"I can't believe how warm this fall has been," Swan said happily as she pulled off her T-shirt. Her bikini top wasn't terribly scandalous, but it was skimpy enough that Killian immediately understood why she'd waited till they had the Jolly out on the water before she'd taken off her shirt.

"Darling, please tell me you've already put on sunscreen," he said, eyes narrowing in suspicion. She hadn't asked him for help applying any before they'd left the flat, so unless she'd become incredibly flexible, at the very least, her back must be unprotected.

"I thought maybe you could help me," she said, flashing him a wicked smile as she pulled the bottle out from her tote bag.

"Bloody hell, love, we can't have sex on the deck of my ship." It was a fantasy they both shared, one that came up frequently in dirty talk, but one that he knew had to stay fantasy. Albert Spencer wouldn't waste any time firing him if he were caught having sex in public. His success with the Tillman case had made him practically a celebrity in family law, but now that his record was sterling, he was reluctant to taint it.

"I just asked for a little help," she said innocently. "I didn't ask for you to fuck me."

"Oh? And what do you think will happen if I start to rub sunscreen on you?" he asked. "And we both know how easily you get worked up when you put any on your own chest." He hadn't forgotten the pool party they'd attended at Graham's house to celebrate Merida's birthday. Everyone else had been outside already, and he'd gone into the bathroom to help Swan apply sunblock, thinking it would take a few short minutes. Instead, she'd gotten so aroused from the combination of his hands on her back and her own hands on her chest that he'd actually fucked her right then and there.

It had been extremely erotic, but also quite embarrassing, having to pretend that he'd not just had sex in his friend's bathroom during what was supposed to be a family-friendly gathering. They hadn't told anyone, but Will bloody Scarlet, who was of course everywhere now that the man was Belle's boyfriend, had figured it out and begun making jokes about it, and not everyone at the party had found it nearly as amusing as he had.

Swan blushed, obviously recalling the same incident. "I actually did most of it already," she admitted. "I just need more on my back. I promise, I'll be thinking of baseball the whole time."

"Very well." He managed to put sunscreen on her back without incident.

"Thank you." She stretched languidly. "I know global warming is bad and everything, but I'm glad it's stayed warm. It'll suck when it gets cold."

"Hm?"

"I like coming out here. You know, on the water."

"Ah. Well, maybe we'll try to brave the weather." She didn't comment, but she smiled brightly. It was no secret that she loved the Jolly Roger, nor was it that he was finally able to forget the painful memories he had of the winter he'd spent aboard. The thought of sleeping below deck in the winter was one that didn't seem so terrible anymore, not when the scenario he was imagining also involved Emma Swan pressed up against him.

They relaxed quietly in each other's arms as they enjoyed the gorgeous autumn day; while they could still easily talk for hours, sometimes late into the night, Killian also loved that they could often enjoy each other's company without any words. It was a bit surreal; he'd never had this sort of experience before. Granted, before Milah, he'd barely had a relationship last longer than a month or two, and with Milah, every moment spent together had felt like stolen time. To get to this point in a relationship, where he felt almost as though they were sometimes one person, was new to him. He loved it.

After a long while, Emma spoke. "My parents want to come down to see me for my birthday in a couple weeks."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. They're just coming down for one night, not the whole weekend like last time."

"Still, that sounds lovely. Ask them for their dining preferences, and I'll make a reservation. For earlier this time." She chuckled; they both remembered the glares they'd gotten from waitstaff when they'd taken her parents out to dinner six months ago. He'd find a different restaurant this time, but just in case, he'd aim for a five o'clock reservation instead of a seven-thirty one.

"Do you think they'll be upset that we moved in together?"

"Probably not. And besides, your mother doesn't seem the type to make a scene." He knew Emma was worried, not wanting to lose her parents' love and approval, but the Blanchards had been enthusiastic about him from the very start. And while he hadn't mentioned it to Swan, her mother had made some hints on Independence Day, during their last visit, that perhaps it was a bit of a waste for them to live in the same building and pay two different rent checks every month.

"They also asked about Thanksgiving," she added.

He stiffened; that was something he'd actually been anxious about. He'd been afraid to bring up the holiday, especially given how her ex-boyfriend's assumptions about Thanksgiving had been the straw that broke the camel's back (though of course the man had been on thin ice anyway, given that his girlfriend had begun to fall in love with a devilishly handsome, dashing rapscallion, even if she couldn't admit it).

The the thought of separating for Thanksgiving was unbearable; he hadn't forgotten how unpleasant it had been last year. But asking to attend her family's get-together felt so presumptuous as to be outright rude.

"I—do you want to come with me?" she asked, interrupting his thoughts.

"Could I?"

"Well, yeah, that's why they were asking. They wanted to know if it would be just me, or both of us."

He was about to ask if their invitation seemed sincere, before deciding that, at the very least, Regina Blanchard would never offer an invitation unless she was prepared for someone to accept it. And besides, someone else's opinion was much more important to him: "Would you like me to come with you?"

"Yes," she said, with no hesitation.

"Then I will absolutely come," he said firmly, and she smiled.

"First family holiday," she said. "Big deal."

Yes. Family holiday. It was a big deal.

The idea kept ringing in his head, as they ate the sandwiches they'd packed for lunch, as they sailed back to the marina, as they drove back home to the flat they shared. Family holiday.

She felt like his family. She had for a long time.

That night, they made plans to have brunch the next morning, and then they made love. And after she'd fallen asleep in his arms, he made up his mind.

The first thing he did on Monday during his lunch break was look up local jewelers.


Well, here is where our story ends. I hope that you enjoyed it!

For those of you who've been leaving reviews the whole time, thank you so much! Your thoughts, support, and feedback were just so lovely. If you haven't reviewed yet, I hope that you'll consider doing so before you go!

I am no longer posting stories to FFnet. For new stories, check out my page on AO3 (same username, phiralovesloki; there's a link in my profile as well).