A/N: I wrote this as a gift for in-spirational on tumblr as part of my Summer Writing Project. She asked me for Daddy!Killian feels. :)

Just a Little Love

Emma woke with a start, surprised to find herself alone.

The covers on Killian's side of the bed were neatly tucked in place, as if he hadn't slept there at all, and a white noise machine running on the nightstand filled the room with an insulating whir. She rolled over and peeked into the crib nestled between her side of the bed and the wall and found it empty as well. For a second, she laid there, breathing in the stillness.

Then a tiny peel of laughter reached her.

She wanted to clap her hands over her ears and ignore it — moments alone were so rare and precious now — but the laughter was a siren call she could not ignore. Her hands were already pulling off the covers. The cold floor made her step lightly, and out of habit she avoided the creaky board near the dresser. No one noticed as she crept down the hallway and peered out into the rest of the apartment.

Killian sat at the dining room table with his back to her, his dark hair hopelessly mussed. Their ten month old daughter sat in a high chair in front of him. She was a mess, with oatmeal smeared all over her blue and yellow footed pajamas, on her hands, and even in her jet black hair.

"Come now, darling," Killian murmured when she grabbed for the spoon. "No need to be difficult."

He tried again. This time, she opened dutifully only to sputter and blow raspberries with the food once he got it in her mouth.

"Had enough, have you?" He set the spoon aside and leaned over the high chair tray so that his face was close to hers. "I can't blame you, darling. Vile gruel. Finish growing those teeth in, and perhaps we can move on to more palatable fare. Aye?"

Using a dish towel, he gave her face a thorough wipe down — which made her thrash her arms and cry out — and then plopped it on top of her head to scrub her hair — which made her giggle. He chuckled too, the deep rumble of his laughter in perfect harmony with the bright, high notes of hers. Emma's heart swelled at hearing it.

Killian scooped their daughter up out of the high chair and swung her around so that she sat perched on his left arm. Her feet kicked at his sides, and her tiny hand wrapped around the upward curve of his hook, gripping it tight. In his free hand, he gathered up the bowl of leftover oatmeal and walked with it to the kitchen sink, his gait gently swaying back and forth. The baby titled her head back to look up at him, an open-mouthed look of awe on her face.

"What should we do now?" he asked and pressed a kiss to the tip of her nose.

She responded by grasping at the stubble on his jaw, her tiny hand opening and closing in a spastic sort of rhythm over his cheek.

They spun around as he playfully nipped after her fingers, making her laugh again — her green eyes squeezed half-shut and her four bunny-rabbit teeth showing through the smile that took up half of her face.

With a huge, satisfied sounding sigh, Killian buried his face against the crook of her neck. His stubble, which had been so fascinating a moment before, tickled and poked, making her jump in his arms and push at his head as she erupted in a renewed fit of giggles.

They leaned back from one another, their eyes meeting.

"Mummm!" the baby shouted, like she always did. And then, in a conspiratorial whisper: "Da-ty."

"Aye." His voice sounded rough. "That's me."

Emma felt her throat closing up and couldn't help the choked sound she made, which got both of their attention.

"Ah, love." Killian smiled at her. "You don't have to get up. I've got this."

"Yeah. I can see that."

Going back to bed to sleep in had lost all of its appeal. She had the rest of her life to sleep. Knowing how much she had missed in her own childhood, and then with Henry, she wanted nothing more than take moments like these, stretch them out, and make them last forever. She walked over to plant a quick kiss on the top of her daughter's head, and then a longer one on Killian's lips. The smell, taste, and warmth of them filled her to bursting.

Once, Killian had asked her if she'd ever been in love. She'd admitted that she had. But she'd been wrong. She hadn't known this kind of transcendence before.

This was true love.