Caution: this story is not meant to stand alone. The Beyond Happily Ever After stories are vignettes and outtakes showing the O’Kanes in their daily lives, in between the adventures and often after their happy endings. These stories were written exclusively for readers and fans of the series, and will probably not make very much sense to anyone not familiar with the characters.
Memorial: A Patreon Reward Story. This story is a short vignette voted on by our Patreon supporters. In it, Hawk tries to get a surprise for Jeni and ends up getting a surprise of his own.
Characters: Hawk, Jeni (and a little bit of Finn & Hawk’s sister!)
Timeline: Set after the end of Beyond Surrender
As much as Hawk still hated driving through the city, it was the fastest way to Sector Seven that didn’t involve a trip across the wastelands of Sector Six, and that was the only thing Hawk liked less than Eden–driving past the burned out remains of his family’s farm.
The muscles at the back of his neck still felt tight until Finn turned his car through the northwest gate and gunned it into Sector Seven. “Where’d your sister settle, now?”
“On that land bordering the northern wind farm,” Hawk replied, staring at the warehouses as they zipped by. Several large families who’d found their lands increasingly encroached upon by the expanding wind farms had packed up and rushed to claim abandoned plots in Six, leaving behind space to carve out modest homesteads.
That’s what Faith had done. Hawk still worried about her out here on her own, so far from where the rest of the family had come to settle on the outskirts of Four, but Alya had reminded him sternly that being a big brother didn’t mean being the boss of Faith’s life.
Maybe not. But he still found excuses to come visit. Frequently.
The buildings around them fell away, opening up into rolling hills of well-tended crops. Finn picked up speed, the engine in his newly refurbished car practically purring. The open window let in the warm summer breeze, and Finn’s habitual silence was more comfortable than surly.
It was a beautiful, peaceful, boring-as-fuck day, and even ten months after the war, Hawk hadn’t stopped appreciating the miracle of that.
Faith’s farm was small–a little cottage, a mid-sized barn, and several acres of fields, plowed but lying fallow. Only the garden had been planted, a riot of greenery and ripening vegetables. Beside the front gate, several chickens scurried around, chasing a plump junebug.
“This is cute,” Finn said unconvincingly as he parked his car, and Hawk hid a smile. Finn and Trix might like to visit Hawk’s little farm and drink Jeni’s fresh-squeezed lemonade, but the idea of settling down into rustic domesticity clearly made Finn’s skin itchy.
“It is cute.” Hawk pushed open the car door and surveyed the surrounding land like he always did. Cute, and remote. Really remote.
Before his worry could sour his mood, Finn followed him through the front gate and then let out a muffled curse as the chickens surged toward them, squawking with excitement. Finn leapt backward, slamming the gate between him and the birds. “What the fuck, man? That’s not okay.”
Hawk choked on a laugh. “You can charge at a Special Tasks squadron, but you’re gonna balk at chickens?”
“When they look like they might peck my dick off, I sure the fuck am.”
The chickens clustered around Hawk, clearly looking for treats. Still laughing, he raised his voice and nudged one away from the gate with his boot. “Faith! Get out here and get your birds under control.”
The front door opened, and a shaggy white dog bounded down the steps. She was huge, big enough to brace her front paws on Hawk’s shoulders when she stood on her hind legs.
Which she did often. And was currently doing. He braced for impact just before her giant paws slapped into his shoulders, then scratched her behind the ears. “Hey, Belle. I hope you’re not jumping on my sister like this. You’ll knock her over.”
“Very funny.” Faith scattered a handful of grain in an arc across the yard. The chickens dove after it, and she shoved her hands into her back pockets. “Belle, eat him.”
The dog slobbered on his face. Hawk groaned and guided her back to the ground. “Finn’s going to think everything on your farm wants to kill him.”
Finn was still on the other side of the gate, eyeing the hens warily. “I’ll take the dog over the birds.”
“They’re harmless little dinosaurs.” Faith grinned. “Does Jeni want some chickens?”
“Jeni has plenty of chickens,” Hawk retorted, herding Belle back toward the farm. “Finn drove me out because Jeni needs something a little more cuddly. I want to get her a puppy.”
“Goats are cuddly,” she suggested.
“Do you want a goat eating your pillows?”
She pointed to the barn. “That’s what those are for.”
Finn propped an elbow on the fence and watched Hawk with far too much amusement. “She has a point.”
No, she didn’t. She was just giving him hell, like all his little sisters gave him hell. Hawk was so glad she was still alive to give him hell that he took it with only a mild grumble. “Jeni wants a puppy, so I’m getting Jeni a puppy. No goats, no chickens, no cows or horses or mountain lions. Do you know anyone with puppies or not?”
“I do, actually.” She inclined her head back down the road. “One of my neighbors. Her dog had puppies this past spring, but she’s having a hard time placing them. Most of the folks around here want dogs like Belle, and these are…not that.”
Belle was still bumping against his legs, her tongue hanging out. He leaned down–not very far–to scratch her head and considered a dog the size of Belle barreling into a pregnant Jeni.
Probably not ideal. “We don’t need a farm dog, really. Just something cute.”
“Oh, these are cute. Short, but cute.” She held up one finger. “And if you make another crack about my height, I’ll bury you in the back forty. Finn will cover for me, and no one will ever know what happened to you.”
Hawk eyed Finn. Eyed Faith. Eyed Belle and the chickens.
Ah fuck, what was the point of being a big brother if he couldn’t give her shit right back? “I wasn’t gonna call you short and cute. You’re just short.”
She laughed as she locked her door. “You’re a terrible liar.”
“Yeah, I am.” He mussed up her hair as she walked past him, then caught her up in a one-armed hug that lifted her off the ground. “You’re fucking adorable. But still short.”
Faith hugged him back. “I love you too, big brother.”
They were halfway through Sector Four when the puppy started whining.
“That thing better not pee in my car,” Finn warned direly.
Hawk lifted the tiny corgi a little higher. It squirmed under his chin, hiding its face in his beard, but the whimpering didn’t subside. “If it pees right now, it’s peeing on me, not your car.”
“Uh-huh.” Finn hit the gas. The car picked up speed as they shot out of the main business district and into the slowly revitalizing area on the edge of the sector.
The puppy licked Hawk’s ear. The slobbery wetness gave way to tiny, sharp puppy teeth, and he bit off a curse and tried to pry the thing off without losing part of his ear. “This was a bad idea.”
“Yeah, I told you that when we showed up at the neighbor’s place and got surrounded by tiny yappy dogs.”
Finn hadn’t been charmed. Hawk hadn’t expected to be, either. But then Faith had picked up a tiny runt of a creature, all tan and white, with big eyes, huge ears, a cute white nose, and a goddamn bandana tied around its little neck. When she’d shoved the tiny squirming bundle of dog at him, his brain had apparently stopped working.
He might not even regret it if the little asshole peed on him.
It took another five minutes–even with Finn driving like he was racing at rally night–to reach the little plot of land where Hawk had built their house. Finn pulled up in front, but left the engine running. “I’ve got to get back before Trix’s show. You two should come in to the bar tomorrow night. Dallas is throwing a party.”
“We’ll be there.” Hawk managed to get out of the car, juggling the puppy and the bag of food and toys, and swung the door shut with his knee. The puppy yapped and squirmed, trying to get down, but Hawk tightened his grip, not trusting the thing not to dive after Finn’s car and get caught under the wheels.
Jeni came outside, shading her eyes against the slanting afternoon sunlight. “Hawk? What’s going on?”
Shit. So much for his big surprise. With Finn’s car rumbling safely into the distance, he turned around and crouched. “I got you something.”
He deposited the little corgi on the ground. It took a few wobbling steps, then flopped onto its side with a squeaky yip.
Jeni covered her mouth with her hands, muffling her words. “It’s a puppy. You got me a puppy.”
“You kept saying you wanted one.” He reached out and righted the little thing. “It’s a boy. You’re gonna have to name him.”
She dropped to her knees in the grass, and the dog tottered toward her on its stubby little legs. “Where did he come from?”
“Faith’s neighbor had a whole litter. Most of the people over in Seven want big dogs that can run off coyotes and such. This little guy’s…a little different than that.”
“No.” The puppy clambered into her lap, and she smoothed his fur as he rolled over to bare his belly. “He’s a perfect farm dog–especially for us.”
She looked so happy, glowing with more than the early stages of pregnancy now. Hawk stretched out on the ground next to her and stroked the little dog’s head. “I figured this is probably a good family dog, too.”
“The best.” She tilted her head and squinted. “He looks like an adorable little bear.”
“Have you ever seen a bear?”
“In books.” She lifted the squirming dog. “Is that your name? Bear? Are you a big, fierce Bear? Yes, you are.”
He couldn’t think of a more ridiculous name for a dog he would probably always be able to pick up with one hand, but he wasn’t about to say so when Jeni was cooing to the little thing, her eyes alight. The puppy looked happy too, wagging his whole rear end as he tried to reach Jeni’s nose with his tongue.
“Bear,” Hawk rumbled, then leaned over to kiss Jeni’s shoulder. “It’s a good name.”
“Damn right, it is.” She put Bear on the ground, and he took off across the yard, only stopping to sniff the grass. “Thank you, Hawk.”
“Hey.” He tugged at her until she leaned into his chest, then pressed a kiss to her temple this time. “Anything you want, I’ll get for you. Anything. Always.”
“I know.” She muffled a laugh against his jaw. “I’m surprised Faith didn’t try to talk you into bringing me a goat instead.”
“Oh, she did. I told her I’d consider it.” He sank his hand into her hair and watched Bear circle a spot and settle in to mark his territory–something Hawk imagined the puppy would be doing a lot of, all over the place, until he got him trained. “If you want a goat, you can have a goat. Or a dozen goats. I don’t mind doing the farmer thing anymore. It’s kind of nice.”
“I think we have enough on our plate for a while–the garden, the chickens, a puppy. And in a few months…”
He ran his hand down to rest over her abdomen. She was only barely starting to show, but Doc had confirmed that they’d be adding to their family this winter. “Dallas is throwing a party tomorrow. Are you ready to tell people?”
“You put a crib in our living room, Hawk. I don’t think they’ll be surprised to learn we were trying.”
“But now we’re doing better than trying.” He pulled back and stroked her cheek. “We don’t have to if you’re not ready.”
“Don’t worry.” She smiled softly. “I’m ready to tell our families–all of them.”
Hawk leaned in for a kiss, and the moment their lips brushed he was lost. He always fell into Jeni with an intensity that had stopped scaring him a long time ago. He was ready to pull her down into the grass and kiss her for the rest of the afternoon–
Yip. Yip yip. Yip.
Hawk pulled away, tasting Jeni’s laugh as they turned to the puppy. Bear had grown bored with his exploration and was demanding immediate attention, which Jeni promptly provided.
Hawk rose to his feet and held out a hand to her. “Come on. Let’s go introduce your fierce protector to his new home.”