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Take My Heart, Make It Strong

Chapter Text

December 8

It snows the night they return from Neverland. It's the middle of December and it's Maine, so the sight of snowflakes swirling in the air and blanketing Granny's patio furniture doesn't exactly shock Emma; what shocks her is Hook, standing frozen on the sidewalk, his face tilted towards the sky.

"Haven't you ever seen snow before?" Emma teases.

He doesn't respond, and when she reaches his side she sees that his eyes are closed.


There are snowflakes gathered on his lashes and melting on his cheeks, glinting like stars in his black hair.

"Hey," she whispers, touching his arm lightly. "Are you okay?"

He opens his eyes then and looks at her, his face half in shadow. "What are you doing outside, love?"

Emma wraps her arms around her middle. "I needed some fresh air."

That, and she needed to get away from Neal and his smile and his not-so-subtle flirting.

"What are you doing outside?" she asks. She wants to add, It's cold, but he doesn't seem as bothered by it as she is, even with his shirt unbuttoned halfway to his belt.

Hook shifts, turning his body towards her and dropping his hand onto the pommel of the cutlass jutting from his hip. He regards her silently for a long moment, and his silence sends a jagged spike of fear through Emma.

He's leaving.

He did what he said he'd do, he helped them get Henry back, and now he's leaving.

Emma guesses she should have known. Everyone leaves her. That's just the way it is, and that's why she never gets attached—and she's definitely not attached to Hook. She can't be. She knows better.

And yet, there's an ache in her chest, beneath her breastbone.

Suddenly, it's difficult to take a full breath. The ache is spreading, constricting her lungs.

"Hook?" she chokes out, because if he's about to tell her he's leaving then she wants it over with, she wants this feeling to stop, this feeling as if something vital is being stripped from her.

"I told Bae—" Hook visibly catches himself, lips twisting like there's a bad taste in his mouth. "I told Neal that I'd back off."

"Back off?"

"Aye. I told him I'd give him a fair shot at winning you back. For the boy's sake."

"I'm not—" Emma bites down hard on her anger, the heat of it warming her neck and flushing her cheeks. "I'm not some prize you two get to fight over. I thought I'd made that clear in Neverland."

"I know, love. I just…" He looks away, jaw clenched tight. "Henry deserves to have his parents together. If that's what you want."

His voice is unusually flat, and it chills her, turns her anger from hot to cold in an instant, leaving nothing but one tiny, defiant flame burning in her center.

"It's not what I want," she says.

She thought she'd made that clear too, when she told him their kiss was a one time thing and then made a liar out of herself on the journey back to Storybrooke, when she met him in a dark cabin aboard his ship and let him press her against a wooden beam while Neal taught Henry to sail somewhere over their heads.

Hook meets her eyes again, his gaze bright, intense. Unblinking. "What do you want, Swan?"


The thought is unbidden, automatic—but the word sticks in her throat, impossibly heavy, weighed down by expectations, complications.

You is a word with strings attached, and Emma doesn't do strings, she doesn't do attachment.

"Not Neal," is all she can manage. His eyes narrow a fraction, almost imperceptibly. She swallows, heart stuttering. "What do you want?"

"I want whatever you want."

Hook's never been anything other than completely open with her—at least where his feelings and intentions towards her are concerned—but his response isn't entirely truthful. Emma senses something deeper there, an undercurrent of quiet yearning.

It sends a warm shiver vibrating up her spine. She steps into him, grabbing the enormous lapels of his coat and tugging his lips down to hers.

It's like their first kiss all over again. It's hunger and desperation and a bit of a competition, it's the scrape of teeth and her chin rubbed raw from his stubble, it's his hook brushing her bare hip bone, it's heat between her legs and his arousal pressing against her navel.

She could drown in this—in him.

Laughter erupts from inside Granny's, muffled but loud enough to startle her and for awareness to creep in.

She should get back to Henry. She should take him to the loft so he can rest.

(She should stop kissing Hook and take a second to think about what kissing him means.)

Emma breaks the kiss and glances at the diner, wondering if anyone's noticed she's missing yet. Hook, undeterred, merely pulls her closer, his nose brushing her cheek, tracing a line towards her ear—then he falls still as he realizes she's no longer participating.

His hook disappears from her hip, suddenly there's a gap between their bodies.

"Swan, I'm sorry—" He sees where she's looking, sees the diner with its windows ablaze and Henry laughing with Mary Margaret and David.  

"It's Henry," Emma explains, wrapping her arms around her middle once more. "With what he just went through, I can't…I shouldn't—"

She bites her lip. It doesn't feel right to be doing whatever this is while Henry still has healing to do.

"I understand." There's still a gap between them. He presses a soft kiss to her temple, the barest brush of lips. "Go," he murmurs.

She jogs across the patio, the icy air pricking her overwarm cheeks; just before she opens the door she looks back.

Hook's standing exactly where she left him, watching her with a faint, sad smile on his face. She can't bring herself to turn away from him, so she calls, "Tomorrow night?"

"You know where to find me, love."

And then he's gone, lost in the darkness and the veil of falling snow.

Chapter Text

February 14

Emma's sitting by the docks on a frozen bench, her gloved hands twisted together in her lap, the knot in her stomach twisted even tighter, Neal's question echoing in her ears.

"Hey Em, can we make some time to talk?"

"Isn't that what we're doing right now?"

"Yea, I thought maybe just the two of us..."

Neal—in what he probably thought was a romantic gesture—asked Emma to have dinner with him on Valentine's Day.

Meaning it's a date.

"Neal, I don't—"

"Okay, look, I'll make this easier for you. On Friday I'm gonna be hungry right around dinner time, so I'm gonna go to Granny's and sit in a booth and you're welcome to join me."

She smiled blandly, because she knew Henry was listening, and apparently Neal took that for agreement because he grinned and left before she could clarify how very not into his offer she was.

It wasn't supposed to get complicated, but it did, right around the time her parents got involved.

(Henry must have told them about it.)

Mary Margaret cornered her in the schoolyard one morning to tell Emma that she owes it to herself to go on a date with Neal, and David repeated Mary Margaret's sentiment word for word two hours later in the break room at the station.

They don't know about her and Hook.

No one knows about her and Hook.

Emma's been living what feels like a double life for 2 months, balancing this thing she has with Hook and the game she's currently playing with Neal.

The game—making nice with a man she never wanted to see again—is for Henry, because Henry adores his dad and Emma wants for her and Neal to be on good terms for Henry's sake. Keeping what she and Hook do at night aboard his ship a secret is part of that.

But it's all about to crash and burn.

Emma sighs and closes her eyes.

Neal's probably at the diner by now. It's 6:30 and he told her to meet him at 6. She's late.

Emma snorts to herself.

She's very late, and that's precisely the problem.

Her period was due two weeks ago, and it never came. The pregnancy test she finally had the nerve to take that morning confirmed the suspicion that's been sitting at the back of her throat like acid since the end of January.

Emma's pregnant.

And now she's here at the docks, partly because it's become a place of solace for her, and partly because she's hoping Hook will find her.

He does, of course, and it doesn't surprise Emma to see that he already knows she stood Neal up; there's a cocky tilt to his head, a teasing smile playing along his lips.

"Everything alright, Swan?"


"Yea, why?" she asks, as casually as she can.

He drops down onto the bench beside her and drapes his arm along the back. "Well, I saw Neal waiting at the diner all by himself, and I wanted to come make certain you're okay."

"You mean you wanted to come gloat."

He doesn't bother hiding his smirk.

Emma looks away. Out of the corner of her eye she sees his grin fade. In an instant, the charm and swagger evaporates and she's sitting next to the Hook she likes to think of as her Hook, the Hook that only reveals himself when they're alone together.

"I'm serious, love," he says quietly. "Is everything alright?"

His hand shifts, grazes her shoulders. When they're in bed together he's free and bold with his touches, but beyond the confines of his ship he's cautious, wary of both their surroundings and her limits. Emma stiffens, not because the contact is unwelcome, but because she's trying not to lean into it.

She stares forcefully at the horizon, the faint line where the black sea meets the deep navy of the night sky. It steadies her enough to meet Hook's eye.

"How did you know where to find me?"

He shrugs. "I didn't. I was just…hoping."

His mouth twitches in a smile, and Emma has to look away again.

This is the bench they sit on sometimes, afterwards, when he walks her as close to her apartment as she'll let him.

Usually they sit and talk for a few minutes, gaze out at the horizon like Emma's doing now. It's different on the bench than it is on his ship, the heat between them cooling, becoming something less fervent and more…comfortable.

She likes it, she likes listening to him, to the sound of his voice, the enthusiasm in it when he names the constellations for her. Emma's familiar with most of them at this point, but she doesn't stop him when he informs her for the fifth time that Polaris is the brightest star in Ursa Minor, or for the hundredth time that Ursa Minor is commonly referred to as the Little Dipper.

But the sound of his voice now, so full of hope…

It makes her knotted insides twist even tighter, because he thinks this is some sign, some indication that things between them are evolving.

And that's one possibility. That they'll evolve.

Another possibility is that they'll shatter completely.

Emma doesn't want that. She wants to keep doing what they're doing. She likes this thing they have going, just the two of them, and she doesn't want it to end.

And just like that night 2 months ago on Granny's patio, if it is going to end, if they're about to shatter, she wants it to be over with, she wants the ache in her chest to stop so she can just be numb.

She looks at Hook. She didn't really plan what she was going to say, how she was going to tell him; she didn't want to think about how he'd react. So she says it now, as fast as she can, before she can't make herself go through with it.

"I'm pregnant."

He blinks. "Come again?"

"I'm pregnant," she repeats, annoyed that he's making her say those words aloud again when she's barely even processed the fact that it's real, no longer just a suspicion hovering in the back of her mind.

Emma sees him swallow, Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. "Are you certain?"

"Of course I'm certain," she snaps.


"How am I certain?"

She didn't think to bring the positive test as proof—or to wait and take it with him.

(She's already operating as if she's on her own in this.)

(It's easier that way.)

"No. How—" Hook inhales shakily. "How did this happen? I thought…" His brow crinkles. "I thought you said—"

"I said I was on the pill and I couldn't get pregnant, yea."

She is—well, was taking birth control.

And she was using it correctly.

Hook doesn't press her on the matter though, so he must understand to some degree, that this was just an accident, that the same thing could have happened if they were using condoms instead.

He breathes out slowly, then asks, "What are you going to do?"


You. He said you.

Emma knew he might blame her for this—hate her, even, but…

"What are—" Hook starts, then pauses, squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head. "I know there are…options, Swan. What I'm asking is…"


He's asking her if she's keeping it.

Of course she's keeping it. Not keeping it was never an option. It's not ideal, obviously, and she has Henry now to take care of now, but…

(God, Neal's probably going to be an asshole about it, and her parents—she has no clue how her parents will react.)


"Yes," she says. "I'm keeping it."

He swallows again, nods.

"If you're…" She takes a deep breath, holds it. "Look, you can walk away right now if you want. You don't have to be involved."

It would be easier if he decided that right now as opposed to five or ten years down the line.

Emma can handle heartbreak, but this baby shouldn't have to.

"No," Hook says, so sharply that Emma's surprised the air doesn't part around his words. "No, Emma. I'm…I'm here. Whatever you want to do—whatever you need from me—I'm here."

The hard edge in his voice softens.

"This isn't going to scare me away, love."

And that scares Emma.

She nods, mutely. He watches her for a long moment before offering her his hand. She takes it without thinking and sees something—triumph, maybe, or relief—flicker across Hook's face.

His thumb strokes across her knuckles lightly, just once. "What do we do now, Swan?"

Emma doesn't know exactly what he's asking but there are some conversations she's definitely not ready to have, so she gives his hand a squeeze before sliding hers free.

"I'm going home," she says. "I need to rest."

Mostly, she needs to process. And think about next steps. And eat her weight in ice cream.

She stands, and Hook rises to his feet beside her. "When will I see you again?"

"I'll call you."

He makes a move like he wants to follow her—to walk her back to her apartment, probably, as if she's suddenly more vulnerable because there's an embryo the size of a pea in her stomach—but he stops himself and lets her go.

When Emma gets home she closes the door and leans back against it, then she sighs. "Fuck."

Chapter Text

February 15


Emma's said that word so many times since she got home last night that it's starting to lose its potency.

And yet…


That morning she woke up and decided to see a doctor and have her pregnancy confirmed, and now it's officially official and Emma has the paperwork and the sonogram to prove it; the baby looked like a tiny little peanut in there but it is in there and it was already feeling pretty real but now it's feeling really real.

She's 6 weeks along and due at the end of September.

6 weeks means that the baby was conceived on or around Christmas, which is both precious and corny all at the same time.

Emma lays the sonogram carefully on the table and raises her eyes to neutral territory, but the beige cabinets can't stop the memories, they can't halt the heat creeping up her neck.

Hook asked her how this happened, and the answer is a lot of sex.

Because sex with Hook is really good.

Emma's never been with someone like him before.

(She's never been with someone that wasn't a one-night stand since Neal.)

The things he can do with his tongue and his fingers and his…

There's just something about the feel of him bare inside of her, something about how different he sounds when he is, the moans and gasps that escape him, the crease between his brows, like he's in so much ecstasy that it's painful.

Still, Emma should have been more careful. She should have made him wear a condom anyway.

It's embarrassing, being 30 and accidentally pregnant. Again.

She's not supposed to be this careless—this stupid.

Emma picks up the sonogram, stares at it. Despite how embarrassed she is, she can't bring herself to regret it—if someone had asked her, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" she wouldn't have answered that she'd be having Hook's baby, but she's going to make it work. And she thinks…

She thinks it will be okay.

(Whether or not Hook does actually stick around.)

A knock on her door startles her, another "Fuck!" falling from her lips and the sonogram slipping through her fingers.

She jumps up, her chair scraping loudly across the linoleum, and has just enough presence of mind to grab the sonogram and drop it into the open box of PopTarts on the table before she crosses the kitchen to the front door.

Hand on the doorknob, she hesitates.

Neal tried to call her last night—13 times—and half the reason Emma decided this morning was the perfect morning to have an intravaginal ultrasound courtesy of Dr. Whale was because she was afraid Neal would show up on her doorstep and she didn't want to risk being at home for that.

Well, she's at home now and if this is Neal then this is it.

She hopes he won't make a scene, she hopes he'll just take the hint—he probably won't though, and unless he hasn't picked Henry up from Regina's yet then Henry will be there and Emma will have to tell Neal in front of their son that she's definitely not interested in rekindling whatever Neal thinks there is between them to rekindle.

But it's not Neal on her doorstep.

It's her dad, holding two coffees and a bag of what Emma sincerely hopes are Granny's bear claws.

"Hi," he says brightly.

Emma looks from the bag to the coffees and then frowns into David's beaming face. "Did mom send you?"

"No. She has no idea I'm here."

Emma's eyebrows jerk upwards. "Really?"

"Yea." David shrugs. "I saw Neal sitting at Granny's alone last night and I wanted to make sure you're okay."

"And you just happened to be at Granny's at the exact same time Neal was waiting for me to meet him for dinner?"

David grins. "Yes. Can I come in?"

Emma rolls her eyes but she steps out of the doorway so David can enter.

"Are you okay?" he asks as he passes by.

"I'm fine."

David turns on his heel, one of the coffees wobbling dangerously in the carrier. "Emma."

"Dad," she returns, matching his solemn tone.

He presses his lips together, and Emma braces herself for a speech, but he just huffs and sets the coffees and the bag on her kitchen table, then—hands on his hips—says, "You've seemed distracted lately."

Emma goes still and keeps her expression carefully blank.


Apparently she was too distracted to notice just how distracted she was.

"Is there something going on?" David continues. "Something you want to talk about?"

No is Emma's immediate, gut reaction—and no is what she probably would have said to her mom, but her dad just…he gets her.

So she nods and sits down and David takes the chair across from her.

His arm bumps the PopTart box and for one terrifying second Emma thinks he's going to find the sonogram, but he merely smiles at the label and moves it aside, then passes her a bear claw from the Granny's bag.

"What's on your mind?" he prompts.

Emma sucks in a breath and holds it.

I'm pregnant.

It would probably feel nice—cathartic, even—to tell her dad the truth, to tell him she's been seeing Hook secretly for 2 months and that now she's pregnant.

But ever since they returned from Neverland her parents have been trying to have a baby.

("Their re-do baby," Neal once chuckled, not realizing how hurt by the situation she was.)

Telling her dad is one thing, telling her mom is another.

Her mom will be devastated, and Emma's not mentally prepared to be the cause of that yet.

But David's watching her, expecting an answer—and Emma did agree to talk, so she closes her eyes and casts a line out into the deep dark pool of her worries. What she comes up with is, "Bad things keep happening."


She just implied the baby is a bad thing, and a fierce voice inside of her rises up and hisses, "It's not!"

"What I mean," Emma amends quickly, shoving down that angry little voice, not sure if she's speaking to it or to her dad, "is that I can't shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen."

And that's true. She hasn't really relaxed since they defeated Peter Pan. She's afraid the moment she relaxes will be the moment they're plunged into the next crisis, so she's stayed alert, looking for danger around every corner.

David smiles gently, and his hands move like they want to reach across the table and grab hold of hers. "Good things happen too," he insists. "There's more to life than just looking for the next fight. You gotta look for the moments."

"Moments," Emma repeats dryly.

"Life is made up of moments, Emma—good ones and bad ones."

Emma grimaces. "Well, I seem to be a magnet for the bad ones."

"All the more reason to look for the good moments in between the bad ones."

"And you think me having dinner with Neal would have been a good moment?"

"I don't know…he doesn't eat with his mouth open or anything, does he?"

Emma snorts, then she leans forward, propping one elbow on the table and dropping her chin into her hand.

"You sure you don't have other reasons for pushing me towards Neal?" she asks.

"Like what?"

"Like keeping me away from Hook?"

It's sort of a test, to see how much David's been paying attention, how much he might have noticed these past 2 months.

David wrinkles his nose. "You think I'm interested in Hook?"

"No, I—"

"Emma, I'm a married man."

Emma can't help the laugh that bubbles up her throat, but she chokes on it when she hears another knock on her apartment door, this one soft and polite.

David stands automatically to answer it and it's too late for Emma to stop him, to tell him that if it's Neal she's not home—she grips the edge of the table, prepared to dive under it, but when the door opens, she sees a familiar head of dark hair hovering over David's shoulder.

It's Hook.

He's never been to her apartment before—what the hell is happening?

David turns, one eyebrow raised as if to ask her, "Is this supposed to be here?" but when he catches sight of her stricken expression his eyes widen, and she sees realization dawn on his face.

What's happening, she decides, is the crashing and burning part of this shit show.


Chapter Text

February 14

Killian isn't entirely certain what makes him do it—curiosity is surely part of it, though it's the type of curiosity that sits squarely in nosy territory, since it isn't technically his business.

(Or, perhaps it is his business, as it has to do with Emma and one of the reasons they've been meeting quite literally in dark, secluded alleyways.)

If he probed his motivations—truly probed them—he'd probably discover that it's largely ego that propels him out of his cabin and into the frosty February air, to stand alone in one of the above-mentioned dark, secluded alleyways.

There, in the shadows between two buildings, Killian raises his spyglass.

Across the street is Granny's, the diner's warmly glowing windows a beacon in the night. It's packed, as it usually is around dinnertime, but Killian has no trouble locating Neal, and when he does he smirks.

Neal's alone, staring mournfully into the mug of beer he's cradling between his palms.

Triumph swells in Killian's chest, like a sail caught in a headwind. He knows he shouldn't feel that way, it's not a competition, after all—although Neal's hardly his competition; Killian told the man he'd step aside as a courtesy, to give Neal a chance to see for himself—without Killian standing in the way—that Emma doesn't want him.

But now that she's made that clear, well…

Killian hopes this means she's finally ready to take a step forward, perhaps admit that she has feelings for him.

(Because although she hides that fact quite well from herself, she can't hide it from him.)

So it's with a peculiar jittery, floaty feeling in his stomach that he departs the shadows and goes looking for Emma.

His hand strays to his pocket, where he keeps the talking phone Emma persuaded him to purchase. He rarely uses it, save to occasionally press the 'Emma' button.

He supposes he could do so now, call her up and ask where she is, but Killian suspects he knows exactly where to find her: it's Friday and Henry's with Regina for the night, so it's a night Emma would usually visit Killian on his ship, one of the rare nights they can spend hours plural together instead of hour singular.

She's likely already there, waiting for him.

At the entrance to the wharf, however, Killian hesitates.

There's a slim possibility that Emma's elsewhere—sitting on their bench by the docks, specifically.

If she's on his ship then the only thing she'll want to do is forget, but the bench…

The bench would mean that she wants to talk, and as much as Killian enjoys Emma losing herself in his body—and losing himself in hers in turn—he'd much rather take the opportunity to talk if that opportunity is currently presenting itself.

He turns left, veering away from the Jolly Roger and heading instead through the shipyard towards the north end of the harbor, where there's a park along the waterfront. On the other side of the park is the small, quiet neighborhood where Emma lives, and in between the park and the shipyard is a poorly lit strip of boardwalk overlooking the sea.

It's a dark spot, fairly unfrequented even in the daylight, and Killian assumes it's the unlikelihood of them being seen there together that makes it one of the few places in Storybrooke where Emma's not afraid to be out in the open with him.

He sees her from a distance, the sight of her sitting on the bench driving the air from his lungs in an excited rush.

The jittery feeling in his stomach spreads, floods his body, vibrates his limbs. Emma turns her head as he approaches, and he can't help the grin, the jaunty stride, the playful tilt of his head as he calls, "Everything alright, Swan?"

"Yea, why?"

His blood is singing in his ears too loudly for him to properly identify her tone, so it's with gusto that he drops onto the bench beside her and drapes his arm along the back. "Well, I saw Neal waiting at the diner all by himself, and I wanted to come make certain you're okay."

"You mean you wanted to come gloat."

He smirks, anticipating a smile in return but instead Emma looks away and all those warm, fizzy feelings inside of him fade instantly. "I'm serious, love," he murmurs. "Is everything alright?"

She doesn't answer right away, and without thinking Killian reaches out.

He's spent 2 months learning where and how she likes to be touched, analyzing and cataloguing her reactions to his every ministration, so he knows that when his fingers brush her shoulder it's not revulsion that causes her to stiffen, it's something else—and although Killian can't fathom what that something else is he withdraws.

Emma stares out at the horizon while he waits silently, his thoughts roiling, regret gnawing at his edges; he didn't expect Emma to be so affected—he assumed she'd be relieved to finally let Neal down and be free of his attentions, but this is clearly harder for her than she imagined, and—

"How did you know where to find me?"

Her eyes are steady on his, her voice even.

Killian shrugs. "I didn't. I was just…hoping."

A smile tugs at his lips, warmth flutters in his stomach, but she looks away again, and the next words out of her mouth shatter the night.

"I'm pregnant."

Killian blinks. Beneath his boots, the world grinds to a halt. "Come again?"

He couldn't have heard her correctly. He couldn't have heard her say that…that she's…

"I'm pregnant," Emma says, glaring.

Killian swallows. "Are you certain?"

"Of course I'm certain."

He's aware that it's a stupid question, and yet he asks an even stupider one.


"How am I certain?"

"No. How—" He drags in a breath. "How did this happen? I thought…I thought you said—"

"I said I was on the pill and I couldn't get pregnant," Emma mutters. "Yea."

She explained to him, what the pill she took every morning did, how it prevented pregnancy. She was confident that they worked, and Killian trusted in that confidence.

He still does.

This was just…an accident. No one's fault. Not Emma's, not his.

(Not his.)

Killian exhales slowly, shifts his gaze to the horizon. "What are you going to do?"


"What are—" He pauses, squeezing his eyes shut and shaking his head. "I know there are…options, Swan. What I'm asking is…"

Are you keeping it?

Emma's never mentioned wanting another child—not that they've ever discussed it. She might not want to be a mother again. Henry might be enough for her. Henry might be it for her.

And that's her choice. Killian won't make her go through with something she wants no part of, regardless of his own desires.

"Emma?" he prompts.

He holds his breath, trying to ignore the smoldering beneath his breastbone that feels suspiciously like yearning, trying desperately not to care if Emma wants to go through with the pregnancy or not.

"Yes," she says. "I'm keeping it."

Something that was clenched tight inside of Killian unclenches. He swallows again, nods numbly.

"If you're…" Emma trails off. Killian sees her gather herself, sees the armor she draws closed around her heart. "Look, you can walk away right now if you want. You don't have to be involved."

"No," he growls, so vehemently that Emma's eyes widen in surprise. "No, Emma. I'm…I'm here. Whatever you want to do—whatever you need from me—I'm here."

That she's in this with or without him only makes his admiration for her grow, but he needs her to understand that he won't abandon his child.

He won't abandon her.

"This isn't going to scare me away, love," he says gently.

And he knows that's what she's expecting, that it'll be too much for him, that he'll leave her the way others have in the past.

But he won't. Not unless she tells him to.

Emma nods, seemingly accepting his promise. Her expression is still guarded, but when Killian offers her his hand she takes it.

He sighs inwardly with relief and swipes his thumb across her knuckles. "What do we do now, Swan?"

The world returns to motion, and although nothing's changed everything has changed.

Emma squeezes his hand and then abruptly pulls hers free. "I'm going home," she says. "I need to rest."

She stands, and Killian rises hastily to his feet beside her.

"When will I see you again?" he asks.

"I'll call you."

He hates the barrier that appears suddenly between them, and he takes an involuntary step forward before he catches himself—pushing Emma will only make her shut down. He has to be patient. He has to respect that she needs space.

So he watches her disappear into the park, then he sits down heavily on the bench and pulls the flask of rum from his coat. He raises the flask to his lips—

I'm going to be a father.

—and then lowers it without taking a sip.

He sighs, an exhalation of pure disbelief, then he leans his head back and lifts his gaze skyward.

"Bloody hell," he tells the stars, but the stars are silent.

February 15

Killian laid awake all night, staring at the ceiling of his cabin, and when dawn breaks, he makes a decision.

Words carry only so much weight with Emma; in order to prove to her that he's in this, he has to be in it.

So he makes a move.

Perhaps it's a bold move. Perhaps it's too bold.

It's a risk, certainly, showing up at her apartment unannounced—but it's a calculated risk. At least, that's what he believes, until it's David opening Emma's front door and Killian realizes just how astronomical of an error he's made.