This is your brain. This is your brain on Kouga. See the difference? Well, maybe it's more like I have Ryouga from Ranma1/2 on the brain and he's so similar to Kouga that I in my craziness decided to write a fic about him instead. They're both Takahashi works, so where's the problem? Also, I absolutely adore Ginta and Hakkaku. (Bemoans the horrible dubbing of these adorable characters).
PICTURES ON THE WALL
By Jacki (aka Kena, Oritsu)
Chapter 1 – Duty Calls
"Kouga! Wait up!" Hakkaku bent over, his hands on his knees, panting. Ginta stopped beside him and stared at the swirling whirlwind that surrounded their leader recede into the distance. Soon, the rolling hills that surrounded the base of the mountain range looming before them swallowed him up completely.
"Cheer up, Hakkaku, he's not moving near as fast now."
"That's a reason to be happy?" He shot Ginta a skeptical look. "Ever since he lost his Shikon shards he's been even moodier than normal!"
Ginta waved dismissively. "Nah, he's depressed because he finally realized that Kagome-neesan wants to be with Inu-yasha."
"That's still no reason to be cheerful, Ginta," Hakkaku retorted, rising and brushing the sweat from the bald scalp surrounding his Mohawk.
Ginta blinked as he mulled this statement over. "Oh yeah. I guess you're right. Well, I guess we better catch up to him then." He set off running.
Hakkaku heaved a weary sigh and followed after his pack-mate, the rest of the wolves in tow behind him.
Kouga growled as he forced his legs to move faster. His shins felt empty and weak, and they ached terribly. He felt himself sapped of the Shikon induced strength that he had become accustomed to during the past months. His limbs were unable to match the speed he had once controlled so effortlessly.
His pride felt sapped as well. Not only had he been deprived of the shards, but of his revenge for his slain pack at the hands of Naraku and his minions. Not to mention that he had come face-to-face with the indisputable truth that his intended mate Kagome had chosen that hanyou dog-shit Inu-yasha over him. Compounding insult upon insult, the despicable half-breed had become far more powerful than ever using the Shikon jewel that he, Kouga, proud prince of the wolf youkai, had sacrificed his strength to complete.
A large, centuries-old pine tree loomed into view and he leapt into the air and kicked it as hard as he could. The gnarled trunk buckled and fell over at the force of the blow, sending a spray of needles into the air when it crashed into the ground. Kouga glared at the fallen tree with undisguised rage. If he had had his Shikon shards, he wouldn't even be able to pick his teeth with what was left of that tree. Baring his teeth in a feral grin, he threw back his head and howled his frustrations into the crisp autumn air.
A chorus of calls from the tree-shrouded caves up on the mountain answered his. Somewhere below, Ginta and Hakkaku's exhausted howls and those of the dozen or so wolves that followed along with them could be heard. Kouga dropped his head in defeat.
He couldn't keep running. With the defeat of Naraku came the end of his long journey of revenge. Now he would have to return to the last remaining tribe of the nearly annihilated wolf youkai, tail between his legs, to explain to the pack leaders how he had been outdone by a mere hanyouk, and in so doing, failed to avenge their fallen brothers and sisters.
Never before had he felt so pathetically impotent. Part of himself told him to ignore the calls of the pack and continue running, continue pursuing the impossible dream of unsurpassed power and the wondrous human female with whom he wished to mate.
Hakkaku and Ginta called again, closer now. Kouga swished his tail in irritation. He couldn't keep running. As leader of his pack, small though it now was, he held a responsibility to his two remaining pack-mates. Though they whined incessantly, they had followed him unquestioningly through many perils and never challenged his authority. They were both exhausted, stretched far beyond their limits, and he owed it to them to let them rest.
A long sigh racked his tired body. He called back to his comrades and to the rest of the tribe on the mountain before disappearing again into the furious cyclone of dust.
The female wolf youkai rubbed the sleep from her eyes and slowly rose to her feet. She picked her way expertly through the darkness to the heavy pelts that curtained off her private little alcove in the main cavern.
She stared in bleary wonder at the chaotic mess below her. The whole tribe was in an uproar. Shouts rang off of the cold stone walls and the pounding of bare feet reverberated throughout the massive cave that the largest of the four original tribes of the wolf clan called home.
"Ayame-neesan!" She looked down at the flustered wolf cub waving and shouting for her attention below her.
"What is it? What's going on?" she asked.
The cub leapt into the air excitedly and pumped one fist enthusiastically into the air. "It's Kouga-sama, Nee-san! Kouga-sama is back!"
Ayame nearly tumbled head-first out of her room. Kouga. So he had returned to lead the tribe, had he? One hand rose unconsciously to her chest, gripping at an invisible pain deep in her heart. Kouga the victorious. Returning to his people, probably with his new human mate in his arms.
"Ayame-neesan, are you okay?"
She blinked and brushed her hand through her long auburn bangs. "I'm fine, Kenji," she replied, leaping gracefully to the floor to stand by his side. Kenji grabbed hold of one of her hands and started to pull her towards the opening of the cave.
"Hurry up, Nee-san! Don't you want to hear Kouga-sama's story about how he defeated Naraku?"
Ayame sighed and followed him out into the dying afternoon light. The whole tribe had thronged out to the center of the valley. Shouts and excited conversations rose. Kenji began to jump in an attempt to see over the heads of the others. Releasing Ayame's hand, he began to wiggle and push his way through the crowd.
"Kenji, wait up!" she called as she followed after him. A large hand clapped her on the back.
"Ayame-sama, aren't you excited that your fiancé has returned?" called one boisterous wolf.
"Yeah, Ayame," said another, "you don't have to be such a tomboy anymore. You can stay in the caves and nurse his pups."
A blush crept to her cheeks and she averted her eyes. The wolves, taking the reaction to be the shy look of a bride-to-be, chuckled happily amongst themselves. Ayame sighed and moved away from them.
A small cluster of females, busily fussing with their hair and clothing sighed as she passed. "You're so lucky, Ayame-sama," one of them said. "Kouga is so handsome."
"He'll make a great mate," another said.
Ayame nodded absentmindedly and pushed away from them. She was glad to finally see open land between the sweaty, fur-clad bodies of her kin. An elderly wolf with shaggy grey hair appeared, Kenji at his side.
"Grandfather," Ayame said, bowing her head in respect to the pack leader.
"Ayame," he replied with a small nod.
"There he is! There he is!" Kenji pointed excitedly at the whirlwind moving swiftly up the slope of the mountain. Ayame clenched at her fur cape, nibbling her lower lip in apprehension as he crested the lip of the valley, the whirlwind dissipating rapidly around his tall, leggy form.
Kouga lifted his head and mustered the most regal expression he could.
"So you've returned, Kouga."
"Then Naraku has been defeated?"
Kouga nodded stiffly, eyes focused on a spot beyond the old wolf's shoulder.
"Do you plan on staying here?" Kouga nodded a second time and the pack leader grunted in approval. "I am glad, Kouga. We are in need of a warrior of your merit to lead us."
Kouga clenched his fists at his sides, jaw hardening. How humiliating to have to deceive his own people. Feeling the scrutiny of the pack leader, he forced himself to relax. When he looked up again the old wolf was slowly making his way back to the caves, Ayame at his side. She glanced back at him briefly, immediately diverting her gaze as their eyes met. Kouga sighed.
He looked down into the beaming face of the wolf cub he had seen at the pack leader's side. Longish auburn hair stuck out in stiff, spiky clumps from his head, partially obscuring a pair of brilliant green eyes. Those eyes. The pup looked so much like... Kouga shook his head to clear it. No. He had enough problems on his mind right now to even spend a minute thinking about Ayame.
"Who are you, kid?" he asked. The child's smile grew even wider, his tiny fangs gleaming.
"I'm Kenji. Come with me, Kouga-sama!" The wolf cub grabbed hold of one of his hands and pulled. Amazed at the kid's gall, Kouga silently complied, allowing Kenji to lead him away from the milling crowd of youkai who were now wandering back to their tasks.
By the time Ginta and Hakkaku had made it to the valley night had fallen and most of the pack had either retired to the caves or were out hunting. Panting and whining about the lack of a proper greeting, they wandered into the main cavern and collapsed before one of the small fires that were scattered about the floor.
"You want to know something, Ginta?" Hakkaku said as he grabbed a small flask of water and raised it to his mouth.
"What's that?" Ginta replied from around a mouthful of food.
"Now that we're here we don't have to worry about so many things.
His companion chuckled. "Yeah, like keeping Kouga away from Inu-Yasha and Kagome-neesan."
"Or tracking Naraku."
"Don't forget Sesshoumaru! Now that was one scary guy!" They both burst into laughter around mouthfuls of meat.
Catching sight of Ayame walking past, Hakkaku waved. "Oi, Ayame!"
She looked up, startled from her thoughts, and gave them both weak smiles. She sent a longing look at the curtains concealing her room as she sat down in between them; she was in no mood to chat.
"So, how have you two been?" she asked halfheartedly.
"Exhausted," they both answered as one and laughed again.
"Oh? Has food been scarce?"
Ginta shrugged. "Not really. Kouga has just been dragging us all over and we haven't had much time to hunt."
"Or rest," Hakkaku finished. "If Kouga even got the slightest feeling that Naraku or Kagome-neesan was near he would get up and run off."
Ayame's face fell at the mention of the human girl's name. Looking distressed by the reaction, Hakkaku patted Ayame on the shoulder.
"Cheer up, Ayame!" he consoled, Ginta nodding in agreement.
"Yeah, Ayame, there's no need to worry about that anymore," Ginta continued.
"And why is that?" Ayame shot a teary-eyed glance at him. He shifted uncomfortably under her gaze.
A loud crash followed by shouting suddenly echoed out of one of the cave's antechambers. All conversation and activity halted as the wolf youkai turned to the source of the commotion.
Ah, well here it is: the first chapter of the Kouga x Ayame fic that I just had to write before I can get back to Fluffy Love sequels. I'm thinking that I might tie in this story to those sequels somehow, so I guess you could say that in some way it is related...
Hanyways, what did you think? I can't seem to get away from the friggin' angst, but at least I have several different characters that I can spread it out in. Wait...maybe more angsty characters isn't a good thing... Oh well. This fic should be shorter than Fluffy Love, but just as lemony. Having more...ahem...savage characters gives me a chance to write a different sort of lemon, though I did enjoy working with Sess and Rin.
Please R&R, and expect the next chapter in a couple of days! Oh yes, before I forget. I realize that Ayame is not in the manga. Unless the anime is an absolute horrid rendition of its parent manga (which is definitely not the case with IY), I typically don't take it as the bible of that particular series.