Sam is the one that starts it.
Sam is the one that does it.
Sam holds their newborn baby girl in his arms.
Their newborn baby girl that they found trapped in the ruin and rubble of a demolished building during an Avengers mission. Her biological family was killed instantly, but she somehow survived and they found her and pulled her out of debris, squalling and coughing and alive. Her parents still hadn’t thought of a name for her and, under tons of debris, they found sheets and sheets of papers with options for names on them.
Their newborn baby girl that they came back to check on at the hospital at ten o’clock in the morning, at three o’clock in the afternoon, at two o’clock in the morning, and at the point where the nurses merely waved them into the nursery even though it was outside visiting hours.
Their newborn baby girl that they held just once, just twice, just thrice, just ten more minutes, no please, just five more minutes, until they can’t quite remember when they fell in love with her. They can’t quite remember what life was before they settled her tiny, swaddled body in their arms.
Their newborn baby girl that they borrowed Stark’s lawyers to keep with them and out of the system. She has no other living family. They have been happily married for more than three years, are financially stable, have a good home and are Falcon and Captain America to boot, and so they’re perfect to take her. There is no feasible way they could ever surrender her to the system and so Stark’s lawyers worked their magic in just a few weeks’ time and now she’s theirs. Yes, she’s theirs.
Their newborn baby girl that they cannot yet decide on a name for. They have been trying for the past hour and a half with not even a top five selected to choose from.
She is a perfect child and so she must have a perfect name. But, as of yet, they have no such luck in finding any kind of perfection that can denote itself.
They can see now why her biological parents took so long.
Sam sits in the rocker beside their child’s crib, cradling her flush against his stomach with one hand. His other hand gently rubs her purple-beanie-covered head. He yawns and uses one foot to slowly make them go back and forth. Her half-empty bottle sits at his feet.
Steve is beside him in another rocking chair. The hospital’s thick baby name book is open in his lap. He rubs tiredly at his eyes as he thumbs through the “G’s”.
“Gina?” He suggests.
Sam shakes his head. “No.”
“Ginerva? Ginny for short?”
They give up yet again ten minutes later.
Sam and Steve yet again sit quietly in the hospital room. They wrack their brains, struggling to find the perfect name for the perfect child. What name? What fucking name could there possibly be? They’ll be here all day and possibly all for the rest of the week if they don’t figure something out soon. They don’t have all the time in the world; this part of their daughter’s birth certificate cannot stay blank indefinitely.
The only sounds that permeate the still, sterile air are the rocking chairs going back and forth, their breathing, and their daughter’s teeny, tiny cooing in her sleep.
Soon, it is Sam that breaks the silence.
It is Sam that says it.
Sam says it and, in doing so, Sam destroys him. “You know…if you want, we could name her after your mother. We could name her ‘Sarah’.”
Both men turn to look at each other over the sleeping baby. Sam wears that tentative little smile on his face that he does when he’s just said something that he’s sure is half-assed at best and completely unhelpful at worst. His dark-brown eyes search his husband’s face for a response.
Steve has no idea what his face looks like.
No idea at all.
In the next few seconds, Sam’s own face becomes concerned and he asks, “…Steve? Steve, babe, you alright?”
Steve can’t answer.
Sam takes one arm away from their baby’s body so he can gently cup the other man’s face in his palm. “Hey, Steve? You wanna breathe for me? It’s gonna be alright, but I think you gotta breathe soon. C’mon, breathe with me.”
Steve thinks he breathes with Sam. He’s sure of it.
“Alright, great. You’re breathing”, Sam remarks with a sigh of relief. “‘M sorry if I upset you. Didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories. It was just a suggestion is all. We can name her anything else. We’ll figure it out, ‘kay?”
Steve looks down at their daughter in Sam’s arms and he thinks that he breathes again.
“N-no. No, I’m not…upset. You didn’t upset me. It’s alright.”
He leans forward to gently place his hand on her tummy. He feels it rise and fall beneath the purple blanket as she breathes. Steve knows he breathes.
He breathes with her.
It’s just a moment before he can find his voice. “…Sarah. Yeah, th-that’s actually perfect, Sam. How about…‘Sarah Rae’?”
Sam smiles down at their daughter, his eyes shining with warmth and wonder at her. “Huh. ‘Sarah Rae’. Well if that ain’t a perfect name for a perfect little one, hmm?”
She’s Sarah Rae Wilson-Rogers.
She’s someone named Sarah.
Sarah Rae Wilson-Rogers is beautiful.
Sarah Rae Wilson-Rogers is Black.
Sarah Rae Wilson-Rogers is the most beautiful child in all the world.
Her skin is light in her infancy but, going by her biological parents’ shades, she’ll likely grow to be even darker and more beautiful than Sam. There is a perpetual, robust rosiness to her light-brown skin; Sam and Steve are sure that every time they look at her, they’ll find the sun.
Even on the cloudiest, rainiest days, they’ll only have to look at their daughter and they’ll find the sun shining out at them.
Both of her teeny, tiny little hands curl and uncurl in her sleep as she dreams, further endearing her new fathers. They slip their index finger or thumb inside her fist countless times. Pride bursts in their chests when her fingers close around theirs with a strong, steady grip.
Her hair is little more than wisps of black fuzz atop her round head. Neither of them can wait to see and feel what texture it will turn out to be.
Her eyes are currently just barely a shade above black as with most newborns, but they can tell there will be a whole constellation of stars dancing across brand new dark-brown eyes in just a few months’ time.
She is the most beautiful child in the world.
She is their little Sarah Rae.
The news of their sudden parenthood spread like wildfire through Sam’s family and the Avengers, well…really before Tony even opened his big, fat mouth.
Sam personally sent the text to his mother and grandmother with the wonderful news; Steve informed as many of their colleagues and comrades as possible.
It was not two hours since their daughter was officially released from the hospital and they brought her to their house in Washington Heights when the onslaught comes in. They were prepared for it, but still.
Sam’s mother, grandmother, and at least ten of his siblings and cousins demand no less than a full album of pictures, a rundown on any lasting health problems Sarah Rae may struggle with (none, thankfully), and their address so they can send things for her as soon and as often as they can.
Their team and colleagues, meanwhile, are nine kinds of terrible.
Bucky’s ten consecutive texts simply screech in all caps, “I’M AN UNCLE!! I’M AN UNCLE!!! I’M AN UNCLE!!!!!!!” He, too, demands nothing less than a full album of pictures.
Natasha simply informs them that, within the day, she’ll be over their house with just about everything new parents could ever want and need for a baby. She reminds them that they’re welcome to try and lock the door.
Lt. Colonel Rhodes apologizes for this…not exactly being news at all, what with his husband’s big, fat mouth. He otherwise promises to send aviation-inspired toys and congratulates them and wishes them all the best of luck and happiness.
T’Challa immediately calls for a celebration of the new little princess. He informs them that they will soon receive Wakandan baby paraphernalia directly to their house.
Monica Lynne lets them know that she’s already picking out all of the styles and colors of said Wakandan baby paraphernalia.
Dr. Helen Cho gives a heartfelt, jovial “Congratulations!” She encourages them to bring Sarah Rae down to her office sometime to visit and, over time, perhaps foster a love of science and math in yet another young girl of color.
Dr. Bruce Banner echoes much of what Dr. Helen Cho says. He texts them a little emote of a birthday cake with a single candle for her.
Thor agrees with T’Challa, giving a rousing, “A young addition to a young family is always time for celebration! When shall we gather in joyous festivity for the new princess?”
Clint Barton texts them “Congratulations” in ASL.
And there are many, many more.
Sam and Steve have to put their foot down, lest they become overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed is not necessarily an option when two suddenly-new parents have a newborn at home. They send out word that they’ll hold three, separate celebrations/belated baby showers for their little Sarah Rae where all of the gifts and well-wishes can be given and received, please and thank you.
The first baby shower will be with their Avengers team and colleagues in Tony’s tower. The second one will be just in their home, with Natasha and Bucky. And the third, where they’ll go down south to Atlanta, will be with Sam’s family.
There’s quite a bit of collective grumbling and grousing, but all agree to this.
At the Avenger’s baby shower, Sam and Steve find that Nick Fury is the worst.
Yes, Nick Fury is the worst.
The absolute worst.
The man loves people, and the kind of people he loves most of all is children of all ages.
When Sam and Steve take their daughter to the Avengers baby shower, there are surprised congratulations, plenty of food, teary eyes, even more food, and an entire mountain of gifts for Sarah that is half T’Challa’s fault and half Tony’s fault.
And Sam and Steve, being the kind, generous men that they are, allow everyone that wishes to hold their Sarah Rae to hold her.
They share because they’re nice like that. And they thought a certain super spy/paternal figure would follow through with such a philosophy himself.
But it is Nick Fury that hogs their Sarah Rae for a full hour and a half of the baby shower.
An hour. And a half.
As soon as it’s his turn, he cradles their baby close to his chest with an ease and warmth that leaves very few surprised. He holds her in one hand, while the other holds his finely aged cognac. The shameless man parades her around like she’s his own granddaughter, showing her off to the other guests (irrespective of if they already held her), cooing and talking to her in a high, airy voice, and bouncing her lightly. Hell, even when he stops to talk to a fellow guest, he keeps up the perfect bouncing absentmindedly.
And their little Sarah Rae fusses not once as the legendary spy hogs her. She nestles comfortably against his chest as though they’ve known each other all their lives and just looks curiously all around the spacious common room.
Sam soon must cut in and remind the besotted man that there are still other people waiting to hold her and, well…it’d be nice if he’d please stop monopolizing their daughter.
Nick Fury levels Sam Wilson with a glare that earned its reputation for making even the world’s most dangerous criminals piss their pants decades ago. But Sam holds his ground and Nick sighs.
“…No one lets an old, old man have his fill of hogging a sweet baby anymore, huh?”
“Sir”, Sam starts softly. “You’ve been hogging our daughter for the last hour and a half. Plus, we’ll bring her ‘round to see you again sometime. Steve and I will make sure. Honest. But for now, Dr. Helen Cho would like a turn.”
The older man sighs again.
He looks down at little Sarah Rae Wilson-Rogers and laments, “Welp. You gotta go back to your Daddy who’s gonna share with you plenty more people, lil lady. Try not to charm them as much as you’ve charmed me, ‘kay? People got things to do.”
He bounces the baby once more before reluctantly passing her off to her father, grumbling about kids that don't share because they are not nice like that.
Next is the smaller, quieter celebration with just Natasha and Bucky in their home in Washington Heights.
The four of them sit in Sam and Steve’s living room together; Sam and Steve are on one couch together, while Natasha and Bucky sit together on the other one. Steve passes Sarah to Natasha’s arms, first.
Natasha tenderly cradles their daughter against her breast, cuddling her close and rocking just a little. With her other hand, she lightly runs her fingers over Sarah’s little button nose, little cupid’s bow mouth, little, teeny ears, little fluttering eyelashes. Her eyes gaze dreamily into the baby’s. She catches one of Sarah’s little star-like hands and presses a kiss to the back of it.
“Zvyozdochka”, she croons. “Sweet, precious zvyozdochka…”
Sarah’s large dark eyes gaze sleepily up at Natasha as she continues to croon and murmur softly to her in sweet nothings of Russian.
Natasha looks up from the baby to stare at Sam and Steve. She stares at them with that intense, penetrating gaze that can deeply unsettle those who do not know her.
“Promise me...that you won’t let her grow up too much before her time. Promise me that you’ll preserve and protect her innocence; let her be a little girl for as long as possible. Don’t let her know all of the ugliness of the world before her time. Promise me you won’t.”
Sam and Steve nod.
“We promise”, they both say.
“And”, Natasha continues. “Make sure…you let her choose her own path in life. Make sure you support her no matter what it is. So long as it’s just and hurts neither her nor anyone else…support her with everything you have. Promise me that, too.”
“We promise”, they both say.
Natasha stares at them for a moment more before ducking her head back down to gaze softly at little Sarah Rae. She can’t meet their eyes for a while, and so she meets their daughter’s eyes once more.
And then it’s Bucky’s turn.
It takes the help of all three of them to get Bucky comfortable cradling and snuggling Sarah Rae.
“There you go”, Steve encourages. “Just make sure you support her head…yeah, like that, Buck. There you go. Perfect.”
“And don’t worry, you’re not gonna crush her”, Sam adds. “Curl your arm a little farther in around her so she feels safe and secure…yep. Just like that.”
“It’s okay to rock a little, too”, Natasha supplements. “That’ll help her feel safe and secure. Just make sure it’s not too hard…yeah, that’s just enough. You got it, Barnes.”
And Bucky Barnes is holding and rocking his niece in his arms.
He gazes at little Sarah Rae and none of the rest of the three of them can easily read his face. His right arm is the one holding her, while he has the left underneath as support. He keeps lightly rocking her and, still, the other three adults can’t read his face for anything.
So they stay quiet. They wait.
Their waiting soon comes to an end when Bucky, still gazing at his baby niece, starts to slowly shake his head. In the next instance, his left arm comes out from under his right and he’s covering his eyes as he struggles to keep tears in. Natasha scoots closer to him and gently rubs his back in slow, soothing circles and Bucky leans into the comforting touch.
“Buck…?” Steve asks, reaching out a concerned hand to him.
Sam offers worriedly, “D-do you want us to take her back, man? There’s nothing wrong with that if you want us to, y’know.”
But Bucky can only shake his head as he loses in his fight against the quiet sobs. His broad shoulders shudder with the barely-repressed tears. He cuddles Sarah closer against his stomach. Sarah blinks and coos when just a little of his tears fall on her round cheeks.
Steve asks again, “Bucky…?”
Bucky shakes his head again, and then he takes his hand away from his wet eyes, not bothering to cover them anymore.
He looks between Sam and Steve and whispers, “…First I get an amazing brother-in-law named Sam Wilson. And now I get this perfect little girl for a niece? I mean…I’m an uncle? I’m really an uncle? She’s mine in that way?”
Sam nods, a smile that’s halfway-to-watery on his own face. “Yeah, Bucky. You’re her uncle and she’s your niece. This is really a thing.”
“And that’s something that’s not going to change”, Steve adds with a watery smile on his face, too, “It’s gonna stay that way and it’s…it’s not gonna change.”
Natasha, still rubbing his back, says, “Ditto to what both Sam and Steve say. On top of that, if you don’t calm down, you just might end up scaring the baby to death.”
At that, Bucky laughs and looks down at his little niece. He gives her a little bounce and, with his left hand, tenderly wipes away his tear droplets from her cheeks. “Just look at me: I’m your uncle, little lady, and the first thing I do is get salt water on you. What a start, huh?”
The other three join in his laughter and Bucky lifts Sarah Rae up to gently kiss her forehead.
Bucky taps her little round, button nose. “You’re gonna be my best girl, aren’t you? Just look at you-you’re so beautiful and you’re not even six months old, you know that? You’ll have to excuse your new uncle crying tears of happiness, ‘kay? Next time, we’ll just laugh about something together-promise.”
They all laugh again and then Bucky is looking back at Sarah Rae’s parents with that watery smile again.
“Thank you…thank you so, so much for her. I just…thank you.”
None of them know exactly how or when it happens. But somehow, by the end of their little celebration together, all four of them stand together in a group hug, little Sarah Rae’s body cradled safe and warm in-between them.
And lastly, Sam and Steve fly down south to Atlanta with their little Sarah Rae to celebrate with Sam’s family.
There are so, so many cars already parked in front of and around the house by the time they arrive in their rental. They have to park on the other side of the street. But once they do park the car and are in the process of unstrapping Sarah from her car seat, they can already smell the beginnings of the barbeque; hear the gospel music; and everyone inside thrumming and humming with excitement over the new baby.
Steve carefully carries Sarah in her car seat while Sam rings the doorbell. Sam’s grandmother answers with a huge, huge smile on her face and wide, open arms for them.
“Oh!” She exclaims as she embraces Steve first. “And here ya’ll are!”
She next embraces Sam, and then ushers them into the joyous chaos that only the celebrating Wilson clan can make. She turns to look at her latest great-great grandchild in her car seat and her face melts with love and adoration. She calls for her daughter and Sam’s mother, Darlene.
Darlene comes up to them and, like her mother, her entire face just melts upon seeing her latest grandchild.
“So this is the precious little one. Just look at her. Why, she’s more beautiful than I could’ve ever imagined”, Darlene breathes.
Sam and Steve can only smile proudly. Steve keeps the car seat steady as Darlene carefully unstraps Sarah, and then holds her close. She bounces little Sarah Rae with the ease that comes with years and years of practice. Sam’s grandmother comes around behind Darlene and coos at Sarah Rae.
“Oh, isn’t this one just one of the most gorgeous little ones I ever did see?” Darlene gushes.
Her mother agrees. “A true blessing-just as a brand new baby in the family always is. Ain’t no greater blessing I could ever think of. Lord have mercy, she’s perfect.”
Sarah gnaws on her little fist.
And with that, Darlene takes Sarah Rae to go and meet all of her aunts and uncles and cousins and everyone in-between. Sam and Steve, in turn, are caught up in hug after hug and congratulations after congratulations. They take seriously all of the advice for caring for their new baby and ask for even more.
Soon, it’s time to open the presents for Sarah and there are so many happy, happy pictures taken. Sam and Steve don’t quite know how in the hell they’re going to fit all of their daughter’s new things into their luggage when they go back home (and, hell, they already have a shit ton of new things for her in their house just from the last two celebrations alone).
After the opening of presents, it’s time to eat and eat. Just about every kind of meat that can go on a barbeque grill is to be found: ribs, chicken, salmon, steak, more ribs, shrimp, and hotdogs. There’s even barbequed pineapple. And the huge bowls of sides to go with the barbeque are just as plentiful: potato salad, shrimp salad, sweet potatoes, green beans, asparagus, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, lima beans, collard greens, mac n’ cheese, and coleslaw.
Dessert is candied yams, pecan pie, banana cream pie, regular and double-chocolate brownies, and ice cream.
Lastly but most certainly not least, is a special surprise cake commemorating Sarah Rae’s being brought into the family. The huge, rectangle ice cream cake is so big that it takes up nearly half of one of the picnic tables in the backyard. All along its edges and down its corners is orange-and-purple frosting flowers. Also in frosting is the bright orange cursive in the middle of the cake that says ‘Welcome, Sarah Rae Wilson-Rogers!’ Multi-colored frosting balloons beautifully frame the words all around.
And when all of the food is either eaten or packaged for to-go plates, about half the Wilson family is about to go home, the gospel music is turned down, and Sarah is laid down for a nap in her parents’ guest room, Sam’s grandmother pulls them aside.
She takes each of their hands in one of hers and looks between them, an expression of both reverence and seriousness on her face. “So you’re Falcon and you’re Captain America. Ya’ll two are superheroes and I’m not gonna lie an’ say that I don’t make a special prayer to the good Lord for your safety every night. Ya’ll do God’s work with what you do.”
She gestures with her chin towards their room, where Sarah is sleeping soundly. “But now you two have a child that’s all your own. And so now you two ain’t got no greater gift, no greater responsibility than that little girl. You’re both gon’ feel some of the happiest parts of your lives and some of the most terrifying parts of your lives.”
“But just know that there’s gon’ be times where you doubt yourselves, times where you’ll be sure that you have no idea what the hell you’re doing and you’re just makin’ it up as you go along. Even if you have five more babies after this one-”
Sam and Steve splutter at the mere thought.
“Well, I’m just saying”, she comforts. “No matter how many times you go through this, there’s always making things up as you go along. So don’t be afraid to not know all the answers. Don’t be afraid to feel like you don’ know what you’re doing. And sure as hell don’t be afraid to ask for help, y’hear?”
“Yes, ma’am, we hear ya. Loud and clear”, Sam says.
“We’ll most certainly ask for help. That’s for sure”, Steve says.
Sam’s grandmother squeezes their hands and nods satisfactorily. “Good, then, boys. Very good.”
A little later, Sam goes upstairs with his mother to sit with Sarah and Steve bounces back and forth between the backyard and the kitchen to help with the dishes.
It’s when Steve is vigorously scrubbing the inside of a slow cooker in the sink that he pauses and looks out the window. The window faces the front of the house and looks onto the wraparound porch and all its activity.
On the porch, some of the more elderly adults sit in the rocking chairs and swings, sipping on leftover iced tea flavored with lemon and oranges. The younger girls practice double-dutch in the driveway, their little braids wrapped with barrettes and puff balls tied with ribbons bouncing with their movements. Other young girls draw and color with chalk on the other side of the driveway’s pavement. On the front porch steps, the older girls sit at the adults’ feet, combing and braiding each other’s hair and merrily chatting away.
Farther out and towards the street, those that are leaving to go home hug and kiss each other goodbye before they get into their cars. People do much the same in the backyard as they do on the front porch
Back inside the house, several people sit with Sam’s grandmother as they pour and gush over innumerable baby pictures of various family members and the memories they invoke. More younger children quietly play board games (no Uno) at their feet, at the coffee table and just a few more older children sit at the dining room table, sharing their favorite trap music covers and talking about this and that from school.
Sam is still upstairs with his mother and a deeply sleeping Sarah.
This is Steve Rogers’ family.
This is his family.
They embraced him with open arms and warm smiles as soon as he and Sam broke the news of their relationship to them. He’s since spent every last holiday with them, attended every last wedding, every last birthday, every last baby shower. When he and Sam visit, he doesn’t even have to set his alarm for church on Sundays and, by now, his “heathen Catholic ass” knows nearly all the hymns, all the testimonials to be had in his family’s Christian church. Sam’s mother and grandmother scold him just as much as they scold Sam when he forgets to call at least once a week and, when he does call, he’d better have plenty to share to make up for that lost week.
He stopped tearing up a long, long time ago when the kids refer to him as “Uncle Steve”. Several times, it’s “Uncle Stevie” for when they need him as a partner in crime (he really doesn’t know where the last cookies go or who was still up watching TV at eleven o’clock at night…he really doesn’t). He also stopped tearing up a long, long time ago when the younger kids randomly plop into his lap to chatter on and on and on about their day and, oh, give him this drawing that they made just for him; he’s just a bit more used to the older kids snuggling up against his side as they ask for advice on dealing with dating, friendships, unfair teachers, and homework.
He is not a guest here.
This is his family.
And so that means he should stop-
A tug on his pants snaps him out of his musing. He looks down with a smile and sees a tearful little Brianna. One of her braids is undone and she holds up a bright red barrette to him.
“C’n you fix it, Uncle Stevie? Please?” She pleads.
Steve smiles down at her, turns off the water, and dries his hands on a towel. Softly, he assures her, “Oh, of course, honey. Let’s fix it right now.”
Hands finally dry, he crouches down gently to re-braid Brianna’s hair and re-apply the barrette. When he’s all done, he taps her nose affectionately and gets a hug in return.
Steve goes back to washing the dishes, and then it’s nighttime when most everyone has gone home and the house is quiet. Sam and Steve will stay here for a few days more to rest with their daughter. Sam is knocked out after such a long, happy day and sound asleep in the bed. Steve is still up in the rocking chair, cradling Sarah.
Steve cannot sleep.
He doesn’t disturb his sleeping husband as he rocks back and forth in the rocking chair with their child warm and safe and swaddled in his arms. She wears a soft green dinosaur onesie underneath the blanket and a green beanie keeps her little round head warm.
Gazing down at her is probably the closest he’ll get to sleep tonight. He snuggles her even closer and gently brushes a finger over her dark, rosy cheek that’s softer than any rose petal. His finger next lightly traces the line of her long, dark lashes that flutter in her sleep and create little crescent moon shadows on her cheeks.
He speaks low and quiet, like this will be a secret just between the two of them.
“There’s been a lot of celebrating, little girl”, he whispers. “And that’s because you’re the greatest celebration there is to have. I don’t know what I’m doing and this is terrifying for me. See, I’m not like your daddy; he’s so much braver and smarter than I am.”
He traces the perfect, teeny arch of her eyebrow. “But I’ll do my absolute best, alright? I love you more than anything in the world and I’ll…I’ll figure this out. We’ll figure this out. All three of us together, you hear me?”
Sarah Rae continues sleeping soundly.
Steve breaks his gaze away from his daughter to look out the bedroom’s window, in-between the drawn curtains. From here, he has the view of the directly neighboring houses. How quiet they are, how peaceful they are. A great many of them are two stories, just like the Wilson house. Many of them have porches. A garage. A paved driveway or two. Little unique decorations on and around the front door like welcome mats and wind chimes and flowers.
The people of this neighborhood are as black and brown as just about any other kind of neighborhood to be found in Atlanta.
And Sarah will always be home here, always be safe here, in Atlanta. This is her home too, just as much as Washington Heights is. This is her family and they love her with a depth and ferocity that is unconditional.
But Steve continues to look out the window and, though he’s still seeing the neighborhood, part of him looks beyond. Far, far beyond the neighborhood.
About a full hundred years beyond…and behind.
And Steve wonders…he wonders if he’ll ever tell his daughter of another home, of a different home in another part of her family. A home that is far, far away and far, far unlike this one.
He wonders if he’ll ever tell his daughter about a teeny tenement in Brooklyn where the early morning light filtered in just right on its mismatched floorboards.
He wonders if he’ll ever tell his daughter about the sweetness of barmbrack, the crunchiness of crubeens, or the richness of colcannon.
He wonders if he’ll ever tell his daughter about a woman that looks absolutely nothing like her, but would love her with just the same unconditional depth and ferocity.
He wonders if he’ll ever tell his daughter about a woman who, too, is someone named Sarah.
When they finally fly back home to Washington Heights, Steve goes to his and his husband’s closet. He opens its door and looks up at the top shelf in the back.
Where the suitcase is.
The dusty suitcase. The raggedy suitcase. The closed suitcase.
He thinks about how he could take the suitcase down, open it and…and think. And practice. And think some more. And…
He should remember for his daughter, for Sarah Rae.
The memories that are still just as crystal clear as ever float to the forefront of his mind as he takes in the suitcase at the top shelf in the back. But those memories force that fresh, raw center in his chest to close, close, close.
He was first forced to open up that center, for the longest time, back in 1940. He opened it up again after he woke up from the ice. And he opened it up once more while he was dating his husband.
And Steve doesn’t think he has the strength to open it up all over again…not now. Not tonight.
A deep, shuddering breath wracks his body. He blinks his eyes as though he can rapidly blink away the crystal clear memories before they become crystal clear tears in his eyes.
He hears Sam animatedly reading to their daughter in her nursery. So he closes the closet door and goes to join them.