Author's Note: Well, this is it - the last chapter of my Captain Swan Big Bang fic! Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of this journey, especially Ice Cube 1 as well as captainswanandclintasha for the delightful story art, which is linked on Tumblr (and neither of you have seen this chapter yet, so... surprise-ish?)!
And of course, to you, who is reading this: THANK YOU. This fic has been an incredible learning experience, and I'm honored (ha) that you've chosen to take some time out of your day to share in it with me :)
So now, without further ado... enjoy!
Guilty, Your Honor
As it turns out, dating a co-worker isn't as weird as Emma might have imagined.
Maybe that's just because most of the changes in their relationship – in her relationship, the one she's in with Killian Jones, and she has to bite her lip to keep from smiling at that – are a product of her promotion to partner, more than anything else.
Not that she's complaining about not having to report to anyone anymore, because being her own boss again (minus the managerial supervision, of course), doing things however she wants without arguing with a certain stubborn idiot for hours on end, feels amazing. She's also pretty partial to the wide space of her new office, too, and she suspects she'll like it even more once the sight of the front edge of her desk stops resurfacing the memory of it digging into her ass, along with other related memories.
Things could definitely be worse.
It's still a little strange, though, not working with him, despite now residing only a few doors away. Killian's new associate, some transfer from the London branch named Will Scarlet, seems to enjoy pissing him off more than working with him, and she gets an earful about it every time she kicks out the man in question so she can have dinner with her boyfriend, whether or not that involves actually leaving the office.
"Miss me?" Emma asks one day, over two boxes of Granny's grilled cheese balancing on the corner of his desk. Based on his latest story involving some strange combination of the copy machine, Archie's dog, and a cheap cup of coffee, she doesn't need the dark look on Killian's face to know his answer.
"Is that a real question?"
"Scarlet does a much better job proofreading than I do, doesn't he?"
"You nailed it right on the head, darling," he says, smiling wryly. "Perhaps he's the one I should be romantically pursuing instead."
"I think we're a little past the pursuit stage, don't you think?"
Without fail, every time she so much as alludes to the new state of their relationship, that same subdued delight finds its way to the edges of his mouth. "I would hope so, or else I've been completely misled into allowing this level of food thievery."
She nabs another onion ring, smirking as she takes the first delicious bite.
(Some things stay exactly the same.)
To be fair, she hasn't given him much of a chance to really miss her at all, given that the time she doesn't spend working with him these days is made up for with all of the time they spend doing other… things. More enjoyable activities is what he would say. She's much inclined to agree, even without considering those specific activities he's not-so-subtly referring to – raised eyebrows and salacious grin and all.
The lunch hour is her special time to spend with Mary Margaret and Ruby, but he finds ways to sneak in extra meals with her at work anyway. A snack break here, a cup of liquid sleep there (not his preferred kind, but he always delivers it to her taste regardless of his opinions on dental care), and she's fairly certain she's going to put on a few pounds from all of the excuses they make to see each other during the day. She's also sure she'll need a new cell phone plan soon, because the number of inane messages they send back and forth over the course of the mere hours in between, which consists less of real conversation and more of complaining about work, has to be approaching a ridiculous level at this point.
They save that real conversation for when they see each other face-to-face – which, unintentionally of course, happens to fall upon every evening, for the most part. She'd tried to set boundaries, she really had. But she'd been starving, and she'd known he was going to be working late, and the temptation to show up at his (figurative) doorstep bearing takeout had been too much to bear. And he'd apparently had no objection to making it an unofficial tradition, though certainly within reason, because every time they spend the evening in each other's company also happens to be a night in which they leave together, zero work completed, as well.
And, needless to say… the enjoyable activities they engage in afterwards leave absolutely nothing to be desired.
(Seriously. She's feeling aches in muscles she didn't even know she had, so it's safe to say they're being pretty fucking thorough.)
Her favorite part of it all, though – more than the doughnuts and the dinners and even, yes, the mind-blowing sex – is what that inevitably means for the mornings after. Waking up to dawn creeping in through the curtains, his slow breathing warm on her neck and his arm slung low around her waist. Turning over slowly, careful not to jostle him awake, in order to run her eyes over his relaxed face only inches from hers, still lost in the throes of unconsciousness though no less ridiculously handsome. Once, so wrapped up in that sleepy, tender affection, she'd taken the time to rub her fingers over the rough line of his jaw, just basking in how it felt to lie here with him, the sheets soft against her shoulders and the comforter tangled somewhere around their feet – a completely different world from the first time she'd awoken at his side – but then he'd clumsily caught her hand there, apparently not as asleep as she'd imagined. She'd had a lot of trouble getting out of bed after that.
On days when she doesn't make that same mistake (it happens less often than she's proud of), when she does manage to wake up before he does, she makes sure to slip out of bed and into the shower before any potential distractions can derail their morning. That usually puts her halfway through her hot chocolate by the time he saunters into the kitchen, hair wet, shirt half-unbuttoned with his tie hanging off of his shoulders, like he knows exactly what he's doing. As much as she likes burying her nose in her phone, pretending to peruse her email, she knows exactly what he's doing, too.
On this particular morning, however, it's the minty scent of her toothpaste and a kiss pressed into her hair that informs her of his arrival, a warm hand squeezing her shoulder from behind.
"Sleepy, love?" His voice is a quiet rumble in the otherwise sunny stillness of her apartment.
"What makes you say that?" It's ridiculous, this urge to lean into his touch despite how many they've shared by this point, but she still feels the loss of his presence all the same when he continues on, rounding the table on his way to the fridge.
"Nothing, really," he says. He no longer needs to search for the orange juice, which is always stocked on the top shelf, so it isn't long before he's turning to her with the carton in hand, a hint of humor glinting in his bright eyes. "You seem a little less alert than usual, is all."
If he's drawn that solely from that fact that she hadn't (covertly) ogled him on his way in… well, maybe he's onto something there. "If I am, I'm pretty sure you're the one to blame," she tells him, and a warmth flutters through her at the sound of his chuckle.
"I'll gladly take full credit for that."
She watches as he pours himself a glass, found on his first try of cabinet-rummaging, and then glances approvingly over what she'd thrown together on the stove. Scrambled eggs and toast don't exactly make up the most glamorous breakfast menu, but no matter what they're eating, just the sight of him wandering around her kitchen is usually enough to make her smile.
Right now, though, it's not quite fondness that fills her gaze as it follows him and the glass in his hand, all the while hyperaware of the mug wrapped between the two of hers.
"Maybe I should get a coffee machine."
He turns, halfway through loading his plate with the rest of skillet's contents. "What? Why? I thought you didn't drink coffee."
"But you do," she says pointedly.
"I don't mind picking it up on the way to work," he says, as if it should be the most obvious thing in the world, and she knows he really doesn't think much of it at all. That's probably why she's even less embarrassed about her response.
"Yeah, well, you shouldn't have to. You always make coffee at home when we're at your place."
He blinks at her. There's a lot she's saying without actually speaking it aloud, none of which has to do with the monetary investment she's placing in him being around to use said investment – they may have had a short but thorough conversation about communication, which had been appropriate given everything that's happened, but somehow it doesn't feel like that should apply here. Sure enough, she suspects he's parsed through it all when his face slowly breaks out into a brilliant smile – the kind she absolutely adores.
Who is she kidding? She loves it.
"Honestly, Swan, I'm not sure if that would be in my best interest."
Despite the way he's looking at her, she still can't help the tiniest prick that jabs at her chest. "What? Why not?"
His smile melts into something a little softer, and then, abandoning his breakfast, he walks the two steps it takes to cross the kitchen. Before she can do more than look up, he's bending his head and capturing her mouth with his in a long, deep kiss. He fills her senses as she sighs, her hand moving to the back of his head with a familiarity that is becoming blissfully natural, and she lets herself dissolve into it – the warmth of him, the scratch of stubble around his lips and the smooth slide of his tongue against hers.
Long, long before she's done with him, he pulls away, though he lingers close enough for her grip to fasten itself more firmly into the hair at the nape of his neck, for his breath to dance across her skin like the flecks in his eyes.
"That's why," he says, his voice low. A flash of pink darts out at the corner of his mouth, and she mimics him unconsciously, savoring the remnants of his kiss.
Oh. Orange juice. Right.
She scrunches her nose as she peers up at him. "You're worried I won't kiss you anymore once you start tasting like coffee?"
"I won't take my chances," he tells her seriously, though by the way he grins, she gets the feeling he's anything but.
"You're not getting away from me that easily," she says, rolling her eyes. Loosening her hand from the back of his head, she lets it trail down his neck, over the skin of his collarbone, hooking a finger into the deep V of his unbuttoned shirt. "And, for the record, no matter what you've had to drink, I like the way you taste."
His lashes catch the light in just the right way as he blinks, and, with no small satisfaction, she watches his Adam's apple bob in his throat – but then his teeth flash in a smirk so dangerous she almost regrets toying with him at all.
"Is that right, darling?"
"What, do you want me to prove it?" She traces the line of his buttons, down to where they hang untucked over his belt, and catches her finger into the waistline of his trousers.
There's a split second when his grin falters, and she knows the face of good judgment, courtesy of being a responsible lawyer, when she sees it. He seems to have trouble focusing, his lips parted as he glances down at hers and says, throatily, "As much fun as that would be, love, I'm not sure if we have the time."
If she wanted to, she could check the stove clock behind him to confirm just how right he is, but all she does is tug him closer, her other hand already working to loosen the flap of his belt. "That sounds like a challenge," she replies, biting her lip up at him, and she can feel his answering groan all the way down to the tips of her toes, among other interesting places.
(They make it to the office with barely a minute to spare, though she doesn't find out that her shirt is buttoned up wrong until Tink points it out – nearly three hours later.)
They go on their first date the evening after Emma's first partners meeting.
(First official date, as Killian insists on saying. She pretends she has no idea what he means.)
It isn't anything extravagant, mostly because they're both working down to the wire beforehand thanks to their shared day off – and, to be fair, she's just glad that's all they had to endure from playing hooky. She changes out of her work clothes in the privacy of a restroom stall; he picks her up at seven sharp from the romantic front porch of her office, dressed in a Henley-and-jeans combo that puts his suits to shame.
She's about to tell him as much, too, but he beats her to the punch.
"You look lovely, darling." From the way his eyes light up as they travel the length of her, down to her most comfortable pair of flats, she may as well be wearing a ball gown instead of a flowy pink shirt over tights.
"You don't clean up too badly yourself," she says, throwing him a grin as she slings the strap of her purse over her shoulder.
"That certainly isn't what a man expects to hear after changing out of a suit." He leans in when she joins him at the doorway, dropping his voice. "Too many layers to formalwear, I suspect?"
She bites back the urge to laugh. "Why do you think I'm not wearing anything underneath all this?"
The look he throws her makes her positive he's strongly considering abandoning their plans altogether, but for all that she'd be perfectly fine with finishing what they'd started two days ago in this very office, he seems hell-bent on regaining his composure. Though, it could also be that his thorough inspection of her form has led to a different conclusion as he meets her gaze with a smirk: "Liar."
"I guess we'll find out soon enough, won't we?"
He raises an eyebrow. "In due time, perhaps – but not bloody soon enough."
It feels – well, there really isn't another way to put it – nice to leave the office with him, to set out into the Boston night together like a normal couple. It makes things seem more real, like their relationship exists outside of library banter and the peaceful privacy of his apartment, though despite how natural it feels to be with him, as it always is, it still takes a few blocks for her hand to brush against his.
Another block passes before she laces their fingers together gently, refusing to meet his eyes even as she shoots back a retort without missing a beat.
(She nearly snatches her hand back as soon as they slow in front of a very familiar-looking door, one she hasn't seen in the year since she'd last visited this particular bar within wandering distance of her apartment – if only because she might need both of them to stifle her snort.
"You can't be serious."
"I take it you're not up for a trip down memory lane?" he asks, mischief written all over his stupid smug mouth.
She shakes her head. "Aren't you hungry? I don't remember them having much by way of a menu."
He feigns confusion for a moment, but in the end he simply chuckles. "Fortunately, I took the liberty of making us a reservation elsewhere. But it's a nice thought, isn't it?"
Emma rolls her eyes, unwilling to admit that her fondness for Misthaven has grown somewhat since she no longer needs to suppress everything of which it serves as a reminder.)
(They eventually end up in a cozy restaurant by the water that quickly becomes one of her favorites in the city, and then they do find themselves taking a trip down memory lane – just at her place instead of his, for the sake of a change in scenery.)
All in all, though, their public appearances as an official couple are few and far between. Work hardly affords them the chance to go out, which is nothing new; they just spend more time together in the office than would be considered normal for two partners, even ones in the same division who used to work with one another. This, of course, means that even without a formal announcement, and despite all of their efforts at discretion, Emma can practically hear the entire firm buzzing about her love life not a week after they'd arrived at the same time (read: together) their first day back.
Of the small group of friends they'd told, Ruby had been the most likely culprit for accidentally churning the rumor mill, but she'd merely smirked and insisted that it wasn't her fault that they kept making eyes at each other. Emma figures her friend would have been offended had she not already been in a constant state of self-congratulatory glee from the moment they'd first dropped the news, though she certainly tries to keep all evidence of her brand new relationship hidden after that. More than anything, it feels like trying to keep sand from slipping between her fingers.
And so it happens that her first time ever attending Storybrooke's happy hour also happens to be the first time they plan on spending any reasonable amount of time together – together, in more ways than one – in the company of people they actually know. It's a calculated effort, on both of their parts, to rip the publicity bandaid off with as much tact as can be had at a work event, to end the gossip once and for all while they still have a chance at feigning modesty.
The fact that a portion of the group going is made of her friends – well, that doesn't make her worried at all.
"Your boyfriend's late."
Emma looks up from her phone to where Ruby stands, only too thankful that she is now capable of hearing the B word without blushing. "So is Mary Margaret."
"Mary Margaret won't even be drinking," Ruby replies, "so she doesn't count."
"Hey!" David protests, frowning over by the stone wall opposite. He doesn't have much material to argue with, though, considering she's right, and he only has himself (from seven weeks ago, if the doctor had been correct) to blame.
"Of course Mary Margaret counts," Emma reassures him, then turns to her other friend. "Who else is going to keep us in line later tonight?"
Ruby throws her an amused look. "This is a company happy hour. Just how much are you planning on drinking, girl?"
Just enough to make it through the night, Emma thinks, but David answers for her. "Give her a break, Rubes. It's not like she's ever been to one here before."
"Yeah," Emma says. "It's not like I'd know any better than to get flat out drunk in front of all the other partners."
"It's too early for you to be demoted for inappropriate behavior anyway," David agrees sagely, which prompts a snort from Ruby.
"Is that why you and Killian can walk around acting like you're about to tear each other's clothes off without ever hearing a word about it?"
Emma narrows her eyes, her mouth twitching. "Should I be grossed out that you've imagined what that might look like?"
"You should be grossed out that everyone in the office probably has, by this point."
"I haven't, until now," David says, covering his eyes with a hand. "So thanks. Can we stop talking about this now?"
"Stop talking about what?" Mary Margaret, complete with ever-buoyant smile, practically materializes beside her husband, her footsteps from the elevators unnoticed now that she's ditched the heels in favor of more pregnancy-forgiving footwear. Although Emma shakes her head, Ruby graces her with a reply, undeterred.
"The blatant fraternization problem plaguing our firm."
Mary Margaret cocks her head to the side. "Aren't you dating a company consultant?"
"I never said I wasn't part of the problem," Ruby shrugs. "But speaking of, here comes our resident fraternization expert now."
For a moment, Emma thinks she's talking about Victor, who she thought was supposed to be meeting them at The Rabbit Hole, but before she can voice her confusion, she feels the distinct warmth of a hand curving along the small of her back. The subtle scent of spice teases her nose, and it seems like her body registers whom it belongs to faster than her mind can process his breath of a voice.
Pressed up against him from hip to shoulder, she has to look up to catch his eye, trying too hard to keep from beaming. "Hey."
Honestly, she doesn't think much of it at the time – she doesn't think at all, in fact, as she leans forward on her toes, tilting her head to meet the way Killian dips his in what seems like an unconscious motion, and kisses him hello like they've done only too many times.
The only problem is: they've never done it with an audience before, and she wasn't quite planning on having one for this particular PDA offense anytime soon.
The kiss is brief, short and sweet, despite the way it feels like he chases her lips with his. When she finally pulls away enough to get a good look at him, the cheeky grin on his face is enough to tug one from her own mouth, though she tries her hardest to dampen it down before she turns back to face the rest of her friends – whose expressions range from maniacal triumph (Ruby) to proud joy (Mary Margaret) to mild consternation (David). Emma's pretty sure hers is starting to resemble something like defiance, but before she can dare one of them to say something, Killian is already speaking again.
"Did I hear something about me being an expert on fraternization?" His arm is still wrapped around her waist, though she doesn't think that has anything to do with him making a point.
Somehow, that works – or maybe she hasn't given her friends enough credit for keeping things delicate.
"Aren't you?" Ruby asks like it isn't actually a question. She raises two perfectly-sculpted eyebrows. "Are you really going to stand there right now and tell me you hadn't had the hots for your associate since day one?"
"Scarlet?" Emma says. "Come on, Killian, I know I told you to get along with him, but maybe this is pushing it."
Killian rolls his eyes at her, then shrugs in Ruby's direction. "Not like I could help it. I already knew how she kissed."
"What?" David says, looking vaguely constipated.
"Later," Mary Margaret tells him with a pat on his shoulder.
"Can we please leave now?" Emma interrupts flatly. Mary Margaret spares her a sympathetic look, but all she gets from Killian is a low rumble of a chuckle. She has half a mind to elbow him in the ribs.
"Yeah." David's voice is weak. "I think a few drinks would be perfect right about now."
Ruby snorts, then links her arm with his to drag him towards the revolving doors. With Mary Margaret trailing behind them, shaking her head even as she smiles, that leaves Emma to bring up the rear with her ridiculously smug asshole of a boyfriend, and she stays pressed into the warmth of his side, despite her embarrassed exasperation, even as they begin to walk.
"This is going to be a long night."
He hums, low and pleasant. The hand curled around her hip shifts lower, sliding over the curve of her ass with obvious intent. "You're telling me, darling."
A brisk knock tears her out of her file cabinet with a start, but as soon as Emma spots the culprit standing in her doorway, her mouth melts into a smile.
"Can I help you?"
"I sure hope so," Killian says brightly. He holds up a manila folder in one hand, which has her drawing up short.
She twists to glance at the clock mounted on the far wall. "You want to go now? We don't have to leave for another fifteen minutes."
"Huh." He cocks his head at the time, then regards her with a contagious twinkle in his eye. "Look at that. My mistake."
"I'm sure that's what it was." The office where they're supposed to be meeting the Agrabahs is on the other side of the city, but there's no doubt in her mind a traffic buffer is far down on his list of priorities. She crosses her arms along the edge of the open drawer, marking her place with a finger. "What other reason could you possibly have for jumping the gun on this case?"
"To be perfectly honest," he says seriously, "I've heard the partner I'm to be working with is this absolutely stunning blonde. I had to be sure I made a good first impression."
She bites her lip to keep from laughing. "Careful, Jones. Someone might think you had inappropriate intentions towards a coworker."
"Something tells me the coworker in question wouldn't mind very much." His winning grin bubbles through her as he crosses the room to lean against her desk, a familiar sight that feels different all the same thanks to that folder he tucks under his arm. The folder, this case – it's theirs, their first time working together (in a formal capacity, at least) since she officially leveled the playing field, and she'd be lying if she said she hasn't spent the last few months looking forward to it just a little more than he needs to know.
(Obviously, he knows.)
"That's a pretty bold thing to assume," she manages at last. "That this coworker of yours would happily be seduced by the likes of you."
"Oh?" He matches her teasing tone. "Perhaps I should make absolutely certain of that, then."
He's stilled far enough away to keep a respectable distance, but the suggestive quirk of his eyebrow tells an entirely different story, one she's too glad only she can see. The way she reads it now, she gets the feeling he's planning on enjoying this to its fullest extent – not that she can blame him in the slightest.
Even though she should really know better – glass walls and all that, plus the tiny fact that they have to be ready to leave and presentable soon – she nudges the drawer in front of her just enough to take a step forward into his space, to need to look up to meet his gaze as she feels her lips twitch into something a little more impish.
"I think that might take a little more than fifteen minutes, if you want to be completely, totally sure."
"Why, Swan," he says, dropping his voice scandalously. "You wouldn't happen to be trying to seduce a coworker in the office, would you?"
She leans in, reaches up to finger the silk of his tie, and watches his blue eyes darken with delight. "Guilty, your honor," she murmurs, reveling in the downright obscenity in the curl of his mouth. "Now, the question is: what are you going to do about it?"