Over the years, I've always had this idea in my head about writing a very funny, persistent love story. This is one of those tales, with the pairing of Inuyasha/Kouga.

A few things before we begin this five chapter story:

1.) Deviation from canon is intentional. I call it a fanfiction author's creative license.

2.) In regards to number 1, I'm taking out some of the events of the anime and manga - for the story's purpose - and merging it with events of my own devising. (Ex: In here, Kouga's jewel shards were never taken by Naraku.)

3.) If you're not into the pairing, don't bother with trying to negate my story; it is fanfiction and everyone who writes it can do as they please.

4.) Rated as such for a lot of swearing. Like, really, Kouga cusses like a sailor in here. And sexual frustration is a must.

5.) This takes place over the course of one year, at any point in the story-line the goddess Takahashi has created, with every season. Consider this chapter the very, very early spring.

6.) I promise my AN won't be this long ever again.

I own nothing. If I did, my demands would be endless, lengthy, and more than likely, costly. Also, they would defy the laws of physics and reason.

"The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose." ~Richard Grant

Expectations were a permanent part of Kouga's existence. He accepted that willingly, without complaint or attempts to shirk the responsibility of his status onto someone else. It was decided before he was born that he would be the leader, the Prince of the Eastern wolf-tribe, and he never was one to barter with destiny, with the hands of the Fates themselves. Others looked up to him, and expected him to be their leader, ruthlessly strong, and of course, a prime example for the generations to come. He had a calling, a mental compass that tilted, twirled, and took his legs where he needed to go.

At least, that was how he once thought of his life, one month previously.

With the way that his thought pattern had shifted, his mind described the inner-situation in an over-played hyperbole of only the highest dramatic caliber. Even now he had a hard time distinguishing what exactly happened, or how. The moment the realization came, splintering through his previous mode of existence, he felt a clarity that made the stars appear as if they were rattling in the velvet skies, shaking with an earth-shattering moment of clarity. There was no orbit, there was levity, and he felt as if he was going mad.

It was not quite that extreme he knew, and Kouga took full responsibility for the foolish exaggerations that had run rampant in his mind.

It was a month before, for right then, the moon had fully risen in the skies. Kouga remembered how big the moon looked one month ago, and he recalled being scared to his very core, rattled beyond rational thought. Had Ginta or Hakkaku attempted to speak with him, they would have received no intelligent reply, merely a strand of incoherent babbling that had nothing to do with anything. Realizations, especially those that filled the heart with life-altering conclusions, were never very pretty to watch.

Currently, the moon was shielded by the wispy remnants of a half-finished cloud, and it swathed the moon in a gray blanket, as if to both comfort the orb and lull it into a state of somnolence. This was hardly the time for sleep, for there were words that had to be said, people that had to be consoled, and someone important to speak to...

Kouga felt the coppery tang of blood coat his tongue and he spat a few times, cursing loudly. He had no idea that he had even been chewing his lip, much less biting it hard enough to break the skin.

A sigh of exasperation slipped past his lips, and he shook his head, acknowledging the horror that it was happening again.

Ever since the past month - or, as he deemed it the "night-where-he realized-something-awful-and-wonderful" - he caught himself staring off into the ether, looking at nothing, but staring nonetheless. This tended to happen when he was running with his pack mates, and sometimes, he discovered that he'd led them off in the opposite direction of where they were supposed to be going. Had he been the old Kouga, the one who blamed his personal down-falls on others, he would have cursed Ginta and Hakakku, clacked their heads together, and demanded why they didn't tell him they were running in the wrong direction for the better part of the day.

But he wasn't that person anymore, as strange as it was to admit. The instant he realized his navigational error, Kouga stopped immediately by a stream, bid his family to drink, and then he told them with enough chagrin to last a lifetime, that he was responsible for running them off course, into an oblique unknown.

He would never forget the looks on their faces when he'd admitted he was wrong. They had stared at him, blinked a few times, and then stared some more. Then, after a full minute of intense scrutiny - of which, Kouga didn't really think was necessary - they shrugged and said that everyone made mistakes. They had the memories of koi sometimes, and they forgave just as easily. He clapped their backs, thanked them, and then promptly left them in his dust.

Other than the ridiculous amount of day-dreaming and thinking he was doing - of which, he was relatively new at - he found that something was happening within his physical body. At first, Kouga thought that he was coming down with fever, that he had eaten some diseased kill, or both.

The first week it happened, Kouga remembered staring up through a cloistering of tree-branches, thinking that the word irony, a definition he never really understood until now, was the perfect term to describe this feeling. If he was dying, it was before he had the chance to come to a conclusion, to follow through on a barely-there plan that was forming in his mind during all of this thinking. Sometimes on these nights, he feared closing his eyes, for he truly thought he was dying from something, as pathetic as that was to admit.

Kouga found himself short of breath for no reason, his skin was prickly, almost as if he sensed an approaching lightning storm, and his heart thundered in his chest, knocking against his bones with the intensity of an enraged tribal drummer. Everything was intensified, every sense a physical live-wire.

Now Kouga also understood a new word: tragedy. It was a tragic thing to die with so much feeling inside of you, especially when the purpose of the emotion was for it to be released. If his body was going out, then he knew that he would die with this feeling inside of him, for he was too far away from the person that had become the source of his musings as of late.

After the week passed, Kouga realized that the skin-tingling prickles, the way his stomach churned, twisted and knotted, the sudden flush that came over his face and neck, and especially, the way his heart jumped out of nowhere had to do with the feeling. It was all tied together in this wicked, ever-tangled knot that interestingly enough, Kouga had no desire to escape from anytime soon. It was the biggest contradiction, the biggest moral plight he had ever faced.

It was also a clear indication that no part of this plan would be easy, especially if he thought that he was leaning in Death's doorway before the plan had the chance to come to fruition. If he was going to jump to every conceivable outcome, then he may as well have admitted defeat right then.

Kouga was never one for giving up, even when the odds were stacked so heavily against him, he could no longer see the skies. He simply faced these odds with a smirk, grinned, and charged head-first into battle, despite how he sometimes turned tail and ran away. He had known retreat; now he would know how it felt to attempt a true victory.

A gush of wind to his immediate left alerted Kouga to her arrival, snapping him from his inner-reverie. She was the one he had to talk to first, as strange as that seemed. The first steps were the most crucial, and from the way she was glaring at him, this would be the furthest thing from simple.

Ayame took one look at him, sighed and shook her head, the red pig-tails of her hair creating small crimson whips. She held her arm akimbo to the rest of her body, and with the way her hand was snugly tucked against her hip, the stance suited her. She looked ever the princess, albeit a very annoyed one.

"Kouga, what's up? Why did you want to meet with me, hmm?" Her emerald eyes flashed in the moonlight, and he saw more than anger there. There was curiosity, hurt, and above all, hope. Foolish, misconstrued hope that would never serve as anything other than wasted emotion. That was entirely his fault, and he choked back the rush of guilt he felt on her behalf.

He nodded to her in greeting. "Hey Ayame. I have something to tell you. It's gonna sound...pretty crazy." He broke eye-contact with her for a brief moment, but then he thought better of it. Now was hardly the time for cowardice, for feet-shuffling or looking at anything but her eyes. It was the time to be a prince.

Ayame's eyes softened, and she looked around the field they were in, as if to give him more time to come up with his words. It was quite the scenic route, a small clearing filled with tightly closed flower-buds, and a thick cluster of trees to his direct left. The silence was purged with the gurgling of a far-off brook, and the sound soothed him away from past shame, reminding him that this was what needed to be done.

Her trust of this moment was misplaced, for if she suspected that he was going to reveal some romantic intent, she was in for a painful wake-up call. It was the way it had to be. To be responsible, and to take charge of this seemingly uncontrollable situation, he had to begin one step at a time.

Ayame moistened her lips with her tongue, then ended the silence. "Should I sit down?" Kouga almost nodded, but he knew that if they sat down, she would inevitably get too close to him, and once he revealed to her his reasoning for bringing her here, she would more than likely cry, slap him or attempt to inflict bodily harm on his person. Either way the latter option would occur, but physical contact couldn't happen right then.

"No, I think we should stay standing." He cleared his throat, then began saying what should have been said a long, long time before. "Ayame, I don't love you." She opened her mouth to speak, and he noticed the way her lip trembled, the way that her eyes lost their verdant sheen. His words held such power over her and it sickened him. Shame coiled in his gut, but he refused to lose his nerve to self-pity. "Ayame, before I continue, please don't say anything until I finish." She blinked and then after an intense once-over, nodded. He could hear the sound of her heart breaking from here, and though it killed him to know he was causing her pain, it was for the best. "I love someone else..."

"Kagome, right? The human? She'll grow old and die! We're youkai, Kouga, and we're not meant to mingle with human affairs!" She was never really good at listening to him, especially when it mattered the most.

"Ayame...it's not her." Her mouth opened, but no words were spoken. Her eyes voiced the question: if not Kagome, the little shard-detector, then who? "That's what I wanted to tell you: I'm over Kagome, forever." Forever was a strong word, but he understood the severity of using it at this point in his life. Before, he had thrown around words such as marriage, forever, and especially, love. Hell, he hadn't known what such a meaning meant yet, and now, though he was in the thick of the feeling itself, he still didn't know quite what it meant.

"Is it...another human girl? A female wolf-demon?" He shook his head to both assumptions, and her eyes narrowed to the earth, as if she was running through a mental tabulation of every possible candidate. She would never guess correctly, even if she was given the entire evening. She was of quick mind, but Kouga knew that she wouldn't think of the possibility of him being interested in his own gender. He had to hand it to her: even when she was angry at him, no matter how testy she got, she always believed the best of him.

"No, it's no one like that." She gave him a look that said that he had better get on with it, lest she shove her foot down his throat. "It's Inuyasha." Her eyes widened, her mouth opened in a small O, and she inhaled a sharp breath.

She seemed to be waiting for the punch line, for the moment when he would tell her that it was all a joke, and that Ginta and Hakkaku were waiting in the bushes, laughing their tails off. That would never happen. The truth was many a terrible, liberating thing.

When Ayame saw the serious set to his face, any trace of humor vanished with the coming breeze. Her scent permeated the air around his nose, and he had to admit that she didn't smell bad at all, but very good. With all the time she spent in the mountains, her skin had a pine aroma, as well as the scent of the crisp winter air all at once. He was sure that her hair smelt the same way, if not like the iris she wore pinned on her head. However, it did nothing to elicit any sensual reaction in him.

"You're being serious, aren't you?" He nodded, and she took another breath. "Go on. Sorry for interrupting you." Her eyes fell to the grass, almost as if she was afraid to look him in the eye. He would have none of that.

"Ayame, please look at me." She didn't budge, much less roll her eyes up to meet his gaze. "Come on now...I want to explain this properly." Playfulness was replaced with austerity and eloquence, and when he adopted this persona, all those around him knew he meant business.

She nodded and looked him directly in the eye, both out of respect, and curiosity. "Okay. Tell me."

He took a deep breath, and began to speak. "First, I want you to know that you have every right to blame me. Really, I'd be pissed if someone saved me, told me they'd marry me, and then became infatuated with a human. Be as mad as you'd like. You can even kick my ass if you want; I won't stop you." She remained rooted to the spot, then nodded her head curtly, motioning that he could continue. "I also want to formerly release you from what I said." Pride be damned, he had to go to his knees.

His kneecaps hit the earth, and he looked up at Ayame. In a backwards time, in a mirror image of this event, this was how humans proposed. He was doing the opposite however: setting her free from his puerile promise of royal youkai matrimony. "Ayame of the Northern wolf-tribe, I set you free from any promise I made, from any and all obligations, intentions, and responsibilities I've placed on you from this moment forward. You're free to choose any mate you want, and you don't need to impress me, or my clan, any longer." He figured that was as good a speech as he was going to give right now.

Ayame took a step backwards, almost as if she did not want to believe what was happening. That was the truth of reality: one had to step forward to begin accepting it. She knew this, took two steps forward, and with grim resolve, nodded.

"You don't have to be on your knees." She held out her hand, and though there was pain in her tear-filled eyes, she helped him to his feet.

The moment he was righted, she kicked him squarely in the jaw. He reeled back, shook his head a few times, and he couldn't help but grin.

"There's the Ayame I know." He felt a small smile play on his lips, one that wasn't taunting, but filled with a puppy-play of sorts. It was also a grimace, a quirk of the mouth of one who knew he was getting exactly what he deserved. "Come on, I know you're mad at me. Get it all out."

Ayame stood there, fuming, panting, glaring, and then she was upon him. Her small fists spared his body nothing, and for that he was glad. The last thing he wanted was a menial punishment, especially since he was so deserving of this beating. She screamed at him, and the scent of salt in the air sliced directly through bone, meeting his heart. The physical pain did not bother him much, for it only stung; what hurt, was the thought that he had inadvertently wasted this female's youth and more importantly, her time. She deserved to live without this heartbreak. This gift of his silence, the gift of simply standing there and taking this was the least he could offer her, but she would take nothing else from him. It was the purest form of closure: punching the one who had wronged you in the kisser.

She did not stop there. Ayame scratched him a few times, tugged his hair free from the band with skilled claws, and finally, delivered a round-house kick to his stomach. He winced and let out a steady release of breath, falling over from the painful sensations that enveloped his body. Black dots ebbed to and from his line of vision, and he coughed, tasting blood. These were merely surface wounds and would heal in a few minutes, if he was allowed to rest. What mattered he knew, was that Ayame healed.

Ayame's breath steadied, the breeze climaxed once more, and he was allowed his rest. He gripped the grass beneath him, shook his head a few times to clear it, and he stood, knowing the hardest part was over. Now it was the festering aftermath that had to be looked after.

He cracked his neck, bound his hair up again, and took a deep breath. There would be plenty of questions, and he would answer them to the best of his ability, even beyond that if need be. After nearly getting his brain stem knocked loose by a vengeful female, he gave new credence to the phrase, "Hell hath no fury."

Her exasperated sigh broke his train of thought. "Inuyasha?" He nodded, and he knew she yearned to ask why, why a mere half-breed had won favor over her, how this had happened, and above all, how the hell he could find it in himself to love someone who was supposed to be his rival. Whoever said that things didn't change deserved a moment in his position, merely to feel what it was like to be on the cusp of this stage of fragile metamorphosis.

His bad decisions had led to this moment of clear-sight, and he knew what needed to be done. "Yes, him. It sounds crazy, but it's true."

She threw her arms in the air, and began to pace. In the moonlight, she looked like some sort of vengeful faerie that had taken human form, merely to scold him and point out everything wrong with this feeling. It was not like he didn't already know the complications it arose, the rumors it would spread, or the immediate change his life would take if word got out. However, he was willing to listen nonetheless, for she deserved to vent.

"Kouga, what are you going to do about your post? You're the leader! The Prince! What about children, pups, a mate..." she halted in mid-stride, almost as if she was considering some gruesome possibility. The moment he understood what she was thinking about, his face wrinkled in disgust, and he felt it challenging to suppress gagging noises.

"Ayame, that's fucking impossible." Screw eloquence, that was just...wrong. "Inuyasha can't bear me pups. I mean, we're guys...the parts don't work right...the plumbing is wrong..." he was sure his entire face had turned an embarrassing shade of red, the same red as the once half-breed's haori. Once half-breed, for Kouga made a promise to himself to never call Inuyasha that ever again. He shook his head, banning any and all images of that and focused on what was possible, what he would make damn possible even if it killed him.

Ayame sighed and rubbed a hand through her hair. She seemed to be more peeved than anything, but it was clear that the thirst for the physical desire to inflict violence on him had passed. "Kouga, what are you going to do? Abandon your post?"

Truth be told, he had no fucking clue. However, it was a possibility.

Kouga shrugged, and his nonchalance made a sharp red-light cross Ayame's eyes. "Sure. If that's what it takes. I'll give it up if I need to."

Her jaw dropped with the way he spoke of his title, almost as if he was merely discussing giving away a present he did not want anymore. "That's so irresponsible! What will the ancestors say? My grandfather, the leaders before you, the pack, my pack...what will everyone think?"

It was then that every emotion, the building rage and panic, the tingling feeling of this new-found love and the volition it inspired came to a thundering, physical crest.

For the lack of a better, prettier word, Kouga exploded. "I don't give a flying fuck what anyone thinks! I never have, nor will I begin now! I'm the Prince, right, the leader? Then I'll just resign and give the responsibility over to someone else. I mean, it's responsible of me to admit that I'm not fit to lead just because I fell in love with Inuyasha, right?" He snarled, and he knew that his eyes were narrowed into nothing more than blue slits. The anger was not solely directed towards Ayame, but to the entirety of the situation, and what would indubitably arise from it. He was glaring at the world entire, the fucking lot of it.

Ayame stepped back a few feet, then stood her ground. "I never said any of that...it's just blood, Kouga. "

"Yeah, well, fuck that! Screw whoever claimed I don't have a choice! We all have a choice! We do. We have to." He narrowed his eyes at her, almost as if daring her to oppose him so that he could verbally raze any remark she could have made. She was silent. "Whatever. I'm sure the thought crossed your mind at least once, that I'm not fit to rule because of who I prefer in my bed, right?" She flushed scarlet, tears brimming her eyes once more and he knew that a line had been crossed from his anger. His damn temper, it always got the best of him.

'Baby steps.' Kouga took a deep breath as an excuse to not speak anymore and shame himself further. "Ayame...I'm sorry. Believe me, if I would have known that I'd fall for that wonderful half-breed, I would have high-tailed it to the mountains and never come back again. I'll just give the title to Ginta or Hakkaku, they'll make terrific leaders." He figured if he got in the habit of using an adjective before the word half-breed, it would make the term less harmful. Also, he figured that if he joked around a little more, awful situations would be even less.

The tenor of her laughter blistered through the anger in the air, and before long, the wind blew away their tension. There was still plenty of hurt, awkwardness, and all of the other wonderful emotions that came after such a display, but Kouga was fine with that.

"You're...you're crazy!" She clutched her stomach, and her tears were of mirth, not of anguish. He shrugged, and could not help the smile that tugged at his lips. She really was a good girl, an extraordinary person who would make some lucky male-wolf very, very happy.

"Yeah, well, I'm full of surprises tonight. Besides, you're pretty familiar with matters of the heart. You're familiar with persistence. Well, now it's my turn." Ayame shook her head, wiped at her eyes, and then straightened her posture. She met his eyes, and looked at him for so long, he wondered if he would melt into a puddle, burst into flames, or both once she was done with her scrutiny. Either she was mentally reciting some sort of death spell on him that would give him hell for the rest of his days...or she was just looking at him for a long moment, for she knew that this was the last she would see of the foolish wolf who held her heart for a long while.

Kouga knew he was not a bad guy, far from it. However, he was just not right for her, and he was not the man of her dreams, the one who would be mated to her for life. He was a wolf on a mission, someone who wanted to tear Naraku apart with his bare hands for what he did to his clan, and as of late, stop at nothing to make Inuyasha his.

"...are you sure? You really didn't mean what you said, about the promise?" It was as much a question as it was a statement.

That was the thing about a rainbow, he realized in a flash of epiphany, and promises that were made and believed would be kept: the significance faded just as easily. They were brilliant colors, pretty words but they dissolved with the approaching dawn.

"No. I was stupid to even say that. I must have been high on something. The air was thick with something that night." She chuckled briefly, but with the frown on her lips, he knew that it would be a long, long time before she ever laughed at any humor he attempted on her again. What happened before had been a fluke. "Believe me, Ayame: you don't want me. Hell, I doubt Inuyasha even will."

The moment he spoke those words out-loud he realized two things: he was both brave and stupid, and that was his worst fear. That was so incredibly sappy, cheesy, corny...but it was true. Even if that meant that he had turned into some sap-sucking, cheese-eating, corn-picking fool, so be it.

Kouga shook his head and massaged his temples. He honestly had no idea what had gotten into him lately. His mind was coming up with the stupidest shit.

'Maybe that's what this love thing is all about...heh, go figure.'

"I'll help you." Kouga blinked a few times, and resisted the urge to rub his finger in his ear. Did he just hear that Ayame would help him? Help him with what? Talk to the elders and the head-honchos in charge of the entirety of the wolf-clans? As helpful as that would be...

Then it dawned on him like a slant of blinding light. "What? No!" She looked taken aback, and to his utter disbelief, crestfallen. He softened a little, for he knew that this was admirably mature of her. After getting her heart broken by him, the last thing he expected was for her to offer up her services to get the guy. Get the guy...yes, he had officially lost his mind now.

"What I meant is, that you don't need to feel obligated, Ayame. This is something I gotta do on my own. If it's not done by me, I don't really deserve it, you know?" Heaven above, he was talking about a potential and very fatuous attempt at courtship with Inuyasha. His sanity was probably sprouting little wings and flying off into the skies now, laughing about how it had been nice knowing him.

Ayame spoke, and her words were a comfort. "I understand. That part anyways." She shook her head, and a brief laugh escaped her lips. "Inuyasha...I never would have guessed in a million centuries that it would be him. He's a lucky guy." She looked to the sky for a moment, and with the way the mercurial bands of light fell from the heavens in strips of white-washed color, she looked like the epitome of a girl...no, a woman in the midst of realization. Ayame was coming to her own conclusions, even if she did practically break his jaw to gain mental insight. "If there's anything you need, you know where to find me." Her voice was deceiving, for he knew that she was in true pain, for it was obvious on her face. Tears leaked from her eyes, her lips were trembling, but her voice was strong, resolute. She was learning how to be strong as well.

He wished he could be the good guy, the right guy for her, and just take her in his arms to comfort her. He would do no such thing, for all that would serve was more time spent giving her mixed signals. Nothing but honesty would come from him, from now on. It felt so vindicating.

"I will. Take care, Ayame." She nodded, and then became a silver tornado of speed. He blinked, and she was gone.

Kouga shook his head, sighing out-loud. This love thing was pretty fucking complicated. First he thought he was dying, then he came up with a half-assed plan...and then he just got out of a marriage he never wanted. This feeling made people and youkai alike do some crazy, terrible, wonderful things.

With Ayame gone, his head was clear from all but the deluge of emotions that threatened to pull him under. Part of him wanted to beg her to come back, not for her love or for anything sensual, but merely because his pride was on the line, not to mention his family blood-line. Years upon years, wasted, all because he thought he loved someone who more than likely hated him.

Hate. The line between the word love, a word that had countless meanings, and hate, a word that had a concrete definition was not as different as he once thought.

Simplicity. Normalcy. Kouga had no idea what that looked like anymore.

But Kouga knew what such terms felt like. He felt it when he ran, when all he knew was the sound of his feet hitting the forest floor, bending twigs and the grass beneath his feet. He felt it when his chest thrummed with energy and vigor, when his lungs worked hard to support both the exercise and the instinct to go, to flee, to fly. That was still fairly normal, a constant in his world.

'Not for long.' He knew that the only way for any of this to be possible was to give up the jewel shards, the ones that made him worthy to rule, worthy to marry. Although, if it was as easy to give up an entire throne and title with the yanking of a few pieces of a jewel, then he would do it right then.

Not needing any forewarning, he broke into a dead-sprint. Kouga felt the power of the shards emanate through his entire being, a sacred flame fanning his soul, one that whispered promises in the crackling of fire, promises of power and strength of which no one had ever known. That voice would be extinguished, as if a god had bit the tip of the eternal wick, cutting off his source from the capability of the jewel.

'It never really belonged to me anyways. I'll give it up.'

The world became a blur of frenzied images, but he saw it all, the entire picture: there was the sky directly above him, hovering in a hollowed out bowl of dark, swirling colors. Stars were mixed in, spilling over the sides in a bridge of constellations and galaxies where his ancestors roamed the heavens on celestial fields, their howls creating the dawn. And there was the moon, the very being that had elicited such a change deep within himself, a change he could hardly fathom.

With the way the light was pouring down on his moving figure, he could not help but think of the light as silver. Humans with their poor eye-sight would never be able to see it, but instead of the turquoise glow of the moon, it was mainly white, a liquid pearl of color.

It was just like his freaking hair. Kouga had never seen such pretty hair on another male before. Sure, some of the leaders of the wolf clan enjoyed grooming themselves until even the ticks on their pelt were shining, but he was never really into the vanity thing. He preferred the necessities, and nothing more.

However, towards the object of his affections, thoughts, and feelings, Inuyasha was the exception. Aside from that finely clothed, human-collecting half-brother of his with the flashy armor and swords, Kouga had never really seen anyone with such long, silver hair. If you counted Ayame's grandfather however, or the occasional wolf-pelt, his view on the color was severely lacking. Hair that long tended to be a nuisance, which was why he always bound his up and back with his leather hair-strap, along with the tie. His father had given it to him 150 years ago, and it had not broke or been misplaced once.

Inuyasha's hair more than likely never tangled. He had never touched it, but he imagined it was like running his hands over a current of silk-smooth water, a rumbling of a wave that remained still just for him. That sort of feeling. The color was as white as snow that had not been soiled by filthy paws or mud-caked soles, and just as pure as the lightest quicksilver. His ears were just the same shade, and inside, there were little pink spots that reminded him of the younger pups in his clan, back in the caves and mountains.

Inuyasha was a bit of a contradiction then: beautiful, but ever so innocent, despite his sharp tongue and subjective temper.

Kouga shook his head, thinking that if there was a way he could wish his thoughts to an immediate stand-still, he would take the offer in a heart-beat.

The forest was black, but he could see everything clearly, perhaps more clearly than it had ever been. He smiled and worked his legs harder, pumping his arms into the stride. He dodged trees, boulders, the occasional fallen log with ease, and leaped over a large stream, one that was so wide, he didn't think he would clear it. He did though, and when he landed, he gave a loud cry of triumph. Luck was on his side, and as far as he was concerned, Fate.

Kouga finally paused his energetic and somewhat feverish run, and he smiled, realizing he had arrived at his desired point. This was his special thinking spot, a place that he used to go to if he wanted to think and escape everyone for just a little while. So many memories of training here, of laughing with people he cared about, and simply relishing the solitude were spent here.

It was a cliff-side that fell away into a large open expanse of land. From the vantage point, one could see all of the rivers and streams, fields of both crops and flowers, animal migrations, and most importantly, the sunrise. He would witness the golden tide of light bathing the entirety of the picturesque scene, setting the world on fire, along with his steady volition.

For a long time, he just stood there, absorbing what he had done, what he wanted to do, and what had yet to be. There was still so much that could potentially go wrong, so many factors working against him that he would wind up flat on his back, not knowing which way was up. There were risks involved, risks that would hurt not only his life and heart, but the life and heart of Inuyasha as well. When something as strange and as unrivaled as maybe-but-maybe-not unrequited love came about, there was no cosmic rule about it. He would just go with it, do what felt right at the time, and above all, not give up.

Unless Inuyasha expressed nothing for him. When he told him, there would be shock, the jaw-dropping awe that came when you revealed out of the clear blue that you adored someone. There would be anger, for either Inuyasha would think he was luring him into a false sense of security, or just doing this for some elaborate joke. It was not simply an understatement that Inuyasha did not trust easily.

If, Kouga promised himself, even after all of his persistence and attempts to be with the once half-breed failed...then he would move on. Nothing was worse than someone proclaiming their undying love and devotion for you, day in and day out, until all you wanted to do was either scream and run away, or scream, say that it could never work out, and then run away.

But for now, there would be no running.

"Look at me now, Pop; your boy's all grown up." Kouga said this to no one and everyone, nothing and everything. Though both of his parents were buried, their bodies long since decayed, their spirits roaming the velvet frontier forever, he felt as if he was speaking directly to them. "You too, Mom. I'm grown up, and I'm taking responsibility." It might not have been in the way any of them had expected, but the truth was that he was doing it, regardless of past expectations.

Though there were politics of being part of the wolf-clans, everyone still held the creed of instinct deep within their bones. All wolves, no matter who they were, thirsted to run free, to be unbound by the characteristics of humans, of man, and of anything that took them away from the nature they so desired. By nature, that meant the literal green earth beneath their feet, or the way their inner-desires spoke. If they wanted food, they killed for it. If they wanted adventure, they searched for it by any means. And if they wanted love, they strove towards it, for wolf love was said to be the best sort of love there was. The instinct for romantics was simple: let the one you care for know of your intentions, and go from there.

It was simple, and Kouga would try and keep it that way. Even if it meant that he would be the butt of the joke for a long time, maybe even for the rest of his life, that was a risk he was willing to take. No...not just take, but thrive in, declare ownership over, and above all, relish. He would not let any pompous adversary that happened to be in the position of leadership take a jab at him just because of his sexuality. So he liked males, big freaking deal. It did not make him any less of a youkai, less than a male, and he would set anyone who dared quarrel with him straight on the matter.

The entire prerogative sounded dramatic, yet it held an austere undertone. It was true: love, and the matters of the heart, were never something to be treated lightly. He'd done that twice before, and it had wound him in a heap of trouble.

His mother had always called him straightforward, and his father always called him a wise-ass with a good heart; now was his chance to prove both were true.

With the dawn's first light, Kouga thrust open his arms, almost as if he yearned to embrace the light, joining it in its gilded song over the valley. He closed his eyes, and the frosty air of the beginning sunlight coasted over his skin in an unmatched warmth. This felt wonderful.

In this moment, he felt like he was literally embracing Fate. Whether or not he really believed in Fate, he had no clue. What he did know however, was that there had to be some sort of cosmic driving force behind what took place in life, and he was ready for it; he had arrived at his conclusion.

Limpid-blue eyes opened, a smile graced a ruggedly handsome face, and in a flash of steel armor and dark-honey fur, Kouga was off to create part two of his plan.

1-Yes, I poked fun at male-pregnancy, for that's just impossible.

2-I don't hate Ayame, but I do dislike her about as much as I do Kagome.

3-Four more chapters to go, surprises ahead, and something involving a cliffhanger, in both the figurative and literal sense of the word.