(Aiden Von Duell)

"Aethel Lyona Blackfoot, you are hereby sentenced to death for the following: One – Upon the willing disconnection to the Blackfoot Clan you agreed to the terms of the Laws set by our Ancestors. You have, willingly, decided to run away from-"


All eyes turned to the clan Atya. Simba stood up from an iron balcony on the far wall of the building. From where I was perched in the catwalks of the ceiling, Simba was torn. His mind was erratic as he stared down from his place to the obviously scared girl on the death line. I watched intently, knowing I shouldn't be here, but I needed to see this. I needed to tell Shiro, but now I don't think I can. Shiro was a good friend of mine, how do you tell your friend that the person they love was killed for loving them back?

"Aethel," Simba said. "You made a promise to your father. You said you'd follow the plan he had for you, you said you'd make him happy and proud. But you didn't. You ignored everything from the beginning of the move up to now. You denied me as your mate, you gave up on the clan, you ran away from us when all we wanted to do was help you.

"When I found you, I wanted to bring you home. I wanted to help you through whatever it was you were going through. Then you disconnected from the clan and named me Atya of your inheritance. You walked away without giving me a chance to speak, and then I come back a few days later to hear that you were gone.

"Your scent is strong with werewolf, Aethel. We can only assume that you were smart and didn't do anything more than touch. Werewolves are our enemy, and you willingly moved in with them, took care of a youngling… you knowingly broke Werecat Law."

Simba stopped and closed his eyes. Through his little speech, his words got faster and angrier with every moment. As he tried to calm himself down, I looked back over to my friend. She had her head down and her shoulders were shaking. Not enough for others to notice, but I saw it. She was regretting everything Simba was saying because it was exactly what happened, and my heart went out to her.

She slowly picked her head up and tried to dry the tears from her eyes. In her movement, her eyes locked with mine. She knew I was here but she pulled her eyes away to keep me concealed from the rest of the gathered. I was intruding on something that didn't concern me or the Vampires. If I was caught, we'd lose the alliance. But I was here for information and I was here out of guilt.

"Being Atya of your clan," Simba continued, "I have an obligation to my people. You fall under my jurisdiction and I find it as part of an Atya to be as fair as I can be. It was how Levi acted."

From what I know of Werecats, they don't usually go off on their tradition like this. It was greatly frowned upon. But the lack of debate from the convened towards what Simba was doing gave me enough of an idea at how revered Aethel's father was as an Atya if he did the same thing.

"Aethel, I'm giving you another chance," he said. "I'll allow you citizenship in the clan again. I'll allow you to return to the Apartment Building in Buffalo, I'll allow you the right to mate any werecat male you see fit. In exchange, you have to sever your ties to the werewolves you have befriended. All of the ties."

It was dead silent in the room. My mouth opened at the offer Simba was making to Aethel. This was unheard of in the werecat community and not even the higher-ups present didn't retort to what Simba was doing. My eyes shot to Aethel as she stared down at the ground. My hand fisted, my nails digging into my palm.

Take the offer, I urged. Please, Aethel, take the offer and save your life. You're much too young to die.

Her head lifted up and her entire aura changed. Her eyes were bright and they were focused right onto Simba's. Her shoulders were back, her chest out in front of her slightly and she stood tall and proud. I smiled because I knew she made the right decision.

"If I did that, I'd be living a lie," she said. "I love Shiro. I loved him the moment our lips touched for the first time at the rave. He kissed me the night I came to visit my mother. If I take your offer, I'll break it and go right back to him."

I watched with wide eyes as Simba's demeanor went hard and cold. His offer was spat back into his face and he didn't like that. Deep down, he despised the werewolves, and so any lover of one was his enemy, no matter who it was.

"Aethel Blackfoot," he said, his hand hovering over a red button on the iron rail. "I hereby sentence you to burn for your sins. May Bastet be merciful on you."

I watched with pain in my heart as Simba's hand fell on the glowing red button. Flames shot up around Aethel in an instant and engulfed her in an orange blanket from which she'll never return. Through the flames I could see her body, kneeling at the base of the iron pole she was chained to. She didn't scream, she didn't fuss; she only allowed the fire to consume her in its hot grip.

The smell of burning flesh was strong a few minutes later. I involuntarily wriggled my nose at the scent, but my eyes stayed trained on the flames and at the now lifeless, charred body that was once Aethel. I shook my head at her decision, mostly because I didn't want to tell Shiro this. I had her scent on me from the night she was taken. He would know I was there and he'd probably blame me for not helping her when I could have.

I'd deserve it. I left all too soon that night and she was captured. I should have stayed and kept an eye and an ear open for her. But I didn't. I assumed she'd be okay, but petty assumptions seem to have gotten many of us into an untimely mess that won't go away.

I wish that everything could start back at the beginning. I want that to happen.

We rarely ever get what we want.

( W.K )

I stood at the end of the driveway to the Urufu house about four days after Aethel's death. Shiro was worried sick about her by now and he'd called me several times to see if she came back to Hotel Von Duell. I put on a façade and told him I didn't know where she was and that I haven't seen her since she was moved to his place by his brothers.

I had a good mind to turn around and go back home. In fact, I was going to just when a car pulled up into the driveway. It was Mitsuo's car, and Shiro was in it. He saw me and jumped out before it even came to a complete stop. He shook me, asking me if I had any information on Aethel. Luckily for me, Jiro was also there and he caught my worried look before Shiro could. He was sent inside while I told Jiro briefly what happened.

I could tell the wolf was upset as well as sad. I'd never seen him this way in all the years I've known him from Stewart. Then he snickered, but it was a bitter sound. I didn't have to probe his mind for the thought that made him do that. I remember all too well what Aethel said to me that first night when I told her about the Urufu family.

"Don't blame yourself," I said gently. "It's not your fault she thought like that. It was the way she was raised."

A sound in the direction of the house made us look to see Shiro standing a few yards away from us. His skin was pale, his eyes wide and his heartbeat was fast. He was in obvious disbelief when it finally clicked in his mind what had happened. He was smart when he wanted to be.

Then the disbelief turned to sadness, then anger at me as he send rude remarks into my mind, and finally utter agony.

"All those times I called you lied to me!" he seethed. "You didn't know where she was… LIKE HELL YOU DIDN'T! Damn you, Aiden! Damn you!" He pulled at his hair and growled loudly before taking off around the house and disappearing into the woods in the back. Jiro did nothing to stop him and he kept the others from going after him as they all came out to see what the fuss was about. They all looked to me and I gave them the images I had from my mind so I didn't have to say it verbally. Goro, Mitsuo, Rokuro, and Shizuko all dropped their heads.

I decided it was a god idea to leave, but before I did, I found Shiro's mind and gave him the memory of her last words to Simba about him, how she loved him from first kiss. It put him to peace, but I wasn't sure for how long.

About a week or two later I was in Jiro's Mythology class when an assistant teacher came in with a note for Jiro. I was mildly curious about the look on Jiro's face. I looked around and saw that everyone else was delved deep into their tests. He looked at me, his eyes saying too much. My mouth dropped open for a moment before I closed it and left my seat.

We both got into the main office and Daichi was there. His eyes were dark and his forhead was furrowed in anger and a little pain. We all went into the Headmaster's office and my father was there. He too was worried and that only made me more upset than I was already. Daichi told us everything with one sentence.

"He drowned himself in the Tonawanda Creek."

Well, that said it all. I sighed and left the office and just walked right out of the building into the back alley. From there I moved myself over to Batavia near the creek and scanned it for the police tape. I found it and I walked right up to the edge where Shiro must have thrown himself from. I looked around. It was a good spot. Not easily seen from anywhere unless you were in a helicopter and coming north. I picked up a fair sized rock the size of my palm and heaved it into the water, making it splash up into my eye.

Fate has an awesome way of fucking up friendships and lives. I bet none of this would have happened if that one pack of wolves didn't kill her father all those years ago. Maybe they'd still be alive and partying out at Raves. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want that. I did.

You never get what you want… especially when two of your best friends die in a Romeo and Juliet parody. But this time, Juliet didn't wake to find her Romeo dead.

"Now what?"

My father walked up next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. I stared at the thinning ripples my stone made, as did he.

"I think you know," he said. "There's really only one thing we can do now."

"I don't want to."

"None of us do. But there's no point in trying to change it. What's done is done. We can either learn from it or ignore it. Either way you look at it, it's life, and life sucks."

Yeah. Life sucks, plain and simple. But we're here, and life is just another game we have to keep playing until something better comes along.

I just wish I knew what that better thing would be.