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Emma's steps led her to the beach without her having to think about her destination. She nearly collapsed on a low wall there, her legs hanging underneath her, her feet swinging back and forth, staring at the blue immensity in front of her. The sea would always manage to calm her down when she was feeling bad. Killian would often bring her here, when she was worried or sad. She was actually on the same wall they were sitting on all those years ago, when they'd shared a flask of rum and he'd tried to soothe her about the situation with her parents, at the very beginning of their relationship. It was also where they would meet when they'd had a fight and they wanted to make up. She took a deep breath, listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the beach, trying to comfort herself as she wanted nothing more but to start crying.
Liam's reaction had hurt her. Her heart was still aching in her chest. Because she loved this little boy so much, and even if he'd probably not meant what he'd said, and he probably had no idea of how bad this statement was, it was an incredibly painful thing to hear. And she was feeling so worthless. Leia was rejecting her for a reason she couldn't understand, Liam was now saying he was hating her, and she was the only one to blame for that situation, she thought. She was a bad mom, it was obvious. There wasn't any other explanation to her kids' behavior. She was feeling like everything was falling apart around her, and she would have wanted to lock herself in her room, curl up under the sheets and sleep forever to escape her own life that'd become so hard to bare.
She was also feeling so bad for running away like that. Her old impulses had come back to life again, now that she was feeling so helpless, and she'd done what she would do every time things would become too hard, all those years ago. She'd gotten better, though, through the years she'd learned how to deal with things differently, but this time, it'd been too much to take. She was feeling like she'd behaved like a kid once again. She knew the sensible reaction would have been to calm herself down, to kneel in front of Liam and explain to him, calmly but firmly, that he couldn't say things like that and that he was going to be grounded, period. But she hadn't been able to do it, and she'd run away from her feelings. Again. She was feeling like such an idiot.
Everything seemed wrong lately, and she was feeling so desperate because she had no idea of what to do about it. Despite what Killian had promised her, despite the fact she wanted to trust him when he was saying Jasmine was nothing for him, it wasn't surprising he preferred her company to his own wife's. Even if she was mean with Emma, she seemed like a good, balanced girl at heart. A happy woman, who knew what she was doing. Emma was feeling emotionally unstable, she didn't know what to do anymore, and she wasn't able to face what was happening to her lately. She was hating herself so damn much for not acting like the responsible adult she was supposed to be.
In moments such as these, her past was catching up with her. Her wounds, created by a crappy childhood where no one had never wanted her, teenage years during which she'd been a runaway and had been left alone over and over again, were opening again with a surprising and unbearable violence. She was feeling like everyone would always end up letting her down. And why wouldn't they, she thought? She was the only one to blame, after all. There had to be a reason, people wouldn't have left her her entire life if she hadn't been guilty for it one way or another. She was unbearable, irresponsible, no one could stand her more than a few years in a row. And Killian was starting to have enough of her, it was obvious. The feeling was horrifying, because she was actually living Killian's behavior as an abandon. And he was the only one supposed to never leave her, but it was probably too late now. He was already gone.
She didn't know what she was doing there. She didn't know what she was waiting for, sitting there in front of the ocean. But she didn't know where else to go. At Granny's, she would probably cross path with Jasmine, Aladdin or Salim, and she wouldn't stand seeing them, not now, not while she was feeling like this. At her parents', she would have to answer thousands of questions, and she didn't feel good enough to talk about what was happening inside her head right now. At the station, she would only remind herself of how useless she actually was. The savior, they were calling her, but god, how wrong they were. Aside from destroying everything surrounding her, aside from putting everyone in danger or making her loved ones suffer, she wasn't good at anything. Proof was that they would always end up getting hurt or dying, because of her. Maybe she should have stayed alone, after all, in her cold apartment in Boston. She was unhappy back then, sure, but at least she was the only one to ache.
She had no idea of what to do anymore, she just wanted to ease this horrible pain inside her chest. Seeing the deep blue water crashing on the beach, she suddenly felt the strong and crazy desire to walk into it. To disappear for a few minutes into this blue immensity. To feel insignificant and so little for a while, to feel the waves washing her worries, and to forget all about her problems.
But she also knew it wasn't a solution. So she brought her knees to her chest, and buried her face in her arms, not seeing anything around her anymore. There, protected from the world, she started to cry. She needed to sob and evacuate this pain, or she would turn insane. Killian's secrets, her fear of losing him, Liam's words, Leia's distance, everything was transforming into little tears that were rolling down her cheek to finish their path on the soft fabric of her yoga pants.
She didn't know for how long she was sitting there, crying, but it had to be a long time given how sore her eyes were from all the tears, when she heard Killian's voice in her back. She suddenly understood why she'd come all the way to the beach : it was their place, where they would always meet when something was wrong. Unconsciously, she'd wanted to see if he was going to come and try to comfort her. And he hadn't left her, he was there, always.
She suddenly felt ashamed of herself for doubting him, while he was always there for her, no matter what. Still sobbing, she looked up and turned to stare at him. His expression changed from concern to pure sadness when he saw she was crying, and he moved to join her on the wall. But he was wavering a bit, as if he was scared she would reject him. She wanted to feel him close to her more than anything, to feel his strong arms wrapped around her as he would promise her everything would be all right. She then reached for his hand, and he gently grabbed it. He was beside her in less than a second.
He straddled the wall, one leg hanging next to hers, and he pulled her to him so she would rest her head in the crook of his neck. She could hear his heart beating so fast in his chest, his breathing was jerky as if he was holding his tears back himself, and she snuggled so close to him, closing her eyes to enjoy his embrace. He placed his left arm around her stomach, and his right one came to rest around her shoulders, his fingers starting to play with a strand of hair on her temple to soothe her. She already felt her tears fading away as he was holding her so tight.
He didn't say anything at first, he just held her close to him and it was making her feel so good. The strokes of his fingers and the feeling of his arm placed against her stomach was comforting her more than anything could ever have. She needed this so much, to convince herself he was there and wasn't going anywhere. He wasn't going to leave her. After a few more minutes, she eventually calmed down enough to speak. When he noticed that her tears had faded away, he whispered to her ear, so softly it made a shiver run down her spine :
"I knew you would be there."
She didn't feel ready to talk about her feelings just yet, she needed a few more minutes to gather her strength and dive into the conversation. "Where are the kids?" She then asked.
"I called Henry so he would come to watch them for a bit. I wanted to talk with you for a while, just the two of us. Was I wrong?"
"No." She murmured, wrapping her fingers around his left arm, still placed against her stomach. "I'm glad you came"
He didn't answer anything, just waiting for her to be ready to tell him what was weighting on her mind, still stroking her skin in a soothing caress. He pressed a kiss on her temple, his nose in her hair to breathe her in. After a few seconds, she ended up deciding it was time. She took a deep breath and asked in a broken voice :
"Do you think I'm a bad mom?"
She knew he wasn't going to answer by the affirmative. He was way too gentle for that, and he wasn't going to hurt her like this, never, he was respecting her too much. But she always could tell when people were lying to her, her super-power was never wrong after all, so she knew she would be able to know it if he wasn't telling her the truth. He reacted right away, his voice a bit husky at her question :
"What? Swan, of course not! You're the best mom I ever met!"
She turned her head just a little bit to meet his gaze, and she read in his eyes shinning with unshed tears that he wasn't lying. She let go of a little sigh of relief, and placed her head against his shoulder once again. Her hand was still grabbing his left arm, as if she was scared he would disappear and leave her there with her sadness.
"Why are you saying this?" He asked in a low voice, and she could feel that he was feeling truly hurt by her words, as if he couldn't believe she'd actually thought such a thing.
"I've given Henry up for adoption. Leia doesn't want to approach me. And Liam just told me he hated me. These are pretty good proofs, don't you think?" She said with a little sniff.
"You've given Henry up because you wanted to give him his best chance. You weren't even eighteen at the time, lass, you were just a kid, and you just wanted him to have a chance to be happy. It's a proof of love if nothing else. And Liam told you this because he was angry. I explained to him it was wrong, and I sent him in his room right away, and he didn't even try to protest. He was feeling very guilty when he saw you walking away, you know."
"And what about Leia?" She asked, as if she wanted to hurt herself even more by bringing proofs of how worthless she was. "If I'm such a good mom, why does she run away from me like that?"
"For Leia, it's a bit more complicated." He admitted after a few seconds of quiet, as if he wanted to make sure he was choosing the right words. "But Emma, she loves you very much. Maybe you can't see it because her behavior hurts you, but it's obvious to me. She tries to be just like you, you know. The gestures she does, the words she uses, she's imitating you. I can already see how much like you she's trying to be. You're her role model, I can tell"
"You're really thinking that, or you just want to make me feel better?" She asked in a little voice, wanting to make sure her instinct was right and he was telling the truth.
"I'm being honest here, love, or I wouldn't say this." He assured softly. "And sometimes, I have troubles understanding what's happening inside Leia's little head as well. If it can comfort you, you're not the only one. She definitely has a temper. She's just like you." He added to make her smile.
"Just like the both of us." She corrected with a little chuckle, his try working.
He kept silent for a few seconds, still stroking her temple, and she knew this conversation was far from being over. They were going to talk seriously about the entire Jasmine situation. She wanted to tell him how she was feeling about his friend, but she didn't know how to start because she really didn't want to seem like she wasn't trusting him and make him mad. So, once again, he was the one who started to talk, and said in a low voice :
"Would you talk to me about what happened yesterday?"
She sighed, feeling a bit anxious, but she nodded anyways, because it was about time she talked about her feelings. She pulled away from him to look at him in the eyes while she was talking, and he released his grip on her shoulders to interlace his fingers with hers. With her free hand, she quickly wiped off the tears that were still rolling down her cheeks.
At first, she tried to find the right words to tell him what was weighting on her mind, but she quite quickly gave up on this idea. Talking about feelings had never been her strong suit. It'd gotten better when she'd met Killian, but she was still a bit uncomfortable with it sometimes. So the best for her was to use her instinct. She then took one deep breath and started to talk, wavering a bit :
"You already know why I've drunk yesterday, but I wanna tell you about the entire thing, because you only know a small part of it. I'm not trying to search for excuses because I behaved like an idiot and I should never have gotten drunk like that, but I hope it will help you understand... Well, yesterday, when you walked away to go join Jasmine, it was already hard for me. The reason why I'm so sad lately is because I feel like you're pushing me away to get closer to her. And it hurts, because I love you and you're the person I trust the most and I somehow feel like it's not the same for you anymore. So, like an idiot, my first reaction has been to push you away as well because I thought it would prevent me from getting even more hurt. It didn't really work, I think we can both admit it."
He was staring at her, his eyes shinning, as if he was about to start crying. But he didn't say anything, wanting to listen to her until the very end. He pressed her fingers between his, encouraging her to continue. She offered him a very slight smile, and started again :
"And then, when I saw you with your arm wrapped around her, this position you take so often with me, well, it was too much for me. I was feeling like I was going insane. You weren't paying any attention to me anymore, you'd forgotten about me and I was feeling like I wasn't existing to your eyes anymore. So I wanted to forget about everything, just for a little while, because it was too much to take. And I was trying to convince myself that I was being stupid, that you loved me..."
"But I love you!" He cut her off, his voice a bit broken and squeezing her fingers so hard as if to make her understand how he was truly feeling.
That made her smile a bit. "I know. I know, babe." She repeated to comfort him. "It's just... at the time, I lived that as an abandon. And you know how I can get when I'm scared or hurt. The only solution I found was to run away once again, and this time, it was the alcohol that gave me the opportunity to do so."
She got quiet and peered at him to see his reaction. She'd opened her heart and was pretty anxious, but he didn't seem mad at all. He was looking saddened by her words, but not particularly surprised, as if he'd guessed where her sadness was actually coming from. Finally, after a few seconds spent in silence, he ended up talking again in a very gentle, soothing voice :
"But, Swan, why did you think I preferred Jasmine to you in the first place? You're the love of my life, darling, I've told you this a thousand times. You're the one I chose, you're my love and no one is never going to take your place in my heart, I promise."
It made her smile, and she felt tears appearing in her eyes again, but they were from the joy she was feeling at his words. He was loving her so much. But she also knew she had to continue this conversation, so she started chewing on her bottom lip, hoping her statement wouldn't make him mad, and admitted : "It's because of all these secrets between us, lately. I was so sure that the fact you didn't wanna tell me anything about what's going on was because there was something between the two of you..."
"Nothing never happened between me and Jasmine, Emma, I promise you this." He said sincerely. "I have to admit that, at the time I met her, she hadn't met Aladdin yet and she seemed to like me. But I've never felt nothing more than friendship for her. And she's married, now. She loves her husband so much. You don't have to worry about this, I promise."
She let go of a little sigh, noticing with a bit of despair and frustration that he still hadn't told her how he knew the girl in the first place. But she took one deep breath and forced herself to keep quiet and not insist. After all, it was his life. He probably had a good reason for not talking to her about this. She had to trust him, she didn't want to fight anymore.
"That's not all." She then said, determined to admit everything to him, to open herself completely in order to make everything better, finally. "I also realize that she's so much more balanced that I am. Look at me, Killian. I'm mistrustful, full of contradictions. When I feel bad, I know I can become unbearable, but I can't help myself. I hate myself for that, sometimes."
"Emma!" he said, as if to make her listen more carefully. "First of all, you're far from being unbearable. You're the most adorable, amazing person I've ever met, and I love you so much. I'm sorry you can't see how absolutely wonderful you are. Then, how can't you see that I love you entirely? Not only for your qualities, but also for your flaws? How can't you see that all your little imperfections, I find them absolutely perfect? I chose you, I chose all of you, with your doubts and your fears, with your beautiful smiles and your tears. I'm not only there for the good moments, you know, I promised you this when we got married. Please, don't close yourself up in those walls of sadness. I'm here, I'll always be there, and I'm not going to let you down, ever. I promise."
She stared at him for a few seconds, feeling so touched by his speech her throat was in knots and her heart was about to explode. He'd moved his hand while he was talking to cup her jaw, and she lifted hers to interlace their fingers together. She let go of a jerky breath, wondering how she could ever have doubted the love this man had for her. He loved her, so damn much. He'd proven this many times. She couldn't doubt him anymore.
After a while, not knowing what to answer to his amazing statement, she just approached her face from his to press her forehead against his own. She blinked a few times, and they shared a glance for a few seconds, their noses brushing against one another. Then he ended up smiling, and said with such honesty her heart fluttered again :
"Love, do you want me to stop seeing Jasmine?"
"Killian..." She protested in a little voice, surprised by his words. She didn't want to stop him from doing anything because of her fears. She didn't want to be that kind of woman, forbidding her husband to do stuffs just because she was scared.
"It's an actual question, lass" He told her. "I'll respect your choice, because I just want you to feel better, and that's all that matters to me. Jasmine is not important. So I'll ask you again : do you want me to stop seeing her?"
She understood he was going to insist until she gave him a real and clear answer. She thought about it for a few seconds, her forehead still against his. She wanted to trust him, so badly, but she also knew herself. She knew that, sooner or later, her doubts would reappear again. She certainly would be happier if he wasn't seeing her anymore, because it would give her the peace she was looking for, it would make everything fall into place again, and she would feel so much better. And he was being sincere, she knew it. He really wanted her to be happy again. So she decided to stop lying to him and to herself, and she nodded, really slowly, to show him what she was desiring deep inside her heart.
She felt his smile spread wide on his lips, he was looking so happy she was finally being honest with him, and all her doubts flew away all at once. He wrapped his other arm around her waist to hold her close, then moved to break the small distance between them and press a long, tender kiss on her lips.
They spent a few minutes sharing more and more demanding kisses on this little wall in front of the ocean. She was feeling so much better now that she'd talked about her feelings, and her hands were sliding up and down his chest, just to feel him a little bit closer to her. She was feeling like she'd gotten her husband back, finally. It was as if this horrible weight on her shoulders, that'd been there since Jasmine's arrival in town, had suddenly disappeared while he was against her. Everything was okay, now. No more lies, no more secrets, no more doubts. Just two people loving each other so damn much.
He ended up pulling completely away from her to look at her in the eyes. He took her hand back in his, and said as she was running her tongue on her lips to taste him one last time.
"Let's go arrange this with Liam now, shall we?"
Emma nodded, and even managed to give him a small smile. She was ready, ready to act like an adult and go talk to her little boy, because she knew Killian was right and Liam hadn't meant what he'd said. So she got up, and, hands in hands, they walked to their home without never letting the other go. Their shoulders were brushing against one another, as if they were never going to leave each other again.
"Liam, can I come in?" She asked, knocking three times at her son's door.
She opened without really waiting for an answer. She'd needed a few minutes downstairs to find the courage in herself to go speak to her son, but Killian had comforted her and told her everything was going to be just fine. He was right, it couldn't be that complicated after all. Her little boy was four and a half, and she was his mom. And even if she'd never really punished a child before that, she needed to start one day or another – she was a mom of three after all.
Her son was sitting on his bed, cross-legged, and seemed to be bored out of his mind. He turned to her when he saw her coming in, and his face changed to display a sheepish expression. He looked down at his blankets as she was approaching him with somewhat uncertain steps. She forced herself to stand straight, trying to look confident and assured so he wouldn't guess she had absolutely no idea of what she was doing. Then she sat down next to him on his little bed, and decided once again that she wasn't going to think too much about what to say. Her instinct had never really betrayed her, and she was going to use it. It had worked with Killian not less than a few instants before, hadn't it?
"Liam, look at me." She then ordered in a calm, but bossy tone.
He looked up at her, his beautiful green eyes meeting hers, and almost pouted in a sad way. He seemed to try and coax her so she wouldn't be too strict with him, but she was determined not to let him win on that one. She could also see he was looking sincerely touched by the situation, as if he was feeling guilty for what'd happened between them. She then continued in a confident tone that surprised her when the words left her mouth.
"First of all, I want to apologize for screaming like I did earlier, and for walking away like that. I shouldn't have done that, and I'm sorry about it. But you have to understand that I got really scared. You almost hurt your little sister very badly by disobeying like you did, and you could have hurt yourself as well. And I'm not going to lie to you : you made me really sad when you said that you hated me. You can't say things like that. So I'm not going to change my mind : you are going to be grounded. What you did was really wrong, and you can't do it again. Understand?"
He nodded slowly, still looking at her and blushing a little bit, as if he was feeling really, utterly bad. Getting that she was done talking about what he'd done, he started in a very shy tone, avoiding her gaze as if he was scared she would get mad again :
"I didn't want to hurt anyone."
"I know you didn't, Liam." she said gently. "But sometimes, actions have consequences, bad ones, and you have to learn that you can't do whatever you want in life, because it can hurt people. And you have to understand that you don't have to listen to Neal all the time, not when he wants you to do bad stuffs. I know he's older than you, but when he tells you things like that, you can't listen to him. He's not your boss, okay?"
"Okay." he said, finally looking at her in the eyes.
Seeing that he was listening carefully, she continued. "And I also know you didn't mean what you said to me, but it was wrong. You really can't say things like that, even if you are really mad. I get that you were angry because I shouldn't have yelled at you like that and I showed you the wrong example, but when there is a problem, we have to talk about it calmly, like we're doing now. You made me really sad. You need to know that."
"I'm sorry, Mommy." he said with honesty, nervously playing with his fingers.
She smiled at him to show him it was okay and she wasn't mad anymore, and explained : "You also have to understand that you're grounded because you did something wrong. But it's a first for you, so I want to tell you something really important : it's not because I'm doing this that I don't love you anymore, okay? You're my baby boy, I love you with all my heart and nothing in the world will never change that. All right?"
She took his chin to gently lift his head up so he was looking at her, and smiled to show him she was being sincere. He answered a bit shyly at her, but seemed reassured at the same time. Seeing that he didn't really know what to do, she spread her arms wide so he would approach her, and he didn't need to be asked twice. He climbed on her lap and wrapped his little arms around her neck, as if he'd been scared she would be mad at him. She smiled again, happy to feel him close to her, and kissed the top of his head. After a few seconds, he said in a little voice :
"I'm really sorry, Mommy. I didn't want to make you sad. I love you."
"I know, baby." She said, touched by his words. "I love you too, so much."
They stayed in that position for a few more minutes, before she pulled away from him, keeping him on her lap but looking at him in the eyes. She winced a bit, and he answered with a little grimace, knowing that she was going to tell him what his punishment was going to be. She started to talk again, firmly so he would understand she wasn't going to change her mind.
"It's doesn't change the fact that you're grounded. Three days without television, and you're gonna stay in your room until dinner. Okay, Liam?"
"Okay." he answered with a little shrug, as he knew he couldn't do anything to change that. "I promise you I won't try to use my magic anymore, Mommy."
"Good, buddy." She said, dropping a kiss to his forehead. "I'm proud of you. I'll come to tell you when dinner is ready, all right?"
He nodded and climbed down her lap to go back to his bed as she was getting up to leave the room. Once out of there, she let the door ajar and let go of a huge sigh of relief. She was so glad the conversation was over, but she was even happier that it had gone so well. Trusting her instinct had been a good idea after all, because she was feeling like she had nailed the discussion. Liam had seemed to understand what he'd done wrong, he'd promised her to never do that again, and, more important, he'd told her he loved her, and she was feeling so much better now.
She walked down the stairs with light steps. Her headache was almost gone now, and she was feeling good, really good. She'd finally talked to Killian about what was going on in her mind, he'd understood and was ready to do anything for her to feel better. She'd made up with Liam and had done her job as his mom to make him understand the difference between right and wrong. Sure, she still had issues she had to face, but she wanted to stay positive. And she was so happy that a good part of these problems had now disappear in the span of a few hours.
Killian was waiting for her in the kitchen. Henry had gone to take Neal back to her parents' with Leia, and her, Killian and Liam were therefore alone in the house. When he heard her coming in, he offered her a bright smile and handed her a mug of hot cocoa with cinnamon. He knew the drink would always manage to make her feel a little bit better. She accepted it, thanking him and, seeing her smile, he said :
"It looks like it went well."
"It did." She nodded after taking a sip out of the hot drink. "Much better than what I'd expected, actually."
"I knew you would do great."
Her smile widened at his words, and she put the mug on the kitchen table to hold him against her, as he was rubbing her back. She couldn't believe what she'd been through in only one day : guilt, first, then sadness, distress, to finally feel good and happy. Everything was falling back into place. At that exact moment, she was happier than she'd been in a long time. Killian kissed her neck, then his kisses went up to meet her ear, where he whispered.
"I am so proud of you."
Her heart fluttered at that, but she didn't really know what to say. Touched, she just held him even closer to her, and he seemed to understand her inner thoughts because she felt him smile in her hair. They stayed like this for a very long time, and when she finally pulled away from him, she let go of a huge yawn that she tried to cover with her hand. Now that everything had gotten better, all the exhaustion of her night and of what'd happened during the day was coming right back at her, and she was so tired. Killian left his arms around her waist, and said gently when he saw how exhausted she was :
"You know what, love? Go to bed, go get some rest. You need it. I'll take care of everything."
"But Killian..." She tried to protest.
God, this offer was appealing, but she didn't want to leave him all alone to take care of the kids and all the chores in the house, all because she was hungover. It was her own fault if she was feeling like that after all. But he didn't let her continue. He cut her off by dropping a kiss on her lips, and said as she was melting at his touch, his lips brushing against hers.
"No, Swan. I insist. I'll come to wake you up when dinner will be ready, all right?"
"All right." She finally surrendered, smiling up at him and running her hand through his dark hair. "You are the best, you know that, Jones?"
"Aye, I know." he replied, and she burst out laughing at his words.
Okay, that's it for today! I hope you liked it! See you soon! ;)