Kamma Niyama

August 07, 2017:

Cutscene. A coda to the events of I Don't Want the World to See Me.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jane Foster

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

James' first hint that something is wrong is the heavy bruising around Jane's throat. He takes her in hand, insistent to know what transpired, and will not let her off the hook until she admits all. Every last detail. All that was done to her. How many men there were. What they looked and sounded like. Where it all happened.

He pictures it, as it must have looked — puts himself in her place, to imagine how it must have felt. For days, he rarely speaks. His eyes follow her as she moves about the apartment, watching her as the contours of a difficult decision work themselves out in his eyes.

He weighs the sight of her dropping her tools from her shaking hands, on a scale against the weight of what he thinks normal people call 'better nature.'

He thinks about her silent trauma, her forbearing attempts to hide that trauma even though loud noises and sudden touches now make her jump, and her crying at night when she thinks he is asleep.

One day, he finally gets up and goes out.

There are things James does sometimes miss about the Cold War, but there's no denying that the information age, the age of 24/7 surveillance, has made many aspects of his work much easier as well. It is child's play to obtain surveillance footage of the incident — to comb the internet for smartphone videos of it.

He watches them, his blue eyes dispassionate as they reflect the images. He watches them touch her. He watches no one help her.

From there, it is a simple step to find out who they are, where they reside, what they do. To evaluate their lives. And then, to find out where they like to go.

Just in case.

The images are burned into his mind. What they did to her. What they did to her. They circulate in his mind for the remainder of his trial. They circulate in his mind even as the verdict is read. They circulate in his mind as he is allowed to go free, an innocent man.


Two days after, this innocent man, he goes out.

There's a bar-slash-pool hall they frequent, Monday evenings, before it gets too crowded. They favor it because there's a private room in the back where they can shoot some pool and drink in peace. Their kind aren't real popular in New York, melting-pot bastion of liberalism it is, and sometimes they wanna just talk freely without getting into an argument with some tongue-pierced twenty year-old who's probably still getting his ass wiped by mama.

Tonight, to them, is a Monday like any other. Maybe the booze is a little worse than usual, though, because to a one they're all starting to feel the same dull headache.

Time passes, and the headache worsens, and other symptoms start to manifest. Confusion. Weakness. They're not dumb men, though certain of their decisions in the past would certainly more than qualify them for that category. They know something isn't right once they compare notes and realize they're all feeling the same thing, and it's not just cheap beer.

They try the door, intent on asking what the hell's up. Locked. That's when they really start to worry, but by that point the poison in their blood is too concentrated for them to stay on their feet, much less shout or rattle the door.

Somewhere in that small span of time after they're too weak to move, but before unconsciousness will take them, someone clears his throat from the back of the room.

A man is there, bare-faced, breathing as steadily as if it were open air. His body is stronger than the carbon monoxide thick in the air. Seated at the corner table, steel left arm laid openly across its surface, he waits to witness their deaths. His features are a calm mask around the fury electrifying his blue eyes.

"You believed in the Winter Soldier," he says, and there is a sense that he is not speaking only to them. "Here I am."

A story runs in the local news the next day. A tragic accident, a leaking boiler pipe, and five men dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He tells her, the day after, and he gives her his proof of the act. Proof that she is safe now — proof that he will always take care of things, in the end. Proof that in the end, this is who he is, and what he does, and what he decided was important to him.

Who he decided was important to him.

She is silent in response, at first, and then she asks for his hand. He offers her the right, by reflex; she takes his right and his left, and folds her hands around both.

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