Paying in Blood

Chapter 1: Hurt

Before we begin, I heavily encourage you to put on the song Hurt. And make sure it's the Johnny Cash version. It only works if it's the Johnny Cash version.

I hurt myself today

To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

The only thing that's real

The needle tears a hole

The old familiar sting

Try to kill it all away

But I remember everything

What have I become

My sweetest friend

Everyone I know

Goes away

In the end

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns

Upon my liar's chair

Full of broken thoughts

I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time

The feelings disappear

You are someone else

I am still right here

What have I become

My sweetest friend

Everyone I know

Goes away

In the end

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

If I could start again

A million miles away

I would keep myself

I would find away.

Aeris shut off the radio, put her paw in her face, and sighed. Two years ago today... that was the day her life began to take it's downward spiral. It was too painful to remember... but it was something that was always on her mind. The hours of tense waiting, praying to God that he was still alive... all of that was for nothing when the police found his broken, bloodied body in the dumpster. Aeris had thrown up when she saw the state that he was in, after that, she had cried. She cried to the heavens that the person who she considered her best friend was killed in such a horrible and malevolent way. She screamed his name so many times, there was no way that she would ever forget it as long as she lived.

"Leo...", Aeris murmured herself as she rubbed her face a little. She then took her paw away from her face, and proceeded to move it across the counter, to where she had left her bottle of scotch, when the phone rang. Groaning to herself, Aeris got up and moved to the phone, and grumbled angrily, "Yeah, who is it?"

"Hi Aeris.", said a chirpy, yet audibly concerned voice on the other end, "Just checking in... seeing how you were doing."

Aeris sighed, knowing automatically who it was, "I'm fine, Ashley. Never better."

Ashley Moore was one of Aeris's most close friends. Along with Leo, Ashley's boyfriend Shawn, and their other friends Shannon, Ronny, and Clarissa, they were all friends since high school, and stuck together. However, Leo's death struck a blow to them all, Aeris more than the others. She drifted from them, and only rarely saw them. The one she came into most contact with was Ashley, and that was mostly over the phone.

Ashley made a concerned noise, and said, "Aeris... you and I both know what today is..."

"Yeah, I know.", Aeris said, acting more terse than she usually was.

"Are... do you want to talk about it?", the cat on the other end asked.

"No.", Aeris said flatly.

"Oh.", Ashley said, her voice deflating. She then said, "...It was hard on all of us Aeris... you do know that, right?"

There was silence, and then Aeris sighed deeply, her walls coming down a little, "Yeah... yeah, I know. But... you don't understand, Ashley..."

"Why?", she asked, "Why wouldn't I understand? Is it because of how he died?"

"...We both know that it was my fault, Ashley...", Aeris said, her eyes starting to water a little.

"No, it wasn't.", Ashley countered, "How could you know that he was going to be taken by gangsters?"

"I should've went with him, Ashley...", Aeris answered automatically, not even considering Ashley's reasoning, "The guy they wanted wasn't friends with a pink girl... they would've known that..."

Ashley was silent for a moment, trying to think about how best to proceed. However, Aeris took this moment to continue, "Those... fuckers just took him, and killed him... and he wasn't even the right guy..."

Ashley sighed, "Aeris... there's nothing you can do about it now... you just have to accept it and move on."

"I can't...", she said, "I just... I can't, Ashley..."

"Why not?", her friend asked, "Please... it's what he would have wanted."

There was that old chestnut again. 'It's what he would've wanted.'. Bullshit. What he would've wanted was for her to find the people responsible and kill them until they couldn't be killed anymore. Of course, that's what she wanted to say. But what she did say was, "Yeah... yeah, I know..."

There was silence for a while longer, but Ashley then said, you know, Aeris... we were planning on having a get together tonight... you know, to celebrate him."

Aeris briefly considered it, but overall, she just said, "No, thank you... I just... I feel like I should be alone for a while."

"You've been alone for two years, Aeris.", Ashley countered, "I don't think that you can keep acting all distant from us. We're all friends. I don't want to see you get hurt.

Aeris didn't say anything for a while. She just said, "...I just have some business to take care of. I... I want to see him. Just alone."

Ashley paused, but she sighed and said, "Okay Aeris, you win. You can go visit him alone. But please, just meet or talk to one of us. I beg you."

"Yeah, sure.", Aeris said tersely, before saying, "See ya, Ash.", and hanging up the phone.

Indeed, she had already wanted to visit her best friend's grave for a while. It just felt like today was the most appropriate. She had even picked up some flowers for him. Blue ones, of course... the color always reminded her of his clothes. It wasn't a long drive to the cemetery, but it still felt as though it took forever. This wasn't helped by Aeris looking forward the whole time in a state of both boredom and depression. Not to mention, this kept her from noticing that a burgundy van was tailing her...

A while later, she made it to the cemetery, and to his grave, which read:

Leo Leonardo the Third


Beloved Son and Friend

She read the inscription numerous times. It was both somehow comforting and revolting, in that she knew that he was always her friend, but that he was still dead and gone, never to surface on this Earth again. Tears welling in her eyes, she placed the flowers in front of the gravestone, and said, "Hey... guess I haven't been visiting as often as I should, huh?"

A silent wind blew past her. She imagined that it was him saying, "Yeah, what gives? I haven't seen you in like... forever!"

Aeris chuckled, despite herself, "It's just been hard Leo... so, so hard... I never knew how much I would miss you until you just..."

"Hey, it's okay.", she imagined him telling her, "You just gotta keep positive!"

"...It used to be easy to do that when you were around.", she said, eyes glazing with tears, "But now... I can't even look our friends in the eyes..."

"But Aeris...", his imagined voice said, "It wasn't your fault."

"I know...", she replied, "But everyday, I think of even more what-ifs..."

"Those don't get you anywhere.", said a voice that was decidedly not imaginary.

Aeris yipped in fright, turning around to discover that a cat was standing behind her. He was of medium build, only a little more taller than her. His fur was of pure black, and the parts that weren't black were a stormy grey color. Sunglasses covered his eyes, despite the cloudy weather, and his face seemed rather impassive, if a little saddened, in a way.

Aeris immediately went into angry mode upon seeing this person, saying, "What the Hell was that all about!?"

The cat put his hands up in a defensive expression, saying, "Sorry, sorry. I was just walking past and I noticed you were talking to the guy underground."

Aeris was silent. She then slapped him across the face. Guy underground? Had he no respect? Had he not the cognitive function of being able to word his sentences better? No matter the case, he didn't seem effected by the attack. In fact, she could've sworn he smiled! Angered, she turned back around to Leo's grave and said, "What do you want?"

The cat came closer to her and said, "I came to help."

"I don't need a psychiatrist.", Aeris said, frustrated, "I'm only a few anti-depressants away from overdose."

"Not that kind of help.", he said, leaning closer, "I know who did it."

Aeris' mind froze. He... knew who killed Leo? Now he had her attention. She turned her head to him, and as coolly as she could muster, she said, "I'm listening."

"Alright.", he said before continuing, "The guy's name is Frank 'Terrier' MacCaffry. He's the head of numerous local black markets and gangs."

A name. Finally, a name to put to the killer. How she loathed that name. She then said, "And he was the one who ordered the hit?"

The cat nodded, "Ordered, carried out, and succeeded in. And he's also the cause of numerous deaths every year."

Aeris figured that a gangster would probably be at the center of a lot of deaths. Now, she could possibly trust this guy, but then she asked, "...What's your stake in this?"

The cat sighed to himself, and said, "Pretty much the same as you..."

Clearly, he wasn't going into any more detail, so she settled on what he told her. And then she asked, "So, why come to me?"

"Because you're going to help me take down Terrier and his groups.", he said, completely sure of himself.

At any other time, Aeris would've calculated risks, rewards, pros, cons, possibility of death, what have you. But when vengeance is within your grasp, she didn't hesitate to say, "I'll help."

The cat smiled and said, "I knew you'd say that.", before turning around and heading back to his van, continuing with, "Follow me. Let's get you situated."

Aeris was about to follow, but before she did, she turned back to the grave and said, "I'll make it up to you Leo. I'll kill them all."

She then quickly caught up to the cat and said, "By the way, what's your name."

"Eli.", he said, without skipping a beat, "The names Eli."

And finally, it's here. Paying in Blood. I hope that I can do the story justice. Now, for the news. I'm working very hard on things to write, don't worry. Feral should be coming next. However, there's another project that I'm doing I think you guys will enjoy. Just go to my DevientArt page ( ), and look up the MST. I plan to make more, and I want feedback. Also, this is more of a preview than anything else. Don't expect more from this story for a while. Anyway, Read and Review! Please.