Chapter Four

David stared blankly at the road as he drove. Talking with his brother had drained the energy in his jaw. He didn't feel like talking, or eating for that matter. He just wanted to listen to something. The radio in his car was busted, though, and David didn't have a radio at home. So he decided he'd drive over to that one grill he liked. The grill had jazz musicians who would perform live while you ate. It was in the heart of Little Tokyo, which was only a few miles away from the freeway. He had gone to the place a few times, but hadn't ever tried the food. He liked the music so much, he figured that if he tried the food and didn't like it, it would ruin the music for him.

He sighed as he took exit 2B.

He made a right onto Los Angeles North and continued driving, his blank stare not wavering. He wondered what kind of musicians would be playing that night. Not that it mattered to him. He didn't have a favorite jazz musician, nor did he have any favorite style of jazz. He just liked jazz, and that was that.

He made a left onto 2nd Street, and shifted his gaze to the right.

There it was.

He parked on the curb on the opposite side, right by a parking meter.

David hated parking meters. He hated taxes in general, in fact. In his mind, paying the inital price was enough. Why did he have to pay extra? Parking meters, though, angered him especially. Maybe it was because he had just bought a car for a few grand, and was then forced to pay when trying to place it somewhere.

He stepped out of the car and reluctantly slipped in a couple quarters. He turned and stared at the entrance to the building. It was a fairly nonflashy entrance. It had a glass double-door, which was crammed with fliers. Above the doors was a neon sign that read "Bar&Grill", and above that was a brown sign that read "2nd STREET JAZZ". David wanted to smile, but couldn't. He couldn't even manage to force one. He liked this place a lot, especially because the music would drown out all of his thoughts, but for some reason, he was feeling much more down than usual.

He took a deep breath before finally glancing in both directions, and walking across the street. He pushed the doors open and entered. There was a female employee loitering at a desk. David turned to her and snapped, "Table?"

She looked at him. Her eyes widened. "Yes, of course, sir." She stood up quickly and walked around the desk. "Please, follow me," she muttered as she sidled across the room.

David ignored the looks that were shot his way as he followed the lady to a table. She motioned to it, and he quickly sat down. "Thank you," he said under his breath.

She must have heard him, for she offered a quick nod before turning and fast-walking back to her desk.

David folded his hands and placed them on the table. He refrained from glancing around, knowing that some eyes were staring at him. He could hear some chuckling behind him, but he didn't turn. He assumed everyone in the building knew who he was. He had become an infamous customer ever since that one night a few months back.

It was right after...the incident...

He had come to the grill to relax. To cool off. He seated himself in an area where no one would disturb him. He had tear stains on his cheeks, but he didn't care. He expected that no one would dare say anything about it.

He was wrong.

Next thing he knew, an old friend of his had approached him. Steven Card.

Steve had been a friend of David's for years. Ever since Jesse became a homicide detective, in fact. Steve worked in forensics, so Jesse and he knew each other vaguely. David and Steve met one day outside the bureau. Jesse's car had been stolen a few weeks prior, and he needed a ride home. David reluctantly agreed to pick him up. When waiting outside, he ran into Steve. They got into a conversation, and it wasn't too long before a friendship developed. David liked something about Steve. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something about him was appealing. He was similiar to Jesse in some ways, but he wasn't quite as outspoken. Maybe Steve reminded David of himself. Maybe.

When Steve approached him, though, David wasn't happy to see him. He wasn't in the mood for chatting. Steve probably sensed this, but he sat down at the table anyway.

"Dave," he snapped. "What's wrong?"

David glared at him. The fact that he just cut to the quick angered David somehow. He didn't have any time to conjure up a fake story. "Nothing."

Steve stared at him. David didn't like it. He felt like how he would imagine others felt when he talked to them. Like Steve was reading him, and he didn't know what to say or do to throw off his observations. Tension was building, and David's anger was starting to boil.

"Stop staring at me," David said quickly, clenching his jaw.

Steve said nothing, but his stare did not leave David.

David's glare turned into a scowl. "Steve," he said, much more loudly than he intended. "Stop now."

Steve frowned slightly.

The room seemed silent. David's shame and anger had drowned out the noise, and he was starting to sweat. He breathed heavily and felt his heart beginning to race. The thoughts of her started to come back, and he tried desperately to snuff them out, but to no avail.

"Dave," Steve said, throwing himself into the mess that was David's thoughts.

David was at his wits end. 

And he lost it.

He lashed out and punched Steve in the jaw. Steve fell back in his chair and hit the floor like a sack of bricks. David, his mind still in shambles, grabbed the table and flipped it, sending it crashing down onto Card.

The entire room went dead silent as David towered over him.

Steve tried to push the table off of himself, but he was at a loss of oxygen.

David froze. He stared at Steve, who was struggling desperately to get to his feet, and  he realized what he had done. Shocked, he threw the table to the side and grabbed Steve's arm.

He rushed him to the hospital. 

The table crashing down on top of him had broken one of Steve's ribs. It was hardly a fatal wound, but regardless David was furious at himself. He felt like a lunatic.

The police eventually showed up and started to question David and Steve. Steve explained everything as if it was his own fault, and David got off on a warning. 

David felt like he owed Steve, but they hadn't talked since.

The sound of jazz brought David out of the memory. He glanced up from the floor to the stage, where four men, each holding a different instrument, were beginning to play a song. He had never heard it before, but he liked it. It soothed him in a way.

He looked around the room for the first time in a while. Surprisingly, no one was staring at him. Almost as if everyone had moved on. He felt accepted for the first time in months. He took a deep breath and sighed.

Relief.

In this state of relief, however, David's mind began to wander. He caught himself before he got too deep, and immediately shifted his focus to his mother, who he hadn't seen for a few weeks. He whipped out his cell phone.

He stopped.

He blinked. He shoved the cell phone reluctantly into his coat pocket. He stood and pushed his chair in. He looked at the door of which he entered through, and began to make his way towards it.

David hadn't seen his mother in a while.

She wouldn't mind seeing him again.

He walked past the desk, not returning the stare that the woman was giving him. He stopped at the door and looked at her. She quickly redirected her gaze in a different direction.

Typical.

Irritated, David placed his hands on the door. He paused. Suppressing a smirk, he took a few steps back.

The woman glanced at him. She opened her mouth, then immediately shut it.

David leaned close to her. So close he could see the lines in her skin, and the wrinkles under her eyes. He could smell the perfume she was wearing, and put his mouth right by her ear. "You keep staring at me."

She was speechless.

David stepped away from her then whispered, "My men and I don't like it when people stare. Bad things happen when people stare at us. Kapeesh?"

Her eyes were wide, but she still said nothing, nor did she move.

David turned and walked out the door.

It closed behind him.

He smiled to himself as he quickly jogged across the street.

Before climbing into the car, he looked over at the parking meter.

Expired.

David sighed. He opened the door to his car and stepped in. He started the engine.

David looked into his rear-view mirror. A traffic cop turned the corner and was heading in his direction, jotting something down in his ticket book. David smiled. "Better luck next time," he muttered.

He drove out of the parking space and headed down the road.

The Usc-Norris Cancer Hospital was only three miles away.

The End

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