She hadn’t really known what to expect when Killian had called her up and told her to dress her best and be ready by seven. It wasn’t the first time he’d sprung an impromptu date on her without much warning, but her boyfriend of six months was such an adventurous sort that they could have been going to his favorite dive bar dressed to the nines just for the hell of it.
So when their uber pulled under the front canopy of what was arguably the swankiest hotel Emma had ever seen, Emma was left feeling a little speechless.
“Killian, what…” She gaped up at the practically glittering structure as he helped her out of the car.
He slammed the door shut behind her and eased his arm through hers at the elbow and gently guided her into a stroll towards the lavish steps leading up to the gigantic glass doors that poured out enough light it didn’t even seem like it was nearing a quarter to eight at night. Emma was still so gobsmacked by the sight before her that she didn’t even realize she had been guided up the stairs until Killian was slowly pulling her through the doorway.
“Come along, love…” Killian smiled, still having her arm tucked up against his. “We don’t want to be late for our reservation.”
His words knocked a bit of the sense back into her and she pulled them to an abrupt stop. “You aren’t serious…” She eyed him with a bit of suspicion. “Killian, there’s no way we can affo-”
Killian leaned in and placed a tender kiss to her lips that had her humming in surprise at first, but which she melted into almost an instant later.
“I don’t want you worrying about any of that tonight, okay?” His blue eyes were bright and imploring as he pulled back just enough to look down at her. He pulled his arm from hers and his left hand came up and caressed her cheek. “I just want you to enjoy this dinner, darling.”
The urge to dig deeper, knowing there was something he wasn’t telling her, was nearly overwhelming. But Killian gave her that knowing look and she rolled her eyes and nodded in acquiescence.
He smirked back at her in the cheeky way that was all his and linked their arms together again. Emma matched the look with a smirk of her own and allowed him to lead her once more in the direction of the hotel’s restaurant.
“Okay,” Emma wiped at her lips with her napkin and then reached for her wine glass. Killian eyed her with a raised eyebrow as he leaned back in his chair, his own napkin getting tossed to the middle of his plate.
She took a hearty sip and then returned the glass to the table, leaving her elbows resting atop the tablecloth as she stared him down. “You want to tell me what this is all about, Jones?”
“The wine’s finally loosened that delightful tongue of yours enough to stop keeping curiosity at bay, eh Swan?” He grinned mischievously.
She shook her head. “Wine’s got nothing to do with it, buddy.” He snorted at the statement, and she chose to ignore it. “I agreed to enjoy dinner. Which…” Emma gestured with her arms around at the plates scattered across their table in various states of disarray. “Was really fucking good , by the way.”
The clattering of silverware at a nearby table was a good indicator that maybe Emma hadn’t been quite as quiet as she had hoped with that last part. And that was a better indicator that they didn’t belong in a place like this. Especially not with the way Killian didn’t seem to mind at all that they were… disturbing the locals.
It made her insides twist a little, and not in the pleasant way the adoring looking on his face usually did. “Killian, how did you swing this?” The look in his eyes sharpened at the sudden serious shift in Emma’s tone. “Please tell me you didn’t do something reckless…”
Sitting up fully, Killian swallowed and licked his lips. He then leaned in and snatched the rose from the vase they had pushed slightly off from the center of the table. He looked down at the flower in his hand.
“Tonight’s a celebration.” He said quietly, watching the stem twirl between his fingers before his intense gaze lifted to hers. He held the rose out to her.
She stared at him intently, willing him to go on but he just continued to stare right back. Waiting for her to accept the offered flower. Emma sighed and took it from him with a roll of her eyes.
“A celebration of what?”
She was focused on the rose now twirling between her fingers that she didn’t notice Killian had reached into the pocket inside his jacket until he was leaning over to lay an envelope on the table in front of her.
Emma frowned and set the rose aside so she could pick up the envelope. It was extremely light and that made her frown even more. Flipping it over, she could see the flap was merely tucked in and pulled it open.
She was sure her eyes went as wide as every cliche she’d ever heard when she saw the amount printed on the check inside made out to her name.
“We’re celebrating you going to culinary school so you can open a proper bakery like you’ve always dreamed about.” Killian replied softly as she glanced up at him in shock. He shrugged and shook his head nervously. “If that’s what you’d like to do with it, of course. It’s your money, yours and Henry’s, to do what you will with.”
“Killian, what the fuck?” She whispered, looking from him to the check in her hand, and then back again. “What… how…” For the second time that night, she found herself at a loss for words.
He shrugged again and brought his hand up so he could scratch behind his ear. His attentioned dropped to the table. “You’d be absolutely astounded to know what some crazy collectors will pay when you’ve got something of value that really want.”
Of all the questions she could, should , probably be throwing his way, ‘and what was that?’ was the only thing she could make come out of her mouth in that moment.
Killian smiled, albeit a little sadly, and looked up at her with such ferocity that it seemed to knock the air from her lungs. “Why, the Jolly Roger of course.”
Tears welled in her eyes at the implication of his revelation hit her instantly. She opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out and she knew she was sitting there gaping like a fish.
Reaching out across the table, Killian took her right hand in his. “Swan, for the longest time I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to get past the pain life that settled on me.” He shook his head and looked away for a moment. “Liam, Milah… it all left me in such a dark place for such a long bloody time.” When he looked back at her, he had tears welling in his own eyes. “So much so that our own start was a rather rocky one.” Emma couldn’t help but snort lightly through her tears at him mentioning their first disastrous meeting. “But over time, you and your boy have shown me that… there could be so much more out there for me if I am willing to fight for it.”
He gave her hand a squeeze and an unquestionable look of absolute love and determination had him squaring his jaw. “I want you to know that I’m in this for the long haul. However you’ll take me. Because you helped me see that what I want to fight for is you. You’re my happy ending, Emma.”
The tears spilled over her cheeks as she stared at him, sucking in a deep breath. Once again, of all the things she could have said in response to him…
“You traded your ship for me?”
He gave her a simple nod. “Aye.”
The single word seemed to light a fire within her and suddenly Emma was pushing her chair back loudly and making her way around the table. With one hand still clutching the envelope with the check inside, she grabbed for the lapels of Killian’s suit jacket and pulled him in for a searing kiss.