Isn't that why we fight?
— Tony Stark, Age of Ultron
Tony's brightly-colored sports car disappeared around the bend in the road, the smooth rumble of its expensive engine slowly fading beyond even Steve's hearing.
It would be strange without Thor or Tony around all the time as part of the team. It was the end of an era, really.
Turning in place, the captain surveyed his surroundings. Broad green lawns swept up to the new Avengers facility; the windows winked in the early morning sun.
It wasn't where he'd expected to end up. Even just a few months before he'd been looking to retire, find a house, a modest place where he could give his family a normal life - and yet now Tony was the one driving away from the team, and he remained behind. And even though it wasn't what he'd once wanted, Steve found himself nodding, satisfied.
This was good, for now at least.
Retracing his steps past the Bifrost's seal burned into the lawn, he ran up the entry stairs, glancing at his wrist for the time out of habit before remembering that his suit didn't have a wristwatch. Nothing he could say would convince Tony to add one. Still, the clock on the wall said he had just enough time, as long as he hurried.
Peggy's head came up immediately as he opened the door to their suite. When she saw it was just him, she relaxed and let the blanket drop that she had snatched up. It was lunchtime for at least one person in the tower, apparently.
"Hi," he said, and crossed the floor to her side, sinking to one knee and pressing a rapturous kiss to her cheek. She dimpled, tipping her head sideways to lean against his shoulder, his jaw against her hair. Steve reached out a careful finger, gently tracing the curve of his son's busily working cheeks. "Somebody's hungry."
"Somebody apparently takes after his father in that respect," Peggy retorted. "I feel like I spend most of my time playing Jersey cow. By the way, aren't you supposed to be whipping the new team into shape right about now?"
"Yeah," the captain nodded. "Fury's still giving Nat the latest updates on Doctor Banner. Figured I had just enough time to stop in and say good morning to my two favorite people."
Peggy hummed softly, turning her head far enough to meet her husband halfway and give him a proper good-morning kiss, unhurried and earnest. He looked at her with wonder in his eyes when she drew back, and she laughed a little, raising her eyebrows in an unspoken question. Instead of answering, he drew a half breath and shook his head.
Peggy knew there was something on his mind, but she wasn't about to press him. Fury would be coming up shortly, as soon as he was done talking to Natasha. She had quite a lot to discuss with that man; namely, the future relations between SHIELD and the new Avengers team. With Tony, Bruce and Thor effectively out of the picture, there would need to be some renegotiations.
Steve grinned suddenly, nodding towards the tiny hand that gripped his finger solidly. Shaking his hand a little to demonstrate the strength of the grip, he nodded decidedly. "That settles it," he murmured fondly.
"What, that he's going to be a baseball player?"
Shaking his head, Steve flashed a teasing smile edged with a deeper sincerity. "Absolutely not. He's going to slay dragons, just like his mother."
Their eyes met and lingered, tangled in each other's gaze until Baby Rogers drew their attention again as he finished his meal, milky mouth opening into a miniature yawn. Peggy handed him over to her husband and did up her blouse, watching her lover out of the corner of her eye as he adjusted a soft cloth over his shoulder and held their child with infinite tenderness, gently patting his back.
Naturally, being their son, the baby promptly spit up down the front of the Captain America suit, missing the cloth completely.
Peggy sighed as she reached to mop him off, but Steve didn't seem to mind, shifting their baby to his other arm and watching reverently as the long eyelashes fluttered. Eddie had inherited Steve's jaw and forehead, with the Carter ears and something distinctly Peggy-like about the nose and mouth. Bald as an egg, it was anybody's guess what color his hair would be, but his eyes had gone blue, speckled with green. The baby books said his eyes might keep changing, but Steve was really hoping they wouldn't.
They were his mother's eyes.
The first time he'd noticed, it had sent his heart clean into his throat, and Peggy had looked at him with something like alarm at his sudden emotion. Steve couldn't help it - he hadn't thought he would ever see those eyes again. He loved the idea that something of Sarah Rogers had been handed down to the grandchild she would never get to meet.
Now those large eyes blinked heavily before closing as their little boy dropped off to sleep in his father's arms. Overwhelmed, Steve brushed a soft kiss across his son's forehead and then looked up to meet the eyes of the girl of his dreams. She reached out, and he leaned into her touch.
He had found his answer - the answer to the question Tony had once asked him - the answer he hadn't known he was looking for.
This is why we fight.
Steve Rogers was home.
"Young Americans born into a world at war, while their fathers fight that they may live in a world of peace."
- The United News newsreel, 1944
And that does it! Thank you so much for your continued support, for the kind messages that made me smile, for the encouraging reviews that inspired me to go on, and for your loyalty in reading a story that has been ongoing for a crazy two and a half years. No writer could ask for better readers, and I love you all dearly. :)
FYI, I will be seeing Endgame this evening, so if you want to chat about it, give me twenty four hours and then PM me so we can scream about it together! Let's keep the reviews spoiler-free though, for the sake of those who won't get to see it for a while yet.
For those of you asking if there will be another story in this series, the answer is: maybe. I have a draft, certainly, but I'd like to play around with some other works in progress before buckling down to it. But one thing you can be certain of - I'll not stop writing, and I'll not stop posting stories to this site for your entertainment and mine. Thanks so much again - I'll see you around!
JChase: Thank you! You know, that whole naming sequence was the very last string I wrote for that chapter, and it's the one people seem to have enjoyed the most. Clearly I should write while sleep-deprived more often! Seriously though, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad you've enjoyed this.
Vivian: Oh, I don't want it to end either! It's been so fun writing this. I hope you enjoyed the epilogue. :) Thanks for your kind comment!
Abby: I'm thrilled you would take the time to leave me a review - thank you! Yes, I'm sad that it's over, but happy to be able to have time for other works in progress. Thank you so much for reading and for letting me know how much you enjoyed it - you truly made my day.