DISCLAIMER:

The characters from Dead or Alive belong to Team Ninja. All others are mine. This story is an unauthorised work done purely for my personal enjoyment, and is not intended to infringe on any of their rights in or their profits from these characters. But this story is copy write to me.

Comments, especially (constructive) criticism, always welcomed. Please e-mail me at

m452shakespeareyahoo.co.uk

Mother's Day

She waited until the tea had been poured for her son and daughter. They both looked so elegant and poised, him in a white kimono decorated with the outlines of dragons picked out in gold thread, her in red set with pink rose petals, offsetting her russet coloured hair perfectly. Both waited obediently for the servant to leave and for their mother to pick up her own cup, before they raised their cups to sip their tea.

"It is good to see you again, Hayate. After you went missing, I feared that I would never see you again. I heard rumours that Raidou - ". Her voice caught in her throat at the mention of that name, and the young man and woman waited for her to continue.

"I heard that he had been responsible for your disappearance." Her soft voice tried, but failed, to hide the pain that name conjured up, even after so many years had passed.

"Yes, Mother." Hayate bowed his head respectfully. Though he might be the leader of the Mugen-Tenshin clan now, he still showed proper deference to his parents - at least, when he was not acting as clan leader.

"He had me attacked in Germany, so that I lost my memory of who I was." If it hadn't been for Hitomi and her father finding me and tending my wounds, I might not be here today. I owe them both so much .....

"And you were the one to find him, cause him to regain his memory and bring him back?" Ayame turned her head to her daughter. She noticed that Kasumi was no longer a girl, but a beautiful young woman. Part of her rejoiced to see her own offspring come to such fruition, another part mourned that she had not been there to witness the transformation.

She is so beautiful, she makes a mother proud to see her. They are both such a credit to their father and I, and to the whole clan.

Kasumi smiled at her mother, and shook her head. "I found him, yes, but it was Ryu Hayabusa who caused him to remember himself."

The younger woman smiled demurely at the name. She was in love with the handsome ninja, though they both behaved most properly around each other.

The older woman noticed something in her eyes, but said nothing. She turned her head to gaze at her son. "I had heard that you had been forced to declare sentence of death on your sister. Is that so?"

Hayate nodded. "Yes, Ayame-san. It was clan law, and even a leader cannot break the law, not if he or she wants to remain as leader. I did, however, ensure that the task was a low priority, and that false information ensured that there were no more than two attempts on her life in the last two and a half years. It was all that I could do." Though I wish I could have done more.

Kasumi put her hand on the arm of her beloved brother. "Do not torture yourself, Hayate. I knew that you would have to give the order. It was worth it, to see you whole again."

I would do the same again, were the situation to arise.

He smiled at her. The bond between them was evident for all to see, and Ayame rejoiced at the love they so obviously shared. She sipped her tea, and the two siblings waited for her to continue.

Hayate took the time to look around the room. As he would have expected from his mother, the place was immaculately furnished in traditional Japanese style. There were decorative panels depicting cranes and chrysanthemums, motifs showing Mount Fuji, fishermen hard at work bringing in their catches. The sun shone through the open wall panel, its bright yellow light throwing the burnished wood floor and simple, yet elegant, hangings into sharp relief.

He glanced sideways at his sister. She seemed so glad to be with her mother after two years of running, and he had to hide a smile at the look of pleasure on her young face. I have missed seeing her smile.

"So how did you convince the clan to lift the kill order, Hayate?" Ayame's soft voice jolted him from his thoughts, and he reddened slightly as he realised he'd been staring at his sister's sweet face. She was blushing under his scrutiny.

"We found out about a plan to destroy the clan that had been hatched by the DOATEC corporation, and we stopped it before it could be implemented. For her part in the mission, Kasumi was pardoned by the Elders." Hayate remembered the joy on his sister's face when they heard the news that she would be readmitted to the clan, her past transgression forgotten.

Kasumi took up the tale, her high voice picking up where he had left off as if they shared the same mind. "Yes, the three of us - Hayate, Ayane and myself - managed to break into their genetic engineering complex and destroy the manufactured monsters they were on the verge of mass-producing. We then eradicated the information in their computer systems, and blew the building up, to end the threat forever."

The flame-haired young woman smiled, thinking of the three of them cooperating against a common foe. Kasumi was proud to remember her little sister slaying the largest and most powerful monster using Genra's sword.

Indeed, it had been the purple-haired girl who had originally uncovered the plot, through her connections to the criminal underworld through her work as an assassin. She had contacted Hayate, who had in turn informed Kasumi.

The orange-haired ninja had been surprised at how little protest her half-sister had made at her presence. It seemed that the events of Genra's death had mellowed Ayane's antipathy to Kasumi - she had even been civil during the mission, and afterwards.

Ayame's voice cut into her musings. "I am surprised you allowed that girl to accompany you. She hates you, you know, she will be the death of you. She has tried to kill you before." The older woman's normally warm voice was cold.

"And this time she was fighting at our side. Without her, we would not have known of the threat, let alone been able to eliminate it." Kasumi's voice was firm - she would not allow her mother to belittle the contribution of the one who had made the mission possible. Her gaze slid sideways.

"That girl is cold-hearted, Kasumi. You must not put any trust in her. She will never love you, she is incapable of loving another."

"Perhaps I can only give love where it is given, Mother."

The words were softly-spoke, yet all could hear the underlying hurt and bitterness. Hayate turned his head to look at his half-sister.

Ayane knelt in the same formal pose as her half-siblings, dressed in a beautiful lilac-coloured kimono decorated with purple butterflies. Her gaze was fixed on the wall in front of her, as if she could not bring herself to look at the others, her hands in her lap. She had remained silent throughout the conversation, until now.

Hayate winced when he noticed that no tea had been placed before her - a deliberate snub. If she had been served, it might have been taken to indicate that her presence was welcome ....

"Have you ever loved anyone other than yourself, Ayane?"They were the first words that Ayame had spoken directly to the girl, the first time her presence had been acknowledged.

"Mother!" Kasumi was shocked. She knew, of course, that their mother had never accepted her youngest daughter, but she hadn't expected such open hostility. Ayame was normally so kind and understanding, hating nothing and no-one.

"I loved you once, Mother." Until I realised that you would never love me back remained unsaid.

Silence descended at her words, and Hayate and Kasumi shifted uncomfortably. He, in particular, felt that the bad feeling evident between mother and daughter was partly his fault. He'd ordered Ayane to accompany them against her will. He'd ignored her protestations that Ayame would not want to see her.

"She is your mother. It is your duty to come with us." The words echoed in his head.

If only I could turn back time ......

"You must understand, Ayane. I do not hate you, yet I cannot love you. When I see you, I am reminded of how you were conceived. It would have been better had you not come." The two women gazed into each others' eyes, as if seeking a common ground they would never find, or perhaps reaching agreement on what the future between them must be.

Crimson eyes slid sideways to regard her half-brother. "I had no choice." Ayane's gaze moved back to the woman who had given birth to her. "Do you wish me to stay?"

"Ayane, you can't just leave!" Kasumi was shocked at the suggestion. "It isn't ri - "

"No. I do not want you here. Your presence pains me." The words fell like stones into the sudden silence. The two older siblings looked shocked, but Ayane simply nodded in understanding and acceptance.

The lavender-haired kunoichi rose gracefully to her feet, and turned her head to regard Ayame. "And that is why I stayed away for two years." She took a deep breath. "Do you wish to see me ever again?"

Kasumi and Hayate stared at their mother, holding their breaths against her response. The older sister felt her nails digging into the palm of her hand as she waited for her mother to answer the question.

........

"No. I do not."

........

"Then so be it." A deep, formal bow from the waist, and Ayane turned and walked silently from the room.

" ... was good to see her again after all that time. I can't believe the clan kept her in ignorance of so much of what was going on!" Hayate was indignant at the treatment of the wife of the clan's former leader, his mother. "They should have kept her informed!"

"I know." Kasumi sighed as they walked towards the path back towards the village. "She was badly treated." Then she stopped. "And she was not the only one." She nodded her head in the direction of Ayane, who was sitting on a log, two ninjas from the clan either side of her. The siblings approached, Hayate staring at the two men.

"Is there a problem here?"

"No sir. It's just that the Elders wanted to make sure that the Exile here", he indicated Ayane with a gesture, "doesn't try to break the terms of her exile by wandering about clan territory."

The clan leader's eyes narrowed dangerously. It was one thing to have to pronounce her exile for disobeying his orders and slaying Genra in his place, but for the clan to treat her as a potential traitor .....!!

Before he could say anything, Kasumi jumped in. "I would suggest you remember that 'the Exile', as you call her, just helped to save the clan! If she was to be a traitor, she could simply have waited for the Mugen-Tenshin to be annihilated."

The older sister was angry at the insinuation that Ayane would do something to betray the clan whilst back on clan ground. Why did they always have to think the worst of her?

I know why they act the way they do, but they're wrong! She isn't the one to blame for Mother's rape, Raidou was ! Why won't they see that?!

Hayate cut in. "She is here because I asked her to come with us. Do the Elders doubt my judgment that much, that they think I would bring a danger to the clan into their midst?"

Before either sibling could say anything else, Ayane got to her feet. "You can both shut up. I know when I'm not welcome." She turned to look back at their mother's house. For an instant, something could be seen in her eyes. Regret perhaps, longing, anguish ...... farewell.

Then she stared Hayate in the eye. "There'll never be a welcome for me here. Not now Genra's gone. Don't ask me to come back here again."

With that, she turned on her heel and strode away from the village, shadowed by the two ninjas. Before she had gone fifty yards, she stopped and turned to face her half-siblings.

"My thanks for exiling me!" she called. "I now have an excuse to stay as far away from here as possible!" With a mocking bow, she was gone into the gathering dusk.

FIN

Well, a change of pace for me with this one! I know that Ayame doesn't come over as very sympathetic, but I feel that the likelihood is that even someone as generous as her might struggle to love a child conceived by rape. But feel free to disagree!