Rock Creek Park
Thursday, September 10, 2004
Sometime before dawn
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas.
Everybody’s looking for something…
Annie Lennox’s sultry voice picked its way out of the jumble of thoughts and snippets of song that tumbled chaotically through Abigale’s mind. She had come here to relax, to be alone for the first time in a week, but her mind simply wouldn’t be quiet.
”Yep. Shoulda been a damn Toreador.” She snickered to herself and trailed her hand through the cool water of Rock Creek. Not too many Roses would willingly choose this particular meditation spot, though… What an odd sight she must look, stretched out full-length on a large, slightly-domed boulder in the middle of the stream, feet dangling over one side, the stream giggling about her bare toes. But the quiet murmur of the stream soothed her in its dogged determination to keep going, no matter what obstacles might block its path, no matter what detritus might get tossed along for the ride.
“But what, exactly, are you looking for, little one?” The old Gangrel’s voice in her head was quiet, unobtrusive. But insistant. She wondered when her conscience had started speaking with his voice. “If I knew what I was looking for…” If she knew that, then what? Would she have the determination and courage to go after it? She sighed, as images from the past week’s events played out in a confused collage across the water in front of her.
That freaky old blowhard of a Tremere, just as long-winded and full of himself as she remembered him being. She still wondered whether the Harpy’s comment at court later that evening about not leaving the presence of a “luminary” until given leave to do so had been directed at her. Abigale had known better, and tried to wait until he was finished speaking, but he just wouldn’t shut up! Better to feign duty calling than to sit there and try to control the tapping foot, the restless glances. Right? She sighed again. Her patience for the niceties of court was definitely waning in recent nights.
And then the gathering on the island and it’s accompanying Setite party off-site, with all its drama… That party had been something else, that’s for sure. She hadn’t danced that much in years, not since her breathing days in the LA rave scene. Back when Percy, unbeknownst to her, had been DJing… And her mood of the weekend had been helped along, of course, by Michael’s temporary “gift” to her. None of the refreshments she’d experimented with back in those days could compare to that. “Well,” she thought, “it did help me relax. For a while anyway… Even if it did confuse people a bit.”
She could feel the Assamite’s intense stare boring into her mind even now. The genuine concern she’d seen there, ever so briefly before it was shuffled off behind the polished polite veneer of his propriety, had surprised her. And, later, the seething hatred that had colored his deadly whisper when he answered her query about what he wished, at that moment. As reserved as he normally was, she hadn’t thought him capable of that much passion – even funneled into disgust and hoped-for destruction of a group of Kindred, it seemed out of place on his normally calm and respectful face. “Guess we’ve all gotta have our pet hatreds,” she mused.
It was kind of cute, the way he had followed her around that evening like a watchful shadow, and she did appreciate how unobtrusive he was capable of being. Which, she supposed, was one of the fortes of his blood. At least she’d slipped his watch when she left the party, though, and Michael followed her to the grove. Wouldn’t that have been an embarrassing conversation to have one’s Deputy eavesdropping on.
She sighed and waved away a little fish that’d come investigating the pale hand dangling in the water. Just when she thought she had the crazy old Gangrel figured out… She rolled over onto her back and gazed up at the night sky, another snippet of song swimming teasingly up out of her tangled emotions.
Take my love, take my land,
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don’t care, I’m still free.
You can’t take the sky from me…
As a cool breeze rippled the surface of the stream, the girl on the rock was gone and a great horned owl lifted silently through the trees and into the night sky. The park dwindled to the shadows of trees beneath her as she soared southwest towards the river, trying to force her thoughts into some semblance of order.
Had their feelings for each other been so obvious? Even Ian had commented on it at the gathering in DC. And for that matter, what were their feelings for each other, and why did everyone else seem to know about them when she, herself didn’t? They were close, sure, obviously. They’d been to hell and back together, after all, quite literally. But she’d always held back with him, kept him a little at arm’s length. For all that he wore his heart on his sleeve, it was hard to tell what he was thinking, what he wanted. And he would never ask, never impose his wishes on her, she knew.
But that also meant she never knew quite how to act, or react, with him. He was different than any other kindred she’d known. Nicholas had been all passion and teasing sensuality and danger, a candle burning at both ends. Nicholas… She snarled and folded her wings tightly against her sides, plummeting like an arrow towards the tops of the trees. The fucking treacherous bastard. Not that she hadn’t suspected… But to finally have it confirmed, after all these years. And to know that he had known, and hadn’t told her. A very un-owl-like cry issued from her throat as she pulled up at the last possible second before crashing into the treetops, snatching a branch full of leaves and shredding them with her talons as she slowly climbed again.
The beast raged for another moment before she wrestled it back under control, shoving it into a corner of her mind where it smoldered resentfully. At least she knew for certain, now. At least she knew. Now, hopefully, she could put that particular pain to rest.
Take me out into the black,
Tell them I ain’t coming back.
Burn the land and boil the sea;
You can’t take the sky from me.
The calm, wide waters of the Potomac were rushing silently beneath her now as she straddled the no-man’s-land between the District and Virginia. The marble and brick of the capital swept by to her left, the glass and steel towers of Rosslyn to her right. Northern Virginia, Richard’s domain, which she could now once again enter. Whoopdee-fuckin-diddly-do. Yet another nest of vipers and leeches, captained by the damned and the damned insane.
She dipped her wing toward the east and banked in a slow circle back into the city, her thoughts turning once again to the nights of the previous weekend. Or, more specifically, to the ends of the nights, to the giddy pre-dawn romps through the forest, to the playful games of tag in the treetops, to the way he had held her, softly and silently, not asking anything, not demanding anything, not expecting anything of her, but offering the most precious gift he had to give, as they sank into the earth.
There’s no place I can be,
Since I found serenity.
But you can’t take the sky from me…