Author's note: This fic is written for the albummix community; the title 'Neon Ray' is off Lunatic Calm's Metropol album. Ōkami © Capcom. Fic contains spoilers for the events at Northern Ryoushima Plains.
Issun had seen plenty of weird things when he left his village, but from the moment Issun set his eyes on her he knew she was special. Even though she was, to be honest, rather goofy-looking for a wolf, there was a certain something - a certain look that Issun could not describe - in her eyes that made him instantly like her.
Well, that was what he thought before she tried to eat him. Once he was spat out from her mouth, practically soaked with gross slobber, he just thought she was crazy.
At first he did not - could not - accept that the wolf was indeed who Sakuya said she was. A goofy-looking wolf like this simply could not be the living incarnation of Amaterasu Ōmikami, the sun goddess of Nippon, oh no, not even if she carried a magical mirror as a weapon and had bright red markings on her brilliant snow-white fur - markings that no mere mortal could see, a sign of her divinity.
Even when nestled in the warmth of Sakuya's bosom, he thought the wood sprite had gone insane when she said, "Let your heavenly rays become our hope as you guide us all!"
This silly furball? Guide us?
For starters, she smelled - well, just like a wolf was expected to smell, meaning not very nice, but Issun was not too bothered about that since he was not a devotee of regular bathing himself. But still, he would have expected a glorious and divine saviour to have a slightly nicer odour.
Then of course, there was that whole thing about her trying to eat him. He had wondered if she was just joking around - she did spit him out - but being covered with wolf slobber was not funny. Covering people with dripping gunk was something not majestic, and deities should be majestic.
And of course, it was just that she was so goofy-looking.
She did shut him up afterwards, by showing off how she could restore broken things, slice objects in half and summon the sunrise with those wondrous brush techniques of hers. It did change his mind about the authenticity of her origins - but it did not change one thing.
He still thought even if she was a deity, she was still pretty goofy-looking.
At first he simply tagged along just so he could witness the thirteen legendary brush techniques (and of course, copy them for his own work) that his grandfather had been yammering about - dear gods in heaven, that old man could go on forever and ever about painting - but along their travels he started to feel a strong kinship with Ammy. (He refused to call her Amaterasu "the origin of all that is good and mother of us all" or whatever the other gods called her - after all, they had never seen Ammy drool in her sleep, or chase her own tail out of boredom. He was pretty sure that if the other gods did see Ammy's silly antics, they certainly would think twice about referring to her with all that nonsense.)
They had plenty of things in common; a dislike for regular baths, a love for adventure and a liking for delicious snacks, for starters. Then there was their shared streak of recklessness; "Leap before you think!" he loved to say, before a wildly grinning Ammy would jump down some mysterious hole that would lead them to a new place, or perhaps, a monster hoarding some priceless treasure.
Ammy's penchant for feeding things, he did not share.
In the beginning he did not understand just why Ammy insisted on feeding every - and by the gods, every - single poor critter they came across, whether sweet little birds or fiercely growling tigers or even Fuse's pack of lazy canine warriors - even to the point of the wolf running off to the nearest merchant to buy some food to feed the animals, ignoring a hopping mad Poncle artist on her head, who was screaming on how they were going to be late.
He knew that Ammy would regain more of her powers as more people - and animals and trees and whatnot - believed in her, but surely, she could skip feeding a few wild boars? He even suggested it to her once, only to be treated to a flat, unfriendly stare that made him feel incredibly stupid and uncomfortable.
He never spoke about it again.
It was during their journey through the plains of Northern Ryoushima when the realisation finally hit him with the force of one of Ammy's rock-smashing headbutts.
Why she insisted on feeding every animal she came across; why she wanted to help every person they met, no matter how trivial the task or annoying the person was; why she took off like Kaguya's bamboo rocket to find Kabegami after hearing that little girl's story about the cat being scared and lonely at the top of that tower.
It was not because she simply wanted to regain her powers, to obtain rewards. It was not even about climbing one hell of a tower to find Kabegami and getting a divine brush technique back. It was because the animals were hungry and the people needed help. It was because Ammy was feeling sad and worried for the feline deity, and wanted to make sure if the silly wall-climbing cat was all right up in the tower. It was all for a reason so simple that he was amazed that he did not figure it out earlier.
It was because she loved them all.
The next time the gods referred to Ammy as the origin of good and the mother of them all, he smiled in understanding.
In the small cave, sheltered from the rain outside, comfortably leaning against Ammy's warm and soft fur, he wondered how their journey would end.
Would it be just like the last time Shiranui fought the dreaded Yamata no Orochi a hundred years ago? When at the end of that battle with Orochi, she would be brought back to tiny hamlet of Kamiki by a grateful Nagi, her brilliant white coat dyed crimson with her blood, before finally succumbing to her injuries?
Shiranui had died a hundred years ago, a hero.
Issun did not want Ammy to die at all.
The little Poncle artist turned his head to ask the wolf the question in his mind, only to roll his eyes when he found Ammy dozing, her paws twitching as if she was running in her dreams.
"Silly furball," he muttered. "Probably dreaming of chasing rabbits somewhere. Or her own tail." Sighing, he pulled his wide hat over his face and shut his eyes, hoping to grab a few hours of well-deserved sleep before the rain stopped. It did not take long for him to fall asleep, snug in the warmth of the wolf's fur.
If Issun had stayed awake just a little bit longer, he would have seen Ammy cracking her eyes open and looking at him fondly before she slowly curled up into a tight ball of fur and positioned her tail so it covered Issun's sleeping form like a massive furry blanket, being careful not to awaken her little Poncle companion.
But Issun slept, dreaming of painting masterpieces of a snow-white wolf, her brilliant fur glowing as bright as the glorious rays of the sun, so he also missed the amused lupine smile caressing Ammy's lips before she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.