Disclaimer: Grand Theft Auto IV is copyright © Rockstar Games and all others associated with legal rights.

Author's note: This fanfic takes place after the "Mr. & Mrs. Bellic" mission but before the final mission. I played with canon but improvised some scenes. And for fans of my Packie/Kate fanfic, don't worry. I haven't abandoned it! I plan on adding another story within the next couple of months if not sooner.

"He Should Have…"

Niko Bellic wasn't sure how long he slept; frankly he didn't care. Roman and Mallorie's wedding was a distant memory, an event which took place in another lifetime. It was the episode after the ceremony that tarnished his memories.

Holed up in the run down, grimy apartment in South Bohan, Niko disregarded his cell phone as he didn't want to be bothered. He was tired of the heartfelt condolences no matter how meaningful they sounded. He didn't want the constant reminders of what he lost. He didn't want to think back about how he absolutely failed Kate McReary.

A deep, bitter laugh bubbled inside of him. Oh, how he assured her that nothing was going to happen. He would be there to protect her. After all it was a wedding, a celebration of the union and love between two people. He wanted to share in his cousin's joy by inviting her.

Looking down at his rough, hardened hands, he could still feel the warmth of her tender skin during her last moments on Earth. When Roman and Mallorie walked out of the church as husband and wife, he and Kate were holding each other. He wasn't sure who made the first move but when he found himself gazing into her beautiful eyes, he saw a glint of hope - an allusion of a possible future with her.

Yet he should have noticed the suspicious car parked across the street. He should have observed it slowly creep up to the party as everyone exchanged hugs and kisses. Instead he was lost in his own euphoria. For the first time in a long time, Niko felt optimistic, like his cousin always told him he should feel. For once, he thought Roman was right.

Gunfire and screams shattered the blissful atmosphere. He didn't anticipate the barrage of bullets and mob boss Jimmy Pegorino's verbal assault until it was too late. He was still holding Kate when the world came crashing down. From the moment he heard the mobster's words, he understood he was supposed to be the intended target.

He should have died. He should have been the one laying in a pool of his own blood. Instead it was Kate whose life was snuffed out so violently. When it was all said and done, after Pegorino and his men took off, Roman screamed for someone to call an ambulance. Niko bitterly informed him that she was dead.

She was dead because of Niko Bellic. For a shameful, fleeting moment, Niko wanted to blame her. She should never have gotten involved with the likes of him. She used to think he was a no good gangster like her brothers and their friends. If she hadn't entered his life then she would still be alive. She would still be living at home with her mother and brother Packie, living day by day with a persevering outlook and a friendly smile on her face. But he was just as guilty as her when it came to their "friends only" relationship. He had been drawn to her, not only because she was sensible and honest, but she did her best to understand Niko. Though she sometimes berated him for his choice of actions, she at least attempted to reach out to him because she really cared about him.

"My fault," he said numbly as he retrieved his long neglected cell phone from the kitchen counter. He felt a sharp pang in his heart when he saw that the last number he called was in fact, Kate's. He called her to remind her that he was picking her up for the wedding.

"Poor girl… I should have never gotten close to her."

Stiffly his fingers moved across the keypad and until the option he wanted lit across his screen.

Are you sure you want to delete this contact from your address book?

He clicked "yes" and then slid the phone into his jacket pocket without a second glance. No use hanging onto the past... HA! What a joke. It was his bitter grudge, the inability to let go of the past, that brought him to the United States in the first place. Besides staying with Roman, Niko's goal was to hunt down the man responsible for betraying him and his friends during the war. He never foresaw the events that would unfold during this journey: the mindless missions, the drug runs, the robberies, carjackings, contract killings, fire-forged friendships... He especially never imagined himself falling in love with the sister of an Irish gangster with whom he would become good friends with.

As Niko made his way to the front door he switched off the apartment lights. He was dressed in durable clothing that allowed him to move without restriction; ironically, he realized, it was the same outfit he wore when he first arrived in Liberty City during his original revenge journey. Methodically he made sure he was armed with his trusted weapons, most particularly his glock pistol, before he decided to make his next move.

All of his actions, the choices he made since arriving in this city, took him down a path he could not turn back on.

"Revenge is a confession of pain."

- Latin proverb