Thankfully the heat gives me some comfort. Not much, especially while the vehicle is moving, but it’s better than nothing.

Looking out my window, I watch as the hellhound smirks at me through the windshield.

Cocky asshole.

Up closer now, I can definitely tell he’s gained muscle mass, and probably a pound of new tattoo ink in his skin. None on the face though. I guess that’s saying something.

The door to the car swings open and then slams shut as he crams his large frame into the seat. I probably should have adjusted it for him from when Meredith was in that seat. She prefers to sit a little further up and closer to the dashboard.

It’s a petty thing to enjoy, but I do. One must find joys where one can.

Reaching down to the side of the seat, I watch as the big blonde-haired, blue-eyed man grumbles as the seat slowly slides back.

“Simon,” he grunts out at me.

“Gabriel,” I say as I turn from him.

I noticed tattoos crawling up past the collar of his prison release clothing. He’s wearing a white thermal undershirt under his tan top, and I have no doubt it’s covering up tattoos from his shoulders to his wrists. Sleeved, as Johnathan calls it.

Not saying anything else, I put the SUV in drive and pull onto the road, heading downstate back towards Garden city.

Glancing over briefly, I watch as he stares out the window. It’s the first time he’s seen the world like this in over ten years. A lot has changed in that time—the family, the politics, the internet even.

He’s a relic that should have stayed in the damn past.

Fifteen miles down the road in the middle of nowhere, I pull onto the side of the road again.

Now’s as good as time as any.

Putting the SUV in park, I reach into my suit and pull the .45 pistol from my under-the-arm holster.

Pointing the gun at his chest, I say, “Get out.”

Yet again he smirks at me from behind that thick beard of his. “You gonna make me do that right now? In the cold fucking wasteland out here?”

“Last chance, Gabriel,” I say quietly.

“Fuck you,” he says, but reaches for the door handle. “Let’s get this shit over with.”

I keep ahold of my pistol as I step out of the vehicle myself. Walking around the front of the car. I come up to him. “Strip fully.”

“Fuck you,” he growls.

“I don’t give two shits about Lucifer’s directives,” I say without emotion. “I only care if you’re a liability.”

“Again, fuck you,” he snarls.

“Gabriel, it’s going to be dark in half an hour. Do you want to be left out here in the dark, dying from a couple of gut shots?” I ask.

Pulling his two shirts over his head, he shrugs at me when he drops them to the hard ground. “Not like it will change much. I’ve been dead long enough now. I probably won’t notice the difference.”

Like I thought, he’s full of tattoos. Each, I have no doubt, has a meaning to him and him alone.

When he finally gets down to his bare feet, I motion with my gun. “Turn around slowly. Bend and cough.”

“We’re going to go a couple of rounds, me and you, Simon. Soon as you’re healed up,” he says with a laugh.

I suppose we will. It’s been fifteen years since we last went against each other in a fight.

We’re about due, I suppose.

He must have noticed my slower steps and the way I’m moving. He’s always been too perceptive.

When I’m satisfied that I don’t see any gang affiliation tattoos or Aryan Nation brandings, I put the pistol back in its holster.

“The black backpack in the back passenger seat is yours. You can get cleaned up at the first trucker’s stop we get to,” I say, walking back to the car, leaving his naked ass standing on the side of the road.

He grabs the bag from the back and pulls out a pair of underwear, jeans, and a t-shirt.

All packed up by Johnathan.

Johnathan wanted to make sure his best friend was set up for his welcome home party. He even left Gabriel his special custom gun from before he went to prison.

Johnathan, luckily enough for him, is doing better than I expected. The shot to his stomach wasn’t as serious as it first looked.

Though, if not taken care of quickly, he would have died.

The hospital stay for him was rushed because we were getting too much heat from local law enforcement, but he pulled through. That was a lot of bullets and explosions to just ignore. We paid off enough of the right people to make ourselves disappear, but it still wasn’t easy this time.

There were quite a few dead bodies… not to mention a destroyed plane on an airstrip tarmac.

When he’s finally dressed in clothes at last, Gabriel tucks himself back into the SUV. Pulling on his socks and boots as I pull away from the side of the road.

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