Over and done with, the Thanksgiving meal was oddly pleasant and had left him with that triptophan-induced lethargy that not even a fifth of Chivas could quite give. He helped with the dishes and cleanup, and then had retreated to the bathroom to take a shower. A long, hot, slow shower, where he carefully shaved, rinsed off dust and grime and smoke and sweat and managed to feel something like clean.

Not once did he meet his own eyes in the mirror.

Polished shoes, a neatly pressed shirt. Thin black tie. Black jacket.

While he was readying himself for the beginning and end of his last assignment, all he could think of were the photos carefully wrapped in the pocket of his overcoat.

A beautiful woman and two smiling boys, blowing bubbles in a backyard. Three pairs of dirty footprints on a set of crisp white sheets. Two hands linked together, shining rings upon the third finger.

They smelled like smoke, as had his hands, now clean, and no longer shaking.

He wondered if she would want them back.


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