a/n: Mild spoilers for 4.04 or speculation, I guess.
She’s sitting on a bench by the docks when he gets there and he stops in his tracks a few paces behind her. He hasn’t seen her since the previous night — that perfect, beautiful, glorious night that had ended in an awful mess. Their date had been his chance. His chance to show her that he belonged, that he was a gentleman, that it was right for them to be together like this. After the way they had parted, he hadn’t dared hope to see her again so soon. He was almost afraid of what it meant.
(Did she know he would come here? Had she sought him out to end their fledging romance so quickly?)
Killian steels himself and walks around to her cautiously, his steps slow and measured, right hand trailing along the back of the bench. “Wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
She doesn’t say anything, just twists open an ale sitting by her feet before holding it out to him. He accepts it with a nod, sitting down next to her, careful to keep an adequate amount of space between them in case his fears are right.
Emma twists open a second bottle and takes a long swill, rubbing the back of her neck with a wince as she rests the beer on her leg. The cold bottle leaves a dark circle on her thigh and he averts his gaze, drinking from his own bottle to distract himself.
Silence settles itself between them and he wishes he knew whether it were friend or foe. He wants to apologize, wants to ask what she’s thinking, wants to erase everything about the past twenty-four hours. Almost everything. He never wants to forget how beautiful she had looked at the start of dinner, how she had smiled at him and taken his hand as they entered the restaurant together.
Their drinks are mostly finished and still she hasn’t said a word, just continued to gaze out across the water apparently content to leave him in his state, barely daring to hope.
Finally, she takes one last pull from her drink, tipping her head back to drain it, and looks at him. He meets her eyes with raised brows and her fingers press into the back of her neck again, easing some pain or tightness there. He wishes he knew if it were still his place to ease whatever pain was troubling her.
“So, my day was terrible. How was yours?”
Her tone is so light and conversational that he snorts. “Absolutely miserable.”
Her mouth open into a wry sort of grin and he smirks back, finishing off his ale. Emma holds a hand out for the bottle and their fingers brush as he hands it back to her. His eyes flicker to hers and then she is leaning in and pressing a brief, chaste kiss to his lips.
“I have to go and pick Henry up. Next date is up to you, pirate.”
She’s stood from the bench and is already walking away before he can fully process her words. Killian rises as well, his left hand gripping the corner of the bench as he calls after her.
“This was a date?” His voice sounds breathless and it hits him then just how easily she could bring him to his knees.
Emma turns back around and shoves her hands in her pockets. “Yeah, our second.” Her smile is full of mischief and gods but she is the brightest thing he has ever seen. “Don’t take too long figuring out the third — you know what traditionally happens.”
His brow furrows of its own accord. “I do?”
She laughs at him. Flat out laughs in his face but it’s happy and light and he wasn’t sure he’d ever get to hear that sound after last night. “Yeah, you do.”
She’s walking away again and he’s still trying to sort through her words because he is rotten at this realm’s courtship and he has to get it right, damn it.
“Swan?” he calls again. She keeps walking, neither turning nor slowing her pace, but he knows she can still hear him. “What happens on the third date?”