InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ The Coyote Child ❯ Chapter 12 ( Chapter 12 )

[ 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
Rating: R for later chapters.
Pairing: Inuyasha/Kagome
Summary: Inuyasha and Kagome are asked to adopt a coyote-hanyou baby from Arizona.
Email feedback to: NOTE NEW EMAIL!!
Author's Note:
Correction: I have since learned that the Dineh word for maternal grandmother is
ma'sani' not nahli as I had previously believed. Nahli is Dineh for paternal grandmother.
I have made the change to the master document of The Coyote Child, and the corrected
version will go up on my fan fiction website on Wordsmiths when I post the competed
story. My apologies.
Also, The Heart of a Fox is now available as a dust cover hardback. Check it out: and the first review is in. :)
Navajo words:
Hataalii = Medicine Man/Shaman
Hozho = balance/harmony
Yah-tah-hey-si-kess = hello, my friend
Yah-tah-hey = hello

Chapter 12

Yukio thought cleaning up the dead bats had been hot, sweaty work, but nothing
could compare to the sweltering misery of filling in the mass grave. Once he had
collapsed the walls as much as he could, the rest had to be done using hand shovels.
Emma had found three shovels in the hogan, and she and Michael worked alongside him

as they dumped loads of loose earth into the hole. Even Ruth took a shift (against his
wishes) and worked just as hard as someone half her age.

Temeh and he switched off the job of providing more loose earth to be shoveled
into the grave by taking turns digging with their claws. Both he and the young coyote-
youkai had practically unbreakable talons on their hands, and digging was much easier
for them than trying to use a metal shovel. All the same, it took nearly an hour to cover
the bodies enough to stop the stench and protect the evidence.

Through it all, Emma worked beside him, pulling her weight without a word of
complaint. She was sweating and covered in dust, but she kept shoveling, refusing to let
David do any work because of his head wound and waving off Sara when she wanted to
do her share of the digging. It was something he would have done, and he admired her
work ethic. Then he began to wonder if she was trying to earn his favor by showing him
that she was an equal, and he got the impression that perhaps his mother had said
something to her about how she could go about catching his interest.

He scowled. It would be just like his mother to try to interfere in subtle ways, and
he wondered what Kagome would have said to the Cree woman to advise her.

`Probably to do just what she is doing: work beside me, show me her strength,
show me her commitment. Yeah, that's what I'd tell someone who'd want to court me.'
He frowned even more. `Damn.'

He looked over at her, noting the determined set of her jaw as she worked. There
was a rivulet of sweat rolling down her temple, and he watched her wipe it away without
missing a beat. She gave him a quick look, a puzzled expression on her face, but he
waved away her concern with a shake of his head. She nodded and went back to work.

He grunted and shoved his anger at his mother aside. She only had his best
interests at heart, but it still rankled him. First his father last night, and now his mother,
meddling in his private life when he just wanted them to leave him alone and let him
work things out for himself. He growled and attacked a helpless pile of rock with his

When they were done, they all went down to the arroyo he and his father had
blasted the night before and were happy to find that the water was still flowing. He
jumped down into the crevasse and began handing up bucketfuls of water for the others
to use in washing. Ruth took a dipper and tasted the water, declaring it good water with a
smile. After they washed, they filled her 55-gallon water drums as high as they would go,
and there was talk of trying to make the water source more permanent.

"I need to go get my pack," Temeh said when they were finished filling the

"Okay, where is it?" he asked, wiping his face and chest dry after a quick partial

The youngster looked to the west. "I'm not sure. I dropped it when that wind bitch
nabbed me."

He swallowed the laugh and bit his cheek to keep himself from smiling because
Temeh had sounded so much like his father just then.

"Can't be too far then," he commented.

"No. I wasn't that far away."

A sharp yip caught their attention and they both looked up to see the twin silver
coyotes appear over the bluff. One was dragging a worn black backpack while the other
limped behind, his head down and his tongue lolling out.

"My pack!" Temeh gasped and smiled.

"That one is injured," he pointed out.

The youngster nodded sadly. "Kohteh hurt himself when we jumped off the last

"I'm sure he's hungry and tired."

"He kept up with me the entire trip even though I knew he wanted to rest," Temeh

The twins came closer, warily eyeing the Navajos as they approached. Michael
had both hands clenched but otherwise did not comment. Temeh went to the uninjured
coyote and took the pack, then he opened the bag and pulled out a pound of coffee, a bag
of blue cornmeal and a slab of salt pork. These gifts he brought to Ruth and he offered
them to her as he knelt on one knee.

"For my mate's grandmother, honored wise woman," the young coyote-youkai
said with more respect than Yukio had yet to hear from the youngster.

Michael gasped and started to protest when his grandmother nodded and moved to
accept the offerings, but Ruth stopped his objections with a few sharp words. He was
about to look for Emma to ask her what the Navajo matriarch had said, when he noticed
that she was standing right next to him. He blinked and wondered exactly when she had
gotten there and why his senses hadn't been alerted to her presence.

`Already assimilating her into my circle of who I consider to be part of the pack,'
he thought with some concern before he asked her, "What did she say?"

"I'm not sure of the exact translation because my Dineh isn't the best, but I think
she said something to the effect that she's too old for superstitions," she answered.

He laughed and smiled. `So much like Kaede. She didn't believe in old
superstitions either.' "I knew there was a reason I liked her."

"She is a force to be reckoned with," Emma agreed.

"Heh, I've known a few of them in my lifetime."

"No doubt your mother is one of them," she quipped.

`Don't I know it...' "Uh, yeah. You could say that."

Ruth accepted the gifts and placed one hand on Temeh's head. She said
something that he guessed was a blessing or an expression of gratitude because Temeh
nodded and rose to his feet.

The injured silver coyote whined softly and lay down on the dusty ground.

"Temeh," Emma said. "If your beast will allow it, I'll see what I can do about his

The young coyote-youkai looked at her, then at Kohteh and frowned. "Kohteh
won't hurt you," he replied.

Emma nodded and he watched her approach the animal. The coyote gave all the
signs of complete submission as she knelt next to it and began examining its wounds. He
saw that her touch was gentle and competent as she lifted each paw, giving each one a
careful look. Kohteh whimpered when she touched the right forepaw and jostled the
ankle joint.

"This poor animal's paws are raw and bleeding, and this one ankle is sore,"
Emma stated. "I'll need to clean the wounds and treat them."

"There's a first aid kit in the hogan and I have some Dééd dáá' and Pinõn salve
too," Sara answered.

Emma rose to her feet, wiping her hands on her jeans. Kohteh stayed on the
ground, his chin resting on his paws. "That will do. Where can I find it?"

"I'll get it for you. I have to feed Peter anyway," the young mother offered.

Emma nodded and followed Sara into the hogan. She came back out a moment
later carrying a first aid kit and a jar of salve. Yukio could see the indecision on Temeh's
face when Sara remained inside, and he could understand the youngster's feelings.

"If Kohteh won't give us any trouble if you're not here, you can go in with Sara. I
am sure she would appreciate the time alone with you," he told the distressed young

Temeh raised an eyebrow, then gave him a grateful half-smile. "Thanks. He won't
be any trouble. He knows you're trying to help him."

"Okay then. Go on inside," he said.

The youngster gave him a nod and slipped into the hogan while Emma treated
Kohteh's paws with the salve and bandages.

"How bad is he?" he asked, watching Emma as she handled the wounded silver
coyote with a gentle touch.

"Not bad. The ankle worries me most, but I don't think it's broken," she replied.

:Pack male paw broken?: he questioned Kohteh in inu-youkai speech.

:Paw hurts. Bone not broken. Pack female touch is good,: came the answer.

He gave a snort of agreement and turned to Emma. "He says the paw isn't

"That's good. If it had been, the break would have been in a bad place. As it is,
his pads are all ripped up. I can't believe the two of them traveled all that way on foot."

`I can. She's his mate, and they have a pup. I'd have run twice that far if I had to.'
But he didn't admit that to Emma, rather he just nodded and tried to come up with an
appropriate response. "The bond between mates is very strong. He did what he had to

"Yes. I can respect that. The bonds of marriage are very strong for my people as
well," she told him as she finished up.

He had no answer for that so he said nothing.

He heard the vehicle approaching before anyone else, and he turned his head
towards the sound, sniffing the air and trying to identify what was coming.

"What is it?" Emma asked.

"Something's coming. A late model 4x4 from the sound of the engine," he

"What's going on?" Michael questioned, noticing Yukio's alert posture.

"Yukio says a vehicle is coming," Emma said.

Sure enough, a few moments later an old International Scout came lumbering up
the path. It was a testament to the Scout's owner that the ancient 4x4 was still running
since it had to be close to thirty-five years old, but it moved along at a fair pace and
didn't smell too bad. He was even more surprised to see that the driver was at least twice
that age, and that none other than Lori Piestewa was in the passenger seat.

"Hm," he muttered, snorting.

"Do you know who it is?" Emma asked him

He shook his head. "No, but Lori is with him."

He nodded.

"Hm," the young Navajo grunted curiously.

"My thoughts exactly," he commented.

They waited as the old Scout came to a brake-grinding halt not fare from the
hogan. He took point, placing himself at the front of the group and in the defensive
position just in case the newcomer meant trouble. He noticed (with not a little chagrin)
that Emma placed herself on his right side and Ruth stepped up to his left while David
and Michael stood behind.

His inu-youkai senses began tingling the moment a bent old man stepped out of
the Scout, and his suspicions were confirmed when Emma gasped and stepped closer to
him. He took a small step back, detecting the spike of fear in her scent.

"That man," he heard her whisper, her voice edged with concern.
hataalii, a powerful one," he finished.

"What do we do if he wants to hurt you or Peter?" she questioned harshly, her
hand coming up to grasp his elbow.

Her fear made him more protective, and he felt the hackles on the back of his
neck rising.

"No matter what you do, don't lose focus and don't let your concern cloud your
senses. You told me before that you can feel things now. Stretch your awareness. Tell me
how he Feels. Does he Feel like he means harm?" he told her, trying to offer guidance.

His mother wasn't there and if this new Medicine Man was there to cause trouble,
they'd be at a disadvantage. No matter what his intentions, he was completely human,
and Yukio cringed at the prospect of having to fight a human. He prayed that the
newcomer came in peace, otherwise he would have some very difficult decisions to
make. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed that the two silver coyotes had suddenly
made themselves scarce, but that didn't necessarily mean that they could feel something
that he couldn't.

"I don't sense anything bad about him," Emma finally said, and he was glad to
hear that she was a little calmer.

"That's good. Hold onto that and stay calm," he instructed.

She nodded and released his elbow as the old man approached. He noticed that
Lori kept herself slightly behind the Medicine Man in the supportive position, and that
she did not look particularly comfortable.

`Hm, I wonder what that is all about,' he wondered.

"Yah-tah-hey," the old man called, waving to them. "Yah-tah-hey-si-kess."

He recognized the word for "hello" but the "si-kess" was unknown to him. It was
obvious, however, that Ruth understood the greeting perfectly.

"Yah-tah-hey," the matriarch replied, stepping forward to meet the newcomer.

Yukio relaxed when he saw Ruth's smile and warm welcome to the old man, and
their obvious friendship as they met and shook hands. They spoke in Dineh as Ruth
guided the hataalii towards where the rest of them were standing. The old man smiled at
them but Yukio had no illusions that he could not see right through his concealment spell.

"I come in peace," the man greeted jovially, a gleam in his wise eyes.

"Fushikenwa Yukio, this is Benjamin Dailey," Michael introduced. "Benjamin is
my grandmother's cousin and he is our family's hataalii."

"Oh, he knows that already," Benjamin said knowingly. "I'd even guess that he
knew I was a Medicine Man the moment I got out of the Scout."

Yukio bowed formally, showing his respect. "It is an honor to meet you,

"But you want to know what I am doing here," the old man quipped with a wry

The man's candor took him off guard and he chuckled nervously. "Actually, yes, I
would," he answered with equal bluntness. "These people are under my protection. All of
these people." He made sure to emphasize the word "all" to make sure the man
understood that his protection extended to those inside the hogan as well.

"As well they should be, brother of the dog, for there are those here who do not
remember the old ways and who would do harm to the child within," hataalii answered

He nodded in agreement, his mouth set into a grim line. "Yes, we have already
witnessed such trouble."

"I am sorry for that," Benjamin apologized. "You know the young. They think
they know everything."

Yukio gave a short, barking laugh in answer to that and smiled. "Yes, that is

Ruth said something in Dineh and Benjamin smiled at her, nodding. "But let's not
stay out here. We have been invited inside the hogan, and I wish to see the new infant for

"Lori has told you what he is?" he questioned cautiously.

"Yes, and I am eager to meet him. I hope he is the one I have been waiting for."

"Waiting for?" Yukio repeated, curious.

Benjamin gave him a look that showed the wisdom that lived inside the old man,
and gave him a glimpse of the hataalii's power. "Yes. Years ago Coyote tried to give us a
Son. One who would reconnect the Navajo People with the Old Ways and guide us once
again to hozho. We, in our ignorance and fear, killed him. I am here to make sure that
does not happen again."


The ride back to the cave where they had first seen the Terror Bats was much
shorter than the one they had taken the day before due to the fact that they were no longer
limited to the speed of the silver coyote they had been following (and Inuyasha's lead
foot had something to do with it as well). Inuyasha parked the Jeep as close to the track
down to the caves as possible and they both got out. He saw Kagome reach into the back
of the vehicle to get her bow and arrows and he had to smile to himself.

"Oi. Maybe you should switch to bullets like that new Cree miko," he teased.

His mate scowled at him and he suppressed a smile.

"Bows won't dislocate my shoulder," she answered, marching past him. "Besides,
you know I hate guns."

"I am sure one of our sons would say that there is something very attractive about
a woman with superior firepower," he commented, falling in beside her.

She snorted. "Hentai dog."

She smiled at him, one of those wry, secretive smiles that always made his heart
turn over in his chest.

"Feh," he barked and shoved his thumbs into the pockets of his jeans.

"I had a nice conversation with that new Cree miko as you call her," his mate told
him nonchalantly as they made their way down the narrow path.

"Eh? Are you meddling again?" he accused, but felt a pang of guilt himself
because he remembered what he had said to Yukio the night before.

"No. What would make you think I would do that? We talked about her training
and what options were available to her if she decided to pursue it."

"Nothing about Yukio?" he pressed, fishing.

"We did talk about him a little bit, but..."

"Ah hah! You were meddling! Didn't I tell you to stay out of it, wench?"

She stopped and faced him, looking offended and indignant.

"We didn't discuss anything personal. She asked me a few questions about our
son and I answered them. And you're being far too defensive. Did you say something to
Yukio about Emma?"

He sputtered. "Me? Bah woman, you know I don't get involved in our pups' love
lives." She gave him The Look and he lowered his ears. "What?"

"Oh all right, so what if I did say something about her to him?" he demanded
defensively. "A father's allowed to give his son advice if he thinks it's necessary."

Kagome snickered and shook her head. "Of course, Otou-san."

"Right," she commented and continued walking down the dirt path. "So what did
you say to him?"

"I told him that she wasn't Miaka."

"That's true. I told Emma to prove her worthiness by being strong, showing no
fear, and pulling her weight," she admitted.

"Keh, woman already does that. She's no weak, simpering coward, that one."

"Miaka wasn't a weak coward either. She just didn't want the same things Yukio
did, that's all," his mate corrected gently.

"Feh," he answered with a derisive snort.

They were silent the rest of the way down to the caverns, keeping their senses on
alert for any signs of danger. It was full daylight so if there were any bats still left alive,
they should be dormant, but there was no sense in taking chances. For all they knew, the
bats had called for help after they had come under attack, and now there were
reinforcements to fight. There was no telling what they would find in the cave when they
got there.

Thankfully, everything was quiet as they approached the cave and Kagome sensed
no aura of youki coming from the cavern. He didn't smell any scents that were fresh
either, so that was a good sign and he allowed himself to relax a little bit. The cave was

as they remembered it, although this time he took more note of how many human bones
were littered on the floor. Originally he had estimated that there were about ten human
skeletons scattered among the piles of animal bones, but now he counted 14 skulls and 15

`I wonder if they were the ones unlucky enough to discover what was really
happening here,' he thought darkly. "I count fifteen humans," he said to his wife, sifting
through the piles of bones and bat dung. For once he was glad he was still wearing shoes.

Kagome grunted then shook her head. "Count again. Some of these skulls are
humanoid youkai," she corrected, boldly plucking a head from the rubble and showing it
to him. "See, the ear depressions are flared. Whoever this was, he had pointed ears."

He gave a snort. She was right. "Temeh's cousins?" he questioned.

They found what was left of a large coyote, and it wasn't difficult to imagine that
it had been one of the silver youkai-coyotes that served Temeh's family. Even wolf-
youkai had the youkai-wolves that ran with their packs: animals unable assume human
form, but endowed with youkai strength and power. The coyote-youkais had probably
sent the beasts out as scouts, then followed when the animals had not returned.

"We need to look for any evidence that ties these bats to a sponsor," Kagome

"We don't know if this Deveran is behind them or not. Temeh's clan only
suspected that he was. We need proof before we go accusing anyone of doing this."

"Feh. We give it to my bastard brother and let him take care of it," he stated,
taking her hand and guiding her to the inner chamber. "Oi, call us a light, will ya?"

"You don't sense any live bats here?" she asked.

"Nah. Don't even hear them shuffling around."

He heard her draw her bow and soon the glow from the purifying arrow was
illuminating the cavern. He spied a battered lantern, perhaps dropped by one of the poor
souls whose bones littered the front room, and picked it up. It was still intact, so he used
his claws to create a spark that lit the wick. As the glow from the lantern provided enough
light to see by, Kagome lowered her bow and extinguished the arrow.

"Why give this to Sesshoumaru?" she asked him as they began searching the
inner cavern.

The floor was covered in guano and he was considering using the flammable (and
explosive) power of the bat shit to torch the entire cavern once they were through

"Because no one would be stupid enough to go up against my brother, but they
might be stupid enough to try to come against me. Let Sesshoumaru handle it. He'll snap
his fingers and have whatever idiot bastard who did this's head on his desk before

"That's probably one of the smartest things you've ever said to me," he heard her

He stopped his searching and faced her, irritated. "What? You think I'd let my
family be dragged into this shit? You think I'd put Ian in danger? We've got pups to
protect, y'know."

She smiled at him and rewarded him with a deep kiss.

"Oi! What was that for, wench?" he demanded, blushing but inwardly smiling.

"I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you," she answered happily and
turned away from him to go back to her inspection of the deserted cavern.

"Feh," he snorted but had to bite his cheek to keep the grin off his face.

They continued searching but so far they hadn't found much. Terror Bats weren't
known for accumulating a lot of possessions. They were nomadic by nature and did not
tend to stay on one cave long enough to fill it with junk. Inuyasha was looking, as much
as he could when he really had no idea what he was looking for, but becoming steadily
more and more frustrated as the time wore on.

"I just want him to be happy, y'know?" he admitted suddenly, feeling a need to
get it off his chest. "It's what every father wants for his sons, isn't it? Maybe Isato will
never settle down with one female, but that isn't what bull-youkai do. Bull-youkai have
herds of females so it's not like it's normal for him to have just one mate. But inu-youkai
are different. We want one mate, and that one is the mate we take for life. That's what
makes us happy. Is it so wrong to want the same thing for Yukio that I have?"

Kagome gave him a gentle smile and he was once again reminded of why he had
fallen in love with her and why he was so grateful to have her in his life.

"No, it isn't wrong to want your children to be happy. It's the best thing any
parent could want for their children," she agreed.

He blushed and tried to hide his embarrassment by kicking at a pile of discarded
leather armor and filthy clothing. "Feh. If that's so, why do they resent it so much?" he
complained, his toe catching on something small and metallic that had been under the
clothes. A flash of silver caught his eye and he turned his head to get a better look. "Oi. I
think I may have found something."

He bent down and picked up a heavy weighted seal bearing a family crest. The
square seal was only a couple of inches long and appeared to be carved from ivory with a
pewter handle.

"What do you think?" he asked her, showing her the seal.

"Somehow I doubt any of the bats commissioned something like that," she
replied, taking the seal from him and looking at it closely. "This is well made. It would
have been very expensive."

"You recognize the crest?"

A gust of wind was the only warning they had, and he drew Tessaiga just in time
to see Kagura floating above them. "Yo."

"Arrgh! Kagura, you bitch! What the hell are you doing sneaking up on us like
that?" he demanded.

"I wasn't sneaking. It isn't my fault your ears aren't as good as your brother's,"
the wind-demoness replied dryly.

"Not as good? Why I oughta..." he snarled, gripping Tessaiga's hilt tightly.

"Kagura-san," Kagome interrupted, placing her hand on his wrist to belay his
strike. "Did you follow us here?"

"No. Why would I need to? The stink of bat shit is carried on the wind," Kagura
answered, shrugging.

"Ah. Have you seen any Terror Bats that have survived?" his mate asked.

"No. Looks like your mate and son got the ones that stayed close to home."

"Were there many others, Kagura-san?" Kagome questioned.

The wind-demoness huffed and rolled her eyes. "How should I know?"

"Feh," he muttered under his breath, then tossed the ivory and pewter seal up
towards her. "Oi, Wind-bitch, you recognize this crest?"

Kagura snatched the seal out of the air and looked at it. "No, but I will bring it to
Sesshoumaru. He makes it a point to know who is operating in his territories."

"We have reason to believe a new youkai council member named Deveran may
be behind the Terror Bats," Kagome explained.

"Have you heard of him, Kagura-san?" his mate asked.

"Some. If he is behind this, he'll have been very stupid."

"I agree. These bats have been killing humans and youkai alike. There are several
skeletons in the front cavern."

Kagura took a closer look at the seal and shrugged. "Hm. Yes, very stupid. But
then when have men been anything other than stupid?"

"Oi!" he complained, but she just gave him a dark chuckle.

"Well, I'll take this to Sesshoumaru. Ciao."

With that she was gone just as quickly and silently as she had come, and he
finally let his jaw relax once she was out of sight.

"I hate that woman," he admitted.

"No you don't," his mate answered sagely, a knowing look in her eyes.

"Oh, I don't, do I? That bitch is a detachment of Naraku!"

"That's true, but she turned against him in the end, didn't she? And it wasn't like
she could just defy him. He held her heart. As long as he kept it hostage, she could never
be free," she said, her expression turning far away and marred with remembered pain.

He lowered his ears and took a step towards her. "Oi..."

She shook her head, brightening, and gave him a brave smile that made a cold
spear go through his heart. He knew she carried such pain inside her, such grief and loss
that she harbored over the long years. It hurt him to see it and he knew that she
swallowed it for his benefit. Yes, it was true that they had each other and their pups, and
they were overall very happy and content. But the price they had paid for that
contentment had been high and he knew the debt sometimes weighed on her.

"Kagome..." he began, trying to offer what paltry comfort he could.

"But he should have known better, shouldn't he? He should have known he could
never tame the wind," she commented, moving away from him.

He let his hand fall as she walked away and gave a small sigh. "No."

They looked for a short while longer but their hearts weren't in it, and he
eventually let Kagome call a halt to the search.

"I don't think we'll find anything else of value here. The rest of it appears to be
just cast off junk," she commented, surveying the cavern with her hands on her hips.

"Yeah, but at least we found that seal, and the wind bitch all but confirmed that
the rest of the bats are dead," he answered.

"That's true. Now Temeh and his family won't have to be afraid anymore and the
bats won't be killing sheep and unsuspecting humans."


"And if this is about uranium mining, then the best one to handle this would be

"Feh. He's welcome to it. We were only here because of the pup."

He heard her sigh and looked over at her, one eyebrow raised. "Oi. What is it?"

"Please don't misunderstand. I am happy that Peter's father is all right and that
Temeh has been reunited with his family, but..."

"But Yukio was looking at that pup like it might be his," he finished, seeing
where his mate was going.

She nodded sadly. "Yes. Don't get me wrong, a baby belongs with his family if its
at all possible, but... but it would have been nice for him. He wants to be a father so

"Keh. Dunno why. It's not like he had a good role model or anything."

She smiled and hooked her arm in his, kissing him on the cheek. "He had the best
role model."

"If that's so, why did you keep saying that I'm a violent, reckless jerk?" he mock-

She chuckled and gave him a push. "Because you are."

"Hey," he complained, but there was no heat in it. They'd been together too long
and they knew each other too well. `So much history between us... I wonder what the next
400 years has in store for us.'

"We've been gone a long time. We should be getting back," she told him.

He nodded and glanced around the cavern one last time. "Yeah. I think we're
done here."

She reached out to take his hand and his fingers curled around her palm the way
that they had for the past four centuries.

"Shall we go then?" she asked.

Her hand slipped from his grasp as she stepped away from him and headed for the
exit. She took the lantern with her, the light swaying back and forth like a drunken firefly
as she walked. He followed, as always, allowing her to lead him out of the darkness.