Niall sat with Harry, on the sidelines. They were taking a rest, water and food available a few feet away. There was only one dog out of 12 that that wasn't resting; another Golden retriever.
Niall's eyes watched her as she continued to run the course; she was swift, precise. He couldn't help but notice the shiny tone to her fur as she moved, the way her sleek ears fell back to her head when she jumped through the tire jump, her muscles contracting and releasing as she jumped up onto the platform and then off again.
"Niall, cousin, you're staring again. And getting drool all over my paw." Harry said, smirking.
"I am not. I'm merely...admiring a fellow officer's ability to do her job effectively." He said, licking his mouth to see if there was any drool. Harry rolled his eyes.
"Yeah Niall, whatever you say. She's quite the woman, though." He noted as she took down the pretend criminal, pulling his leg out from under him harshly. 'Yeah,' Niall thought, 'She can certainly hold her own.'.
"Alright Sergeant (Y/N), go take a rest girl. You did good today." Her partner scratched her head briefly before letting her go eat. She trotted past the rest of them, decidedly ignoring the cat calls and suggestive growling. As the only female in this group, she had to often endure suggestive comments, and as she passed Niall and Harry, she rolled her eyes, snorting under her breath.
She bent her head to lap up some water, when one of the newer officers, a young one, just a few months into his training, came up behind her. He took a whiff of her tail and she choked on her water, wheeling around.
"What do you think you're doing?!" She snarled, eyes narrowing and hackles starting to raise. Niall could feel his own eyes narrowing; this was the workplace, not some dog park. Not to mention he should be respecting the higher ranks.
"You're kinda cute when you're angry, nena(1)." He said confidently. She growled, slipping her front legs down, reading to leap at any moment.
"Stop while you're ahead, cadet!" She warned, and he smirked, going closer. He clearly didn't have a brain, and Niall was getting extremely annoyed at the dog. 'He shouldn't be treating a higher ranking officer in such a way; especially after she told him to back down!' he tried to convince himself that's the only reason he was annoyed.
"Come on, niña(2). Don't be like that." Niall was about to get up and storm over when she leapt at the cadet, easily mauling him over. She bit his ear on the special pressure point and he yelped immediately. She pulled him up, him cowering in pain beneath her.
"I said back down, Cadet. Next time, control yourself and remember I am your superior officer, got it?" Her words were muffled, but rang clear. He whimpered a yes, and she let him go roughly, shoving him away from her.
She returned to the bowls, scarfing some food down before going to the opposite corner of the fence and laying down, head in her paws, sun shining in her fur. Niall sighed. 'Don't get up,Don't get up, Don't- aw hell.'
He raised himself off the ground and trotted over to the other sergeant, ignoring Harry' "Niall?".
Slowly, he lowered himself onto the ground next to her.
She didn't look at him.
"Are you alright?"(Y/N) moved her head on her paws to look up at him. He found himself desperately trying not to lose himself in her brown eyes.
"I'm fine. I get that stuff almost constantly. Just another obstacle in my line of work." She said, moving her head back again.
"You handled it well." He supplied, and she grinned.
"His weakness is his pride. I pummeled it to the ground and he caved."
"Sneaky." She smiled at that, standing up as her partner called for her.
"I'm not always mischief-proof. I'm (Y/N), by the way." She said, trotting away to the exit, where her partner was flagging her down, leash in hand.
"Niall." He called after her, standing. She sent him a grin over her shoulder, and he watched both her and human walk away, beyond the bars.
He glanced over where Harry was sitting, a smirk on his face, shaking his head. Niall looked away, acting as if nothing had happened.
The next time he saw (Y/N) was at a junior training program. Niall personally didn't want to be there, but the other dog had a severe case of colic and couldn't make it.
So there he was, gruff, weathered Niall, sitting next to his partner in front of a line of 10 puppies and their handlers. He looked up at his partner, glaring. He earned a shrug in response. The gates opened again, and (Y/N) trotted over to Niall and his partner, grinning.
"Niall, right? You're Louis' replacement?" She asked, sitting next to him.
"Yeah." He said gruffly. They sat as the handlers managed to quiet the puppies down, and each (Y/N) and Niall had to run the baby course in slow motion, so the puppies could see how it was done.
Niall sighed angrily as he flattened himself to the ground to get into the tire jump. It was basically sitting on the ground, the 5 inch jump seemingly enough for the little puppies. He crawled through it, and watched (Y/N)'s eyes narrow as she followed. One by one, each puppy attempted to jump through it.
The last puppy was a couple inches smaller than the rest; probably the runt, and got stuck on the jump, his front legs on one side and his back legs on the other, neither quite touching the ground. Niall held back a snort, but (Y/N) calmly got up and moved to the puppy, grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and pulling him through. She put him down at the end of the line, a few yards away from the jump and nuzzled him into a sitting position.
"Keep trying; you'll get it." She said, smiling at him and he beamed back at her. Niall smiled as well.
'She'd make an impressive mother...' he couldn't help the thoughts of her nursing puppies, himself sitting protectively behind her. He shook his head.
'Focus, Niall. Focus.'
The next night they ran into each other in front of the barracks. She was just coming out of the grooming building, fur still slightly damp. He was on his way to the mess hall for dinner.
"Hey Niall. How are you?" She asked him, smiling. He grinned.
"So-so. Yourself?" Her brown eyes twinkled.
"Better, now I'm clean. Cadet training today." She explained, and he shook his head.
"Better you than me," She pushed at his shoulder with her paw, "I was just going to go find something to eat. Would you like to join me?" He asked, and she smiled wider.
"Like a date, Sergeant Niall?" Niall felt his face get warm under his fur, very fast.
"Yes- I mean no!" He couldn't find a cover in time and she laughed.
"Ok, ok. I'd love to."
They settled down, eating their food and chatting in the corner, by the kitchen door.
"So how's Harry?" She asked, and he shrugged.
"He's with his wife; their expecting puppies soon." He said, and she grinned.
"Really? Well what do you know...Seems like just yesterday we were in Cadet training together and now he's expecting puppies."
"You were in Cadet training together?" Niall asked; surprised. Harry never said anything about it.
"Sure. He was the shyest thing. Ah well, he's certainly matured out now. Puppies...wow." She chuckled into her food, taking another bite.
"So do you have someone?" She asked, looking up at him curiously. He snorted.
"Nah. Harry is the ladies man, not me." He said, and she grinned.
"Must have been a lot of broken hearts." He snorted.
"Hardly.And yourself?Anyone special on your end?" She took a couple gulps of water.
"No. There's only a couple dogs here that aren't pigs, and their either taken or a heart breaker." He blinked as she grinned, almost slyly. 'Is she flirting with me?' He wondered, finishing the last couple bites of his food, as she did.
It was dark out when they left the hall a couple minutes later, and she yawned.
"I'll walk you back to you're kennels." He said, and she smiled.
"I wonder if all those criminals you've caught know you're such a gentleman?" She teased, and he chuckled.
"Yes, because I hold the door open for them and everything when I put them away." She laughed and he found that all to soon they were at her kennels.
"Well then, Sergeant, thank you for a wonderful evening." She said, looking up at him and smiling.
"You're welcome." He supplied, unable to think of anything else, but smiling softly back at her.
"I have to say, though, this was my first not-date-date." She teased. His fur got hot again, and heard himself saying
"It can be a date if you want it to be." She smiled softly, and he got caught in her eyes again.
"I'd like that."
Somehow, he found himself leaning in slowly and pressing his nose to hers before licking the side of her muzzle.
Her eyes went wide and he backed away, horrified with himself.
"I'm sorry, that was completely out of line." He said, looking away.
"Niall." He looked back at her, and she was smiling softly. He blinked.
She leaned in and nuzzled his face, licking the base of his ear where it connected to his skull.
"I didn't mind." She said, and he felt a grin on his face.
"Same time tomorrow?" He asked her, and she laughed.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world."
The next day he couldn't help but stare as she climbed the ramp in the dog walk, trotting across it.
"Come on, Niall. One more circuit. Don't quit on me now, buddy. Ogle your girlfriend later." His partner said, and Niall glared at him, before finishing off his run.
He watched as (Y/N) finished, taking her sweet time as she finished last. She jumped the barrier and landed perfectly, before trotting over to Niall and Harry.
"See something you like enough to stop in the middle of the track, Sergeant?" She asked him.
"Thought I saw an angel." He said, and she chuckled. She sat down in front of them, and Harry raised and eyebrow.
"I'm missing something." He noted.
"Yes, Harry, you are. Congrats on the future pups, by the way." She said, and he beamed.
"Thanks (Y/N). What about you? Still wild or is there someone who can actually keep you in check?"
"Harry, nothing could slow me down." She countered, and snuck a glance at Niall, who smirked. Just then, the Cadet from before turned up.
"Hey Nena." She growled at him.
"Remember what happened last time before you say anything else, Andres." She warned, and he grinned cockily. Niall's eyes narrowed. He did not like where this was going, at all.
"Yeah...about that. I figured with a little time a pretty little thing like you could change your mind. Whatcha say?" He asked. 'Who does he think he is, talking to her like...like...like she's incapable of intelligence?!' Niall thought angrily. He had had enough of this dog.
"Actually, cadet, Sergeant (Y/N) has stayed in a good sense of mind and she has plans for tonight. As your commanding officer, I'm ordering you to remember your rank and respect, and as her date I'm telling you to leave her alone." Niall growled, getting up and placing himself between Andres and (Y/N). Andres ducked his head and backed away, tail nearly between his legs.
"Your pest should stay away now." He said, swinging around. The entire squad was watching Niall and Andres, although Niall was ignoring them. (Y/N) grinned, laughing quietly.
"I could have handled it, but I admit yours was much more dramatic. Thank you." She licked the side of his face, and the entire squad, including Harry, 'ooooooooooooh!'ed, teasing.
The last time he saw her before the dog fights was a couple months later, a couple days after the accident.
He was laying in the shade of the male kennel building, not looking at anyone, but staring at the fenced in course. (Y/N) was going at the run again,and when she finished she went over to Harry. As far as Niall could see, she was asking Harry something, because Harry jerked his head in Niall's direction. She immediately went immediately to the exit, scratching at it and barking, looking over at her partner and back to the exit. Her partner let her out and Niall let his tail swing back and forth a couple times in the dirt as he watched her come closer.
She stood over him, licking his head all over. He chuckled.
"Miss me, Princesa(3)?" He asked and she laid down next to him.
"More than you would ever know, soldier." He licked her muzzle and she put her head across his back.
"I have some wonderful news, but I heard something awful happened on your bust. Tell me that first, then I'll tell you. Your partner's in the hospital, you were in the medical kennel, what happened?" He sighed, and she felt guilty for bringing it back up. But she had to know, that way the air was cleared for her wonderful news.
"We were ambushed. I went down and so did my partner." She gasped, and licked the back of his ear. This was one of the first times he'd done a bust and not succeeded.
"It's ok Niall...Once your partner heals you can keep on trying to show me up on the course!" She tried, nudging the back of his head. He just sighed and put his head down.
"Here's the thing, though...(Y/N)...They're...laying me off."
"What?!" She gasped, reeling back to sit up. He looked at her, lifting up his head.
"I can't...I can't follow a scent anymore. I can't smell you, or any of the other dogs or humans here." He said, looking away. Ashamed.
(Y/N) settled back down, shell shocked, and began licking the side of his face and neck.
They stayed like that for very long time, until their partners came to bring them inside.
(Y/N) gasped, and tugged on her leash, looking around for Niall, but his tail had just disappeared inside the heavy kennel door.
She sighed sadly. Tomorrow, then.
Niall shook his head as he sat in his kennel. He wouldn't see her for a while. He was gone early in the morning. He wouldn't say goodbye. It would be easier if he just left, so she wouldn't have the finality of it.
Niall returned a few days later, Chihuahua in tow. He exchanged words with Harry about reading the tag. He searched the course for (Y/N), hoping to see her. He had to explain; he had to talk to her, make sure she was alright. But she wasn't there. He parted with Harry, not asking. He was...scared to know.
(Y/N) sighed, lounging back on her partner's couch as he rubbed her ear. She was always tired now, and was out of commission for quite a while. Her stomach had swelled, in another seven weeks or so there would be some new arrivals. Every so often one of the little ones would kick out inside her, but it didn't bother her too much...only at night while she was trying to sleep.
She didn't know how many were in there, but she didn't care. She licked her swollen belly proudly, and her partner grinned, petting her fur down again. The only thing that really hurt was that Niall didn't know. And she didn't know if she'd ever see him again.
Ramirez quickly set Niall up with his old partner again, who was just getting out of the hospital. It was about a week or so after they had let him off the force, but they were quick to re-evaluate his skill and let him back on.
"Good to have you back, buddy." His partner grinned at him, and they entered the course again.
"Sergeant Niall! Welcome back!"
"Niall, cousin, welcome back to the force." Harry said, but Niall noticed something a little more...frosty in his tone.
"What's the matter, Harry? Where's (Y/N)?" Niall asked roughly, slipping back into their usual spots near the food and water.
"She's on house rest." He was told, and Niall looked at him quickly.
"Why? What happened? How bad is she?" He asked, standing up again. Harry look at him calmly.
"Harry! Tell me!" Niall barked, and Harry stood too.
"She's not hurt, Niall. Not physically, anyway. She's hurting because you suddenly disappeared, but that's not why she's on house rest." Niall's eyes narrowed.
"Harry, enough with the riddles. Just tell me!"
"She's pregnant, Niall. Puppies are due in seven weeks, give or take a couple days." Niall collapsed, frantically trying to do the math in his head. 1 week he was gone...seven weeks roughly...not to mention the act a week before he left...
"Harry, where is she? Where's she staying?" He asked his partner.
"You can't go see her right now, cousin. But she usually comes out for some air after we're done training." Harry said, and nudged him back up.
"Come on, man. Show time." Niall never ran the course so quick before.
(Y/N) waddled out of the heavy barracks door, her partner holding it open for her. She went and laid down in front of the mess hall, where her partner left her with some water and food in the shade.
Cadets and dogs from various other ranks were just coming in from the course training, and she nodded to the ones she knew. One or two came over to see how she was doing, and offer their luck and congrats. Harry and Celina had already had their puppies, 11 puppies; 2 boys and 9 girls. She laughed to herself quietly. Poor Harry. But he loved them all anyway.
She looked up from her water bowl as a pair of paws plodded into view.
"Hey there Sergeant. How’s the cadets?" He asked, and she grinned. By Cadets she knew he meant the puppies.
"Kicking.Yours?" He smiled, eyes glinting.
"Well, one came home..." He moved aside as she raised an eyebrow, revealing Niall trying to run over, straining against his leash, which his partner hadn't had time to take of because Niall was running as soon as the gate opened.
"Niall! Boy, heel!" His partner was calling.
(Y/N) got to her feet as soon as she could, with her belly in her way.
"Niall! Oh Niall!" She cried, waddling forward.
"(Y/N)...(Y/N)....(Y/N)...." He nuzzled her face, licking it all over before lowering his nose to her swollen belly and sniffing it carefully.
"I'm sorry, Princesa. I just figured it would be easier if I didn't say goodbye." She looked at him.
"Sergeant Niall if you ever leave me again, You will find yourself between a rock and a hard place!" She said in her drill voice, the one she used to show cadets who was boss.
"Yes, Ma'am." He grinned. He was forgiven.
Seven weeks later....
Niall paced back and forth in front of the Vet's door, Harry watching him, amused. (Y/N)'s partner was with Harry' and Niall's, sitting down in the hard plastic chairs.
Finally, the vet came out with some blood on his plastic apron. Niall winced.
"Sergeant (Y/N)'s partner?7 healthy puppies." He said, and Niall's tail started wagging. He could have been embarrassed, but it just wagged harder.
"Thank you, Harry."
(Y/N) was lying in a bottom kennel, the door open to allow visitors. It was big; enough room for her to spread out and Niall to join her with room for the puppies. She was on her side, the puppies huddled up against her, eyes still closed. She was nosing each one over, checking it and then re-checking. She looked up, eyes sparkling as Niall and Harry entered the room, partners following. Her partner was the first to duck in, congratulating her and rubbing her ears. She licked his hand and he duck out again, allowing Niall to go in. He climbed in, first his front half, to sniff the puppies.
"Oh Niall....4 boys and three girls." She said, and he licked her muzzle repeatedly before climbing in behind her; between her body and the wall.
"You did so well, Princesa. So well." He said, cleaning her ear. She put her head down as Harry ducked in, just his head though.
"Congratulations, Sergeant." He said, and she laughed.
"Thank you, Harry. Send my regard to Celina."
"I'll do just that."
The Vet let Niall stay with her for the night, and as the lights went off, the alarmed puppies started barking. Or...squeaking as it sounded to Niall.
"Shh little ones! Shhh!"(Y/N) tried to soothe. Soon there was only one barking; but she wouldn't be quiet.
"Hey there! Shh! Let your mama rest!" Niall reached over, picking her up by the scruff of her neck and pulling her behind (Y/N)'s head, between his paws. She settled down as Niall started licking her; trying to keep her quiet.
"You're so dashing, Niall." (Y/N) said drowsily.
"You saw nothing. Sleep Princesa." He said, watching his family fall asleep.
Completely whole, completely happy.