Author's Notes: As stated in the first author notes, this is just the second segment to a two-part one-shot of sorts.  It's still from Kouga's pov, and is the second and last part to the story.

Now, please read, review and enjoy ^^


After the Dust Clears

~And Promises Were Meant to be Kept~

Sitting down where I was, I rubbed at my legs- both still not used to being without the Shikon shards. It was a small price to pay to hand them over to Kagome. She would use it well, I was certain of it.

"Kouga! Oi, Kouga!" I made out the two familiar voices as they ran to where I was.

I looked up, and noticed that they weren't alone.


Her voice was the same as it had been ever since we'd by chance crossed paths. Half-hoping, half- withdrawn. She wasn't the girl I knew from before anymore.

"Ayame- what are you…" I started to stand, but before I could get my legs completely stable, she'd rushed forward, her arms flung around me.

"Thank goodness. When I'd heard you'd gone off to fight that Naraku, I thought that…"

I paused, just letting her loose embrace surround me.

"That's why I wanted you to forget me…" I thought inwardly, "I thought that I would have died here too…"

She pulled back, beginning to inspect me from head to toe. Sure, I had cuts, bruises and a pretty bad gash on my side, but it was already beginning to heal itself some. It was getting used to not having that extra power in my legs that was really strange to me.

"Ayame, really I'm fine…." Before I could protest further, she forcefully pushed me back down into a sitting position.

"You call this fine?" She retorted, jabbing at the wound on my side.

"Ouch! Damnit woman, don't do that!"

"And since your dear Ka-go-me is busy, I suppose I'll just have to take care of it," The red-haired female remarked, standing and stalking over to where Kagome sat.

Seeing that Kagome was still tending to InuYasha, Ayame took things upon herself, like she usually did.

"I'll be borrowing these since you are occupied at the moment," She said, taking some of the bandages from the small box Kagome had with her.

The black-haired girl just smiled, "That's fine. If you need anymore, just let me know."

"Keh, that yasae-ookami probably needs them more than I do," InuYasha remarked, from where he lay on the ground.

"InuYasha- be nice…" She murmured in reply.

I was about to retort back to the stupid inu-koro when I noted Ayame returning to my side.

"Okay, hold still," Her voice ordered as she knelt beside me and begin to wrap the white cloth around my side.

"Hey, that's too tight!" I muttered.

"If it's not tight enough, it'll fall off."

"And what if I can't breathe? What then?"

She paused and got up in my face, "Look here Kouga, I don't have to be here picking you up off the ground after that Kagome girl left you, but here I am, so don't you complain. Got that?"

I blinked, and after a moment to clearly process it, I realized that yes, she had indeed just insulted me. I opened my mouth to retort, and thought better of it. After all, I did forget the promise I made her, so I suppose, as most would say, it served me right. But as she continued to wrap the bandages to the point I was having trouble breathing again, I decided perhaps now would be a good time to let Ayame know the truth.

"Ayame…" I reached down and stopped her hand when she refused to listen, "Look at me."

Her face went from irritated to worried in a few seconds. She was biting her lip, dreading whatever it was I was going to say.

Then it hit me…what was I going to say?

I mean…I couldn't just come right out and admit I screwed up- especially not with inu-koro in earshot.

I frowned, "Ayame… Naraku's dead now, so…so I can go with you to see the Elder if you still…want me to."

She paused, as if the words weren't fully sinking in yet, "Kouga….you mean that you…"

"I already took care of my promise to avenge my tribe. That only leaves one promise for me to take care of, unless…I forgot something else…" I said quietly, with a shrug.

Her eyes had begun to well with tears, and I turned my head away. Noting the other small groups gathered about tending to their injured.

"Kouga," The whisper came out as she dropped the bandage and gently wrapped her arms around me, "Thank you, so much."

My eyes glanced about, falling on all of those that had been fighting. Kagome's other friends and the small kitsune were standing around talking to a young brown-haired boy. The human girl had scurried over to talk to him as well, playfully hugging him before running back to her companions.

I wasn't sure quite what had happened, but I know the young boy had had a shard as well. There was some big argument between the two brothers about using a sword for it before they took the shard out, and finally the little girl's crying made the elder brother give in and he drew a thinner bladed sword and cut the air above the boy's body. Once that was done, they all seemed fairly happy and it along with my two shards were given to Kagome along with the piece they'd recovered from Naraku.

Ayame had quieted, and I noticed that she was just leaning her head against my chest now as I continued to survey the area.

The human girl returned as the female youkai finally sat up. I tried my hardest not to feel any hatred towards her. She was dead to me, but I still couldn't erase the past. No matter what I did, I could never like that woman's face, so I only hoped that our paths would never have to cross. But being as it seemed she was staying with the elder inuyoukai, I doubted I would ever see her again. Then again, given my feelings, it was for the best. It would be easier then to say that she was dead.

Finally my eyes rested upon Kagome who was still tending to the injured hanyou. I allowed myself one final smile in her direction before looking down to Ayame.

"Should we go? I know the Elder has been waiting for quite some time…" I spoke up.

She blinked, "Kouga are you sure….we can wait if you're still hurt…"

"I'll walk it off." I snorted.

Ginta whispered to Hakkaku, "Maybe now we can actually keep up with him."

"Yeah, I know our legs will be thankful for that…" He replied.

"I heard that…" I muttered standing, "Well then, if your legs are so great- you can both help me get off this damned field before I have to smell that inu-koro's stench any longer."

"Well good! You're finally getting your sorry ass out of here, yasae-ookami! It's not like we wanted you here anyways!" The hanyou snapped back.

I smirked, and he smirked back.

Things were as they should be. The Shikon no Tama was complete, and we'd all just have to make the best of things.

As we left the field, I heard Ayame bring herself to speak up,"Kouga…I'm so glad you finally remembered your promise to marry me…"

I blanched, "…marry you?! Now wait a minute Ayame. We're both young and….and…"

"And a promise is a promise, right Kouga?" She said with a smirk.

I could hear Ginta and Hakkaku stifling laughs and I just glared. Bracing myself with my companions on one side and Ayame on the other as we began to walk off the field, I gave her my reply, "Yeah. A promise is a promise…"

And for once, all promises were kept, all words held true, and I felt like I truly belonged in that place, with those three other people and the wolves trailing at our heels. It was…a place just for us. And behind us, the wind blew the dust from the field, and my heart…was at peace.

~ The End ~