Epilogue: Discovered Love

“Ruff, ruff”

I let out a small groan, turning over in bed.

“Ruff, ruff…”

“Flash, please, 5 more minutes,” I mumble into the pillow, burrowing my head further into it’s fluffiness.

“Arf!” he lets out urgently.

“Ok, ok. I’m up,” I groan, sitting up in bed and stretching the stiffness out of my back, I needed to get downstairs and let everyone out.

Suddenly the door opens and Sid stands wide-eyed, looking at me.

“NO!” he whisper yells, “Go back to bed!”

“What? Why? It’s already 8:30. The dogs need out!” I say, a sleepy haze still clouding my mind.

“Babe, go back to bed or you’ll spoil it.”

“Spoil what?” I ask, clearly confused. He should know better than to do this to me when I first wake up.

I watch as he pokes his head back out the door and down the stairs, before turning back to me and shutting the door.

“Your Mother’s Day surprise,” he sighs, coming over to the bed with me. He lays down pulling me by the hips into him.

“A surprise, hmm?!” I smile up at him, kissing the underside of his chin as his hands wander up from my hips and under my tank top, “What kind of surprise?”

“The kids have been working all morning to make you breakfast in bed,” he replies placing kisses along my collar bone, making his way up my neck before, whispering in my ear, “… but you didn’t hear it from me.”

“Hear what from you?” I smile coyly, bringing my hand to his neck to guide his lips to mine for a steamy morning kiss.

I smile as his hands trace up my sides and his tongue glides over my bottom lip, asking to be let in. I let out a slight giggle before letting him in, my fingers coming to play with his short hair as my tongue tangles with his. He smiles pulling away, kissing the corner of my mouth.

“Exactly. The dogs have already been out; I don’t know why Flash feels the need…”he shakes his head.

“Because he thinks I should be up and because he’s 14, his bladder isn’t what it used to be,” I chuckle patting the spot next to me so that Flash will jump up. He manages to heave himself and plops down next to me.

“I’ll be right back, your breakfast should be almost done. Pretend that you’re asleep,” he whispers before, kissing my cheek and walking back out of the room.

I just chuckle as I lay back down in our bed, stroking Flash’s thin fur. It had acquired a lot more gray in the past 10 years, but he wasn’t the only one. Flash was getting up their in his old age, but he was still our alarm clock and helped keep everyone in line. Suddenly I hear a sharp whistle sound from down stairs, causing Flash to perk up his ears. He looks back to me, as if asking permission.

“Go on,” I smile, before he jumps off the bed and scampers down the stairs to find the whistler.

It seemed like the last 10 years had flown by. In case there was any doubt, I did say yes to Sid’s proposal. We would be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this August 17th. We saw no point in waiting until the next year for the off-season. After being engaged 3 months, we were married in Nova Scotia, in Sid’s hometown. It was a small quiet ceremony, just our family and a few close friends. In those 10 years our family had grown in size, in kids, canines, and other animals.

Brenna would be celebrating her 10th birthday in 2 days. True to what I told Sid, she is a soccer player. Although she plays hockey in the winter and is, of course, good at it, she was a soccer champ at only 10. Her wavy long dark hair was almost always pulled back into a ponytail, and her big brown eyes were like kryptonite to her Dad. She was Daddy’s little girl and often fought Maggie for the space next to him on the couch when he watched hockey games.

Connor James is the spitting image of his father. At 8, he was already known as a hockey star on his peewee team, sporting number 78 and playing center. He is still in the stage where Dad is the best thing in the world. He says he’s going to grow up and be the best player in the NHL, just like his Dad. He is the only one that had eyes like his Sidney’s, they were the shape of mine, but the ever changing hazel color of Sidney’s and he keeps his curly dark hair cropped short just like his Dad.

Christopher Marc had just turned 7, he and Connor are so close in age they confused as twins sometimes. But unlike Connor, Chris has dark brown eyes and keeps his dark hair long enough so that it curls at the ends. The boys both play on the same hockey team. Chris plays the defensive position and wears the number of his namesake, 58. He loved when Kris Letang came to visit, which was quite often being that the 38-year-old defensemen still played for the Penguins and lived only 10 minutes away.

After Chris was born, we thought that would be it. Then 4 years ago, Brian Patrick was born, at age 4, he is already better on his skates than his mom. But he is Mommy’s little boy. He loves helping me feed the animals and, Patch, our Great Dane, was his best friend.

And if a house full of 4 kids wasn’t enough… we have 6 dogs to keep them in line, along with 2 cats, 3 rats, 9 fish, and a turtle. Finn, Flash, and Maggie are the only dogs that remained from my starting pack, each showed that age crept up much faster on canines than on humans.

Sage is my SAR partner, now that Flash and Finn were too old. She was a 3-year-old lab mix. Apache, or Patch, as the boys called her, is a 5 year old blue merle Great Dane whose owners had surrendered her to me, realizing that they couldn’t keep up with her needs or her size. Augie is the newest canine in the Crosby zoo, he’s a 6 month old cattle dog/ border collie mix that I had received as a Christmas present from the kids. Flash has been teaching him the ropes and I hoped he would aid Sage and I in SAR.

Then there is the rest of the Crosby zoo. Una the black and white tabby and Inca the calico kitten. Larry, Moe, and Curly were the boys’ rats and Bistro the turtle was Brenna’s, the name was courtesy of Evgeni Malkin, who told Brenna the Russian word for “fast” on his last visit to Pittsburgh.

Suddenly, I hear running feet and paws up the wooden spiral staircase. I quickly shut my eyes and pretend that I’m asleep. I hear the door softly creak open and voices whispering.

“Is she up?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

I fake a small snore, making the kids burst into a fit of quiet giggles.

“She’s snoring!”

“Should we wake her up, Daddy?”

“I think we could wake her up now, we let her sleep in enough,” Sidney’s voice answers in a whisper, a hint of amusement in his voice.

“Mommy. Mommy wake up,” I hear a small voice whisper and a hand shake my shoulder gently.

“Hmmm… what is it?” I yawn, playing along and pretending that I hadn’t gotten up 10 minutes ago.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” A chorus of voices call out, I look to the end of my bed where Sid stands with our 4 kids. The kids were all in their pajamas while Sid was dressed in jeans and a tshirt, holding a tray with food and a flower in a vase.

“Thank you! Oh you made me breakfast in bed?!” I smile sitting up in bed, “Come on, everyone up,” I motion, prompting the kids to jump on the bed, “Good morning, good morning, good morning, and good morning,” kissing each of my children on the cheek.

“What about Daddy?” Brian pouts from his spot in the crook of my left arm.

“Yeah, What about me?!” Sid says flopping onto his side of the bed, causing the whole bed shake and the kids to giggle.

I giggle, before kissing his lips, “Good morning, Daddy.”

“Eeeewwww,” Connor and Chris say in unison.

Sid smiles against my lips as I let out a chuckle.

“Ew? Ew?! What wrong with me kissing your mom, eh?” he says turning to them and faking a tough voice. Causing everyone to giggle.

Sid sits up and pulls them both down, one in each strong arm, and begins to tickle them. Their laughter echoing through the room, causing everyone else to giggle. When everyone settles down I turn to the tray on the bedside table.

“So what have you chefs cooked up for breakfast?”

“Well, I cooked the scrambled eggs, they have yellow cheese and parsley in them!” Brenna says, from her space at the bottom of the bed, smiling proudly in a big Penguins shirt and snowflake pajama pants.

“Wow thanks, Brenna! Did you create the recipe all by yourself?” I ask taking a bite of the eggs, “Mmm, these are good!”

“Everything but the parsley. Dad said it’s you favorite herb,” she smiles, pointing to the green flecks in my eggs.

“It is! And who made this scrumptious toast with apricot jam?” I ask, taking a bite of the rather well-done toast.

“Connor and I did that!” Chris pipes up excitedly.

“Yeah, remember when I asked what your favorite jam was for my homework yesterday? It was really for this!” Connor smiles proudly.

“I poured the Orange Juice!” Brian smiles from beside me, “Allll by myself!”

“Wow! What a big boy you are becoming!”

“Nuh, uh, I helped him!” Chris frowns.

“Well thank you guys! It’s such a good breakfast! And what’s this? A card?” I ask, pulling up a homemade card from the side of the tray.

On it were colorful flowers and a dog, they were well drawn, not just scribbles, telling me that my eldest child had created the card. Inside were more pictures that had been folded up. Connor had drawn me a hockey player, missing two of his teeth. Chris had drawn a picture of our house, the whole family lined up outside with all our pets. Finally, Brian had made me a wonderful swirl of multiple colors, he explained they were paw prints.

“They are beautiful cards! I’m going to put them in my office so that everyone can see them!” I smile, “Did you eat your breakfasts yet?”

“Daddy made us chocolate chip pancakes! But they are in the microwave, cause we wanted to give you your present first!” Brenna smiles.

“Well thank you. But you better go eat your pancakes before they get cold!”

They all quickly scamper off our bed and down the stairs.

“Don’t run down the stairs! And Brenna help Brian cut his pancakes,” I yell after them, before I feel Sid’s arms snake around my waist, placing a kiss under my jaw… and then taking a bite of my toast. “Hey! Don’t eat my Mother’s Day toast!” hitting him lightly in the chest.

“Mmm… you would wouldn’t be celebrating Mother’s Day if it wasn’t for me,” he whispers in my ear, pushing his hips into mine, eliciting a slight whimper.

“Sid, the kids are downstairs,” I murmur, gasping quietly as he easily finds that spot below my ear.

“They’re eating pancakes,” he murmurs back, gently nipping the area, causing me to stifle a moan and thread my fingers through his short hair.

The dark hair was cropped short again. He had gotten it cut after they had lost to the Hurricanes last week, thus pushing them out of the playoffs.

Over the last 10 years, the team had changed immensely. Sid and Kris Letang were the only ones that had stayed with the Penguins over the past decade. Fleury had also stayed in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his career, but last year at age 39, he retired. He remained in Pittsburgh, not wanting to uproot Laura and their 2 kids from their life here. Max Talbot had retired 3 years ago when he was with the Boston Bruins. He had moved back to Pittsburgh and now was staring opposite Bob Errey as an FSN announcer. Jordan left for a better life with the Avalanche, they had won the cup last year with him wearing the C. Malkin had also moved on a few years ago, he had played against the Penguins two year back in the Stanley Cup finals as the Captain of the Kings. However, it was the Penguins who took the cup home that season, for the second year in a row.

Sid now had 4 Stanley Cups under his belt, 2 were back to back. Murmurs of his retirement were beginning, now that he was due to turn 38 this August. But it was never said in this house, at least not without laughter following it. He wasn’t ready to leave hockey yet, especially since his playoff beard was finally looking... better, even if it was starting to get a little gray. In those 10 years, he had managed to juggle hockey and our family very well. There was nothing more exciting than when Daddy came home from a long road trip.

Sid’s POV

My hand travels up from her hip, tracing over those curves that drove me crazy. Her fingers threading through my hair giving me chills. Her lips were soft against mine, which only drove the hunger of the kiss further. I pull away, not wanting to do so, but knowing our kids would be done with their pancakes soon. She smiles up at me, knowing exactly why I pulled away.

“Something the matter, Crosby?” she purrs, her hand still playing with my hair and a sexy smile on her face.

“Just holding onto that thread of self control, Mrs. Crosby” I admit, kissing her lips quickly before rolling to my side of the bed.

“Dr. Crosby,” she smiles up at me mischevioulsy, correcting me.

“Sorry, DR. Crosby,” I chuckle.

I pull her into my side, and she snuggles in, her hand resting on my chest, her leg entwines with mine, and her head rests on my shoulder. She sighs contently, both of us reveling in the time together and in the precious and rare peace. Although I was upset that we were out of the playoffs, it was nice to have a break and spend it with my family.

“So I was thinking that we would leave after the Fourth of July?” I say breaking the silence.

“That sounds good,” she sighs contently, “I should be far enough along with most of my trouble cases and there are not any foreseeable problems.”

“Good, I can’t wait to go home for awhile,” I smile.

“I know you can’t. It will be nice to get away, spend time together,” she replies tracing a pattern on my chest.

After the kids got out of school for the summer, we would journey up to Nova Scotia and stay in our house up there for a few weeks. Just like we did every summer. It was a much-needed break from hockey and life in general. A time when our family could be together. We would go fishing and camping in the back yard, boating on the lake. The kids loved to go see my parents; sometimes they would spend a few days with Grandma and Grandpa, giving Caitlin and I the house to ourselves… and the rest of the zoo. But still it was nice to spend time without the kids, and with just my wife sometimes. Which was a rarity between our two jobs.

In the past 10 years, between raising kids and dogs, Caitlin had finally finished her dissertation on dog and human psychology and earned her PhD. Which she put to use and opened a new business. Discovering Love was a dog center that took in problem cases that other shelters believed were lost causes and helped to rehabilitate them before putting them up for adoption. They also offered training for dog owners.

Caitlin owned and managed the center, and also had her own team (of humans) helping her. They were dog trainers that were almost as good as Caitlin herself. But she was still the boss, the one that took on the real problem cases and the ones that had been abused, to what others thought, beyond repair. But somehow she worked them through the problems, sometimes causing our zoo to grow for a few weeks with foster dogs. When adoptions came around, which was frequently, Caitlin helped to place dogs with people. She had an innate sense of which coupling would work best and because of it, Discovering Love had the highest adoption/ success rate in the East Coast. Her business was thriving and she loved going to work, even more so than she had before.

I look down to her, hearing the kids giggle downstairs at something. I smirk, knowing it was probably something to do with Patch. The lively Great Dane was like Marmaduke with her antics. I had quite a life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I entwine my fingers with Caitlin’s, smiling at the white gold wedding band on her left ring finger that marked her as mine, one that was similar to the one I wore on my left hand. Because of her, I had discovered that hockey wasn’t my life, but love was. Love was what fueled it. Love for the sport, love for my job, love for my wife, love for my kids. Love, I discovered, was life.

“I love you,” I whisper.

She looks up to me with a smile, those dark chocolate eyes sparkling.

“I love you, too,” she whispers back, before our door suddenly bursts open and a stampede of kids and dogs raid our room, causing us both to erupt in laughter.

January 05, 2011 at Wednesday, January 05, 2011

10 Comments to "Epilogue: Discovered Love"

AWWWWW PRECIOUS!!!
Soooo cute, and totally NOT corny at all! :D I loved this story, and you definitely didn't let us down when you brought it to a close! Great Job!

Loved it! Thank you so so much for writing such an amazing story for us to read and enjoy!!

Posted by Anonymous ( January 5, 2011 at 9:22 PM )

This was absoyltuey beautiful
i loved how each of the kids are somewhat similar to their parents but you still kinda showed thier individuality
Ughhh i wish this was never over

Posted by Anonymous ( January 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM )

i am in love with your story. And now i am going to read this all over again. CAN U PLEASE FREUQUENLTY UPDATE SNAPSHOT PLSPLSPLS PLSP PLS PLS PLS PLS PLS PSL PSL

Brilliant, what a great ending to a great story.

Can't wait to read more of Snapshot and any other stories that you write.

You should be very proud!

Posted by Anonymous ( January 6, 2011 at 2:39 PM )

This was an amazing story. I will be honest. I didn't read it for awhile because I am not a huge animal lover but my love for Sid won me over (lol) no, seriously a story that just captivated me and drew me in right from the start. The last several chapters and the epilogue just left me weak at the knees, it was so warm and engaging. I always have a new appreciation for all the dogs and the folks who work with them.Thanks so much.. I will read it again.

it....it just can't be over. What am I going to do with my life??
In all actuality, I loved the ending! It was so perfect for your story and I'm really glad you addressed the fact that the core of Penguins players split up instead of making them magically stay together. Because as much as I'd like that to happen, it probably won't:/
Anyway, wonderful marvelous ending! I loved it so much and I'm just so happy right now :D

Posted by Kate ( January 6, 2011 at 8:09 PM )

That was perfect!! Wonderful wonderful ending. Everything pretty much came full circle. From the title of the chapter, the title of the dog center, and the lives of Sid, Caitlin, and the rest of the Penguins.
I really loved this story. In my opinion it's the best Sid story out here, so I'm definitely gonna miss it. I think Snapshot will be a good way to fill that void though :)

Beautiful Aeryn. Simply beautiful.

This was such a beautiful ending! I'm going to miss this story so much. You've done an amazing job on this entire story. (:

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Discovering...Love? by AS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.