I didn't figure out who Captain America's roommate was until the day Chloe's piece of shit ex-boyfriend tried to put domestic violence murder back on the headlines.
Okay, no, both parts of that are a little untrue. First off Dickface McDouchecanoe couldn't actually think far enough ahead for that to be the plan in the first place, he just got drunk and stupid and somehow got a gun so he almost did it without planning on it, the fucking inbred abortion. And, well, when it comes to our neighbours -
Hang on, let me back up.
So even before the Avengers started doing anything again, like, as a unit, they were a big deal in New York. I mean okay fine they're a big thing everywhere, but it's different here, okay. Aliens attacked Manhattan, the Tower's here, Captain America was born here - I mean, I freaking moved here and I still totally picked up on the kinda possessive pride thing that's going on. Get to Brooklyn and Captain America specifically and it just gets worse. Forget actually getting to our neighbourhood, okay?
I figured out pretty soon after I moved in with Chloe that maybe about two thirds of the people around here fall in the category of "aware that Captain America lives around here", with maybe like two thirds of those people being willing to believe it and the other third of those people are like "yeah, ha ha, supposedly Cap lives around here", and the thing about the other third of people, the people who don't know? It's because nobody talks about it.
It's like this huge big open secret, right. Everybody knows, but you only talk about it with other people who know, because otherwise the Wrong People might find out and apparently if Steve Rogers wants to wander around Brooklyn acting like he's just some guy, nothing special, then Brooklyn will defend his right to do that unto the death - more specifically, to the death of any paparazzi who try to get invasive about things.
The first rule of Steve Rogers living in our neighbourhood is that you don't talk about Steve Rogers living in our neighbourhood.
So let's start with that, alright. So a lot of stuff ends up being "rumours" even though it's not really rumours. And then there's all the rest of them, like, the Black Widow and Hawkeye and I mean Christ let's not even talk about Mr I-Am-Iron-Man who I swear is just, like, being the media whore at this point so that everyone's paying attention to him instead of anyone else who doesn't want so much attention, and I think that because the week that someone leaked something or scooped something about there being an little island somewhere that they do test work with the Hulk, and everyone started looking, Stark went and had that quote-unquote "suit malfunction" that messed up that Coast Guard boat and whoops, suddenly everyone's paying attention to him and him being a human disaster again.
But even with that, like, okay I understand absolutely nothing in the articles but even I see all the articles and news stories about the articles with the names "Dr Ross" and "Dr Foster" and "Dr Banner" attached, sometimes by themselves, sometimes together, sometimes with other people only science people know about. And personally I think the Black Widow and Hawkeye are actually trolling the tabloids outright.
The point being, of course all of them are in and out of gossip blogs and tabloids and all that kind of shit, and people also totally make stuff up. Like for instance I am reliably informed that any tabloid story about wild sex parties at the Tower are complete fiction, if only because by the time certain people got done arguing with each other about logistics everyone else would be asleep or distracted by science.
And I'll admit it, I love that I know that.
But it makes for the great big haze of Avengers Rumours and Apocrypha out there, as everybody knows. And of course most people don't really dig beyond what ends up in InStyle or what the hell ever, just like most people don't read more about Caitlyn Jenner than they find in the issue of People magazine on the supermarket rack.
If you do, though, you hit the next strata of AR&A, which is, of course: conspiracy theories.
I'm not gonna dwell on that too much. Most of them are boring and make no sense, you know? Granted, before DC-14 I'd've said HYDRA made no sense, but I don't think most of it's a repeat. It helps that I read one really complicated one about the Black Widow that had her, like, prepping to help the Egyptians invade Europe with alien weapons when I knew for a fact she was upstairs because I passed her in the hall. Once you get to the crap with aliens in it it's just not worth talking about anymore.
But the thing is, that's the kind of plausibility you're dealing with in general, so that's where your credulity should be when you hit the conspiracy theories about the Winter Soldier, aka HYDRA's secret superweapon, aka the unidentified guy from DC-14. And holy crap, there are a lot of them. And they're pretty much all completely ridiculous, at first glance.
And the one it turns out is true doesn't look less ridiculous.
I mean, okay, let's run through this, right: so out of all the people HYDRA experimented on trying to replicate the whole Captain America success story, exactly one survives.
And that one turns out to be Captain America's best friend, who grew up with him.
Who just happens to fall down a huge canyon and only hit rocks that take off his arm (instead of, like, crushing his skull or even taking off his whole head or whatever). And survives.
And then a HYDRA-infiltrated USSR unit just happens to find him and he gets literally mind-wiped and with a crazy metal arm and cryogenically frozen and hidden in Soviet Russia while being deployed to kill people through the decades until he survives to the present day only to be deployed against Captain America, who in the interim crashed a super-plane into the Arctic and froze there only to get revived in the 21st century . . . .
Like okay, at this point if you are not thinking "there are more than five people in the world, come on here" then your mind has totally been polluted by television. It's pretty freaking incredible, and I mean that in the sense of "non-credible". Just starting with the "the only two people who ever had super-soldier serum work right were bffs and lived together in Brooklyn" - just that's up there with an infinite number of monkeys coming up with Hamlet, okay.
I mean yeah okay, turns out it's true: that doesn't make it less nuts. A random number generator's got as much chance of spitting out numerical order 1-99 as anything else, but that doesn't make it a reasonable expectation any one time you hit the thing, you know?
I did look at the conspiracy theories. I mean, Steve Rogers is my upstairs neighbour, I definitely wanted to look around about stuff. And I found that conspiracy theory, which started with some chick (everyone thinks) deep in the depths of Reddit who goes by the name of SooperSister and wrote a huge long essay like people used to write about the obvious existence of flying saucers, complete with crappy, blurry pictures. Other people have totally added to it.
There's a lot of photoshop in those threads, that's all I'm saying.
And I'm like, well this is ridiculous and stupid and totally can't be true . . . except.
The guy who fucking lives upstairs with Steve Rogers has around shoulder-length dark hair, a metal prosthetic arm, and answers to "James" assuming you ever see him long enough for him to answer to anything. And knows exactly what pet-food and cat-litter and stuff my girlfriend uses for her animals despite only being in her place like maybe four times and only once further than the door, and Chloe says he acts like a Special Forces vet, and said she can't tell if they're boyfriends or not. . .
Except then, like, on the flip-side, the world's deadliest assassin, killer of however-many, et cetera et cetera and blah blah blah, totally dotes on a tiny blind orange kitten and coaches one of the building teenagers when she's doing parkour.
I did consider asking the Sandoval kid about it, but one thing that is definitely not even remotely unsure is that that kid might actually be more protective of Captain America and his friend than I am of Chloe, and that's saying something. You don't even have to hear her say anything. It's like it radiates out from her. She's got about six people like that: Steve and James, her two best friends, and her mom and her brother. I think it's cute, personally, but it sure as hell meant I wasn't going to ask her anything while I was dubious about it.
So it's not like I hadn't put anything together before that night, right? It's just, well. You know, just because aliens and elves attacked Earth in the last few years doesn't mean every wild story is true now, you know? Batboy's still something the National Enquirer made up to sell copy, and aliens did not build the pyramids. (We've got Thor's word on that one: all their shit was up in Norway.)
You gotta keep these things in perspective.
Right, so, that's the neighbours. Now let's talk about Dickface McDouchecanoe.
His real name is Tyler Brown. He's an asshole who managed to act like he wasn't an asshole long enough when Chloe was in her last years of pre-vet that he roped her into two years plus worth of shitty messed up relationship.
I met Chloe in the last six months of that and Dickface hates me because in his head I stole her. Actually what happened is Chloe's dad's good for at least something, and one of them is long earnest talks with his little princess about how she's worth better than a guy who makes her cry all the time. As it happens I totally agree with him about that, but he just can't get past the part where I'm a) female and b) trash. Such is life.
He'll get over it or he won't; I'm not going anywhere.
Part of the reason Chloe moved to New York and her great-aunt's place is Dickface wasn't here, which made it harder for him to be a creepy stalker. I mean, there's a bunch of great vet schools here, too, but there's great vet schools just about anywhere. And with a few cities, not to mention states, between Chloe and him, basically everyone figured he'd get a life or something and stop coming around and phoning endlessly and shit like that.
Now, thanks to my amazing family (don't ask), I know from stalkers and what you should and shouldn't do about them, and so Chloe hasn't said one word to him since she kicked him out of the apartment her parents were paying for. He was stupid enough to try and show up and hassle me at home the once - at the time "home" was my stepdad's place - but even though my family sucks, some fucking jerk in his dad's pickup showing up trying to pick a fight in my old neighbourhood . . . it's not gonna go well for him. I don't think he got past just being threatened, but let's put it this way: people I grew up with can be pretty damn threatening.
Then Chloe was in Brooklyn and I was at my cousin's and swear to fuck I thought we'd seen the last of the asshole and I was personally pretty happy about it.
Then we found out from Facebook that he got kicked out of the school he was going to and moved to his aunt's in New Jersey.
Now everyone we mutually knew'd got it into their heads pretty firmly that if they passed on Chloe's phone number or anything they were dead - I mean, we'd be pretty pissed off. So I was still kind of hoping, and so was Chloe, that we were still done with it. I mean it's not like he moved into the neighbourhood and it'd been more than a fucking year and seriously, he had to have moved on by now, right?
So I didn't find out until later how he knew we were gonna be at that party - turned out it was just stupid bad luck, the chick who was a friend of a friend talking to a different friend didn't even know that Chloe used to have a boyfriend, let alone how much of a problem he was - but he showed up around midnight, and unfortunately that was after I was already pretty drunk.
Chloe was a bit more sober, so she saw him and panicked. Now fortunately when my girl panics she actually gets super focused and efficient and when she's grabbing my arm and pulling me to the front porch and shoving my coat at me and dragging me out the door just saying "we have to go, we have to go now", I'm not actually gonna argue with her or demand an explanation right then even if I am drunk. I trust her to mean it, and I trust her to be right.
It was kind of a chilly night, and I was pulling on my coat when I asked her, okay, what the hell?
She said, "Tyler was there. I saw him."
And okay there's nothing but time that will actually sober you up. Trust me, I've had more than enough experience on that one. But there are some things that will definitely make your body dump a shit-load of chemicals into your blood-stream to try to counteract the fact that you're drunk, and that was definitely one of mine. I did up my coat and put my arm around her shoulder, kissed her hair and promised her it'd be fine. And then we both started walking a bit quicker.
I don't know if he followed us, or if someone told him where we lived after we'd left and he took a car. If he did follow us, he was getting good at fucking stalking, because I'm pretty good at figuring out if there's somebody behind me and I didn't see him. But whether he followed us or got someone to tell him and drove up ahead of us and parked or something, he caught up with us in the front yard of the building.
There's this sort of little stone wall around the building that has this little gate-without-a-gate with the path to go up to the front door. I did see him coming up the sidewalk towards the gate, so I pushed Chloe in front of me and gave her my coat, because of the two of us, first of all she had her keys and second of all I'm better at punching people, and I'm bigger. But I wanted my coat out of the way because it wasn't great for freedom of movement (cute as hell, but not great for freedom of movement). My plan was she could go open the door and I'd slow him down and then we'd lock him out and . . . figure out what the fuck to do next. That was for later.
We kinda got stuck on the front porch anyway.
I'm just gonna . . .skip most of the shit he was saying. If he drove to get ahead of us, it's a miracle he made it there without crashing, because he was even more drunk than me. Unfortunately he was also like a foot taller and about a hundred pounds heavier than me so that wasn't that much help. But him being drunk also meant he had no sense of restraint and he was shouting some really horrible shit. I don't want to think about it and I definitely don't want to relay it.
If I'd been sober, what I would've done was start shouting for someone to call the cops right then. Because if I'd been sober I'd've been thinking about how, hey: this neighbourhood is pretty okay, lots of families, not much crime that I knew of and I did look, there's a lot of people that'll come out if I start making noise like this is a problem and not just a drunk fight, we're two pretty harmless-looking women and Tyler's huge and he doesn't have any fucking money or clout here, so actually things are slanted in our favour this time.
But that's a lot of complicated thinking and assessment and a bit too much for me when I'm as many shots in as I was, plus Chloe'd started crying which is never something that makes me think my best. So my head was firmly in the land of "cops are problems not solutions" and I wasn't really used to having neighbours who'd take my side, either. You have to be used to being able to ask for help, you know? When you're not it just doesn't occur to you. You know you're on your own.
So I was drunk, so I didn't do any of that.
We were stuck on the front porch because he was too close: if Chloe unlocked the door he could rush us and follow us in and then everything was gonna be a fucking disaster.
(And it turned out I was right about that, because he turned out to have a gun, but I didn't actually know he did at that point so right at that point that was me thinking in old patterns again: coming from places that were more likely to push us all back outside and be pissed off at us for making a fuss and being the reason some asshole is messing up the place, as opposed to where I lived then, and now, where even the normal people would've, you know, looked out for us. Old habits are hard to break. Especially when you're drunk.)
So I stopped before the steps to try and get him to stop and maybe give Chloe some space, and she was crying and trying to find her keys, and Tyler was yelling awful stuff I'm not gonna bother remembering and getting right up in my face so that I actually had to shove him back just to keep him from knocking me over. And that pissed him off, so he came right back at me, and then -
To this day I have no idea where James came from. Was he out wandering around at midnight? Did he drop out of one of the windows from his place? Off the roof? He go around the back way out and jump the fence? No idea. All I know is suddenly there's someone right beside me and Tyler's stumbling way more steps back than I could ever make him - and so not happy about it - because someone just put a hand in the middle of his chest and shoved.
Then I look around and like WOW HI JAMES. He's right there by my shoulder, hello.
Now, I remember two things really clearly from that moment. One was that James mostly just looked really tired and annoyed and exasperated, in like ripped up jeans and a worn out hoodie. The other was that nobody's look of being tired, annoyed and exasperated has ever been quite as scary as that moment of that look on his face. Like I think I've pretty clearly implied I come from bad places, right, and so I've got some definite instincts, and those instincts were screaming that this is probably the scariest man I've ever met and that includes my other cousin I'm pretty sure is a serial killer.
Anyway. Tyler's stumbling back almost enough to fall over, and James looks at me and then back at Chloe and jerks his left thumb - the metal arm one - back at the door and says, "Just go inside, don't worry about this."
James is also pretty good at telling you to do things in that voice that makes you do them before you think about it - but I have never been good at doing what that kind of voice tells me. Chloe did, which is good, because I wanted her to be inside too. She scrambled her keys out, unlocked the front door and got inside and then stopped, with her hand on the door, and looked back out.
I, however, was drunk. And when I am drunk there are things that I'm not okay with and one of them is leaving somebody to fight some big jerk on his own, or her own, especially when the big jerk is here because of me or someone I'm with. So I was not going inside. I was going to stay out here and back James up.
Yeah you can stop laughing now, I did say I was drunk.
"No way," I said, "this isn't your problem." (I said shut up, I was drunk.)
And oh man, I got this look okay. Like the guy looked at me like a dad who has six kids and the older five've already done something bad today and the sixth one has just poured honey on her hair or something, I swear to god. Not mad, not even annoyed, just like he can't believe this is happening, except that he knows that of course it's happening, it's inevitable, how could it possibly not happen.
It's the kind of look that people put on internet memes with the caption "why is life" or something.
Then Tyler's lurching back up properly and all, hey, fucker, who the fuck do you think you are? and James stopped looking at me.
He said, "Shut up," loud enough that it got across Tyler's swearing and then said, "That's enough, buddy. You're drunk, you're stupid, you're doing fucking stupid things, now get the fuck out of here and go home before you get hurt."
And you know, the thing is, I think it almost worked. Seriously.
For at least a few seconds, I think Dickface was actually like this close to doing that thing where he'd run into a guy, one older than him even, who was telling him to can it and fuck off, telling him what to do or stop doing, and doing it in that voice that says the person using it is totally in charge of the world and everything in it. Authoritative, that's the word. I think it came pretty close to working, and if he hadn't been able to see me, or Chloe, it might've worked.
Which, come to think of it, is probably why James wanted me to go inside with Chloe, but look if figuring out I could probably get someone to call the police was beyond me, thinking shit that complex was just not happening. So in the way the world actually turned out, he glanced at me, and then at the door where Chloe was standing, and he got mad again.
Guys get so fucking weird about shit like this. I don't get it.
So anyway, Dickface steps forward with a, "Why don't you mind your own fuckin' business," and goes to shove James back and . . . okay the part I actually saw was James catching one of his arms and twisting it and then I think maybe he actually tripped him and there was a shove with the hand that grabbed the arm that got twisted and the point is, Dickface ended up turned around sideways on his face on the grass beside the path.
I maybe gawped. A bit. Okay maybe a lot. I definitely took a step back and up on the porch, even if I didn't go inside yet, because now I could totally see, even with my drunk brain, that we were in a situation of the "stay out of the way and let the other guy handle it" type. I know those. I mean my relatives were never that good at this stuff, but I still know those.
Tyler kind of scrambled to his feet, and on the way up his hand went to his jacket pocket and James looked even more tired and exasperated and said, in a really definite voice, "Don't do it."
And that's when I realized Tyler had a gun. He had. A fucking. Gun.
And realizing Tyler had a gun meant I realized just how close both me and Chloe had come to dying just then, and wow let me tell you, I know I still wasn't really sober, but I felt sober. I also felt sick, and like I wanted to both smash his head in on the wall, and run away and hide in a closet somewhere with Chloe until someone could guarantee he was dead, or something. I fucking hate feeling like that. I hate the feelings you get when you realize your life's really in danger. They fucking suck.
So I realized all that, just as he starts pulling then gun out.
Now time, time in a really fast fight? It's weird. It's hard to tell it right, because words take time. Explaining takes way more time than doing it. So Tyler was standing up and reaching for his pocket when James started to say "don't do it", and then Tyler got his arm like halfway raised? not all the way, anyway, not any farther than that, because then James had his arm again, kicked his knees out from under him, and then Tyler was on his face on the grass with the hand with the gun pinned behind his back by James' metal hand and James' knee shoved into his low back.
Then there was that sort of tableau moment that might not have actually happened, but it's sure in my memory, like everything caught up. And I just saw it all. Where everything ended up. Tried to figure out all of what happened. Tyler clearly had no fucking clue what happened and he sort of started to struggle but then he went white, and I mean white, I could tell even just in the bad external lights from the building, and stopped. So whatever kind of hold James had on his arm, it was obviously the kind that hurts if you try to move when someone's got you in it.
"You can let go of the gun before or after I turn the bones in your hand into fucking gravel," James said, and he said it totally calmly and conversationally. "Up to you."
I'm guessing Tyler let go. James let go of his hand and picked up the gun, and I was kind of surprised he let go except then when Tyler sort of tried to push himself up, James drove his knee harder into his back like he was stamping harder on an ant or something, and Tyler stopped.
James dropped the clip out of the gun and then got rid of the bullet that was in the chamber. He popped all of the bullets out of the magazine, too, and put them in his jeans pocket. He shifted his weight off the knee pinning Tyler so he was, like, crouched like this was a casual conversation instead. First he flipped Tyler's wallet out of his back pocket with his right hand, and then he hauled Tyler over onto his back.
Then he held up the gun in his left hand. He was holding it kind of sideways. Like it was a thing instead of a gun. He pointed to it, with one of the fingers of his right hand, still holding the wallet, to make sure Tyler was looking. I was also looking. Seriously.
When he closed his hand, the gun crumpled like it was made of tin foil. Some, like, spring or little piece or something pinged off into the dark. I was definitely staring with my mouth open at this point, but he wasn't paying any attention to me.
But I could see the whites all the way around Tyler's eyes.
James dropped the crushed up gun on Tyler's chest, and Tyler flinched. Then James opened up Tyler's wallet and pulled out his NJ driver's license and held it up to the light. I'm pretty sure that was just for effect, though. To make it really clear he was reading the license. He put it back in the wallet and dropped the wallet on Tyler's chest too. And Tyler flinched.
Finally, James rested his elbow on his bent knee and said, "I know who you are. I know where you live. I can find you if you try to hide. If I ever so much as get reminded that you fucking exist, no one will ever find your body. Now get the fuck out of here."
He stood up. Tyler scrambled to his feet and left. Like. Just like that. He was out of there. He did look back once, but it was at James, not at me, and then he was out of my sight.
I did not actually blame him.
James muttered something under his breath. His hands were in his hoodie pockets now and my brain-cells were kind of clinking together like I don't know what. I wasn't sure what I'd just seen, or what it meant, or what to do next. Not because I thought anything was going to go wrong, I should say. Just because my whole brain was busy going what the fuck even and when your whole brain is doing that, well.
So when James turned around what I managed to say, like a genius, was "Uh. So you . . .really didn't need any help then."
Which, hey. It made him laugh, in that "oh god I have to laugh" kind of way, and he put his right hand to his face and drew it down over his mouth and I felt kind of self-conscious, so of course I decided to make it worse.
"I might be kind of drunk," I added, just in case he hadn't noticed. He gave me a Look.
"No shit," he replied, mildly. "How about you go inside the fucking door, it's cold out here."
Chloe held the door open for us. Then, once we were inside, she let it go and threw herself at James to hug him. Which might not have been her brightest or most observant moment ever, because James absolutely flinched and his arms ended up in that sort of holding-up position you get when someone hugs you and you didn't expect it and you don't really want them to hug you but you don't want to shove them away and you're not quite sure what to do next.
Then Chloe realized, and yanked herself back and covered her mouth, and was made of, "I'm sorry - ! I'm - " and you know, I don't think that actually helped, but he seemed to know what to do about it.
"Hey," he said, quiet but really definite. "No, stop. It's fine. It's fine. Both of you, go home, hug your pets, go to bed - no, drink water, then go to bed, don't worry about it."
Which would let him get, you know, away from us and back upstairs to his place, so! I hooked my arm around Chloe's waist because she was clearly about to burst into tears again and I said, "Great plan. Thanks, I mean a lot, and, well. See you around." And then I dragged Chloe over to our door and took her keys and let us in.
Then I leaned on the wall and hugged her for a while while she cried.
Chloe cried off and on for the next twenty minutes while we had some camomile tea and brushed our teeth and got into bed, both dogs and one of the cats and Theo following us around, the dogs making whining noises because Chloe was crying. Then, with one dog on the other side of her and the other sprawled out over our feet and Ginger and Meg - two of the cats - curled up together by her head, Chloe fell asleep.
I didn't. I knew I wasn't going to. Way too much adrenaline, which for me means I just stay wired for a couple hours. So instead Theo hopped up on the bed, and I petted his ears, and stared at the ceiling, and thought about who obviously lived upstairs.
It wasn't even what he did. That wasn't what got me, what convinced me. I mean people can be good at martial arts. It wasn't even crushing the gun. The thing that sold me was how through the whole thing, even when Tyler pulled the gun out, James mostly just looked tired, and irritated, and the kind of bored and frustrated that means you're basically walking around with the words seriously now? seriously? blinking over the top of your head. He acted like, I don't know - like Tyler was an eight year old pulling a water-pistol.
(Okay not exactly, what with the takedown and all, but work with me here: you know what I mean.)
That's not normal. Not even the most dangerous people in the normal world react that way to someone pulling a gun.
And now, here's the thing: once you realize something like that about the guy who also lives upstairs, with Captain America? Suddenly the whole mind-wiping cryogenics explanation becomes the most probable one. Or at least, the one that fills in all the gaps. I fell asleep around three still thinking about that.
I ended up asking Mercedes Sandoval. I just had to, you know? I had to have someone else confirm it for me.
I caught up with her outside the front door. Said, "Hey, hold up, one second."
She said, "What?" and I'd like to point out that we started this conversation like a normal grownup-talking-to-teenager conversation, with her just puzzled about what I wanted. That totally changed the second I opened my mouth.
I said, "So, you know, James. Upstairs." And wow was I suddenly the focus of attention.
"Yeah?" she asked, and I seriously had to wonder what she thought she was going to be able to do if she didn't like what I said, because I have literally met dangerous drug dealers whose threatening voices weren't that good.
Okay maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit but she's fourteen, that's still nuts.
"Woah woah woah," I said, holding up my hands, "dial down the hostility here, guard-dog, I'm not about to make anyone's life harder."
Mercedes gave me a dubious look and folded her arms. "So?" she demanded, and it was a little bit less threatening. A little.
I thought of a bunch of different ways to ask, but most of them were either awkward or likely to make her Miss Hostility again, so in the end I went with the most roundabout way I could think of that still asked the question, which was, "So we have, like, two World War Two war-hero supersoldiers living upstairs in this building. Is what I'm gathering."
For a minute her eyes narrowed but I guess she liked something about the way I phrased it because she shrugged and relaxed a little when she said, "Yeah. So?"
I shrugged and held up my hands again. "So nothing," I said, "just confirming. You gonna open the door or should I?"
For a bit I worried that Tyler was gonna get the police involved, try for some kind of assault charge. Then I started thinking with my brain instead of my paranoia and realized he'd have to be even more of an idiot than he was to do that: there were exactly two witnesses, me and Chloe, his version of the story would be totally implausible and finally the chances of Cap not having a really good lawyer were, I figured, pretty fucking low. So that was fine.
Chloe made cupcakes and took them upstairs to say thank you. She ended up giving them to Steve, who assured her that everything was fine, and she didn't need to worry about it. I think when James texted her the next day about something about the kitten it was mostly because he was making a point that he didn't want to be weird, but that's pretty fair.
I gotta say, though. I feel really secure in our building.