By Jacki (aka Kena, Oritsu)

Epilogue – Pictures on the Wall

"This is it right here." Ayame knelt and plucked a small deep blue flower from between the crooked roots of a large pine. Kouga took the plant from her hand and twirled it around between his fingers before adding it the motley assortment of flowers, bark, colored stones, and other items piled in the center of Ayame's cape, which they had happened to find washed up onto the bank of the river earlier. It was ruined, the fur matted and clogged with dirt and small twigs and torn in several places where it had caught on the branch. He inspected their collection, a dubious expression on his face.

"Do we really have to do this?" he asked, giving a light tug on the edge of her skirt, still slightly damp from the night before. Ayame sighed ruefully and handed him a cluster of the flowers.

"Kouga, you know I can't let you get away with what you did. It wouldn't have happened if you hadn't decided to act like such a mean bastard." She pared and discarded the stems and leaves from a small shrub that she had uprooted and smacked him lightly on the shoulder with the clump of bulbous, tangled roots that dangled from the bottom.

Warm fingers suddenly wrapped around her wrist and one of her ankles, jerking her off balance. With a cry of outrage, she toppled to the ground. Kouga moved above her and quickly pinned her wrists to the ground above her head. He chuckled as she bucked and writhed beneath him.

"Are you saying that you regret becoming my woman?" he growled mischievously, lips just barely brushing hers.

Ayame's sarcastic reply caught in her throat as she stared up at his bright blue eyes. Her heart fluttered in her chest and she was suddenly struck by the oddity of the situation. Kouga waylaying and reminding her of a promise she had made to him. She began to laugh, loudly and openly, the noise sending a cluster of birds wheeling off into the air from a nearby tree. Kouga cocked his head to the side in confusion, and she began to laugh even harder, tiny tears squeezing from the corners of her eyes.

"I'm yours, Kouga," she gasped between gales of laughter. She pulled her arms from his slack grip and wrapped them around his neck. "Every part of me." Her mouth hovered over the shell of his ear, her mirth fading away as she sucked lightly on his earlobe. "I could never regret being your woman," she whispered.

Kouga shuddered happily and, framing her skull between his hands, showered her face with tiny kisses. Ayame giggled in delight and followed suit.

"Ginta-kun, Hakkaku-kun, tell us about how you helped Kouga-sama defeat Naraku!"

"Yes! Please tell us!"

Hakkaku and Ginta flushed, goofy grins spreading across their faces as a dozen more requests and questions rose from the group of females clustered around them.

"Well, Naraku gave a good chase for quite a long time," Ginta began. The women nodded eagerly.

Hakkaku continued, "Sometimes Kouga became so tired from all of the running that he didn't think he could go on any longer."

"But then we would lift him to his feet and tell him that even though he was tired, he had to keep up with us, keeping going on chasing after Naraku until our tribe had been avenged," Ginta finished.

An attractive brunette gripped his arm tightly and pressed against him. "You're so brave, Ginta-kun!"

"Yes! Kouga-sama is so lucky to have such loyal friends!" chirruped another as she rested her head on one of Hakkaku's knees, looking up at him adoringly. A chorus of similar praises and adulations rose from the rest as they pressed even closer to touch the two delighted wolf youkai.

The sound of rushing wind and pounding feet suddenly reverberated through the cave and the group looked towards the entrance of the cave. Kouga and Ayame quickly materialized from the whirl of dust, hands intertwined.

"Kouga-sama!" the women cried out, releasing their holds on Ginta and Hakkaku. A strong gust of wind blew into the cave with the couple's arrival, and upon catching the couple's newly mingled scent, the females settled back around the two men with renewed interest.

Momentarily forgetting the attention they were receiving and unable to believe what their noses were telling them, Ginta and Hakkaku stared fixedly at their leader and the auburn-haired wolf princess. Ayame whispered into Kouga's ear briefly and pointed towards a narrow passage at the rear of the cave. He complacently nodded in consent and pressed his lips against hers in a warm kiss before dodging the clusters of fires and beds in the direction of the tunnel. A wide smile on her face as she watched his retreating back, Ayame headed down another passage. Hakkaku and Ginta shared a knowing look and cheerfully returned their attention back to their fan-club.

Kouga found Kenji where he had left him the day before, in the cave with all of the murals. The boy was nearly hidden behind a large outcropping of rock, sitting in a crouch with his arms around his knees and his face buried between them. The moonlight shafted down through the skylight, illuminating the broken potsherds scattered across the smooth stone of the floor. A guilty twinge throbbed in Kouga's chest as he saw the twisted scar of paint, now dried to an ugly, murky brown on the cave wall.


The wolf cub cringed and shrunk even farther behind the shelf of rock. Kouga sighed and sunk to his knees beside the small, hunched form.

"Hey, Kenji, I wanted to…," he hesitated, the words on his tongue alien and distinctly uncomfortable to him. He took a deep breath then said, "I wanted to say I'm…sorry for what happened yesterday."

Large green eyes gleamed from beneath the shaggy waves of auburn hair as the boy shifted his position to glance suspiciously up at the wolf prince. Encouraged, Kouga gently set down Ayame's bundled cape. Kenji's eyes followed his movement as he spread its contents out on the floor.

"I wanted to make it up to you. Ayame told me that these were what you used," he continued, gesturing toward the pile of flowers, rocks, and small tubers.

"I'm not going to paint anymore. It's stupid," the wolf cub muttered.

Kouga grimaced and hesitantly laid his hand on the boy's small shoulder. "No it's not."

Kenji shrugged off his hand. "You're just saying that because Neesan made you say it," he retorted, his voice thick with a sob.

"No. It's important to write down the wolf tribe's history like this. When we're gone, the new leaders should know what we went through in the past so that they don't make the same mistakes."

Kouga smoothed down the soft, silvery fur of the boy's cape, fingers brushing affectionately over the locks of hair that curled at the base of his neck. Kenji remained still for a moment, then, with a loud cry, threw himself at Kouga.

"I'm sorry, Kouga-sama!" he sobbed, his voice muffled as he buried his face into the elder wolf's chest. Kouga's shocked expression was soon replaced by a gentle, relieved smile. He wrapped his arms around the cub's lanky body and pulled him close.

"I'm the one who wronged you. You don't need to apologize," he murmured. The boy nodded, chest still hitching. Kouga gently pulled the boy away from him. "How about you show me how to make these pictures, Kenji," he suggested.

Kenji sniffled, swiped the remaining tears from his face, and nodded. "Hai, Kouga-sama," he replied.

Kouga caught him by the shoulders as he attempted to rise. "-Aniki," he corrected. We're brothers now."

Kenji's eyebrows rose in amazement. "You mean that you and Ayame-neesan…"

Kouga nodded and smiled.

A glowing smile broke out over the boy's features. "Hai, Kouga-aniki!" he exclaimed happily.

THE END…..for now, anyway

Ah, it felt so good to finally finish this fic! Originally I had meant to have it end at Ch4, but that left a lot of loose ends with Kenji and whatnot and also I wanted to show a little love to Ginta and Hakkaku. We all know who's in their fan-club. ;D

Yes, there is a sequel to this. It's called "Bound Together: Danketsu" and I already have written and posted the first 5 chapters of that with plenty more to come in the near future! The story actually connects my Sessh/Rin stories with this story as well as draws in the rest of the cast of the anime.

Thank you so much to all of you guys who have given me so much support and encouragement! I apologize for making you wait so long for the final chapter!