Steve Rogers stood on the Wilsons’ front porch, holding onto his potato salad for dear life. When Sam had invited him to his family’s annual Fourth of July barbecue, he’d happily agreed. Ever since they met, Steve had been hearing countless stories about Sam’s relatives. How his mother is the nicest lady in the world; how his dad tells terrible jokes and will probably ask Steve to check the accuracy of his WWII fighter plane models; how his sister makes a pecan pie so good that Sam could be pushed into some serious moral gray-areas for a slice. He’d seen pictures of Sam’s adorable nieces and nephews, and actually laughed himself out of the bed when they had gotten onto the subject of scars, and Sam proceeded to point out, one by one, every mark that his cousins had earned him with their hair-brained ideas for summer fun. They all sounded like great people, and Sam clearly loved them all dearly, but it had been so long since Steve had been a part of a family at all, he wasn’t sure how to handle it.
Sam picked up on his distress, and put an arm around his waist, giving a reassuring squeeze.
“Don’t worry,” he told Steve. “They’re gonna love you.” Without leaving time for debate, he reached out and rang the doorbell. A dog’s bark echoed inside the house, followed by a woman scolding,
“Oh, calm down. It’s just Sam.” The door swung open, and a tall woman with curly gray hair smiled at them, wide and bright, just like Sam. “Hello, hello! Come on in,” she stepped aside and waved them into the front hall, shutting the door behind them. No backing out now.
“Hey Mom.” Sam wrapped her up in a hug. When she let go of him, he put a hand on Steve’s back and told her, “This is my boyfriend, Steve. Steve, this is my mom, Mary.”
“Nice to meet you,” Steve said, holding out his hand. Mary waved him off.
“Steve, we are huggers in this family,” she told him. “And if you’re going to be one of us, you’re going to have to get with the program.” She took the potato salad from him, only to shove it into Sam’s arms and hold her own open for a hug. “Now put those arms to good use and give me a squeeze.” Steve smiled a little.