Thirteen

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Next morning, he took a long shower, after which he stood in front of the bathroom mirror with only a towel wrapped around his hips. Giant purple bruises adorned his torso, while on the left side of his neck was a four inch long gash held together with thick black stitches. He didn't remember receiving the injury, but according to the medic, it had been an extremely close call.

Gabriel stared into the mirror, trying to wrap his mind around the thought that he had almost died. And not only that, but he'd ended lives as well. A lump formed in his throat, causing him to swallow hard to try and dislodge it. It seemed to settle deep in his chest, a pressure that just sat there constantly, uncomfortably.

He leaned forward, placing his hands on either side of the sink, and stared at his reflection's eyes. They were dark brown, almost black, but this close up, he could see the brown. To him, they looked as normal as they ever had. He wondered what the eyes of a killer looked like. Did they look like his?

He closed them, turning away from the mirror. After putting on a fresh bandage over his neck, he slowly got dressed into a pair of gray jeans and a zip-up black sweater over a white T-shirt. It was an agonizing process, his battered body complaining with every movement. Finally, he was ready and out the door. He was not looking forward to this day at work in the least.

Sure enough, when he first walked in stiffly, he got a few curious looks. Lydia wanted to know what happened to his neck.

"An accident," he told her, and refused to elaborate. She fussed over him, telling him he looked wiped out and maybe he should have taken a second day off. Her concern was almost touching, if it weren't also annoying. Collin just snuck glances at him for the rest of the day, which was also annoying. Gabriel almost considered asking him what was up already, but didn't because he wasn't sure if he wanted to know the answer. Douglas looked genuinely worried, which made Gabriel wonder if he really did look that wiped out.

He went to the bathroom and checked. To his own eyes, he looked all right, save for the bandage on his neck. Maybe a little tired, but nothing out of the ordinary. He didn't understand why. He returned to his desk and buried himself in work for the rest of the day, ignoring everything else. As soon as the work day came to a close, he was out the door.

He was sore. He was tired. And he wanted nothing more than to go to bed. But he felt the needed to move, to get out and try and forget things, because he couldn't get the image of bloody daggers out of his mind, nor the feeling of tearing through flesh and bone when he shoved a blade deep into another person's body. His stomach twisted violently and the pressure in his chest shifted, hindering his breathing. Instinctively, he reached out a hand for balance, and felt it touch a rough surface. He leaned against it, closing his eyes and struggling to regain himself.

After a long minute, he felt his heart rate settle, though he still felt nauseated. Breathing shallowly, he looked up. And found himself standing outside Sammy's Grill.

Again.

He felt a chill run through him. Why? Why had he come here? How did he come here? He didn't even remember driving this way. Dazed, he glanced over at the parking lot, searching. Yes, there was his car. Badly parked, but it was there.

Why here then?

People were giving him odd looks as they went inside the grill. Realizing he must be drawing attention, Gabriel walked along the wall and around the corner of the building. It was out of sight from the parking lot, and a little more private. There were a couple picnic tables set up here in case anyone wanted to take their food and eat outside. People rarely did for some reason, even though it was probably far more sanitary than inside.

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