While Emma was meeting Belle for coffee the next morning, Killian was waiting for a call to say that his car had arrived.
Saying goodbye to his girlfriend, and knowing that he'd be seeing her again within the hour but wouldn't be able to hold her, was harder than he had imagined it would be. The selfish part of himself wanted to beg her to join him as his guest for the event, so that he could keep her by his side for the entire weekend, soaking up her presence. But he knew that Emma would have more fun with her friend as an attendee, than she would have behind the scenes with him. Her happiness was all that mattered to him that weekend. Because Killian knew that when their romance was eventually outed, Emma would no longer be able to attend the events as an attendee.
When the notification came through that his car was waiting, he quickly gathered up his stuff, and made his way down to the lobby. Killian was so distracted sending Emma a message to let her know that he was on his way, that he completely missed the other person already sat in the back of his car.
"Robin? What are you doing here?" he asked, pocketing his phone to offer his friend a smile.
"I figured we could share a car. We're both coming from the same hotel after all. Is Emma not with you?"
Killian brought his hand up to scratch awkwardly behind his ear. He should have known that Robin wouldn't let the subject drop. He never should have mentioned that Emma would be joining him for the weekend.
"No. She's enjoying the hotel's facilities," he fibbed.
There was a moment of awkward silence in the vehicle before Robin finally asked, "So… she's not already at the hotel, waiting for the convention to start?"
Killian choked on the tightness of the air around him as he floundered for words. "Huh?" he finally settled on.
"Come on, Killian. Did you really think I was that stupid?" Robin pushed.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he lied. He knew this was a conversation that they really need to have in private, when they had a few hours to hash things out. Not in the back of a car, with only minutes until they would arrive for a convention weekend.
"Okay. We're doing it this way, are we?" Robin sighed. "Let's see… first there was the pretty blonde you greeted by name in Vegas, during our photo ops. Which was odd enough, because I know these schedules like the back of my hand now. And your autograph session is always the very last thing planned for the weekend. So I know you didn't learn it there. But then there was your behavior during those photo ops. I mean, you barely even let me look at her, let alone touch her."
Killian wrung his hands between his knees as his best friend formed his argument. He had hoped that Robin would have been too distracted by everything else going on that weekend to notice his friend's odd behavior.
But it seemed like Killian hadn't been quite as careful as he'd thought he'd been.
"So, Emma is the same Emma from that weekend?" Robin asked.
"Yeah," he admitted reluctantly. "She is."
"And you met her at the Boston event?"
"Before it," Killian rushed to clarify. "We met in person before we met at the convention."
"But she knew who you were?"
Killian could already sense his friend's judgement creeping in, and that urge to protect Emma was flaring to life inside of him once more. "Yeah, she did," he stated, his tone hardening with every word he spoke. "And she never lied to me about who she was, or why she was in the city either. So I knew what I was getting myself into from the start, thank you very much. Even knowing all of that, I still chose to enter into this relationship with her. So you can save that judgmental bullshit for someone else, because I don't want it and I don't need it. I'm happy. I love her. And I don't regret a single moment of the time I've spent with her."
Killian was grateful that their car had rolled to a stop at the back entrance of the hotel at that precise moment. He'd never been a particularly dramatic person before. But in that instant, he'd never wanted to storm off quite as much as he did then.
Emma could tell there was something wrong with her boyfriend the moment he stepped on stage that morning. While the rest of the room seemed oblivious, clapping and cheering for him as they usually did, she could see that slight tightness around his eyes, and the way his smile seemed a little more forced than it normally was.
Until the third question of the day.
Someone had managed to work up the courage necessary to stand to ask, "I was just wondering… you've posted a couple of pictures now of a woman on your Instagram account. Is she that someone special you talked about last time, in Vegas?"
"Good question," Belle whispered to her friend. "The post he made last night is all anyone's been talking about this morning."
Emma frowned as she tried to recall the notifications she had woken to. She'd had Killian's social media accounts set to alert her to any new content for as long as she'd been watching the show. But she couldn't remember seeing one from him when she'd checked her phone after silencing her alarm. Although, to be fair, he had been grinding himself softly into her lower back at the time, whispering all of the dirty things he'd wanted to do to her before she left. So Emma probably hadn't been as thorough as she usually was.
Belle pulled out her phone and tapped away at the screen, before handing it over to her friend, just as Killian began his carefully composed reply.
"She is, yeah," he chuckled nervously. "I um… I don't want to spend too much time talking about her today. I'd like to protect her identity for as long as I can, and things between us are still in that newish phase, so we'd love some privacy for now. But I don't like the idea of hiding her away like some kind of dirty secret either. I'm not ashamed of our relationship. And I sorta felt like getting up here today and denying that there was one would be a disservice to her. So yes, she's the one I spoke about in Vegas, and before anyone else asks… I am very happy right now."
As Killian spoke, Emma flicked through the thousands of comments on the picture he'd shared of the two of them together the night before. At first, she'd worried that she would be easily identified, and had wanted to make sure nobody had made the connection to her yet. But the more she scrolled, the less she worried. Most of the comments were either about the insane looking food they'd sampled the night before, or about how happy Killian looked in the picture. There was the odd comment that reeked of jealously, but not enough to leave Emma worrying for her safety all weekend.
She passed the phone back to Belle with a whispered thanks, as she turned her attention to Killian on stage. When his eyes landed on her in the crowd they lingered for the briefest of moments, his smile finally coming easier and looking more natural, before they continued over to the other side of the room, and the gentleman stood behind the microphone placed there.
"Whoever it is that's he's dating, she's one hell of a lucky girl," Belle whispered.
"Yeah. She is."
The moment Killian pushed through the door to the green room he turned on his heels to leave.
"Don't be like that," Robin sighed, getting up to follow after his friend. "Come on, Man. I'm sorry, okay? I'm just worried about you."
"I don't you need to be worried about me," he snapped back. "I'm an adult. I can take care of myself, thank you."
Robin sighed as he considered his next words. He hated that he'd managed to alienate his friend so quickly, but he wanted Killian to see the danger of the situation he'd put himself into. "Look… we've both heard the stories. We've both seen the reports online and in the papers. Can you blame me for being worried about how this is gonna end?"
"Yes, yes I can," Killian bit out. "You wanna know why? Because if the situation were reversed, do you know what I'd do? I'd trust you. I'd trust that you had weighed up all of those consequences before starting that relationship, and that you'd made the right decision for you. If you hadn't… If, by some miracle things went wrong, I'd be there to help you pick up the pieces without saying I told you so. Because that's what friends do. But you're so certain that this relationship is going to crash and burn that you can't even see that you have nothing to worry about. I trust Emma. She could have told any number of people about our relationship by now. She could have posted it all over the internet. And she hasn't. You know why? Because she's not the person you think she is."
"She's a fan," Robin stated. "One of your fans. How do you know she's not playing you?"
"Can you even hear yourself right now?" Killian asked. "You know your wife is a fan too, right? Why is your relationship more acceptable than mine? Is it because Marian's got a ring on her finger?"
"Don't be ridiculous," he scoffed. "Marian's a fan of the show because I'm a part of it. We met and married before I was even cast. She's not a fan of me because she's a fan of the show. This is completely different."
"Oh, so I can't date women who were fans of the show before they met me now? That's limiting my dating pool by a few million people in North America alone. Do you think I should put that requirement on my Tinder profile?"
At Robin's unamused look Killian sighed. He didn't want to argue with his friend. He wanted to share with Robin just how happy he was. He wanted to introduce Emma to him properly, so that his friend could see just how right she was for him. And just how incredible Emma was as a person.
But there was no way Killian was going to stand there and let Robin judge her just because she'd been a fan of his when they'd met. Robin didn't know her, and the way he was acting only proved that.
"You know she makes me happy, right?" he asked softly. "She makes me laugh at things I never thought would be funny. She makes me question things I'd never even considered before. She makes me a better person just for knowing her. Because of Emma, I'm contemplating a future that I'd never even dreamed of, let alone wanted. She makes every day that little bit brighter, just for being a part of my life. She loves me, and trusts me so completely with her heart that I'm a little in awe of the power she's given me. She's this strong, confident, beautiful woman – and she wants to be with me, just as much as I want to be with her. She doesn't want anything else from me. She doesn't ask for fancy gifts or lots of attention. I give her that because she deserves it, not because she asks for it. She'd rather just curl up with me on the sofa and enjoy being held by someone who loves her, than have me shower her with diamonds and fancy meals. You should be happy for me, Robin. Because I've never been happier than I am right now with Emma."
Killian turned to leave before his friend could say anything else, pulling his phone out of his pocket as he did to make a quick call.
While Belle was off having her photo taken with Robin, Emma made her way up to the second floor of the hotel, and the room number that Killian had sent her in a brief text message only minutes before. A keycard had been left for her at reception, so she slipped it into the door and quietly pushed it open, wondering what the hell was going on.
"Hello?" she called out softly. "Killian?"
Emma closed the door behind herself, making her way down the small corridor before she emerged into the bedroom. Killian was sat in a chair that he had pulled up to the window, looking out at the crowds of people that were milling around the grounds below them.
"Is everything okay?" she asked, as she made her way over to his side.
He finally looked her way to offer Emma the same smile he'd worn when he first stepped on stage that morning, as he wrapped his arm around her waist. "Yeah. I just wanted to see you for a moment."
Emma cocked a brow at him as she looked down into his eyes. She could see the hurt behind them, even as he was trying to bury it. "What happened? Your parents? Your brother?" she asked, her voice creeping higher in pitch as every possible worst-case scenario rushed through her mind.
"They're fine," he assured her, as he thought back to the messages he'd received from his mother a few hours ago. She was thrilled to know that Killian was dating again, and couldn't wait to hear all about the new lady in her son's life. "They're all fine. I just… I clashed with Robin a little and I um… Come here?" he asked, as he tugged gently on her waist.
Emma let him guide her down into his lap, as Killian buried his face in her shoulder. She gave him a moment to just soak up the warmth and comfort that he so clearly needed from her, as she ran a soothing hand through his hair. When his shoulders finally relaxed a little, she pulled back to encourage him to meet her eyes.
"What did you guys clash over?" she asked, even though she already had a strong inkling about the subject of their disagreement.
Killian looked torn about how to word the situation, which told Emma everything she needed to know.
"He doesn't approve." It wasn't a question.
"He's an idiot," Killian countered. "He doesn't know you and he doesn't know how happy you make me."
Emma was a little lost for words. She'd known that the way they'd met would always be controversial to some people. But she'd naively assumed that the people who mattered most to the two of them would at least wait to judge her until they'd had a chance to meet her. The thought of Killian's best friend disliking her, without giving her that chance, hurt more than she was willing to admit.
"Would it help if I met with him?" she offered softly.
"I don't care what he thinks," Killian protested, even though Emma knew he did. He wouldn't be so upset if he didn't. "All I care about is what you think."
She dropped her head down to rest against his as she whispered, "I love you," into the silence of the room.
"I love you more," Killian whispered back, as he leaned in further to press the softest of kisses to her lips.
"I'm not ready for this," Belle worried, as they joined the queue of people already waiting for Killian's photo ops.
"You've met him before," Emma chuckled, watching her friend fan herself down.
"I know. I wasn't ready for it then either." She took a few more deep and cleansing breaths to try and clear her mind. And that was when Belle's eyes landed on the item draped over her friend's arms. "What the hell is that?"
"Oh it's um… it's a jacket," Emma explained. "I was hoping Killian would agree to wear it for our photo ops today."
"You want him to wear more clothing?" Belle looked at her friend like she was a little insane for suggesting the idea of dressing the man further. "Why?"
"I think he'll look hot in it," Emma shrugged.
She'd been trying to think of something different to do in her photo ops with Killian this time round, and her gaze had eventually landed on the official sheriff's jackets hanging at the station. She and David never used them, preferring to wear their own clothes over the ugly looking brown things that were provided by the town. But she thought that Killian might get a kick out of seeing one again for their ops that day. So she'd taken David's one home to wash up for the weekend.
"I doubt he'll wear it," one of the women in front of them interjected. "It's not exactly flattering. And I've seen him refuse those kinds of things before."
"I'm pretty sure someone got him to wear handcuffs in a photo op before," Belle argued. "I'm sure Emma will be fine."
"How did you know about the handcuff thing?" Emma turned wide eyes to her friend, as she searched her mind for a memory of having shown her photo ops to Belle. She was pretty sure she'd kept those ones to herself. She could count the number of people who had seen them on her fingers.
"The girl who got them posted them to Tumblr," Belle explained. "But she put one of those stupid emoji sticker thingies over her face."
"No, she didn't," Emma protested. "I had those photo ops taken. I haven't shown them to anyone other than Ruby and Killian. There's no way anybody else should have copies of those pictures."
"You had those taken?" Belle was clearly focused on the wrong issue, but Emma couldn't really blame her friend. It wasn't like she was the overly brazen type.
"Yeah. He um… he asked what I did at the first con and when I told him I was a sheriff, he joked that next time I should bring the cuffs with me. So I did."
"Did you bring them this time?" her friend pressed.
Emma reached into the back pocket of her jeans to pull out the metal handcuffs she had stuffed inside of them that morning, while Killian was finishing in the shower.
"You are my new hero," Belle sighed.
Emma didn't have time to search Tumblr for her stolen photo ops. Before she knew it, she could see her boyfriend on the other side of the screen once more, hugging women and men alike, as they passed through his queue. She was much less nervous this time round, which helped her to appreciate the moment a little better. Killian seemed happier after their rendezvous upstairs. She watched as he bopped a little to the music being pumped through the room, and joked with the photographer and his handler in between shots.
But perhaps the best moment came from the interfering woman who had been a few places ahead of them in the queue. Emma couldn't hear her request for a pose, but it looked like she'd asked Killian for a kiss. He had pulled back from her a little and shook his head forcefully, stating loudly, "My girlfriend wouldn't approve of that, I'm afraid." Seeing the other woman put in her place was oddly satisfying.
Belle took her turn just before Emma, approaching Killian with a shy smile and asking him for a hug once more. She didn't even turn back to look at her friend as she left the room, stumbling a little along the way. But Emma couldn't blame her for that.
Killian had a way of leaving her dazed and confused whenever he was close.
"Emma," he greeted, cocking a brow in her direction as she approached with the jacket still hanging over her forearms.
"I thought you might get a kick out of this," she smirked, as she shook the coat out to reveal the Storybrooke logo on its breast.
"Please tell me you brought the cuffs too," he smirked, taking the garment from her hands to slip his arms into the sleeves. It wasn't a perfect fit, but it was good enough for what Emma had in mind.
She chuckled as he pulled her back into his chest, looping his arms around her waist for their usual hug picture. Emma waited until she saw the flash of light to signal the shot had been taken, before she pulled the handcuffs from her back pocket.
"Are these the same ones?" he whispered suggestively, as he fiddled with the mechanisms on them to open up each of the bracelets.
"Yep." Emma turned her back to her boyfriend as she held her hands out behind her. It had been a while since someone had put cuffs on her, but she found she didn't mind having Killian be the one to take charge this time. There was something gentle about the way he locked them in place, even as his face morphed into that mask that could only ever be described as pure sex.
She wasn't exactly sure what he had in mind, but he leaned forward to whisper, "Look shocked," just seconds before the next flash of light temporarily blinded her.
Killian's hands fell to her wrists as soon as the picture had been taken, quickly releasing the lock to free her right hand. But Emma was surprised when he tugged gently on her remaining arm to get her to turn around. When the cuff came down again, this time it was on his own wrist as Killian bound himself to his girlfriend.
Emma didn't have a clue what her face looked like for the last picture, but she knew that it wouldn't matter. From the corner of her eye she'd been able to see Killian's, and he looked like a deadly master of seduction as he stared down the lens of the camera.
Dear lord, how were the rest of the women in the room still breathing?
Emma released her own hand quickly as she watched Killian shrug out of the jacket to hand it back to her. They didn't have the luxury of time, given the size of the queue of people behind her. But it didn't matter much to either of them. They knew the day was rapidly drawing to a close, and they would see each other again soon enough.
It was only when Emma joined Belle outside the room once more that she realized Killian must have pocketed her cuffs after he'd removed them. Because she had completely forgotten to pick them up.
While Emma and Belle headed out for a late lunch, Robin was searching the hotel for his best friend. The others had barely seen Killian all day, so he knew that the guy was probably hiding out somewhere to avoid bumping in to him. The only problem was that navigating a hotel full of convention attendees was easier said than done. In the end, it was a member of the security team that finally taken pity on him. The bulky bloke had reluctantly given him the room number that Killian had booked under his girlfriend's name, earlier that day.
Robin soon found himself on the second floor of the hotel, knocking softly on the door. He prayed he'd gotten the right room, as he heard someone shuffling around inside of it.
"Emma?" Killian asked, pulling the door open. His face fell as soon as he saw the person stood on the other side. "What do you want, Robin? Haven't you done enough to ruin my day as it is?"
"I didn't… I don't want to ruin your day," he assured him. "I'm here to apologize, okay? I just… you're my best mate. I don't want to see you get hurt." When Killian opened his mouth to argue again, Robin rushed to add, "But if you're sure about this girl, then I trust your judgement. You were right. I've known you long enough now to know that you wouldn't have gone into this blindsided by a pretty face. So… I'm sorry. And I really am happy that you're happy, Mate."
Killian stood for a moment in silence as he considered the words his friend had just spoken. He could tell that Robin meant each and every one of them. Which was why after a long second, he pulled the door to the room open a little wider to let him slip inside.
"Wow, this is cramped," Robin chuckled, as he looked around at the small room his friend was hiding inside of. While it held a double bed, the bathroom didn't even have a door on it, and that was making him cringe a little.
"I just needed some space. I didn't much care what it looked like," Killian pointed out, as he dropped back down into the seat he'd been sat in by the window. There was an empty plate on the small table beside him, so Robin assumed that his friend had at least eaten that day.
"As long as it's got a bed, huh?" he teased. Killian turned confused eyes his way and Robin shrugged his shoulders slightly, suddenly doubting himself and what he'd been implying. "I just um… you thought I was Emma so I…"
"Our relationship isn't like that," Killian snapped, just as his friend had expected.
"Sorry. Bad joke," Robin apologized. "So… where is Emma now?"
"Having lunch with her friend. She doesn't want Belle to feel neglected, given that she's here to spend time with Emma. So the two of them have been spending most of their days together."
"Huh." Robin hadn't expected that. He'd thought that Emma would want to spend as much time as possible with her famous boyfriend. He had assumed that was why Killian had rented them a cheap room.
The silence was broken when Killian's phone vibrated on the small table in front of him, and Robin watched as his friend snatched it up to check the notification. He knew that it must have been some kind of message from Emma, because the smile that lit up his friend's face was like nothing he'd ever seen before.
Killian fiddled with his phone for a moment, before finally bringing the device up to his ear, as he pulled the curtain away from the window to peer down into the courtyard below them. Robin couldn't hear what was being said on the other end of the line, but he had a good idea of who his friend was calling.
"Your arse looks fantastic in those jeans," Killian whispered into the phone. He laughed a little at whatever Emma said on the other end of the line, pulling the curtain back a little further to stare out of the window.
Robin made his way quietly over to the other side of the room, to see what his friend was looking at. It didn't take him long to find the pretty blonde that was sat on one of the benches outside. She was wearing a pair of dark, skinny jeans and black boots, paired with what appeared to be a sheer floral shirt. Her hair was twisted back on each side of her head, but blew softly around her shoulders in long, loose waves. And as she spoke into her phone, her gaze would flick up to the window they were looking out of.
"Well that was just too tempting to resist," Killian chuckled. "Are you girls planning to head to the concert tonight? Because if you're not, we could always put them to some use when you get back to the hotel." Killian laughed a little louder at Emma's answer, and Robin wished he knew what they were talking about.
"I thought we covered this before," his friend drawled. Robin could practically hear the sex dripping from Killian's voice, as he thickened his accent for full and devastating effect. "I'm happy to switch depending upon the mood."
Killian laughed again at her reply, but sobered quickly as the two of them watched a dark-haired woman approach the bench Emma was sat on, and hand over a coffee to her friend. "I'll let you go, Sweetheart. If you wanna stay for the concert tonight - do it. You know I won't mind."
Emma said something else before her boyfriend replied with, "Okay. Well keep me up to date. And enjoy the rest of your afternoon. I'll see you soon. I love you."
Killian must have waited just long enough for Emma to return his sentiment, as her eyes briefly flicked up to the window once final time, before the two of them ended the call and slipped their phones back into their pockets. He remained at the window though, looking down at the two women who chatted for a while between themselves on the bench, before they finally stood up to make their way back into the hotel.
"If um… If Emma's busy tonight, I could always keep you company?" Robin suggested softly.
Killian finally pulled his eyes away from the view behind the curtains to offer his friend his full attention. In that brief moment before they made eye-contact, Robin could see just how difficult the day had been for his friend. How hard it had been to maintain such a distance from the woman he loved, while they were so close together.
And Robin mentally slapped himself for making the entire day that much harder than it needed to be.
"Yeah. That would be nice."
Before they took their seats for the final few panels of the day, Belle and Emma went to collect their photo ops. It was only when Emma had all three of hers in hand that she finally remembered what had been said about the last set of images she'd had taken with Killian.
"Hey, Belle?" she asked, as her friend grabbed her own picture, and then began moving out of the way. "Do you think you can send me a link to that Tumblr page that had my photo op on it?"
"It was a while ago now," Belle cringed. "But I'll do my best to find it for you. Was it really yours?"
"Yeah," Emma sighed. "And I hate the thought of someone else sharing it without my permission."
"I'll try and track it down for you," Belle promised. "Can I see your ops from today?"
Emma hesitated for a moment before finally handing them over. Belle had known about the jacket and cuffs anyway, so it wasn't like she was revealing some big secret to her friend.
"Ugh. He always gives you the best hugs," she sighed. "Does he recognize you now?"
Emma chuckled for a moment as she considered how to answer the question. In the end, she thought that it might be easier to say yes than to try and laugh off how much closer the two of them always were in their pictures. "Yeah. I think he's probably sick of me by now."
"I wouldn't say that," Belle protested. "I mean, have you seen this?" She held up the second picture Emma had taken with Killian that afternoon as part of her evidence. "The man looks like he wants to eat you alive."
"Yeah. He's great with making the appropriate faces in all of the right places," Emma dismissed easily.
"I really need to work up the courage to ask for something different in Vancouver," her friend sighed. "I just get so tongue-tied around him."
"I think that's natural. I wouldn't have come up with all of this on my own," Emma explained gently. "He takes the lead in most of our photo ops. I just go with it and hope for the best. Next time, maybe you could ask him to surprise you?"
Emma knew that she'd have to point out Belle to Killian before Vancouver, so that he could do something fun for their photo ops during that event. She had no doubts that it would make the entire weekend that much more special for her friend, and Killian would be more than happy to play a part in that.
"Maybe I should steal your handcuffs," Belle teased.
"He already beat you to that one," Emma chuckled.
"Seriously?" she scoffed. "You have all the luck."
Emma's look here is based on Jen's look from a candid image taken and shared by Rose McIver in October 2015.
Thanks for reading and sharing.