The basement of the old house looked like a small tornado had torn through it. Shattered glass and splintered wood traced a path of destruction from the staircase to the bare cinderblock walls of the second room, where the chaos was even more pronounced. There hadn’t been much in the room to begin with, but whatever its contents had been, they were now hardly recognizable. Cables coiled in frayed, twisted piles like mangled snakes. The plastic and wire guts of an old computer were spread about one corner in pieces and chunks no bigger than a hand, and a thin tendril of smoke still rose from what was left of the monitor, twisting lazily through a jagged fist-sized hole in the glass of the screen. Shards of wood lay scattered throughout the room, blue lacquer still visible on some of them, and here and there a tuning peg with the wound tail of a string still hanging from it glistened in the weak light that found its way through the open door. A six-inch chunk of polished rosewood was all that was left of the fretboard of a once high-quality guitar.
In the center of the room, oblivious to the destruction around her, a figure sat cross-legged, face buried in bloody hands. The silence was a palpable presence around her, until three muttered words escaped her lips, falling like final pieces of debris onto the dusty floor.
“Fuck you, Percy.”
The mountain lion lying just outside the door raised her head and gazed warily at her Gangrel companion, as another feline face joined it in the doorway.
“You’ve made a mess,” the second cat observed.
Abigale sighed and lifted her head from her hands, surveying the carnage around her. “Yes, I suppose I have.” She winced at the sight of what was left of her studio and its contents. At least the guitar had been her secondary instrument, not the gorgeous acoustic that still sat unharmed in its gig bag by the back door. But the computer had held all the files that were her most recent of her recordings, the ten songs that they had intended for her debut album. Not a thing in the room was salvageable.
Leoti, the smaller of the two mountain lions, rose and padded gingerly into the room, nuzzling Abigale’s hand. Watching still from the doorway, Igasho swiveled his furred ears and curled his lip in distaste. “I don’t understand. Why destroy things? Things don’t bring the red hate. Tell me what caused this rage and I’ll destroy it for you.”
Abigale sighed again and stood up, wincing as a shard of glass gouged another chunk out of her bare foot. “It doesn’t matter, wise one. It’s nothing you can destroy, unless you want to destroy me. Just another example of why I’m a fucking idiot for trusting anyone.”
Igasho snorted. “That would be stupid. Destroying you wouldn’t help you at all.”
“But that’s kind of the point, cat.”
The cougar sputtered and stalked off in an indignant huff that made her chuckle despite herself, but the amusement died as soon as it found her lips. She kept hearing Percy’s voice in her head, that night at court.
“Am I your friend, Abigale?”
And it kept changing, fading into another voice, years before. “Do you trust me, Abigale?”
That voice… soft, gentle. Those violet eyes, piercing like knives in her soul. How could she even try to resist? “Of course…”
Friends. Trust. Both betrayed. Always another betrayal. She squeezed her eyes shut, hands clenching into fists at her sides as she forced the rage down again into a sulking red ball in the back of her mind.
“Sorry Percy,” she’d answered. “I’m not too good at trusting people these days…” But she had trusted him. Somewhere along the line she’d lost her head enough to believe the things he’d been saying.
“Fuck you, Percy,” she snarled. Leoti shied away from her hand for a moment, before nuzzling it again. Abigale pushed her away, gently but firmly. “Not now, little one. I have to… have to… I don’t know. I have to do something. Anything.”
The big cat stopped and didn’t follow the Gangrel as she took the stairs two at a time. Outside, the moon, one night past full, dripped silver onto the glistening green leaves of the laurels. The Ducati leaned shining and decadent against the side of the barn, as if mocking her. She snarled at it but did not go that way. Tonight was not the night she would destroy that particular memory.
Tonight she didn’t want to hear the road whistling under her tires, or feel the wind caressing her riding leathers, or hear the dead air that connected the two-way radio in her helmet to nothing at all.
Suddenly, the girl was gone from the yard, and a great horned owl beat its wings as it rose silently into the air.
Tonight, she wanted nothing between her and her grief and rage but the sky.