She could not have believed that five years came and went by so quickly.
She had finally found his address a Condo complex in Middle park; Prime real estate. He was a difficult man to track down. He virtually did not exist in the city. Strange for seemingly wealthy man. Niko must have been very talents at his work to get this high on the food chain that was Liberty City society.
As she entered the highrise's first level, Marnie Allen nodded briefly to the guard sitting at his post and stepped into the elevator tentatively. Sliding doors closed and the elevator ascended to her stared ahead the doors were reflective enough could see herself. Silently, she played with her hair. She wanted to make a good first impression on the man she had spent five years away from.
Five years since she had last seen the man with kind eyes, the man who saved her from herself. His name was Niko Bellic, an angel in the rough.
Her opinion of him had not changed since they first encountered. Most men would have paid her, fucked her and tossed her away back into the relentless drug abuse she suffered from. But not Niko. in a singe car ride, Niko taught her about self respect, planting a seed of hope that would eventually save her life.
Once she had been saved from this life of drugs and selling her body, she decided then and there that once she got sober, she would make sure that she saved as many kids as she could from the same mistakes she had made what felt like a lifetime ago. She was now a councilor, helping young teens with their troubles, keeping them clear minded and sobered and falling into a life of misery and despair like her.
All of this work, all these kids she protected from abuse and self harm. All of it was owed to the man with kind eyes. he was her savior and she would never ever forget him. He deserved to now how much he helped her. E-mail's could never express what he meant to her.
The elevator door opened revealing a a waiting area and a door, Niko's condo must have taken up the whole floor. Taking one good last look in the elevator doors reflection, she stepped forward towards the door. Her nerves became more and more jittery as she attempted to remain cool.
Marnie Allen stood at the door for what felt like several long minutes until finally, she knocked briskly. A trickle of fear came over her. She hoped he wasn't home as the words she had practiced on the flight over slowly went away, leaving her without a clue where to even start.
The door opened up, seemingly by themselves. That was what she thought until she glanced down and met the gaze of a bright eyed little girl, staring back up at her. Marnie smiled warmly at her.
"Well hello there, miss." she waved playfully to the little child blinked at her in confusion and returned the wave reluctantly.
"Hi." She shyly mumbled back to Marnie.
"Sofija! Sofija, you know you're not allowed outside without me or your mama!"
It was a male's voice, thick with that ever familiar accent. Around the corner, Niko Bellic, her Serbian savior turned the corner, completely decked out in an expensive looking suit. A style that he wore when he saved her from herself. With an aggressive walk, he stood next to the little girl, placing his strong hand on her shoulder. His attention was only the child, his eyes were narrowed at her like she had did something wrong.
Marnie bit her lip, a pang of sympathy for the child became present in her mind. An angry Niko was not good to try to deal with.
"Stric! Someone was knockin'!" The girl returned haughtily, as if the older man was being dumb. With a lingering glare for the girl Niko laughed and shook his head in amusement.
"Go get your coat, we'll go see your Uncle Bernie. Yeah?" He requested, turning the child around and shooing her off. With one last curious gaze on Marnie. The little girl stumbled off to fine her coat.
Niko's looked turned away from the girl and turned to stare at the woman in front of him, unconsciously, his arms crossed, his expression became challenging. It became clear to Marnie that Niko Bellic hated when people dropped by without a warning.
"Yeah?" Was Niko's simple acknowledgment. Marnie took a deep breath and decided to dive in before she shrunk anymore.
"H-Hey... Niko." She spoke up, rather softly, She was gently playing with her long pulled back blonde hair as Niko Bellic continued to stare at her like she was an assassin of some sort. There was a long, distant silence as the two adults stared at each other.
"I know a lot of people. So do me a favor and just tell me." Niko returned at long last, a tone of surprising smugness catching Marnie off guard. His eyes were still interrogative, still on alert for any sign of deception on her part.
Marnie felt her stomach drop, a twinge of bitter disappointment became present in the expression on her face. Was it the meth high that distorted her view on him? Was he just like all the others in her life? Didn't give a fucking shit about her? Marnie exhaled slowly and tried to remain calm.
"I thought you would remember me..." She trailed of gently, "It's me.. Marnie, M-Marine Allen?"
That was when it happened, a flash sudden shock and recognition smashed through Niko;s facade of defiance. His mouth dropped open, his hard eyes widened and softened, reveling to Marnie that it was not just the hallucinations of withdrawals and addiction. There they were, the warm, kind eyes that saved her life.
"Marnie? Shit! It's so good to see again!" Niko exclaimed, throwing his hands to the side. Marnie could not stop her herself, she threw herself into his chest and wrapped her arms around him tightly, laughing alone with the suddenly ecstatic Bellic, who also returned the hug.
After a moment or so of a friendly embrace, Niko held her out at arms length to inspect her properly. Marnie blushed and looked away, her foot shuffling as his eyes scanned her.
"You look..." Niko started but stopped, seemingly at a lost for words, "well, so much more..."
"Healthy?" Marnie finished for the speechless with joy man. Again Niko laughed and wrapped his arms around her. Marnie smiled and accepted it, She clung onto him as the memories of her past went away and a new sensation came over her.
"Yeah." Was Niko's simple response, glad that he was able to be made sense of.
Marnie smiled brilliantly up at her savior and let him go, however still holding him by his waist for dear life. This was going better then she had ever dreamed of. It was as though he had never changed a bit from the embodiment of good that he was to her. She stood on her toes and kissed Niko on the cheek. With a sudden movement, Marnie reached up and placed her lips next to his ear.
"All thanks to you Niko. I'd have been dead without you." she whispered at the suddenly red in the face man.
Before Niko could arrive, the little girl with dark eyes was back next to Niko and tugging on to his jacket, a look of childish excitement on her face as her little hand grabbed onto Niko's tightly. Marnie smiled at what he imagined to be Niko's little girl. They seemed to be so close.
"Come on, you promised!" The child whined, dancing in place as though it would help get them out of the house faster. Niko sighed tiredly and reached into his jacket, pulling out a pair of aviators and slipping them over his eyes.
"Marnie, this Sofija, my niece." Niko introduced warmly to the former addict. "I'm taking her down to Middle Park. Would you like to join us? we can catch up, might even be fun."
The young woman turned her attention to the child latched onto Niko's hand and shrugged playfully.
"Well I don't know about that... Am I allowed to come Sofija?" Marnie asked humorously, inwardly pleased to hear Niko chuckle in appreciation of here willingness to play along. Sofija frowned and hid slightly behind her uncle, burying the side of her face into his pant leg. Slowly, relucantly, she nodded her head. Niko laughed and scooped the girl up into his arm.
"She's much more annoying once she gets to know you." Niko assured Marnie brightly, tickling his niece "Come on, I'll drive us."
Marnie merely nodded and followed behind the uncle and the squirming and screaming niece in his arms. Inwardly she smiled. Niko really was a good man.
"Niko Bellic and little Sofija! What took you so long! You make me wait to see my malo Anđeo!
Uncle Bernie, as it turned out, was a a gay Serbian decked out in a tracksuit and looking fresh from a morning at the spa. Niko had quickly explained to him that he and Bernie once served in the Serbian army during the Yugoslav Wars. Regardless, Bernie seemed to be a kind man, like Niko. Perhaps bit more... flamboyant though.
"Unca Bern!" She cried excitedly, wrapping her little arms around his legs. Bernie giggled and fell to his knees and hugged the little girl he considered family, happily.
"Ooof, you've grown, sweetie!" He prattled out letting her go and standing back up, beaming at her brightly. "Perhaps I can help get you on a diet! Lose five or so pounds perhaps?"
Marnie widened her eyes at the remark made by the flamboyant Serbian. Niko bit down to prevent himself from growling at him.
"Don't talk that shit in front of Sofija, Florean." Niko snapped roughly, not caring at all that the child heard him swear. Bernie calling his niece fat wasn't something that could slide by him.
Bernie rolled his eyes and let the girl back down and walked over to Niko who was staring hard at him. Suddenly Bernie attacked, Slapping Niko right across his chest and tsked loudly at his former comrade in arms.
"Oooh relax, Niko Bellic, It was a joke!" Craine brightly erupted and added, "Though, you're never too young to start a diet you know?"
Niko shook his head, trying his best not to look too annoyed at him. Bernie smiled vividly and patted Niko's cheek before turning his attention to Marnie, who smiled at the gay stereotype in genuine amusement. He seemed nice enough to her.
"You know," Bernie mused loudly. "You're very Heroin chic pretty, miss?"
With a groan and a roll of his eyes at the remark Niko cut in before Marne could reply to the question herself.
"Marnie Allen, a friend." He stated without any room for continuing the conversation. "You two run along, we'll catch up."
Bernie sighed like a queen and turned away, allowing Sofija to smile as she waited for Niko to bend down onto one of his knees and kissed her forehead, subtly dropped a ten dollar bill into her jacket pocket. With one last affectionate pat on her cheek, Little Sofija turned around and took Bernie's hand
"I wanna see the duckies!" She demanded like a princess. Bernie squealed, apparently in agreement and took off, running at her pace. Niko glanced at Marnie and shook his head, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"Sorry for cutting you off," He started, speaking ruefully "Anyone new he meets gets sucked into a three hour conversation about his damn plastic surgeons."
Marnie laughed and tucked her fingers into her jean pockets as she followed Niko who was walking in the direction of Bernie and Sofija, albeit much much slower then they tore off at. She smiled briefly as she closed the gap between the two of them and walked side by side.
"So, What is sobriety like?" He asked her quietly, breaking a shared silence between the two of them. Marine laughed and shrugged, tucking her a sty piece of hair behind her ear.
"Like me getting a chance to step back and notice that a three bag a day meth habit was killing me." She returned, willing herself to sound cheery, even if her thoughts about her old life weren't. Niko nodded in satisfaction.
"Can I admit something to you?"
Marnie looked up at Niko curiously, he seemed almost hesitant to speak again, to continue what he had started. There was a brief silence before slowly, Marnie allowed him a carefully encouraging smile. It worked. Niko smiled back, looking slightly more at ease the he had moments prior.
"I looked up that old friend of yours, Joseph Kaplan." He admitted, watching as the younger woman stiffen up at the mention of the name. "It turned out I had a run in with him a month or so prior. So... after you left, I paid him a little visit."
Joesph Kaplan. The reason Marnie had thrown her life away to the pursuit of drugs, sex and partying for three straight years. The man who hooked her out when she stopped being financially sufficient and then tossed her out when her John's stopped patronizing her. The sad thing was that this story was not a unique one. This scumbag did this to more men and women than Marnie could ever imagine.
Unconsciously, the former addict started to shake as the thoughts of what had been done to her in return for a hit of poorly cut meth.
"H-how'd it go?" She returned, trying to stay calm. Niko shrugged, slowly he smirked.
"I broke his kneecaps and hands with a baseball bat." He stated as casually as he if he had been taking about the weather. "He made a promise to me he was getting out of the porn business or I'd burn down his fucking home. Piece of slimeball shit."
Marnie felt her eyes widen and scan over Niko's as though looking for a punchline. Niko merely stared back at her. There was no punchline. This was no game and she knew it.
Niko stepped forward, his hand slid over her bicep and brought her closer to him. He looked down upon her, those kind eyes he had. They never changed.
"He's never going harm another girl if he knows what is best for him." He promised her gently.
Marnie nodded slowly, she believed it. She closed the gap spaced between them and tenderly she wrapped her arms around him, burying her face into his chest. Niko tightened up, not sure at first. Finally he relented and looped his arms around the young woman.
"Thank you, Niko. You're a saint." She whispered softly, still buried against him. Niko merely chuckled lowly and shook his head.
"No, Marnie, I'm no saint."
Silence fell between the embrace man and woman. Slowly however, Marnie pulled herself away still remaining in his embrace but just enough to look up at him. She smiled through her melancholia understanding of what kind of man Niko was playing these days.
"I take it Sofija isn't just a niece." She said, pulling herself finally away and slipping her hands back into her pant pockets. Niko grimaced and slowly, he nodded his head
"I made a promise to her mother that a man would be in her life, to help raise her into a young woman." He explained to her. "Her mother, married my cousin, Roman. He was more like my brother."
Marnie smiled in sympathy and took a tight hold of his hand.
"Life is funny." Niko sighed as he and Marnie followed the direction that the gay man and his niece ran off. "I tried to provide a life that Roman wanted to live, where he would stop being an immigrant with his head in the clouds. Only to get shot down an hour after his wedding."
Marnie bit back the urge to gasp. Niko bowed his head and rubbed his face as though he was worn out from merely thinking of his past. The silence reigned between the two was palpable. As much as Marnie desperately wanted to say something anything, to comfort the stoic Serbian, she knew that while he may have been quick to help scum like her, he was obviously near incapable of asking for help when he clearly needed it.
There was a sudden chuckle that escaped him.
"I just hope she is not as promiscuous as her father." He tacked on smiling, albeit forced as always. Marnie chuckled lightly and smiled indulgently. At least Niko had found a distraction.
"So, how are you doing?" Marnie finally spoke up, squeezing Niko's forearm. "It seems you buried yourself in helping your family, What do you do for yourself to grieve?"
Niko looked her over and sighed wearily at the question. He was blowing her off. This wasn't acceptable to her. Suppression always led to a path that wasn't helathy: Guilt and revenge.
"Niko, I'm a shrink now, remember?" the woman reminded Niko gently, her lip still smiling brightly for him. "You sent me a letter saying I could return the favor by finding out what made you crazy..."
Niko snorted as he remembered the letter written many years prior. He did make a promise. Niko was a man who kept his promises, to the letter.
"I'm not sure." He admitted carefully to the newly minted psychologist.. "Life is too short to grieve for too long. I have Sofija, I have Mallorie, her mother, I have friends who keep my mind off my sins... and I have her."
Niko drifted off, on his lips was a strange pleasant smile as he looked on far past the younger Marnie. Marnie followed his gaze and found herself looking into the eyes of a green cardigan wearing redhead, her hands tucked away into her jeans just like her. She stood there watching both Niko's and her's interaction, with a faint half smile.
"I've never believed in the American Dream." Niko spoke again, surprising Marnie. "My cousin however... It was the only thing that kept him going for many years. I live this American dream for him, for the sake of his daughter."
Niko chuckled lifelessly and shrugged.
"Who knows... Perhaps one day I'll buy into it." He finished as he watched the redhead slowly step towards him. He gave a glance to Marnie and gestured her to follow him.
"Come on, I want you to meet my fiancee, Kate."
Marnie nodded and, yet again, she smiled as she watched the redhead anme Kate wrap her arms around Niko's waist. Despite his flaws, Niko was a good man; And good men deserve happiness.
I've had this idea since I first completed Marnie's encounters. I loved helping her. it was one of the few bright spots in the darkest game in the GTA series. Probably one of the moments where I had to will myself to not have manly tears of happiness when she e-mails you... Anyway, back to the story, Hope you like!