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it felt like home with you

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Donna raps her knuckles on Sam’s door lightly; it had been almost three days since Sophie had stumbled upon them, learning the truth, and she hadn’t seen either him or the boys. Sophie was with Marco, watching him unload the food order, and staring at the walls of the office was making Donna go crazy.

There’s a pause, and then the door opens; warmth pools in her chest at the sight of him, hair mussed and slightly unkept, and a smudge of charcoal across his cheek.  She smiles tentatively, and feels something in her chest dissolve slightly when he gives her a small smile back.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt,” she starts, and Sam shakes his head.

“No, no- you’re not,” he assures her, and Donna lets out a breath, fighting against the awkward smile she could feel attempting to slip onto her face. “The boys wanted to draw for a bit.”

Reaching up, she brushes away the dark mark from his cheek fondly.

“I can tell,” she says, and Sam chuckles softly. “I know what happened the other day wasn’t ideal, and unexpected, but-”

“I just wanted to give Sophie space,” Sam interrupts, voice quiet, and Donna swallows thickly.

“And I appreciate that. But I miss you,” she murmurs, unable to keep the waver out of her voice, and Sam’s hand lifts to cup her cheek, stepping closer until he can rest his forehead against hers. “And Sophie does too. I came here because she wants to see you.”

Sam pulls back slightly, eyebrows contracting as he looks at her, and Donna nods, reassuring him.

“Are you sure?” he asks, and Donna nods again, palms resting against his chest, fingertips digging into the linen on his shirt.

“Yes. You’ve both waited long enough,” she answers, thumbs brushing over his cheekbones as she moves her hands to cup his face. “She deserves her father in her life, and you deserve to know your daughter.”

Sam’s eyes dart over her face, and then his mouth curves into a grin before he ducks down, kissing her firmly. Donna laughs against his mouth, grip on him tightening as the force of his kiss almost knocks her off balance.

“Miss Donna!” Adam’s voice inside the room pulls them apart, and Donna rubs a hand over her face before she peers in the doorway, smiling at the two boys at the table, paper and crayons before them.

“Hello boys. How are you?” she asks, and Adam beams at her, hair falling messily in his face as he holds his paper up for her inspection.

“I drew the ocean!” he tells her, and Donna strokes a hand over his hair, smile softening as she nods encouragingly. From the next seat Max reaches for her impatiently, tiny face screwing up, and Donna has him up and on her hip before a scream can erupt, bouncing him gently.

“No need for a tantrum, Mr. Max, I’ve got you,” she soothes him, rubbing his back as one of his hands fists in her hair, the other settling against the curve of her breast as he snuggled comfortably against her. Adam launched into a story about his picture, and Donna listened intently, though she was aware of Sam’s eyes on the three of them.

She glances up, aware for the first time she might be overstepping; but Sam’s eyes are soft, watching them, and she sends him a small smile. He returns it, and Adam snuggles into her free side.

“Do you guys want to bring your paper and crayons downstairs? I bet Sophie would love to color with you,” Donna offers, arching an eyebrow as she looks at Sam; he half-nods, and she breathes a small sigh of relief. Things hadn’t felt whole without them, and she wondered how Sam and his boys had managed to worm themselves so fully into her heart in such a short time; how it had managed to feel like they really were a little family, the five of them, with almost no effort at all.

Max refuses to leave Donna’s arms, and she waves Sam off- she’d missed the little boy’s comforting weight and warmth against her body, the scent of his hair under her nose, and she presses a kiss to the blonde wispy curls, feeling him burrow into her embrace deeper.

Down in the courtyard, Sophie exclaims in delight at the sight of Adam, and runs to embrace him, grinning. The grin remains in place when she looks up at Sam, though it turns slightly shy, scuffing her toe, and Donna brushes a hand over her hair, letting her turn her face into her hip briefly.

The afternoon slips through her fingers, Adam and Sophie coloring while Max drowses in Donna’s lap. Contentment swirls through her, and she can’t even find it in herself to care that she gets no more work done for the rest of the day.

Sam makes pasta salad for dinner that the kids devour, and Adam and Max fall asleep minutes into the movie they put on for the kids. Sophie’s eyes are heavy, but she looks up at Sam, studying him.

“I’m happy you’re here now,” she says, voice sleepy but unwavering. “And I don’t mind that it took you awhile. I like my brothers.”

Her eyes blink closed before she can say more, and Sam isn’t able to stop the tears that spill over; Donna wipes them away with tender fingers, pulling him into a gentle embrace. She tucks his head to her chest, stroking his hair, and kisses the crown of his head.

She had a feeling everything was going to just fine.

_

As the weeks pass, the hotel finally starts to come together; the woodwork in the rooms is finished, needing only to be painted, and the new plumbing is installed without a hassle. Sam is painting one of the rooms, listening to Donna humming through the open window, Adam and Max chattering in the courtyard with her, and his heart is so full it feels like it could burst.

Sophie is a dream. He hadn’t known how it would go- trying to be her father after eight years of absence, but it was like walking into a hole made for him. She was kind and sweet and inquisitive, and all she wanted to do was ask questions he was more than happy to answer. Adam and Max had taken easily to the idea of her being their sister, though Adam had trouble wrapping his head around the idea of Sophie being his sister and Donna not being his mother.

“Can she not be my Mama, too?” Adam asked, small brows knit in confusion as Sam sat down with him at the small table in their room. He’s almost glad he’d decided to have this conversation without Donna; she had a hard enough time with Lorraine to begin with- he didn’t want to think about what would happen if she thought she was replacing her in any way.

Not that Sam had any problem with Donna mothering his boys. She was everything they could ever want or need; she’d stepped in when they needed someone, and loved them without hesitation. And he knew, without a doubt, that she’d never leave them the way Lorraine had.

“She’s Sophie’s mother, and while she loves you very much, she isn’t yours, son,” Sam reminds him gently, stroking a hand over Adam’s soft curls, hating the frown that marred his eldest boy’s face.

“I’d like her to be my mama,” Adam says softly, and Sam swallows down his agreement.

“Sam,” Sophie’s voice pulls him away from his task, and he turns to find her standing in the doorway, a serious look on her tiny face. He puts the paintbrush down, wiping sweat from his brow and turning to look at her.

“What is it Soph?” he asks, squatting down so their faces are level. Sam brushes a few strands of hair from her face, and Sophie places her hands on her hips.

“I’ve been thinking,” she tells him, and he lifts an eyebrow, curious.

“Have you now?”

“Yes. I’ve been thinking that I might want to call you Dad. And I wanted to know what you thought about that,” Sophie tells him, a suddenly nervous look crossing her face, and Sam feels his heart swell in his chest. His lips curve up into a grin, and Sophie’s expression slowly mirrors his.

“I think I’d like that very much, Sophie. That’s really what you want?” he asks, and Sophie nods, blonde ringlets flying around her shoulders as a beaming grin finally overtakes her face. “Then I would be honored.”

Sophie darts forward, wrapping her thin arms around his shoulders and burying her face in his neck; Sam lifts his hands to hold her against him, smelling sunscreen and summer sweat and a scent that was just uniquely his daughter’s.

“Can I help?” she asks when they pull apart, and Sam smiles and nods, handing her another paintbrush.

“Downward strokes only, Soph,” he instructs, and Sophie nods, dipping the brush in the paint can.

“Okay, Dad,” she replies, and he pauses, emotion clogging his throat briefly at the simple word as Sophie sets to work, tongue sticking out in concentration as she paints. It’s reminiscent of Donna, the same fierce determination etched in her tiny face that Sam often found when he looked at her mother.

They’re nearly finished- and Sophie not doing a half-bad job, only a few strokes that Sam would have to retouch tomorrow- when a voice speaks from the doorway.

“Would you look at you two worker bees,” Donna says, affection in her voice as she looks at them, lips curled into a smile. Sophie beams at her, swiping at her face and leaving behind a streak of paint, earning a soft laugh from Sam.

“What do you think Mommy? I helped Dad!” Sophie tells her proudly, and Donna looks at Sam at the name, eyes widening in surprise. He shrugged and smiled, nodding towards their daughter, and Donna softened, warmth pooling in her chest.

“It looks great, sweetheart. You and…Dad did a great job,” Donna tells her, using the edge of her shirt to brush the tan paint from her daughter’s cheek. “Why don’t you go wash up? Adam and Max are with Marcos in the kitchen, we’ll be right there.”

Sophie nods and bounds off, leaving Sam and Donna alone; she steps forward, sliding her hands up his torso until she can press them to his chest.

“So, Dad,” she murmurs, watching Sam’s lips curl upwards, her own mouth mirroring his. “What prompted that?”

“She was the one who asked if she could call me Dad- just walked right up and said she’d been thinking about it,” Sam tells her, lifting a hand to brush over her hair, tucking it behind her ear. “Reminded me of you- I seem to recall a similar scenario, in a boat? Involving this very hotel?”

Donna laughs softly at that, fingers flexing against Sam’s shirt as she leaned her head into his touch. He leaned forward until he could brush his mouth over hers; she hums, swaying against him until they’re pressed together. He smells like paint and sweat and just a hint of his cologne; Donna kisses him harder, fingers tugging at the top button of his shirt until it slid loose from the hole, exposing more of his chest to her.

“Ah- didn’t you just tell our daughter we’d meet her and the boys in the kitchen?” Sam pulls away, voice slightly hoarse as Donna’s fingers press against his skin, sliding down to the next button of his shirt. Her mouth follows, drawing a soft groan from him. “Don’t tease me, woman, we need to sit down to a meal with three very much awake children.”

“Better make the most of it while you can then, partner,” she teases, licking up his neck, and Sam buries his fingers in her hair with a groan.