Emma had graduated college in May, and she'd moved back to Storybrooke to live with her parents for awhile until she could find a steady job. Granny had graciously offered to let her wait tables at the diner; so she got to spend her days working with her best friend, Ruby, and even though she wasn't getting paid a lot, she loved it. Their constant back and forth broke up the monotony of carrying plates to and from patrons, and very often ended in a giggling fit at something the other had said.

It was now October and her twenty-third birthday was just around the corner. Ruby had been acting skittish around her lately, and that concerned Emma. It could only mean that she was cooking up some ridiculous plan that she knew Emma would object to.

She decided to confront her in the back room one day while Ruby was opening a new package of napkins to restock the holders on each table. Ruby's back was turned to her when she spoke. "Okay, give it up," she ordered, arms crossing over her chest. "What're you planning?"

"Nothing!" She shrieked, practically jumping out of her skin at the unexpected sound of Emma's voice. The opened package of napkins nearly flew out of her hands.

Emma's gaze narrowed, her lips quirking to one side. "Uh huh..." Ruby's reaction had all but confirmed her suspicions: she was planning something. Emma continued to stare her down, willing her to say whatever it was she was hiding.

She let out a sigh, rolling her eyes. "If I tell you, it won't be a surprise. Just... trust me on this. It's gonna be a blast." The devilish smile on her face stretched from ear to ear. All she could do now was pray that whatever the girl had in mind wasn't too over the top.

Three days later Ruby was tying a blindfold around Emma's eyes.

After they'd finished closing up for the night, Ruby had handed her a shiny silver bag stuffed to the brim with tissue paper.

"C'mon! Open it!" She bounced around anxiously in front of Emma while she worked to remove the never-ending pile of fluff. Her hand finally hit the gift concealed within, and as she pulled the garment out of the bag her mouth dropped open. A form-fitting red dress was now pinched between the fingers of either hand, dangling in the air in front of her.

"These, too!" Ruby shoved a rectangular box at her. It was wrapped in matching silver paper and had a giant purple bow stuck to the top. Emma cautiously set down the dress on the bar and closed her fingers around the new package, staring at Ruby with raised eyebrows as a nervous laugh escaped her mouth.

She made quick work of the wrapping paper, placing it gently on the counter beside her before removing the lid of the box. A pair of black, five inch, platform pumps glared back at her. Her eyes widened and she looked to Ruby for an explanation.

"Okay, now go put everything on!" she chirped out excitedly as she clapped her hands together.

"Ruby, wha-"

"Just do it!"

She made her way to the storeroom, shooting an I'm going to kill you stare back at Ruby who was grinning smugly as she watched her go. She had to awkwardly balance the dress and shoes on one forearm so she could pull open the door, but she managed to get inside. She set the gifts down with a huff and pushed her palms over her temples, smoothing them over her curled hair.

She somehow managed to worm her way into the skin tight dress, contorting her body into unnatural positions to get it zipped all the way up. Her feet slipped into the shoes, the height causing her balance to falter. She caught herself on one of the shelves to keep from falling over. With open hands she flattened the wrinkles out of the front of the dress. A resigned breath was forced out as she pushed the door back open.

Ashley and Ruby stared back at her with exuberant smiles. They were both dressed to the nines as well, Ruby wearing a deep purple halter dress and Ashley fitted with a ruffled blue number.

"I knew it'd look good on you!" she praised.

"Ruby, what is all of this?" She motioned to herself, fingers flicking up and down at the dress and shoes. "Ash, when'd you get here?"

"Sit." Was the only reply she received. She stumbled over to the stool Ruby was gesturing to, high heels causing plenty of trouble already. Just as she plopped down, soft fabric was pressed over her eyes.

"Hey!" she protested.

"Oh, hush. Just go with it," Ashley calmly shot back. Easy for you to say. You're not in an uncomfortable dress being blindfolded against your will, she thought.


Her vision adjusted to the harsh neon signs on the front of the building as Ruby removed the cloth from her eyes.

"Oh, you've gotta be kidding me," she breathed out, shooting Ruby a look of disbelief. She shuffled over and grabbed Emma's hand. "C'mon! The show's about to start!" With Ashley's help, they dragged her over to the entrance where Ruby talked to the doorman to gain them admittance.

"Billy?!" Her cheeks flushed bright red with embarrassment, and she crossed her arms tightly over her ribcage, all of the sudden feeling very self-conscious about what she was wearing.

"Hey, Emma. Happy birthday." He smiled at her kindly as Ruby handed him money for the cover charge.

"Wh- What are you doing here?" she stammered.

"Towing cars in a small town doesn't exactly pay that well," he mused. "Have fun in there!" He unhooked the rope guarding the door and nodded his head toward the inside of the club. Ruby grabbed her wrist and pulled her forward, Emma looking at Billy like Save me! He only gave a chuckle and re-latched the velvet rope.

It was dark and there was a lively beat pumping through the air. People were mulling about - some already sitting, others chatting at the bar. Ruby led her down the stairs onto the main part of the floor, finally stopping at a table not more than five feet from the stage. Emma finally decided to give in. She could either fight this and have a terrible night or let herself go and maybe have some fun.

"Okay, you win!" she conceded as she threw her hands up in resignation. Ashley's and Ruby's faces lit up. "Just bring me something with alcohol in it." Ruby immediately turned and raced over to the bar, rapping on the counter with her palm to get the attention of the man responsible for mixing drinks.

Emma took a seat, scooting her chair close to the table and clasping her hands in front of her. "I promise you'll have fun," Ashley assured her, placing a hand on her forearm and squeezing softly.

No sooner had Ruby returned with their drinks when a man appeared on the stage just off the end of their table. He had light brown hair and was wearing crisp white pants with an all too tight short-sleeved shirt, complete with aviators and a matching sailor's hat. Emma raised the glass to her lips and knocked back a mouthful of the drink. It tasted like rum, but sweeter. Whatever Ruby had decided to get her was delicious.

"Hello, ladies!" he boomed. "Y'all are in for a treat tonight." Cheers erupted from the crowd of women. Ruby clapped her hands above her head enthusiastically. Emma took another sip of her drink. "I just wanted to let y'all know..." He kicked a foot forward, causing the end of his pant leg to flare. "You don't have to be beautiful to turn me on." A familiar guitar riff to a Prince song started up.

It took every ounce of self-control Emma possessed to not slam her forehead to the table right then. Instead she opted for another sip of the sweet beverage in front of her. The man tossed his sunglasses off to the side, dropping to all fours and rolling his hips against the ground. As he worked his shirt off he pushed the heel of his palm over his newly revealed abs. Dollar bills flew at the stage from all directions.

The next act was similar; a man chiseled like one of the Greek gods walked onto the stage wearing a fireman's outfit and carrying a section of hose which he proceeded to grind on for a good portion of the song. A small giggle escaped Emma's mouth when he jumped down into the audience and started to give a lap dance to a woman at the table next to her.

Clad only in a thong, he hopped back onto the stage and brushed past the curtain, bills sticking out from the garment at every which angle. Emma brought the glass up to her lips again, tipping it back only to notice that nothing hit her tongue. She tapped Ashley on the arm to let her know she was going to get a refill, then she made her way to the back of the room.

As she was trying to describe to the bartender what her previous drink had tasted like Sexual Healing started playing. Girlish screams filled the room, louder than they had been the entire night. She turned around to see the cause of the outburst, eyes focusing in on the new dancer with dark hair. He was wearing black leather chaps and a deep red vest. None of the buttons were done up, so his perfectly formed torso could be seen by all. Dark hair covered the muscles, but that only added to the appeal. Not bad, she thought. His head was tipped down as he started to move to the rhythm.

He spun around so he was facing the curtain and let the vest slide down his arms slowly, finally catching it in his hand and circling it around his head once before he tossed it to the rabid women. He rotated back around slowly, dropping to his hands and knees as he pushed his hips toward the stage once, twice. His head flung back and Emma caught sight of his face for the first time: blue eyes, jaw lined with stubble-


She whirled back around so quickly that it nearly caused her to fall over. Her arms gripped the bar for support as she tried to regain control of her legs. Please don't let him see me. Please don't let him see me. The bartender brought over her drink, looking at her suspiciously as he released the glass.

She spent the remainder of the song staring at the little flecks of gold that were infused in the countertop, only turning around once the final note sounded and she thought he'd no longer be there. She was wrong, and her eyes immediately locked onto his bare ass, causing her to blush like teenager.

After he'd made it past the curtain, she walked back down to where Ruby and Ashley were seated, coming to stand in front of the brunette. She grabbed her shoulder and shook. "Ruby, we've gotta go."

"What? Why? We haven't even gotten to the best part!" Ruby whined. The man from earlier came back out onstage, this time wearing a tuxedo minus the jacket.

"Yeah, c'mon, Emma. Just come sit back down." Ashley begged, patting the empty chair. Emma looked over her shoulder frantically. More of the dancers were beginning to emerge from behind the curtain.

"Alright! Time for my favorite part of the night!" the man from earlier projected.

"Guys, please-"

"Do we have any birthday girls out there?" Ashley and Ruby shot their hands toward the sky. Scantily clad men dressed in white button-up shirts and black slacks descended upon her, pulling her onto the stage and leading her to a chair in the center. The thumping beat to Pony started up, and the women in the room whistled and applauded loudly.

Her hands flew to her eyes in a feeble attempt to hide herself. Oh, God. No, no, no. This isn't happening. This can't be happening. She felt calloused hands brush over her shoulders, and she splayed her fingers out slightly so that she could see what was happening in front of her. Men on either side were starting to roll their hips seductively to the song.

Then he was on his knees at the space in front of her feet, hands on her kneecaps as he gyrated over the open air. Her hands dropped to her lap and her lips parted slightly. His head raised up and their eyes met. She froze and his pupils widened for a split second before a knowing smirk stretched across his face from ear to ear.

He stood back up and ripped the front of his shirt open, slinging the soft fabric onto the stage behind him, never taking his eyes off her. The worked up women cheered him on. Their screams of "Take it off!" had finally been answered. He stalked forward again so that he was now straddling her lap, and Emma awkwardly moved her hands up so they were pressed against her chest in and attempt to keep from touching him. That only seemed to provoke him. He gripped he back of the chair and started moving his hips in a slow dipping motion.

The other men continued to dance around her. Some went off into the audience and entertained other women, delighted squeals reaching Emma's ears each time one of them got picked.

The man on top of her tucked his neck down so that his mouth was close to her ear. "Hello, Emma," he purred out. Please just let me have a stroke. He continued to move over her, by some miracle never managing to take the pants off.

The song mercifully ended, and Emma moved to walk off the platform. She felt a hand on her waist, spinning her back around toward the center of the stage. Icy blue eyes met hers just before she felt his arms circle around her back. Her feet lifted off the ground, and a second later her lower abdomen was resting on his shoulder. She would have protested, but the action of being hoisted up like a sack of flour had knocked the wind out of her.

Once backstage he set her down softly, her feet peddling backward until her hands connected with a wall. "Killian," she finally managed to breathe out.

"Hello, love," he leveled back, a playful twinkle in his eyes.

She smiled nervously, a heh sound escaping her mouth. "Listen, I can-"

"You never called me back," he lamented, frowning slightly and knitting his brows together.

It had been over a year since they'd gone out. "I know, it's just-"

"I thought we had a rather lovely time together." He took a step closer to her, his bared chest now only inches from her own. "In fact, if I remember correctly, you had two lovely times." Her skin flushed at the memory, pulse quickening as she recalled how his hands had felt against her body.

Her eyes darted between his, mouth opening several times in an attempt at a sentence. His face had slowly begun to close the distance between their lips, hand moving to rest on the soft curve of her hip. Fire spread through her veins at his touch, heat condensing in her core. His gaze turned down to her parted mouth, flicking back up to her eyes before he pressed his lips to hers softly.

His tongue traced the skin of her bottom lip, asking do deepen the kiss. She eagerly obliged, fingers threading through his mussed up hair as she crushed their forms together. He pushed her back into the wall, hips connecting with hers and causing a stifled moan to escape her throat.

He was the first to pull back, hand reaching up to tousle one of the blonde curls framing her face.

"I have a few more sets to do, but I'd like to buy you a drink tonight." He began to back away from her, and she immediately missed the warmth he'd been providing. "You never did give me a shot at a second date." A corner of his mouth ticked upward into a half smile as his palm pushed into the doorframe leading back to the stage. "Stay?" His eyebrows raised expectantly.

She nodded her chin up and down methodically, not yet able to form words.

"Brilliant," he beamed back at her. "That's a bloody wonderful dress on you, by the way." And with a wink he was ducking behind the curtain once more.