The week had come to an end, and Harper was preparing to leave the office; between the workload and the evenings at the hospital, it seemed like the week just flew by. Her body felt it, though, the chair in the hospital room was not comfortable, and she was starting to hurt, she was not really sure if she could take much more. She considered going to the apartment to grab a pillow from her bed, but she was afraid she would be too tempted to just fall across the bed and go to sleep.
She considered asking if there was a cot or a roll-a-way bed that could be brought into the room for her, but the hospital might object. Aiden was responding well to the latest treatment, and his numbers were improving. He was no longer touch and go; while she didn’t want to get too optimistic, she also didn’t want to drive thirty-five minutes back home after a visit and then worry about rushing back if he took a turn. For her own well-being, she needed to be close to him.
Since his numbers were getting better, the Doctor had at least agreed to let Aiden have a treat; a break from his strict diet while undergoing his treatments. Harper had let the nurses know that she would be a little late tonight, she wanted Aiden to have his dinner without her. She was insistent, though, no dessert, she was going to bring that in for him. She had decided that since it was the weekend, and she was going to bring in dessert, she might as well bring in a movie.
She stopped by the apartment and pulled out Aiden’s copy of Captain America. After all, it was her son’s favorite movie, and it would make him feel better. The side benefit, it would provide her an excuse to watch Chris Evans and see him in action. Since meeting him, he has been top of mind, no matter what she is doing. How in the world had he been able to captivate her so quickly? There was no way she was in his league, she had no idea who she was kidding. She grabbed the movie and his Captain America blanket and headed out the door, on her way to the store and then to the hospital.
She walked into Aiden’s room, he was snuggled with his teddy bear and his eyes were closed. She quietly put the bag down and walked over to give him a kiss. As always, his eyes fluttered open, and he welcomed his mom with a smile.
“I was afraid you weren’t comin’ tonight,” he said as he tried to sit up in the bed.
“Oh, you know better than that! I stopped by the apartment and got your favorite movie. I thought maybe we could snuggle up under your blankie, watch the movie and eat ice cream!”
Aiden’s eyes got wide, and he moved to make room for his mom on the bed. Harper put the movie in the DVD player and opened the small container of ice cream and pulled out the spoons she had grabbed from the nurses’ station. She got settled on the bed, covered the two of them up with the blanket and started their movie. She had reached over to grab his ice cream cup and realized Aiden had fallen asleep. She turned the television down and continued to snuggle with him, these were moments she wasn’t going to pass up. She had become so engrossed in the movie and in Chris, that she did not hear the knock on the door.
~ * ~
He couldn’t get her off his mind; it didn’t help that his mom and his sister kept asking him if he was going to see her again. Finally, he gave in and decided to drive downtown to the hospital. He was pretty sure it was safe to assume that she would be there. He didn’t even know if she was married, he never even bothered to ask; then again, it never came up the other night.
He walked off the elevator and down the hall. None of the nurses were at the station, he was arriving unnoticed. He gently knocked on the door and when he didn’t hear a response, slowly opened the door. He took in the scene, Harper was sitting on the bed holding a sleeping Aiden, and they were wrapped up in a Captain America blanket. It was a peaceful and beautiful picture, and he came very close to just turning and walking away since she had not heard him come in. That’s when he noticed the movie she was watching, this was just begging for him to say something.
He walked a little farther into the room, clearing his throat, “I hope I’m not interrupting anything?” Harper jumped and tried to get the TV to turn off, she was fumbling with the controls, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Do you care if I come in?”
“Please, sure, come on in, “she sat the controls down, “I didn’t hear you come in. But then again, it was hard to hear anything between the TV and his snoring,” she was nervous.
“I was downtown tonight and thought I would stop by and see how the little guy was doing,” he figured the little white lie would be okay. He didn’t want to scare her by admitting that he was downtown because he drove there to see her. Besides, he did want to know how Aiden was doing, that wasn’t a lie. “I’ve thought about him, and you, several times this week.”
“I thought I would drop by and see how Aiden was doing. I have to admit that I have thought about him – and you – several times this week.”
Harper felt her face flush with his words; she was pretty sure she felt a rush of heat to other parts of her body as well. “Please come in and have a seat,” she tried to gently move from the bed without waking Aiden. She prayed she didn’t look too horrible, she feared she must look a wreck.
“No! Don’t get up, he seems so comfortable, and you look so content, I don’t want to make you move,” Chris walked over and picked up the DVD case from the TV and then sat in the chair next to the bed, “Decided to check up on me, huh?”
“Yes, well no, it’s Aiden’s favorite movie,” Harper was flustered like she had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, “I figured I would see why he likes it so much.”
“And, what’s the verdict?”
“Well, we weren’t very far into the movie.” Harper tried to deflect his question.
“Okay, I put you on the spot, sorry,” he put the DVD case on the bedside table, “I love it when I hear that kids love it, it’s probably the one positive thing about the whole fame game. Kids get so excited about superheroes and getting to meet their favorites, it’s really rewarding.”
“Ok, I have to come clean about something, I know more about the movie than I have let on,” she looked down at the blanket a little nervously, “I actually haven’t watched it until now, that was true. But I do know that Steve Rogers is a good man who overcomes his medical issues to become a super soldier and save the world. I think it connects with Aiden because he hopes it means that as sick as he is, he can one day get better, and he can become a superhero,” Harper had to turn away, she felt tears starting to sting her eyes, and she didn’t want Chris to see her cry.
“Frankly, I think Aiden is a superhero now! I know, that sounds corny and like it is from some cheesy novel,” Chris reached forward to take Harper’s hand, “He’s strong, but he handles himself so well, and I haven’t seen him cry, and I’ve never heard him complain.”
Aiden shifted in the bed and Harper was able to get up. She pulled her legs out from under the blanket and slowly swung her legs over the side of the bed, careful not to kick Chris. “Excuse me,” she said as she stood and walked over toward the bathroom sink. With her back to Chris, she allowed the tears to spill over and down her cheeks. She hoped he could not see her shoulder start to shake; she was not one to cry so easily but the weight of everything was so heavy, it was hard not to let it all come down on her.
She didn’t hear him walk over to her, but he reached out, gently placing his hand on her shoulder. He felt her stiffen just a bit. He gently turned her and pulled her towards him and into an embrace. She tried to resist, but relented, “It’s okay, you can cry. You have to break down now and then, and you don’t have to be strong with me.”
Chris knew it was wrong, but he had wanted to hold her since he met her. He could sense she needed to have someone to lean on. He loved how she had carried herself and tried to act so strong, but her eyes gave away that there was a storm brewing. He could stand there and hold her all night long if that is what she needed. But almost as that thought crossed his mind, Harper pulled back. She hurried to turn around and wipe the tears from her face. She was pretty sure she had just wiped her eye makeup all over. She reached for a tissue to erase the damage when she heard him speak.
“Harper, is there anyone that relieves you in staying with Aiden? Are you here every day?”
“No, it is just the two of us…I leave him so I can work during the day, but I am here every night.” Harper turned back around to face Chris and hoped she didn’t look too ragged. “I’m his mom, why wouldn’t I be here?”
“When was the last time you had a hot meal? I mean real food and not something from the hospital cafeteria.”
“Um, I don’t know, I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant.”
“Ok, come on,” Chris reached for her hand and led her out the door into the hallway. The nurses had returned to the station, and he saw his friend working on charts, “Hey Becky, I’m going to take Harper to get something to eat. Aiden is asleep but if he wakes up or there is any change, will you call either one of us?”
“Sure thing Chris,” Becky answered. Harper was stunned, not only that Chris was holding her hand, but that he was talking to the nurses like this was normal for him to do. She knew she should probably challenge him on taking her out, but she was sure this was just a dream, and she would wake up sooner rather than later.
They walked down the long corridors of the hospital and out onto the street. Harper realized they were on the other side of the hospital, she had never been over here before. Honestly, she hadn’t been out and about; she would pull into the parking garage and go to Aiden’s room, that was about it. It also didn’t help that she was not a native Bostonian; Chris was so he could maneuver through the city streets easily. He opened the door to a French Bistro. The hostess led them to a table in the rear of the restaurant where they could enjoy some privacy.
“Chris, I think I’m a little underdressed for this place,” she was looking around and felt as if everyone was staring at her, “And I’m sure I look awful with my puffy red eyes, are you sure you want to be seen out in public with me?”
“Stop! You’re beautiful, and if they are staring, it’s because they’re jealous that I’m with you!” He gave her a wry smile and held out her chair, “Sit and have a drink and enjoy a nice meal and take a moment for yourself, okay?”
“I don’t know, if Aiden wakes up and I’m not there, he’ll wonder where I am. What if something happens?”
Chris leaned forward and put his hand on hers, a gesture to try to calm her nerves, “Harper, he’s okay, he was sound asleep when you left, and Becky promised she would call if there were a problem. Don’t worry, you deserve a break, I promise, it will be alright.”
“So, I guess you know Becky pretty well, huh?” Harper was fishing for details.
“Yeah, you could say that. We went to high school together and have been friends for years. She is the one who helps coordinate my visits with the kids.”
“I think it’s great that you do that, and I’m sure the kids love it. So, how long have you been doing it?”
“Oh, for years, before Captain America, I started when I played Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. I always come here when I’m back in Boston but I’ve visited Children’s Hospitals out in LA, too,” Chris stopped speaking when the waitress approached to take their drink order.
Once she left, Chris decided to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him, he wanted to see if he could get to know the woman who had captivated his imagination. “So, tell me about you, Harper, something that doesn’t involve Aiden,” Harper gave him a puzzled look. “Well, I mean, I know you are a mom, and he is a special little boy. But I want to know about Harper, not Aiden’s mom.”
“Oh, geez, well, I don’t know that I’m fascinating.” Harper looked around the restaurant and tried to avoid eye contact with Chris. “Um, I work in an office, I’ve got a small apartment, and I’ve never eaten at a French Bistro before,” Harper laughed as she raised her glass to Chris, “I’m not really sure I can say anything that will make me appealing to a big-time Hollywood actor.”
Chris let out a belly laugh, “Big time actor? Wow, that is not a phrase I would use for myself, and frankly, I bet you’re more interesting than you let on.” Chris could not take his eyes off of her; he could just drink her in all night. “Well, let’s start at the beginning Harper McDonald, are you from Boston originally?”
“Oh, heaven’s no! I’m from a small town in the Midwest, and I’d never lived in a big city until I graduated high school and moved away for college.”
“Where did you go to college, may I ask?”
“Sure, I went to NC State, in Raleigh. I loved it there, decided to stay after graduation. Got a job and had a nice quiet little life there. Boston has been quite a change, it is so much bigger than both my hometown and Raleigh. More hustle and bustle, but I’ve learned to like it.”
“So, what brought you to Boston?” Chris was intrigued; she spoke so softly and seemed to be hiding things about herself. Honestly, it only made him want to know more. He was mesmerized by her, she was a “normal” girl with a “normal” life. While had admittedly loved acting, he did not like all of the notoriety and publicity that went with it. She had what he wanted, the ability to have a quiet, normal life and to blend in.
Harper didn’t want to answer this question; she hung her head and spoke very softly, “I had to come to Boston to bury my husband. He was from here, his parents wanted him to be buried with his family, in the city where he was born.” Harper did not look up, she knew that Chris had to be staring at her with pity in his eyes, and that is one thing she couldn’t take.
Chris had taken a few minutes before he spoke, “Oh, Harper, I’m sorry. How long ago did he pass?” He began to feel guilty for having fantasies of what he might do to her when he realized she might have just recently been widowed.
“It’s been six years; Aiden had just had his first birthday when it happened. We moved here and lived with his parents for a while. My parents had passed years earlier so his family was all I had,” Harper took a deep breath before continuing, this was a hard subject to talk about. “They were great to us, we had a big house to live in and there was a yard so Aiden could play outside, it was really ideal.” Harper took a sip of her water and fidgeted with her napkin in her lap, she couldn’t look up at Chris, she knew she would lose it.
“Aiden’s grandmother died about a year later, I’m positive it was from a broken heart. David was her only child, and she had a hard time accepting his death. Aiden’s grandfather had a stroke 3 years ago and had to go into a nursing home, and the house had to be sold to pay for his care. So, Aiden and I moved into a tiny little apartment. Mr. McDonald didn’t last long in the nursing home, about a year. So now, Aiden and I are all on our own.”
“I didn’t know, I’m sorry,” he took a drink, he would never have brought it up if he would have had an idea that it would have been painful for her. To think she had to endure the loss of a husband, her parents, his parents and the possibility of losing her child; when was this woman going to get a break? “You know, maybe I need to roll out the welcome wagon even if it is a few years late,” he joked, trying to lighten the mood, “I need to show you and Aiden all of the excellent things this city has to offer. Besides, you’ve had your fair share of sadness, you deserve a little fun and a good dose of happiness.”
“Well, if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,” Harper said with a smile, “Yes, I actually did just quote Hee-Haw! Good, grief that shows I am old!” Harper finally looked up and was staring right into Chris’ brilliant blue eyes and her breath caught. “It’s been hard, but I think I appreciate what I have even more because of it. I’m sure that’s why I’m so overprotective and why I try to spend every minute I can with him. I’d hate to think that I’d wasted a moment if I lose him.”
“You know he is in a great hospital, and they will do everything they can to make him better,” Chris, who had been leaning up into the table to be as close to Harper as he could be, sat back in his chair and sighed heavily. “Well it looks like I screwed up, I’d wanted this to be an opportunity for you to focus on something positive and happy and I’ve done the complete opposite,” Chris said letting the sarcasm drip from the words as he playfully tossed his napkin on the table.
Harper reached across the table and placed her hand on his, “No, this is nice, believe me. I’m sorry to have been so depressing, but it is nice to talk to someone other than the nurses. I’ve very few friends in this town and frankly, I haven’t been able to speak to any of them since Aiden has been back in the hospital.” She pulled her hand back quickly for fear her gesture was too intimate.
“Then I guess it is a good thing I came to the hospital tonight. I’m glad I could be a friend to you,” Chris smiled and leaned forward again, “Alright, only pleasant conversation from this point forward,” he declared as he raised his glass, “Tell me, do you two watch sports at all?”
“Yeah, we love football!”
“Yay! A Patriots fan! I knew I liked you for some reason.”
“Um, the Patriots? Heavens no, sorry, I said I love football not that I like the Patriots!”
Chris grabbed his chest and acted as if he was crushed, “I thought we had an excellent start to our relationship, and here you go breaking my heart. So, break it to me gently, who is your favorite team?”
“Buffalo, I’ve been a Bills fan for years,” she had to smile when she saw the grimace on his face, “Hey now, I’ve been a loyal fan for years. We totally suck right now, but we will be great again, someday, I hope,” she laughed, and he had to admit that the sound was intoxicating.
“Man, you are bitter rivals for us, I’m not sure I can handle that. How in the world did you become a fan of the Bills when are you’re from the Midwest?”
“Um,” she looked a little embarrassed, “I had, well still do actually, have a thing for Jim Kelly. He is one hell of a quarterback, freaking hall of famer! Plus he is a cancer survivor, he has endured so much with the loss of his son; he’s a good man. I’ve loved him and the team for more than 25 years, so I am loyal and can’t abandon them, no matter how many times I have have considered it,” Harper’s laugh was back, and Chris could not help but join in this time.
“Alright, I will overlook your unfortunate choice in teams, for now. You make a compelling argument as to why you’re a Bills fan and why you have remained loyal.”
“For now, so what does that mean exactly?”
“Well, it means I’m not ready to say that you being a Bills fan is a deal breaker just yet; but I do reserve the right to reconsider it if you beat the Patriots this year,” he gave her a wink and a smirk that almost melts her heart.
Harper was entranced by his smile and his smooth voice, this was a handsome man sitting across the table from her, and he was flirting. What scared her was that she was enjoying it. Chris had said ‘relationship’, and she was sure he meant friendship. But what if he wasn’t? Was she ready for someone to pay attention to her and it would it distract her from what was going on with Aiden?
Chris motioned for the waitress and placed their dinner order. He had just taken control and ordered on her behalf; part of her thought it romantic, the other part felt it was a little controlling. It must have registered on her face; he immediately spoke up to defend himself, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be presumptuous, I thought it might be nice to have someone take care of you for a change and not have you make all the decisions.”
Her eyes went wide, that was actually very thoughtful and sweet, “Oh, thank you, I’m not really sure I would have known what to order anyway,” she actually felt her face begin to turn crimson as she spoke.
He gave her a warm smile in return, “So, tell me, what do you do for a living? Where do you work?”
“C’mon Chris, what could I tell you that would make me vaguely interesting to you?”
“What? You don’t think you’re interesting? You’re a doting mom with a great kid, and I like you. I believe you’re kind of extraordinary, and you just can’t see it!”
“Ok, well, I didn’t want to tell you my secret, but I guess I have to. I left my magic lasso and invisible plane back at the hospital; I’m not the Amazon woman the comics would have you believe I am, but I am Wonder Woman just the same,” she did not crack a smile, her delivery was deadpan.
Chris, however, could not contain himself, he let out a laugh and the other patrons in the restaurant turned to look at him. “Well played my dear, very well played. I am glad to see that you have a sense of humor and are well versed in sarcasm.”
“Damn, I just realized, she’s in the wrong comic universe for Captain America isn’t she?”
“Oh, I am sure he’d have a thing for her. But wait a minute, was she created before or after he went into the ice?” Before either one of them could answer, the waitress brought their dinners and refilled their drinks. When she left, they picked up their conversation; Chris made small talk about music, movies, and books; topics that could keep Harper from talking about Aiden or her late husband.
As she finished her dinner, Harper reached for her glass, “I am not sure how I can repay you for this. I feel guilty for saying it, but it was nice to get away from the hospital for the evening. And the dinner, well the food and the company were both amazing,” she smiled and put her head down as if she was embarrassed to admit that.
“I’m not expecting you to repay me. Honestly, I don’t want you to, I did this because I wanted to and I sincerely enjoyed myself. Plus, you were able to laugh and smile a little, and you are so beautiful when you do that. You know that, right?”
She put her head down and played with her napkins, “We should probably head back to the hospital,” she was trying to avoid his comment at all costs, “We’ve been gone for a few hours and everyone, including Aiden, is probably wondering what happened to us.”
Chris flagged down the waitress so he could settle the check. He then pushed his chair back and helped Harper up. He put his hand on the small of her back as she moved in front of him and out of the restaurant into the brisk night air. He then moved to put his arm around her shoulder as he walked her back to the hospital campus.
Harper couldn’t remember the last time she went on a date. Wait? Was this a date? They did go to a restaurant, spend a few hours together, alone. He did buy dinner, and he was now walking with his arm around her; oh, crap this was a date! As they approached the hospital building, Chris opened the door to let her in. He took her hand and walked her down the long corridors; this time, the walk seemed so much shorter than when they left for dinner. They reached the elevator and took it to the 4th floor. As the doors opened, she immediately felt as if all eyes were on them as they made their way toward Aiden’s room.
Luckily, they weren’t; none of the nurses were around. When they reached Aiden’s door, Harper turned to face Chris, “Thank you again for tonight, I had a splendid time.”
“Me too,” Chris pulled Harper into an embrace, he wanted to kiss her. He was dying to see if her lips were as soft as he imagined they were, but he was afraid he would scare her off, “I just hope you’ll let me whisk you away again, sometime.”
As she pulled away from him, she smiled and gave him a wink, “We’ll see.” She slowly opened the door to Aiden’s room and disappeared, leaving Chris in the hallway. She had too much adrenaline to sleep, though; she settled into the chair next to Aiden’s bed and tried to doze off, but it was no use. The replay of the evening played like a movie in her head; the feeling of being in those muscular arms, how safe she felt. She felt a buzz, like a high from drinking too much, but she was sober. She sat and stared at Aiden and let her mind continue to linger on thoughts of Chris; eventually, she fell asleep.
~ * ~
Chris made it out of the hospital without running into Becky or any of the other nurses. His drive home had him rehashing the night’s events; he killed the lights as he pulled into the drive, hoping that would avoid waking anyone. H quietly opened the front door and eased into the house, he was trying to make sure he didn’t wake any of the kids. He did not want to have his sister get after him for that. He was trying to lock the deadbolt when the hallway light suddenly came on behind him.
“Well, I see some things never change!” Chris turned around to see his brother standing in the living room doorway.
“Keep it down, you’re going to wake the kids, or worse, Carly,” he moved to give his brother a hug, “I thought you weren’t arriving until tomorrow?”
“I was able to catch an earlier flight. I tried calling you, but it went straight to voicemail. Where you out on a date?”
“I had my phone set for emergency calls only,” he sidestepped Scott’s question as he walked down the hall towards the kitchen, “I love ya, bro, but tonight, you were not an emergency.”
“Well that’s disappointing,” Scott put on a fake pout, “So, that answers my other question, you were on a date. So, where did you go?”
Chris opened the refrigerator and pulled out a cold beer, “It wasn’t really a date, I just took someone to dinner. We were downtown, and I didn’t want to be interrupted by phone calls, that’s all,” he responded as he took a long pull from the bottle. He wasn’t about to offer up more information than he had to. But he also knew that Scott was not going t let this go.
“Dinner downtown and you didn’t want to be interrupted. Sounds like a date to me, so where did you go?”
“Ma Maison…little French bistro on Cambridge.”
“Wow, French? Come on, now that is romantic, that was totally a date,” Scott teased, not letting up in the least bit.
“No, the dinner was not romantic. But it was a great restaurant, and you do feel like you’re in Paris when you’re there. But, it was a just a nice dinner between two people, nothing romantic at all,” Chris took another drink and just stared at his brother.
“So, let me get this straight, you had a non-romantic dinner at a restaurant that made you feel like you are eating in the city of lights? Okay, whatever you say! Where did you meet this woman?”
“I met her at the Children’s Hospital when I was there for a visit the other day, that’s why we went to Ma Maison. She was at the Hospital, and we went someplace close.”
“Whoa! I never pictured you for have a hot nurse fantasy! After all these years I can still learn something new about you after all.”
Chris rolled his eyes, “She is not a nurse, and this was not a hot nurse fantasy! Good grief, get your mind out of the gutter.”
“Oh, if she’s not a nurse, is she a doctor? I never thought of you with a doctor, either!”
“No, she is not a doctor…”
“Good God, Chris please tell me Harper isn’t the mother of a sick child!” The brothers turned to find Carly standing in the kitchen doorway with her arms crossed.
“Jesus, Carly you damn near gave me a heart attack,” Scott clenched his chest and doubled over, “Ok, who’s Harper?”
“Fuck Carly, what the hell are you doing down here? Aren’t you a little old for eavesdropping?” Chris took a drink and waited to for an answer.
“Newsflash, you two idiots weren’t exactly quiet,” Carly reached in the refrigerator for a drink. “I was coming down here to tell you to keep it down when I heard the conversation.”
“Ok, again, who is Harper?” Scott was starting to pout.
“Harper is the woman I had dinner with,” Chris sighed heavily, he knew what he was about to admit to was going to earn a lecture from Carly, and most likely, his mother. “Yes, she is the mother of one of the patients that I spent some time with. But before you blow a gasket, I am being very respectful and I am not trying to sleep with her, I’m a friend to her.”
“Alright, I never would have guessed that!” Scott exclaimed as he carefully watched the glances exchanged by Carly and Chris.
“Chris, you can’t do this, you know it. You can’t toy with the feelings of a woman who is dealing with a sick child.”
“I’m smart enough to know that,” he could not believe he was having this conversation and that his sister was questioning his actions and motives. “I’m not toying with her, I like her, and she’s different.”
“She’s different because she’s vulnerable, you ass! She’s got a sick kid, you’re playing with fire, and she’s going to get burned.”
“Oh, you’re a psychic now? You just know that I will end up hurting her?” His voice was bitter, and he knew he shouldn’t be so nasty, but it was a defense mechanism. He finished off the rest of the beer in the bottle, “She’s been through a lot of pain and heartbreak in her life already. I’m honestly not planning on adding to it. Just stay out of it, both of you!” He knew that he was raising his voice, and he should care, but right now he didn’t. He tossed his empty bottle into the trash and walked out of the kitchen and up the stairway to his room. He loved his sister and brother, but he didn’t need them putting their noses into this; they were judging and making assumptions, and he didn’t need that right now.
He walked into his room and sat on the edge of his bed. He began to wonder if he was angry because Carly had a valid point? Harper, was indeed, vulnerable at the moment and he did not want to risk hurting her even if that was not part of his plan. But he could not deny that he was drawn to her and wanted to be there for her; she needed protection, and he wanted to give it to her, that was something he had not felt in a long time. Harper was in his head, she had invaded his thoughts, but he was beginning to second-guess himself, and that could be scary.