Ayane - Converging leads...

[Toggle Names]

Description: After weeks of investigation, Ayane believes she has finally found out Kasumi's hideout in this big city... When she finally arrives there, she stumbles on the last person on earth she thought she would find there...

Every time the noose tightens for the rogue Shinobi, the runaway princess was able to slip out of Ayane's grasp somehow. It was infuriating but Ayane has been relentless ever since she was assigned this task, fiercely hunting her down with each draw back only stirring the searing embers of her hate toward her.

This never ending chase brought her to Southtown, a town with such a large population it offered Kasumi plenty of opportunity to hide... But wherever she was hiding, Ayane wasn't too far, always on her heel, especially with how she wasn't particularly lying low and ended up seldomly taking parts in fighting tournaments...

Finally, Ayane had gathered enough clues about her half-sister's whereabouts. The hunt was going to draw to an end soon and it made Ayane's boil with excitment. The deadly assassin waited for nightfall to investigate the appartment that was meant to be Kasumi's new home. Clad in her dark violet ninja garbs, Ayane was leaping from one rooftop to another until she was only a few buildings away from the building she sought. She moved swiftly through the shadows, dashing forth with feather steps and finally tumbling atop Kasumi's appartment.

Ayane tightens her grasp on the pommel of her sword. There would be no escape this time. While the appartment was totally dark from the outside, Ayane figured it was either a ruse or she could wait for Kasumi inside...

She moves from the edge of the rooftop and slides down slowly on one of the wall until she reaches one of the window, using one of her blade to pry open one of the window so she can sneak inside.

There, in the darkness, the silhouette of a figure stands in the open space of what seems like a largely unused, sparsely furnished apartment. The silvery moonlight glistens off of brushed steel, indicating a breastplate, kote and suneate, but the rest? The rest is tenebrous, a shadow that bleeds into other shadows seamlessly, so that the true dimension of the being held within are obfuscated and murky. The arrival of another, no matter how stealthy causes a shift in that figure. A slight turn, where one might notice the profile of a face in the shadows, turning to peer back over its broad shoulder to the intruder.


The voice is soft. Gentle and smooth. There is warmth to be found there. It's pleasant. But it carries with it the weight of authority, and the weariness of one who has no taste for the situation that they find themselves in. It is also hauntingly and undeniably familiar.

"You've finally decided to show your face, after all."

Another shift, and the sound of a blade sliding forth from the soft wood of a saya might be heard in the stillness of the room. The moonlight casts its pale reflection along the length of the ancestral sword of the Mugen Tenshin clan: Jinran-Maru.

"I regret having to do this... I wish for... I wish for peace, but... This game of cat and mouse... the eternal chase... It cannot last forever. We must end this."

A few faint ticks were the sole warning of Ayane's intrusion when the window finally opens. The blade is sheathed and the young woman dives through the window, gracefully tumbling into a low crouch inside of the dimly lit appartment. When she finally lifts her eyes up, her gaze meets the unexpected silhouette of a man.

Under her hood and face mask, Ayane's features were distorted by a silent rage that fills her. Whoever this man was, his presence was denying her the blissful release she longed for so long : murdering that damned princess. The assassin slowly straightens herself up, glaring at the mysterious man that stood in the darness. One of Kasumi's ally, another rogue shinobi? Her eyes assess the man for any hints that could lead her to her true goal.

Ayane's hands moved to grab both swords sheathed on her hips, mimicing the man's gestures and drawing both of her blades out. Her eyes widen suddenly when she notices the reflection of the sword in the moonlight. The stoic woman's shock and surprise only apparent for a brief second as her thoughts processed the information rapidly... Was it truly what she thought it was? How could she have gotten his hands on this...

As she comes to her own conclusion, Ayane's anger overcomes her and she shouts as she lunges at the silhouette, both blades drawn upward, empowered by purple energy that leaves a lingering trail as the blades both comes down in a deadly cleaving strike. "Where did you get that blade!?" The ninja shouts, overwhelmed by her anger. So many more questions were haunting her at this moment, but right now she was blinded and overwhelmed by her fury.

COMBATSYS: Ayane has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ayane            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Hayate has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ayane            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hayate

COMBATSYS: Hayate dodges Ayane's Praying Mantis Blade.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ayane            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hayate

Hayate can feel the seething rage pouring off of the kunoichi as she watches him. That... That isn't what he had been expecting. Not after last time he had met up with her. No. This rage is cold and complete, and it rolls off of her like a palpable miasma. He can practically choke on it. This was not like her at all. His eyes narrow, though lost in the darkness, as he peers over his shoulder at the backlit shinobi.

And then she screams in her anger.


That is NOT Kasumi. That voice. It's familiar. It is just there, just out of reach in the fog of his memories. Its own silhouette, murky and indistinguishable in the haze of a fractured psyche still recovering from a total loss. But something about that voice cuts through the fog with the same sure deftness as her blades slice through the air. He catches a glimpse of a memory. Crimson eyes. So sad.

He almost doesn't see the glint of purple light when Ayane comes in for the attack, but the flash of steel reflects within his Cinnamon colored eyes, pulling him out of the revery that had overcome him. They come slicing down, leaving purple streaks in the air, but find no purchase of steel or flesh.

They only slice a ghost. A specter that fades into a spiraling cloud of mist as the Mugen Tenshin Jonin vanishes, only to reappear at the girl's side, letting his blade slice through the air only to halt beside her neck.

"You are not Kasumi. Who are you?"

A beat.

"I know you."

COMBATSYS: Hayate focuses on his next action.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ayane            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0           Hayate

Her anger felt like a searing flame : it consummed her and burned her from within, so strong it exuded overwhelmingly from her. It was a mixture of various things, the sum of events that once added all together resulted in this loss of control.

Twin blades slice the air where the man once stood, the trail of chi lingering a few seconds before they vanish. Ayane regains her composure and straightens herself but before she can turn on her heels to face her opponent, she feels the presence of the man's blade by her neck. The kunochi stiffens a moment, gritting her teeth behind her mask, forced to control fury.

"This blade is not yours to wield," The woman spits with harsh vitriolic intonation. Her red eyes turn to glare at the man with such animosity and hostility it's almost a miracle she hasn't already lunged at him again, yet the weapon he held close to her neck was enough to keep her at bay for now.

Ayane's nostrils flare loudly with every breath but she manages to remain somewhat calm, enough to try and assess the situation, find a way out of this...

His question... His voice... Why did it sound so familiar? Who was this man?

Ayane narrows her eyes and snorts, "I'm the one who'll snuff the very life out of her with my bare hands..." Her eyes glance at the blade held at her neck long enough to recognize its superior craftmanship. It was the blade she thought she saw.

"If you know me, then you'll know better than stand in my way... Kasumi is MINE!" Ayane suddenly makes her move, spinning around to get out of the blade's reach, her hands attempting to grab the man's wrists while the other reached out for his arm. If she succeeds, she'll spin his arm in his back and spin him around, attempting to reverse the situation and slam him against one of the appartment's wall.

COMBATSYS: Hayate full-parries Ayane's Medium Throw!!

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ayane            0/-------/-------|>>-----\-------\0           Hayate

Red eyes. But not sad, like those he saw in the mists in his mind. Raw anger. The kind that only comes from fear or pain. Or both. She spits her vitriol at him like a weapon, but Hayate is not so easily shaken by words. His soul is a thing of the mists and winds. He is unshaken, perhaps, but not completely unphased. She comments about his blade, as if she knew something about it, and its history. Or at least she thought she did. Clearly, she was mistaken. Jinran-Maru had no history save for the Mugen Tenshin. It was not a relic that the clan had taken, or adopted. It had always been one with the clan, passed down from generation to generation. There was no contest as to who rightfully brandishes this blade.

"This is Jinran-Maru, ancestral sword of the Mugen Tenshin Tenjimon. It knows no master save for the Toryo of Tenjimon sect. If not me, then who else?" He asks, his voice maintaining that soft, steady calm. Almost as if Bob Ross had been reincarnated into Shinobi form.

And then she makes her claim that she will kill Kasumi. Instantly, icey fingers clutch at Hayate's heart. He feels his breath catch in his throat. A vice clamps around his gut and spins, torquing it and twisting it into knots. The mystery of his fragmented memories and how this woman might relate to them be damned. Fraternal instinct is strong within him. The desire to protect his Kasumi, his sister, is resolute and overpowering. Even if his own aims are to bring her back to face the clan's justice. His only hope is that he might pray upon their leniency in exchange for Kasumi's obedience in the future.

He opens his mouth to speak once again, but the mysterious kunoichi makes her move. Hayate's eyes narrow while Ayane spins, and as she lashes out to try to grasp his wrist, he takes a single step back and twirls the shinobigatana within his grasp with a flourish, knocking her hand out of the way and up, exposing her torso and opening her defenses wide.

He moves then, like lightning. His feet silently launch him from the floor, as his hakama styled pants rustle with the wind. His knee comes rocketing upwards, with the violent intent of rocking her under her chin and lifting her off of her feet.

Should this happen, his hips will twist and pivot, helping to lend force to an aerial sidekick designed to crush her ribs, only to be followed through with a spinning heel kick to try to send her careening helplessly through the air to smash into the nearby wall.

COMBATSYS: Ayane blocks Hayate's Shinryu Rensei EX.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ayane            0/-------/-----==|>------\-------\0           Hayate

It didn't make sense. Nothing that was happening now made sense...

And that voice...

It resonates in the back of her head, making her body shiver and making her feel such anguish. Why? The presence of this man was unsettling -- it was unlike Ayane to let her emotions overwhelm her like this, but the fact that this man, somehow, got his hands on the Jinran-Maru somehow and dared to wield it was a disgrace to Hayate's memory. The mere reminescence of her half-brother was enough to make Ayane feels her heart ache like it was being crushed by a vice.

Even if the keen pain those memories brought to her, Ayane's assault was no match against the man's superior agility. His technique was flawless, his celerity unmatched by anyone. Ayane barely has the time to rise her leg up and arm to block his rising knee, even so his tremendous strength knocked her upward, exposing her to his sidekick. She moves her hands to block the blow, but her slender's frame is sent flying off against the appartment's wall, crashing through and causing a loud cacophony.

Ayane rolls on her back, groaning in pain both from the sheer might of Hayate's kicks and from the impact she had with the wall. She gets on her knees, her outfit covered in dust and small debris from the wall's remains. No one she knew possessed such strength...

Except him...

Ayane straightens herself up, lifting her red gaze up toward Hayate.

All the hostility in her seems to fade away, her grip on her blade loosening as she stares at the silhouette of the man through the hole she made in the wall.

Could it be? Or was her unceasing hunt for the runaway princess had driven her to the edge of madness? Ayane stared at the mysterious man, no longer with that fierce fire in her eyes but a sad, distressed glee in her eyes.

A shiver runs down her spine, her whole body feeling numb. Not from the physical pain she felt, but from something else she couldn't describe. Her lips tremble, a meek and weak attempt to speak but words fail to escape her throat. It takes her an immense effort, but she finally manages to say it.

"Ha.. Hayate...?" She calls out softly, meekly, hopeful...

COMBATSYS: Ayane takes no action.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ayane            0/-------/-----==|>------\-------\0           Hayate

Hayate stands in a low, wide legged stance, drawing the shimmering blade of Jinran-Maru up and and ready, so that the curve of the blade arcs gracefully upwards, and the glistening tip points accusingly and threateningly at his opponent where she now resides on her knees in this empty, still apartment. Despite the offensive stance, there is not a single ounce of malice radiating from him. The sense of calm that he radiates like an aura is persistent and passive. It's as if he generates a soothing and warm invisible mist, and in that moment, the polished steel of the ancestral sword radiates a glowing haze of mist that lazily trails from the blade and rises towards the ceiling in languid spirals.


The name, spoken in that hopeful, soft voice, triggers another flash. A sunny field rolling down the side of a mountain. The sun overhead, bright and warm. Blue, cloudless skies as far as the eye can see, with the ocean breeze rolling in from the west. His name is called in that same voice and he turns to see a young girl, a few years younger than he himself. Pale lilac hair. Bright crimson eyes. A smile that he knows is only worn when not inside the bounds of the village. A cursed girl.


His voice ejects from his lips with the frentic combination of both worry and sudden recognition. His sword stance is immediately discarded, the sword itself finding itself placed effortlessly back within the saya strapped to his back, as his posture rises, and he strides forward on silent feet.

And into the pale, silvery light of the moon as cast through the window. It illuminates one side of his face. The features are undeniable. The chestnut hair, thick and full, falling in waves at the side his face, and kissing at his shoulders, held out of his eyes by virtue of a steel hachigane headband. Handsome features that are regal, displaying both strength, in the set of his jaw and the prominence of his cheekbones, and yet gentle in his auburn eyes, upturned nose and soft lips.

He stands still for a moment, before a small puff of roiling mist surrounds him, and he flickers out of sight entirely only to instantly appear in a like fashion, sliding on his knees beside her. His hand falls to her shoulder, the weight of it barely there, light and gentle as if afraid that he might cause further harm.

"Are you alright? I have not injured you, have I?" he asks, his voice deep but soft, in their native tongue. "Are you here for imouto... for Kasumi?"

COMBATSYS: Hayate takes no action.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Ayane            0/-------/-----==|>------\-------\0           Hayate

Never had Ayane felt so vulnerable and small in her life than this exact moment. The grim and stoic kunochi that stood before Hayate moments ago no longer had that imposing presence. On her knees, her head up toward the silhouette of the man, her blades held lightly in her hands, Ayane's posture made her appear shaken and feeble. Her red eyes glow faintly in the darkness, the only hint of her true identity underneath the hood and mask she wore. The hostility and anger faded away from her gaze, leaving only a hopeful and uncertain glee in her eyes.

She was taught not to show weakness and to be ruthless, repressing the saddness she felt at his loss but now it was resurfacing, the denied emotions surging back to her all the stronger. A soft sob escapes her throat when her name is spoken, her eyes widen and tears welling up in her eyes uncontrollably. It could be such an illusion, a trick used against her to fool her. Ayane knew it all too well...

... But a part of her wanted this to be true more than anything.

TThen he finally strides closer, allowing the moonlight to reveal his facial features gradually. Every detail of his face was exactly like her memories of him. Ayane can feel her heart quickening, her body growing numb as her trembling hands let go of her blades when he draws ever closer to her. A rational mind echoes in her mind 'what if...?' but her instinct tells her it was him...

Then he finally touches her, kneels by his side. Her body jerks up slightly, but he can feel the tension fading away. Ayane closes her eyes when he speaks, wanting this moment to last forever. How many days had passed since that accident where she hadn't dreamt of hearing his voice again, and now she did.

She lies there on her knees, hands to her side, disarmed. His first words toward her were for her well being. It makes her smile. Ayane lunges forward shortly after he speaks, her arms attempting to wrap up around him, to cling to him with all her might as if she was afraid he would disappear. Tears flow freely from her eyes, something Ayane attempts to conceal from him by the way she presses herself against him.

Nothing could steal that moment from her... Nothing except...


Ayane grits her teeth and she pulls her face away, glaring at Hayate. Her rage comes out with a sudden, childish reaction as a closed hand goes to give the man a smack on his shoulder, "You...! When... How... Why didn't you come for me before!?"

The last thing she wanted was to give Kasumi more attention than she deserved.

When Ayane lunges, Hayate's entire body tenses, every supple muscle underneath the armor, and the leather bodysuit growing rigid to the point of trembling. His breath catches in his chest with a hitch. His arms move to a defensive position, but only after she's found herself between them to grasp him with her embrace. His mind is still reeling, as neural pathways long lain dormant are firing in overdrive, flooding him with memories that had been forgotten, washed away by trauma both physical and mental, and overwritten by mostly successful brainwashing.

"Aya-" he starts, though the name falls silent on his lips. Of course, he had been alarmed. It's not that he doesn't trust her. It's that he doesn't remember fully, and so instinct makes him recoil from her embrace. At first. But as he realizes what is happening, that tension bleeds away. She'll feel the warmth of a sigh escape him against the nape of her neck, and he lowers his face against it as his arms slowly come to wrap themselves about her form with his hands pressed against the small of her back.

He opens his mouth to speak, drawing in an audible breath. And is drawn away from, to be met with a baleful glare. An accusing smack. A painful question with even more painful answers.

What could he tell her? Why hadn't he come for her sooner? How can he make such an outlandish story sound like anything less than a fable? He falls back from the smack, landing on his rear with one knee bent up, the other leg tucked in and his hands resting on the floor behind him. His milk chocolate eyes drop to the ground as he looks to one side, and the smooth line of his brow crinkles with a scowl.

"I forgot," he says, his voice quiet. Shameful. "I forgot you."

It doesn't matter to Hayate that he was in a coma. It doesn't matter to him that his mind was tampered with in the name of Project Epsilon. It doesn't matter that he spent so long an amnesiac, learning karate in Germany and becoming a new person. It doesn't matter to him what he's had to do to regain his "self". It only matters that he forgot. It only matters that he had failed. It only matters that the people he cared about, one and all, from his parents, to his sister, to his childhood friend Ayane, all suffered because of him. That his own foolishness, arrogance and hot blooded nature has caused all of this strife and pain for his family.

"I'm sorry... I forgot."

The purple haired Kunochi had been blissfully unaware of what happened to Hayate after she left the village for her hunt for Kasumi. Why would anyone tell the cursed child anything? After all, if the chief's son had not shown such kindness to this wicked girl, her misfortune would not have spread over him and he might have not been injuried in such a way. Why would anyone allow her to see him? For all Ayane knew, he was still in the village, comatose...

The girl rises up to her feet, taking a step forward as her impromptu assault caught him by surprise and left him staggered on his back. She towers over him, her scarlet unsettling eyes glaring at him. Her gaze was harsh, fiercely burning with anger yet there was this hint of melancholy blurred in them. Her eyes were still glistening fainlty from the tears that welled up there.

In spite of her petite height, the way she stood with a fist clenched at her side and searing emotions boiling inside of her reminded that of a vicious wolverine. Her free hand reached out to remove the mask that covered her mouth, revealing her facial features that were distorted with indecisive rage, an expression unlike the tender memories Hayate might have had of her soft visage with her pristine smiles.

"You... You forgot... How!? I..."

Her words were dubious, spoken loud enough and with enough haste to betray the fury behind them. Everything about the tension in her muscles and her body made it feel like she was ready to spit her venom at him or to lunge at him.

Yet there had been something in Hayate's soft voice that disarmed part of the aggressivity in Ayane. The hint of shame in his voice? His apologizes perhaps? Her body slowly relaxes, the anger slowly fading away from her face, allowing a softer yet heartbroken one to fill her.

"You forgot..." She repeats in a soft whisper.

Ayane just stood there a moment, torn between a myriad of emotions that left her passive in the end. The overwhelming joy and relief, the anger, the hope, the feeling of betrayal, the saddness...

Even as Ayane rises, standing over him like an angry goddess of shadow and flame, the Mugen Tenchin jonin remains still in his place, remaining at her feet. To him, Ayane was not the cursed child. To him, she was an unfortunate soul who deserved better than she ever got. To him, she was a beacon of what might come of the future of the Hajinmon sect. With her under Genra, and he in line to succeed the Tenjinmon, there was hope for a better future for the entirety of the village, by bridging the gap between the "noble" and "lower" houses. She was a friend and a confidant.

"It was my fault, Ayane..." He says quietly, his voice coming across as too still. Too measured. Perhaps to keep the strain of emotion from cracking it. "I brought all of this on our clan. I caused... so much pain."

Still, he cannot look at her. His gaze is left on the floor, at her feet, though he nods his head as he relates the strange tale of what had befallen him.

"After I had fallen... into the coma... I was.. My body was taken. I was experimented on. They tried to reprogram me. Use my skills and weaponize them. I got away... somehow. But I didn't remember anything. Who I was, where I came from. I had forgotten Mugen Tenshin. I had forgotten my mother and father. I had forgotten Kasumi. You. Hayabusa. I didn't have anything. No direction, nor home. I was souless. But I was found. A girl... a sweet girl with kind eyes. Like I remember yours used to be. She nursed me back to health, and cared for me. Her father was a karateka, and he trained me in their family style."

The words are just flowing out of him at this point, almost manic, like some sort of tide had been unleashed within him. In truth, recounting it all only helps him to remember more, and cement his own memories in place of the memories of Ein.

"They noticed that I had natural aptitude for martial arts,and because of that, chose me to represent their school in the various tournaments that are held, so they could attract more students. That path led me to Kasumi and Hayabusa. That's when... things started to return."

Ayane stood still in front of Hayate. Her crimson eyes staring silently at him as she struggles innerly with her flow of emotions until she finally concedes in acceptance of the events that unfolded.

Her frail serenity fades away when Hayate speaks up, a faint shiver running down her body. The way he averts his gaze from her pains Ayane who feels her the weight of her emotions on her shoulders once more.

The young woman frowns and blinks, trying to keep up with Hayate's explanation. None of this made any sense, "What, I..." She stutters, words failing to come out of her lips.

The mention of this other girl whom took care of her is received with mixed feelings : grattitude and relief twisted and corrupted by envy and jealousy of not having been the one to soothe his pain, to comfort him when he needed it the most.

Followed with how it was his sister, Kasumi who had been the one, in the end, to be the one who made fragments of his memory return...

In the end, it always came back to Kasumi one way or another...

The sensation of injustice that fills her causes Ayane to grit her teeth in anger. The reminescence of her half-sister causing her thoughts to be shrouded by animosity : a scorching anger toward the unfairness, how Kasumi was always the one while she ended up on the other end of it all.

Ayane reaches out for Hayate, extending her hand to help him stand up to his feet. Her face was no longer distorted by this fierce rage... There was only the weary traits of a woman Hayate once knew, of a woman who used to smile brightly in his presence.

A part of her yearned to ask him if he remembered her, more than her name, if the time they had spent together had not been in vain, if they had meant something to him, but deep down Ayane was not ready to hear the answer...

... Because those moments she had with him were the only thing she had left in her existence.

A faint smile spreads on her lips, half a forced one and Ayane finally speaks up, her voice soft, "Let me help you make new memories of me..."

Of course, Hayate doesn't know of the jealousy and rage he instills in Ayane when he mentions Kasumi. He doesn't think of such things. Really, how could he? He couldn't think of anyone truly thinking illof Kasumi. Not even now, with her having become nukenin, with a call for her blood at the "betrayal" of her clan, Hayate cannot imagine anyone having ill will towards her, in spite of the reality pointing to the obvious otherwise. Nor does Hayate know just how deeply those memories that Ayane held for him affected her, or how deeply troubled she was by his fate.

When he looks up, responding to the words spoken to him, he sees thehand hovering before him. Should he even take it? She has been bearing this burden, all this time, because of his rash mistake. She had borne all of this pain, because of his hubris in thinking that he could decimate his uncle, who was a monster beyond compare. And in that process, too, he had delivered unto a true betrayer of the clan, one of its greatest secrets. Kasumi may have the blood hunt called for her, but to Hayate, it was he who should be paying the price.

So how can he possibly take that hand that Ayane now offers him? What mercy of hers does he deserve?

But he does so anyway. His hand clasps hers, and he rises to his feet to stand before the young, but world weary girl. Looking down, into her eyes, the shinobi of the wind says, "I am sorry, Ayane. You shouldn't have to bear the burden oh hunting down Kasumi for the tragedy that I made when I decided to face Raidou alone. All of this has been my fault. You have suffered because of my mistake, and I intend to take responsibility for it. I will find Kasumi, myself. You will not need to shed the blood of your friend. I will bring her back to the clan."

And he will face justice on her behalf, if he has his way.

His hands, clad in soft, fine leather, rise to cup Ayane's face within his grasp, and he tucks in his chin, until his steel clad forehead meets her own tenderly. "There will be plenty of time for all of us to make new memories together, once we are able to right all these wrongs that I have caused. When we are able to get things back to the way they were before Raidou. I... understand if you hold a grudge, or even if you despise me, Ayane. But I hope that you will help me with this."

Why did Ayane hate her half-sister so much was something irrational even her couldn't explain. The feeling of injustice that grew in her heart when she was finally told the truth about her birth had fueled her anger, with each passing day leaving her to feel more justified in her feeling toward her... Feelings she repressed and concealed, out of fear of further reprisal from the rest of the clanŽ who already shunned her.

Every time she hears her name, sparks of anger fills her at her core, consumming her... That same anger that lead her, out of spite, to guide Kasumi toward the path of a nukenin. Would he think less of her if he knew that inner turmoil inside of her that drove her to cast away the friendship she had with her sister?

The purple haired kunochi's cheeks turn a faint hue of red when Hayate's hand tucks under her chin and forces her to look up at him. That pristine, blissful expression on her face, void of any anger and torments : just a glee of joy in her eyes and a hopeful smile on her lips as Hayate blesses her with his touch and his kind words. Ayane shivers, feeling her knees bucking weakly and her throat growing dry. For months she had been driven by her fury, set on vengeance on Kasumi. It all comes back to her : the warmth of Hayate's words, of his touch, the kindness he, and only he would offer her. She had almost forgotten how its soothing effect would help her lull the pain and make her feel alive. It was such a tantalizing sensation she craved and yearned more, greedily...

But she knew it wasn't her place to hope for more even if it never stopped Hayate from giving her such affection. She does, however dare to lift her hand up, her fingers bashfully touching the man's hand.

Ayane closes her eyes and she finally breaks out of her trance, "I could never," She repeats vehemently, "You're all I have.." Ayane adds with a repressed sob.

Realizing the words that came out of throat might feel out of place, Ayane averts her gaze and her cheeks turn a deeper shade of crimson that's hopefully concealed by the shadow of her hood. She follows up after a second of silence, attempting to avoid any awkward moment with, "You know I'd do everything for you... I am your shield and your blade," Ayane replies with steadfast loyalty.

I could never.

You're all I have..

Those words cut through Hayate's mind with the same vorpal sharpness and adroit skill as any blade that Ayane might wield. The Tenjinmon heir flinches, his body coming to an abrupt and severe state of utter and complete rigidity. His half lidded mocha colored eyes widen, and his lips part as if he might have spoken, if the words could come to his tongue. But they don't. And he remains mute.

That sob, repressed as it might be, is the cut that bites the deepest. Hayate is not a brooder by nature. He was never an emotional child, and often his face was lit up with a smile. His general attitude was one of tenderness and a carefree attitude... if a bit cocky. After all, he was naturally gifted with intelligence and athleticism, and heir to the leadership of the Mugen Tenshin clan. But that happy boy that he was had always felt a deep sense of pride and duty to uphold the burdensome wight of that leadership. To hold true to the principles and foundations of their clan, set forth by great ancestors, and to carry their legacy into the future. He felt, in the deepest parts of his soul, a sense of duty and obligation to every single person who resided under the care of his family, and one day, under him directly.

And that sense of duty, the sense of responsibility and care was nowhere more keen than when it came down to a small handful of people. His parents, as any good and dutiful son, came first. He had forced them to confront the very real dissolution of their house, with him being comatose with no hope of recovery, and Kasumi's subsequent disappearance. Kasumi herself, sacrificing everything she had, and turning her back on the family and the village that she loved to avenge him. He bore that burden as well. And then Ayane.

Poor Ayane.

Hayate had never pitied Ayane, despite her pitiable life. He held warmth and affection for her, initially, because she was another child in their sparsely populated village, same as he was friendly with all. In time, though, they grew closer. He remembered that now. He remembered that she was always there at his side, or perhaps, as his shadow. They comforted one another. And he had left her alone, as well. Left her to a bitter world that cared little for her, outside of her use as a weapon. That despised her for her strength, even as they exploited it. He had left Ayane in a world where she was all alone, without him, and her only other friend, Kasumi, becoming a target for her to kill.

These things do take their toll, even on the most light hearted of spirits. His failure is undeniable and utterly complete.

His heart cracks. His hands fall to her shoulders so that his fingers loosely curl about her upper arms. His eyes sting, and in the wan, spectral light of the moon, one can spy the shimmering cellophane wrapping of tears clinging to the lower rim of his eyes, marking them with a reflective shine.

"Ayane... I..."

The words are cut off, trailing off into the ether before she responds with her final words on the matter. Shield and blade. Professional. She will not hate him for his failures, but only because he is her superior. Her master. She will be his shield and his blade, because it is her duty to do so. She would be a soldier for him. Not a friend.

His hands drop from her, and he steps back a single step. His head turns, averting his gaze out the window as he gives a single, curt nod of his head.

"I understand."

COMBATSYS: Hayate has left the fight here.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Ayane            0/-------/-----==|

COMBATSYS: Ayane has ended the fight here.

It wasn't until now that Ayane realized how much Hayate's presence had missed her : how his absence had left a gapping void in her that she desperatedly attempted to fill and pourred all of her anger and resentment into it. The sensation of his delicate touch curling around her arms dispel a part of that searing hate that burned deep inside of her, making her feel warmth, alleviating that constant burden she felt on her.

Ayane slowly turns her eyes back toward, locking gaze with his. The shimmering hints of tears in the corner of his eyes cause Ayane's eyes to mirror his reaction, her lips curling into an earnest, pure smile of joy - the kind of smile that was his and only his to see, the only one in her existence who was able to bring forth such emotions in her. His words might have not spoken the loudest, but his reaction was enough to comfort Ayane. Somewhere in his broken psych, a part of Hayate was moved by the bond that united them, he remembered her...

But more important, he still cared for her.

Ayane discreetly bites her lower lips and remains silent. How she wanted this moment to last for an eternity, how she thought she'd never be able to recover from his loss. It wasn't until now that Ayane realized how much she craved Hayate's presence in her life, how much she needed him to give her life a purpose. A deep primal scream inside of her beckons her to demand more - more of his touch and his affection she lusted after so much... His absence had just made her addiction worse, showing her an agonizing glimpse of what her existence could be without him.

Now that he was back, she desired only to cling to him desperatedly out of fear he would leave her again... Never. She would not let it happen, she would not survive it another time, not after fate has given her a second chance.

This evanescent moment was a fleeting moment of eternity for Ayane, one that ends when Hayate releases her and steps back, leaving Ayane shaken momentarily. His words bring her back to the harshness of their reality, to her sense of duty that held her back from succumbing to the temptation. The sole reason she was not allowed to satisfy her most sincere desire, the fact that both of them, no matter how close they may be, were from two different castes.

Ayane's expression becomes solemn and stoic as she takes a step behind Hayate, to be at his side yet slightly drawn back. A silent resolve in her eyes, a promise she makes to herself that she'll never let anything happen to him again.

Log created on 13:47:21 11/09/2018 by Ayane, and last modified on 12:44:36 11/15/2018.