A/N: Let's pretend, for the sake of plot, that Emma can actually lose her heart. This actually ended up being more of an aftermath fic, really, it was supposed to end more angsty, but fluff invaded. It's kind of about how much Emma became part of Storybrooke and how Killian has to deal with that while he becomes pat of it.
EDIT: Now expanded into a full story. Other chapters are the expanded version!
He had been here before. The exact same place. Except the last time this happened it hadn't been nearly as painful.
He had thought Milah was his true love. He had thought he'd never love again. He had been wrong on both counts.
Killian Jones seemed to be wrong an awful lot of the time.
That was, after all, the reason he was standing here. 'Here' being the docks at the very edge of Storybrooke, empty, now that he had given his ship to his first mate. He had no use for it anymore. He could never leave Storybrooke, not when she was buried here. He drew in a shaky, frozen breath of air, releasing it in a sob. Buried here with his broken heart.
He had though Milah was the only woman he'd ever love like that, with all the childish, burning splendour of his first real love. He might've been right about that. He knew better now, knew the reasons for that assumption. He had never loved with that childish hope, not since her death, but with Emma... With Emma it was different. Warm and forever and blinding like the evening sunlight at sea. It had taken ages for her to come around, to allow that sunset to warm her fingers and heart, but once she had, they were glorious together. Without a doubt, she had been his true love.
Which brought him around full circle to the reason he was standing unsteadily on the very edge of the dock.
True love. Having your love's heart ripped out once was bad enough, but your true love? That was Killian's worst nightmare and most paralyzing fear.
And it had happened.
Another frozen lungful of air entered and left his chest, every memory coming to the forefront of his mind to taunt him.
Watching Emma's face contort in pain. Following the line of her hair to her chest, only to see Cora's fist dangling that most precious of objects from her fingertips.
Diving forward to catch her as she fell, cursing history for repeating itself, cursing himself for being selfish enough to bring her into this.
Watching as the life faded from her eyes, hearing the faintest of 'I love you's, feeling his blood freeze in his veins, clutching frantically at what remained of her, whispering with everything he was that he loved her, hoping desperately that she had heard him before she went limp and weightless in his arms.
Holding Cora's neck back so Regina could take her heart.
Henry sobbing into his chest as they held onto each other for dear life.
Snow White and Charming standing over her lifeless body in Gold's shop.
Brushing a lock of hair behind her ear before she was lowered into the ground.
Calming Henry when he woke screaming her name in the middle of the night.
Gold laying her necklace in front of him, a twisted and heartrending peace offering.
Belle forgiving him with a kiss on the cheek and a book.
Charming sleeping in his daughter's chair at the Sheriff's desk.
Regina's offer to talk about it if he needed.
Henry calling for 'Dad' and expecting him.
Snow White telling him, half-drunk, that she considered him her son-in-law.
Aurora shooting him concerned glances as often as glares.
A man named Jefferson quietly leaving a top hat on his doorstep, with a letter explaining why.
Mulan's utterly stoic tears.
Ruby collapsing at the funeral, being pulled up by Belle and Snow.
A man named August putting roses on her grave.
Pain. Pain, marred the empty blank-blurred days of mourning and new-found family and lost love.
So here he stood. Wondering what he was supposed to live for now.
"Henry," He could almost hear her say. "Don't you dare leave him behind."
So he didn't.
He never would.
Jefferson helped him with Henry as often as Regina did.
Regina herself became quite a close friend to Killian, meeting for coffee every week to share about Daniel and Emma.
Killian and Gold made their peace with Milah, whose ghost was actually quite miffed about their revenge feud.
He began working at the pawn shop, learning that he had quite a fondness for the job.
And when Henry began dating, it was Killian who jokingly gave him both the Kama Sutra and advice on what flowers to get.
When Ruby thought Peter might be alive, it was Killian who was allowed to stay in the room while she explained to Snow and Charming.
August asked him for help when writing.
And when Henry was going to propose, it was Killian he asked advice from.
And when Henry was twenty-four and getting married and completely petrified, it was Killian who walked his fiancee down the aisle.
And when Henry's daughter was born and he was wondering how he could possibly take care of this tiny, beautiful life, it was Killian who told him about every doubt he had when Emma died, every night he lay awake wondering how he could ever be a good father.
They named her Emma Regina Mills.
And when he stood at the end of the docks, breathing in salt air and wanting to sail away, he thought of Henry and Snow and Charming and Gold and Regina and Jefferson and August and Henry's Emma and his Emma...
And wondered why he'd ever want to leave.