No one stopped me at the door. No one stopped me at the stairs. In fact, people kept saying, "Hi, Anita, how you doing?" I wasn't an official member of the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, but I'd worked with them all for so long that I was like the office furniture, something that was there, accepted, even expected.
It was Detective Jessica Arnet that finally said something to me that wasn't just, hi. "Where's that cutie you always have in tow?"
"Which one?" I asked.
She laughed at that, and blushed a little. It was the blush that got my attention. She always flirted with Nathaniel, but I'd never thought much about it, until I saw her blush.
"You do seem to have more than your share of cuties, but I meant the one with violet eyes."
I'd have bet money that she knew exactly what Nathaniel's name was. "He stayed home today," I said.
She laid the stack of folders down on a desk, not her own, and pushed back her hair from her face. There wasn't enough of her dark hair to push back. It looked like an old gesture from when she'd had longer hair. The short, barely below-ear-level cut really didn't flatter her face. But the face was still good, triangular, with delicate bones that framed her smile nicely. I'd never really noticed, but she was pretty.
Did Nathaniel ever want to date, just date? Not the dominance and submission stuff, but like dinner and a movie. Someday I'd have the ardeurunder control and wouldn't need a pomme de sang,right? That had been the plan. So Nathaniel should like–date. Shouldn't he? If I wasn't going to keep him, he should date.
I had a headache starting right between my eyes.
Detective Arnet almost touched my arm, but stopped in mid-gesture. "Are you alright?"
I forced a smile. "Looking for Zerbrowski."
She told me what room he was in, because she didn't know she wasn't supposed to. Hell, I wasn't even sure she wasn't supposed to. Technically, this was part of the investigation that Dolph had wanted my input on, so I had a right to be there when they questioned suspects. In my head it all sounded logical, but a little desperate, as if I were trying way too hard to convince myself.
I went up on tiptoe outside the door, so I could look in the little window. Television will make you think that all police interrogation rooms have huge one-way mirrors that take up almost an entire wall. Very few departments have either the budget or the space for that kind of thing. Television uses it because it's more dramatic and makes camera work easier. It seemed to me that real life is dramatic enough without big windows, and there are no good camera angles, only pain. Or maybe I was just in a rotten mood.
I wanted a quick peek into the room to make a hundred percent sure I had the right place. Jason was at the little table, Zerbrowski was sitting across from him, but what got me flat-footed, was that Dolph was leaning against the far wall. Zerbrowski had said he was on leave for a couple of weeks. Had Zerbrowski lied to me? That didn't feel right. But what was Dolph doing here?
I gave one sharp knock on the door. I waited, steeling myself to be calm, or at least to look calm. Zerbrowski opened the door a crack. His eyes looked surprised behind his glasses.
"This isn't a good time," he said. He tried to tell me with his eyes that Dolph was in the room.
"I know Dolph's here, Zerbrowski. I thought he was supposed to be on leave for a few weeks."
Zerbrowski sighed, but his eyes were angry. Angry at me, I think, for not slinking off and making things worse. Making things worse was one of my specialties; Zerbrowski should have known that by now.
"Lieutenant Storr is here because he is still head of the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, and he brought this suspect to our attention."
"Suspect? Why is Jason a suspect?"
"You don't want to do this in the hallway, Anita."
"No, I don't, I want to come in the room, so we can all talk like civilized human beings. You're the one keeping me out in the hallway."
He licked his lips, and almost turned and looked at Dolph, but fought the urge. "Come in," he lowered his voice to a whisper, "but stay on this side of the room."
I followed Zerbrowski inside and went where he motioned so that I ended up with the table between me and Dolph. It was almost as if Zerbrowski didn't trust what Dolph would do.
"You are not letting her sit in," Dolph said.
Zerbrowski squared his shoulders and faced Dolph. "We asked her to help us on this crime scene, Dolph."
"I didn't," he said.
"Actually, yeah, you did," I said.
Dolph opened his mouth, then closed it in a tight thin line. He hugged his arms so tight, it looked like it hurt, as if he didn't trust what his hands would do if they weren't wrapped around something. There was a look of such rage in his eyes. He usually had some of the best cop eyes I'd ever seen, empty, gave nothing away. Today his eyes gave everything away, but I didn't understand where the anger was coming from.
Jason was sitting at the end of the table, trying to seem as small and inoffensive as possible. Since he's not much taller than I am, he was doing a good job of it.
Zerbrowski shut the door and sat on the side of the table close to Dolph, leaving me the chair farther away.
I didn't sit. "Why did you pull Jason in?"
"He has defensive wounds on his body consistent with the crime."
"You don't actually believe that Jason was involved in that," I searched for a word, "slaughter,do you?"
"He's a werewolf and he's got defensive wounds," Dolph said, "if he didn't rape our vic, then he raped somebody."
"You're here to observe, Lieutenant," Zerbrowski said, but his face said plainly that he would have rather been anywhere than sitting here, telling Dolph to mind his own business.
Dolph started to say something, then stopped himself by force of will alone. "Fine, fine, Sergeant, carry on." Those last two words held more heat than a forest fire.
"Wait," I said, "did you say rape?"
"We found semen at the first murder site," Zerbrowski said.
"The crucifixion?" I asked.
"No," Dolph said harshly, "the woman who was ripped apart."
"Semen doesn't mean rape at a scene like that, just that he enjoyed himself. It's sick, but it doesn't necessarily mean true sexual contact. I saw the body, there wasn't enough left of her to know whether he touched her like that, or not." I had a thought, an awful thought. "Please tell me you don't mean the head."
Zerbrowski shook his head, "No. Scattered over the scene."
It was almost a relief. Almost. "So why did Dolph say rape?"
"There was a little more left of the second female vic," Zerbrowski said.
I looked at him. "I don't remember being notified about a second attack."
"You didn't need to know," Dolph said. "You were right, I called you in on the first one, but I didn't make the same mistake twice."
I ignored Dolph as best I could and looked at Zerbrowski. He mouthed, "Later."
Fine, Zerbrowski would fill me in when we had some non-Dolph time. Fine, great. I couldn't do anything about the psycho shape-shifter we had running around town, not right that second, but I might be able to do something about the current disaster.
"What did Jason say when you asked where he got scratched up?"
"Said a man doesn't kiss and tell," Zerbrowski said, "even I thought that one was lame."
I looked at Jason. He shrugged, as if to say, what was I supposed to say. He knew me well enough to know I wouldn't want him talking out of school. He was right on that. I so didn't want Zerbrowski and Dolph to know. Hell, I didn't want anyone to know. But my embarrassment wasn't worth Jason getting locked up.
I sighed, and spoke the truth. "The scratches aren't defensive wounds."
"He's cut up, Anita, and we got the Polaroids to prove it," Zerbrowski said. "Dolph noticed some scratches at the first scene. They're gone, but now he's got fresh wounds."
"I cut him up." My voice sounded bland, because I was fighting to sound bland.
Dolph gave a sound that was more snort than laugh. No words were needed to say he didn't believe me.
Zerbrowski said his out loud, "Shop it somewhere else, Anita, we're not buying."
I raised the sleeves on my shirt and showed my own healing scratches. "When I was afraid I'd hurt him more, I scratched myself."
Zerbrowski's eyes went wide. "Jesus, Blake, you always this rough?"
"You'll never find out Zerbrowski."
"If that was a yes, then I'm okay with that." He almost touched some of the deeper scratches on my arm, then stopped and almost touched the scratches on Jason's arms. "I hope the sex was good."
Jason looked down at the tabletop, and did his best impression of an aw'shucks look. He managed to look coy and pleased with himself all at the same time.
"That's answer enough," I said.
Jason flashed me a grin that made his baby blues sparkle. "Whatever you say, mistress."
I gave him a very mean look, that didn't dim his enjoyment one bit.
Dolph pushed away from the wall to peer over the table at my arm. "I don't buy this, Anita. Maybe you scratched your own arms up on the way here to give him an alibi."
"The scratches aren't that fresh, Dolph."
He started to grab my arm, but I stepped out of reach. "I don't want to be manhandled again, thanks anyway."
He leaned across the table at me, and Jason began to ease his chair back, as if he didn't want to be in the middle.
"You're lying," Dolph said. "A shape-shifter heals anything but silver and wounds from another monster, real quick. You taught me that, Anita. He should be healed by now, if you really were the one who hurt him."
"Wouldn't that same logic dictate that if the scratches were from the female victim then they'd already have healed?"
"Not if they come from the second victim." Dolph slapped that bit of information down as if it were a blow, and in a way it was.
I looked at Zerbrowski. "I can't debate the healed scratches thing if I don't know the time line. I need a time."
He opened his mouth, but Dolph answered, "Why, so you can give the perfect alibi?"
"Gee, Zerbrowski, I don't see your hand up Dolph's ass, but it must be, because every time I ask you a question, the answer comes out his mouth." I was leaning across the table now, too.
"His scratches are older than yours, Anita," Dolph said, voice almost a growl of its own, "more healed. You'll never prove in court that they happened at the same time."
"He's a shape-shifter. He heals faster. I taught you that. Remember?"
"Are you really admitting that you fucked him?" Dolph said.
I was too angry to flinch at his choice of words. "I prefer the term made loveto fucked, but yeah, we did the nasty."
"If that was true, the marks would have healed completely by now. If you're only human, like you keep telling me."
The headache between my eyes felt like something was trying to stab its way out of my skull. I really wasn't in any mood for this. "What I am, or what I am not, is none of your damn business. But I'm telling you that I marked him up in the heat of passion. More than that, chances are good he was with me when the second murder took place. We can give you times, if you want."
"Times would be good," Zerbrowski had scooted his chair a little farther down the table, but he hadn't deserted his post. He'd stayed closer to all that quivering rage than most people would have.
I had to think about it, but I managed to give him approximate times for the last two days. Truthfully, I wasn't much good on alibiing Jason for the first murder, but on the second, I was pretty sure I had him covered.
Zerbrowski was doing his best to give blank cop face while he wrote down what I said. The entire interview was being recorded, but Zerbrowski, like Dolph, liked to write things down. I hadn't really thought about it before, but Zerbrowski might have learned that habit from Dolph.
Dolph stayed standing near the table, looming over all of us, as I spoke. Zerbrowski asked small questions to nail the times as clearly as possible.
Jason stayed as quiet and still as he could through all of it. His hands clasped together on the table, head down, eyes taking small quick glances at all of us, without moving his head or body. He reminded me of a rabbit hiding in the long grass, hoping that if he just stayed quiet enough, still enough, that the dogs wouldn't find him. The analogy should have been laughable. I mean, he was a werewolf. But it wasn't funny, because it was accurate. Being a werewolf didn't protect you from the human laws, most of the time it hurt you. Sometimes it even got you killed. We weren't in that kind of danger, yet, but that could change.
A shape-shifter accused of murdering a human got a speedy trial and an execution. If a shape-shifter was declared rogue, one that was actively hunting humans, and the police couldn't capture it, then you could get a court order of execution, just like for a vampire. It worked almost the same way. A vampire that was suspected of murder but was still eluding capture and deemed a danger to the public could have an order of execution issued by a judge. Once you had the order of execution in hand you could kill it when you found it. Just insert shape-shifter for vampire into the formula and it worked the same way. There was no trial, no anything–just hunt it down and kill it. I'd done a few jobs like that. Not many, but a few.
There'd been a movement a few years ago to make a magic-using human subject to orders of execution, but too many human right's organizations had kicked a fit. As a magic-using human, I was happy. As someone who had executed people on orders of the court, I wasn't sure how I would have felt about hunting a human being down and killing them. I'd killed humans before when they threatened my life, or the lives of those I held dear. But self-defense, even proactive self-defense wasn't quite the same thing. A human witch or wizard got a trial, but if they were convicted of using magic for murder, it was an automatic death sentence. Ninety-nine percent of the time the witch or wizard was convicted. Jurors just didn't like the idea of people who could kill by magic walking around free. One of my goals in life was to stay the hell out of a courtroom.
I knew Jason hadn't done anything wrong, but I also knew enough about the way the system worked to know that for those of us who weren't exactly human, sometimes innocence didn't matter much.
"Can anyone else verify these times?" Zerbrowski asked.
"A few people, yeah," I said.
"A few people," Dolph said. He looked disgusted, and I didn't understand this emotion either. "You don't even know who the father is, do you?"
That made me give him a deer in headlights blink. "I don't know what you mean."
He gave me a look, as if I'd already lied to him. "Detective Reynolds told us her little secret."
I looked at him across the table. He was still leaning over, and I was still standing, so we were almost eye-to-eye. "So?"
He gave a sound between a snort and a cough. "She wasn't the only one who passed out at the murder scene, and she wasn't the only one who threw up." He looked as if he'd made a great point, driven it home with a surgeon's precision.
I frowned and blinked at him. "I'm sorry, what are you talking about?" I let myself look as confused as I felt.
"Don't be coy, Anita, you're not good at it."
"I'm not being coy, Dolph, you're making no fucking sense." Then an idea popped into my head, but that couldn't be it. Dolph wouldn't think . . .
I looked at him, and thought, maybe he would think that. "Are you implying that I'mpregnant?"
I relaxed a little. I shouldn't have.
"I'm asking, do you know who the father is, or have there been too many to guess?"
Zerbrowski stood, and he was close enough to Dolph that it forced him to move a little way from the table. "I think you should go now, Anita," Zerbrowski said.
Dolph was glaring at me. I should have been angry, but I was too surprised. "I've thrown up at murder scenes before."
Zerbrowski moved a little back from the table. He had a resigned look on his face, like someone who saw the train coming down the track and knew nobody was going to get off in time. I still didn't think things were that bad.
"You've never passed out before," Dolph said.
"I was sick, Dolph, too sick to drive myself."
"You seem fine now," he said, voice low and rumbling, filled with that anger that seemed always just below the surface lately.
I shrugged. "I guess it was just one of those viruses."
"It wouldn't have anything to do with the fang mark on your neck would it?"
My hand went up to it, then I forced myself not to touch it. Truthfully, I'd forgotten about it. "I was sick, Dolph, even I get sick."
"Have you been tested for Vlad's syndrome, yet?"
I took in a deep breath, let it out, then said, fuck it. Dolph wasn't going to let this one go. He wanted to fight. I could do that. Hell, a nice uncomplicated screaming match sounded almost appealing.
"I'll say this once, I'm not pregnant. I don't care if you believe me, because you're not my father, you're not my uncle, brother, or anything. You were my friend, but even that's up for grabs right now."
"You're either one of us, or you're one of them, Anita."
"One of what?" I asked. I was pretty sure of the answer, but I needed to hear it out loud.
"Monster," he said, and it was almost a whisper.
"Are you calling me a monster?" I wasn't whispering, but my voice was low and careful.
"I'm saying you're going to have to choose whether you're one of them, or one of us." He pointed to Jason when he said them.
"You join Humans against Vampires, or some other right wing group, Dolph?"
"No, but I'm beginning to agree with them."
"The only good vampire is a dead one, is that it?"
"They are dead, Anita." He took that step closer, that Zerbrowski's moving had given him. "They are fucking corpses that don't have enough sense to stay in their godforsaken graves."
"According to the law, they're living beings with rights and protection under the law."
"Maybe the law was wrong on this one."
Part of me wanted to say, you know that this is being recorded? part of me was glad he'd said it. If he came off sounding like a bigoted crazy then it would help keep Jason safe. The fact that it wouldn't help Dolph's career did bother me, but not enough to sacrifice Jason. I'd like to save all my friends, but if someone is bent on self-destruction, there is only so much you can do. You can't shovel other people's shit for them, not unless they're willing to pick up a shovel and help.
Dolph wasn't helping. He got down low, hands flat to the table and pushed his face into Jason's. Jason moved back as far as he could in the chair. Zerbrowski looked at me, and I gave wild eyes. We both knew that if Dolph touched a suspect the way he'd touched me earlier his career was well and truly over.
"It looks so human, but it's not," Dolph said.
I didn't like the use of the itfor one of my friends.
"Did you really let him touch you?"
Him. See, even if you hate the monsters, it's hard to keep straight in your own head what's an it, and what's a him. "Yes," I said.
Zerbrowski was moving around Dolph, trying to get to Jason, to get between them, I think.
Dolph turned to look at me, still bent over low, way too close to Jason for anyone's comfort. "And the bite on your neck, was that the bloodsucker you're fucking?"
"No," I said, "that was a new one. I'm fucking two of them now."
He staggered almost as if he'd taken a blow. He leaned heavily on the table, and for just a second I thought he'd fall into Jason's lap, but he recovered himself with a visible effort. Zerbrowski touched the big man's arm. "Easy there, Lieutenant."
Dolph let Zerbrowski sit him down. He made no reaction when the sergeant eased Jason out of the chair and farther away from Dolph. Dolph wasn't looking at them. His pain-filled eyes were all for me. "I knew you were coffin bait, I didn't know you were a whore."
I felt my own face go hard and cold. Maybe if I hadn't been so tired, so stressed–but there was no real excuse for what I said next, except that Dolph had hurt me, and I wanted to hurt him. "How's that grandchildren problem coming Dolph? You still got a vampire for a soon-to-be daughter-in-law?"
I felt Zerbrowski react to the news, and knew in that moment that only I had known. "You really shouldn't piss off people you've confided in, Dolph." The moment I said it, I wished I hadn't, but it was too late. Too fucking late.
He came up out of the chair, hands under the table, and upended it with a tremendous crash onto the floor. We all scattered. Zerbrowski stood in front of Jason against the far wall. I took a corner near the door.
Dolph trashed the room. There was no other word for it. The chairs hit the walls, and the table followed. He finally picked one chair up and seemed to take a special grievance against it. He smashed the metal chair against the floor, over and over.
The door to the interrogation room opened. Police filled the door, guns drawn. I think they expected to see a rampaging werewolf. The sight of a rampaging Dolph stopped them dead in the doorway. They'd have probably cheerfully shot the werewolf, but I don't think they wanted to shoot Dolph. Of course, no one volunteered to arm wrestle him either.
The metal chair folded in upon itself, and Dolph collapsed to his knees. His harsh breathing filled the room, as if the walls themselves were breathing in and out.
I went to the door and chased everyone back. I said things like, "It's okay. He'll be fine. Just go." I wasn't sure he'd be okay, or fine, but I really did want them to go. No one needs to see their Lieutenant lose it. It shakes their faith in him. Hell, my faith wasn't doing all that well.
I closed the door behind them and looked across the room at Zerbrowski. We just stared at each other. I don't think either of us knew what to say, or even what to do.
Dolph's voice came as if from deep inside him, as if he had to pull it up hand-over-hand like the bucket in a well. "My son's going to be a vampire." He looked at me with a mixture of such pain and anger, that I didn't know what to do with it.
"You happy now?" he said. I realized that there were tears drying on his face. He'd cried as he'd destroyed everything. But he wasn't crying as he said, "My daughter-in-law wanted to bring him over, so he'd be twenty-five forever." He made a sound that was halfway between a moan and a scream.
Saying I was sorry didn't seem to be enough. I couldn't think of anything that would be enough. But sorry was all I had to offer. "I'm sorry, Dolph."
"Why, why sorry, vampires are people, too." The tears started again, silent. You'd never have known he was crying if you hadn't been looking directly at him.
"Yeah, I'm dating a bloodsucker and some of my friends don't have a pulse, but I still don't approve of bringing humans over."
He looked up at me and the pain was flooding over the anger. It made his eyes harder and easier to meet all at the same time. "Why? Why?"
I didn't think he was really asking me why. I believed what I believed about vampires. I think it was the universal cry of why me? Why my son, my daughter, my mother, my country, my home? Why me? Why isn't the universe fair? Why doesn't everyone get a happy ending? I had no answer for that why. I wished to God I did.
I answered the implied why, because I couldn't answer the other more painful questions. "I don't know anymore, but I do know that it creeps me out every time I meet someone I knew first as a live human, then as a dead vampire." I shrugged. "It just seems, I don't know, unnerving."
He gave a big hiccupping sob. "Unnerving . . ." He half laughed and half cried, then he covered his face with his hands and he gave himself over to crying.
Zerbrowski and I just stood there. I don't know which of us felt more helpless. He walked carefully around the room, bringing Jason with him.
Dolph sensed the movement and said, "He goes nowhere."
"He had nothing to do with this," I said.
Dolph wiped at his face angrily. "You haven't alibied him for the first murder."
"You're looking for a serial killer. If a suspect is cleared of one of the crimes then he's usually innocent of all of them."
He shook his head stubbornly. "We can keep him seventy-two hours, and we're going to."
I looked around the destroyed room, met Zerbrowski's eyes, and wasn't sure Dolph had enough clout to make those kinds of pronouncements anymore.
"The full moon is in a few days," I said.
"We'll put him in a secured facility," Dolph said.
Secured facilities were run by the government. They were places where new lycanthropes could go and be sure of not accidentally hurting anyone. The idea was you'd stay until you got control of your beast, then they'd let you out to resume your life. That was the theory. The reality was that once you were signed in, voluntarily or otherwise, you almost never got out. The ACLU had started the years of court battles it would take to get them outlawed, or made unconstitutional.
I looked at Zerbrowski. He stared at me with a sort of growing horror and weariness. I wasn't sure he had the juice to keep Jason out of permanent lockup if Dolph pushed. This couldn't be happening. I couldn't let it happen.
I looked back at Dolph. "Jason has been a werewolf for years. He has perfect control over his beast. Why send him to a secured facility?"
"He belongs in one," Dolph said, and the hatred had chased back the pain.
"He doesn't belong in a lockup, and you know it."
Dolph just glared at me. "He's dangerous," Dolph said.
"He's a werewolf, Anita."
"So he needs to be locked up because he's a werewolf."
Zerbrowski looked ill.
"Locked up just because he's a werewolf," I said it. I wanted him to hear what he was saying, to disagree, to come to his senses, but he didn't.
"Yeah," he said. And he said it, on tape, evidenced, un-take-backable. It could and probably would be used against him. There was nothing I could do to help Dolph, but I knew in that moment that Jason wouldn't be going to a secured facility. Half of me was relieved, half of me was so scared for Dolph that I could taste metal on my tongue.
Zerbrowski went for the door, pushing Jason ahead of him. "We'll give you a few minutes alone, Lieutenant." He motioned at me with his head.
Dolph didn't try and stop us. He just knelt there, face shocked, as if he'd finally heard his words, finally realized what he might have done.
We all went out the door, and Zerbrowski closed it firmly behind us. Everyone in the squad room was looking at us. They tried not to be, but everyone had found something to do to keep them close at hand. I'd never seen so many detectives so eager to do paperwork at their desks, or even somebody else's, as long as the desk was close to the hallway.
Zerbrowski looked at the near wall of people and said, "Break it up people, we don't need a crowd."
They all looked at each other, as if asking should we move, should we listen to him? They would have moved without question for Dolph. But finally, they did move, drifting off in ones and twos to other parts of the big room. The ones who were at their own desks close to the action seemed to remember phone calls they needed to make.
Zerbrowski bent close to me, and spoke low, "Take Mr. Schuyler with you and go."
"What'll Dolph say?" I asked.
He shook his head. "I don't know, but I know that Schuyler here doesn't deserve to go to one of those facilities."
"Thanks, Sarge," Jason said, and he smiled.
Zerbrowski didn't smile back, but he did say, "You're a pain in the ass sometimes Schuyler, and you're a furball, but you aren't a monster."
They had one of those guy moments. Women would have hugged, but they were men, which meant that they didn't even share a handshake. "Thanks, Zerbrowski."
Zerbrowski gave a weak smile. "Good to know I'm making somebody happy today." He turned back to me. We looked at each other.
"What's going to happen to Dolph?" I asked.
He looked even more solemn, which considering he'd looked downright depressed before, said a lot. "I don't know."
Dolph had said enough on tape to lose him his job, if it got out. Hell, if the head of RPIT was this prejudiced it might bring all their cases under review, going back to the beginning.
"Make sure he takes the two weeks of personal time, Zerbrowski, keep him out of here."
"I know that," he said, "now."
I shook my head. "I'm sorry, of course you do."
"Just go for now, Anita, please, go."
I touched Zerbrowski's arm. "Don't go back in there without some backup, okay."
"Perry told me what Dolph did to you the other day. Don't worry, I'll be careful." He glanced back at the closed door. "Please, Anita, go before he comes out."
I wanted to say something. Something comforting, or helpful, but there wasn't anything. The only helpful thing I could do was leave. So we did.
Leaving felt cowardly. Staying would have been stupid. When it's a choice between being cowardly or stupid, I choose stupid every single time. Today I opted for the better part of valor. Besides, I wasn't sure that Dolph might come out of the room like some rampaging bull and try to attack Jason, or me. We might be able to hush it up in an interrogation room, but if he trashed the entire squad room, it would mean the end of his career. Right now, he maybe had shot his career in the foot. Even probably. But maybe and probably were better than certainly. I left Zerbrowski to pick up the pieces, because I didn't know how.
I was so much better at destroying things than fixing them.