(A/N: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi does not belong to me. None of the characters belong to me. This is fan made. This is attributed to a cute idea I had thanks to the gerbils calming down a bit after situations incurred~ this is a one-shot and has spoilers to the anime. Do not read if you do not want spoilers. Again, based to the anime's ending, not the Novels or anything. Enjoy.)

Lost in the Woods

Morino Ryoushi had gotten better.

No he has not really gotten all that used to people staring. It was not some sort of passing affliction, but he believes that had has gotten much better at not only protecting those he cared about, but fighting to preserve the affections he has developed with Ookami Ryokou. Somehow the simple country bumpkin was able to tame the wild city wolf in body heart and soul. They had graduated and had gone through a lot with the Otogi Bank. They helped many people, and have seen many stories. They had changed, grown, but Ryoushi was not satisfied. He had grown stronger in his time and had did his best to protect the person closest to his heart, but it wasn't enough. Doing these favors had made him realize he had a lot more to learn, a long way to go, but as long as he had Ryouko at his side, he was sure he could do it.

"I'm leaving!" Ryoushi's announcement was sudden. After graduation they had all gathered in the club house for a party. After drinks, cake and celebration he bowed deeply and announced it. He was nervously skulking in the back, shifting around his friends. They knew of is aversion to being stared at and went about as normal, but Ookami knew something else was up. He was more fidgety than usual. She finally managed to bully the truth out of him.

The look of shock on her face, as if she had been punched, which for the boxing princess was highly improbable, though not impossible. "W-what?" It was a mix between a shriek and growl. The poor graduate boy shuttered and stammered, trying to find the proper way to explain. His eyes sought every which direction to loon in.

Otsu held her tea cup gingerly in her gloved hands. She pressed her right hand to her chest. Majo was sat on the ground enjoying a big plate of cake, seemingly uninterested in the sudden unrest in the room. Ookami was finally calmed after rattling poor Ryoushi into unconsciousness.

Ringo pet the fierce woman's head as Ookami's form had crumpled to the ground. "Now, relax. There's no need to jump the gun. Let Ryoushi explain. I'm sure he fully intends, whatever it is, to explain himself." There was a hint of threatening in the red-head soft voice.

Taro helped Ryoushi to his feet and patted his shoulders of the dust. "It doesn't matter the reasons!" The long-haired male offered with a smirk. "Whatever it is, wherever he goes, I will be sure to take care of Ookami in his place!" With his promise a deadly aura filled the air, which caused Taro and Ryoushi to jump in their skin.

"Taaaroooo." The flames could be heard licking venomously off Otohime's lips. Taro could do nothing but squeak in surprise when he collar was held in a death grip by the tiny, adorable maiden. She smiled darkly, her current expression resembled a dragon's deadly gaze.

"W-w-wait O-otohime!" Taro begged as he was dragged away. The group groaned, it was his own fault. Ookami turned to look at Ryoushi, her soft features downturned into an expression mixed with a sneer and one of concern.

Ryoushi couldn't stand when she looked so helplessly at him, heck he couldn't' stand to be looked at, even if it was Ryouko! He looked around for a place to hide, but there was none so he panicked. He shouted out and dropped to his knees. He pulled his arms over his head and mumbled as he tried to explain that he did not like being looked at. Ryouko sighed and rolled her eyes. She crouched down and reached out to touch the frightened male. She set her hand on his shoulder. Ryoushi calmed a bit when he felt the gentle touch.

He stopped trembling, but made no move to stand, just in case his news was disheartening. "Well..." He blinked his eyes and looked off into the distance. "I know I have gotten a lot stronger thanks to everyone's help'su." He smiled and shook his head. "Even so I think there are more things I can learn and I want to." He pushed to his feet. Ryouko looked up to him, than stood tall herself. She could take it, couldn't she? She gripped the tie of her uniform collar. "Grandfather asked me to come back to the m-mountains to complete my...t-training. I agreed'su." Ryouko felt as if the ground has been pulled out from beneath her.

He was leaving? Leaving her? But...but he promised! Ringo furrowed her brows and looked to her dear friend. She struggled to hide her shock, that much was obvious. Poor Ryouko was still not very honest with her feelings, though she sometimes tried (when not around them). The fierce wolf girl was heart broken. She lowered her head and allowed her darn bangs to fall over her eyes. She wanted to shout at him, yell at him, but he was so earnest in everything he did. She was sure, were she to scold him, Ryoushi would assure he did it for them.

"I see." Liszt finally spoke up, and opened his eye, a coy smirk playing at his features. "Does that mean you will be training so that you may assist me in my later ventures into the business world, Ryoushi-kun?" He teased. The blonde prez placed his fingers under his chin. Ryoushi brushed his hand against the back of his head and looked to the floor. He nodded and smirked shyly. Ookami blinked and looked up. So it was the president's fault? She was barely held back by Alice, Ringo, and Otsu.

"Oh ho ho!" Majo hopped to her feet and patted Ryoushi's chest, circling around him in her fun. She had a cute smirk on her face and clapped her hands together. "Will you be taking Ookami with you? I have been wanting her to test some new equipment in more open space!" The inventor chuckled.

Ryouko looked over to Ryoushi and Majo. Ryoushi blushed and looked away. "I w-was going to ask'su..." He tried to look to Ryouko, but turned his eyes away. Even though they were sort of going out, she had insisted it was only sort of, but for Ryoushi it counted and it made him happy. "That is...if she wanted to visit my hometown..." he shyly offered. "A-ah, and t-train with me. That is'su..."

Ookami was filled with happiness that he asked, but also was totally embarrassed. She pulled back her near-smile and pouted. She put her hand on her hip and turned her head away. "Well I can't leave you by yourself now can I?" She assured. "You'd probably have a panic attack on the train or something!" She tried to hide her excitement, but Ringo giggled, knowing better. She really needed to be more honest, it was not like they didn't know.

Ryoushi smiled and nodded. "H-hai'su!" He laughed. It had been settled. Ookami Ryouko would visit Morino Ryoushi's home in Yomaoka. The weekend arrived and a certain Ookami was not excited to learn that they would have to hike from the bus stop to Ryoushi's family cabin in he mountains.

T-t-there are no roads up the mountain.

It was nothing like sparring. Carrying heavy luggage up a steep mountain side was not a picnic, even if Ryoushi carried much of the inventory. It was difficult for Ryouko to watch Ryoushi trudge ahead and not even breaking a sweat. Even Francoise and Elizabeth carried packs on their backs and raced ahead of them both. It was embarrassing! Ryoushi paused and looked down the rugged trail at the struggling Ryouko.

"R..ryouko-san? Are you okay? Are you tired'su?" He swallowed nervously. Maybe it was not very considerate. She was not used to such things and to expect her to keep up was asking too much. Ryouko shook her head and took a deep breathe. She really hated being doted on. Perhaps it was just that she was not used to it... either way she sucked it up and pushed forward.

By the time they got to the small residence Ryoushi lived in for most of his life she was exhausted. Though when he said cabin she had been expecting some tiny, one room hut, not the large space she saw before her. She should have known better, remembered. Ryoushi was not an only child. He had large family, and was the last and youngest of them all. The cabin was a beautiful place. It was a single floor home which was constructed in a very traditional manner. A law thatched roof kept out the elements while framed, paper walls, lined the outside. The outer deck, which surrounded the cabin was littered with a few stray leaves from the nearby oak that offered shade to the large, open property. Ryouko was in awe. Ryoushi climbed onto the porch. Elizabeth and Francoise both barked and raced into the cabin, the home they were raised in.

Ryoushi stopped and turned to face Ryouko. The usually fierce girl seemed at peace. With everything that has come about her meeting Ryoushi, she always felt that around him she had no to be anything but herself. Being able to leave Otogi for a little while and remove that shield that was ever present. Ryoushi blushed and rubbed the back of his head. He hoped this weekend would go well...

When Ryouko entered the home she met with Ryoushi's grandfather and mother. They warmly welcomed her. She was able to learn where Ryoushi earned that gentle nature of his, and his strong pride. His family was honestly something else. Ryoushi's mother took her too the room she would be staying in. Because it was the hunting season much of his family was at the clan's home, here on the mountain. With the entire clan present, one would think the cabin would fill to capacity and become crowded and uncomfortable, but that had not been the case. Everyone in the family was very kind and hospitable toward Ryouko. It was embarrassing, and bit suffocating for the usually quiet loner.

Sometimes everyone went out into hunting parties. Small groups of two and three along with the family hunting akita. Elizabeth and Francoise always stayed with Ryoushi, and she would always accompany him on hunts. She had never hunted before in her life. It was unnerving, mostly because there were many wild boar and Ryoushi would go with no protection aside from the akita and his sling. Wild boar were dangerous, more so than full grown, wild cats!

Ryouko would watch from a safe distance, watched by Elizabeth and Francoise. She was in awe of his skill. When he hunted he was like a whole different person. This had been the one who had her back? Is this what he looked like when he was earnest in his duties? She had witnessed it once or twice before, but it still awed her. Watching him, she felt her wolf's skin shed, leaving behind a helpless pup, captured by the fearless hunter. It was not long before Ryouko heard the squeal of a boar. Ryoushi stepped from the shadows. Behind he he pulled the carcass of what would become part of the night's dinner, or the morning's breakfast.

Elizabeth and Francoise were excited and barked at the carcass as if they had lent a paw in the actually hunt. Ryouko and Ryoushi walked back, side by side. The akita got what they wanted and were bound by their harnesses to the carcass which they pulled across the uneven terrain, back to the cabin compound. The pair talked of memories of the Otogi Bank, and how everyone should take a vacation together in the summer. Even if they were done, and would follow different lives, they will always be the Otogi Bank, and selfishly make the world a little more selfless.

When they returned back Ryouko was relieved. Such a long walk, such a hot day! She dropped down on the deck area just outside Ryoushi's room, which Elizabeth and Francoise spent much of their time, rather in the kennels with the other family dogs. The girls were the youngest of the family's dogs, so they were a bit spoiled. They were Ryoushi's only company growing up, which only added to the situation. Ryouko stretched out on the deck and yawned. Ryoushi unfastened the akita from the carcass. The pair barked and ran off. They hopped onto the deck and curled up around Ryouko, making a nest of fluff and cute.

Ryoushi sighed and rubbed his head. "R-ryouko-san, they are a little dirty after-" Ryouko waved her hand dismissively and yawned. She rolled over and snuggled with the pair. Ryoushi smiled and took the kill to be cleaned.

After washing up Ryoushi returned to his room. The evening was drawing near and with it came the cool mountain winds. Ryoushi startled when he opened the shoji doors facing the deck. Ryouko was still outside, soundly napping. The young man battled with the sight. It was adorable, but if she slept on the floor like that she would catch a cold... When he looked down at Ryouko, and the furry pair of akita, he was startled by the burning gaze that was poised in his direction. He was seconds from panicking, but Ryouko held out her hand. Her face was snuggled into Elizabeth. Or was it Francoise? The was hard to tell where one akita ended and the other began. Ryoushi swallowed nervously, but reached out and took her hand.

With a startled shout Ryoushi was pulled to the ground. He was now on the floor of the deck, snuggled against Ryouko. This was the closest he has ever been to her. Such an intimate hug... She patted his hand to calm him down. It was silent reassurance it was no big deal, we're together, she wordlessly communicated. Ryoushi sighed, relaxed and laid his head in the crook of her neck. The smell of the pit fire saturated the air above the small Morino cabin. Soon the entire family, dogs included, were gathered for a meal build around the hunted meats, and gathered fruits. Ryouko was the only girl there aside from Ryoushi's mother. She felt like a primness, because all of his brothers treated her like one, spoiling her, and embarrassing her with suggestions of becoming a proper baby-sister and tame Ryoushi.

On the last day of the weekended, Ryouko found herself regretfully packing her bags. A knock came at the shoji door. She turned to see Ryoushi standing there with his hands hidden in his pocket, and his eyes cast to the tatami mat floors. He wore loose, casual clothing. He was home after all. The thought made Ryouko a little insecure. Her own home life was regrettable, and she thought of Ringo and the Otogi Bank more family than her blood relatives.

"Are you r-ready to g-go'su?" He shuffled into the room and closed the door behind him (to the akitas' regret). The young man ignored the dogs' whining barks and closed the space between him and Ryouko. He sat himself down on the floor. He had not bothered to sit seiza and sat casually. "It was a very..l-long weekend." Ryouko solemnly looked to the shirt she had gave up folding halfway through.

She tossed the shirt into her luggage and crawled over toward Ryoushi. He leaned back when her face leaned into his. He nervously turned his gaze away and whined a bit. Ryouko sighed and pinched his cheek before she crawled into his lap and laid herself down like a cozy cat. Ryoushi swallowed nervously. He hesitated, at first, but eventually reached out his hand and stroked her hair. "R-ryouko-san?" he called softly.

She was relaxed, comfortable and much enjoyed her quite time with Ryoushi. "Hn." She responded listlessly. But he never continued his thought. Eventually the dark-haired woman leaned back and glanced up at her boyfriend. He reached into his shirt pocket and suddenly moved to scratch his head. She twisted her eyes up in confusion.

"Y-you seemed cozy, here'su..." He noted offhandedly. She nodded and laid her head back as he continued to pet her.

"Hmm, I did. Your family is nice. I liked … spending time with you." She shyly admitted in a whisper.

Ryoushi nodded, understanding. "T-than, maybe.. w-would you like to be here more'su? That is..." He fidgeted a bit. She looked back up at him again, a blush painted her cheeks with a gentle pink coloration. She sat up on her knees and settled her hands between her legs. She nodded, and peered up at him in question. He was more fidgety than usual. All their time together this weekend he was calm, at least as much as Ryoushi could be surrounded by people. He once again reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a small, gold band. His eye peeked out from a part in his green hair. The orb turned its gaze to the floor, and occasionally flicked up to Ryouko. "W-will you marry me than'su? T-that way... we can be together always." Ryouko felt her heart drop.

Her head filled with the steam that erupted from the sudden twist of emotions that drained through her body, along with the blood from her head, or in this case into as she turned a beet red. There was an awkward silence between them, that was made even more so with two, attention hungry akita outside the door whining. Ryoushi felt that he had perhaps crossed a boundary.

Honestly Ryouko was happy, scared and excited all in the same time. Of course she wanted to be with Ryoushi. She felt safe with him, and felt her burden lifted, but she was afraid that she would burden him with everything about her past, even though he has made it obvious he was more than willing to burden anything when it came to her. Most of all she was excited. The first thing she wanted to do was tell Ringo, though that sounded like a bad idea because she would be unable to enjoy the news had her dear friend caught wind of it and spread it before she could... She shook her head. The motion was taken as a response by Ryoushi.

Well he expected it. He was being pushy. Ryouko blinked. She noticed his dejection. His shoulders slumped as he lowered the hand holding the ring. She had taken too long to answer! "Hey!" She launched herself onto him and snatched the ring from his hand. Ryoushi landed on his back with a grunt. He blinked his eyes clear and gripped the empty air with his now empty hand. Ryouko stared at him with a half pout, half sneer. "This is mine right?" Ryoushi nodded furiously. The whining pair of akita finally decided to open the door since their demands were not being met. Ryouko laughed when she was suddenly kissed on the cheek by a pair of excited dogs, but blushed when she was kissed on the forehead by a shy Ryoushi.

Ryouko put the ring on her finger and laid her head on Ryoushi's chest. "I want to try and live happily ever after." She murmured as she closed her eyes. Ryoushi nodded, and even though she could not see it, he was sure she felt his affirmative response. He laid his hand on her back. Elizabeth and Francoise curled up around Ryoushi and Ryouko. There they stayed, until it was time to go back to Otogi, and tell their friends the good news.