his head, becoming serious and smoldering as he says, "I will never apologize for saving your life, even if it costs me my own."

"I could have made it," she rolls her eyes.

She doesn't think he's charming. She thinks he's foolish. Foolish and impossible and she hates to admit it, but she likes him just ever so slightly for it.

"Would you have?" he asks, eyebrows lifted as he holds out the waffle iron. "What did I say, Swan? It came in handy."

Emma gives him a look. "You're not a hero." And what she means is, thank you, I don't know what I'd do without you. "We need new weapons."

"Aye." Killian sobers up and sets the waffle iron down on the kitchen island as Henry rushes into the house.

"Is it safe?" he asks.

"Yeah, kid," Emma replies, still staring at the handsome stranger that is Killian Jones.

They barely know each other, but they've risked everything for each other more than once.

She feels like she's made a mistake trusting him with as much as she has, but she has no choice in the matter when it's the living against the dead now.

Killian digs suddenly into a pocket in his leather jacket and pulls out a pair of glasses, causing her to furrow her brow as he extends them to her.

"I pulled away from the group to do a quick search of a place across the street," he explains.

"Try them. I can't have you fighting zombies blind, Swan."

She swallows, hardly able to comprehend the kindness in the act, and takes the glasses with slightly trembling fingers.

Emma slides the glasses on over her ears and immediately discovers that it's a near perfect match. She can now see how dark and handsome her counterpart is and it's enough to make her heart to race just that much faster.

Henry enters the room then, a teasing laugh on his lips. He's not used to seeing her in glasses, and she's just a little embarrassed because of the way her son looks at her now.

"Mom, you look great."

As soon as the words get past his lips, Killian has his hand against the ten-year-old's head, ruffling his hair as he smiles at him.

"Come on, lad," he says, "we've got to get on the road again if we're ever going to find a good place to call home."

We.

It's a word she has to ponder as she's leading their small pack up the road in search for salvation.

:::

When they run straight into a group of survivors hiding out in a farmhouse because of an inkling that Killian has, to try heading east, she thinks, maybe, she could kiss the stupid smirk from his face for finding her a hot shower, plenty of food, and a warm bed.

Mary Margaret and David Nolan are the ones living at the house, with their friends Granny Lucas and her granddaughter Ruby. They're all kind and excited to see fresh faces, wanting to know every single thing about them as soon as they come through the front door.

Mary Margaret gives she and Henry the guest bedroom and Killian one next door, and before Emma knows it, they're at the dinner table with potatoes and meat and she can't help herself when she kind of stuffs her face, despite her warning to Henry to eat slowly.

Killian watches her with mirth in his eyes and a smirk on his lips as he takes a scoop of mashed potatoes to his mouth.

That night, she sleeps better than she has in a while, though she does wake up every few hours with fear pulsing through her veins at the idea that the farm might get suddenly swarmed in the middle of darkness.

When she wakes the next morning to find Henry gone from their shared bed, her eyes open wide and she sits up straight. She's quick to head downstairs, and when she finds him, relief floods over her so fast she thinks she might pass out.

He's sitting in the kitchen, sitting at the table with Killian and Mary Margaret. The two adults nurse mugs of something hot while Henry drinks a tall glass of milk and eats scrambled eggs.

He's much chattier now that he has new people to talk to.

"Oh, Emma, good morning!" Mary Margaret greets her. She stands up from the table. "Sit. I made breakfast and we have either coffee or tea. Your choice."

Emma holds open her mouth as she slowly moves into the room.

Killian smiles a little at her as she sinks into a chair beside him and she shakes her head at the petite brunette standing at the stove dishing up a plate of eggs.

"I… coffee sounds great."

Mary Margaret pours her a cup as soon as she settles the plate before her.

Emma digs into the eggs with a fork and she stares at Henry as he has a generous gulp of his milk.

"Killian's going to show me how to shoot," Henry announces as soon as he sets his glass down. "And David said he can teach me how to use a sword. He has a collection."

Emma opens her mouth again and looks between Killian and her son. Killian just wiggles his eyebrows and sips at what she now sees is tea.

Fitting, for an Englishman.

"Oh," she says, taking a forkful of eggs to her mouth to suppress every urge she has to tell Henry he can't learn because he's too young.

"Don't worry, love," Killian says. "He'll shoot blanks at tin cans. No zombies yet."

Emma tilts her head warily at him and he just winks at her, as if it helps.

They go out back, where the yard is fenced in, and Killian sets up the tin cans on spokes before returning to Henry.

Emma watches from the back steps on the porch. Mary Margaret and Ruby sit with her, and she knows they want to talk, but Emma's only focus is on the way Killian teaches her son how to fire a gun.

He's so kind, as he laughs and nods his head, his gentle corrections done with a pleasant smile, and as soon as Henry finally lets off his first shot, Killian cheers louder than anyone, offering Henry a high-five when the tin can falls to it's demise.

"Mom!" Henry shouts, his face bright with excitement. "Did you see that? I did it!"

She smiles. "You did!"

Killian winks at her. "Told you it'd be fine, love."

Thankfully, he turns to help Henry with the gun before she can think of something ridiculous to retort back.

It's too risky now to flirt with him, because her son is his best friend, and there's something special about how he treats the both of them.

"I think he likes you," Mary Margaret says when Emma looks at the woman. She's knitting a blanket for the baby growing within her and there's a wry little smirk on her lips. "He's awfully close to your son and he seems to really admire you."

Emma scoffs, shaking her head. She stares out at the two boys and finds them chuckling before Henry fires the gun again. He misses, but Killian just has him try again.

"We've known each other for a week," she tells the woman. "I don't think so. He's just friends with my kid. That's all."

Mary Margaret exchanges glances with Ruby, who has a bottle of root beer in her hands.

"Keep telling yourself that." Ruby mutters, giving Killian a sideways glance. "I'm just saying that if I had someone who looked like that hanging out with me because he's friends with my kid, I don't know that I'd be able to keep my hands to myself."

Emma bites down on her tongue. She's tempted to tell Ruby that she should go for it, that she's not standing in her way, but then she finds Killian's blue eyes and she can't.

He means too much to her already.

:::

The night after they stumble onto the house perched on a hill, Regina Mills and Robin Locksley, two bickering somethings arrive, equipped with a bow and arrow and not much else except for intuition.

Mary Margaret is excited to allow all of the new guests into the home, but David rightly has his fears about it, grumbling that they've already allowed five people into their home, and they do have a baby on the way–

Mary Margaret wins the fight.

Emma and Henry share a room with Killian because of the size of the home and the availability of beds and sleeping spots due to the new arrivals.

She shares a bed with her kid, his hair in her nose as she stares across the room at Killian, who lies awake in a cot that David had saved in the attic for family get-togethers.

Apparently, David and Mary Margaret's families used to get together for long weekends in the summers and the place used to be filled with people.

Killian glows because of the moonlight pouring in through the window over his middle and his face is turned that way.

"We should probably find a new place," she hears him say lowly.

He turns his attention toward her and she can't even pretend she wasn't staring at him, because now she's gazing into his bright blue eyes with dark circles under them.

"For all of us to live," he adds. "They're bound to find us here and we'll regret it if we can't get out fast enough."

Henry turns toward her in their bed and his face buries into her chest. Emma holds him closer.

"Yeah."

Killian stares at her for a moment. "You know something, Swan? I think I've figured it out."

Emma furrows her brow. "What?"

"I've figured out why you're so rough around the edges." A smile plays at his lips. He adjusts the pillow beneath his head and she wants to roll over to face the wall instead of him, but he speaks and it makes her stay put. "You grew up giving of yourself to others. Your heart is good, Swan, and it's selfless. So selfless you won't let yourself have anything for yourself."

For some reason, her heart skips a beat.

"You should try being selfish sometime."

She gives him a look, throwing up her walls in her typical fashion. "What? So I can be a pirate like you?"

Killian snorts. He tosses onto his back, effectively leaving the conversation. "Just try it, Swan. I imagine you'd like it."

:::

"Jones, I swear to God, if you turn the siren on one more time while I'm driving, I'll hit you."

Her partner chuckles, a happy sound, and she turns to look at him.

Killian Jones, the scoundrel he is, has his body practically draped across the passenger seat of the patrol car they'd picked up a few miles back.

He's wearing a baseball cap, tee shirt, and jeans, and even though his arms are covered in the leather of his favorite jacket, it's far too hot for him to keep the sleeves rolled down, so he has them pushed up past his elbows.

"Come now, Swan," he replies, mirth in his eyes. "You would never dare damage this pretty face. You appreciate it far too much. In the time we've been together, I've seen the way you stare at me."

She glares at him and turns her attention to the road ahead of them.

She doesn't think his words merit a response, so she won't give it to him. Because she knows the moment she gives in, he'll banter straight back with her, and she can't risk that.

She can feel his eyes on her. Her heart starts racing and she gets self-conscious, considering the way her hair is curled over her shoulder.

She hates herself for listening to Mary Margaret's stupid advice.

She pulls the patrol car up to the tiny local beach's equally as tiny parking lot and sighs.

It's late at night. She's tired. She wants to go home and curl up into her bed. But they're miles from her warm bed and anyone else they know.

"What's this all about?" Killian asks as she throws the car into park.

Emma turns to him. He has an eyebrow arched and his lips are curled in a smirk, something that makes her stomach twist.

"We're making camp."

Again, his eyebrow lifts, and she just scoffs, shaking her head as she unbuckles her seat belt. She reaches into the backseat to grab her bag and weapon, then meets Killian's gaze.

"I don't like you," she reminds him.

His eyes twinkle regardless. "Well, darling, we make quite the team. Should say so, what, with fifty kills in the morning alone-"

She reaches out to swat the back of his head and he shuts up. Thankfully.

Emma steps out of the car and slings her back onto her back, then glances around carefully. The small beach on the edge of the town should be relatively safe and secluded.

Come the morning, they're going to have to head back to find the others.

Regina and Robin are another town over, and tomorrow, when they find the group huddled up in that old farmhouse of David's, they'll argue that Storybrooke is the safest of the few towns that they'd visited.

With a few blockades and traps, the place should be the best chance for their small group of survivors that had come together from a variety of backgrounds and places.

And maybe, they'll be able to start fresh.

"Swan," Jones' voice carries from behind her as soon as his door shuts. "Slow up, love. We've got to stick together."

Emma reluctantly slows her pace and glances over her shoulder to find the man hustling to meet up with her.

He smiles thankfully and she thinks it's a sweet look on him, but she keeps that thought and locks it away. Far, far, away.

As soon as they find themselves a place on the beach that isn't disgusting, Emma drops her stuff to the sand and digs into her pack for her bedroll and blanket. Killian does the same, both of them functioning in a quiet companionship.

Emma's stomach gurgles as she sits on her freshly made bed and she listens as the waves roll in from the ocean in a peaceful manner.

She digs into her bag for the last of her meal supplies and finds Killian sitting up on his bed, staring out at the sea in silence.

His profile against the moonlight and stars above is, and damn her for even thinking it, attractive. His jaw is so sharp and his cheeks are filled with a beard that he hasn't had time or energy to shave while they've been fending for their lives. His hair is getting longer, so it curls at the ends, and she thinks he must be hot under the mop that it is.

"Do you think it's safe here?" he asks quietly, his tiredness from the length of their day catching up with him. He doesn't look at her. "I mean, we don't exactly have four ways to run."

Emma shakes her head as his gaze finds her. "I think it's fine. There aren't any bodies on the shore. The last… thing we saw was five or six miles outside of town. Even if it reached us we'd be fine."

Killian finally looks at her as she pulls out a plastic Ziploc bag with two halves of a PB&J sandwich that she wants to hog for herself, but she'll share with him.

Mary Margaret had been adamant on making sure they had food enough for the trip and she's glad for it, but their rations are smaller than anticipated because Killian lost his pack somewhere along the way.

She pulls her half out and then hands the baggie to him and he takes it with a smile curling at his lips.

"Our first date is a picnic on a beach under the stars?" he asks playfully, his eyes wide and smile wider. "Have you swallowed a romance novel? Do I need to call a doctor?"

Emma's heart races at his words, but she shakes her head and lowly says, "Not a date."

He hums as he enjoys a bite of his sandwich. After chewing, he licks his lips and ponders her thoughtfully.

"Have you ever even been in love?"

She thinks back, to before, when she'd been lost and wandering through life, and she thinks of him and her gaze falls slightly. Suddenly, she's not as hungry as she'd once been.

"No," she informs him. "I have never been in love."

Killian stares at her silently and watches when she puts her half of her sandwich to rest in the last baggie she has for tomorrow.

"We should get some sleep," she murmurs. "You get first watch. Wake me up in a few hours."

Emma lies back on her bedroll and tucks the blanket under her head. Her eyes stare up at the stars hanging above and for a moment, she imagines what it might have been like if she'd met Killian Jones before it all went to hell.

Maybe he would have tricked her into going on a date with him. Maybe she would have liked it.

Maybe he wouldn't be covered in grime and blood. Maybe he wouldn't smell like those cigarettes he pretends he doesn't smoke, or the rum he says he doesn't drink.

Maybe he would look at her and she wouldn't see all of the heartache from his past, or the memories of those he's lost.

Maybe he'd stare at her and she'd see just as much hope as she sees in his shining blue gaze tonight. Maybe he'd make her kid laugh and offer to play a game or two like he had when they were at the farmhouse.

Maybe he'd give her everything she could ever need.

Maybe she'd never have the chance to lose him.

:::

"There aren't any bullets left in my gun," Killian calls out.

Emma's heart skips a beat as soon as she hears him tell her as such and she stares at the wall of zombies approaching them, her knuckles turning white as she grips the handle of her sword.

She slices into a monster with an exaggerated groan and then steps back in an attempt to catch her breath.

"Go back to the car!" she yells at him, her chest heaving as she easily knocks the head off of a groaning piece of reincarnated flesh.

She's splattered in blood and she can hardly think about their next step, because they're surrounded and they're only ten miles from the farm.

It's not a good sign and she knows it. Killian knows it, too, and it's the reason his brow had creased so deeply the moment they'd pulled up to the herd shuffling toward them in the middle of the woods.

When Emma looks away from the creatures before her, to find where her partner is, she discovers him surrounded as he steps back toward a tree.

His only weapon is his stupid pistol and he can't fire it, so he keeps trying to beat the brains out of the zombies that get too close, but it's risky and he clearly is afraid of being bit again with their distance to the farm still several miles and one of his hands already gone because of the disgusting creatures they're doomed to fight for the rest of their lives.

Emma curses under her breath as she surges toward him.

She can't lose him. She can't.

Her blade cuts through the skull of a zombie just as he reaches Killian, who helplessly holds out his weapon as if it'll threaten him. She easily knocks the other two that have him backed against the forest floor, his back pressed into the bark of the tree, down.

She holds out her hand for him to take and he does instantly.

They take off running and Emma tells him, "Get back to the car. I'll take care of them."

Killian just smiles, something she'd find jarring, but with the literal zombie apocalypse happening around them, she doubts she could find anything even slightly curious anymore.

"You're so beautiful," he says, and she thinks he might kiss her.

She might let him, if she liked him enough. She doesn't think she does. Not yet.

Instead of indulging her in a kiss, he just dashes toward the car just like she'd asked, and when Emma manages to break free from the slow moving herd that is much smaller and penetrable by car now.

She hops into the driver's seat and tosses her sheathed sword into the backseat, then revs up the engine and plows ahead, successfully running two of the walking dead to the ground.

The wheels of the new vehicle they're driving grind over the bones and flesh of the creatures and she ignores the sounds of the monsters, instead focusing on the road ahead.

She thinks only of Henry and of David and of Mary Margaret, how they're all waiting for them to come back with news of where they'll go, of where it's the safest.

As soon as they break free from the small herd of zombies, Emma glances into the rear view and watches them to see which way they turn.

They seem to follow their path for a little while, but then wander in different directions, dumb as ever.

Emma takes a deep breath and turns to Killian. "God, you're such an ass."

She reaches over to swat the back of his head and he yelps. "Oi! Swan, I did nothing wrong. I just forgot to check my gun beforehand."

Her heart races as she thinks back to the moment she'd thought she'd lost him. She thinks to the way the zombies had him pinned to the tree with nowhere to go, with their fingers and teeth ready to break his skin and infect him.

"You scared me, you idiot," she says tensely.

She feels tears burning behind her eyes and she stares at him for a moment too long before averting her gaze to the road ahead of them.

For a moment, she thinks back to that smile he'd given her and of those words he'd spoken- "You're so beautiful."

She'd been too caught up in the fight to think about what his words could possibly mean, or to allow her heart to squeeze at the simple fact that he'd tell her such a ridiculous statement in the midst of the chaos.

As is typical of Killian Jones, timing is never an issue for him.

"Oh, I get it," Killian says, breaking the silence that they've fallen into. "You care about me."

Emma's fingers tighten around the steering wheel and she blurts out, "Of course I care about you."

Her body feels tense and she feels a wave of regret wash over her in the silence that follows. She can't manage to look over at him, but she feels his eyes on her, and its enough that she turns to check on the way his eyes soak her in.

"We've seen a lot of shit together," she tells him. "You're… you're my partner. You're important to me."

Instead of teasing her, or flirting with her in hopes of lightening the mood, Killian, in a raw moment of honesty, curls the gentlest smile she's ever seen.

"Aye. You're important to me, too, Emma."

:::

Mary Margaret and David's house takes a little while to pack up once they've made the joint decision to move to Storybrooke.

They were apparently well prepared for the apocalypse, and for that, Emma's thankful, because they have plenty of canned fruits and vegetables, as well as some snack foods that were frozen and sealed.

The three vehicles they have are packed full and thankfully, David also has gas to get them to Storybrooke.

Emma drives with Killian seated beside her. Henry's in the backseat and there are boxes of things they might need anywhere they can fit.

They keep conversation light, or not at all, and she's thankful for it, because talking isn't her strong suit.

The first time they come to a herd of zombies, Emma pulls to a stop and she and Killian clamor out to take care of them before any of their friends catch up to them.

Killian flashes her a grin as he's slicing a creature down with a blade and he says, "Swan, tell me something: what's your favorite dessert?"

"What?" Emma snaps as she shoves a zombie to it's knees in order to remove her sword.

"You know, are you a-" Killian pauses to decapitate the nearest zombie to her and she shakes her head at him in awe. "Ice cream, or brownie, or cookies-" He stops again in order to finish off the last of the herd with a blade to its brain. "Cake. Perhaps you prefer pie. Are you a pie person? I do enjoy a good cookie, myself."

She shakes her head at him again. "You're ridiculous."

"Ah," Killian winks, sliding his sword into its sheath. "But you do love it."

Her cheeks heat up as she turns back to the car, deliberately not answering him.

You're so beautiful. The words come back to her, reminding her that he must have feelings for her beneath all of the smirking and raised eyebrows.

As soon as they get started on the road again, Killian says, "You never told me which, Swan."

Emma laughs, speechless. She turns to look at him and finds his eyebrows high.

"Okay, fine," she says as she studies the road again. "I like rocky road ice cream. Cookies are good. I guess it depends on the day."

"There," Killian cheers. "That wasn't so hard, was it, Swan? You know, working together goes a lot better when we-"

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me." Emma says as she stops the car.

There are zombies swarming a bridge and it's not like there's any other way to go.

"Woah," Henry breathes.

Emma looks worriedly at Killian, who suddenly isn't half as jovial as he once was. His jaw clenches. He licks his lips and bites down on his lower, and then shakes his head as he studies the pack ahead of them.

"It's not good, Swan."

"You can say that again."

Emma looks around, desperate to find another way, but she can't see anything immediately around them, and as she glances into the rear view, she finds David and Robin's trucks pulling up behind them.

"Well, the reinforcements have arrived." Emma mutters. "Maybe together we can get the job done."

As soon as Emma opens her door and steps outside, so does her son, and when she opens her mouth to tell him to get back into the car, he shakes his head. "No, Mom. This is my fight too."

"Henry, it's too dangerous," Emma tells him. "Stay at the car."

Henry looks to Killian, but Killian offers him no solace. "I agree with your mum, lad. There are far too many of them this time."

Emma, thankful for Killian's aid, offers him a smile, to which he tips his head and replies in kind.

:::

They decide to approach the bridge together.

Emma and Killian shoot while Robin takes aim with his bow. Regina and David are armed with swords. Granny has a crossbow and Ruby has a fancy set of swords that she's well versed with using.

Back at the cars, Mary Margaret and Henry are in charge of honking the horns if anything happens to come near them, and Henry is tasked with making sure the pregnant woman is kept safe, above all else.

As they pop off zombies and step over bodies in order to gain access to more, Emma finds herself looking at Killian when he suddenly stops shooting. He curses.

"Out of ammunition again," he explains, whipping out his sword.

Emma laughs. "You'd think by now you'd know your gun isn't your safest bet."

"Well," he chuckles, pausing to knock a zombie to the ground and pull his blade out. "I was just trying to compete with you, love."

She rolls her eyes as she takes aim at another creature. It falls easily and Emma reloads her gun.

"You okay over there, David?" Emma calls.

David groans as he knocks two zombies down. "Never better, Emma."

By the time they reach the last of the zombies, Emma has her sword out, too, and she's starting to get tired.

So tired that she trips and twists her ankle on her way to the ground.

A loud groan rips from her throat and she curses when a zombie starts moving her way. Killian, ever the hero, knocks him down before he comes to kneel at her side.

The action in and of itself is sweet and she'd like to smack him for it, for ignoring the fact that the bridge is still swarming with zombies, but her ankle feels like it's broken and the skin on her elbow is torn from where she hit it on her way down.

"Swan, what happened?" he asks, concern in his brow.

"I tripped," she shakes her head. Emma reaches for her ankle and glances up just in time to see a zombie getting a little too close. "Killian-"

He shifts flawlessly and sticks the monster in the face, then pushes him backwards. Killian is effectively covered in the spray of the creatures, but when he looks at her, she sees nothing but his desperate need to ensure that she's okay.

"I'll take you to the car, then," he says, and he reaches in to grab her, but she swats his hand away.

"No," she shakes her head. "I'm fine. Just help me up."

But then she hears the car horns honking, and her whole world flips on it's head as her adrenaline starts pumping even faster.

Looking back, she finds that Henry's dueling a zombie, but there are four approaching the vehicles, and Mary Margaret's expression is full of fear.

She looks at Killian, and he immediately starts to move, but Emma is overcome with emotion and yanks him to her.

"Don't let them touch him," she says firmly.

"Love, they'll have to take my other hand in order for that to happen." Killian says, and all she's thinking is she can't lose him.

All she's thinking about are those fights where he'd been backed against a tree, or a wall, and needed her help. All she's thinking about are just how many zombies are on this bridge and how many could be drawn near because of the sound of the horns.

All she's thinking about is how she needs him to stay alive, and it's the most selfish thought she's ever had.

She yanks him down to her as she listens to their team take down zombies as the horns of the car blare.

It's a fast press of lips, though the moment he realizes what's happening he gives just as much as she does, but she knows her intention gets across to him, because as soon as they part with heaving chests, she sees a look in his eyes that screams the words he'd probably speak if he had the time.

He takes off running and Emma watches him, her body feeling weak as she pulls herself up to her feet again.

David comes to her side as soon as the zombies on the bridge are taken care of and Emma gladly leans on him, but all she can look at is Killian as he takes down the zombies that are drawing way too close to her little boy.

As soon as it's over, David helps her to the car, but she shoves him away, insisting on walking on her own.

She winces every time she steps on her right foot, but she reaches her son with tears in her eyes.

Killian has him in a tight hug, and the moment she gets close enough, he lets go, allowing Emma to drop to her knees and wrap her arms around her son.

Her hand cups the back of his head and then she moves back, pressing her fingers to his face, then to his hands, and to every part of him she can reach, to make sure he's all here, in one piece.

"Mom," he laughs. "Mom, it's okay. I'm fine. Mom."

She stops her frantic pat down and takes his hands instead, staring up at him with a shaky breath escaping her lungs.

"You were a hero, Henry," she smiles weakly at him. "You kept Mary Margaret safe and I'm so proud of you."

Henry beams at her then and it's him that leans down, wrapping his arms around her neck. Emma's eyes close and she kisses his head.

"I love you, Henry."

"I love you too," her son replies in a mumble.

:::

Emma winces as Mary Margaret tends to her ankle. She's sitting on the couch in the Nolan's newly claimed apartment in the quaint town of Storybrooke, with Henry and Killian standing by her side.

"Well, it looks like it's not broken, which is good news," Mary Margaret says. "But just the same, I don't think you should walk on it for a day or two."

Emma groans and closes her eyes.

Killian chuckles. "Come, now, love. Just means Henry and I will be at your beck and call at all hours of the day."

She gives him a look. She'd like to tell him he's pathetic, but she doesn't have the energy.

And she's not even sure what he could possibly mean by Henry and I.

He's not going to stay with them. It's out of the question.

But she's proven wrong when Killian lifts her off of the couch himself, much to her surprise as she scrambles to hold onto him, and carries her across the hall to what he says, "Welcome to our new temporary home, love."

"Our?" she chokes out, still trying to wrap her head around the fact that he's carrying her bridal style through the apartment.

He settles her down on the bed and grins at her. "Well, I figure you'll need some tending to."

He pauses and squats down beside the bed so they're at eye-level. She can see the moment this becomes something more than kindness, in the way he lowers his voice and softens his expression.

"Do you need anything? I've got to go help Henry grab the proper supplies for our stay."

Emma studies his face, finding his eyes tired and aged well past their years. He has a scar on his cheek that she'd never noticed before, and he has a full-fledged beard now.

They've been through a hell of a lot more than she could have ever imagined possible when she first met him.

Her fingers act on their own when she presses them against his cheek. Her thumb swipes over the scar under his eye and Killian leans his warmth into her palm.

"No," she murmurs, managing a smile. "I'm fine."

Killian reaches up to take her hand away from his face and he shakes his head. "Emma, what was that kiss about?"

"I wanted to make sure you came back to me," she says honestly. "I was trying my hand at being selfish for once."

"I wasn't in any danger," he argues, in spite of the soft smile on his lips. "Four zombies hardly qualifies as-"

"Oh, really?" she snaps back at him, edging herself up onto her elbows. Anger floods through her for no reason in particular and Killian just basks in it. "Because every time we get into a fight with them, you seem to get yourself into trouble. Without me to save you, you'd be screwed."

His tongue presses into his cheek and it swipes over his lips. "It seems that we both need each other, then."

Her heart stutters in her chest at his words and she shrugs. Her voice comes out in a near sob, "Well, yeah."

Killian pushes up to his feet and faster than she can think, he leans in, his hand cupping her cheek as his lips press against hers.

She closes her eyes and grabs him by the neck, trying to hold onto something, because this kiss is different than their last, much sweeter, with their noses bumping in the aftermath.

Her fingers dig into the curls at the middle of his neck and she tries to form something witty on her tongue to say in response to the smell of him, but she can't complain when she must smell just as bad, or worse, than he does.

"I can take care of myself," he promises her. "I'm a survivor, Swan."

Emma meets his eyes then and she takes a deep breath. "I don't want you to leave us. You need to stay."

A smile fills his lips and he leans down, pressing her back into the bed while he kisses her, and her hands rake through his hair.

"Who said anything about leaving?" he asks her, pulling back enough for her to see his smirk. "You've got a bad ankle and a boy that needs tending to. I'd say I'm here at least another… eight or nine years."

Emma laughs and shoves her hands against his chest as his own laughter booms against her palms.

Her fear of losing him feels distant when he stands up and won't stop staring at her.

"Are we going to be safe here?" she asks him softly.

Killian takes a deep breath and glances outside through the windows behind her. "I certainly hope so."

Emma hears Henry enter the apartment with his loud shoes on the floor. "Mom! I found pizza!"

"Pizza?" Killian asks, furrowing his brow with a touch of comedic effect. "How on Earth did you find that?"

Henry laughs and comes stomping into the bedroom where she lies. He holds out a package of astronaut food.

"Freeze dried?" Emma laughs. "Henry, that's gonna taste like crap."

Her son twists his lips and stares at the label. "I thought it was too good to be true."

Killian smiles at her son. "I don't think it's too hard to make, once you've got the ingredients. Maybe once we settle in and start a garden."

Henry's lips curl into a happy smile and he nods his head. "That sounds like a plan." He looks between them and narrows his eyes. "Killian, are you going to stay with us?"

When Killian looks down at her, she lifts an eyebrow, willing to see what he says.

He shifts on his heel to face Henry and his fingers dance as he holds them by his middle. He shrugs, a big smile on his face. "I don't know. Somebody's got to take care of you two while Mum's down."

Henry grins at Emma, then at Killian. "Cool."