I'm back! I passed my test so my diploma is pretty much in the bag, I just need to defend my thesis on Monday and it's over. This story has been planned for months, and it came out quicker than anything I'd ever written before; the first draft is just 7 chapters from being complete, but since I have stuff to do this month I'll be updating every other day just to be sure. As for subject matter, it's another no magic AU; Emma is a ballerina, Killian is a pianist, Emma is dating Neal, Killian is having an affair with Milah, but since Emma and Killian are good friends (or so they try to tell themselves), when their dreams crumble they find the strength (and love) in each other. I hope you enjoy; it's going to be angsty, but also more fluffy than the rest of my fics.
Emma Swan walks into her morning class and drops her bag next to the wall of mirrors, sits on the floor and gets her pointe shoes on. While she's tying them she cranes her head around for Neal, but he's still nowhere in sight; she woke up to an empty bed and a note that said he had to go do something before class, and she's a little worried because the class is about to start and he's still not here.
"I think I saw him ducking into his father's office", Killian says from behind her and Emma grins, getting up and leaning against the barre next to him.
"What are you doing here?" She asks him, tilting her head to the side as tries to fix Killian's messy hair with her fingers; he looks like he'd just rolled out of bed, but in an entirely good way. Just friends, she tells herself and gives up on his hair, then lifts up her leg on the barre and starts stretching.
"Your pianist is sick. Again. I happened to be free this morning, so I'm stepping in", Killian says and Emma rolls her eyes.
"Couldn't they have found somebody else? You're too good for a ballet class and then when you're gone and we're back to Victor it takes us a week to readjust to his choppy playing", Emma complains, and Killian gives her a side-ways look, shaking his head at her.
"Victor isn't that bad and you know it. And besides, I missed you, lass. It's been a while since we talked", he says and Emma shrugs.
"I've been busy with Giselle; Neal needs a lot of rehearsals, otherwise he messes up and doesn't lift me properly. I love him and all, but I honestly can't understand how such a good dancer can be so bad at pas de deux", Emma says and stops herself before saying anything else unflattering about Neal because he'd never been Killian's favorite person in the world. "And it's not like it's only my fault; you've been busy with Milah-"
"Shhh", Killian cuts her off, looking around at the other dancers, but luckily they are too wrapped up in their warming ups to pay them any attention. "If Gold finds out, I'm dead."
"When are you going to stop seeing her?" Emma asks him, her voice betraying more concern than she'd like because she worries about him; having an affair with a married woman can be potentially bad for your health, especially if the husband in question is the most fierce ballet company director in the country.
"When are you going to break up with Neal?" Killian asks her with a wink and Emma switches legs, bending forward and resting her cheek against her knee.
"Neal isn't the one with a vindictive husband", Emma says and Killian smiles darkly.
"No, he's just the one with a vindictive father."
"Killian, I'm serious", Emma says, standing up straight and laying her hand on Killian's shoulder, meeting his eyes steadily, all traces of a playful smile gone. "Gold has a very bad reputation. There are stories."
"Are you telling me I should actually be afraid of a tiny ex-ballerina with a cane?" Killian says, widening his eyes comically and chuckling to himself. "Good one."
"Once he and some other dancer were up for the same role; I think it was Basilio in Don Quixote… anyway, do you know what happened to the other guy?"
"I'm sure you're going to tell me", Killian says dryly and Emma's hand tightens her grip on his shoulder.
"Somebody pushed him under the train. Gold was on the other side of town when it happened, but nobody believed it was just a coincidence, but since they couldn't prove it, Gold got the role. Milah was dancing Kitri and three years later they were married."
"That's a lovely tale, but I still don't believe he'd actually do anything if he found out about Milah and I", Killian says and Emma wants to hit him upside the head for being so stubborn.
"At least be careful", she tells him softly, shivering at the thought that something could happen to him.
"Danger is my middle name and you know it", Killian says and winks at her. "After all, how many pianists do you know that love good old-fashioned bar fights."
"Places", Madam Mills announces and everybody scrambles to comply. Emma shakes her head at Killian and wraps her fingers around the barre, watching him walk away and sit behind the piano; as soon as he touches the keys they both get lost in the music and for the next hour and a half neither thinks about anything else.
She dances the way he plays and the rest of the world just goes away.
It's twenty minutes until curtain call and twenty-five until Emma is supposed to come out of a cardboard house as Giselle, but she's still in her dressing room, wrestling on her dress and trying to simultaneously pin her hair into submission, all the while looking at a pregnancy test on her desk, waiting to find out if her and Neal are going to have a baby that's going to prompt him to finally propose to her. If Giselle and duke Albrecht are going to have a happy ending in real life, if not in tonight's ballet.
"Sorry for barging in, but Gold is with Milah and-", Killian says from behind her and she whirls around, trying to block his view of the pregnancy test. "You okay, there, lass?"
"I can't tie the laces by myself", she lies and turns around so he can do it for her, hoping that he's going to be too focused on his task to notice the test.
Killian's nimble fingers make quick work of the laces and a shiver races down Emma's spine, her body reacting to him despite her best efforts not to be affected. She tries to fight a blush and bites her lip, stepping away from him as soon as he's done.
"Emma", he says her name the way a friend shouldn't, but doesn't say anything else and she turns around to face him, finding him gaping at the pregnancy test. "You're pregnant?"
"I don't know yet", Emma says in a small voice, but for some unknown reason she feels much better now that he's here.
"What does a plus mean?" He asks her and Emma snatches the test from his hand to make sure he saw the sign on it right.
"It means I'm going to have a baby", Emma says, blinking back tears of joy, her mouth stretching into a big smile.
There's a strange look in Killian's eyes that almost looks like regret, but it's gone in an instant and she convinces herself it was never there in the first place.
"Congratulations", Killian says and pulls her into a hug; Emma relaxes against him, wiping her wet cheek against his shoulder, smiling to herself when he tells her that she's going to be the best mother in the world because he reads her so well and always soothes her fears so damn easily.
Killian's voice in her ear and his kiss upon her temple feel better than they should considering the fact that soon she's going to marry Neal and have his baby, but now that she knows she's pregnant, she can blame her body's reaction on hormones. She pulls away and straightens Killian's bow tie, taking his hand and tugging him toward the door before they are both late for curtain call.
Killian digs in his heels and she turns to look at him, her breath hitching in her throat when he lays his palm against her still perfectly flat stomach.
"I'm happy for you, lass", he says, his eyes like two oceans she could get lost in so easily, and she entwines their fingers; she doesn't know why, but this moment feels incredibly bittersweet.
What she doesn't know yet, is that it's the last time he touches her with that hand.
Emma is so distracted she misses a few cues, but luckily it's nothing big and most of the audience doesn't notice; Neal is pissed off at her so she decides to wait and tell him about the baby after the show.
Since it's their closing night, there's a party that everybody in the company attends, and Emma spends twenty minutes looking for Neal. She finally finds him sulking in a corner and sits down next to him, giving him champagne as a peace offering.
"Do you want to hear why I was distracted tonight?" She asks him meekly and he downs the champagne before turning toward her, giving her a quick grin before he speaks.
"I have something to tell you first", he says and Emma wraps her arm around his shoulders and scoots closer to hear him better over the clattering of plates and an entire company talking at the same time.
"So tell me", she nudges him gently when he hesitates, a bad feeling coming over her because he can't quite meet her eyes.
"I'm leaving for Canada next week. The National wants me", he adds as an afterthought, looking at her with an expectant expression. "Say something."
Emma can't believe her ears. They've been living together for two years, danced together for four, and he did not mention anything about switching companies, much less moving to another country altogether.
"I don't understand", she says softly, searching his face for some sign that he's just kidding, that he's not really leaving her the way everybody else always does.
"It's a chance of a lifetime, Emma. I love you, and I'm sorry, but I just can't pass it up", he says as if that makes it all okay, as if it's perfectly normal to choose your career over the person you supposedly love.
"What about us?" Emma asks him, her voice shaking and her head rushing; she feels like she's watching them from outside herself, and realizes that Neal is trying not to grin as he tells her that he's sure he can find her a spot in the corps if she wants to come with him.
Emma lets go of him and stands up on shaky legs, looking down at him and finding that she doesn't even know him, that the man she had loved for the past few years exists only in her mind, and Neal is nothing like him, not if he can do this to her.
"I'm not going to go back to swaying in the background, Neal", she tells him and he cracks a smile he thinks is charming, not realizing he's just breaking her heart further. "Not for somebody who didn't even have the decency to tell me that he'd gotten an offer from another company and that he's going to accept it."
"I just told you", Neal says, standing up and looking at her like she's the one being irrational.
"Yeah, when it's already a done deal", Emma yells, gathers her coat and purse and storms away, shaking with anger as she tries to wade through the crowd and find the door leading out because she's desperate for fresh air.
Neal catches up to her when she finally exits the opera house, cold air like a slap on her flushed face.
"I didn't want you to freak out the way you're doing now, so I postponed the talk", Neal says and her lips press into a thin line as she shrugs on her coat and lifts her hand up to call the cab.
"You are a coward, and from now on I don't want you to talk to me at all. I'll come to pick up my stuff from your apartment tomorrow", Emma says, her voice like ice, her stomach turning when it hits her that she's going to have to raise their baby alone.
"Emma, come on. Be reasonable. Where are you going to sleep tonight?"
"I'd rather sleep in a cardboard box than next to you", she spits at him and breathes a sigh of relief when a cab finally separates itself from the traffic and parks next to her. "We are done."
Emma opens the door and gets inside, gives the cabbie Killian's address and breaks down, her shoulders shaking with heart-wrenching sobs; just a few hours ago she was on top of the world and now there's nowhere to go but up.
And Neal had never asked what was it that she wanted to tell him.
Emma rings Killian's doorbell but nobody answers so she waits in front of his building until an old lady from the fifth floor comes out and holds the door open for her, giving her a kind smile and telling her that whatever's wrong, she's going to feel better once she talks to Killian.
"Thank you", Emma says and gives her a watery smile, wishing that this is the kind of thing Killian could actually fix.
As the elevator takes her up Emma tries to figure out if she had seen Killian at the party at all, but she's pretty sure he wasn't there. She did see Gold and Milah together, and it probably made Killian duck out as soon as possible and go have a drink on his own.
"Where are you, Killian?" Emma says and knocks on his door one more time; she's so glad that he had showed her where his spare key is so now she can stand on tiptoes and take it from the top of the door frame, unlock his apartment and slip inside.
She goes straight to the living room, drops down on the couch and kicks off her shoes, her feet killing her after all those hops on pointe she had to do tonight.
All her calls to Killian go straight to his voice mail and she starts crying again, feeling so alone and hopeless; she's ready to put her career on hold for Neal's baby, and it hurts so much to know that he was never ready to do the same for her.
Emma curls up on the couch and cries herself to sleep, wishing Killian were here so he can tell her that she's going to be okay because she had never needed to hear it more than she does now.
Emma's cell phone wakes her up at half past three in the morning and she says Killian's name as soon as she picks up, rubbing sleep from her eyes and belatedly realizing that it could be Neal calling her to apologize and tell her that he had changed his mind about leaving.
It's neither of them.
"Is this Emma Swan?" A calm female voice asks and Emma sits up straighter, pushing her curls out of her eyes.
"Yes", Emma replies, holding her breath and telling herself that just because it's the middle of the night, it doesn't automatically mean that this is something bad.
"You're Killian Jones' emergency contact, so I'm calling to inform you that he'd just been admitted to the hospital."
Emma shoots up from the couch and puts on her shoes, already running for the door, all thoughts of Neal and Emma's uncertain future vanishing into thin air because Killian is hurt.
"What happened? Is he going to be okay? Which hospital?" Emma asks, quickly locking the door and slipping the key in her purse before taking the stairs because she doesn't have the patience to wait for the elevator.
"I can't give you any information over the phone. He was conscious when they brought him in and currently he's in surgery."
"Surgery?" Emma asks in a small voice because although this is not the first time she had gotten a call like this, it's the first time it's something serious.
The woman gives her the address and promises her more information in person, and Emma's hands are shaking as she hails a cab and climbs inside, telling herself that Killian is going to be okay.
She's broken already and she needs him to pick up the pieces, and he can't do that if he's broken too.