One year later...
Light was just beginning to ease into the darkness, turning the sky a steel gray and awakening every bird within earshot who felt the need to welcome the new day with a raucous song. Killian, who rarely slept in past 6am anyway, a habit he could never rid himself of after he left the Navy, wished for either a harmonious avian chorus or complete silence in place of the ruckus that kept him from slumber. This was entirely too early even for him, but, now that he was half-awake, apparently it was not too early for certain parts of him to stir.
Next to him, Emma shivered and pushed her back against Killian, which did absolutely not a damn thing to alleviate his biological urge to "rise" and shine. Trying not to jostle the bed too much, he shifted onto his side, inching closer to lay a soft kiss upon the small mole on Emma’s left shoulder peeking out from the blanket. Ducking beneath the covers, he trailed whispery kisses along her arm to her elbow before nosing the hem of her tank top out of the way to expose the delectable curve of her hip. Emma sighed, sleep-soaked, and rolled over onto her back, giving him access to the smooth skin of her abdomen. Her fingers threaded through his hair, feather-light and lazy, each touch of her hand sending bolts of want zipping down his spine and fanning out through his body, driving him to crave more of her touch.
Mornings like this, when Killian could take his time loving Emma thoroughly at his leisure, were his favorites. He reveled in her body and the way she responded to him — the faint smirks that grew into unchecked grins when he found a spot that made her come alive in his arms, her unabashed passion when she turned the tables on him, the way she hummed and sighed and gasped, but most of all, he loved the way she said his name like it was the only word that mattered to her. Being with Emma was more than he ever imagined he deserved after Milah's death, and not a day went by that he was not grateful beyond measure for her.
Emma undulated beneath his mouth the lower he went her hitched breath and languid sighs just barely reaching his ears under the bedding. He hooked his fingers in the waistband of her panties and pulled them down her thighs and off her legs then kissed his way back up, paying close attention to that one sensitive patch of skin on her inner right thigh that made her tug his hair even as she opened her legs wider for him. The sounds that came from her were somewhere between a gasp and a laugh, which always managed to send his blood racing to his groin, forcing a low growl of his own in response. He reached under her top, ghosting over her rib cage, to caress the underside of her bare breast — the other ticklish place on her body — and was not disappointed when Emma huffed and twisted, pushing her breast into his waiting, open hand. Killian moved slowly, fingers rolling her nipple gently, as he inhaled her heady scent, ready to delve into her depths with his greedy tongue when she tapped a finger on his head.
tap tap tap
"What is it, love?" he asked, mouth hovering, waiting. "Do you have a particular request?" He loved when she told him what she wanted, but improvisation was not a problem either. As long as they were both satisfied, sweaty, and content by the end, the route to get there was superfluous. And usually damn sexy.
"We have company," Emma sounded somewhat amused if not muffled from where he was situated still under the blanket between her legs.
"I don't recall inviting anyone to this little soiree," he responded, cheekily.
"Seriously, you need to come see this."
Killian poked his head out from under the blanket to a lungful of fresh air he hadn't realized he needed. He held his body poised over Emma's — arms and knees on either side of her torso, his chest just brushing against hers — as she looked to her right, foolish grin on her face and laughter beginning to make her body twitch beneath him. He followed her gaze to see Gale, her head the only part of her visible as it rested on the mattress, looking at him with big, round, light-brown eyes.
"Bloody hell," he mumbled and rested his forehead on Emma's breastbone with a sigh. Looking back at the Black Lab, who hadn't moved nor taken her eyes from him, he said sternly, "Galene, we've talked about this. Just because I am moving about doesn't mean it's time to get up. Bad form. Now be a good girl and go back to bed."
Gale, without moving her head, shifted her eyes to Emma who just chuckled and said, "I know you are excited for today, sweet girl, but your dad's right. It's too early. Go back to bed."
With a defeated sigh, Gale turned and walked back over to her bed in the corner of the room next to Killian’s bureau, turned three times, and harrumphed as she curled up into her doughnut shape with her back to them.
"Think we traumatized her?" Emma asked with mock concern.
"Bloody unlikely," Killian scoffed, arching an eyebrow to emphasize his point. "She's seen us doing far more...adventurous things than this, love. If she wasn't traumatized by that one time on the boat, I sincerely doubt this" he said, nodding at the lack of space between them before continuing on, "would cause permanent damage."
"True. At least she didn't knock me overboard after I had my wicked way with you," Emma added, waggling her eyebrows as she tapped the tip of her index finger on the tip of his nose.
Closing his eyes as if remembering the best meal he'd ever devoured, the thought of that particular tryst sent a wave of lust through him, setting a fire low in his belly and a faster beat to his heart. Killian dipped his head and kissed the coy smile right from her mouth, leaving them both breathless. Coming up for air with a perplexed look on his face, Killian pondered aloud, "Now...where was I before being so rudely interrupted?"
Emma answered by gripping Killian's shoulders and giving him a shove back under the covers.
Later that morning at a more decent hour...
"Come on! We're going to be late!" Emma yelled from the kitchen. She knew she shouldn't have let Killian sleep off this morning's "soiree," but she was going to need his full attention for the rest of the day, and being a little late was better than having him be petulant and tired for the afternoon.
"Aye, I'm coming! I'm coming!" Killian yelled back from the bathroom. "Is Gale ready?" he added.
"Did you miss that whole thing this morning with her being up at the ass-crack of dawn ready to go?" Emma asked sarcastically, peeking her head in the doorway.
Killian looked delicious in his olive green shorts and black, short-sleeved t-shirt, his pirate necklace resting in the v of the neckline. She was so happy when he stopped wearing long sleeves around her, trying to cover up his scars. His arms were firm, perfectly sculpted, and deeply tanned from spending so much time working on the boat, and hiding them was an absolute crime. That he was finally comfortable enough with her and the scars climbing up his forearm from his hand, meant a lot to her. She couldn't lie: watching his arms in motion turned her on like few things could. She loved to grab on to his solid bicep as he held himself above her when they were in bed together, or trace the ripple his muscles made when he picked her up and flung her over his shoulder when he was feeling particularly frisky. Even something so mundane as drying his hands on a towel made her stomach clench with every flex and stretch of movement.
He must have read her thoughts because Killian sidled up to her, minty fresh breath tickling her cheek as he whispered his answer in her ear, "Mmm...I was a bit...distracted at the time though." Caressing her hip and sending a shudder through her, he leaned in and pressed a kiss to her neck beneath her earlobe. If we weren't already late...
Giggling as she pushed him away, she reminded him, "We told David we'd get there before they opened to the general public. I don't want to keep him. Gale's in the Jeep. We're just waiting on you."
Nodding, Killian followed Emma out of the bathroom to the kitchen where he grabbed his coffee for the road. "Sure you’ve got everything, love?" he asked, checking one more time.
Emma stood holding the door open, urgently motioning for Killian to pass through. "Yes, yes. It's all out in the Jeep. Now let's go before David changes his mind."
Ten minutes of speeding and barely squeaking through yellow lights later, they pulled into the parking lot of the shelter where David was waiting for them behind the locked door of the training room. He reached down and scooped something up from the floor before unlocking and opening the door for Killian, Emma, and Gale. Emma was carrying a new lead and cornflower blue collar gathered up in her hand, and some treats in a special pouch she used for training.
The little ball of sunshiney wiggle in David's hand nearly took a nose dive when she saw Gale trot through the door. He let her down gently so she could tumble after Gale, who paid no mind to her as she sniffed around the room, probably catching up on who'd been in since the last time she and Emma were there for a class. Emma was really happy to see Gale giving the new kid some space to see how she would engage her. Gale was one of the most “bomb-proof” and stable dogs she knew, and Emma was so grateful that they would be raising this new puppy together; Emma to teach her manners around people, and Gale to teach her proper dog etiquette.
David shook Killian's hand, thumping him on the shoulder at the same time, then gave Emma a half-hug around her shoulders and asked, "Sure you're ready for this?"
"You have to ask, mate?" Killian laughed incredulously.
This puppy was going to be Emma's first dog and she was trying to contain herself to be the professional, somewhat jaded, blasé, dog trainer, but her nervous heart was pounding at the thought of getting to raise a dog from a puppy. She'd seen so many of the dogs she trained turn out well and she wanted that same experience for herself. To prove that she was not just a teacher, but someone who could do it, too. She could have eventually gotten a dog without Killian, but since they moved in together a few months ago, things were stable enough in their lives that he brought up the idea of her getting a dog first. He tried putting it under the guise of Gale needing a friend, but Emma knew he'd caught her more than once looking wistfully at the two of them and their close bond. Even though Emma and Gale shared a special bond, at her heart and soul, Gale was Killian's dog. So when David called to let them know there was a pregnant dog with a fantastic disposition at the shelter, Emma spent her free time getting to know the mom and then the pups after they were born. When she met this little girl, Emma just knew she was the one. That last piece of the puzzle of her life snapped into place and everything she'd ever thought she couldn't have was now within her grasp and she didn’t want to let go.
The three humans all stood in a cluster off to the side, watching the two canines interact. The puppy — a nine-week-old yellow Lab and Husky mix with ears that weren't as long or floppy as a Lab's, and eyes a piercing blue a shade or two lighter than Killian's — ran up to Gale who looked down at her imperiously at first, but then leaned down, sniffing the little thing from tail to head. When they were finally nose-to-nose, the cream-colored girl licked at Gale's black snout until Gale decided enough homage had been paid and it was time to move on.
Gale must have spotted one of the toys David had out to keep the puppy occupied until Emma and Killian arrived, because she walked over and picked up a knotted, fleece tug toy at its tennis-ball end and began to trail the soft, colorful braid behind her. That was all the invitation the puppy needed as she tripped over herself trying to catch up to Gale.
David, Emma, and Killian couldn't help but laugh as the puppy righted herself and finally grabbed onto the other end of the toy. Her not-yet-ferocious growl was far from intimidating as she tried to pull the toy away from Gale, who let her tug on it as much as she wanted without budging. Frustrated she hadn't bested the big black dog yet, the puppy dropped her end and gave Gale a short series of barks, which Gale turned away from, ignoring her. Taking the toy, Gale walked away to another part of the room to gnaw on the ball. Undeterred, the puppy chased her and nipped Gale on the leg.
Emma wanted to clap when Gale picked up the puppy by her scruff and deposited her into a different part of the room before returning to the toy by herself. Confused, the puppy looked around at everyone then made a beeline for Gale again who was pointedly not looking at her. It wasn't until the pup sat down quietly in front of Gale that Gale gave her any attention. The stubby little tail on the pup was swishing all over the place as Gale licked the puppy across the top of her head, right along the lighter colored stripe that ran up from her snout, until the little thing lost her balance and flopped over.
Emma hunkered down and lured the puppy's attention away from Gale with the promise of treats. Sniffing the air, she waddled over to Emma — Gale trailing along behind the pup, pretending not to be interested, but sniffing the whole way, too. Feeding her a tiny piece of hot dog, Emma picked her up for a cuddle in between wriggles and playful swipes at Emma's fingers with paws that predicted she would grow into a dog at least Gale's size if not a little bigger. Killian leaned over Emma’s shoulder, getting a closer look at their new addition, rubbing that lighter patch of fur between the little pup's bright blue eyes, causing them to softly close at the rhythm he'd taken up.
"Did you pick a name yet?" David asked.
Both Emma and Killian smiled down at the puppy who had settled finally. "Euphrosyne," Killian said the same time Emma said, "Joy." Green eyes snapped up to meet blue before both sets rolled in irritation at the other. David snickered under his hand resulting in a glare from Emma.
When she had first told Killian she wanted to name the dog Joy, he’d lobbied for the Greek Goddess’ name immediately. Emma brushed it off thinking he was just trying to get a rise out of her. Apparently not.
Killian gestured to the now dozing puppy on her back in Emma's arms, her pale, downy, pot belly rising and falling gently with each breath. "They mean the same thing. Euphrosyne is the Greek Goddess of Joy," he explained to David.
Emma snorted. "What am I supposed to call her, 'Frozen' for short?! I mean seriously, Killian. We talked about this. Can't she just have a normal name?"
"Galene is named for a goddess, I think it only fair to name this one after a goddess as well. Can't be playing favorites, love," he warned as Gale came to him as soon as he said her name. He instinctively reached down to stroke Gale's head and ears as she leaned against his leg like she was prone to do when they were together. His eyes twinkled and Emma knew she couldn’t resist him or the damn name. Why shouldn’t she have a goddess too?
"Fine,” Emma conceded, giving Killian a gentle hip-check at his smug look. “But it’s your fault when things go all Clash of the Titans at home.”
“You do know I’m going to name my next dog Zeus just to out-God you guys, right?” David remarked.
“Well, mate, you better start winning at the Council meetings or you won’t be able to afford your next meal, never mind another dog,” Killian teased.
David opened his mouth to no doubt refute Killian with a jab of his own, but Emma just wanted to go home with their new girl.
“All right, all right, you two. Save it,” she interrupted. The puppy had barely stirred amidst the tiff and instead let out an airy snore as she snuggled closer to Emma’s chest, content and radiating a peacefulness that soothed Emma, too. “If you insist on that unpronounceable name, I’m going to call her ‘Zen’ for short.”
"As you wish, darling." Killian said, meeting her eyes with a smile before kissing her temple. “Zen it is.”