I stayed for a little while, not much time passed before the cafe started to get less noisy. Less busy. I would have failed to notice otherwise, but the place grew completely dead within an hour. Gabriel soon appeared behind the counter once more, grinning at me.
"We'll be closing in a few minutes," He advised me as he picked up one of the trays of treats.
I looked outside and then down at my wristwatch. "So soon?" The time read as only a few minutes passed four and the Pet's Cafe always had been opened later than that, as I recalled.
Gabriel put away the tray and then grabbed another, responding, "An old friend's come to visit, I figured it was an occasion that I should take advantage of!" I tried to stifle the smile that crossed my face, especially since he referred to me as a friend. This proved to be the most sincere form of hospitality I'd been offered since my arrival. "I would offer to top off your water, but unfortunately, we're closing!" Gabriel pleasantly exclaimed and I smiled back at him.
"Of course," I answered faintly, offering the cup back to the endowed, greatly touched by his kindness. Had I been like any other person, Gabriel would be able to close the Cafe at the usual hour and still go get to drinks, as I assumed would be the protocol. But how could anyone forget what happened at dusk? I hadn't felt insecure about this for a long time. Living with the tribe made my transformation feel so natural and casual. Returning here brought up all those old disadvantages, the rumours, the hunts. Yet here Gabriel proved to be warm as ever.
"So what do you think?"
Had he been talking me to? "Uhm," I start, drawing a blank. I found myself lost in my thoughts I completely forgot to pay attention-I didn't even realise he began speaking. "I'm sorry, pardon?" I asked, rather abashed from being caught not paying attention.
"Oh, I was saying that you don't think it's too early to get a pint?"
I smirked and stood up, pushing in my chair, "It's never too early."
We hit up a pub nearby and spent awhile drinking and chatting. The drinks here tasted rather watered down to me and I obviously held my alcohol better than Gabriel. Not that he made a mess of himself-but by his last drink he couldn't hide the fact he felt "better" than myself.
"Oh man, you should have been there, it was so great! When Emma realised what was happening, we thought she was going to just fly away from the embarrassment!" Gabriel laughed, as I joined him. I gave a cautious glance outside, biting my lip as I saw the darkening street. Gabriel followed my gaze, "Oh! We should probably get going!" He exclaimed, placing money on the bar, as I nodded in agreement and stood up. Gabriel jumped to his feet, somewhat shakily, and I offered my arms to support him, which he gladly took advantage of.
Gabriel gave a brief stumble, again, as we walked out of the pub and I caught him. "Damn, I didn't intend to drink this much," He claimed, as what I sensed as some sort of apology.
I laughed it off while we started back towards the Pet's Cafe, "You didn't have to keep up with me."
"I wasn't!" Gabriel protested and I laughed. "Whatever!" There came a moment of pause before he spoke, "Hey, if you need a place to stay, my place is CERTAINLY big enough."
"Gabriel..." I awkwardly gave a chuckle. I had arrangements in a motel, however it was really only for a place to put my luggage.
"What?" He barked, "It's not like you're a horrible, rabid animal at night. I run a Pet's Cafe, for Christ's sake, Asa! I can handle a bit of doggy."
I gave another awkward laugh because I couldn't decide on what to do. Gabriel. Being painfully kind to me, I almost felt like I constantly continued to abuse his hospitality. Perhaps I still felt in debt to him and his friends for all they'd done for me and this only deepened my debt. "You're offending me if you said no," Gabriel declared as he took a large step and began to stomp around while walking in front of me.
I opened my mouth to speak yet I couldn't settle on any words and ended up staying quiet.
It didn't take too long for us to return to the Pet's Cafe and Gabriel led me upstairs and showed me around the apartment. What he said had been right, up here alone it was indeed spacious enough for two people to be living. Before, the Onimouses dwelled here, so I supposed it would have been ideal living quarters for them.
"You can stay in this bedroom, if you want," Gabriel told me as he showed me a kempt room, which appeared to serve as a guest bedroom.
"No, you know, I was thinking the couch looked a lot more comfortable," I remarked as I stepped into the room and gave a mock examination of the bed. For a moment Gabriel stood-swaying ever-so-slightly-appearing to try to decode the situation. "I... I'm kidding, thank you, I'll stay here."
"Yeah," He forced a laughed. I sat down on the bed and glanced around the room. No fragile objects lay around I would need to worry about breaking. The psychometric had been correct again, I didn't become out of my mind when I transformed but sometimes I forgot to recalcuate my size change. I didn't want to break any delicate china dolls or something of that nature.
"Oh! I have something to give you," Gabriel suddenly remembered, and nearly tripped as he ran into another room. I waited for a few moments, listening to the sound of drawers open and papers being shoved around. Eventually the endowed returned with a folded sheet of paper. "Here," He handed it to me and I glanced at it for a moment, and then back at him. "I figured... y'know, you would be curious. But I didn't think you'd ask forrit." He knocked his knuckle absently against the door frame while I stared at him curiously, and then added, "I'll let you do your thing."
He turned and I began to open the note, stopped, and called, "Hey, Gabe,"
"Yeah?" Gabriel turned back around, extremely eager, as if he expected me to say something specific.
I absently licked my lips to defuse the tension from not knowing what he wanted to hear, "Thanks, again."
The psychic gave a faint smile and I could tell I hadn't met his expectations. "Don't mention it," he assured me softly and disappeared behind the wall.
Sighing, I looked down at the piece of paper and finally opened it. It appeared to be torn out of some kind of address book. On it, a scribbled address outside of town. The bottom, next to some sort of doodle of an angry face which someone half scratched out, read "MANFRED BLOOR".
My heart sank as I saw the words written and I then began to feel the first tugs of my change.