the cartography of our intimacy (captain swan, teen)
Summary: for the prompt Killian gets used to snuggling :)
the cartography of our intimacy
The Charming family, Killian learns, are very affectionate people.
He’s seen David and his wife over the course of their journey to Neverland, has seen how they respond to their daughter and their grandson with hugs and reassuring touches. Emma, despite her tendency for self-preservation above all else, is affectionate but only with them and her son; she constantly is reaching out to play with his hair, touch his shoulder, pull him close for a hug.
It is incredibly endearing, though a completely foreign concept to Killian himself.
He has never been as openly affectionate with anyone as Emma and her family are with each other, Milah included (one of his deepest regrets). Centuries spent in Neverland with very little company did not make him apprehensive about the touch of others – he can thank life as an orphan for that – but it did not make it easier for him.
When he watches them interact with each other, and with Neal and with Granny and the dwarves and the other inhabitants of the town, there is a lingering feeling of unease that settles on his shoulders and sinks into his bones. He can play at being a good man, and he can be honorable when the time calls for it, but he does not know how to love the way that these people do – effortlessly, with great compassion and great warmth.
It is with this knowledge that Killian knows he will never truly belong here, in this realm, with Emma. He might love her with all that is in him, but he does not know how to demonstrate his feelings beyond following her wishes and doing what he can for her, what little that amounts to in the end.
He likes to think actions speak louder than words but in Storybrooke, his meager actions are dwarfed by the actions of others.
Killian lingers over his rum, on his ship, in his lonely quarters. He lingers over his own failings and drinks deep the bitterness of his own shortcomings, for someone such as himself would never belong with someone such as Emma, especially when he doesn’t know how to love her like she deserves, like her family and all those who hold her dear love her.
He’s not sure how he can fight for what he wants if what he wants is probably not meant to be his.
It starts with David – a pat on the back, a handshake with a shoulder tap. It surprises Killian, but he knows he has won the Prince’s trust in Neverland and once gained, it doesn’t seem to waver.
He wishes this good mood would transfer to his wife, but Emma’s mother is wary of him and he cannot blame her. He sees how Mary-Margaret looks at Neal, how she wishes deeply that her daughter would reunite with the father of her son so that their family can be complete.
(He tries not to be amused that Snow White, who he heard was quite the outlaw when she was overthrown by Regina, does not trust a pirate with her daughter’s heart.)
But for now, he will take the gestures that David extends to him, the way that he invites Killian to sit with him for coffee when Mary-Margaret is not around or to join him and Emma for lunch when they are at Granny’s together.
Killian accepts the handshakes and the pats on the back and the kind words that are extended to him in an effort to welcome him to this strange new realm, much like he would have done with new crewmembers, and he tries to show his gratitude by giving them the family what they want: he lingers in Storybrooke but not near Emma, giving her space yet being there if she needs him.
It is not enough for him, but he hopes it is enough for her.
“Hey,” Emma says, sliding onto the stool next to Killian. First her coat, then her shoulder, brush against him as she sits, and when she is seated she is in very close proximity to him. It makes him a bit uneasy, not just because of how he feels but because this closeness, this touch, is one of those things he is not very good at compared to everyone else.
“Hello, beautiful,” he tells her with a smile. She looks down at his food.
“Grilled cheese, huh?” she asks. “What do you think?”
Killian picks up a piece of the toasted bread. “Out of all of the delicacies of your realm, I find this one especially enjoyable,” he tells her. There’s something comforting about the simple bread and cheese – something that reminds him of the food that Liam used to provide them with when they were boys. It is a memory of his brother not tainted with the darkness of Dreamshade, and one he holds dear.
“I used to love grilled cheese when I was a kid,” Emma tells him. “No matter where I went, no one could screw up a grilled cheese sandwich. It was the only constant thing I had in my life.”
He offers her the remaining half, sliding the plate towards her with a small smile (he cannot tell her he loves her and he cannot hold her for she is not his but he can make sure she is happy) which grows bigger when she takes it. She dips it into the tomato soup that Granny has provided which he finds equally enjoyable, and takes a bite.
Emma smiles at him as she chews, and he tries not to think too hard about sharing his lunch with her, and how her shoulder still presses against his own, her head so close that he can hear the brush of her hair on his jacket sleeve when she leans forward to dip the bread in the soup again.
He closes his eyes, steadies himself.
It is enough.
Or, at least, it will have to be.
It is never enough.
It gets worse as Killian stays in Storybrooke, still unsure of what to do and where to go. There are small hiccups – issues from the past that arise as everyone tries to settle into their new lives – and he falls into a routine: morning on his ship, lunch at Granny’s, afternoon pestering Emma at the station. He only does it because she asks it of him.
“You’re pretty handy in a fight,” she tells him one day, leaning against the railing of his ship (she has sought him out, not the other way around).
“Is that supposed to be a joke, Swan?” he responds. She rolls her eyes.
“I know there’s not a lot of crime in Storybrooke but maybe you could stick around? You’re the only lawman left in town –“
“Pirate –“he corrects.
“You have military experience which makes you better than the rest of us,” she tells him. She takes a deep breath. “It would mean a lot to me if you could help us.”
He tries not to let her see how much her words affect him, but he can’t help it. It’s like balm to a wound, her words to his heart, and he bows with a flourish to hide his emotions. “As you wish, my lady.”
But it’s not enough because for every moment he steals – for every shared smile or brush of her arm against his as they ride in David’s truck or walk somewhere in town – there are dozens of moments given freely to her family and friends. He feels like a pirate more than ever as he hordes every precious memory of her in his heart
The uneasiness that he’s felt since being in Storybrooke still lingers, and he realizes that he is not good at this. He can flirt and fuck and fight but he cannot whisper platitudes and he is long out of practice with how to woo a lady and he has never wooed someone such as Emma, who is a lady but would scoff at the title because she is so much more.
He is unsure that he can love her like she deserves to be loved.
He is too broken to be what she needs.
Killian makes his decision one morning, and prepares the ship to set sail. He has begun to stockpile supplies and so he will be ready to set off when he determines where he will go.
That is the difficulty. He can’t travel between realms, but he also is intrigued by the world in front of him. The maps that Emma has given him show great expanses of ocean and coastlines, and the part of him that loves the sea yearns to discover them all.
It is there, in his quarters, maps spread out across the table, lines drawn and courses charted, that Emma finds him. He is in his shirtsleeves, jacket and vest thrown across the nearest chair. He has been so intent on his maps that he barely notices until she is right in front of him, staring down at his work.
“You’re leaving?” she asks, and the expression on her face gives him pause.
“There’s a large world out there that I haven’t explored,” Killian tells her. “It’s tempting.”
“I understand that feeling all too well.” She pauses, shoves her hands in the pockets of her jacket. “You didn’t come to Granny’s.”
Killian looks at his day’s work. “No, I didn’t.”
Emma puts her fingers on the edge of the nearest map, traces the corner. “Because you’re leaving.”
He doesn’t know what to do or say so he doesn’t do anything. Instead, he watches her hand move. It’s Emma who speaks next.
“Were you going to say goodbye?” she asks, and when he looks up he finds that there are tears in the corner of her eyes.
Of course. Of course. They understand each other, and what he understands right now is that she is that lost girl, afraid of people leaving her, and he is doing exactly what everyone else has done. He is leaving her, just like everyone else.
He does something he doesn’t expect to do: he reaches for her hand, taking it in his and squeezing it in what he hopes is a reassuring gesture. She squeezes back, and his heart beats faster.
“I’m not leaving, lass,” he tells her, because it is now the truth. He will stay if she wants. “I’m a sailor at heart and these maps…like I said, temptation.” The words come easily because he will not be the one to leave her today. He will stay, because she wishes it.
Emma smiles, and she says, “So, can I tempt you to have dinner with me at Granny’s then?”
His heart beats faster as he smiles.
“If the lady insists.”
When they leave the Jolly Roger, their hands brush. His breath catches as Emma reaches out, threads her fingers through his own.
They walk like that to Granny’s.
Things escalate quickly, from eating lunch to holding hands to hugs, given as they part for the day.
It is new for him to be touched so frequently and for him to respond so easily, cradling her head in his hand or placing his hook on the small of her back. He learns, quickly, what movements are more intimate (the way she strokes the back of his hand with her thumb when they walk) and those that are less (the press of her hip against his as they sit in the booth together) and savors each one. He also learns to initiate intimacy, though it happens slower than he would like: he reaches for her hand, and she takes it; he touches her shoulder in passing, and she leans into him.
Killian learns to takes risks. He brushes her hair back like he’s done before, which is usually one of his flirtatious moves, but here becomes something else (he cannot ignore the way her breath catches when his fingers brush against her cheek). He guides her with his hand on the small of her back. He reaches for her, and she reaches back.
He takes his greatest risk when he kisses her one evening after they leave Granny’s and are returning to his ship.
Emma kisses him back, fingers finding their way to grasp at the short hair on the nape of his neck, thumb resting beside his ear. His hand rests on her hip, pulling her close against him.
When they part, they are both red-lipped and kiss-drunk, the intensity of the moment giving way to shy and sly glances.
“If that’s your idea of fun,” she tells him, “I like how you think.”
“Love,” he breathes against her mouth, “you have no idea what you’re in for.”
That is their first kiss.
There is a second, third, and fourth, not consecutively but over time - kisses stolen in alleyways and in her small vehicle - before they find their way to his ship and shed their clothes in his small quarters, throwing them across his maps and charts as they stumble to the bed.
This sort of intimacy he can do and do quite well, but sex is one thing and sex with the woman you love…
…well that is something else entirely.
Emma is a greedy lover and he is more than willing to make sure that all of her needs are met. She grabs at his hair, hands spreading across his shoulders to hold him closer, pulling him against her. The press of skin against skin is overwhelming to him and it is more than he can handle and so he drowns in the feel of her.
Emma is also a giving lover, giving him more than he can ask for with every long kiss, every roll of her hips, every moment that their eyes meet and she smiles so easily he wondered why he ever worried.
This is more than enough.
“Move,” she tells him, sitting next to him on her parent’s couch. She moves his arm around her shoulders and leans against his side, hair tickling his nose.
Killian loves every minute of it.
The Charming family is an affectionate family that has, for the most part, welcomed him in because Emma wants him there. Henry, her son, is more than willing to tell him everything he needs to know about this new realm and even though Mary-Margaret purses her lips more than once at the first dinner he’s invited to, she soon smiles when he arrives with Emma and squeezes his shoulder as she passes by.
(Emma teases him merciless about the ‘bromance’ he has with her father but the fact is that David has become a very good friend and that is another thing he is very thankful for).
The Charming family does pizza and movies every Friday night, and he soon learns that his place is on the couch, with Henry curling around Emma as Emma curls around him.
It is awkward at first, because even if he’s become used to intimacy with Emma (it comes easy to them, as apprehensive as they are, because they understand each other) but he is still chivalrous enough to worry about how her parents will react if they see them ‘snuggling’ as she calls it.
However, she enjoys it, the way that she tucks her head into the crook of his neck and wraps her arm around his chest and sometimes fall asleep mid-movie and so he enjoys it too.
It’s something that Killian never thought he would have - a life he long through lost to him the minute Liam’s body sunk beneath the waves and he declared mutiny. And so he pulls her close, brushes a kiss against her head, feels her fingers slip against the band of the new pants she bought him as she settles in to watch the movie.
David hands him a beer as he sits down beside Mary-Margaret on another sofa.
“Thanks, mate,” Killian says, and David nods.
Killian takes a long, slow drink before Emma steals it from him (she always does and he always lets her) but she does it with a smile and he can’t possibly be angry with her.
He did not expect to fit in here, in such an unfamiliar place as Storybrooke, with Emma or her family, but he is eager explore the new terrain.