Author's Note: My first attempt at a true Emma/Killian story, albeit an AU/Lieutenant Duckling one, as I eagerly await the return of season three in a matter of a few, short days. Constructive Criticism is always welcomed.

Disclaimer: As always, I do not claim rights or ownership of Once Upon a Time, its story or its characters. I simply borrow them for temporary amusement.


Patience

A heavy wooden door opened slowly on near-silent hinges.

A figure slipped outside quickly and eased it shut, stilling for a moment in the silence that stretched around her, breath rising in frosty clouds before her face.

Green eyes bright with excitement and mischief took a moment to study her surroundings, lips curling into a mischievous smile when she realized she was alone.

Tentatively her booted foot took a step further out into the snow, crunching frozen crystals the further she stole away from the door and its stone walls behind her.

With a rush of adrenaline she made a mad dash across the open space before her, making a beeline for the protective tree line, her hood falling upon her shoulders and sending curling flaxen hair flying out behind her. As she ducked quickly into the shadowed forest, pushing thick foliage aside, snow shifted and fell to the ground below, some flakes nestling into her golden locks, shining like crystals in a chandelier where they caught the morning winter sun.

Unable to see the path clearly with her eyes Emma felt for the familiar road from memory. Once sure of her footing she darted along it like a startled rabbit, her body warming quickly from the delighted exertion even as her nose and cheeks reddened from the chill.

The surrounding woods were silent as they watched her fly by, her thick winter cape ghosting along behind her, the quiet broken only by the crunch of her feet and the huffs of her breath though she swore her heart was pounding loud enough in her excitement to be heard clear back to the castle.

As the trees thinned, Emma's quiet smile grew to a grin as her eyes lit upon her intended target – the blue, gray waters of the sea stretching on into what felt like infinity some days.

The cold winters were never enough to freeze over the deep harbor's waters – the sea's waves too restless to grab hold of as ships continued to pull into port and sell their wares or come and go from the missions they were sent on.

Her gaze was locked on one such vessel, snuggled safely into port, fresh off the sea.

As she drew closer her gaze swept over the figures bustling about on the docks, tired from their long journey, and eager to be tucked away somewhere warm as soon as possible.

A shout went up as she was recognized and her grin widened further as one such figured stilled aboard the ship before his head shot up, crystalline water eyes she couldn't yet see but could feel like a teasing breeze across her face looked up to find hers.

She raised an enthusiastic hand in greeting, garnering many a hand back with smiles all around.

One of the sailors next to the man with the captivating eyes grabbed his work and waved him on ahead. The man protested at first, his dark head of hair shaking back and forth in quiet argument, but as others picked up the chorus the man grinned and began to make his way hurriedly across the deck and down the gangway.

Warmth spread through her that had nothing to do with her sprint from the castle and everything to do with the matching grin on his face as he met her halfway to his ship. Her momentum threw them off-balance as he opened his arms to her and they collapsed into the snow together, breathless with laughter. Ever the gentleman, he had taken the brunt of the force, landing on his back, holding her safe and warm in his sure arms.

"Couldn't wait, love?" He asked, all grins and bright eyes.

Her grin matched his as she swooped in for a warm kiss, cold noses on flushed cheeks, and warm, eager hands framing faces as they checked the other for any changes in the other's countenance during the separation.

"I'm not always known for my patience," she whispered against his lips when they finally surfaced for air, both steadfastly ignoring the whistles and catcalls that were echoing up from the docks.

He laughed heartedly, his hand reaching out to tuck back an errant curl behind her ear before kissing her sweetly. His vibrant blue eyes danced as she sighed into the kiss, all but melting against him, her eyelashes fluttering closed for a moment as she left herself exist only in the moment for a precious few more seconds.

Her smile grew gentle as she opened dazzling verdant eyes to his, subconsciously reaching out to grasp his left hand in hers, playing with the simple silver band resting on his finger. "I wanted to see you before my parents arrived," she admitted softly. "Before all the reports, propriety and calls of ceremony. Before –"

"Emma," an admonishing voice sounded from behind and causing the couple to still like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

Emma turned with a slightly guilty look to meet her mother's dancing eyes.

"I think your fiancé is getting wet," Snow simply stated with a small, amused smile. "It's good to see you have returned in good health Killian," she continued with a graceful nod in greeting, sitting as regally as ever upon her horse.

"Thank you, Your Majesty," he inserted as much formality into his voice as he could from where he continued to lie half-reclined in the snow.

Emma's resulting groans and mumbles of mutiny at their interrupted moment had Killian's eyes sparking before they helped the other to stand, brushing snow off as best they could.

"You couldn't have waited for us?" Another voice sighed as Emma's father came to a halt beside his wife. "Just five more minutes?"

"No." Emma's response was blunt, her arms folded across her chest in a defiant stance but her eyes danced with mischief, her lips threatening to turn into an impish grin that softened the sharp retort.

David swiped a gloved hand over his face in exasperation as Emma's fingers found Killian's, entwining them tightly.

Snow smiled with a knowing look. "That's my girl."

Mother and daughter shared twin smiles of amusement as David groaned.

"She's more like you every day," he muttered with a good-natured shake of his head.

Snow turned loving eyes on her husband before nodding her head towards the quay. "Come on, Charming, let's go before those waiting for us down at the docks freeze like icicles to their decks." She turned her horse toward the waterfront, but not before throwing a quick wink at her daughter.

David moved to follow his wife as he gave a stern glare at the couple that was lost a bit in his warm smile. "We're glad your return was safe, Lieutenant."

"Aye, us as well, Your Majesty," Killian gave a formal bow, lifting his head only when the unmistakable sound of hooves upon the crunching snow sounded to signal the King's departure.

Emma squeezed his fingers tightly before drawing her fiancé in for another chaste kiss until her father's voice called back to them without even having to look over his shoulder. "That can wait Emma!"

Emma scowled, grumbling defiantly as Killian let out a quiet chuckle, pulling her close until his lips were even with her ear. "We have all night, love."

She flushed a brilliant red, but now her eyes flashed with an intense heat before grabbing the lapels of his coat and pulling him until he was flush up against her. "My patience will only last so long, Jones."

His lips quirked up in amusement. "Impatient lass."

"Stubborn sailor," she retorted.

"Ahhh, but remember love, all sailors have a bit of the pirate in them, giving us selfish tendencies and inspiring an all-consuming passion toward captivating our treasures. I can assure you that time spent with such rogues are very – satisfying and well worth the wait."

He whispered further words of heated supplication into her ear until Emma was breathing his name in a gasping exhale, her eyes wide with the images he was implanting in her head, doing nothing to tamp down the fire that had first begun to grow inside her when word that his ship had finally docked at port.

She all but clung to him now, her knees going weak until he was half-holding and half-supporting her, his words broken off abruptly when she turned to kiss him heatedly, unable to hold back any longer.

"Emma!" Her father's disgruntled voice called, a bit sharper than last time and the couple groaned in frustration before she huffily turned toward the sea her hands planted firmly on her hips.

"We're coming!" Emma hollered back, annoyance evident in her tone.

Killian interlaced his fingers with hers, biting back a grin as they made their way back to the ship under her father's watchful eyes and her mother's open laugh.

"Patience, love, patience," he whispered softly to his fiancée.

The look Emma gave him in response sent a scorching heat searing through his body, and he wondered, idly, if his own patience would wait much longer.