InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ The Coyote Child ❯ Chapter 11 ( Chapter 11 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
The Coyote Child
By Terri Botta
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha. Sole copyright belongs to Viz and Rumiko Takashi. I'm poor so don't sue.
Rating: R for later chapters.
Summary: Inuyasha and Kagome are asked to adopt a coyote-hanyou baby from Arizona.
Email feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org NOTE NEW EMAIL!!
Author's note: Hi all! Here's an early Christmas gift or a late Hanukkah gift or a belated Thanksgiving dessert or whatever… My life is never boring. Those of you who read my livejournal can attest to that. http://isilwath.livejournal.com
Some of you may know that my mother-in-law, Ann, passed away this July after a long battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease. She was heavily involved in breeding, training and showing Borzoi (Russian Wolfhounds) most of her adult life and she had 4 when she died. Before Ann died, we made sure she knew where her dogs were going so she would know that her dogs would be cared for after she was gone. I know it was a comfort to her to know that her beloved pets would be safe and loved. We took the oldest dog, Tinkerbell. I made a video of her here at our house and out at the farm and I put it up on youtube. You can see it here:
The biggest announcement I have is the completion of The Heart of a Fox. My novel set in 16th Century Japan is now available from lulu.com: http://www.lulu.com/content/1310320
You can read the first two chapters in the preview to see if it's your kind of book. Please check it out. I am especially fond of the cover. I think it came out wonderfully.
Thank you to all of you who have been so very patient and supportive. I hope all of you have a safe and happy holiday season.
“Kagura, you bitch! What are you doing here? Did my stupid brother send you?” his father yelled, drawing Tessaiga.
“I was in the area and he asked me to check on things,” Kagura answered coolly from her floating perch. He could see the humor in her red eyes, and he knew she was enjoying taunting his father.
“Keh! Tell that bastard I can take care of myself!” Inuyasha growled. “I don't need his help!”
“Of course not,” the wind demon replied wryly.
His father snarled, fangs bared, and he decided it was time to intervene.
“Thank you, Kagura-san. You can tell my uncle that everything is fine here. We were able to destroy the bats that attacked us last night. We will go to their cave today and see if there are any survivors. Rest assured we will tell him if there are any more bats that need to be dealt with,” he called up to her, taking a step forward to block his father's line of attack.
“Sure,” Kagura said with a nod.
“Oi! We don't need any help!” Inuyasha insisted.
He ignored his father's outburst and indicated the young coyote-youkai who was just now sitting up and rubbing the dust out of his eyes.
“Who is this coyote-youkai, Kagura-san?”
She shrugged. “I have no idea. I just caught him skulking behind those bluffs over there and decided to let you deal with him.”
He cast a glance at the youngster, wondering if this could be the famed missing Temeh.
“Thank you, Kagura-san. We'll take care of it.”
“Yeah, whatever. I'm outta here. Later,” she said with a dismissive wave and flew off without a backward glance. His father was still growling.
“He sent that wind bitch to check up on me,” Inuyasha seethed.
“I am sure he was just concerned for our safety,” he soothed.
“Keh! Like that bastard cares. He just wanted to make sure we killed those damn bats so he wouldn't have to do it.”
“Maybe so, but…” He trailed off, watching as his father stalked over to the young coyote-youkai and whacked him on the head with his fist. “Otou-san! What are you…”
“Oi, who the hell are you and what were you doing stalking us?” his father demanded.
“Ow!” the coyote-youkai yelled, rubbing the bump on his head. “I wasn't stalking anyone, I…”
“Temeh!” Sara's voice cried as she came running over.
`And now the great mystery will be solved…' he thought with some relief.
“Sara!” Temeh replied, rising to his feet.
He watched as the two young lovers met for the first time in many months. Rather than throwing their arms around each other as many would have expected them to do after so long a separation, Sara stood stock still as Temeh came to her. He stopped just inches from her body and raised one hand to place his folded knuckles against her temple. Sara closed her eyes in bliss at the touch, and he heard the young coyote-youkai croon softly under his breath.
Temeh began to sniff her, then nuzzle his nose into her hair, making small sounds of welcome and happiness.
It hurt him to watch the tender display, the bittersweet pangs of being on the outside looking in. He was happy for them, glad that they had each other and their young love, so full of hope and promise. He could only wish their lives would go better than his had with Miaka.
“I can smell my son on you,” he heard Temeh whisper and the words hit him like a blow.
“Oi!” his father growled, interrupting.
Temeh snarled and went into full protective display. He whirled around to face Inuyasha, his furred tail sticking straight out in aggression and his teeth bared. His father reacted by putting on his own display of fangs and growls, and he thought that it probably didn't help that the coyote-youkai looked a bit like Kouga only with grey-ish brown hair and fur instead of black.
:My mate!: Temeh barked.
:Stupid pup!: his father replied.
He moved quickly, inserting himself between them and placing one hand on each of their shoulders to push them apart before they came to blows.
“Enough!” he ordered.
He wasn't expecting his father to turn on him.
With a quick flick of his wrist, Inuyasha grabbed his arm and twisted it, literally flipping him over and reminding him that almost five centuries of living had dulled none of his father's reflexes.
“Stay out of this,” Inuyasha growled, then turned to Temeh and laid him out with one punch. “And you! You'd better know who you're challenging before you pick a fight you can't win.”
“Temeh!” Sara cried.
By now the commotion had roused the others in the hogan and his mother had come running out along with Emma and David. Emma was carrying Peter, clutched close to her chest.
“Inuyasha! Sit!” his mother yelled.
His father instinctively cringed, his ears flattening, then snarled, “That doesn't work any more, bitch!”
“Don't call me a bitch!” Kagome yelled.
“Everybody calm down!!” he ordered, drawing Kenshuga and raising it over his head.
Amazingly, they actually listened, and he wondered how much of that had to do with his brief stint as pack leader while his parents were comatose after Ian was born. Remembering that terrible time made him gag and his grip on Kenshuga faltered a bit, but the others didn't seem to notice his distress as they looked at him. In the silence that followed, Temeh stood and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth. He placed himself at Sara's shoulder in the defensive position, and glared at them angrily.
“I've come for my family,” the young coyote-youkai finally said with bravado.
They drew ranks around them, surrounding him and Sara, but it was his mother who took the fore and faced the young couple. Sara reached out and put one hand on Temeh's arm, both to comfort and restrain.
“You are Temeh?” his mother asked coolly.
“I am,” the boy answered.
Emma stepped forward to stand next to Kagome, her arms still holding the pup protectively. “You have much explaining to do.”
“You are holding my son,” Temeh accused, baring his upper fangs.
`For all his youth, this kid has balls,' he thought, amused. `But if that's so, where the hell has he been for 2 months?'
“Temeh… These people don't mean us any harm,” Sara said gently.
“That's right. We came here to help Sara and her pup,” he added, moving to stand next to Emma and his mother.
The young coyote-youkai looked at them and his brave front faltered a bit.
“But you don't understand. We have to get out of here. It's too dangerous…” Temeh began, his attitude switching from anger to worry.
“Why? Because there's cave full of Terror Bats about thirty miles from here?” his father snapped.
Temeh blanched, his eyes opening wide. “How did you know about that?”
“Because we spent most of last night killing them!” Inuyasha answered.
Temeh blinked and looked at them. “You killed them? All of them?”
He stepped forward. “We think so, yes. We were going to go to their cave today to make sure there weren't any left.”
“But how… There were so many. When we tried to fight them, they attacked our hacienda. They killed my cousins,” Temeh told them, his voice frightened.
The mood quickly softened and his mother looked to Ruth who was standing beside her. The old woman gave her a nod, then his mother put out her hand and invited Temeh into the hogan.
“Why don't you come inside and tell us what happened.”
“I want to see my son,” the youngster demanded, some of his bravado returning.
Sara looked at Emma pleadingly and the Cree woman nodded, her eyes soft and understanding. She offered Peter to her and the girl came up to take her pup into her arms. Then she turned and presented the infant to Temeh. The young father touched his pup reverently as Peter cooed and gave soft barks of welcome.
It was another touching scene that made his heart pang, very reminiscent of the night his father had all but forced his way into the nursery at the hospital to take Ian. He remembered how his father had approached the crib with reverence and taken Ian into his arms for the first time. The image was burned into his mind with Technicolor clarity.
“I named him Peter,” Sara said, snapping him out of his memories.
“Peter. That's a good name. I'm… I'm sorry I wasn't here…” Temeh whispered sadly.
Sara drew her pup close, a flash of anger in her eyes. “Temeh, where have you been?”
“I wanted to come, but I couldn't. They locked me up and I couldn't get out. Kohteh was finally able to steal the key for me and I escaped four days ago. We've been running here ever since,” Temeh answered, agonized.
“Who locked you up?” his father demanded.
“Why did they lock you up?” his mother asked.
“Who is Kohteh?” he added.
Temeh turned his head and nodded towards the bluff overlooking the hogan. The silver coyote who had led them to the Terror Bats' cave was sitting there, but a second silver coyote was now beside him, panting and looking bedraggled.
“That's Kohteh. He's my guardian. His brother, Kohmeh, stayed behind to guard Sara when my parents moved us to California.”
“California? You ran all the way from California?” his mother gasped. “On foot?”
“I hopped a couple of freight trains, but I've been on foot since yesterday.”
He huffed, feeling guilty. He'd assumed the youngster's haggard appearance had been due to his getting picked up and dumped by Kagura. As it was, getting snagged by the wind demoness had probably been the easiest part of his trip.
“Then you must be exhausted and starving. Come into the hogan and get something to eat and drink. You can tell us everything in there,” his mother said kindly.
“Why don't you tell me who you all are first?” Temeh replied.
He almost laughed. Temeh was woefully out numbered and out matched, but he was still making demands. He could just imagine him and his silver-furred guardian hopping freight trains and crossing the arid land to get to his chosen mate. It was something he would have done, and he wouldn't have let anyone stand in his way either.
`I don't care what my father says about coyote-youkai. This kid is no coward.'
“Temeh, this is my grandmother, Ruth, and my brother Michael,” Sara explained, indicating the old woman and young Navajo. “Then there's David, he is a friend of Michael's from school and his cousin, Emma, from Canada.”
“And I am Kagome, and this is my mate, Inuyasha, and my son, Yukio,” his mother added.
Temeh looked wide-eyed at them. “Inuyasha? I thought she had called you Inuyasha. Are you the Inuyasha? The one whose brother is…”
`And our reputation precedes us…' “The Lord of the West,” he confirmed. “Sesshoumaru is my uncle, yes.”
“I challenged you?” the youngster gasped, his face pale. “What was I thinking?”
“Keh. Not much, stupid pup,” his father snorted, but there was a gleam of pride in his eyes.
His mother chuckled. “Come inside. There's cornbread…”
“And ramen,” he added.
“Ramen? You have ramen?” Temeh asked, his eyes lighting up.
Kagome rolled her eyes. “What is it with these canines and their cheap, salty noodles?”
“So then I hopped off the train when it stopped at the depot and headed here,” Temeh was explaining between bites of food.
The poor kid had been starving and had gulped down two bowls of ramen before he'd even sat down.
They were all gathered in the small home, circled around the table. Seats had been given to Temeh, Ruth, Sara and Kagome, but the rest of them had to find a spot anywhere they could. He and his father were leaning against the wall near the door while Michael stood behind his sister and Emma and David sat on one of the hogan's beds.
“When did your family move to California?” his mother asked.
“About a month ago,” Temeh answered, gobbling down a big hunk of fresh cornbread.
Apparently while Ruth and Sara had been out performing the Dawn Way, Emma had been making breakfast.
“But I haven't seen you in two months,” Sara said worriedly.
Temeh blanched. “I know. I was grounded. My parents Sealed me in the van when we moved so I wouldn't run off.”
“They Sealed you into the van?” his mother gasped.
“You were grounded?” he repeated.
“Yeah, well… put a little bit of white powder in some envelopes at the post office and everyone freaks out,” Temeh explained sheepishly.
“That was you?!” Michael blurted.
“And they grounded you for that?” Sara asked, shocked.
“Four months,” Temeh admitted.
“That is so unfair!” Sara blurted.
“I know. It wasn't like anyone got hurt or anything,” the young coyote-youkai complained.
“You started an Anthrax scare that closed down three city blocks in Tucson!” Michael accused, his hands in his hair.
He chuckled. “Sounds like something a certain kitsune I know would do.”
“Yeah, well… they broke my Naruto figure. How am I supposed to have the whole Squad 7 if Sasuke doesn't have a head?” Temeh countered peevishly.
He face-palmed himself and shook his head. “No, of course not. How can anyone not have a full set of shinobi. I'd have used real Anthrax just to get my point across,” he commented sarcastically.
“They are collectors' items,” Temeh pointed out sullenly.
“Oh, that makes it all right then. What the hell were you thinking, stupid idiot?” he chided.
“He wasn't thinking. He's just a pup,” his mother stated, annoyed.
“I'm not a pup!” Temeh argued, offended. “I just turned 80. I'm adult in my clan's eyes.”
“80!” Michael gasped.
He cast a glance at Emma to see if she had reacted to Temeh's remark, but her expression gave nothing away. He frowned, wondering what she was thinking now.
Michael turned to his sister. “Did you know about this?”
Sara drew Peter close and shook her head. “No, but it doesn't matter,” she replied.
“Sara, he's 80 years old!”
“80 is the equivalent to a human's 16, Michael,” Kagome explained. “Youkai age much more slowly than humans do. Technically, he and Sara are the same age.”
Michael looked aghast, but he held his tongue and looked away.
Temeh snorted and cast a suspicious eye at Michael. “It doesn't matter how old I am. I'm an adult now. I can have a mate and family. There's nothing my parents can do about it.”
“Do your parents even know that you have a pup?” his mother questioned.
Temeh looked at Sara and his son and shook his head. “No. I wanted to tell them. My mom would have understood, but my dad… My dad would have freaked. He still will.”
“Will he hurt Sara or the baby?” Kagome pressed.
He could see her getting defensive and he set his jaw. If Temeh's parents rejected Sara and her pup, they might try to kill her and Peter. It had been known to happen in certain conservative clans, but he hadn't heard of any “honor killings” recently.
“No. I don't think so. Maybe he would have tried pay her off or arranged for her to move somewhere far away,” the youngster answered.
He seemed sincere, so he relaxed a little bit.
“What will he do?”
Temeh shrugged. “I dunno. He'll be mad, but he'll get over it. Sara's had the pup so it's too late for him to do anything about it now.”
“You were worried that he would have tried to make Sara end the pregnancy,” Kagome stated with resignation.
The coyote-youkai looked guilty. “The thought had crossed my mind, yes. That was why I wanted to wait until after the pup was born before I told them. Everything was going great until those bats showed up.”
“Oi, what do you know about those bats?” his father demanded, taking a step towards the table.
Temeh shuddered and dropped his eyes. “They appeared about eight months ago. We didn't know what was happening at first. We just knew something had come into the reservation. Our clan leader told us to stay away from the reservation because the Navajos would just blame us for the killings like they always did, and we should keep out of it. But then they started killing humans too and we tried to do something about it.”
“What did you do?” his mother asked.
“We sent a representative to our regional council, but we were told that we had no proof that our claims were true.”
“Regional council?” Emma asked, speaking for the first time since they had come inside.
They looked at her as if they had forgotten she and David were there. She turned her eyes towards him and cocked her head expectantly. He gave her a nod.
“The youkai world is ruled by clans and councils. Each area and every large city has its own council of higher ranking youkai who keep the peace, enforce our laws, and settle disputes,” he explained. “Those councils answer to higher councils that control larger territories who are in turn under the jurisdiction of councils that oversee whole countries and continents. The system is hierarchal, but it prevents clan wars and bloody power struggles- most of the time.”
“After you were told your claims were false, what happened?” Kagome questioned, drawing their attention back to the table.
“The bats attacked us. They killed our clan leader and my cousins.”
“So someone in the regional council knew about them and sent them after your clan to shut you up,” his father commented angrily.
“Yeah, that's what my father thought,” Temeh agreed.
“What is happening with your clan now that your leader was killed?” Emma inquired.
All eyes turned to her again, and he wondered what she was up to by asking so many questions, then he remembered that she was a sociology major.
`She's trying to figure out how my world is divided and organized.'
Temeh shrugged sadly. “There's lots of infighting to see who will be the next leader. My family is middle-ranked so we're not in the running, but there's been a lot of choosing sides and backstabbing. Dad wanted us out of it, especially after what happened with the bats, so he moved us to San Bernardino.”
“Did your father know who in the regional council sent the bats after you?” Kagome asked.
The youngster looked stricken and afraid. “He never said, but I heard him talking to my cousins before the bats attacked about a council member named Deveran.”
“He thought Deveran was behind the bats?” his father pressed.
“I don't think he had any proof, but Deveran is a new council member who bought his way in with lots of money and big promises.”
“Being rich doesn't automatically mean that you'll hire demon thugs to kill your enemies and slaughter humans,” he countered defensively.
“No, but Deveran had made comments about the uranium on the reservations, and he was really mad when the Navajos said no one was allowed to mine on their land,” Temeh added.
Michael snorted and smacked his fist against the wall. “I knew it. I knew the uranium mines had something to do with all of this.”
“And this Deveran knew it was your clan who complained about the bats?” Inuyasha asked, his voice hard.
Temeh nodded. “He was the one who intercepted Ulin when she went to see the council. He said he would take her message to the others, and he was the one who demanded more proof when she brought her case before the council.”
“That sounds to me like he had something to hide,” he commented. He'd dealt with the inner politics of his world for too long not to recognize a schemer when he saw one.
“Keh! If the bastards still need more proof, there's a mass grave outside with all the proof they could ever want,” his father snorted.
“What if Deveran tries to cover up the evidence? He's already killed once. What makes you think he won't do it again?” Emma commented.
Temeh looked at her as if she were a mindless idiot. “You really have no idea who these youkai are, do you?”
Emma blanched and set her jaw, but did not take the youngster's bait.
“This is Inuyasha, brother to Sesshoumaru, the Lord of the West, one of the most powerful youkai on the planet. His empire covers the globe…” Temeh began.
“Not to mention my father holds a seat on the council that controls the Western Hemisphere,” he interrupted.
“Feh! You want it?” Inuyasha snorted with contempt.
“The point is even if Deveran wanted to cover it up, he can't anymore. Too many youkai much higher than him know about it now and he won't be able to hide his involvement. And if he did send the bats against the Navajos and your clan…” he continued, leveling his father with a look.
“He'll be lucky to see another sunrise,” his mother finished.
“Hmph,” his father grunted with a nod.
He shook his head and turned to Michael. “By involving my family in your situation, you unknowingly brought in a clan who could bring down the youkai who was terrorizing your people. How's that for luck?”
Michael gave him a scathing look that told him everything he wanted to know, but he couldn't blame the young man for his anger. Michael's entire world had just been set on its ear, and he couldn't blame the Navajo for being angry about that.
Ruth spoke for the first time, addressing her granddaughter in Dineh. Sara listened then translated for the rest of them.
“So, what will happen now?” she asked.
“First, we go to see if any bats survived. If any did, we kill them,” Inuyasha answered.
“And after that? Will you try to stop me from taking Sara and my pup?” Temeh questioned.
He saw his mother look at Sara, and then at Sara's stricken expression.
“I think that is up to Sara,” Kagome replied. “Since you are an adult, we can't stop you, but I do think Sara's wishes should factor into whatever you decide.”
“However, if your parents are a threat to Sara and Peter, we can offer you sanctuary until you get your lives together,” he added, not wanting the young couple to think that they were on their own in a hostile world.
“Where are your parents anyway? Aren't they looking for you?” his mother asked.
Temeh snorted and smiled wryly. “Heh. They went to Europe for two weeks. Left me behind locked in my rooms with Seals on the windows. Kohteh was able to steal the key from the housekeeper.”
Kagome blinked at him. “Doesn't anyone know you're gone?”
Temeh shrugged. “Jemma is old and half-blind. I left a glamour on my bed to make her think I was sleeping. It might take her a couple of days to realize I'm not in there.”
Inuyasha growled and gritted his teeth. “So you left an old woman to face your parents?”
The youngster looked surprised. “My parents won't hurt her. Jemma's been our housekeeper since before I was born.”
He saw his parents look at each other and knew exactly what they were thinking. His mother looked expectantly at his father.
“What?” his father barked gruffly. “What do you expect me to do about it?”
“We could make sure that she's okay if they fire her and put her out,” Kagome answered tersely.
“What would we do with an old, half-blind housekeeper?” Inuyasha argued.
“We could send her to live with Asame. She always needs someone to tidy up and she's not fussy,” he offered.
“You stay out of this,” his father snapped.
“Look! They're not going to fire her. I'd never put Jemma in danger. She's like family,” Temeh insisted, but he could see the shadow of doubt behind the youngster's eyes.
“Why don't we deal with the bats first and save everything else for later?” he suggested.
“We need to fill the tank in the Jeep. It's almost empty,” his father replied.
“Okay. We'll refuel from the gas cans we have and then go,” he offered.
Inuyasha shook his head. “No. You stay here and guard the hogan. Your mother and I will go check out the bats' cave.”
“And if there's a whole swarm of them still left?” he countered.
“Then we come back here to get you and we'll kill them together,” Kagome answered before his father could speak.
“Feh,” Inuyasha snorted, but did not contradict her.
He looked at his parents knowing full well that his father would never leave a fight to come get him. He could only hope that whomever Sesshoumaru had sent to deal with the bats had done his job and killed the rest of the swarm. He also knew that there was no arguing with them, and he also wanted a chance to talk to Temeh without his parents there, so he didn't try to change their minds.
“Okay,” he agreed, earning him a raised eyebrow from his mother.
“Okay. We'll be back,” his father said as Kagome stood up.
“Be careful,” he whispered as she passed him on her way out the door to follow Inuyasha.
She gave him a tender smile. “We'll be fine. I'm sure Sesshoumaru took care of the rest of the swarm, otherwise they would have come looking for their brothers and followed the blood scent here.”
He nodded. “Good point.”
“But there may be something in the cave that links the bats to Deveran or whoever else brought them here,” she commented thoughtfully.
“Oi! Woman, you coming?” his father called.
His mother sighed. “Your father bellows.”
“We won't be gone long. Take care of things here.”
“I'll hold down the fort,” he promised.
She gave him a sad smile that was full of memories. “I know. You always did. Thank you, Yukio.”
He returned her smile with one of his own and bowed. “Always, Okaa-san.”
“We love you more than life, you know that, don't you?” she asked him in Japanese.
He swallowed and nodded, wondering where her sudden mood shift came from. “Yes, of course I know.”
“Good. Don't ever forget that.”
“Kagome!” Inuyasha yelled.
“You'd better go before he leaves without you,” he said wryly.
“Never,” she answered, but slipped out the door.
He stood in the open doorway and watched them drive off, then waited until they'd disappeared behind the bluffs before turning to Temeh.
“I'd like to talk to you,” he said.
“Okay,” the coyote-youkai answered but made no move to rise to his feet.
“Outside,” he clarified, nodding his head towards the door.
It looked for a moment like Temeh was going to refuse, and perhaps even question his authority, but he gave a low growl and bared his upper teeth.
:Obey older male.:
:Not pack male,: the youngster argued peevishly.
“Yes, but I'm the one left in charge here, and you'll have to be a hell of a lot older and stronger before you even have a prayer of beating me,” he warned.
Temeh huffed but eventually yielded.
“I'll be right back,” the coyote-youkai said to Sara as he rose to his feet.
She looked at him and gave him a concerned glance, but he just nodded in what he hoped was a reassuring way. He let Temeh go out of the hogan ahead of him and closed the door behind them as they both exited.
“So? What did you want to talk to me about?” the youngster demanded, his arms crossed.
“I just wanted you to clarify something for me about Sara's pregnancy.”
Temeh tried to look nonchalant, but he could smell the sudden spike in the coyote-youkai's scent.
“Yeah? What about it?”
“It wasn't an accident. I don't know what you told her about your senses, but there is no way you could not have known that she was fertile. You chose to get her pregnant,” he replied, letting his voice sound mildly accusing.
“So what if I did?” the youngster snapped back.
“So what…? Do you have any idea the kind of danger you put her in? Her own father led a mob here last night to kill her and your son,” he snarled.
Temeh blanched and took a step back. “I didn't know that.”
“No. You didn't. How could you? You were too busy causing a mass panic over a stupid toy,” he scolded, getting angrier by the moment. “While you were off serving your sentence, Sara was here trying to keep her pup alive. She thought the only way to save him was to give him to us. Her brother drove over 1300 miles to bring him to my parents. They took him away from his mother when he was ten days old and stuck him in a car without a car seat, and brought him across the Canadian border to Calgary. Sara thought she would never see you or her son ever again.”
He took a step forward and put his face right into Temeh's, bristling and glaring.
“Now you had better have a damn good reason why you put her through that and almost got her and an innocent newborn pup killed. And I for one would love to hear it because from where I'm standing all I see is an immature, irresponsible pup who decided to play grown-up when he should've stayed in the den!”
Temeh had backed against the wall of the hogan, his eyes wide and frightened. In a pique of stymied rage, pain and jealousy, he grabbed the youngster by the throat in a dominant threat.
“Tell me now why I shouldn't kill you and take your mate and pup because you obviously don't deserve them.”
Temeh squeaked like a snared mouse and submitted, baring his throat and shivering in the tight hold. The youngster's blatant fear brought him back to himself and he quickly released the terrified youth. He looked at his hand, the nails stained red with Temeh's blood where they had begun to dig into the soft flesh of the coyote-youkai's throat, and shuddered.
`Shit. What did I almost do?'
He was still shaking off the red haze that had clouded his eyes when he heard Temeh gasping for breath. The youngster had collapsed to the ground and was holding his throat with both hands. The sight only made him feel worse, but if he apologized he would only appear weak so he just stood there looking stern instead.
“I… It's true…” Temeh admitted when he could speak. “I did do it on purpose.”
“Why?” he demanded, crossing his arms. If he kept his hands close, then he had a better chance of keeping himself from doing something even worse than he already had.
“It was the only way for us to be together. My clan is forbidden to associate with Navajos. The Navajos hate us, and the last pup that was sired with a Navajo woman was killed,” the coyote-youkai explained.
“Then why did you start courting Sara in the first place?”
“It wasn't like I planned it! I wasn't on Navajo land. I was in Winslow. Sara wasn't even supposed to be there, but she'd hitched a ride to the pow-wow with her cousin and we met at the dances,” Temeh argued. “I didn't mean to, but when I met her, I just knew. I knew she was the one.”
The youth looked up at him, his expression broken and pleading.
“I had to have her. I had to be with her. I loved her and she loved me, but my parents would never allow it. So we met in secret. No one in my clan knew about it except Kohteh, and I waited until I came of age. Then I made sure Sara would carry my pup. Once I was an adult and Sara was pregnant, then there would be nothing my family could do about my taking her as my mate.”
“You played a very dangerous and deadly game,” he growled.
“Everything was going fine until the bats showed up!” Temeh yelled defiantly. “I planned to be there when the pup was born, then I was going to take Sara and my son to see my parents.”
“And what would you have done if your parents had refused to accept her? What if they had kicked you out?”
Temeh stood up, his jaw set in defiance. “Then we would have made a life for ourselves on our own.”
He looked at the youngster and saw himself for a moment. Temeh was so convinced that Sara was the one, so desperate to keep her in his life that he was willing to go against his family in order to have her. His parents hadn't spoken out against Miaka when he had wanted to take her for a mate, but he doubted that he'd have listened to anything they'd had to say back then if they had. It wasn't until nearly a hundred years later that he'd learned his parents had never liked her. He wondered how it would go for this young one, and hoped whatever gods looked over lovesick fools treated Temeh more kindly than they'd treated him.
`You poor doomed idiot…'
“You'd know how I feel if you had a mate,” Temeh said sullenly.
The youngster would never know how close he had come to getting shoved right through the hogan wall as the pain lanced right through his heart. No mate. No pup. Nothing. This brazen, arrogant fool had both while he was left bereft and alone. How he hated him in that moment.
“My mate is dead,” he seethed.
Temeh had the good sense to pale and look guilty. “I'm sorry. I didn't realize. You look so young and there's no female's scent on you…”
He swallowed his rage and grief enough to bring his temper under control. “She died a long time ago. I hope your mating goes better than mine.”
They stared at each other for a few moments. What was there to be said anyway that hadn't already been said? He was about to suggest that they go back inside when a breeze brought the stench of rotting flesh to them.
“Damn that stinks…” Temeh complained, sneezing.
“It's the bat carcasses. They were never purified.”
He walked the distance of several yards to the hole he and his father had blasted into the ground, and peered down into it. The hot desert sun had found the corpses and the rock was heating up, turning the grave into an oven. A noxious odor was wafting up out of the hole as the bodies rotted in the heat.
“We should bury them and preserve the bodies in case there's an inquiry,” he said.
“I can't believe you killed them all. If I had been here when they attacked…”
He grunted and drew Kenshuga, trying to decide where to strike in order to cause the rock walls to collapse.
The soft words stopped him and he looked at the youngster. Temeh was still looking at the dead bats, but his arms were limp at his sides in resignation.
“Thank you for killing the bats and guarding my mate. I could never have done what you did.”
The praise embarrassed him and he snorted, raising Kenshuga over his head.
“Feh! As if my family would let anything happen to a helpless pup while we had anything to say about it.”
He swung and the blast of energy shattered the far rock wall, sending hunks of rock and earth cascading down into the mass grave. He swung again at the near wall, and hit that one full on, breaking a rock ledge and making it tumble on top of the bodies.
“There,” he said, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
“What is going on? The ground is shaking?” Emma's worried voice asked, then he heard her cough. “Oh dear God what is that smell?”
He started, but covered his surprise quickly. He hadn't heard her approaching over the sound of the falling rock, and the stench of the corpses had masked her scent so he'd had no idea that she was approaching. He turned to face her, Kenshuga still in his hand, and he noticed a gleam come into her eyes when she saw him. He stood up a little straighter and waited for her to come within easy speaking distance. A little snort from Temeh made him growl lowly under his breath, but the young coyote-youkai just looked at him with amusement.
“You are smelling the rotting bats,” he explained when she was closer.
She had her arm up across her nose so she was breathing through her sleeve. “I gather that. Oh, that stinks.”
“I've started collapsing the walls, but we'll need to hand shovel dirt on top of the grave to finish the job.”
She gave him a curious look. “I thought Kagome and I were going to purify them and get rid of them completely.”
He shook his head. “I decided that it was best to preserve the bodies in case there was an inquiry.”
“Oh, good idea.” She sneezed again and turned back towards the hogan. “I saw shovels inside. I'll go get them.”
He huffed and watched her go, pleased at her immediate grasp and acceptance of the situation, and he remembered his father's words to him the night before.
“She's not Miaka, son.”
`No, she isn't. Miaka would have screamed and run away from rotting corpses. Emma just nods and gets to work doing what needs to be done. Why did I never see Miaka's flaws before I mated her? Why do I only see them now in hindsight?'
He frowned and gritted his teeth, turning back to the grave for another strike.
`Because love makes us blind…'
He swung with more force than he intended and blasted the remaining cliff wall into pebbles, causing a landslide of loose earth to pour into the hole.
`No matter what, I will never be blind again.'