Chapter Eight

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Steve lays on the couch in the communal living room, it's quiet, dark, the whole tower buzzing silently with electricity, that's it, that's all the noise there is. He's not sure he likes it. He doesn't know why he didn't go to bed. After he left medical he couldn't bring himself to walk all that way where he knows he would have laid awake all night and instead crashed on the couch. He smells her first, Sammy, that waft of menthol, he glances up and sees her, wrapped in shadows as she moves through the living room, unaware of his presence. He knows her though. She's sneaking out. The elevator doors close and he moves, heading straight for the stairwell to follow her. He has no idea what is possessing him to do so.

................

Steve stuffs his hands in his pockets as he slows, watching Sammy jog up the porch steps to a small brownstone in Brooklyn, she knocks on the huge black door and waits, her body coiled and ready to flee. Steve can't see who's on the other side but Sammy relaxes seeing whoever it is. She smiles and reaches out for them before disappearing inside, Steve leans up and moves closer to the building. His eyes scanning for any sign of her inside. He knows he shouldn't have followed her. He knows this but he couldn't stop himself.

.............

Sammy enters the living area first followed by an older bald man who watches her warmly as she shrugs out of her jacket. Her eyes scanning around the apartment. Nothing has changed and she prefers it that way. Photos still on the wall. Dog bed in the corner, a dog she knows he's set in the bedroom whilst she's there, she's a cat fan, dogs don't like her. She turns to him and smiles fondly. He touches her shoulder and smiles back. Five years.

"JJ" she whispers pulling him closer to her, embracing him.

"Mom" he breaths wrapping his arms around her. She clutches to him. Five years. Five years is a long time to be away from an aging child, especially one that's at JJ's age. He smiles into her hair and curls his fingers into her shirt. "I'm okay" he whispers softly. "We're all okay" he amends.

...................

Steve is sat on the roof across from the apartment window. Shroud in the darkness as he watches Sammy and JJ. They're close. That much Steve can tell. The way they are with one another, he's only ever seen Sammy hugging him that way before, and it makes his heart ache watching it. It feels personal. Private. And he's invading it by watching. He should leave. He should leave them be. But he can't make himself move from his vantage point. He can't pull himself away from this.

....................

Sammy pulls her cap off and lets out a breath, her eyes lingering over every inch of him. Checking him. She smiles tightly, her heart constricting in her chest. He touches her cheek and shakes his head. It gets harder for her. Every year that passes, every wrinkle on his skin. And now it's five years and she feels as though she's missing out on so much. And it just makes her hurt for Steve, Steve who has no idea what he's missed out on. She pulls a chair out at the table and sits down as he moves to the counter behind them.

"Where are the others?" she asks.

"B and Carlos are on their way with Beth" he answers setting the kettle on the stove. "And Pegs....well, who the hell knows where she is" he teases a little. "I did send her a message though, so she knows you're back, and she knows this will be your first stop" he watches her brush her hair over her shoulder. "I like the hair" he comments, she smiles and nods.

"Don't get too attached, I'm hoping to get it stripped out tomorrow....."

"The white was always my favorite" he offers grabbing two mugs from the cabinet. "But I do wonder what you would look like with the brown"

"Probably a lot like Pegs" she admits crossing one leg over the other.

"She does look a lot like you" he agrees, she hums a little.

................

Steve frowns a little and then looks to his side. A brunette smirks at him, she waves her fingers a little, a little cat charm hanging from her wrist.

"Hey" she greets, he stares at her a moment and then looks around, he'd climbed up because the ladder was broken, how did she get up here? "Are you spying on them?" she whispers at him, he shakes his head.

"No" he answers.

"I didn't think Captain America was much for spying" she answers sitting at his side. He raises an eyebrow. "I'd know your face anywhere" she whispers swinging her legs a little. "She's beautiful" she comments watching Sammy, Steve hums in agreement. "Do you know her?" she asks side-eyeing him.

"I used to" he answers, voice filled with longing and grief, his eyes lingering on Sammy as she lifts a mug to her lips.

"Margaret" she offers holding out her hand to him, he smiles a little and takes her hand.

"Steve" she nods.

"Yeah, I know" she counters shaking his hand before releasing it, she peers down over the edge. "Don't stay up here too long" she offers looking back at him. "It gets cold at night" he nods a little. She stands and then swings down onto the fire escape below before she is then pouncing across the alley and through the open window on the other side, Steve stares in awe and amazement. He continues to watch as Sammy stands and pulls the woman into a tight hug. Steve's eyes widen slightly seeing them together.

..........

Steve looks up at the brownstone before starting to walk away, he made a mistake following her out here. He should have left well alone. He knew he wouldn't like what he found, he was aware she has a family, she'd all but told him, what was he expecting? He sighs and shakes his head.

"Really?" he pauses hearing Sammy's voice behind him, he turns to her as she lingers in the doorway watching him. "Stalking" she offers, he sighs.

"I'm not stalking" he argues, she raises an eyebrow. "I was passing"

"At midnight?" she asks.

"I like to walk" he answers.

"From Manhattan to Brooklyn?" she counters, he shoots her a look. She sighs a little. "Why don't you come in?" she asks him leaning in the door frame. "We need to talk" he looks to her, notes the look in her eyes, he nods a little and follows her back into the brownstone.

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