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Under the Mistletoe

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Killian would rip the bloody chimes down if he knew that Belle wouldn't be pissed about it. Every time someone comes in or out of the coffee shop, the light tinkling sounds acts as a reminder. A reminder that he lost Liam eleven years ago. A reminder that he fled England the year after spiraling without his brother. He doesn't hate his job; honestly, it's not a bad gig; he’s thankful that Belle took pity on a fellow expat and gave him the opportunity. It just that sometimes listening to peoples' ridiculous coffee orders annoys him - hence why he spends most of his time in the back baking. Well, that was until she walked in a few weeks ago.

He didn't know much, only that her name was Emma and she liked to order the same drink every time, never once considering anything else. Sometimes she splurged on a baked good that always seemed to align with the days that Killian had spent baking. He always took pride in his work, but ever since Emma walked in, he had upped his game.

Killian didn't believe in love at first sight, but there was something there he couldn't deny it. She was a ray of sunshine in his otherwise dull rainy days. The first time Emma had stopped in all those months ago, Killian swore his heart had skipped a beat. That Tuesday had felt like any other day, until she’d stepped through the door. The shop wasn’t overly crowded or loud that day, but there seemed to be this peace she brought into the room with her. Killian might have been too distracted by his haze of admiration to actually listen to her order. It wasn't until he’d heard her laugh that he realized she was laughing at him.

"Uh...um, wow...yeah, sorry, love. What can I get for you?"

She stepped closer to the counter, acting like he couldn't hear her giving him an out. "Can I have a large hot chocolate with whipped cream and cinnamon on top, please?"

"Cinnamon? Really?" Killian usually didn't care much to interact with his customers. Still, he knew this was a fleeting moment and he was going to do everything in his power to enjoy every second of it.

"Yeah, it adds a nice little kick.."

"Ah, well, perhaps I'll have to give it a try myself, love." Killian knew he could be charming, but he also knew he laying it on a little thick at that moment. However, that didn't seem to bother Emma as her cheeks soon had the loveliest shade of blush gracing them.

"Name?"

"If I tell you mine, you have to tell me yours. Deal?"

Killian couldn't help the grin that overtook his face. "Aye, we have an accord."

"Emma. My name is Emma."

"Emma...beautiful." Then he heard her laugh again and realized like a git he’d said her name aloud. "Uh, sorry about that. I didn't mean -"

"No worries…"

It took him a moment to remember side of the deal. "Killian, the name is Killian Jones." He reached out his hand, and thankfully Emma gave him hers, but instead of shaking it like a normal man would have, Killian brought her hand to his lips, and placed a gentle kiss on the back of it.

They only interacted briefly. Killian made sure to take her order and that he was the one to serve her as well. He didn't normally do that for anyone else. The moment Belle caught on, she teased him relentlessly; however, she never got in the way of Killian's fleeting moments with Emma. Belle was a good boss and an event better friend for that.

He wished that one day he would grow a pair and actually talk to Emma, beyond taking her order, maybe one day. And perhaps that day was coming soon....

Emma entered with a huff and went right to her seat. Somehow, it was always empty whenever she came in. Killian grabbed her usual and a chocolate cinnamon cookie because she seemed to need something sweet. But as he walked over, he realized she was on the phone.

"Yeah...no...of course...I'll be home. Yeah yeah yeah, I know, Ruth. I'll make sure to bring him too. I know you're excited to meet him. He's excited to meet you all."

Killian felt his heart fall. She was with another man. The fantasy of a future with Emma finally came crashing down. He almost dropped the cup of hot chocolate and ran off, but managed to hold himself together long enough to set it down on her table. Right before he could make an escape for the backroom, Emma grabbed his arm.

"Killian, here, let me pay you for this." As she reached into her purse, Killian tried to ignore the spark that ignited inside of him at the feel of her hand on his arm.

"It's on the house, love." She looked up, thankful, to say the least.

"But Killian, are you sure?"

"Aye, you're here enough; you've earned a free treat. Besides, it sounds like you have a lot going on. It’s the least I could do."

Emma's face fell in confusion and then she seemed to realize what he meant. "Oh, the phone call? Yeah, my mom is expecting me to bring my boyfriend home."

Killian tried not to let that crush him; obviously, she was distressed and needed to share her burdens with someone. He just didn't understand why it needed to be him. "What seems to be the problem? Does he not want to meet your family?”

"Ha, God, I wish. No, um, you see I - oh God, it's gonna sound so stupid - I lied about having a boyfriend." Killian stood there in shock. "Ruth, my mother, is great and everything, but she’s been begging me to bring home a guy for a while now. I skipped out on Thanksgiving for a case, in favor of going home. And instead of telling her that, I may have lied and said I was staying here with my boyfriend."

"The boyfriend that doesn't exist, right?"

"Yeah, way to keep up there, Jones. So...I don't have a boyfriend and apparently, Ruth is organizing some massive holiday party where I am expected to make a debut with him. And I'm slowly realizing that this was probably the stupidest thing I could have ever come up with. I mean, I'm a grown woman. I should've just told her the truth. And now I have to go back home - without a boyfriend - and deal with -"

"I can go."

"What did you just say?

Killian realized that his brain must no longer be connected to his mouth, because only an idiot would have said he would go. But then he saw the look on Emma’s face. There was something in her eyes - maybe it was hope - or maybe it was desperation. He hoped it was the former.
“I said,” he sat down next to her, “I would be more than willing to go home with you, Emma.” Her eyes immediately met his, and she could tell he was serious about his offer.

“Killian, that’s sweet but we barely know each other. My brother is going to be there. He’s a cop. Actually - a detective. He’s good at sniffing out the truth so he’ll through the charade the moment we step through the door.”

“I know, love. But maybe I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to learn more about you.” Emma looked away as she blushed. “I’m serious about my offer. I’d be more than happy to accompany you home and make this the best Christmas for you.”

“You’d really do that for me?”

Killian could see the tears in her eyes, barely held back. “Aye, love. I think you’ll find I’d do anything to make you smile.” He brought his thumb to her cheek and gently wiped the stray droplets away. “So, just who are you, Emma?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” she said, chuckling as she tried to defuse the tension.

“Perhaps I would, love.”

Emma gave him a disarming smile - and that was when Killian knew he was in trouble.

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Killian had two weeks to learn everything possible about Emma Swan. The first thing he learned was that her last name was Swan, and he found that it fit her well. He’d also learned that she was a bail bonds person, she liked dogs and cats (but dogs more) and she looked up to David (her brother) more than anyone else. Killian had shared that he had been in the Royal Navy with his brother; and that he missed home (but he preferred the weather here in Boston). And, of course, that he enjoyed a glass of rum every now and then.

The drive from Boston to Storybrooke, Maine wasn’t long per se, but nonetheless, Emma was a bit on edge. Killian tried his best to keep her calm during the six-hour car ride. Seeing Emma at ease, without a care in the world, was sublime. He could tell it was something she rarely got to experience, and now it was his mission in life to give her the moments more often.

After their rousing version of carpool karaoke that would put James Cordon to shame, they decided to finalize their cover story once more.

“We met at a Fourth of July party where-”

“Where you just found me too irresistible and-”

“You wish.”

Killian took his eyes off the road for a moment to gaze upon Emma. “Aye, love,” he agreed, and added a wink for good measure.

Emma rolled her eyes and continued their fib of a love story. “You just happened to work at the local coffee shop around the corner from my place...”

“And eventually you realized I’m a dashing rapscallion that you couldn’t live without.” Emma gave another of her non-infamous eye rolls and Killian added, “Scoundrel?” He could see Emma tense up suddenly, and Killian realized that perhaps he had made her uncomfortable. “Love, I’m sorry if I crossed a line. I was merely jesting.”

He peeked over to see she was looking out the window, lost in thought. Four songs, not that Killian counted, played before she spoke. “It’s not that, Killian. It’s just...do you think we can do this? We have to make my family believe that we’re halfway in love with one another for the next week. Are you really ready to commit to that?”

Little did she know, Killian thought, he was more than halfway in love - if not already there himself. But he still took a moment to consider the consequences of their silly little plot, and how they would be greater for Emma than for himself. He pulled off to the side of the road and said, “Emma, I swear to you I wouldn’t have agreed to this if I didn’t believe in us. I promise I will do everything in my power to make you feel comfortable these next few days, and to be the best date you could ever bring home.”

Killian held his breath as Emma stared at him. He could see the caution in her eyes, the weariness of the whole nefarious scheme. But then he saw it. There was hope in her eyes. Maybe it was reflected from his, but he swore at this moment, Emma believed they could do this.

She didn’t say a word, merely nodded her head, and Killian got the car back onto the road. The rest of the drive went without a hitch. In fact, they were a little ahead of schedule when they arrived in Storybrooke.

“Would you, um...like to see where I grew up?” Emma said, a bit unsure of how to act now that they had arrived.

“I would be honored to learn more about your beginnings, love.” Emma gave him the same tentative smile from earlier and directed him around the small town.

Killian felt an odd sense of familiarity, as they explored the town. Storybrooke reminded him of the village he grew up in back in England. As they drove around, Emma pointed out some of her favorite places. The first being Granny’s, a diner that apparently had the best grilled cheese and onion rings Emma had ever tasted. She also showed him the sheriff’s station, where she may or may not have spent some “time” after being caught with a boy underneath the bleachers in the wee hours of the night. Emma shared the story of how Ruth had let her off easy after being left in the cell for ten minutes. Emma had been worried Ruth would kick her out, but apparently, she had just laughed, and suggested Emma find a different venue - and better yet, a different boy. Killian chuckled at that. He already owed a debt to Ruth for finding his Swan and giving her a home, but he could see this woman had changed Emma’s life in many different ways, and for that, he could never repay her.

As their little tour came to an end, Killian pulled up to Ruth’s house, and Emma began to fidget in her seat once more. “Swan, it’ll be okay,” he promised. She simply stared at the house in silence. “Emma, I promise it’ll be the best week of your life. I’ll do everything in my power to make it so.”

Just as Killian made a move to unbuckle his seatbelt, Emma leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on his cheek. Both instantly turned red at the display of affection, and Killian realized they needed to get this out of their system if they were going to convince everyone they’d been dating for months.

After climbing out of the car, Killian moved confidently around the trunk to grab their suitcases. When Emma began to protest, Killian told her it was what a good boyfriend would do before he shot her a cheeky wink and then headed for the door.

They didn’t get the chance to ring the doorbell. Ruth had already opened the door and pulled Emma in for a hug when Killian made it to the doorstep. He took a moment to enjoy seeing Emma with someone who cared so deeply for her, and whom she cared for as well.

“Ah, well, don’t you think you should introduce me to your man here, Beans?”

Killian swore he heard Emma grumble at the embarrassing nickname, and he very much looked forward to hearing the story behind it. “Ruth, this is Killian Jones. Killian, this is my mother, Ruth.” As Killian reached his hand out, Ruth completely bypassed it and went right for a hug. Killian had lost his mother when he was a lad, so the maternal display of affection was unfamiliar but not unwanted.

“M’lady, it is a pleasure to finally meet you,” he said as he reached for her hand once more and placed a kiss on her knuckles.

“Oh, now I see why Emma’s been hiding you away. You are far too charming for your own good.”

Killian was unsure if the woman meant it as a jest or was somehow already seeing through their facade. He stood there with a nervous smile.

“Speaking of charming, where’s David and Mary Margaret?” Killian was thankful for Emma’s quick thinking. He needed to chill out if they were ever going to make this work.

“Oh, they’re already inside. Come on in, you two!”

As Killian stepped inside the old Victorian home, he couldn’t help but feel that this was a loving home full of special memories. When he made his way out of the foyer, he saw the wall - practically a shrine - full of photographs of Emma and David. The pictures of Emma only started in her teens after Ruth adopted her, but there were just as many of her as there were of David.

Killian only got to enjoy those for a moment, as Emma tugged on his arm to continue into the living room. Inside there was there he saw a man around his height with sandy brown hair and to his left, a much smaller woman with a pixie haircut dancing around. Killian recognized David instantly from the pictures in the hallway, and he knew that the woman dancing was Mary Margaret - David’s very pregnant wife. The two seemed to be lost in their own world as he entered the room, but the moment. As soon as Mary Margaret caught a glimpse of them, she ran over to Emma, nearly tackling her with the force of her hug.

“Oh, jeez, M’s! I didn’t know that baby bump was part bulldozer! A little warning next time.”

Mary Margaret laughed at Emma’s comment. “Well, you see Emma, it has many perks. The best being a table for when I’m sitting.”

The two women started to gab about the pregnancy and life in Storybrooke, which left Killian awkwardly standing there. Ruth handed him a drink, which he believed it was eggnog (he’d never had it before). While he sipped his drink, Killian stood there watching Emma enjoy reuniting with her family. Though he had always been able to tell that she had a kind heart, Emma definitely kept it hidden from most of the world. Killian relished the thought of being the one to put her heart out there, and hoped that she wouldn’t feel the need to hide from him.

He was interrupted from his musings when David stood from his seat to approach the newcomer.

“David Nolan, Emma’s big brother. It’s nice to meet you.”

Killian reached his hand out. “Killian Jones. It’s nice to meet you as well, mate.”

“So, Killian, how long have you been with my sister?”

Killian tried to keep his composure, as this was the first real test to see if he and Emma could make it through the week without an incident.

“Well, you know your sister, mate. It can take her a minute to trust someone. I recently moved to the area-”

“From England?”

“Ah, though the accent may say otherwise, I have lived in the States for nearly a decade now. But I’ve, I just moved to Boston to work at my friend’s coffee shop. I’m the baker. Emma’s actually frequent flyer there, and we just started chatting a bit. She was kind enough to show me around the city, and I help her with her perps sometimes. Realized we were practically dating-”

“And I realized that I’d found a good one, and I should hold onto him for a bit. Maybe, haha.” Emma had come from nowhere and wrapped her arms around him. For a moment, Killian wished this was more than pretend, that Emma wanted to be with him and wasn’t just doing this for show. However, he knew he needed to get it together if they were ever going to make it through this week, and have some form of friendship after it was over.

As if on instinct, Killian leaned down slightly and placed a gentle kiss on the top of her head. He heard Emma’s breath hitch and tried not to take it personally.

The answer seemed to appease David enough for the moment.

“Oh, I forgot to show you to your room! Sorry about that, Killian. Follow me and we can get your things up to Emma’s old room.” Ruth seemed excited to show Killian the rest of the home.

“Oh, I can show him the room, Ruth. There’s no need for you to go up there for that!”

Emma grabbed his arm and practically dragged Killian, up the stairs to the bedroom. That’s when he realized why she was so insistent on showing him his room alone. It was their room. They would be forced to share Emma’s childhood bed for the week.

“Swan, I can take-”

“I’ll take the floor.”

“Love, it’s more than fine. What kind of gentleman would I be if I made you sleep on the floor? That’s not an option.”

“Killian, you’re already doing all of this. The least I could do is sleep on the ground.”

Before Emma could get another word out, David barged into the room, almost as if he anticipated interrupting something. “What do you want, David?”

“Mom just wanted me to grab you, dinner is ready,” he was silent for a beat before he turned his attention towards an extremely nervous Killian. “I’m watching you, Jones,” was all he said, before he left the room.

“Sorry about that. They really don’t believe in personal space in this house.”

“Ah, which is why, and only why, I suggest we may have to share the bed.” Emma immediately opened her mouth to argue with him when Killian stopped her. “Love, you just said they don’t respect boundaries, even in the bedroom. What are they to believe when they see you in the bed and me on the floor? That’s only going to lead to more lies and headaches. I promise, Swan, I’ll completely respect your boundaries if that’s what you’re concerned about.”

“It’s not that, it’s just...I don’t trust myself…”

“Afraid you won’t be able to keep your hands off me?”

“Actually, yes.”

Killian looked at Emma, as she stood on the opposite side of the bed. The distance felt much further. He could tell that she had instantly regretted saying that, but he wouldn’t let her for another moment.

“Emma, I won’t deny my nerves as well, but I believe that we can both be adults here. As I said, I would never put you in a situation that made you feel anything less than comfortable. If you’re truly unsure, I’m willing to sleep on the floor and set an alarm to get into bed just in case they barge in.”

“No, no, that’s silly. Like you said, we’re both adults. We can share. Now come on, it’s time for dinner.”

“As you wish.”

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The rest of the first night continued without a hitch, most of the attention on Mary Margaret given that she was nearly the end of her pregnancy, as the baby was due in February. David remained silent throughout most of the dinner, continuously eyeing Killian, but he tried to ignore the other man’s suspicion.

The first night in bed, however, was anything but comfortable. Both tried to act as though the other was not there and continue with their normal bedtime rituals. But the silence was unnerving, and neither of them knew how to relieve the tension. Killian didn’t help when he removed his Henley, and Emma saw him shirtless for the first time. He hadn’t thought that through because when he turned around to face her, Emma couldn’t hide her gaping mouth and wide eyes. He wouldn’t lie, it felt good to have an affect on her. Killian knew he was a handsome man, but he hadn’t been concerned about female attention in a long time now - not until Emma had walked into his life. He saw the blush rise in her cheeks and though he wished he could see how far that blush went, he decided it was probably best that he put a shirt on.

Emma was the first to break the silence. “Um, what side of the bed would you like?”

“Whichever side you do not prefer, love. I have no qualms, either way, I assure you.”

“Do you always talk like that?”

“Like what, Swan?”

“Like you’re much older than you actually are. Like you’ve just stepped out of some Jane Austen novel?” Emma finally made her way into the bed, and Killian slide in next to her.

“I’ve talked this way since I was a wee lad. I guess it stuck with me. Does it make you uncomfortable? Would you rather me say ‘Psh, you can pick whatever side you want, boo?’”

Emma lost it at his horrible American accent and rolled over to laugh in his face - but froze when she saw how close they were. “No, um, no, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. It’s just...I...I’ve never met anyone like you, Killian Jones.”

Emma locked eyes with him, and he saw it again, that hope was back from earlier in the day. “Aye, love, I’m one of a kind.” Killian could still sense her nerves so he suggested, “Perhaps we should get some shut-eye? I think I heard that we’re going Christmas tree shopping in the morning. David said he was going to put my muscles to the test, whatever that means.”

“Oh, he’s gonna see if you can carry the tree by yourself - which you won’t be able to. And neither can he. I’m sorry he’s coming off like such a-”

“Like a big brother? It’s nothing to fret over love; my brother was the same way.”

“Wait, you have a brother?”

Killian cursed himself for letting that slip out. “I had a brother. Liam, he passed away about a decade ago.”

Emma fell silent for a moment before she said, “You told David you moved here ten years ago.”

It wasn’t a question, but Killian knew what she meant, “Aye. I left England after his death. I couldn’t be there anymore. He was the only family I had left, and it was just too much being there without him. I made my escape and never looked back.”

“Do you miss it?”

Killian took a deep breath in, “I miss him. I miss the trouble we got into as lads and the pub that was on the corner of our street,” that got a laugh from Emma. But I do not wish to move back. I’ve found a home here, and some people I truly care for.”

“I’m sorry about Liam. if you ever want to talk about him, I hope you know I’m here for you.”

“Thank you, Emma. I appreciate that greatly, perhaps one day I’ll share a tale or two with you.”

“I look forward to it. Sleep well, Killian.”

“You as well, love.”

He’d never meant to share that part of his life with Emma. Not right now. However, he couldn’t help but feel relieved that she’d welcomed him to share his stories. It was almost like she genuinely cared for him. So, Killian fell asleep with a smile on his face and a heart full of hope that perhaps this wasn’t going to be a big mistake.

The mistake, in this case, happened when Killian woke up. Emma was using him as a pillow and their legs were intertwined. He finally had her in his arms and Killian relished that moment. She looked so at ease and comfortable, almost like she was meant to be there and he was meant to hold her.

Then she awoke.

Emma’s peaceful smile quickly fled, and panic took over her, the blush rising once more, as she stuttered an apology.

“I assure you love, I have no issues with being a body pillow. Perhaps though, I should wear a shirt where your drool-”

“I do not drool!”

“The stain on my shirt proves otherwise, my dear.”

“Well, I...uh...shit, sorry I’ll just go get ready.”

Killian quickly reached for her hand to diffuse any concerns she had. “I promise, love, it’s not anything to fuse over. I was merely making a joke.” He held onto her hand as she nodded, and then bent forward to place a gentle kiss on her hand, just as he’d done the first time they met. Emma, still in some form of shock or panic, freed her hand and then hurried from the room to get ready for the day.

Killian fell back onto the bed moaning, thankful she’d missed the part of his body that also seemed to enjoy her close proximity. He needed to take care of that at some point, but perhaps not in her childhood bed. Killian decided to make his way downstairs, and he would bring Emma some hot chocolate as a peace offering. Peace from what, though? From him? He continued to war with himself until he heard a voice.

“What do we know about him? I mean really, she didn’t tell you his name until a week ago!”

“David, that’s enough! He seems to be a charming young man who cares about your sister.”

“So did the last one, and look how that ended! I don’t trust him. Something’s going on between the two of them and I don’t like it.”

“Exactly, David, something is going on between them and it’s something serious. I know she’s your sister but she’s also a grown woman. She can make her own choices and Killian seems to be a good one. Did you see how he was looking at her? It’s the same way you look at me, David. He loves your sister that much is obvious. And I don’t think it’s one-sided.”

“What do you mean, Mary Margaret? You think she, that she…”

“You can say it, David. I think your sister loves Killian - if not yet, then she’s getting there. I’ve known her for a long time, and I’ve never seen her like this. Not with Walsh, August, or even Neal.”

Killian was torn on what to do at that moment. Obviously, this was a conversation not intended for his ears. He couldn’t help but wonder what Mary Margaret was hinting on about with Emma’s ex-lovers, but now was not the time for him to ask.

A lull in their conversation finally gave him the proper time to make his presence known.

“Good morning everyone.” Killian tried to act normally and not as if that conversation was going to replay in his mind for the remainder of the day.

“Oh, good morning, Killian. How did you sleep?”

“Like a rock, love. And you? I hope the babe is letting you get some rest before he makes their grand entrance.”

“Ah, he was kicking up a storm last night so not too much sleep. Would you like some coffee?”

“Actually, I was coming down to make Emma some hot chocolate. Do you happen to have some chocolate in the house?”

“Are you going to make it from scratch?”

“Aye, I never give her the premade stuff. I know better than to get in the way of Emma and her sweets.”

“Smart man,” David said, finally acknowledging Killian’s presence. Mary Margaret grabbed everything he would need without question, Killian went to work quickly on the hot chocolate. He made sure to add her cinnamon on top, and everyone in the room seemed impressed that he’d remembered it.

Just as he was finishing, Emma came into the kitchen and went right for the cup without a second thought, she pushed herself onto her toes and kissed Killian on the cheek. The group made breakfast together, except for Emma who was a well-known disaster in the kitchen. Killian enjoyed his time with Mary Margaret and Ruth. He’d always had a knack for cooking and baking, so Killian felt at ease for the first time all day.

As they finished their meal and put away the leftovers, David and Emma started prepping the living room for the tree. They bickered back and forth on what size they wanted versus what would work in the room.

“Yes, they’ve always been like this.” Ruth said as she came from upstairs.

Killian was caught off guard by the comment, “Seems as though they love each other, regardless of their differences opinions on Christmas trees.”

“This is nothing. You should’ve seen them when they were younger, lord, there were days that I questioned if I could handle two teens.”

“Though my opinion may not mean much on the matter, you obviously did an amazing job with the two of them. I know I’m biased when it comes to Emma, and I don’t know David well, but they both seem lucky to have had a mother such as yourself.”

“Thank you for saying that, Killian. Will I get a chance to meet your parents soon. They must be proud of having such a wonderful young man for a son.”

Emma and her family really had a knack for hitting on sensitive subjects, it seemed. “Unfortunately, my mother passed when I was eight and my father became overwhelmed by everything. He left my brother and me one night. Luckily, my brother was eighteen at the time and was able to gain custody of me. We lived together for about a decade until a drunk driver took his life.”

Ruth didn’t say anything and although Emma was not hers biologically, he could see the same look upon her face as when Killian had told Emma his story. “Well, please know you are always welcome to join our family. I’m happy that Emma’s found you. I think you’ll both be good for each other.”

“Aye,” Killian was overwhelmed by the woman’s kindness. “she’s the best thing I have in my life, if I’m honest.”

Thankfully, Emma came over and seemed to sense the tension, as when Killian reached his arm out for her, she instinctively curled into his side. Ruth smiled at the couple, truly delighted that her Emma found someone as wonderful as Killian.

Everyone gathered their coats and gloves and made their way to the van to head for the Christmas tree farm. David and Emma continued their conversation on which tree was the best and what size they were looking for. Killian enjoyed witnessing the small family moments and desperately wished he could have done the same with his mother and Liam.

When they arrived at the farm and had climbed out the van Emma reached for Killian’s hand. Even through the gloves he could still feel that spark. “Everything okay?” Emma asked.

“Aye, love. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“It’s just, you’ve been really quiet since we left the house. Is it because of what happened this morning, cause-”

“Oh, no, love, it’s nothing like that. It’s just, I mean, I told you a bit about my past. But I’ve just never had a real Christmas tree before. It wasn’t something Liam and I felt was important when we lived together. And seeing you with your brother, arguing over which one to get, reminds me of what I’ve been missing out on for some time now.”

“Well, for this week, you’re a part of this family. So you can argue about the tree if you want.”

“Funny, your mother said the same thing.”

Emma pulled away for a moment. “My mother said what to you?”

“That I was a part of the family, or I could be, if I wanted to.”

“Do you?”

Killian paused for a moment, not because he needed to give it any thought but because he knew his answer could make Emma run. “Aye, love, I would be honored to be a part of anything with you.” He looked down at her and saw a single tear running down her face. When he reached out to wipe it away Emma grabbed onto his hand. He didn’t know why, but he had the urge to kiss her at that moment, and she didn’t look too opposed to the idea when he saw her eyes linger over his lips. Just as he started to move towards her, they were interrupted.

“You guys, you better hurry otherwise David will - oops sorry! I didn’t mean to ruin the moment. Maybe I can come back after you’ve had your...uh...moment?”

Killian sighed in defeat, “Perhaps we should get a move on, Swan? Don’t wanna hear you complaining about the tree not being perfect when we get back home.” Emma laughed and lightly shoved his chest.

The hunt for ‘The Great Christmas Tree of 2019’ was on, and Killian did everything in his power to ensure David wouldn’t hate him by the end of the day.

The two men bickered often, but it reminded him of the way he and Liam used to act. As the day went on, David eased up on him, and even offered to help carry the tree the van instead of making Killian hike it back himself.

It was when they’d finally gotten the tree home and started work on decorating it that Killian began to feel like this was where he was meant to be. That him offering to be Emma’s fake date was not a horrible idea but, in fact, the start of something great for them both.

Ruth announced that she was calling it an early night, and the couples decided to have a little movie marathon. David and Mary Margaret claimed the sofa so she could spread out, which left Emma and Killian with the love seat. It sat two comfortably, but only if the two were comfortable sitting close to one another. Killian tried to keep his composure as Emma laid the blanket over both of them their legs and snuggled. He draped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her in a little closer - just to keep up the ruse.

Killian had no idea what movie they watched, all he was concerned with was Emma’s hand, which had been drawing nonsensical patterns on his stomach. He truly believed she had no idea what she was doing and when he looked at her, she stopped - but for a moment. When Killian kissed the crown of her head, her hand continued it’s patterns.

After the third or fourth movie, Killian realized that Emma was fast asleep at his side. David and Mary Margaret talked about putting on the next film, but Killian told them he was going to take Emma to bed. While he knew the logical idea was to wake her up, he didn’t want to disturb her peace. So, Killian carried her up the stairs and into their bedroom. When he gently placed her down on the bed, he saw her scrunch up her nose and put her hands out, as if she were looking for someone.

Killian quickly changed and go into bed. It only took a moment for Emma to curl into his side once more and when she did, Killian welcomed her into his arms.

When he woke the next morning, Killian found himself in a different position. Emma’s back was towards him and he, for all intents and purposes, was spooning her. One hand was wrapped around Emma (because apparently, he liked to cling to her possessively in his sleep) and the other was tucked under his head. It didn’t take long for Killian’s body to react to Emma’s close proximity. He tried to keep his thoughts pure; to think about literally anything else. But nothing seemed to distract him from the goddess in his arms.

Killian truly though he had slipped into some sort of alternate universe when he felt Emma move. It wasn’t to wake up; she was slowly grinding her body against his. He knew he was playing with fire, so he quickly detached himself from Emma, and decided that he would need a cold shower to try and diffuse the situation.

He tried to clear his head, but the feeling of Emma’s body against his was enough to lose his mind. Killian refused to find release in her bathroom. He wasn’t sure how much longer his body was going to handle the pent up tension. They had only arrived Saturday night, Christmas was Wednesday, and he needed to survive until after Ruth’s big Christmas party Friday evening.

When he finally regained his composure, Killian finished his shower and shut the water off. Just before he could reach for the towel, the door opened, and Killian slid the curtain back to hide from whoever had entered.

“Hello? Killian?” It was Emma, thank god, he thought.

“Aye, I was taking a shower.”

“Oh, shit, sorry! I didn’t hear the water and was confused about where you went.”

Killian poked his head out from behind the curtain. Emma was still in the bathroom, despite his current state of undress. “I just finished up, I’ll be out in a moment. I can make you some hot chocolate if you want, love?”

“I, uh...no...I’m good. I’ll, shit, I’ll just let you get dressed in peace. See you downstairs!”

Emma ran into the wall, and Killian chuckled until he realized why she was so discombobulated. He had apparently revealed more of himself than he thought, luckily his most private part was covered, but not much of anything else was.

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As the next two days went on, Killian and Emma continued to blur the lines, neither one shied away from affection in front of others, but they were also not afraid to remain close when they were alone. After the third night, Emma said she didn’t mind waking up in Killian’s arms. It wasn’t the most romantic phrasing, but Killian took it in stride. Hearing Emma admit that she was enjoying being close to him made him feel as though he wasn’t the only one who felt that connection between them.

Before they fell asleep on Christmas Eve, Killian heard Emma murmuring something to herself. He couldn’t make it out and decided it would be best not to ask her. He figured she would share whenever she was ready.

Christmas Day was overwhelming, to say the least. The house woke early, not to open gifts, but to drive to the town over and volunteer at a homeless shelter. Killian knew the family were good souls, and to see it in action reminded him that there was still goodness in the world.

After spending most of the early afternoon at the shelter, the group returned home and opened their gifts. Emma and Killian had given David and Mary Margaret some items off their baby registry that they hadn’t been gifted at the baby shower. Killian had gotten them an extra gift, much to Emma’s surprise, of a little pirate stuffed toy. At the looks of confusion over the small pirate, Killian explained how back home, everyone would gift a new baby a doll. He told the couple that an old wives’ tale said that the dolls were protect the child, and while people found it silly, David and Margaret seemed to appreciate the sentiment.

David and Mary Margaret had gotten Emma an Easy Bake Oven and a cookbook for dummies, everyone thought it was hysterical, even Emma. And since the couple did not know Killian well, they went off the basic knowledge that he was a baker and got him an apron that said: “This is my pretend I can bake apron.”

While everyone scattered to make cookies, Emma and Killian stayed by the tree.

“Oh, before I forget, I got you something, Killian.”

“Emma...you didn’t have to get me anything.”

She rolled her eyes at his protests, “I know I didn’t have to, but I wanted to.” She handed him the small box wrapped perfectly neat with a bow on top. Killian was surprised to find a Christmas ornament shaped like the hook Captain hook would wear inside of it. “I remember you saying how much you loved that story and that he was your favorite.” Killian looked at the hook. He was in awe of the thoughtfulness of Emma’s gift. He didn’t know when she’d had time to find such a gift; as he’d only told her that story during their car ride to Storybrooke.

Emma sat there waiting for his response, he could see her fidgeting in anticipation. Without a second thought, Killian placed the gift back in the box and leaned forward for a kiss.

It was soft and sweet. Her lips felt just as he’d always imagined they would when pressed against his own. He pulled back, much too soon in his opinion, but Killian remembered where they were and why they were there. Emma still seemed to be in shock, but it only lasted for a moment and then she was leaning back in for another kiss. This time, Killian placed his hand on the back of her head, gently holding onto her golden locks. The kiss deepened slightly and was only stopped by some obnoxious coughing obviously coming from David.

The spell was broken, but Killian swore at that moment nothing had ever felt so right. The two got up and joined the others back in the kitchen to help with the cookies.

Killian was placed in charge as he was a baker by trade. The group followed his directions but decided to make it more interesting by doing a decoration competition, where Ruth would be the judge.

In the end, everyone presented their plates to Ruth. David had attempted to create a dog, like the one that was at the shelter he worked at, but it more so looked like a blob. Mary Margaret had decorated hers to be in the shape of a onesie for a baby. Killian had to admit he was rather impressed with her natural skill. Emma merely threw on every sprinkle and candy she could get her hands on. It was a mess, and Ruth was a bit concerned about the taste, but let it slide since it was Emma. Killian’s creation was the most realistic of the bunch. He designed his cookie to look like a mug filled with hot chocolate. But the design inside of the cup is what grabbed everyone’s attention. It was a swan.

Emma recognized it instantly, Killian had made a similar creation back in Boston. She looked up at him and found that he was blushing while scratching behind his ear. It was a nervous tick Emma recognized instantly. Killian won the design off, and by doing so was able to choose their dinner, Chinese food.

For the rest of the night, Killian was surprised to find Emma nearly glued to his side, it was not unwelcomed, and Killian decided to make the most of this gift.

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As the week progressed, Killian knew that at the end of all this madness, he was going to sit Emma down and explain his intentions. He loved her. It was that simple. He wanted to live a life where Emma was not just a part of it, but the star of it all. He had grown accustomed to waking up with her hair in his mouth and his arms wrapped around her. He loved how she was so thoughtful and kind to others. He had known for a while she was someone special, but this trip put in perspective that she was the most special person in his life, and he would do anything for her to see that.

Still, Killian was nervous that she only saw him as a friend. It terrified him that at the end of this, there was a possibility she could walk away without a second thought. He tried to keep those doubts buried, as there was no need to stress over something he couldn’t control. But that was easier said than done.

Tonight, was the town’s Christmas party, although gala was perhaps the more appropriate word. Everyone was there to help set up for the event. Killian was pleased when Emma introduced him to some of her high school friends. He found her group to be a mishmash of personalities and yet, they all fit perfectly together. There was Elsa, who was probably personality-wise the closest to Emma. Jasmine, who had also transferred in late like Emma, and then there was Ruby. Ruby was loud and her mind seemed to live in the gutter. Killian knew that if given a chance, they’d probably be great friends too.

At one point, David asked for Killian’s assistance on a task that clearly needed one person. Which suggested that the other man had an ulterior motive in asking for help.

“So, Killian, I think it’s time you and I have a little talk. What exactly are your intentions with my sister?”

Killian knew it was coming, but he was still caught a bit off guard at how abrasive David was being. He thought he had grown on the man throughout the week, but David’s stance demanded an answer from him. “My intentions are to make her happy, by whatever means necessary. I don’t need to tell you that she’s been through a lot. Her trusts means the world to me. Her heart is precious, and I intend to care for it as if it were my own. Your sister is the most important person in my life, and I wish to stay around for as long as she lets me.”

David’s features were neutral throughout Killian’s little speech, and then finally, he let a small smile slip. “Welcome to the family then, Killian.”

Killian offered him a smile of his own. He was thankful that David finally seemed to trust him with his sister’s heart. The two men spent the rest of the day helping one another, laughing, and finally being at ease.

Killian was on his way to grab some chairs from the closest when he once again walked in a conversation not meant for his ears.

“Spill. Now.”

“Ruby, I don’t know what you want me to say!”

“How about the truth, Emma Marie Swan! No texts, no calls, not so much a word. And then you show up here with Killian? Emma, I know you’re reserved but you would’ve told me if you were dating someone. Shit, you’ve told me about one-nightstands before! What’s the deal with you and Killian?”

Emma sighed in defeat, “We’re not really dating. It’s all pretend.”

“Emma, are you serious?”

Killian didn’t hear her reply, he assumed she nodded her head.

“Yeah, okay? It was all for pretend. He just offered out of pity, I think. He’s my barista from back home, and he overheard me telling Ruth I was bringing a guy home. And now? Ha! Everything has gone to hell...He’s just a fake date.”

Killian had heard enough. His heart felt as though someone had reached into his chest and crushed it. He walked away, not daring to listen to any more of how she actually saw him. Just some guy. Some fake date that’s gone too far. Killian stormed out of the building and went for a walk to clear his head.

Emma watched as he left but unfortunately, Ruby still had her corned. “So?”

“So what, Rubes?”

“Are your feelings for him fake as well? Cause honey, I can tell you his most definitely are not.”

Emma knew that deep down, Killian was no longer acting. And somewhere along the line, she had stopped too. Ruby seemed to take her silence as her answer, smirking at her friend as she walked away.

“Oh, and Emma? I would tell him sooner rather than later the truth because otherwise, you’ll be under that mistletoe alone.” Ruby knew when to drop the mic and walk away, which always impressed Emma. She just never liked being on the other end of those moments.

Emma tried to find Killian, but he seemed to have disappeared from the building. When she went home to change for the party, he kept his distance and never stayed in the same room with her for more than a moment. It didn’t take her long to realize something must have been bothering him, but she chalked it up to him feeling overwhelmed with his current situation.

Ruth stayed at the venue and changed there, so the two couples decided to ride together. Mary Margaret was wearing an elegant white long dress, and David was dressed in a navy-blue suit. They looked like royalty together.

Emma had decided on a black dress that was laced with beautiful patterns and hugged every curve. Killian was in awe of her beauty but tried to hide his emotions. He had decided during his walk, that it would be best for him not to think of Emma as anything more than a friend.

“You clean up well, Mr. Jones.” Killian had trimmed his scruff and wore a black suit, coordinating perfectly with Emma.

“Thank you, Swan. You look lovely as well. Shall we go then?” No one else seemed to notice that Killian was off except for Emma. In recent days, he’d been calling her love, darling, and most recently mo ghra. Emma still hadn’t looked up what it meant, she knew his mother was from Ireland and had assumed it was an Irish term of endearment.

The entire car ride there Killian didn’t so much look at Emma. He couldn’t, he was weak and would not be able to stop himself from falling more in love with her every second that passed. He needed to be strong and realize this facade of a relationship would be over the moment they returned to Boston.

As they entered the building, Killian spotted the mistletoe that had been hung above everywhere. He knew that had not been the original plan. Damn, now he would have to avoid walking through a doorway with her.

The party continued without any incidents. Emma had asked to dance with her on a number of different occasions, but he always found an excuse to avoid it. He felt terrible. He could see she was upset by his rejection, but he figured it was for the best. They’d nearly been caught under the mistletoe four times now, and it was starting to feel like Emma was deliberately trying to catch him.

As the night wore on and couples began to take their leave, the DJ announced it was time for the last song, and invited everyone onto the dancefloor. Killian saw Emma standing off to the side. She looked deflated and he couldn’t stand seeing her that way. Without care for his heart, he stood and offered Emma his hand.

There it was again. That hope had returned to her eyes once more.

As they began to dance to an old Christmas song Killian wrapped his arms around Emma’s waist, and her own came up to settle over his shoulders so her hands could play with his hair, like she had done for most of the trip.

“Killian, I just want to thank you. If you hadn’t offered-”

“It was the right thing to do, love.”

“Why did you do it? Why did you offer to come with me?”

Killian felt his resolve breaking, he wanted so desperately to say it was because he loved her, but he bit his tongue. “All I know, Emma, was that you deserved to have a special Christmas. One filled with precious memories, not concerns regarding your dating life. And I, uh, I couldn’t imagine you going home with anyone else. The thought of that was unsettling.”

“You didn’t want me to go home with someone else?”

“Truth be told, love when I heard you on the phone and you mentioned you were with another, my heart sank. I thought I had lost my chance.”

The two of them danced in silence, as Killian prayed that he hadn’t crossed a line.

“I know you heard me make my wish, you know?”

Killian gave her an odd look, confused by what she meant.

“On Christmas Eve. I know you weren’t asleep.”

“Oh, that? I was confused by what you were saying. It’d been a long day and I thought you were mumbling something in your sleep.”

“No, um...it’s a silly thing I’ve done since I was a kid. Christmas Eve, before I fall asleep, I make a wish. The first year I did it, I wished for a home; two months later, Ruth found me. It’s silly and usually nothing happens, but-”

“It’s charming, Swan. We all could use a little hope every now and again.” The irony wasn’t lost on Killian at that moment. He hoped so desperately that Emma would see him as more than her fake date.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what I wished for?”

“Isn’t that bad luck, love? I wouldn’t want your wish not coming true because of me.”

“There’s only one way to find out,” she whispered, but Killian still caught it over the music.

“What did you wish for, mo ghra?”

Emma smiled brightly. During the night, she’d looked up what that phrase meant. “Love. I wished for the man I love to love me back.”

“Emma?” Killian stopped dancing. He stood still and prayed he’d heard her correctly. “Are you...do you...please say it. Please tell me I’m not dreaming.”

Emma stepped further into his space and held his gaze.

“I love you, Killian Jones.”

Killian kissed her as though his life depended on it. And at that moment, felt like it did.

“I love you, Emma Swan. More than you’ll ever know.”

The two barely made it home before they could express their love in a physical way. They didn’t tell anyone that it was fake at the beginning, until the night before their wedding. Emma finally confessed to her family when Ruby inadvertently mentioned it. David had a field day with the news, but Mary Margaret was amazed at their acting. Ruth simply told them that they had never really been faking it. They were merely hiding the truth from each other.

She wasn’t wrong.