Before you start wondering, I've made a decision to put all my short stories under a different pen-name. So this is Kurmoi, just under a different pen-name, and all my short stories go here.

Just so you don't get confused. ^_^

*

"She's dead,"

Those simple words had sent her mind into complete and utter turmoil. With her death was what she lived to do, her goal. Now that it had been achieved, notably not by her, she had no goal, nothing to wake up knowing she had to do. No purpose whatsoever.

In the back of her mind, she almost missed her half sister, something seemingly incomprehensible for the lavender-haired kunoichi. Before Kasumi had been overly favoured by her brother, a favouritism which she herself had wanted which was what had caused the rift between them in the beginning, they had got on alright. Not overly fantastic, but alright.

She looked over at the current person of her life to a lesser extent (nobody would really be the make or break in her life, but he was a nice guy), who, even though they had begun their meeting on a bad note, was the only other person to truly accept her for what she was, as opposed to everybody else. The other exception to that had been her. She accepted everybody for who they were, but even still. She had been so perfect, the apple of Hayate's eye. How she herself had wanted to claim that title, have somebody who cared for her and loved her as obviously as Hayate had cared for his little sister.

But she knew that it could never have been. She wasn't Hayate's. Because of the scandal that her birth had caused, she wasn't completely his, unlike her. She had just wanted to be noticed, wanted to be loved instead of pushed away. And Hayate didn't show that, the dreaded 'l' word which ninjas just couldn't seem to comprehend into their bloodstained lives.

She didn't feel for Hayate anymore. It could have been that his coldness had finally got to her, forced her to give up her wish of being with him, realised it could never be. She had his best friend, instead. After them both finally opening up to each other, they had somehow just ended up together. And in an odd sense, she liked it. He didn't mind her being cold and bloodthirsty. He didn't mind if she had to kill to survive. He could relate totally. She liked that.

"You miss her, don't you," Ryu said simply. It wasn't a question.

She frowned, glaring at the wall indignantly. She didn't like him being a mind-reader. She opted for ignorance, instead.

"I don't know what you're talking about,"

She heard Ryu sigh, and she knew what he was sighing about. For some odd reason, as opposed to the Mugen-Tenshin themselves taking it upon themselves to assassinate the runaway kunoichi, Hayate had opted for his best friend to do it. Why, she still didn't understand, but he had. And she could tell that it was going to haunt him for a long time.

"Don't act coy, Ayane, you're so bad at it," he said softly. She tilted his head so that he was looking at her. His emerald green eyes were staring at something beyond, his facial expression apathetic as always.

Did she miss Kasumi? For so long now, she had wanted to dispose of the competition. Now she could have Hayate all to herself. But now, she didn't want Hayate. She sighed. I don't know why, I must be going insane. But I want Kasumi to come back. It's not the same without her. There's nobody for me to bitch constantly about, there's nobody for Hayate to compare me to, there's nobody for Ryu to protect. Everybody's lives have changed without her.

Ayane frowned again. Kasumi was the rotten apple. She should be grateful that Ryu had done the job and got her killed. Somebody had to do it, after all.

But that someone should have been me. But of course, dear lord Hayate didn't trust me with the job. He never does. I must have been an idiot to fall in love with that arrogant, pathetic excuse for a man. "No, I don't miss her," she snapped. "Why should I? With her out of the way, there's no more use for the clan to be in chaos. Hayate can get over himself, although that could be difficult on account of how much 'big head' there is for him to get over. You don't have to worry about protecting a stupid kunoichi who was foolish enough to run away in the first place. Why would I miss her after all that?"

The super ninja's cool green eyes stared back at her. "You miss her,"

"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped.

Memories. When she had been bullied by those other children from the clan because of her illegitimate birth, and…

'Leave her alone!' the young and indignant Kasumi exclaimed. 'She did nothing to you!'

'Kasumi…' the equally young Ayane protested. 'I can handle this myself!'

The young Kasumi made a face at the boys, before getting into her fighting position adamantly.

'That may be so, Ayane, but friends help each other. I'm going to stay,'

Ayane sighed, brushing her lavender hair away from her face.

The only reason that we stopped being friends as such was because I was so jealous of her being on such good terms with Hayate when he seemingly detested me. We could have been on good terms. It didn't have to end like this. Funny how it was her death that made me realise that maybe it wasn't so deserved after all, she wasn't such a bad person.

"Ayane? Are you alright?" at the sound of Ryu's voice, she zoned back into reality, and she nodded blankly, before trying to think of a normal thing to say to try and at least pretend that she hadn't been caught off guard.

"Onto a different subject. What's for dinner?" she asked hastily.

"Strawberry millefeuille," Ryu said simply. She stared at him in shock, pushing away from him so abruptly that he stumbled at the force of her push, before running out of the room. Ryu shook his head as he watched her go, not bothering, or perhaps just not wanting to go after her.

"She really does care, after all. I knew it was there somewhere,"