Disclaimer: I own nothing, just a few games.

Please Note: I wrote this over a year ago. It never went onto this site; I had sent it to someone for editing (although I don't remember who), and I just remember them saying something about plotholes. I read it again, and I can't find any noticeable "gaps" in the storyline, although that said, I don't actually own DOA4. So the characterization may seem a little off. Well, I happened to come across it when I did a search for some old fanfiction, and I figured you guys might still enjoy it. So, if you do spot any mistakes, especially plotholes, let me know? I'll do my best to fix it, thanks!

-x-

For a brief moment, it felt like old times. They had worked together as a team; her, Ayane and Hayate. They had even managed to eliminate the plans of DOATEC and destroy Alpha-152 – the Kasumi clone.

Through the entire incident, there was no bitter quarrelling, no insulting comments, no deliberately hurtful conversation. Ayane had been civil enough to her half-siblings, and Kasumi was grateful, although she hid it. Perhaps with the recent events, Kasumi thought as they left the burning building, they could be friends again. Maybe not good friends after so many months, even years, of open hostility and tension, but just friends. That would be nice.

Shortly after they left, Kasumi decided to ignite a conversation. She was determined earlier to see the mission through, then head back to the village, where Hayate would declare the mission she had helped in would free the sentence laid upon her. Kasumi wanted to talk to her half-sibling without anyone else around, and although Hayate argued against it, eventually he resigned, telling her he would meet her back at the village. The brown-haired girl caught up to her younger sibling. Ayane had been walking alone as usual, but this time she had a slightly thoughtful expression on her face. The two had not spoken a word since the helicopter took off in which Ayane had told Kasumi by way of non-verbal actions to stay back out of danger.

"Ayane-san." Kasumi was careful in how she addressed the other girl. It had been such a long time since they'd had a civilised conversation that Kasumi felt Ayane was practically a stranger. The purple-haired girl glanced briefly at her, then returned her gaze to the path in front of them. "I'm heading back to the village and meeting Brother there. Are you going to come with me?"

She was hoping that her younger half-sister would actually reply for once, even if it was just the rude noise she often made to acknowledge that someone she hated had spoken to her, but she was greeted with an ignorant silence. Kasumi tried again, determined not to let this opportunity pass. If Ayane had reacted in an almost co-operative approach to her presence during the events of their mission to destroy DOATEC, then perhaps she hadn't completely decided to break all ties with them. Yet.

"I… we would really enjoy your company. It's been a long time since we've all been together…" Even knowing how terribly awkward that must have sounded to the both of them, given that Kasumi had been a runaway shinobi for months on end, and Ayane had never really been accepted into the Tenjin-Mon clan despite being her half-sister, she continued. "You wouldn't have to stay with us for long. Just to stop by… and perhaps greet everyone. Let them know how things went."

Still, she got no reaction but silence. She wasn't sure if she preferred the ignorant side of Ayane more, or the side that continually spat out offensive insults. While the ignorant side of Ayane tended to be more calm, less volatile when it came to arguments, the offensive insults reassured her that Ayane was at least listening.

"You don't have to…" Kasumi was beginning to feel uneasy. Perhaps Ayane still detested her presence even though she had seemed to tolerate it enough during the mission. "I mean, if you'd rather head back out…?"

Finally, Ayane stopped walking, although she did not face her half-sister. "You're returning to the village?" she asked, only making half an attempt to sound like she wasn't curious.

"Yes." Sensing her sister's confusion, she added, "Brother is going to try and free me from the death penalty, since I helped out with DOATEC." She expected some scornful remark, but instead Ayane remained quiet. Kasumi observed her. "Ayane-san?"

"I was exiled."

Kasumi's eyes widened in shock. "Ayane! But why? What did you do?" she asked before she could stop herself. Her half-sister was sensitive (and offensive) enough when it came to talking about their home village, and she did not want to cause any more tension between them during this walk, seeing as they hadn't had a civil meeting in years, whether unplanned or deliberate.

Ayane debated on telling her anything. She did not want the sympathy. "It happened a long time ago. Despite Hayate's determination to rid the clan of danger, I disposed of the creature known as Omega."

"You disposed -"

The purple-haired kunoichi did not look at her. Her tone almost sounded vacant. "He was not pleased when he heard the news of what I had done. I was sent a message stating that if I were to return, my life would no longer be spared."

Kasumi watched her, saddened by her words. As much as Ayane insisted she detested her half-sister, it was times like this when Kasumi could still sense her insecurity. "Perhaps Brother could -"

Ayane closed her eyes. "It doesn't matter. I wasn't planning on returning," she said. "Genra was the only one to accept me… and now that he is gone, my presence will not be tolerated."

Kasumi wanted so much to at least put a hand on her shoulder as some sort of reassurance, but Ayane had become much like a closed wall to her over the years. She wished desperately that the clan had never become involved in such matter, that things had not come to this. It was perfectly justifiable for them to punish her for being a runaway shinobi; after all, she had gone against the Code, but Ayane had actually assisted them – for the benefit of the clan. It wasn't right for them to do that to her, even if Hayate was in command. "It'll be okay. I can persuade Brother to -"

"It's alright." The older half-sister turned around to stare at her sibling. Ayane's voice almost sounded sad, much unlike the calm, cold demeanour she presented whenever she was in the presence of her half-sister. "It's not like they would accept me anyway. It's better this way."

"Ayane-san…"

"Go on." She had went over to a log to sit down, the golden glow of the sunset passing over her features.

Kasumi stood there. "But Ayane-san…"

For once there wasn't a look of resentment or anger on her face. It actually felt rather unsettling to the shinobi. Instead Ayane seemed to be calm, although Kasumi could detect a hint of sadness underlying her voice. "I'm fine. Just go."

"But you're my –" Dare she say it, the broken connection that the purple-haired kunoichi had despised for so long? Did Ayane truly bury the fact she had once been her sister to the point where it almost wasn't acknowledged anymore?

Unfortunately Ayane had taken her reluctance as an offence, and she raised her gaze to meet her sister's. Accusative crimson challenged gentle amber. Kasumi recovered, inwardly flinching.

"You're my sister."

Ayane stared indifferently at her. Kasumi was not sure if Ayane had really absorbed the words she had just spoken. Probably not, but it was a truth Kasumi had wanted to voice for such a long time, to try and end this constant battle with her sibling.

"Whether you accept it or not, you are my sister. And you – you were my friend. I still loved you as a sister, Ayane-chan."

Please don't shut me out. I want to be your friend again, something I should have made a harder attempt at when we were much younger. I never wanted things to be this way.

At last, the purple-haired kunoichi spoke, although her tone was as vacant as her gaze. "Only half-blood, but that means nothing. I no longer care about friendship."

"But you are still my sister," Kasumi insisted. Was Ayane really past the point of caring, or was it just a façade to act like none of it mattered to keep from taking the risk of survival as kunoichi? A faint smile made its way across her sister's face.

"I was, a long time ago," she admitted softly, a mixture of hurt and anger in her eyes. "But you broke my trust. I had no one. Those who said they were my friends only set out to deceive me. I no longer consider myself as family."

"When did I deceive you?" the older girl protested, tears burning at the back of her eyelids. She didn't want to be seen crying in front of Ayane of all people, but her sister's words cut through her. Had Ayane gone this far to detach herself from all human contact?

Ayane laughed, although it was a humourless laugh, and stood up. "When you set out after Hayate. I can't forgive you for that, ever."

Kasumi went silent, looking away. Her hair shielded her face from view, which was a good thing, because if Ayane had seen the tear that slid down her cheek, she would again be faced with mockery for being 'weak'. Ayane may have been in what one could possibly consider one of her more senile moods, but the old mask was quickly going back into place.

The purple-haired kunoichi contemplated her. "If you've done this to try and regain my friendship, give it up. I will not consider you as a friend. As far as I'm concerned, you are not related to me."

Kasumi wiped the tear and turned back to face her. Her tone was pleading. "Ayane-san… can't we just… forget about all this?"

Ayane's expression hardened. Before, she would have just let Kasumi go on since she had been in one of her tolerable moods, but if she kept begging like this, Ayane would have to deal with her. Her patience was starting to become strained rather quickly, and having the one person in front of her whom she had despised for so many years did not improve her mood. The almost peaceful atmosphere from earlier was rapidly disappearing, and the unspoken tension that usually occurred during a battle between the two sisters was fast approaching. "I cannot forgive you."

"I'm… I'm sorry. For everything."

Ayane regarded her for a moment, then walked past her. The words she responded with were very quiet. "Omega had nothing to do with you."

"Ayane-san," Kasumi began hesitantly. "Why did you go to all this trouble to deal with Omega?"

The purple-haired kunoichi stopped. Her entire body stiffened.

"I just –" Kasumi started to say, then decided how to reword her question. "We all spent time in the tournament to try and prevent DOATEC from accomplishing their plans. I just don't understand why you of all people would go to such lengths for this sort of mission."

As could be expected, Ayane did not answer.

"He meant a lot to you, didn't he?"

Finally she responded, although her tone was like ice. "Speak his name again and I'll cut your throat out."

Kasumi went silent. An apology would not do any good, especially with her half-sister. Too much pain had been dealt upon Ayane. She was emotionally damaged beyond any sort of compassion. By this time, Hayate had approached them. His gaze casually swept past the stiffened figure of Ayane, then switched over to Kasumi.

"Are you coming? We need to get back by nightfall."

Kasumi watched Ayane. "Please come back with us, Ayane-san."

"She won't be welcome," Hayate supplied unnecessarily. The younger girl did not acknowledge the full meaning of that simple statement. She began to walk off, her shoulders still tense, not bothering to look back.

Kasumi attempted to heal the rift between them one last time. "I meant it. Ayane-san… what I said earlier. I really am sorry."

Ayane said nothing and continued to walk off into the distance.

Hayate looked at Kasumi. "Let it go, little sister." The endearment, something she had not heard in months since he was held captive, should have comforted her somewhat, but she barely took notice of it this time. Her gaze was focused on the figure in front of them, steadily disappearing off into the darkening horizon.

"As she said, it's better if she did not return. She would be killed upon arrival because she went against my command." His tone became more neutral now, business-like. "We have better things to do than to try and spare the life of one who went against the law."

Kasumi visibly flinched, her gaze full of sadness. "I went against the Code, Brother. Why should she be treated any differently?"

"You helped with the mission of DOATEC," he responded coolly. Now was not the time for an emotional debate.

"So did she," she argued, although knowing it would be futile.

"Kasumi."

"She is still my sister." Kasumi's eyes filled with tears of frustration.

"Half-sister," he corrected almost carelessly. She glared at him, wiping her eyes. She was tired of this; having to constantly defend the one person that detested her the most, but also having to prove Ayane was still a person. Why couldn't they just accept her? What did it take for them to realise that Ayane was no different, just because of her blood?

"Since when did that matter? Brother…" Her voice wavered with defeat. "We used to be such good friends. We used to be really close. Why did things have to be like this? Why?!" Without waiting for an answer, she brushed past him and continued ahead, holding back tears. Hayate followed close behind, but remained quiet. She would never understand the difference between a half-blood kunoichi and a full-blooded kunoichi, and the impact it would have as an honourable clan.

But as he walked back with her to the village, one thought lingered in the back of his mind.

Some things just could not fixed once they had changed.

-x-

Completed: July. 4th, 2006