The air in her bedroom felt heavy and damp, but Emma Swan wasn't letting a warm spring night like this get away from her. Too often growing up, she had spent time arguing with her adoptive mother Ingrid about the thermostat and even though she hadn't lived with Ingrid for almost three years, Emma still thought the best thing about having her own place was control of her own environment. Summer and its brutal temperatures would be here soon enough and she and everyone else would then close themselves up in their air conditioning.
("Fishers are practically immune to the cold," Ingrid would say, with the thermostat set at 68 in April. "I'm not actually a Fisher, Mom," Emma would argue right back, bundled up in a hoodie and jeans even though it was 80 outside.)
No, tonight Emma planned on reading until she fell asleep, lulled by the smell of an incoming spring storm and the roll of thunder off in the distance.
Besides, she knew her boyfriend didn't mind it in the least.
She settled back against her pillow, turning the page as a breeze toyed with the curtains. It was a rare night where she got to be in bed before midnight, let alone with enough time to relax and make headway on this mystery novel - that she admittedly had to reread chapters at a time because she would go weeks between picking it up and forget plot points. But she had Graham's word that she had the night off, that David was on backup if anything should happen, and for once this small farming community outside of Oklahoma City was quiet enough for Emma to clock out on time.
It helped that it was nearing finals and the joyriders and other troublemakers over in Norman were probably trying to salvage as much of their GPAs as they could, but Emma would take whatever excuse she could get.
She actually made decent headway by the time her eyes started to cross, three chapters into stuff she hadn't read before, so she bookmarked her place and set the book on the side table with no small amount of satisfaction. The wind was picking up as she turned to look at the uninhabited spot next to her, lightning crackling and throwing the room into brief, sharp relief. Emma waited for the close crack of thunder to pass, then listened for the sound of creaking floorboards she knew so well.
With them came the sound of muffled cursing.
Emma sighed, slipping out from under the sheets and making her way downstairs. She peeked around the corner into the living room, smiling slightly at the familiar sight: Killian pacing the room, running his fingers through his already messy hair and muttering to himself under his breath, and two laptops set up on the coffee table and running several programs. "Big one?" Emma asked softly, trying not to startle him as she leaned against the wall.
She loosely crossed her arms over her chest, watching with amusement as Killian's gaze refocused on her, rather than whatever data program he was running through in his head. "Didn't you say you were going to bed, love?"
She smiled. "Like two hours ago. How many texts have you gotten from Will?"
Will Scarlet was Killian's storm chasing partner, another student from the university, and the unchecked impulsivity to Killian's deliberate strategy. Not that Killian didn't have his own streaks of rash decisions now and then, but when the two of them together were stuck in the TIV for a week or so, the stories Emma heard always seemed to follow a similar pattern. If Killian was up and pacing, then Will was probably chomping at the bit to go out there.
"Only about five," Killian said. Emma raised an eyebrow and he smiled sheepishly. "Alright, more like fifteen."
That sounded more like it. "Well, tell him to calm down. You should come to bed, Killian."
Emma pushed herself off the wall, moving to sit on the couch and look over his computers. After so many years together with a meteorologist, first in friendship and then in dating - and growing up in the middle of Tornado Alley - she could glance over the radars and maps and have a basic understanding of what was happening, but the numbers running in the background were completely foreign. The mass of green, yellow, and orange moving on a loop on one of the screens didn't look like something that was worth Killian's pacing around the room. "Doesn't look like a supercell," she said. "There's no red."
"It's not," Killian confirmed. "But the low-altitude wind patterns -" he pointed them out on the other screen, "- signify the possibility of an event."
He dropped onto the couch next to her, their shoulders and knees pressed together as he invaded her space and she welcomed him to it. The house was warm and a little muggy, but there's nothing she liked more than having him snuggled in close to her. His head dropped onto her shoulder as he sighed and Emma worked her arm free to wrap it around his waist.
It'd been a fairly dry spring, both in terms of rainfall and for Killian's research. She knew he was frustrated with the lack of local opportunities, which then turned into setbacks for finishing his dissertation. They both knew that if there was money to spare, he'd be able to hit the road for a couple of weeks, go chasing out in Wyoming and Colorado, or even further up north near Canada, where there'd been more active weather systems than here in the south. It hadn't been uncommon for him to be on the road for most of the spring in the years before they'd met, and even after he'd been known to vanish for a few weeks at a time; but travel took money, and Dr. Nemo Bhavsar, Killian's advisor, just hadn't been able to come up with the spare grant money to let him chase outside of the state. The rest of the initial grant money had been spent on repairs to the TIV after the accident last year. And since Killian only taught classes in the fall, it wasn't like he had spare assistantship money laying around either.
Emma knew all of these things and she understood why he was up and pacing most nights of the week.
But that didn't mean she didn't miss him.
"I know I promised you no more night chasing," Killian murmured against her shoulder. "I know and I won't, but my gut is just telling me…"
Emma bit back a sigh. She loved him, but his gut was going to be the death of her. It was an argument they'd had several times over the years, the risks he took for his passions; she loved him and she loved his enthusiasm, but she worried over how often he put himself into dangerous situations - how often those dangerous situations had actually hurt him. And he would argue that she did the same - a police officer took just as many risks as a meteorologist working on a doctorate that depended on data collected from natural disasters - but Storybrooke, Oklahoma, wasn't Los Angeles or Chicago.
She understood his point. They both could have bad days at work that could end horribly. They both had experienced days at work that ended badly. She knew that. But she worried anyway.
Just like she knew he worried about her every day. Just because Storybrooke wasn't Chicago or L.A. didn't mean that she was completely safe.
At least Emma only had to worry about one bad weather forecast.
She decided to switch tactics. "Come to bed, Killian," she said again, turning her face to bury her nose in his messy hair. He still smelled like his shampoo, something that reminded her of the beach and the ocean underlined with his own masculine scent. "I'll make it worth your while," she added, her tone a teasing song.
He chuckled against her, shifting his head slightly to nuzzle her. "Give me a bit more time here, love, aye?"
This time a small sigh did escape her. She knew this game, knew how 'just one more hour' would turn into three, would turn into another lonely night in their bed without him while he paced and tugged on his hair and fretted, but she nodded. "Alright. Tell Will I said hi. And don't stay up too late," she told him, knowing he wouldn't listen even as she kissed the top of his head.
They untangled themselves and she got to her feet. Killian scooted over on the couch to take up the middle and Emma lingered for a moment in the door. He was thrown into silhouette by the glow of his computer, hunched over watching his experiments with increasing tension and scrutiny.
She sighed to herself, a pang of loneliness accompanying her as she trudged back upstairs to their bedroom.
Three years ago…
She saw the problem as soon as she turned up the street.
As the most junior officer in Storybrooke's police force, Emma usually got stuck with scut work - in this instance, dealing with bickering neighbors about an 'unsightly obstruction' at one 639 Foxglove Lane. Chief Humbert hadn't been specific about what the 'unsightly obstruction' was, either because the complaint hadn't mentioned it or he wanted it to be a surprise, so most of her trip uptown had been spent envisioning what this might be.
She'd pictured something like three dozen plastic pink flamingos in someone's yard, or maybe someone was mowing the grass in their underwear.
She wasn't expecting what looked like an armored assault vehicle parked in the driveway.
Emma parked at the curb, warily inspecting the vehicle from the squad car. It looked vaguely familiar, but she was more preoccupied with why someone would have this kind of thing parked in their driveway. It looked like it belonged in Fallujah or Kabul, not Storybrooke, though the lack of camo in the paint job made her less suspicious of it actually containing any firearms.
Maybe. The painted-on pirate flag gave her pause.
Emma unhooked her radio from the dash, keeping an eye on the vehicle while she reported in. "10-23, Officer Swan on the scene at 639 Foxglove Lane. I have a 10-37, questioning the resident before further action."
The radio crackled for a moment before she heard the operator on duty - Ruby, from the sound of it - respond. "10-4, Emma, keep us posted."
Emma sighed, making a mental note to get the chief to talk to Ruby again about proper radio protocol. It wasn't the first time, and Ruby only filled in when Abigail had the day off, but Emma had a hard enough time getting the townspeople to respect her badge. It would be nice if one of her friends put in more effort when she was on the clock.
This is what happens when you go back to work in your hometown, Emma told herself as she got out of the squad car.
She decided to do a quick close-up check of the vehicle before pounding on the front door. If she didn't touch anything or breathe on it too hard, nothing should explode or go off, right?
She circled the vehicle once, noting that the front end was built a bit like a truck, and the bed of the truck reconstructed enough to support the outer metal shell. There were several antennae on the roof and what looked like exhaust pipes built from PVC pipes emerging from near the rear doors. She crouched down, inspecting the thick metal flaps that covered all but maybe six inches of the wheels. There were two more pipes attached to the front of the vehicle, but these pointed downwards and Emma couldn't figure out what was inside them - and she wasn't about to go poking around and risk blowing a finger off.
Something about the design wouldn't leave her alone. She'd seen it before, she was sure of it, and not in a news story -
Emma stood abruptly, eyes narrowing as she turned on her heel and stalked up to the front door. She knew exactly what the vehicle was now and this is exactly the sort of idiocy she didn't need on her watch. She rapped hard on the door, doing her best to school her features into some semblance of calm indifference and pretty sure she was failing to hide her irritation.
She really didn't need insane stunt "meteorologists" running around her town with a TIV - a tornado intercept vehicle. And she was honestly more surprised it took this long for the housing associations over in Norman to drive this guy out.
When no one answered the door, Emma rapped hard on it again, glancing on either side of the frame and failing to find a doorbell. Who the hell owns a house without a doorbell these days? she wondered. "Police, open up!" she called.
She waited, then banged on the door again. Still nothing. Just as she raised her fist to knock a third time she heard footsteps on the other side. Emma took a breath, settling herself into what she hoped was a cool composure, and tried not to look surprised when someone she didn't expect opened the door. "Yes? Can I help you?"
The man in front of her had to be at least six inches taller, with short, curling brown hair that was smashed up funny on one side from sleep, intense blue eyes, and a very out of place English accent. He was also shirtless, and Emma only allowed herself to glance down and make sure he was wearing pajama pants - seriously, it was after eleven - and would swear on… well, not on anything holy, but she'd swear on a box of bear claws that she didn't look at his well-muscled chest for too long.
Well, maybe she did, because Tall, Bed-headed, and English had to clear his throat before Emma remembered he'd asked a question. "Sorry, Mr…"
"Jones," he supplied. To his credit, there was only the ghost of a smirk on his face from her moment of distraction. "How can I help you, officer?"
Emma felt her back straighten at the use of her title. "Right. Mr. Jones, we've received several calls of complaint about the vehicle parked in your driveway. Your neighbors are under the impression that you're massing some kind of militia here. Thankfully, I recognize this vehicle as the tornado intercept vehicle belonging to Reed Timmer, so I won't have to arrest you for owning military-grade weaponry unlicensed -"
Jones' eyebrow went up and he crossed his arms over his chest. "There's no Reed Timmer here, Officer -" he fumbled for a moment, then looked at her nameplate. "Officer Swan. Just my brother and I."
Her frown deepened. She supposed it was possible that more than one of those idiots were around; the meteorology school was huge, after all, but this would be the first she'd heard of it. "Right, well, if I could speak to the owner of this vehicle…"
Jones looked pained for a moment, then beckoned her inside. "Killian!" he shouted, making Emma flinch as she closed the door behind her. "Get your sorry arse down here, the neighbors are complaining!"
A crash sounded upstairs, then hurried footsteps on the stairs. "Bloody hell, a man can't even sleep-"
The source of the racket, and the neighborhood complaints, stopped at the foot of the stairs. Emma stared, mouth agape, for only for a moment before schooling her features into something more respectable. Jesus Christ, it wasn't enough that the brother was good-looking; no, this one wore nothing more than a pair of white skivvies and one sock slouched down around the ankle, leaving just about nothing to the imagination; he was hairier and leaner than his brother, but no less muscled. Three-day old scruff covered his jaw and his hair stuck six ways up from Sunday, but she was relieved to see he seemed just as preoccupied looking at her as she was with him. "Killian Jones?" she asked, standing at a parade rest. He nodded and his posture shifted; she saw him turn into someone more charming, clearly used to getting his way by batting his baby blues and an easy smile. "That works better when you're wearing pants," she continued, ignoring the brother's guffaw. "I'm here because your neighbors seem to think you're building a militia in the driveway."
"No such thing, love," Killian Jones said, leaning on the banister while covering his front with his left hand. "It's part of my research."
"Research," she repeated flatly.
"He's a student, ma'am," the brother said. "Working on his doctorate at the university."
She scowled. Students were the bane of her existence and this one was shaping up to be more of the same. "Research or not, we've gotten three phone calls complaining about it. So I suggest you remove it from the property or start going door-to-door explaining that you're not parking a tank on the premises. Or start a leaflet campaign."
Killian looked mildly delighted at this, glancing at his brother. "Three phone calls, Liam, did you hear that? I've been here not even two days and there have been three phone calls to the constables."
The brother, Liam, looked less delighted. "Two days and already a public nuisance; that may be a record even for you, little brother."
"Younger," Killian insisted, and Emma noted that his cheeks were now pink.
"Regardless, like I said when you drove in, we'll have to find some sort of accommodation for your contraption, particularly when it's not storm season," Liam continued.
"It's not a contraption -"
"It's a contraption that's drained all your funds and rendered you to throw yourself on my mercy, Killian. If the police are here and the neighbors are raising a fuss then I think I get to call it whatever I bloody well want to!"
Emma started to feel uncomfortable as their voices rose, more arguments and accusations and pent-up irritations coming from each of the brothers; domestic disputes were her least favorite kinds of house calls and this was starting to feel unsettlingly like she was about to haul someone off in handcuffs for disturbing the peace. "Gentlemen," she started, and to her immense surprise both of them shut up immediately. "I don't think I'm needed for this part of the conversation. Mr. Jones," she said, looking at Killian, "I expect this to be the last time I hear about this. I get another call, I'm writing you up with a fine."
He looked ready to protest, his jaw working as he swallowed back whatever he was about to say, and instead fixed her with an intense gaze she wasn't sure she liked. She looked at the brother. "Mr… ah, Jones-senior-whatever," she hurried through the proper titles, ignoring the snort from the younger brother, "Sorry to intrude so early in the day for you."
"Sorry for the trouble, Officer Swan," Liam said, and unlike his brother he had some grace to look apologetic. "Rest assured, I'll be sure Killian will remove his contraption from the premises posthaste."
Her hand rested on the door as she wondered who the hell used posthaste in everyday conversation. "Just don't let me hear about it again," she said again, letting herself out.
Her shoulders dropped the moment the door closed behind her; as far as house calls went, that had been one of her stranger ones. Granted, it could have been worse, she mused as she walked down the driveway, seeing as how the original calls had indicated weapons on the property. And they hadn't escalated to fistfighting or any of the other things brothers did when their tempers were up.
Emma turned and immediately averted her eyes to a spot on the house just over his shoulder as Killian came jogging out, still wearing the lone sock and just his skivvies. "Oh my God, do you even own pants?" she asked, not sure if she's blushing more for herself or because he apparently had no shame standing around outside in his underwear.
And it's only too bad that, since he's on private property, he could do this as much as he liked.
He ignored her question in favor of awkwardly running his hand through his hair and - wow, he was seriously hairy. Her gaze lingered for a moment-yep, definitely blushing more for herself now-as he said, "Look, lass, I just wanted to apologize."
She pursed her lips. He could have done this inside, but she supposed the threat of a fine would send a broke grad student into silence for a while. She also wondered what the older brother had said before Killian came sprinting outside nearly naked. "Again, this kind of thing works better when you're wearing pants," Emma said.
He raised an eyebrow and she stubbornly held his gaze. He sighed, drooping slightly as if she'd stolen all the wind from his sails. "Alright, apologies for the lack of pants as well, but in fairness you did wake me; or rather, my brother did."
"Yeah, I'm real sorry for waking you at noon."
"Some of us don't go to bed until after the bar closes down."
Emma looked at him askance; he was really trying to earn a spot on her People to Watch Out For list by running his mouth like this. "This apology of yours is going great."
He tugged at his hair again, an exasperated look on his face. "Fine, sure. I'm sorry for disturbing your morning, Officer. I didn't know people would raise such a fuss about my project. And anything else you may have found disruptive."
She rocked back on her heels, looping her thumbs through her utility belt as she considered the sincerity in his statements. Objectively, she could see that he was the kind of guy who was used to getting by quite a lot on his looks and giving people the same kind of sorrowful puppy eyes that he was giving her right now. Non-objectively, she could see how he got away with it, even if it was usually while wearing more clothes. "I appreciate the apology, Mr. Jones," Emma said, choosing her words carefully. "You'll find, though, that the housing associations here in town are more strict than they are over in Norman. People don't like weird things ruining their manicured lawns or whatever, so you keep that in mind before you start building more experiments around here. I'll slap you with so many fines, you won't know which way the wind blows in from."
The look he gave her confirmed her suspicions: he did rely on his looks to get out of trouble, and her threat was unexpected. She nodded when he didn't say anything further and turned on her heel. "Have a good day, Mr. Jones," she called over her shoulder.
Killian stood stock-still as she revved the engine and radioed in that she was going out patrolling. She only glanced in the mirror once, as she paused at the stop sign, and only when she started to turn away from 639 Foxglove Lane did he finally start to walk back up the drive.
It was hard not to feel like a stubborn teenager when you still lived with your mom in your twenties, Emma decided.
Ruby had shown up right after the plates had been loaded into the dishwasher, knowing full well that interrupting a Fisher dinner would earn a blistering lecture from Ingrid, wearing what had to be one million sequins and pleading with Emma to come out to the bar with her. Emma, on the other hand, hadn't wanted to and cited being tired, in addition to having to work tomorrow.
Well, apparently no one had informed her that Ruby and Ingrid had at some point over the last four years turned into the Ganging Up on Emma Squad, because the two of them overruled her fast enough to make her head spin and marched her upstairs into her bedroom to change. She didn't own anything nearly as sparkly as Ruby; in fact, upon closer inspection, it seemed like most of her wardrobe had changed from the sparkles and ripped jeans of college to… sensible, conservative clothing.
Maybe Ruby's right, Emma thought grimly, yanking her everyday clothes aside to find the little-loved section from her days before the police academy. Maybe I am getting too stuffy and boring.
There, behind the sensible button-ups and flowery shirts, were some things a bit more suited to going out for a night with old friends. The sheer button-up paired well with a lacy camisole and black jeans with enough rips to make Ingrid raise an eyebrow but make Ruby satisfied to be seen in public with her. There wasn't much she could do with her hair at this point, so she smoothed down the flyaways and straightened her ponytail out, then gave her makeup a quick touch-up before grabbing the first pair of comfortable shoes she could find and heading back downstairs. "Happy?" Emma asked, twirling a little as she walked towards them.
"Extremely," Ruby said.
Dropping her shoes on the floor, Emma braced herself on the wall to step into them, smiling a little to herself as she heard Ingrid call from the next room, "Emma Swan, how many times have I asked you not to destroy my hardwood floors?"
"I've heard that before."
Emma rolled her eyes at Ruby, then went into the living room to kiss Ingrid on the cheek. "Bye, Mom."
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"That doesn't restrict me much."
"Exactly! Go have fun!"
"Will do, Mrs. F!" Ruby said, looping her arm through Emma's and guiding her out the door.
They decided to walk; it was a warm spring evening, her mom's house wasn't that far from downtown, and they were going to drink, so Emma figured she should set some kind of example. "How's Granny?" she asked as she and Ruby picked their way around the cracks in the sidewalk.
She felt guilty, having been home and working for a few months already but not really getting time to hang out with her old friends. She supposed this was part of the reason why she'd given in to Ruby's pleading to go out. Ruby snorted, a smirk playing on her lips. "She's fine; the old lady's immortal. Asks about you all the time, you know; tells me to bring you around to feed you up or something."
Emma smiled. It'd been years since she was the scrawny, newly adopted kid who came here to start over, but after Ingrid, Granny was the first to give her unconditional acceptance-and when Granny gave her acceptance, the rest of the town soon followed, adopting her as one of their own, just as Ingrid had made that adoption permanent.
It helped that Granny knew her way around the kitchen and Emma was a more than willing test subject for new menu items at her diner.
"She just misses having someone to test desserts on."
"Your heart is gonna thank you for that - she's been experimenting with candied bacon lately."
"Oh, please, you know Leroy's always going to be first in line there."
They laughed and Emma started to relax a little, feeling like the night might not be so bad after all.
She slowed as they came into the downtown district, letting Ruby take the lead since she seemed hell-bent on going somewhere in particular. They walked down a less familiar street, this one mostly dark with all the regular shops closed up for the night, and one lone sign shining in the night. Emma peered curiously at it, racking her memory for any clues. She'd never seen this bar before, of that she was almost positive, though in fairness she hadn't spent much time bar-hopping in Storybrooke, not even before the police academy. But of all the local watering holes, she'd never heard of The Pour House. "Uh, what is this place?" she asked, following a few paces behind Ruby as they approached the door.
"New place, kinda," Ruby said, pausing with her hand on the doorknob. "Opened about six months ago, maybe more? The guy who runs it is pretty cute, but he brought in his brother a few weeks ago to help out and damn is that one just pretty."
Emma pursed her lips a little, saying nothing else as she followed her friend inside. Ruby's taste in men, and women, was kind of all over the place and completely non-preferential, so she wasn't about to take her word for it. Anyway, she wasn't here looking for a man. She was here because one of her oldest friends had practically dragged her here-and now that she'd warmed up to the idea, she'd focus on looking for a drink and some time to catch up with said friend.
The inside felt like most bars do: a little claustrophobic and a little haphazard; the lighting, as ever, remained focused on the bar like some sort of holy artifact or a beacon to guide lost souls to their numbing salvation, leaving the rest of the room to suffer eye strain as the patrons tried to decide if the person across from them was good looking enough to go home with or if they were drunk enough to figure it didn't really matter otherwise. This must have been owned by another at some point, Emma decided, because as they approached the bar, she could see the wood was old, shiny with years of polishing and hands and oils left on its surface. Even the best woodcarver couldn't make it look this well-worn from fresh wood.
The marks on the surface confirmed it for her, old initials and dates and gripes carved into the surface. The most recent she could see was a date in the seventies, and she wondered how long this place had sat empty before the new owner had come in to clean it all up.
"Liam!" Ruby called over the music, raising her hand as they sat down.
Emma looked up, that particular name still fresh in her mind from that morning. The bartender's back was to them; he wore a blue Henley and jeans, the sleeves pushed up. By the time Emma got to his curling hair she had a sinking feeling about this guy, which was justified when he turned. "Officer Swan," Liam Jones said as he came up to them.
"Small world," she said, leaning on her elbows and trying to project the nonchalance she absolutely did not feel.
Another bad thing about working in your hometown: having to continue seeing, talking to, and working with the very people you might have done police work on earlier that day.
"Small town," he corrected, as if reading her thoughts.
Emma felt Ruby looking between them, then she gasped. "Oh God, you were that call this morning."
"My brother, actually."
Emma grimaced, looking down at the initials scratched into the bartop. Any good feelings about the evening were quickly drying up as she passionately wished she were anywhere else but here. Ruby went on. "Is he working tonight?"
"He gets to sleep outside in his contraption if he doesn't."
She felt Ruby's eyes on her again and it felt like an itch between her shoulder blades, one she couldn't reach; Emma had filled out her reports and handed them in, but she wasn't in the habit of gossiping about what she did on patrols or calls. Ruby, on the other hand, always pestered the officers about what was going on and wasn't deterred in the least when someone told her there were privacy laws to think about. If she really wanted to know what Killian Jones' contraption was, she could go on up to 639 Foxglove Lane herself to see.
They shared a look, she and Liam, and she felt an unspoken agreement between them that they wouldn't discuss this further and let all future interactions stay as that of bartender and off-duty cop. "Whiskey, neat," Emma told him, hoping that going straight for the liquor would help her feel less uneasy.
Ruby huffed, muttering about how Emma was no fun, then ordered a vodka cranberry.
As it turned out, couple of their old classmates were at a table nearby; after Liam brought their drinks, Ruby dragged her over to catch up. Now feeling absolutely out of her element and growing more uncomfortable by the second, Emma just focused on her whiskey, nodding and making noises of acknowledgement when it seemed appropriate, but her thoughts were elsewhere. Her gaze swept over the bar again and again, keeping an eye out for the wayward brother, idly musing to herself about what he might look like when properly dressed and alternately scolding herself for even having those thoughts.
She really didn't want to have another reminder about her strange morning. She didn't have an escape plan in mind just yet for when he inevitably made an appearance, but she'd work on that while Ruby chattered on about who she'd been dating recently.
When her glass was empty, Emma volunteered to get the next round for everyone, which was met with great cheer. Feeling virtuous, she carried the empty glasses up to the bar and set them near the sink so Liam could take care of them when he had a moment. Then, because she had little desire to get back to the discussion on who had married whom and had which baby, she sat down on one of the stools. "Take as long as you want, I'm not in any particular hurry," Emma told Liam when he came over to get her order. He raised an eyebrow, but she tucked a five dollar bill under the garnishes tray for incentive as she rattled off everyone's drink orders.
Lucky for her, there were other patrons seated at the bar and Liam helped her out by filling their orders first. She traced an old carving with her fingernail while she waited, trying to will the tension out of her shoulders; tonight wasn't the first night she'd questioned the wisdom of coming to work in her hometown, but it was the first night where she'd had to face up to the fact that the people she was tasked to serve and protect were the same people she would have to live with and face every day. It hadn't seemed like a bad idea at first; Storybrooke was a sleepy little farm town, not much going on except some livestock getting loose occasionally. But when things got bad, they were bad, and Emma was always one of the first on the scene for those sorts of events.
Funny how the same people you've known since you were twelve, the same ones who'd been by your side and helped you feel like you were a part of something, looked at you differently when you were the one hauling their abusive spouse away.
Like you were the bad guy.
A shot glass slid under her nose and Emma looked up. She blinked as she tried to refocus into the present and her eyes widened when she realized Killian Jones stood in front of her, looking far less disheveled and far more clothed than he had not ten hours before. "You look like you need one of these," he said, tapping his finger against the glass.
"More like eleven," she muttered, then tossed it back; while she didn't really want to talk to him, she definitely wasn't one to pass up free alcohol.
"Rough day?" he asked.
She looked up, incredulous, but there was a teasing glint in his eye. Emma realized then that where Liam might feel differently, Killian apparently held no grudge against her for the house call that morning. She huffed a little, sliding the empty glass back towards him. "Just having one really uncomfortable moment after another today."
He looked at her with some sympathy, taking the glass and refilling it. She raised an eyebrow, accepting the new shot with some wariness. "Consider it a peace offering, officer," Killian told her. "I behaved rudely towards you this morning and tried to outfox a fox, as it were."
She eyed him, putting the shot back with ease. "I can't tell if you're trying to hit on me or not."
A brief flash of panic crossed his face. "Oh, bloody hell. I'll just cram the rest of my leg down my throat, shall I?"
Finally, Emma cracked a small smile. Maybe it was the shots, maybe she was just tired of feeling weird, but she decided to let him off the hook. "So when you said you didn't go to bed until after the bar closes down…"
Killian looked relieved at the change of topic. "I meant I was the one doing the actual closing, yes. Why, did you think I was drinking myself into a stupor?"
She gave a small shrug, tracing the rim of the glass. "Crossed my mind. Mostly nude, college kid, not awake at noon, kept running his mouth…"
The glass disappeared, going into the dishwasher with practiced ease. "Believe me, love, if I had the money to do such a thing I wouldn't have needed to move in with my brother and earn my keep."
Emma glanced up and found his eyes on her. "Looks like we both put our foot in it today."
The corner of his mouth ticked up as he grabbed the bottle of whiskey and two glasses. "And I'm hardly a 'college kid', as you so charmingly put it. If anything, I'm a university man. Educated, learned…"
"Pompous, asshole?" Emma finished for him.
"Hardly nice to call the man who controls your current alcohol consumption an asshole, love."
She grinned and held up her hands in acquiesce. Still smirking, he poured two fingers in each glass and gave her one. He held his own up. "You sure you should be drinking on the job?" she asked.
"Liam will just dock it out of my pay," Killian said, his grin full of mischief. "To missteps and new acquaintances, Officer Swan."
She hesitated, searching his eyes. The mischief faded, leaving bare hope and encouragement in its place, and she felt herself relaxing. She picked up her glass and tapped it against his. "To awkward first impressions and better second ones, Mr. Jones."