Visitation

A/N: Don't own Tekken. Here I was, thinking my creativity well was tapped, when POP! This thing's conceived. And yeah, inspired in part by the recent Anna/Nina fics I read when I came back from a really bleak holiday(which I believed would wipe out what was left of my muse; thank God this isn't the case, cuz I've also been inspired to write a new KazJun; should be up in a few days), but contains much less of the hatred-bitterness factor on Anna's part, so I'm not sure if the two of them are fully in character. But oh well, the sisters deserve a break, don't they?

"-But you can't possibly go, Nina; Mum and Dad won't stand for it!"

Anna Williams' high-pitched plea was thoroughly lost on her sister Nina, who continued to sit stoically at the dressing table, methodically applying her make-up. With my make-up kit, too! Anna realised with a pang.

"Nina!" she persisted. " I will tell them, you know!"

Nina Williams finally jerked her head away from the mirror. Her cerulean-blue eyes narrowed with displeasure as they alighted on her sister. " It'll be your word against mine. Who do you think they'll believe?" The confidence in those cold words sank Anna's heart, but nothing could have prepared her for what came next. "And... my dear sister, you tell them, and I will cancel you."

This last part was uttered in a low, vehement hiss that sent shivers down Anna's spine, because, as with everything else Nina said to her, she never for a second doubted its truth.

"I suggest you make yourself scarce, Anna, " Nina continued, nonchalantly looking through the drawers for the right shade of lipstick." Because Natasha will be here in a little while."

"Natasha? Nina, that girl is a right witch!" Anna fumed, the colour rising in her cheeks. Natasha Dulgorova was Nina's best friend. A Russian Mob princess, she was exotic and utterly shameless, delighting in only three things: Parading around the girls' dorms in nothing but nylon briefs, seducing the boys from the military school that neighboured her all-girls boarding school, and joining Nina in Anna's systematic torture.

"You know, " Nina drawled, setting down a bottle of perfume. " I could hardly allow a silly little girl like you to stand there and bad-mouth my best friends, in front of me. You're lucky I'm in a good mood. Now scram. I don't want you missing any of those Tom&Jerry reruns, then whining to me about it. Oh, and by the way," She suddenly bent down and retrieved a pair of heels from underneath the table-Anna's favourite pair. " I'm taking these. What can I say? Boys are quite the suckers for them," she finished dispassionately, rolling her eyes, before putting them on and leaving for another night of drunken summer revelry.

XXXXXXX

They've always said that, for boarding school students especially, summer constitutes a time of unlimited freedom, but for one Anna Williams, there was nothing even remotely liberating about sitting at the neighbours' home, babysitting their toddler daughter, and missing out on all the heaps of fun her older sister was sure to be having, as she danced and drank the evening away.

And then the fateful phone call came.

Anna had just been going through yet another tiresome volume of Barney&Friends, wondering when, if ever, would the wide-awake little girl succumb to sleep, when her cell phone rang. Anna's parents had been out of town for a few days now, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Mum on the caller ID. Maybe her mother wanted to wish her a good night?

How naive could she be sometimes!

"Anna?" came her mother's distressed voice.

"Wh-" But Anna wasn't given a chance.

"Listen to me, Anna, your father just got a call from the hospital. They told us Nina's been in some sort of car accident, she's just been admitted. You-"

Anna's reaction was instinctive, and nobody was as struck by its sincerity than she was. "Oh my God!" Her voice was faint, a contrast to her mother's near hysterical tone, and a hand quickly fluttered to her mouth.

"What's going on Anna? Don't you know anything about this? What was Nina doing?"

Anna could not reply. She was momentarily distracted by another much stronger, and much less desirable reaction that was beginning to take hold of her. She felt a strange little flutter in the pit of her stomach, and her heart began to perform backflips and somersaults. It took her two seconds to place that new and strange feeling-happiness!- and by then, this little Gollum-like demon that resided within her was jumping up for joy, yelling " YES, YES, OH, YES!!" quite gleefully and dementedly. It more than frightened her.

XXXXXXX

When Anna finally hung up, she felt a light tug on her sleeve, and there was the little girl she was supposed to be putting to sleep, pointing at the TV set and muttering, "You gonna take me to see Barney?"

Anna absent-mindedly stroked her, crooning in a calm, collected voice she did not recognise as her own, "Of course, sweetie, but first there's this funeral I can't miss." A wave of savage pleasure followed this, quickly replaced by an overwhelmingly sickening sensation, and Anna was suddenly racing for the bathroom, the sinister chorus of "YES" 's reverberating in her ears.

XXXXXXX

"Forgive me, for I have sinned."

Anna could not summon up the courage to go see Nina as her mother had instructed, so here she was instead, kneeling in the semi-darkened family room, gazing past her inter-locked fingers at the small marble statue of the Virgin Mary that her father had procured from Vatican City.

Anna was trembling; wishing death on someone, let alone your own sister, was cardinal sin number one, in her books, even if Nina had done things to justify the wish. Nothing could sway her from this belief, not even a sneering Nina calling her a superstitious old lady. And so, to redeem herself in the eyes of the Virgin, she had to play the part of the dutiful sister and look in on Nina.

But wait, a sudden excited voice, the voice of her conscience, said. Didn't Nina visit me at the hospital once, when I was eight?

And then the excitement was swept away by a tide of disappointment, as another exasperated voice materialised inside her mind, for the love of God, she put you there in the first place, you dum-dum!

That was perfectly true. The sisters had been arguing over some stupid hammock in someone's backyard, when Nina had flipped Anna off it quite suddenly, and the latter had fallen and landed quite awkwardly and painfully on her left arm.

But still...

XXXXXXX

Toothbrush, check... Hairbrush, check...

Anna was clueless as to the damage done to Nina by the accident; for all she knew, her sister could be in a deep coma, and yet here she was, laying out a few necessary items to take with her to visitation, for Nina's later use.

Perhaps it was the guilt for delighting in her sister's plight, but when Anna turned up for visitation, the sight of Nina, the proud "Duchess of Dublin", hooked up to the machines, and being fed by an IV drip totally broke her heart. She sat stiffly by her sister's side and blinked back a few tears all through the doctor's explanation of how Nina had taken part in a drunken joyride across town with a bunch of other kids, how they had crashed head-on with another unspecified vehicle, how the crash had been so severe, that Natasha Dulgorova had been flung twenty feet away from the car(Anna shut her eyes and whimpered at this point), and how they were getting ready to ship her body back to Russia for proper burial rites.

Nina, on the other hand, was much better off, the doctor went on, coming out of the ordeal with nothing more than a couple of broken ribs, a mild concussion, a bloody gash on her forehead and small cuts and bruises scattered round her body. She would come to in the morning, and within a couple of weeks, the doctors were confident that she would be "as right as rain". Anna's parents arrived later that night, and relieved Anna. She returned to the house, alone, but she couldn't sleep. Nina haunted every corner of it.

XXXXXXX

"So.. how are you feeling today?"

There was no reply, and it seemed there never will be. It was quite plain, even to one with an IQ of three, that although Anna had been visiting daily with her sister, Nina just did not want her there. The older girl just feighned sleep, or stared at the ceiling, scowling perpetually in the oh-so-annoying Nina fashion. While Anna tried to take advantage of the unfortunate situation, in order to make amends, Nina tried to alienate her some more.

Well, you know what, Anna thought angrily, two can play the game! The more she tries to pull away, the harder I'll cling, and I'll show her that I'm no quitter!

But despite Anna's efforts, Nina continued to be more interested in the ceiling than in her younger sister. The visitation hours would drag by, and the silence would be so oppressive, so stifling, that Anna would be forced to open a window and breathe in copious amounts of fresh air.

Finally, Anna had to throw in the towel; raise the white flag.

"You know, Nina, if all I'll ever get from you is a stiff upper lip, then I might as well leave, " she announced one day. " But I brought in a change of clothes, just in case you feel like looking pretty when your friends come to visit, " she sniffed, then seized her purse and headed for the door.

"Bravo, sis, " came the cold, sarcastic voice, hoarse from disuse. "You've really outdone yourself this time. How typical of you , Anna! Your sympathy is the last thing I need!"

Anna whirled around, her hand on the doorknob. She tried not to betray any emotion as she sagely intoned, " You wouldn't know the first thing you need, if it came and hit you in the face, Nina."

So this was it, huh, the shell Nina was holing up in? Pride? Too bloody proud to accept her sister's kindness? Pride, hopefully mingled with guilt, over her past treatment of her sister? Wow, I think we might just have a breakthrough! What was it her mother liked to say, finding the root of the problem is the first step towards eliminating it. The root of the Nina-problem was excessive pride.

"Is that so?" Nina challenged with a sneer, finally riveting her gaze to the brunette. "What I certainly don't need is your gloating; having a good laugh at my expense, are you?"

Aha!

Anna crossed her arms and pursed her lips, gestures of defiance that made her resemblance to their father all the more striking, and caused Nina's intense gaze to falter for a second. "You and I have very different concepts of what a good laugh is, and you know as well as any, that if I wanted one, I'd stick to my Tom&Jerry reruns."

There was a slight pause, punctuated by a loud knock on the door, which opened to reveal a sizeable crowd of teenagers; Nina's crowd, a dangerous lot who were already giving Anna dirty looks. Anna attempted to storm past them, as a gangly-looking boy began, "Good to see you, Nina. Glad you made it out alright."

Then Nina said something totally unexpected, something that stopped Anna in her tracks.

"I wish I could say the same to you, but I really don't need to be seeing anyone now who isn't my sister." And she nodded curtly at the door.

When they were alone again, Nina sat sizing her sister up. Anna thought this was a dramatic improvement, and even more so, when Nina patted the edge of her bed and said snappishly, "Well, sit down, before I change my mind."

A few moments of tense silence, then-

"Why are you doing this?" Nina's tone was low, cautious, like she was treading on unfamiliar ground.

Anna shrugged. " That is a question for another day, sis, because I still haven't figured out the answer."

Nina smirked. " Never were the bright one, were you, sis?"

"No," Anna said simply. "That's always been you, hasn't it?" She wasn't being envious, merely resigned, because Nina wasn't being condescending, only matter-of-fact.

Another pause. Anna actually ticked off the seconds in her head.

"Remember when I came to see you in hospital, after your appendix was removed?" Nina began.

Anna's face lit up as the memory hit home. How had she forgotten about that?About Nina's kindness that day? She had brought her a box of chocolates, even!

"Aha?" She replied enthusiastically. She sensed some sort of confession coming, but that was fine. The sisters were Catholic; confession was as second nature to them as the deadly arts they practiced, at least in Anna's case.

Nina must have sensed Anna's excitement, because she dashed it all away with one rueful smile. " Well, I didn't want to go. Mum and Dad forced me. They even paid for the chocolate."

"Oh," Anna's face fell. There goes the answer to her question; why she hadn't remembered Nina's kindness. She'd known deep down that it was fake, and it was dismissed by her inner consciousness. " You came, all the same."

"Yeah, right, "Nina snorted. " Because if you think that by visiting me here, it'd make us even, then forget it! I owe you one, sis!" she said grudgingly, waving a hand for emphasis.

Anna was rather irritated. " This I owe you/you owe me talk is so like you, Nina! I'm your sister, all right, not the bloody Bank of Ireland!" This attempt at humour brought a flicker of a smile to Nina's face, a genuine smile that reached her eyes, and as fleeting as it was, made Anna wish for a camera so she could preserve it for all eternity. Then Anna noticed Nina looking around for something, and she shot her a questioning look.

"I'm looking for Dad's sniper rifle, " Nina explained with a mock-serious expression. " I think I can finally put a bullet in Lee Evans' head, and not lose any sleep over it. You'll just replace the bloody wanker."

"Oh, ha-bloody-ha!" Anna replied, hands on hips. " Really appreciate the offer, but stand-up comedy just doesn't seem to run in the genes. Remember what happened to Uncle Earl?"

"Ha!" Nina snorted. " Bllighter tried to pull one on Aunt Marge, didn't he? His bum was redder than your lipstick, by the time she was done with him."

The ice was finally broken, and the two sisters continued to chat animatedly, and to reminisce, as though nothing had gone wrong between them at some point in their relationship.

The adult Anna would forever hold onto those moments, treating them like a butterfly that had unexpectedly alighted on her hand; a butterfly that would fly away at the first wrong move. She would treat them as evidence that there was still hope for the two of them to someday mend their broken relationship; as proof that in spite of all the strife, all the bad blood between them, adversity would always bring them together... as sisters.

THE END

XXXXXXX

A/N: Quite long, eh? I hope to have given their characters a different edge, without making them OOC. Like Anna, for instance, I won the concern-over-Nina factor over the hatred-bitterness factor, and as for Nina, I maintained her cold-arroggant factor, while hyping up her willingness-to-listen factor.