Character(s): Niko Bellic with mentions of Kate McCreary.

Disclaimer: As always, I own nothing. Grand Theft Auto IV belongs to its rightful owner(s).

WARNING: Spoilers and character death.

I found this piece on my hardrive and decided that I'd post it so someone might enjoy it. I haven't played Grand Theft Auto IV in awhile so I'm not sure if everything's consistent with the actual game. I could probably improve this, but I'm just going to go ahead and post it as-is.

Constructive criticism is welcome. Please, no flames.


Red Sky At Morning

oOoOo

Two days. Two long, shitty days he'd spent locked up in his apartment in Algonquin, putting vodka away like it was water. But that didn't help. Not much. It didn't drown out her voice, telling him that she came from a long line of alcoholics. Telling him that he was going to kill himself if he kept drinking like this. And he highly doubted that it was ever going to stop.

Where before, he had taken a keen interest in his appearance, seeking to please her, he no longer cared. Wearing the dirty, unkempt clothes he had stepped off the Platypus in, he could not bear to wear anything else. The leather jacket that smelled like vodka and smoke, the track pants that were wrinkled and so very dirty. He couldn't bring himself to care less. Where he'd once taken pride in his appearance, neatly combing his grizzly hair, dressing himself in the style of MODO, wearing suits around the city just for a change of pace, he no longer cared at all. He had more than enough money; he just lacked the incentive.

And she was still there, still telling him off about his lifestyle, his choices. He couldn't drown her out. Not with all the liquor in the world.

He had told her that he was ready to become a new man, a reformed man. He had told her he was ready to be the man she wanted him to be.

He had thought he was ready to be like Roman and live a normal life, get married to a beautiful woman who accepted him as he was, have a couple of kids, and let go of his past. Let go of what that bastard, Darko, did. All in all, enjoy his little slice of the American dream.

But none of that mattered. Mere hours later, when he had thought that his life could get no better than this, his world had crumpled, shattered into a million tiny fragments. He'd thought it was over. His life of crime, the atrocities he had committed. All done for good. He had been wrong.

Jimmy Pegarino, the coward, had his goons drive him past a wedding, a wedding for Christ's sake, outside of a church, as he opened fire on the crowd. Niko should have known Pegarino wouldn't leave it alone, wouldn't stand for Niko's obvious betrayal. He should have known he would try to get his revenge for killing Dimitri, the one man whose money might have given Pegarino his life as the head of a soon-to-be Commission family back.

For a brief moment, Niko had had a vision of his future, a future that looked hopeful, decent. He had seen himself giving up his life of crime, of killing and stealing cars and evading the police, and becoming the man he had always wanted to be. Honest, hard-working, loyal to his values, his family.

In the short time that they had known each other, Niko had fallen in love—yes, love—with Kate McCreary, who was possibly the only girl in Liberty City who accepted him as he was—damaged, broken—and was willing to set him straight. Unlike her brothers, Niko took no pleasure in the crimes he committed. He hated himself all the more for them because they were necessary. She seemed to understand that, knew he wanted out. Knew he just wanted to sink into anonymity.

Damn it! He had held her in his arms while she died, had cradled her dead body to his chest in the aftermath of the shooting, wondering, Why? Why couldn't it have been me? Why Kate? What has she ever done to deserve this? What have I ever done in my sorry excuse for a life to be spared once again? A life I don't deserve, a life Kate has every right to have!

Wasn't he the kind of man who deserved to be shot on sight? As a criminal, a man who had spent nearly a decade killing, stealing, evading, destroying? Didn't he deserve that? Why should he be spared? Why? When Kate had never crossed a single person in her life? Had always strived to do what was right rather than what was easy . . . No, she hadn't deserved the hand she'd been dealt.

And Roman had been so thoughtless, so stupid. "Someone, call an ambulance!" he had cried, helplessly, unable to do anything more than stare, clutching Mallorie's petite hand in his. Didn't he realize how it could have been him? After all, Niko knew the score. The quickest way to intimidate somebody was to kill those that they were closest to. Pegarino didn't have to murder Kate; he could just as easily have murdered Roman instead because Roman was the only family Niko had left in this part of the world.

And he, Niko, had stood up, his entire body shaking with suppressed rage, with grief, with everything, as he said so quietly, so dangerously, "She's dead, Roman. There's no use."

He remembered it all. Long, bronze hair, tucked in a tight, but elegant, bun, spilling out onto the pavement, eyes wide with shock, a shamrock-green cardigan. His hands had been covered in her blood. Crimson, so very much like all of the others, all of the people he's hurt and killed to get where he is today. And yet so different because, this time, he cared. Actually cared. Like his friends from the village, he cared about Kate, cared about Roman . . .

And, now, she was dead. All because of him. Because he had been stupid enough to let someone in and get close.

Now, he was looking forward to Little Jacob's call. He was looking forward to getting even with Pegarino. An eye for an eye, and all that.

This was just another one of those moments where he wondered if it wouldn't have been better if he had just died with his friends during the war. If he had been buried with them in that ditch on that rainy day so long ago. Maybe it would have been better . . .

But he'd seen what the guilt had done to Darko, turning him into a mere mockery of a man. The drugs, too, had unhinged him, left him helpless and groveling for death. That was why Niko let him live. Because, for him, living with the guilt was a worse existence than death. Sometimes, he liked to think that his friends would have been proud, watching him walk away after briefly entertaining the idea of blowing the man's brains out. He'd even held it up, aimed it between Darko's crazed eyes, had his tensed finger touch the trigger . . . But in the end, Roman's soft words had broken through the rage-induced fog surrounding his mind. He'd had a point in letting Darko live. Darko deserved to live, if only to suffer.

So, Niko had walked away, ignoring Darko's callous taunts, goading him into making the final shot. Niko didn't listen. He hoped Darko would have a pleasant stay in Liberty City, having no skills, no money, nothing. Like Roman, when he had first arrived. Good luck, you shithead, he had thought, before sliding into Roman's car and driving away.

Even as Niko considered all of this and more, he noticed the sunlight spill in from between his torn blinds, blinding his blood-shot eyes, and with a grunt of agitation, moved onto his other side so the light would not spill onto his face and keep him from drowning in his misery. Only faintly did he realize that it was red sunlight that was streaming in through his window, and remembered that his old-fashioned mother used to say that a red sky usually meant that a heavy rain was coming.

Whatever it meant, he knew that nothing was ever going to be right again.


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