After nine years of this whole motherhood thing, Emma Swan has gotten pretty good at knowing when her children are up to something.
"Killian!" she hisses, nudging her sleeping husband as Henry's laughter echoes down the hall toward their open bedroom door. He is definitely up to something, and by the giggles that follow, he's roped his sister into it.
Killian mumbles an incoherent response, his arm tightening around her waist. He presses closer, nosing into her hair and running his other hand down her thigh. If it were any other day, she would luxuriate in it, Killian's touch and a precious moment of peace without their kids running into their bedroom first thing in the morning, but the clatter from the kitchen makes him jump and the moment has passed.
"What was that?" he asks groggily, blinking open tired eyes and dragging a palm over his face.
"The kids," Emma replies, tense in the sudden silence but the laughter that follows ensures her no one has seriously hurt themselves.
"What are they doing?"
"No idea. I haven't heard anything break, but…"
Killian pauses for a moment, listening with a small smile. "They sound like they're having fun. Perhaps we should let them enjoy it, love." His arms tighten around her, a sleepy yawn sending a rush of warm air over her shoulder. "Henry's a good lad. He'll keep them out of trouble."
"Henry takes after you too much for that to be entirely true," Emma teases. She sighs, rolling away from Killian's warmth and slipping out of bed. "C'mon, before they burn the whole place down."
"Darling, that risk only occurs when I leave you in the kitchen unattended." Killian blinks up at her innocently through the long dark lashes that pulled her in so many years ago. She makes a noise of discontent at him, but doesn't say anything.
Some things never change.
Not bothering to wait for him to get out of bed, she pads down the hall quietly, more curious than anything as to what her children could possibly be up to. They're good kids, but they're also nine and six.
She pokes her head around the wall and has to stifle a laugh. She feels more than hears Killian's presence a moment later, his warm chest at her back and his low laugh in her ear.
"Do you remember that morning you tried to make me pancakes, love?" he says quietly, his breath warm on her neck and his arms looping around her waist from behind. "Seems they've inherited your stubbornness."
"Because I'm the stubborn one," Emma replies with a lift of her brow, taking another peek around the wall. Henry is standing at the stove with his sister, Sophie's blonde curls in a tangle down her back as she stands perfectly still. Her blue eyes wide, she's watching her brother stir the contents of a bowl on the kitchen counter from her spot standing on a chair.
Killian – true to his word – has been trying to teach their children to cook and bake as long as she can remember. She has fond memories of him cooking breakfast when Sophie was still small enough to be cradled against his hip in one arm while he flipped pancakes with the other, true to his whispered promise.
But the sight of the two of them so near the stove unattended still makes Emma nervous.
"We should stop them before they get hurt," she whispers, leaning her head back to Killian's shoulder and glancing up at his face, a smile tugging at his lips. "Sophie could fall off that chair, and if the stove is on…"
"I know, love." He ducks his head, pressing a quick kiss to her cheek before releasing her and striding into the kitchen. He scoops Sophie off her chair before she notices him, eliciting a shriek of gleeful laughter as he tosses her over his shoulder and marches over to the sink to clean up the mess of flour coating her face and arms.
"It was supposed to be a surprise." Henry glances back at Emma over his shoulder, cheeks pink and a guilty expression lurking in his eyes. "Dad said you have to work next weekend, and it's Mother's Day, and…"
Emma only laughs, ruffling his hair in spite of his huff of annoyance and attempt to dart away. She peers over his shoulder into the bowl, which looks a great deal more like pancake batter than any of her attempts. "That's very sweet, kid, but you know you didn't have to do this." She kisses his cheek, glancing back at Killian with a smirk. "Did your father ever tell you about the first time I tried to make him breakfast?"
"No," Henry replies, his eyes lighting up with the promise of a good story. "Was it terrible? You're an awful cook."
"Henry, be nice to your mother." Killian's response is immediate, but his tone is gentle, and when he glances up from drying Sophie's hands, his eyes dance with mischief. "It was a very traumatic experience for her."
"Tell us, Daddy!" Even Sophie has turned against her, her eyes so like Killian's wearing a matching expression of amusement.
"I was trying to do something nice for your father," Emma cuts in, sliding onto a stool next to her daughter as Killian puts a pan on the stove. Her eyes roam over his back, the swans on his shoulders sending a familiar ripple of love and contentment through her. "Not that he deserved it."
"She tried very hard," Killian concedes, grinning over his shoulder.
"What happened?" Henry is the one to ask, leaning back against the kitchen counter next to Killian.
"Oh, you know. Scorched pan. Inedible pancakes. I thought for sure he would never let me in here again." Emma glances fondly back at her husband, twirling her wedding ring around her finger as she watches him move as easily as ever at the stove.
"It would have been much safer for the kitchen wares, but alas, I was already much too in love to let her out of my sight." Both kids pull faces, but Emma slides off her stool to press a kiss to Killian's shoulder on her way to the fridge, pulling out bacon and eggs to put on the counter. It hasn't always been easy between them, but she hasn't doubted his love for her in a very, very long time.
Sophie talks her way back onto her chair, carefully flipping pancakes under Killian's watchful eye. Half of them end up on the floor, but Emma is still laughing as she snaps a picture on her phone, one of hundreds of happy family photos.
She sighs as they all sit down to eat, fussing over Sophie's napkin and cautioning Henry against filling his juice glass too high. Henry rolls his eyes and Killian laughs, settling into his chair beside her.
"I'm glad you picked me over the kitchen," she teases, bumping her shoulder into his and turning back to the meal as her stomach rumbles.
"Aye," he says simply, his hand on her thigh below the table. "I'll always pick you."
And he does.
I never really intended to add to this universe, but it's nfbagelperson's birthday this weekend and she made a request I couldn't refuse. Happy birthday, darling!