David Nolan loved his Sunday just like that; his lovely wife wearing a nice dress, the tasty smell of the lunch that Mary Margaret had been cooking for two hours now, Jefferson coming early in the morning with Grace, so he could help them with the lunch, their granddaughter always so pleased to give a hand and spend some time with her grandmother.
But what he loved most in those Sundays, those particular Sundays, was that his family was back together.
His son at his left, laughing with him about their favorite baseball team, his wife's caring gaze as she just stayed there watching them talk, and Grace, talking about her ballet classes and how she dreamt to be a ballerina one day, (although taking care of pandas in a zoo would be nice too) which made Mary Margaret go all mushy.
Those Sundays were the most perfect days for David Nolan, especially when they meant Emma was back home. He had never handled the distance Emma had put between them very well; he knew college was an important thing for her, but as the overprotective father he was, having her away from him was a hard thing to endure.
After all the mess that Neal Cassidy had created, having her home was rare; not only the man had broken her heart, but he had created a gap between them. Maybe Emma had blamed her father for not protecting her, for not seeing the danger, things David should have done, but failed at so spectacularly; not only Emma had dropped out of college and almost ruined her life in Portland, she had also lost herself along the way, coming over only twice a year, despite Mary Margaret's insistence on getting her back home. Jefferson, who used to go to the same college had tried to reassure them and smooth things down, telling them that Emma just needed some time to recover.
A part of him couldn't help but blame himself for not seeing it coming, for not being able to tell what was going to hurt her; on the contrary, David Nolan had opened his house and his arms to that man and even thought of him as another son, his attitude and manners had been charming at first and he had let himself fall for his act, giving his trust and most importantly his daughter's happiness, leaving it all in his hands.
What a great job he had done that day. If Neal Cassidy was the one to blame for hurting her and letting her down, David Nolan was guilty for not foreseeing it, no matter how many times Mary Margaret kept telling him it wasn't his fault.
But that was behind them now; Emma was back home, safe and sound, and even if he profoundly hated to say it, he had to thank Killian Jones for bringing his daughter home. Emma was sitting at his right, her hand in Killian's, surprising for a woman like her; he still had a hard time referring to her as such because for him, she would always be his baby girl, who wasn't really fond of public demonstrations of affection.
Maybe it was time to change.
His own opinion on Killian had changed considerably when he realized how much Killian was important to Emma, something that he had, so far, refused to see but had been forced to when he had seen her so distraught during the wedding and how Killian Jones had brought a smile on her lips, her whole body seeming to relax at the man's closeness. Killian Jones wasn't the perfect son in law, but he was able to bring Emma to her brightest, something David had missed a lot, that lightness in her gaze, the genuine and simple grin she put on her face every time they locked eyes.
She had come back home after the storm.
David would have said a long time ago that Graham was a way better choice for Emma than Killian, but when he saw them like that, united, together, the tension in her shoulders gone when Killian wrapped an arm around her over the chair, David knew that there was no better choice.
It was him.
And that man had done something David himself couldn't have done for his own daughter.
Bringing her a smile, and a safe place to be.
Maybe Killian Jones wasn't the man he had thought, maybe his need to overprotect Emma had been clouding his judgment and the whole bad guy look hadn't been playing in his favor, but still, David Nolan was ready to give him a chance. Emma seemed to have granted him one, or was it him who did it for her, David couldn't really tell, and Emma was quite secretive on this; she had told him they were trying again, but without getting into details.
And honestly, from what he had understood from the wedding's reception, and what his wife had told him, it was better this way. Graham had left abruptly, not even trying to hide from David, and all he knew was that Emma had almost shyly kissed Killian on the lips when he and Victor had started back to the city, right before Emma left with Ruby.
When Emma had lifted up her gaze to him, telling him goodbye and hugging him tightly, it made him remember that not so long ago, she had been just a little girl, fitting so perfectly in the crook of his arm; now, his precious baby girl was a beautiful woman, and when he looked at her, David couldn't see even trace of Cassidy's ghost lingering in her eyes anymore.
"I can't believe my dad let you cut the chicken", Emma said, shaking her head in disbelief. "Do you realize that this is a huge honor?"
Killian gave a tug on their laced hands as they walked near the beach, feet in the water, Emma's hair caressing his cheek.
"Aye, I know, I was surprised too; I thought he was going to jab me with the knife at first."
Emma rolled her eyes, making him laugh; he had to admit that she made the most adorable faces.
"Hey, is that how you would defend your boyfriend?" Killian said, feigning hurt over her lack of concern, placing a dramatic hand on his heart, the motion making Emma laugh at his face, standing in front of him with a hand on her hip.
"I thought you could handle yourself."
There was a challenging note in her voice that Killian couldn't miss, and shooting her one of his best smiles, one of those he knew she couldn't resist, he took advantage of her hand in his to pull her against his chest.
"Aye I can, but it doesn't mean I want to." He wrapped her in his arms, kissing her nose, "I need you."
Her expression smoothed, a smile curling on her lips as she pressed a soft kiss against his lips, their foreheads resting against each other.
"I love you", she breathed on his lips, her thumb circling over his cheek, before her hand went down to rest on his chest where his heart was hammering. It was peaceful, out of time, just the two of them on the beach, breathing in each other and finally, finally being together completely.
The way he had always dreamed of during those lonely nights, just Emma and him, her wearing her best smile, the one that reached her eyes and looked like pure love, curls dancing in the wind and brushing against his cheek, the salty perfume of the sea, so familiar and so them, taking them to the beginning and carrying with it promises of bright future and days marked by a new hope.
"Speaking of which…" Killian trailed off, pulling away just slightly. "I have something for you."
"You got me a present?" Emma chuckled. "For me?
"Don't be full of yourself, it's for your father, I'm trying to stay in his good graces."
"Shut up, you love me." He squeezed her side gently before pulling a ring out of his pocket.
"Oh god... I… I… Are you?" She look up at him questioningly, surprised and shocked, maybe also pleased, but definitely shocked, her lips parting, her cheeks reddening when she realized what was, or what she thought was happening. Emma opened and closed her mouth, looking at him with wide eyes.
It was good to know that surprising her was still possible.
"Shut up Swan, I'm not proposing." He took her hand in his, caressing the back of it tenderly. "Not yet."
"What do you mean?"
"One day we will be back on a beach, the sea will be our witness, and I will kneel down and ask you to marry me."
"And wet your pants for me?" Emma joked nervously, her tongue darting out to lick her lips as Killian arched a defiant brow, to which she nodded, letting him finish, holding her breath as he spoke, completely spellbound with him.
"I will marry you one day", Killian said with conviction, their eyes locked together as he held her hand tightly in his, their fingers lacing together. "But not now, now isn't the right time for both of us, but one day, I will propose to you, and I hope you will say yes."
"I will say yes." Emma pulled him closer, brushing her nose against his. "You know I will. I love you. I'm not running away this time."
Grinning until his cheeks hurt, Killian took her right hand.
"Until then, you will keep this ring, as a reminder of that promise, and one day, I will ask you the big question."
Waiting for her approval, which Emma gave him immediately, Killian slid the ring along her finger on her right hand.
"You and I, it's to stay."
Emma admired the delicate ring on her finger, tears pearling at the corners of her eyes, and she couldn't miss that it was the same ring Killian had bought her a long time ago. "Is this..." She whispered in a tone marked by emotion, and Killian bent down to kiss her hand, and the ring on it.
"Yes it is. It was always meant for you, it belongs to you. I never wanted anybody else. I'm not going anywhere." Letting the words hang between them, savoring the love in her eyes, his fingers brushing over her cheek, Killian closed the gap between them and made her look up at him, lifting her chin with two fingers, wanting her to remember his words, "I'm never letting you go, I'm not taking this lightly, I never have, I love you."
Brushing away a few tears, "Does that make me your fiancé?" Emma tried to ease the tension of the moment with a joke, draping her arms around his neck, tangling her fingers in his hair.
"Naaah, you're my soon to be fiancé", Killian kissed her nose, loving the way it made her scrunch it, because she was making the most adorable faces. "But I think in the near future, you will be my fiancé, and this", he reached for her hand, "is for the moment you start freaking out, doubting us or me, you will look at this ring, to remember that I love you, and this is not just a thing. You won't lose me, because I want you. One day I will take this ring, and slide it on your left hand."
"I love you", Emma said, and framing his face between her palms, slammed her lips against his and quickly deepened the kiss, pulling him as close as she could, loving the way his hard torso was pressed against her, how his arms held her without restrain, not afraid to break her.
She was no fragile lass. Killian had learned it the hard way that this woman was one hell of a fighter; maybe he needed her more than she needed him, maybe they both needed each other, but what mattered at the end was that they knew, they believed they couldn't break as long as they were together.
"We have to go have dessert, you know", Emma broke the kiss though she didn't seem ready to let go yet; her hands were holding him where he was and her grip on him didn't seem to want to loosen… not that he wanted it to.
"Aye, face your father, let him jab me with the cake knife."
"You know I won't let him do it."
"You better not, or you would have a dead soon-to-be-fiancé on you."
"That would be tragic." Emma kissed him again before pulling away, starting to walk them back to her parents' house. "Do you want us to tell them already?"
"I don't know… I honestly don't care; they will know one day or another. But I'm indifferent."
Emma nodded, chewing her lip before she spoke, visibly uncomfortable all of sudden, "Can we keep it for ourselves? Just for a week; I want to savor this, I… I, with... We never got-"
"Yes", he tugged at her hand to make her fall in his arms again, not caring if they were about to be late. "I don't care about the others, I just need to know you're as excited as I am about this."
"I am, I want this, and that's why I want to just enjoy it with you."
"Like a pre-honeymoon of pre-engagement?" Killian joked, letting his head fall back when he laughed, his lungs filling with the salty air, trying to convince himself that this moment was real, that they had made it; they hadn't quite reached the end of the tunnel, but all he could focus on for now was Emma's bright smile and his ring, now hers, on her finger, and the promise of them sealed upon their lips.
"Hey! Don't laugh", Emma hit him on the shoulder, making a face, "I want it all."
"A honeymoon, huh? " Killian softened his voice, his arms finding their place around her waist. "And how does that even work?"
"First of all, it starts like this." Emma kissed him, "and the rest happens later, at night, when we're alone."
"We're alone." Killian grinned, his infuriating smile back on his lips, hands brushing along her sides gently, but definitely making her shiver, impatience making his blood boil in his veins, goosebumps appearing on his forearms.
"Maybe I will let my father hit you with something after all."
Emma kissed his cheek before tugging on his hand to pull him with her in the direction of the house.
"Killian! A gin over here and two shots please!" Ariel told him from the other corner of the bar.
Grabbing the bottle of alcohol he needed, Killian poured the drink, making a quick and professional work in a matter of second, his every move precise.
"Hurry up big boy", Ariel warned him as she passed by him, looking over his shoulder if the job was done.
"You know, I've been preparing drinks for longer than you Ariel."
"You're thinking about her", Ariel paused, looking at him with a watery smile, arching a brow and not buying his act at all. "Emma." She felt the need to add, and knowing her, Ariel wouldn't drop the subject until she had made her point.
"I'm working", Killian simply growled, taking another order and trying his best to ignore her.
"You're in love", the red-head said, a hand on her hip. "It's almost disgusting how much she has you wrapped around her little finger."
"Shut up", Killian shot back with a laugh, finishing the drink and handing it to her.
"I guess it's better that than having you cry and mourn your one true love!" Ariel mocked gently. "I'm happy for you, buddy."
"Yeah right, go take care of our customers okay? I think my private life is none of your business."
"Alright boss", Ariel saluted, giving up on getting more information from him, taking the drinks and leaving, but then pausing to tell him one last thing. "Killian?"
"What again, Ariel?"
"It's nice to see you happy."
Nodding and tossing away the napkin in his hand, Killian reached for his phone in the back pocket of his jeans; he and Emma had been together for five months now, and contrary to what everyone, including them, had imagined, they were doing better than expected.
"Ariel, did you see my phone?"
The red-head looked over her shoulder, annoyed.
"No, I haven't", she grabbed a bottle of rum and poured a generous dose to the man in front of her. "Check under the bar, maybe you left it there."
Kneeling and looking around, Killian found no trace of his phone, and just to make sure, he patted his back pocket again.
"Fucking hell, she's going to freak out."
"Relax boy, Swan is an adult, she knows you're working."
"Yeah, she also knows we're supposed to go out with her friends."
"And?" She arched a brow, cutting some lime on the counter. "Isn't she supposed to trust you or something?"
"Yes she does, but we are also trying-" Killian said between his teeth, he didn't want to engage in a conversation with Ariel about Emma; rubbing his head nervously, he moved toward the barmaid. "Can I borrow your phone?"
"So you can call mama?" Ariel laughed, pushing her hair back behind her shoulders. "I didn't know you had such a soft side."
"Your phone", Killian repeated, and realizing the roughness in his words, he added on a smoother tone. "Please.
Sizing him up for a brief second, Ariel sighed, visibly pissed but still handing him her phone.
"No sex calls, thank you very much, I don't want to pay for it."
"Thank you", he whispered, fluffing her hair before going to the back room to make his call in peace. He quickly keyed in the number he had known by heart for years now, waiting one ring, two rings, three rings, the beat matching the one of his own heart.
"This is Emma Swan, I can't answer at the moment, so leave a message after the beep."
"Emma, it's Killian, I'm so sorry but I'm going to be late, there's so many people at the bar and I can't really leave Ariel alone; I'm sorry I can't be there tonight, but please, come back to my place tonight. I miss you."
Hanging up, Killian cursed himself for not saying "I love you" at the end of his message, but hell, she should know it by now, right? It shouldn't be a secret or something she doubted now, not when he had clearly told her on that beach that he wanted to marry her someday.
He really hoped Emma remembered that.
"Did you manage to get her earlier?" Ariel asked, bending over the counter, hands laced together, a real and honest worry lingering in her eyes.
"No, she's not answering", Killian rubbed his forehead, tossing his dishtowel on the counter, tired of the long night.
"I'm going to need my phone; I have to call my boyfriend to tell him to come pick me up."
"You have a boyfriend?" Killian asked her, his words coming out of nowhere, surprising him; it wasn't that he was jealous, because she could do whatever she wanted as far as he was concerned, but knowing her, he was surprised he hadn't heard her singing love songs all day.
"Why do you sound so surprised? Not everyone lets me down for a pretty blonde."
"Ariel", Killian warned her, as much as their banter used to make him smile, Emma not answering him was getting on his nerves, reminding him of the past events, along with Emma's almost wedding; it was not the best way to make him calm down. Plus, the infuriating smile on Ariel's face was just making him cringe.
"Oh come on, I'm just teasing", she said, poking him in the shoulder as she jumped over the counter with ease, the heels of her boots clapping against the floor when she landed; she grabbed her jacket and presented him her opened palm. "Phone".
Sighing, Killian gave it to her; there was no point in keeping it, because Emma was ignoring him and he would have to wait for her to come home to his place for a proper conversation. It was almost sure that she was deliberately ignoring him at this hour; Emma was at Ruby and Whale's who had just moved in together and there was no way she was not ignoring him now. They were supposed to go out for dinner together. Ariel must have noticed how his mood was just "fuck-fuck-fuck-and-fuck" because she took a hesitant step closer, which was surprising for someone as forward as her, and offered him a brave smile.
"Thanks, and don't worry Killian, she will come around."
"I thought you didn't like her?" He paused, pretending to think. "If I remember correctly, she's just a selfish bitch?" He accused, reminding her of what she had told him after a long night at the bar a few weeks after Emma's wedding reception.
"I'm not her biggest fan, but still, I think she's trying and I can't hold that against her", Ariel explained. "Listen, I don't like the girl for personal reasons, and I think she's messed up, not in the bad way, but yeah she's definitely messed up, and then she also messes with your head", Ariel's eyes were fixed on nothing, widening comically, "and then you mess with my head; it's an endless circle."
"Don't you have a boyfriend to call?" Killian laughed, cutting her off.
"At least I made you laugh, jackass", Ariel snapped back, looking over her shoulder. "Eric's here. I have to go, have a good night."
Telling her goodbye, Killian started closing the bar, looking at the man, tall and dark haired, green eyes staring at and hypnotized by Ariel, standing at the door with a heavy coat and red cheeks; Ariel ran to him and kissed him on the lips quickly before calling Killian, who had already turned his back, groaning in his beer, trying to figure out a solution for what had happened tonight.
"Killian? Don't you worry too much, I'm sure it's going to be okay", she winked before leaving.
Killian should have expected it, but a part of him, as tiny as it was, had believed Emma would have been home when he came back, waiting for him to take her to bed, where they would have fallen asleep in each other's arms.
She hadn't waited. Coming back home late from work, Killian had known the moment he unlocked the door that Emma wasn't there, her perfume not linging in the air the way it used to when she was there. It was almost painful, almost tangible, her absence hanging in the room like a ghost; he was seeing her everywhere without finding her.
Emma had left without leaving a note, not answering his calls and not picking up the phone to tell him that she was fine, or maybe just a little mad.
At this time, so late in the night, Killian was pass being hurt; he was mostly mad, mad at her for not telling him anything, mad at her for not picking the goddamn phone to tell him she was okay and that she would come to see him in the morning.
No, Emma had decided to ignore him when she knew exactly what this kind of thing did to him.
Not wanting to spend his night mourning, Killian gripped a bottle of beer, opened it quickly and took one long sip, massaging his temple and trying to get his mind out of his musings, not wanting to blame himself once again, not wanting to let himself fall down into the guilt circle because nothing wrong had been done; he had called, he had told her he wouldn't make it in time. He had tried to call her again and again, but Emma had, once again, ran away.
Bloody infuriating lass.
But Killian had made her a promise, the ring on her finger was there for a reason, he loved her, he loved her with every fiber of his being, he wouldn't just let her go easily, he would fight and he would do everything to make her stay; Emma loved him too and this was what she wanted as well, so he couldn't and wouldn't let her drown.
Facing the sea together, they had said.
Tonight had been one bloody long night, so when the need to light a smoke came to him, Killian didn't fight it, he just pulled it out and brought it to his lips; it wasn't like Emma would say anything.
He fell asleep on the couch after his third smoke, a headache forcing him to swallow some painkillers, hoping they would help him forget about the day. And as if it wasn't pathetic enough, Killian had fallen asleep with his phone.
When Killian woke up, Emma was there, sitting on the arm of the sofa in front of him, her hands crossed on her lap; she was looking as tired as he felt, bags under her eyes telling him she hadn't slept either.
"Where did you sleep?" Killian asked her, his voice rusty and rough in the young morning. He had no idea what time it was, and he didn't really care either; he didn't have any obligations today.
"Good." Killian got up, ignoring how tense she was, walking by her and going to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee, not asking her if she wanted one.
"You're not mad?" Emma asked when he had finished making his coffee and he turned around to face her; there were no tears in her eyes, just tiredness mirroring his own, just exhaustion written over her features and body.
"Is that what you want? Me to be mad? You're here." Killian took a sip of his coffee, blowing on the hot liquid before putting it down on the counter. "You left but I thought I would have to bring you back there."
Emma didn't take that so well, flinching a little and looking down.
"Why didn't you answer my calls?"
"Where was your phone?" Emma shot back, straightening and lifting her chin up; if Killian wasn't so mad at her, although he preferred to remain calm until she gave him an explanation, he would've admitted that seeing her looking so fierce was something he really loved. It felt like she was back to her old self.
"Lost it at work", Killian brushed the matter away; there was no way she would get out of this without giving him a real reason for her behavior. "Why didn't you answer?"
"You used Ariel's phone."
How the hell did she even know it was Ariel's?
"To call you."
"I don't like it." Emma shook her head, looking down and away from his eyes, more focused on her reverie than really avoiding any contact with him. Anyway, it was pissing him off.
"I was trying to call you and you never picked up."
The accusation in his tone made her roll her eyes.
"I don't like knowing you're around her especially after what happened between you two."
"What never happened at your so called wedding if I remember correctly", Killian snapped back, hitting the counter with his hand. "For fuck's sake Emma! This is not what this is about and you know it."
"Yeah?" Emma stood up, pointing an angry finger at him. "Well, I don't hang out with Graham anymore."
"I wasn't engaged to Ariel."
"You kissed her", Emma accused, her limbs shaking with anger as she dried off invisible tears.
"She's a barmaid, she's just a coworker. Nothing more to me."
"Yeah right", Emma turned around in a swirl of golden curls, but Killian was faster and his hand closed around her wrist before she got a chance to leave.
He wasn't just going to let her walk away in the middle of the storm.
"Why are you doing this?" He asked as Emma shot him a dark stare. "Why are you pushing me away, again?" Killian stressed the last word, seeking an answer in her eyes.
"You weren't coming back."
"Why are you doing this?" Killian repeated more instantly, seeing her walls falling down, shattering under the weight of his accusation. He knew he needed to get to her before she decided to pull away completely.
"You weren't there."
"Why didn't you pick up the phone?"
"I was scared, okay?" She yelled, finally letting out what was lingering on her tongue since the beginning, pulling away from his grip. "You weren't there, you were at your bar with another girl, you weren't coming back!"
The weight of her words and the pain hidden behind them shocked him enough to make him stop dead in his tracks; this couldn't be happening again. "Why did you run away instead of staying here? Why didn't you wait just like I told you to do? Why didn't you stay to yell at me?!" Killian exploded, anger filling his veins.
"What was I supposed to do? Wait for you to come back? We had plans for the night."
"You're not making any sense, love", Killian shook his head, wishing he could lighten the tension in the room; why couldn't she just throw a pillow at him and then move on, even though it wasn't his fault, again.
"What?" Emma stilled, dazzled and shocked, freezing at his words.
"You heard me. You are just trying to find a way out again. Do you know what I think happened?" He took a dangerous step forward her, but Emma remained where she was when Killian expected her to step back, facing him from her full height, even if Killian's forced her to look up. "You were there on this couch, making yourself pretty for our night at Ruby's, and you started freaking out, because I was late, and you," he pointed to her head, "started thinking that I was with Ariel; maybe I was lost in time because I was flirting… you were scared and you started freaking out!"
"It's not difficult when you spend your days wi-"
"Do you know what this is?" Killian cut her off, taking her hand and placing it right in front of her, the ring shining between them. "This is a symbol of my promise, something that I gave you so you can hold onto that every time you doubt me, doubt us; this ring is a proof of my commitment to you, I want you, I love you, there's no one else, stop doubting me, stop running."
"Do you know why I ask you to stay with me every night?" Killian didn't leave her any time to answer back, his voice growing more and more serious as anger increased, pushing him closer and closer to the edge; there was a weight on his chest stopping the air from coming in and he needed release, he needed to let go of this burden, he needed to stop this pain. More, he needed her to understand once and for all. "Because just like you, I'm scared! Scared that you're going to leave again, scared to wake up one morning and realize you're gone, again."
Emma's shoulders shook, her eyes filling with tears and she covered her mouth with her hands, giving him her back and wrapping her free arm around her middle. Knowing she wouldn't accept any comfort from him, Killian himself not even sure he wanted to do it now he gave her this, this brief moment to compose herself, hoping that she would come back to him.
"I'm scared…" Emma trailed off, "scared that one day you will be done with me, my fears, and all the mess you have to deal with because of me."
"Well, I'm scared that one day you will realize that you made a mistake by going back to me and run for good, and then I won't be able to make you stay, I won't be able to find the right words!"
"Why didn't you tell me all of this before?" Emma's voice broke in the middle of her question, her whole demeanor changing into something more caring, her anger suddenly gone and the pain he felt making her want to reach for him, but just like him a while ago she fought that urge, not sure he would allow her to comfort him.
He craved for it.
"Because you're already scared enough! You needed me-"
"You needed me too", she cut him off, cocking her head on the side, looking so sad for him, guilt written all over her face.
"I always have", Killian sighed, his arms falling down his sides. "Unlike you, I don't have a ring to remind me you're staying with me. I just need you. Here."
Something in Emma's expression broke, her entire face falling.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry", she threw herself on him, giving in and wrapping her arms around his neck and caressing the back of his head, holding him a comforting embrace. Her perfume hit him, hard, making his head spin. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
It took him a while to hug her back; Killian hadn't expected her to react that way because she was more the kind for running away as far as possible to avoid any feelings, especially when she was guilty. Old habits die hard, he guessed.
"It's okay", he whispered in her hair, reveling in the feeling of her body against his, her arms making sure he knew she was not going anywhere.
"I'm not leaving", Emma said on an expelled breath, holding him close to her. "I'm here", she kissed his neck, "I'm sorry."
Killian didn't speak, there was nothing to say, and even if there were words, he couldn't find them, he just held onto her, almost clinging to her and letting her guide him to the couch, where they laid down together, Emma grabbing the comforter and pulling it up over them. Making sure she was comfortable in his arms, Killian's chin rested on her head, but Emma shifted around so she could look at him, pressing her forehead against his.
"I'm sorry", the words fell from her lips again and again, a long plead asking for forgiving for her actions.
Hesitantly, she brushed her lips against his, Killian's hand cupping the back of her head to press her closer, deepening the kiss lightly, his tongue tangling with hers; it was reassuring, familiar kiss and it made him sigh in relief.
"I love you", Emma said with closed eyes, a smile appearing on her lips. "Even if you taste like cigarettes."
He chuckled, his hand rubbing her back and keeping her warm as she rested her head in the crook of his neck.
"It was either that or the alcohol."
His words made her tense.
"I'm sorry for freaking out, it was stupid. I should have answered you."
"Just answer me, that's all I ask."
"I promise I will, it was stupid and completely uncalled for; you were just trying to do the right thing."
"Nobody said it would be easy lass," Killian mused, caressing her arm gently, loosing himself in his reverie; neither of them had expected this to be all pretty with rainbows and unicorns, but the point was that they would be doing it together, for better or worse, a thought that made him smile internally. "We both knew it wouldn't be piece of cake."
"Doesn't mean I have the right to hurt you."
Killian nodded, "I know."
"Maybe we need to find you a ring", Emma laughed softly, her arm going around his waist.
"Or maybe you could just move in", Killian said from out of nowhere, and when he saw Emma holding her breath it made him regret his words immediately. "I'm sorry, it's too soo-" He started to get up but Emma pulled him back down and straddled him, her hands resting on his chest, neither of them caring about the blanket falling on the floor.
"Yes what?" Killian asked, frustrated and confused, his hands naturally finding her hips.
"I want to move in with you, and no, it's not too soon, I'm your soon-to-be fiancé after all", there was a note of pride in her voice that Killian didn't miss, and it made him grin like an idiot. "And it's not like we never lived together before." She leaned in, her hair falling around him like a golden curtain. "And it feels right remember?" She breathed on his lips before kissing him gently, her teeth grazing over his bottom lip and sucking it in his mouth. Killian wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer until her chest was pressed against his.
"So you won't be afraid that I won't ever come back, because I always will, even if in the past, it took me some time to figure stuff out in my head", she brushed her nose along his, their foreheads pressed together as her hands drew patterns on his chest right above his heart, writing her promise on his skin, then kissing him gently. "I will always come back."
Feeling as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, Killian let himself laugh. "You silly lass of mine." His fingers played with a strand of her hair, tugging on it gently to pull her closer. "What am I going to do with you?"
"Well maybe we could get you to brush your teeth and throw away those cigarettes", Emma poked him in the ribs, lifting a brow teasingly before she nestled against his side.
"I said what I'm going to do with you, not with me."
"Aren't those two the same?" Emma asked, looking at him with a gaze so full of love and so full of hope that Killian felt his heart falling at his feet or maybe, right in her hands, once more.
"Aye, I think so", he said against her lips, nipping at them gently, his eyes locked with hers. "I love you." Killian whispered, and although his words sounded more like an "I need you", maybe it was the same thing.
"I know", Emma kissed his cheek. "I'm sorry."
"Just don't do it ever again."
"I won't", she shook her head, her hand resting against his neck, her fingers playing with the hair at the back of his head. "I love you, and I'm not afraid of that anymore, or at least, not like the way I was."
"What do you mean?" Killian wasn't sure what she meant, he was tired and he wanted nothing more than to crawl at her side in their bed, Emma in his arms, what they would have done if this whole mess hadn't happened.
"I always loved you, always will, and I don't doubt you, or at least not really… I think it's me, I doubt me because what if you found a better match; you're pretty amazing..." She shrugged and raised her hand in the air. "I mean, look at you, you could have pretty much every girl you want, somebody better than the one who's fucked up and scared."
Too fast for her, and almost making her loose her balance, Killian was in a sitting position, two strong arms around Emma to keep her up with him. "I just need you, I just want you." Cupping the back of her head, his lips ghosted over hers, trailing along her jaw. "I don't anyone else but you."
Taking her hand in his, Killian lifted it up to his lips, kissing her knuckles where a ring, his ring, was resting.
Emma melted in his arms, and this time she was the one to take him off guard, slamming her mouth over his, her tongue seeking entrance he quickly gave her, her arms locked tightly around his neck; he was gasping for breath but God he didn't care because she was there and she wasn't leaving.
They needed time and they would be fine.
"For someone so repulsed by my lips and how I taste, you seem to be really enjoying kissing me."
"Just shut up", Emma laughed, kissing him again. "I think this is the moment when you take me to our", she stressed the word, "bedroom."
"I think I like the sound of that", Killian gasped, "So this is our home?"
"Ours, and I'm yours to take", Emma replied, not letting him answer back, sealing his lips in a searing kiss, showing him how much she was done with talking for now.
And to make sure her words weren't just thrown in the air, he quickly lifted her up, holding her above him, her hair falling around them as she laughed that bright and clear laugh, making his heart grow bigger, making him wish he never had to let go of that light moment.
Her legs wrapped around his waist, Killian carried her to their bedroom, loving the new idea of calling it theirs, although he had never thought of it differently; he settled her down in the middle of the bed and hovered above her, claiming her lips as his, his hand ghosting over her side as his lips found her neck, nipping and sucking her skin, unconsciously wishing to leave a mark on it.
Emma's hands wrapped around his neck and brought him on top of her, her legs tightening around him and pulling him even closer, needing to create that so infuriating friction they both craved for. Her hands, making themselves sneaky, disappeared under his shirt and soon after Killian tossed it across the room.
Since they had found their way back to each other, they had made love countless times, but Killian still couldn't help the amazed look on his face every time he saw her naked in front of him, bare in every way possible, trusting him with everything she had and not wishing to hide anything from him.
He wasn't scared of hearing her saying those three words, not anymore, not when he now knew they didn't equal a goodbye, or a sorry, feeling his heart skipping a beat each time she said them.
"Killian, are you going to just stare?" Emma asked breathlessly, nails digging into his shoulders, her back arching in an attempt to connect them more, to touch more, to feel all of him; Killian obeyed and pinned her against the bed.
"Maybe I just want to look at you."
"Why?" Emma cried out, her breath stuck in her throat. "There's no reason for you to stare when you can… just… touch."
"Aren't you a demanding lass", Killian laughed, kissing her and stroking the corners of her mouth with his tongue, pulling away just before she had a chance to deepen the exchange. "I love you and I'm just admiring this beautiful lass of mine."
"Do you still doubt it?" Emma looked at him with seriousness, her hands closing around the material of his shirt, her brows coming together in a scowl.
"What? You being mine?" Killian supported himself on his elbow so he wasn't crushing her with his weight. "Well, I can't say I take you for granted, I never will", he said absentmindedly, staring off into space as he played with her hair. "Not with our past."
"Don't", Emma lifted her chin up. "Don't think about the past. Think about the future."
"I thought we said we'd take things slowly", his tone was light and amused, his hand gripping her hip.
"I know", Emma kissed his jaw, "but I also just told you we could move in together, and that's not taking it slowly."
"Yeah, but just as you said, it's not like we didn't live together in the past."
"It's good to know you listen to me when I speak."
"So how about we think about the future then?" Killian kissed the tip of her nose. "What do you have planned for us, Swan?"
"Hmmm", she rested a finger against her mouth. "Right now", her leg went higher on his hip, "I have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen."
"Minx", Killian groaned, kissing the corner of her lips, not more, wanting to drag it out as long as possible, because he didn't want the moment to end… but then again, it wasn't meant to end, not ever.
"I think… I think I want to marry you, one day, when the time is right, of course", Emma looked down, focusing her attention on his shirt or was it his chest? It was hard to tell with her almost shy gaze avoiding his all of sudden. Who would have thought she would be so thrilled to get married so quickly. "It's not about the whole reception or even the dress or anything, it's about you and me, together in front of the world, you know? That's what I want for us, in the near future."
"Oh, but look at you, Swan, are you so eager to marry me?" Killian nuzzled her neck with kisses, tracing a burning line with his tongue along her shoulder, nipping at her collarbone, his hands going behind her back, pressing her against him when Emma arched her back, his hips bucking forward.
"Or maybe I just want you to get rid of these pants quickly", she tugged at his belt breathlessly.
"Don't change the subject."
"Get on with it." Emma replied with the same tone, and Killian let her roll him on his back.
"I love you."
"I know", Killian leaned in, kissing her before his hands went under her shirt.
"Emma, hurry up, we're going to be late", Killian called from the tiny bathroom of their apartment, careful not to cut himself with the razor, pressing it gently against his neck.
"You better not shave off too much."
Chuckling, Killian dropped the razor on the counter, not bothering to clean up the shaving foam on his face and walked to the bedroom, where Emma was getting ready for the party Ruby had organized. He walked to the room with a calm step, but he stopped dead in his tracks the moment he passed the doorframe.
His jaw dropped when he saw Emma standing in front of the mirror, a red dress she was wearing flattering her curves and showing a decent amount of her back, her golden hair curling on her shoulders. She was a real marvel to watch; you would think that after years of knowing each other, they would have stopped surprising each other, or that looks wouldn't matter that much, the two of them falling into a depressing routine, but Emma Swan soon-to-be-fiancé Jones, was the proof that surprises could happen every day.
"I hope you're done shaving", she commented, applying a generous dose of mascara, the ghost of a smile threatening to curl on her lips even though she still hadn't turned around; it was barely fair the effect she had on him.
Red was definitely her color.
"Hmmm, I don't know", he stroked his scruff. "Maybe I should shave off the whole thing, you know. Change is good."
"So maybe I should change too", Emma said enigmatically, pressing her lips together in a thin line. "The underwear and the bra, as expensive as they are…" her eyes widened comically, but she was still not turning around to face him, "aren't really comfortable."
"Yes, oh", Emma finally turned on her heel, tilting her head to the side, a victorious smile on her lips. "So you, don't, shave." She ordered, feeling more than happy with herself for playing that trick on him.
And Gods knew she was good at that.
"Is that so important?" Killian laughed, feeling so free at the moment that he forgot how late they were to the party, his own party, but even the mental image of Ruby threatening him with a butter knife didn't change his way of thinking.
"It is to me", Emma pouted, giving him a puppy face worth of Grace's.
"So lingerie?" He arched a brow and took a step forward, trying to see through the thin material of her dress if what she was saying was true. Hard to say when she was looking at him in a shameless way, coming to him quickly, her hands finding their way around his neck.
"Happy birthday", she sang before pressing her mouth against his, Killian's arms going around her waist, pulling her against him just a little bit more; he kept the kiss soft and calm, just their lips moving against each other, making his whole mind start buzzing.
"You still have foam on your face", Emma whispered, eyes still closed when she broke the kiss, a finger tracing the edge of his jaw to show him that it was full of foam before she pressed it to his nose; she laughed and Killian wiped it off quickly. "Go clean yourself; we have to leave for the party, Ruby and Victor are waiting for us."
"I know", Killian said against her shoulder, kissing a path of open-mouthed kisses along her collarbone. "This is the best happy birthday I could wish for."
"Really?" Emma looked almost shocked; it was endearing and unnerving at the same time, how a part of her couldn't believe the effect she had on him. "It hasn't even started."
"I would say it has indeed," he said, shutting her up with a kiss and tangling his fingers in her hair, never ceasing to be amazed by its soft texture. "Best birthday ever."
"Well, I hope the rest will be worth it", she tried to hide her anxiety with a laugh, but Killian didn't miss it.
"Well, let me see", his hand wandered over her back, brushing over the straps of her bra through her dress, the other hand going to her leg and under the hem of her dress.
"Killian...", Emma warned, but still didn't do anything to stop him, not even when his hand went up, pushing the dress higher on her hips.
"Well, this is definitely worth it", Killian whispered in her ear, kissing the skin just under it, his fingers playing with her panties. "Laces?"
"I know you."
"You definitely do", Killian kissed her cheek, his hand coming from under her dress. "I still can't believe it."
Taking a deep breath, Killian shook his head, brushing a strand of hair off her shoulder, admiring for a minute the way her cheeks had colored so prettily. "You being here, for my birthday."
"Is that so hard to believe?" She leaned in to kiss his jaw, her hand cupping his bicep and pulling his arm around her. "As if I would miss it; it's your birthday."
"A few months ago, you would have", Killian said absentmindedly, rubbing her back gently, not wanting to ruin the moment with dark thoughts; he didn't bother explaining himself more, just focusing on the way she felt in his arms. But still, a part of him didn't seem to want to shut up, telling him that if she hadn't changed her mind, she would have probably been on her honeymoon by now, with her new husband.
"Hey", Emma framed his face between her palms. "I'm here, I'm not going anywhere."
"You better not; I still have to see what's under this dress", he kissed her, trying to stop that trail of thought; if anything, she had promised to marry him one day.
She wasn't going anywhere.
Emma poked him in the arm gently, and Killian was almost sure she had noticed the hurt in his eyes, but he was grateful that she decided to make them move on instead of lingering on it.
"Alright big boy; good things come to those who wait so let's go. We have a birthday to celebrate."
"Lead the way, lass."
Ruby had been more than welcoming, jumping around as the excited bird she was, embracing Emma tightly when they showed up while Victor patted Killian's shoulder with a dry smile. "I share your pain", said his expression as he invited him to come with him to the living room, talking about everything and nothing at the same time; life with Ruby, as scary as it had seemed at first had turned out to be fairly easy.
Victor was enjoying this new life, and he was happy to be able to share this new happiness with Killian without having to hold back.
His friend asked him how his life was going, and how he felt now that Emma was back in his life; sure, it had been months since they got together again, but still Victor felt the need to ask him about it every time they saw each other, as if a part of him still feared to see his friend breaking down, and that this time, he wouldn't be able to put him back together.
Killian told him nothing but the truth every time; he was genuinely happy, enjoying his time with Emma, and despite what his friend seemed to think, they weren't back at the beginning. Yes they made compromises, they tried and fought, but in the end, even if it wasn't easy every day, he and Emma managed to make it work; love, at the end of the day, ended up by being the most important thing.
Nodding, Victor took the speech as he always did, in silence, changing the subject quickly. Killian looked around and noticed a familiar head among the guests; it was crazy how many people Ruby had invited and even crazier how she had managed to make them all fit in that apartment.
Jefferson was here with his new girlfriend, Alice, and it was about time the man got over his dead wife; she was smiling up at him with affection, the man's eyes shining with hope that both Victor and Killian hadn't seen in a long time.
Gesturing for them to come closer, Jefferson stood up to meet them, Alice's hand in his. "Guys, I want you to meet Alice, she's my girlfriend. Alice, this is Killian-"
"I'm with his sister", Killian cut him off, pointing a finger at Emma who was animatedly talking to Ruby.
"Right, he's my sister's boyfriend and this is Vi-"
"Victor, I'm with his sister's best friend, but you already know that", Victor rubbed his forehead. "Drinks anyone?" He clapped his hands, taking the requests before leaving them to talk, a heavy silence falling over them right away.
"Killian Jones, so it's your birthday?" Alice questioned with a friendly smile. "Happy birthday, then, although it's not really common to be late to your own party."
"I was… kind of busy", Killian said with a smile, not able to stop himself from glancing at Emma once again.
"Ew, please, I don't want to know", Jefferson grimaced, waving his hands in front of him, almost putting them over his ears. "It's my sister we're talking about."
"Sorry, buddy, but she asked", Killian chuckled, taking the drink that Victor offered him and taking a long sip of it, his eyes darting to Emma more than they should… and then Killian remembered that there was nothing wrong with that, that he didn't have to feel bad for looking at her, not when she was smiling back with a bright grin, all his.
"Ew, this is disgustingly sweet", Victor complained, shaking his head. "Look at him, head over heels for Swan. I don't know what I prefer, you miserable because of her, or you happy and disgustingly sweet with her."
"Rude", Killian rolled his eyes, taking another sip of his rum. "It's my birthday, remember? Be nice and cool it down, would you?"
"Yeah right, happy birthday, buddy", Victor gave him a punch on the shoulder, earning him a playful right hook form Killian.
"Hey hey boys, watch the carpet, it's new", his best friend stopped him, holding his hands in front of him.
"Jeff was right, you really are like three musketeers", Alice commented, watching them with endearment. "Oh, by the way, you got news from Graham, right? It's Graham? Your other friend?"
"Smooth, so smooth", Victor laughed while Killian clenched his jaw.
He hadn't managed to get Graham on the phone, no matter how many times he had called or how many messages he left.
It was only fair, Killian thought; what had happened had been quite hard to accept.
Time was what they all needed to put the past behind them and move on.
Still, Killian found himself missing his friend a little more every day.
"Yeah", Jefferson trailed off, shooting Killian a worried look, making him roll his eyes even more; why did everyone have to act as if he was made of sugar? It was even more upsetting today because Killian hadn't felt this good in months.
"He calls me quite often."
"Nice to see that his phone still works", Killian said between his teeth, finishing his drink in one gulp.
"Don't hold it against him; he's worried and he's trying to get over this whole mess. Give him time. You know, when he calls, he always asks me the same thing."
"And I'm supposed to guess what?" Killian said, pissed off a little with everything happening right now when they should just enjoy the party, and not understanding why was his friend suddenly trying to make him feel guilty about something he had tried to make right anyway.
It wasn't his fault if some people had issues with picking up the goddamn phone.
"He always asks me if you and Emma are engaged."
"Well, you can tell him he can pick up the phone himself and ask me if it's the case, but no, we aren't engaged."
"Are you sure about that?" Alice arched a brow. "Ruby told me Emma has a pretty nice engagement ring-"
"On her right hand; we are not engaged." Killian corrected her. "Not yet, and this is between Emma and me."
"But you gave her a ring", Jefferson commented, making Killian breath out loudly, revealed that Emma was too busy with Ruby in the kitchen to notice them talking about her. The last thing he needed was Emma freaking out because he mentioned their non-engagement deal, and of course, misunderstanding what he meant when he said that they weren't engaged.
"I gave her a ring, yes, but we're not engaged, not yet; it will come in time. But this isn't the point", Killian dropped the glass on the table. "Look, I know Graham is hurt by this situation, but if he wants to know about me or Emma, he can just pick up his phone and answer my calls."
"Killian…", Victor tried to calm him down, shooting a disapproving look at Jefferson.
"I'm just saying that Graham is worried", Jefferson defended himself and wrapped an arm around Alice's waist.
"Where's Grace?" Killian tried to change the subject, looking around searching for the little girl.
"She's at my parents'; I'm sorry, I know you wish she was there, but it's school day", Jefferson replied calmly, his tone changing into something softer at the thought of his daughter.
"Sure", Killian breathed out, the whole turn of the conversation getting to him more than he had wished. It was hard to hide the disappointment in his voice, because it had been a while since he had seen Grace, the little girl doing more than great at school from what Emma had told him; she had been more than excited and thrilled when Emma had told her about them.
Waving at his friends, Killian left them to go on the balcony, letting the fresh air of the cold night fill his lungs; there was a packet of smokes somewhere in the house because Victor hadn't stopped smoking despite what Ruby had to say. If Killian found it he wouldn't complain because he needed it dearly.
Approaching the rail of the balcony, the cold metal almost burning his hands and he rested against it, Killian took a deep breath, trying to push away the guilt spreading through his veins; it wasn't as if he had done anything wrong. He and Emma had made a choice to try again; they had chosen each other because it was the only right thing to do.
So why did he feel like this, like his lungs were failing him, every breath difficult to come by?
Jefferson's tone had implied that he had messed up, which was surprising since his friend had always been there for him; this sudden change of mood and opinion was more than surprising, taking Killian completely off guard. While he had gone through his personal hell with Emma leaving him, Jefferson had been there for him, helping him get through it, never giving him any hope but not breaking it either; he had been supportive.
Obviously, Killian hadn't expected this kind of behavior from him.
Rubbing his forehead, he tried to stop thinking about it because the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to light one of those fucking smokes, wherever they were.
Funny thing, for June, the sky was quite heavy and threatening to break apart at any moment, the air full of moisture; Killian could almost see tiny drops in the darkness of the night. Sighing, he bent down, resting his forearms against the trail, angrily rubbing his temple and trying to fix the mess in his head; he needed to go back to the party.
Two arms found their way around his waist and a head rested against his shoulder, taking him by surprise; he hadn't heard her coming.
"What's wrong? You left the party", Emma said, worried making her tighten the already tight embrace around him, her lips kissing his shoulder. "You seem preoccupied."
Shifting in her arms, Killian faced her and pressed a gentle kiss on her forehead. "Don't worry, love, it's fine."
"Liar", Emma called him out gently, cupping his cheek and forcing him to look her in the eyes. "Tell me what's wrong."
Killian's lips parted but no sound left them; he was too tired, too drained by this constant back and forth, he wanted this to work for good without any ghosts from their past coming back to haunt them. Tangling his fingers in her hair, not caring at this moment if he was messing with her hairstyle or not, Killian pressed his cheek against the top of her head, inhaling her scent, his racing heart eventually slowing down, Emma's arms never unlocking or loosening their embrace.
She didn't say anything, giving him this, a safe embrace and a safe place to rest his head for a while, or maybe for longer than that because who knew what was waiting for them; her nose brushed along his neck gently as she breathed him in just like Killian was doing with her.
"Killian, you're scaring me, tell me what's wrong", she murmured, her words muffled against his shirt; just like him, Emma didn't seem to care about their absence from the party, and it made him smile.
Pulling back just so he could look at her, Killian told her about his worries, about Graham and how he had tried to call him, how he had tried to put together the pieces of a friendship he missed every day, how he was hurt after her brother's words, how Graham was worried about them getting engaged; he didn't hold back anything, watching her take every sentence with grace and strength, her eyes seeking his as he spoke; she smiled at him, encouraging him silently to say everything he needed.
"I'm tired of feeling like people see me as the guy who stole you from your fiancé", Killian finished, caressing Emma's arms gently as he looked over her shoulder, not wanting to see what was on her mind, knowing that the moment they locked eyes, he would read her like an open book.
The truth was, he was still scared. Much like she was not so long ago.
It was Emma who forced him to look at her, squeezing his hand in her, pressing her forehead against his to make him meet her eyes.
"Hey", she called softly, her voice feeling like a caress. "First of all, I'm not a possession; no one gets to steal me."
Her reply made him smile a little; Gods he loved that lass and her spirit.
"And two, if anything, you stole my heart five years ago, Killian, and if anything, we belong with each other."
Her features were nothing but tender and forgiving, but mostly loving, loving him.
And that realization, even after all this time, still managed to amaze him, taking him off guard.
Killian was about to say something when Emma took both of his hands in hers and pressed them against her heart. "Come with me."
He arched a brow, "Where do you want to go?"
"It's a surprise", she replied with a playful and challenging smile on her delicious lips, winking at him. "Come on, it's just a surprise!" Emma said, locking her arms around his neck.
"We just arrived", Killian tried to reason with her, but his whole body and system reacted to her instantly, his arms pressing her against him; he would never stop craving for her touch or for their closeness.
"I know, but come on, I have something for you", Emma kissed the corner of his mouth, her nails running up and down his back. "Come with me."
"You know this is my party, right?"
"I know, but this is my boyfriend", she shot back. "I can't wait anymore."
"Ohhh", Killian arched a brow appreciatively, his hands wandering over her back and playing with the material of her dress.
"Not that", Emma laughed, poking him in the ribs. "It's another gift."
"It's almost raining outside", Killian tried to resist, but he knew it was only a matter of minutes before he gave up and took her wherever she wanted.
"Since when are you afraid of a storm?"
There was defiance hidden behind her words, a teasing smile dancing on her lips as the wind brushed against her cheeks, giving them that lovely red color; cupping her cheek, Killian pressed a quick kiss on her mouth, giving up on trying to be the reasonable one and giving in, accepting to just drop the party.
"Never", he whispered against her lips, Emma shaking her head before guiding him out of the apartment.
They didn't even bother to explain themselves to the people shooting them questioning looks as Emma and Killian passed by them.
They were alone.
It was storming like crazy outside but Emma didn't seem to care; their clothes were soaked but neither of them complained because there was something timeless and totally reckless in this moment, something Killian wouldn't give up for the world.
Emma's hair was sticking to her face and neck, her fingers wrapped around his tightly as if, just like him, she was afraid to lose him in the storm.
As if he would ever let go.
"What is it you want to give me that couldn't wait, love?" Killian chuckled, tugging on her hand to make her twirl around and land in his arms; Emma had taken them to a beach not very far away from the party.
If he didn't know her better, Killian would say Emma was getting soft, and worse, even romantic.
"Can't you just wait?" Emma pouted, their clothes stinking to their skin but still not a real issue for either of them, their lips finding each other as they walked in the direction of the sea.
"With this wet dress, I wonder where you could keep that present you are so desperate to give me, love", Killian said with amusement face, kissing her nose and walking her backward toward the ocean; Emma let him do so, their shoes tossed away a long time ago.
God knew they didn't care.
"Maybe you should try to find it."
"Don't tease the devil, Swan."
"You're far from being the devil, Killian", Emma said with all the seriousness of the world, her eyes shining brightly.
Killian was spellbound, his mouth dry from everything he was feeling and seeing, all his senses telling him the same thing.
It was right, this love, as all-consuming and immense as it was.
Nothing had ever felt so right. Nothing. No other place or the time would ever feel righter than this, the two of them together on the beach, near the sea, Emma laughing, her smile bright and her eyes shining in the night; thankfully it was hot enough that they weren't freezing despite being wet to the bones.
"Do you remember that night?" Emma asked him cheerfully, locking her arms around his neck, not caring about the waves making their clothes even wetter than they already were.
"What night? What are you talking about?" Killian answered back with as much passion as she had put in her words, feeling like they were alone on Earth, walking by the sea; he pushed away the worries and doubts of the last few months, love being the only thing that remained, the only thing worth fighting for.
"The night, that night, when it all started."
He hadn't been sure she would show up. After all, a kiss wasn't a promise, it was only a maybe, something you shot at the sky, something you think in a moment but forget the second after. A kiss, lips pressed against each other, bodies melting at the touch of the other, eyes meeting eyes, soul finding soul. Emma, her name he still remembered from that almost mystic night, had told him to meet her on this very same beach.
Who knew if she would come.
It had been stupid of him, or that was what his friends had told him; it was just a chick, nothing more. And yet, Killian couldn't shake the feeling that something incredible had happened that night, something that hadn't stopped lingering within him, something powerful and waiting to grow, a feeling, a sensation, something his own instinct, usually so careful and calculated, told him to go for without questioning it.
There was no time for that.
And eventually, under the sky of the light night, Emma appeared, hair curling in the air as the wind played a wild dance with her golden locks, wearing shorts with a white tank top; she had hesitantly walked to him, the wildness of the previous day behind them, a new shyness between them, the lack of their walls taking them both by surprise.
They were not familiar, they didn't know each other, they were nothing but strangers who had happened to exchange a kiss in the cold water of the sea, but still, Killian could remember all too well the saltiness of that kiss and the way her lips had felt, so alive under his, and the texture of her hair, wet or dry, sand in it or not, between his fingers.
There was something between them; without talking, without touching, just by the simple meeting of their eyes, they had unwrapped the layers of clothes, and he had seen her, afraid and scared in a way nobody should ever be, her scars matching his, the pain in her eyes finding an echo in his.
Killian didn't know how long it lasted, this whole staring game, this challenging look Emma was giving him to go for it, to break the silence, to dare take the first step; something in her eyes had lit a fire within him, powerful, threatening to spread through his veins quicker than Killian could have ever imagined.
He would fall hard for this woman. Hard and without any will to stop the fall at the last moment.
There wouldn't be coming back from this.
And answering the muted challenge in Emma's eyes, Killian had pulled her in a searing kiss, slamming his lips and body against hers, sealing his fate with hers this very second, Emma answering the kiss with equal fervor, melting in his embrace and pulling him closer, seeking entrance to his mouth, into his life, and his heart, something Killian gave her without an second of hesitation, giving to her as much as she was giving to him, leaving promises at the corners of his mouth, tracing them on his skin with the tips of her nails.
Flashes, bright and irradiating, passed behind his lids, colors and love, promise and hope filling his whole body, his system, poisoning his mind and every thought.
No coming back.
It didn't matter if there was or not; Killian didn't want it anyway.
Minutes, seconds, hours or years passed between them, he knew her, she knew him and it was all they needed. What they had sought their whole life, something they still couldn't grasp or put into words, too scared to call it anything yet, but still willing to give in, because neither of them was ready to let this feeling go.
And as they sat in the sand, Emma wrapped in his arms while he embraced her from behind, her back against his chest, they just breathed and remained silent, taking this moment for what it was, unnamed, fragile and ephemeral, Killian's hands caressing their way up and down her arms, fingers brushing gently over her shoulders and wandering over her neck, playing with the necklace she wore.
"What is this?" Killian wondered against her ear, grinning when he felt her tense at the caress of his breath on her skin.
"A swan, a keychain someone gave me a long time ago", Emma answered quickly, kissing his arm before resting her head against it.
"Does it have a special significance for you?" He dared to ask, not really caring about manners or what was right; he didn't really have the impression that the conventional rules applied to them.
"Curious, aren't you?"
"Mysterious much?" Killian shot back, brushing his nose along her cheek.
Emma laughed, a melodic song that he had learned to laugh with almost immediately, and she had surprised him by telling him the truth when he had expected her to remain closed up; the infuriating lass that she was she opened up to him, caressing his arm absentmindedly.
"It's an old thing someone gave me, a long time ago, before leaving, I… I keep it as a reminder never to let myself trust anyone."
"Strange trinket," Killian commented, tightening his embrace; his words made it sound like it wasn't important, but he could feel from the way her shoulders tensed and imagine the way her brows frowned together because this wasn't an easy part of her story that she was used to telling just anyone.
"Not a happy ending."
"Is it?" He cocked his head to meet her gaze; she avoided it at first but soon yielded to him and showed him her eyes, or what is her heart? He couldn't quite tell, the green color of her eyes messing way too much with his head for him to be able to tell.
"Is it what?" Emma looked confused, her fingers tapping on his forearms at his question.
"Not a happy ending means an end, so I'm asking you, is it an end?"
Her lips parted, no words coming from her; she was looking at him spellbound and frozen. Shaking his head, Killian stood up, gripping her hand and answering her silent question; she had thought that he was leaving her after such a confession. Walking and guiding her into the sea, Killian turned around to take her in his arms, the matter of personal space forgotten.
"I have an idea", Killian started, his hands going to her waist and keeping her steady, his back to the waves that were hitting him from behind. "Take off the keychain."
"Excuse me?" She was puzzled; Emma obviously didn't expect him to ask her to do such a thing, her fingers going to her chain and closing around the swan as if she was protecting it, or herself.
"You could try something new", Killian pulled her a little bit closer. "It's called trust."
"I heard that before", her walls seemed to be up again, coldness not only taking over her body and making her freeze, but her whole expression hardening too.
"Not from me."
"What makes you think I want anything to do with you?" Emma shot back sharply, earning herself a smile from Killian who was more than pleased by the new challenge she was; there was something about the way she bit with her nails and teeth, her lips then curling into a fragile smile, letting him in before pulling away.
"Who said it was about me, love?" Killian rose a brow and gave her a devilish smile. "This is just about you."
"Why do you care?" Her question wasn't meant to be said on a rough tone, but still, there was something in her voice that sounded like a surprise, as if it was impossible for someone to care about her that way.
"Does it matter if I do?"
The fact that he kept answering her questions with another question, pulling her out of her comfort zone gave her pause, but something changed in the back of her eyes, something burning deep down in her searching for a way out. Slowly but without hesitation, Emma's hands went behind her neck, reaching for the clasp and undoing it before handing him the necklace.
Taking it in his hand, Killian examined the object, a swan marked on a white stone, something simple, but still precious to her judging by the way she was biting her lip staring at the jewel with a sad expression.
"Throw it away."
Lifting an interrogating gaze at him, Emma took the keychain back, walking around Killian and facing the sea, her hand closing into a fist around the heavy necklace, nails digging in.
"Killian…", she called, using his name for the first time, looking over her shoulder at him, seeking his support which he gave her without thinking, embracing her from behind, his hand wandering over her arm to reach her fist, his fingers caressing her knuckles gently.
"Let go", he whispered, resting his chin on her shoulder, his arm around her keeping her steady as she pulled her arm behind her before throwing the necklace to the ocean with all her strength; the water swallowed it hungrily, taking away the last reminder of something lost a long time ago.
"How could I ever forget that night", Killian answered after a while. "You were bloody gorgeous, brilliant."
Emma buried her nose in his chest, nuzzling his neck playfully. "You always say that", she chuckled and Killian tangled his fingers in her hair, tugging on it gently to make her look at him.
"Maybe because it's true."
"Or because you want to know what I have for you under the dress", Emma snapped back, poking him in the ribs and pulling him closer to the sea, her expression going from humor to seriousness in a bare second. "You made me throw away my keychain."
"Aye, I did", he caressed the side of her face, from her temple to her chin, his gaze going from her eyes to her lips when he rested his forehead against hers. "Trust."
"Try something new", Emma repeated, as if she had learned the words by heart as a mantra; maybe she had, but even if he asked, Killian knew she wouldn't tell him. "It's called trust."
"Who would have thought you were listening to me that day", Killian teased her, kissing her briefly before breathing out again. "I'm glad you listened to me."
"I'm glad you waited."
Pulling away, Emma unlocked her arms from around his neck to find something hidden in her bra, shooting him a death glare to stop him from commenting on it. Reluctantly, Killian kept quiet, but didn't stop himself from looking at her, wanting.
She was always full of surprises; he had known that from the beginning, just like he knew he would fall hard for her and never get up.
"A long time ago, or not so long, I don't really remember or care, you made me throw away my keychain, the one that Neal had given me", Emma told him, not even flinching at the mention of her ex-lover. "Something that I kept as a reminder not to let myself trust anyone."
Letting her finish, Killian caressed her forearm, not quite sure what to expect from her, but still not finding himself afraid of it.
"I know we said we should take things slowly, that maybe it's too soon, but…", she trailed off, her eyes seeking his, needing his support once more; Killian cupped her cheek instantly and brushed his thumb over her skin, his breath dancing on her lips and making her loose her trail of thought for a moment. "But… You're scared, I know you are, and I don't want you to be, because this", a smile, genuine and cheerful appeared on her lips, "this is to stay, you and me." Emma repeated the same words he had given to her on another beach, handing him something; she opened her palms slowly, and offered to his eyes a necklace with a silver band at the end of it.
"Are you putting a knee in the water for me Swan?" Killian joked, not quite sure what to say, completely taken by surprise and happy at the same time.
"In your dreams, Jones", she almost stuck out her tongue at him. "You will, but until then, this is your reminder."
"Thank you", Killian murmured, kissing her and ignoring the necklace for a brief moment, smiling through the kiss as Emma draped her arms around him, more than aware that his words sounded more like an I love you this time.
"Help me put in on", Emma whimpered against his lips and Killian lowered himself to help her lock the necklace around his neck; she pressed a kiss on his chest once she was done, right above his heart.
"So, does this mean I'm your soon to be fiancé?" Killian couldn't help but laugh, breathing in deeply Emma's perfume and the sea, though those two things were the same for him. If he was her sea, she was his as well.
They belonged there.
Next to the sea.
In each other's arms.
"Aye, you are."
I'm so emotional that this story is over now, it was an amazing ride with all of you, thank you so much for your support and your messages/reviews/favoriting/following/etc.. it meant a lot for me. You got an idea of their lives, how they are working on their issues and how they are trying to find their happy ending, this was much happier than I expected, they weren't supposed to be so happy, but what can I say, if Killian is a sap, so am I.
Thank to Irene, Lexi, Montana, without you I wouldn't have made it until the end, for that, I can't find the words to thank you enough.
What the Water Gave me, the song that inspired the title, has been my background music until the end of this chapter, giving me the little something to finish it.
I will see you on Six Times Emma sneaks into Killian's cabins, and very soon with Of Seas and Sunflowers, my new story, and in Swallowed by the Sea, a projet and story I've started with Montanarosalie.