InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ The Coyote Child ❯ Chapter Thirteen ( Chapter 13 )

[ 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.

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Navajo words:
Hataalii - medicine man
Belagana - White man
Hozho - harmony
A'wee Chi'deedloh - First Laugh Ceremony

Author's note:

In my research on Navajo culture and traditions, I came across the First Laugh
Ceremony. I liked the idea so much that I decided to work it into Coyote Child. Being
that the story revolves around a newborn child, I thought it dovetailed nicely into the
story line. For more information about the First Laugh tradition, you can go to these
links: 13/student_scene.html baby-laugh.html h-ceremony.html

</Shameless Plug> The Heart of a Fox is now available as an e-book. Go to for more info </Shameless Plug>


Chapter 13

Yukio knew that the young coyote-youkai would not be happy to see a Navajo
Medicine Man, but nothing prepared him for the murderous rage Temeh flew into when
he saw the hataalii come into the hogan.

"Get the hell away from me and my family, you stinking son of a whore!" the
new father growled, his hackles raised and his tail bristled straight out.

Sara cowered behind him, Peter held close to her chest, her eyes wide and full of
anguish and fear.

"I mean no harm," Ben insisted, his hands up in surrender.

Temeh only growled and brandished his claws. Much to Yukio's surprise and
concern, he began to see the glow of poison start to well on the boy's fingernails and he
caught the scent of venom.

`So coyote-youkai have poisoned talons like inu-youkai do...' he noted,
wondering what the hell was going on.

"Murderer!" Temeh accused and lunged forward, claws ready to strike.

"Temeh, no!" Sara cried as Peter began to wail.

"Whoa! Whoa!" Yukio ordered, placing himself between the young coyote-
youkai and the elderly Navajo. "What the hell is going on here?"

"That bastard killed my baby cousin!" Temeh accused.

"What?" he stammered, at a loss for words, but the new father wasn't finished.

"After the pup was murdered, his father threw himself off a mesa when his mate
rejected him. It took him twelve years to heal! I'll never forget the scent of the coward
who did it. Pup killer! Keep him away from us, Yukio, or I swear I'll kill him!"

He looked to the old man, silently asking if such an accusation were true. Could
the jovial, old shaman be a murderer of helpless infants? The look on Ben's face told him
everything and he dropped his shoulders in defeat.

"Yes, it is true. I was the one to kill the last child Coyote tried to give us. It was
over seventy years ago, and I was young and very afraid for my people," the old man

"So you admit your crime! Murderer! You should be slaughtered and hung out
for the crows for what you did!" Temeh cried.

"Easy! Easy! There will be no slaughtering or crow feeding on my watch!" Yukio
countered, renewing his efforts to keep the two apart.

"You side with him? You side with this pup killer?" Temeh accused, gasping.

"I side with no one. Ben said he came here to keep the mistakes of the past from
being repeated. I'm here to make sure no one else dies!" he growled, losing patience.
"Now we all need to calm down and just relax."

"You relax! I'm not about to let my guard down around this murderer," the young
father seethed.

Yukio looked to Benjamin, searching for anything that would tell him what to do
next. He desperately wished his parents would return. Even if his father would be no
better at dealing with the situation than he was, at least his mother would be able to cast
barriers to keep the two sides from killing each other.

"Killing the child was the most shameful thing I have ever done. I thought I was
saving my people, but I was only adding to their misery and pain. If there was any way
for me to go back and change what I did, I would. But I cannot take back the mistakes of
the past. I can only make sure they are not repeated," the hataalii said sadly, then he
looked at Temeh and addressed the young father, "I do not wish your son any harm.
When I heard the rumor that a new Coyote Child had been born, I knew my chance to
make up for the evil I had committed in my youth had come. I pledge to you that I will do
everything in my power to protect him and teach my people that he is the hope for all of

"Forgive me, Elder, but I do not know how that is possible. My own father
brought a mob here with rocks and guns. How do you intend to overcome generations of

mistrust and superstition?" Sara stated, speaking for the first time since Ben had come
into the hogan.

"It is true. In the years since the belagana came, we have suffered and forgotten so
much. We wanted someone to blame for our losses..."

Temeh snarled and spit on the floor in disgust. "Bah! You have no one to blame
but yourselves. We tried to warn you. We sent messengers and signs. We sent assurances
that we would honor the Pact between our people. In answer, you ignored our warnings
and killed our kin. It was you humans who broke the Pact. We have remained faithful
even though you shoot our lesser cousins like vermin."

Benjamin nodded. "Yes. The years of hardship and pain at the hands of the
belagana have blinded us. We have forgotten much. Our youth are seduced by empty
belagana promises and belagana ways. We are out of balance. The Old Ways are being
lost. We must return to hozho. Your son is destined to lead the way."

"My son will have nothing to do with you, pup killer!" the new father shot back.
"If it were up to me, I'd take my mate and pup and you'd never see any of us again, but
my mate loves her grandmother and will not leave her."

Peter had stopped crying as the tension in the hogan had begun to abate. That was
a good thing because the pup's cries had been giving Yukio a headache. It did seem that
the threat of violence within the hogan walls had somewhat lessened, and he was able to
relax a little bit as he tried to sort through the mess.

He looked to the other people in the room and was startled by the obvious split in
ranks. On one side stood Ben and Lori, but on the other stood Ruth, Sara, Temeh, Emma
and himself. Michael and David were by the far wall, standing somewhere in the middle
and looking as if neither knew which side to choose. He once again felt sorry for
Michael, caught between the two worlds and floundering in the currents.

`He's the one who is going to come out of this the most damaged.'

"Look, there is no need to make any decisions now," Yukio said, speaking into
the tense silence. "Why don't you all take a few days and then try to come to some kind
of agreement between you? Ben, it's obvious that you want something from this pup.
And Temeh, I can certainly understand your desire to protect Peter from anyone who
would want to hurt him."

"You got that right! And that includes keeping him away from just about
everyone in this room," the coyote-youkai snorted contemptuously.

"Hey, wait a minute," Sara complained, stepping to stand in front of her lover.
"Just about everyone in this room is my kin. These are my people, Temeh. These are my
family, and Peter's family. Like it or not, Peter is half Navajo. You can't change that."
She turned to Ben and Lori, Peter held close to her chest. "And you can't change the fact
that my baby is half Coyote. Like it or not, he's of both worlds." She took a deep breath
and squared her shoulders. "And so am I. Don't think that I didn't know what I was doing
when I got pregnant. I chose this. I chose Temeh as much as he chose me. We are in this

Oddly, Yukio believed her. In the modern time when children were expected to
stay children far longer than any other time in history, the display of maturity from the
girl was refreshing to him. All too often he had witnessed the consequences of cultures
that kept their young ignorant and innocent for too long, only to find that their "grown"
children often had no idea how to survive in a world that was almost never fair and

sometimes cruel. There was much to be said for allowing children to grow up and face
the repercussions of their actions.

"I would never seek to take you from your people," Temeh said softly, coming to
stand next to Sara. "But you must understand how much I fear for him."

She turned to look at Peter's father and gave him a smile that was much older than
her young years, and the expression reminded Yukio of the look his mother sometimes
gave his father; a look that said she understood but that she had faith in the future.

"I know and I am scared too. But my people are good people, and they do their
best to live in harmony with the world. This is what Peter's birth is all about. I knew he
would be a bridge, even if he had to go away for a while. That's why I was willing to
give him up to be raised by strangers. I knew he would return and teach us the Old Ways,
just as Coyote did in the beginning, when First Man and First Woman came out of the
First World. I knew this. I've always known this. It's what I was born to do."

Like his own mother; born the reincarnation of a priestess betrayed and murdered,
born to right the wrongs committed five centuries before, Sara was born to heal the
wounds that had rent her people apart, and she would do it through her son. In that
moment, Yukio understood what was happening in the tiny hut made of mud and wood.
He was witnessing a new beginning, a new hope for a people who had suffered so much,
lost so much and had seen far too much pain.

"Is that what you truly wish, my mate?" Temeh asked, his voice earnest.

Sara nodded seriously. "It is."

Temeh closed his eyes and sighed, his shoulders drooping in resignation. Then
Yukio saw him take a deep breath and lift himself to his full height.

"Very well then, follow me," the young coyote-youkai commanded, and walked
out of the hogan.

They all followed him, Sara directly behind carrying Peter, trailing him as he
walked across the sun baked earth to a flat spot about twenty meters from the hogan.

"Stand back," he ordered, and then folded himself in half.

At some point the two silver coyotes had joined them and now they began to sing
in low, soft howls as their master transformed. Yukio's eyes opened wide as he saw
Temeh assume his true Coyote form: a huge silver coyote nearly as large as a man was
tall. He wasn't as big as his uncle was in his Tai-youkai dog form, but big enough.

The giant coyote turned golden eyes their way, his mouth opening to reveal his
rows of sharp teeth, then he took his massive paw and slammed it into the hard ground.
The sharp claws gouged the earth like softened butter, and Yukio could hear the bedrock
cracking and splintering underneath the impact. The hole collapsed in upon itself as
Temeh struck again, then Yukio took a sniff and smelled the strong scent of water.

When he was done, the coyote sat back on his haunches and lifted himself to
squat on his hind legs. Then his body began to condense and he was once again the young
coyote-youkai in his two-legged form. He stood next to the new well he had just created
and pointed to it.

"I make a new pact between my people and the Navajo. We will honor the Old
Ways and once again guide the People. We will offer aid when it is asked, and give our
knowledge and protection," Temeh announced calmly. "I seal this pact with a gift of
water: lifeblood in the desert. This well will never run dry."


Michael and David were sent to fetch piping and a well hand pump from
someone, somewhere while Yukio and Temeh finished the job of shoring up the new well
and making it ready for use. Emma stood back and watched them, watched as they did
things in minutes what would have taken a human man hours or days.

It was obvious that Yukio had building experience because he knew exactly what
to do to make sure the well was secure and stable, and both he and Temeh moved with
the efficiency of people who knew what they were doing. She imagined that someone
who had lived for centuries would amass quite a number of skills useful for survival, and
once again wondered what the hell she was getting herself into.

She looked over at Sara who was watching the goings-on with quiet happiness,
and at the old woman and man who were making preparations to bless the new well, and
then at the bewildered young hataalii who was holding her hands stiffly at her sides.
Emma felt a small twinge of sympathy for the woman. None of this was easy on any of
them, but for her the world must be spinning on its axis. She'd seen Yukio giving the
same sympathetic look to Michael, and she realized that they both must be feeling the
same way.

`And the lie which is the truth hurts more than the truth which is the lie,' she
thought sadly.

She looked back at Yukio and was once again struck by his beauty and strength.
There were so many questions that she wanted to ask. Could he change his shape the way
Temeh could? Did he have that foul-smelling liquid that had started to come out of the
coyote-youkai's nails when he felt threatened? Could he do what Temeh had just done
with a single swipe of his paw?

She could ask just as many questions of Sara. How did she know Temeh was the
one she was destined to be with? How did she even know that pairing with him was her
destiny? How did she feel about living for ages? How did she think she would manage
living with one foot in two very different worlds?

Somehow, a child almost ten years her junior was behaving more maturely and
more bravely than most adults she knew, and she wondered how the girl planned to
weather the storms that were about to come into her life. Then she realized that Sara
probably felt safe when she was with Temeh, simply because Temeh could do all of the
things she had seen him do.

She felt the same way about Yukio. After watching him fight, could she feel
anything but completely safe in his presence? She didn't know if he was the one, but the
dreams of her grandfather suggested that he was, and even if he wasn't, she had no doubt
that he and his family were about to become very important people in her life.

While Yukio and his father had been guarding the hogan last night, she had been
able to talk with Kagome. Most of the conversation had focused on her newly awakened
powers, but some of it had pertained to Yukio, and she had learned much more of his
long, sad story.

It was obvious from the conversation, however, that neither Kagome nor Inuyasha
wanted to influence the outcome of the situation between her and Yukio, but that both of
them were highly interested in their son's happiness. Kagome had been guarded and

careful in her choice of words when it came to her eldest son, but Emma could tell that
she was concerned and wanted Yukio find someone to share his life.

The older woman (much older woman) had offered a little insight into Yukio's
mindset and given her a nudge or two towards which direction she should pursue. From
Kagome's subtle hints, she was able to determine that Yukio was attracted to strong
women who could take care of themselves. So now she was showing him with her actions
that she was willing and able to fill that role.

It wasn't difficult for her at all. She had always been independent and self-
sufficient, and standing beside Yukio in a crisis had been something she had done almost
on instinct. Asking her to be his equal and partner instead of someone who would hide
behind him, didn't seem too far of a stretch for her.

`Now if I can only convince him of that...'

It was frustrating and confusing enough as it was, but now that she had to add her
new powers to the mix, she found herself feeling adrift. What she really wanted to do was
go home. She wanted to be back among her family and the places she knew. Being out in
the middle of the desert, dealing with demonic bats and angry Navajos, was no place for
her to be if she wanted to be able to think clearly. But she had no choice and she knew it.
Until the situation with Temeh, Sara and the baby was resolved, Inuyasha and his family
were going nowhere, and like it or not, they were her ride back to Canada.

Kagome had offered her skills as a teacher once they were back in Calgary, and
for that she was grateful. She had been expecting the offer because Yukio had told her
that his mother would probably volunteer help, so it hadn't come as a complete surprise.
What did come as a surprise were Kagome's thin allusions as to what could happen
between Emma and Yukio once they were back home, and she was spending a good deal
of time out at their estate. Kagome had hinted that seeing Emma on a regular basis might
help her son turn his eye her way. It was an unspoken opportunity and Emma knew to
take it seriously, but very gently. Both women understood that Yukio would run high-
tailed for the hills if he thought he was being manipulated, and neither of them wanted

`Handle him gently, let him come to you. A butterfly that is chased will fly away,
but if you are quiet and still, it may light on your finger,' she reminded herself as she
watched Yukio and Temeh finish setting the final stones that would protect the new well
from contamination and keep unsuspecting people and animals from falling in.

Both of them were sweating, and looked worn out, so it came as no surprise that
they announced that they were going to bathe once the work was done.

"Do you need your shampoo and conditioner?" she asked, motioning towards the

Yukio shook his head. "No, I'll get it. You should get in out of the sun. The pup's
been out in it too long as it is."

She smiled to herself. As always, his thoughts were on the health and safety of the
baby, and those who were under his protection. She knew from Kagome that her eldest
son had learned that from his father, and that, despite all of Inuyasha's gruffness and
bluster, he was a good and caring man. She could expect no less from the son if she were
to pair with him.

Seeing him working and watching how he interacted with others, his quiet
strength, his big heart, she could not imagine what had possessed his first wife to reject

him the way that she had and then make him watch her die. She had tried to get more
information from Kagome on what had happened, but the older woman had been
reluctant to discuss it. All she had said was that Miaka hadn't wanted the same things
from life that Yukio had wanted, and that the bombing of Japan in 1945 had damaged the
woman in some way that had never healed. The pain on Kagome's face had made her
think twice about pressing the issue, but she had hopes of being able to ask more
questions later.

"We'll go in soon. Although I might take the opportunity to ogle you again. It is
daylight now after all. I'd get a better view," she teased.

"Bah, woman! My father was right. The women of this time are too brazen," he
shot back, but his smile told her that he wasn't offended.

She laughed and gave him a little shrug as he continued to shake his head while
making his way over the hogan so he could get his toiletries, then he and Temeh
disappeared around the bend to the arroyo. While they were gone, Ben and Ruth
performed a Blessing Way geared towards blessing the new well with Sara and Lori in
attendance. When the ritual was completed, all of them went back inside the hogan to
escape the heat and Yukio and Temeh joined them shortly thereafter. There was no sign
of Michael or her cousin, and Kagome and Inuyasha had yet to return from inspecting the
demon bats' cave. Ruth made coffee and served food from the pile of canned goods and
packaged items Kagome had donated to the family, and Temeh and Yukio once again
dived into the ramen noodles. They were still eating when Michael and David got back
with the hand pump and piping.

Yukio took the pump and pipes from Michael, and he and Temeh went back out
to the well to install them. Michael and David had also brought back some buckets and
another 50-gallon water drum, and she helped unload these and put them where Ruth
wanted them stored. The entire operation was completed in less than an hour, and they
once again sought shade from the heat.

This time they gathered outside, sitting under a crude wooden arbor overlaid with
a canvas tarp to shield them from the sun, and Sara pulled out a handloom for her
grandmother. The loom held a half completed blanket that looked to be about the size of
an infant's blanket, and the old woman sat down in front of it and got to work. They
watched her weave while the rest of them sat around and tried not to look as
uncomfortable as they felt. Finally, Lori announced that she wanted to go back to her
own hogan and Michael agreed to take her. Emma thought that was best because their
continued unhappiness with the situation was only making Temeh nervous. Ben opted to
wait for Inuyasha and Kagome to return so he stayed behind while Lori and Michael left
in his Scout. David went with them so Michael could take him to the RN hataalli and
have his head wound checked.

After they were gone, Sara nursed Peter then gave him to Temeh to hold. The new
father held his son carefully, his face soft with love and pride, but then he shocked
everyone by placing the baby down on a blanket spread on the ground. He motioned to
the twin silver coyotes who were resting in what little shade they could find and the two
animals crept over cautiously.
Emma was worried for a moment, but she looked at Yukio and saw that he was
completely calm. Ruth and Ben were watching warily but they, too, did not seem to be
overly concerned as the two coyotes took turns sniffing the baby and nuzzling him. Peter

rolled over to face them and reached out to touch their muzzles, making little huffing
noises. Emma thought it was a little soon for such a young infant to be able to turn over,
but then she remembered that Kagome had told her youkai infants developed faster than
human babies.

After a few moments, both coyotes seemed satisfied and they lay down next to the
infant, flanking him between them like two furry crib railings. Neither Peter nor his father
seemed unhappy with the arrangement, and soon Peter was cuddled up with his

"My mother used to tell the story of our dog being my babysitter when I was a
little boy. She said she never had to worry about what trouble I would find because the
dog would get me out of it," Ben commented with a soft smile.

"My parents used to hang my baby sling from a tree," Yukio said. "And when I
was a toddler, my sitter was a kitsune kit about 6 years older than me. When there was
trouble, my father would find a big tree with a hollow under its roots, and he would put
Shippo and me in the hollow then seal the entrance with a big rock. It was Shippo's job to
hit anyone who pulled the rock away with foxfire if they weren't my father or mother, but
sometimes he would blast Otou-san with it anyway just to annoy him."

They laughed and Yukio smiled a real smile that made Emma feel warm inside.

"My grandmother tells us about the time when I was a toddler and I disappeared
on their farm. Everyone was panicking but then Grandmother noticed that her four mares
were all standing in a circle with their heads facing out. Sure enough, I'd wandered into
their pasture and had fallen asleep, and the mares were standing guard around me like I
was a foal," she added, recalling the memory and her grandmother's face.

Temeh chuckled. "There was this time when I wandered off and my big brother
found me by the river near our hacienda. Kohteh had me by the seat of my pants and his
feet were firmly planted in the dirt so I wouldn't go into the water. Jodon found me
because I screamed up the dead when Kohteh wouldn't let me go."

"My younger sister is a full neko-youkai. She used to find me when I was
sleeping a tree and kick me out of it. A neko-youkai is a cat," Yukio offered, his eyes

They all laughed and he continued, "She used to say that dogs didn't belong in
trees. Oh, how I wish Super Soakers had been invented four hundred years ago."

They laughed again, then a sound came from between the two silver coyotes: a
burbling chuckle. Still smiling, Emma watched Yukio stand and go over to the baby, his
hands on his hips.

"What? You think that's funny, hmm?" he teased, reaching down to pick Peter up.
"You think me getting kicked out of a tree is funny, huh pup?"

The baby looked at him, his small hands reaching out to touch Yukio's face, and

"Oh you do think it's funny, eh? He thinks it's funny."

Yukio didn't see it until he looked up at the adults, but Emma had noticed the
change the instant Peter had laughed. Now Yukio saw the happy surprise and pleasure on
Ruth and Ben's faces.

"What?" he questioned.

Sara had put her hands over her mouth, but Temeh was beaming.

"My son laughed," the young father explained.

The mention of laughter made Emma remember something about Navajo
traditions and she smiled when she realized what had happened.

"So?" Yukio said, confused. "He's laughed before, hasn't he?"

"No," Emma confirmed. "That was his first laugh."

Ben chuckled and clapped his hands together while Ruth grinned and nodded her

"I'm guessing that's a good thing?" the inu-youkai hanyou asked.

"Oh yes, it's a very good thing," Temeh replied.

Ruth said something to Ben in Dineh and the hataalii nodded his head in

"To my people, when a child laughs for the first time, it means he is ready to
become part of the world. We believe that an infant is still with the Holy Ones even after
he is born. When the baby is ready to join his human family, he tells us with his first
laugh," Sara explained.

"So a baby's first laugh is cause for celebration, and the one who made the baby
laugh will be an important person in the baby's life," Temeh continued.

"And since you were the one who made him laugh, that means you," Emma
added, giving Yukio a wry smile.

Yukio looked at her then to the smiling infant in his hands and to the child's
parents. "Me?"

Temeh came forward and put his hand on Yukio's arm. "Yes, you. And I am glad
that it is you. You who were a stranger yet risked your life to protect my son."

She saw Yukio blush but her newfound spiritual powers also allowed her to feel
the undercurrents of joy mixed with sadness coming from him. She felt the roiling
emotions so strongly that she had to use one of the techniques Kagome had taught her to
try to block them.

`He's so lonely and he wants to be a father so badly. It hurts him to be on the
outside looking in, but yet he can't tear his eyes away from the window.'

"I am honored," she heard him reply and she watched as he handed the baby to
Temeh and bowed to him.

Temeh bowed back. "It is we who are honored."

Ruth said something to Sara and the girl translated for the rest of them.

"Ma'sani' says that we will have the feast tomorrow. When Ben leaves today he
will let others know about the ceremony so they can come. He will bring the sheep and
salt when he comes back in the morning, but we have everything else we need here."

"Sheep? Salt?" Yukio repeated.

"There will be an A'wee Chi'deedloh ceremony and a feast. We will hold a
Laughing Party. All of my relatives and friends will be invited to come," Sara added.

Temeh handed Peter to Sara then he put a hand on Yukio's shoulder. "Typically
the one who made the baby laugh is the one to host the party, but because you are not
Navajo and unfamiliar with the customs, we'll do it for you."

"It is a little early, though. Most babies don't laugh until they are around six
weeks old," Sara admitted.

"You let me handle any questions about that," Ben said. "I will use his early
laughter as a way to convince others that this one is special."

"Hey, old man, don't do anything that could put my son in danger," Temeh

"I give you my word that I will not," the hataalii promised.

Temeh grunted and sat down with Sara. Sara set Peter back down on the blanket
and soon he was flanked by his two furry babysitters.

"Heh, Kohteh and Kohmeh know their job well," Temeh said fondly.

"Yeah, they'll have a hard time keeping you both out of trouble now," Yukio

Temeh sniffed but did not comment, and Yukio took his seat next to her again.
Soon the new parents were involved in an animated discussion with Ruth and Ben, but
she didn't understand most of it because they were speaking in Dineh.

"What do you know about this A'wee Chi'deedloh ceremony?" she heard Yukio
ask her in a soft voice.

She looked at him and both saw and felt his nervousness, and she wondered why
the thought of being part of a ritual concerned him.

"Not much," she admitted.

"Well, I guess if there is something I have to do for it, they'll let me know."

She nodded. "I wouldn't worry too much about it. They know that you aren't
familiar with their ways."

"I just hate ceremonies," he admitted, frowning. "Usually they're a lot of trouble
for something that should be simple. My parents' Japanese wedding that they had six
years ago. That was a logistic nightmare that took 9 months to plan, and my mother
nearly fainted under the weight of her wedding kimono."

She suppressed a giggle and the urge to put a comforting hand on his arm. The
fact that he felt comfortable enough to seek her advice was telling, but she didn't want to
risk his fragile trust in her by being too forward.

"You sound like your father," she teased, trying to lighten his mood.

"Oh no I don't. If I'd wanted to sound like my father, I'd have added a few four
letter words to the mix."

She chuckled and shook her head. "Point taken."

"I guess... I guess I just don't know what's next. I don't know what we'll do
now," he said, his voice uncertain.

"Won't that depend on what your parents find in that cave?"

He sighed. "Yeah, but I'm pretty sure all the bats are dead. If any had survived,
they would have come after us by now. They aren't damaged by sunlight, they just prefer
the darkness."

"So you're taking their absence as a good sign."

He nodded. "Yeah."

"Well, then, what would you do next?"

She saw him think for a moment, his lips drawn into a tight line. "I'd contact
Temeh's parents, but I doubt he'd agree with me."

She glanced at the coyote-youkai to confirm that he was still engrossed in the
conversation with his mate and her grandmother. "Perhaps not. If this Laughing Party is
as significant as I think it is, he may secretly want his parents there. Peter is their
grandchild too."

Yukio grunted softly and gave a short nod. "I'll ask my mother for her opinion
when she and Otou-san get back."

"They have been gone a long time," she admitted, looking off in the direction
Kagome and Inuyasha had taken that morning.

"It was a long way away and they probably stayed to go through the cave to look
for any clues as to who brought the bastards here. They'll be back as soon as they can,"
he answered.

"You aren't worried?"

He shook his head, then he gave her a sheepish smile, his eyes dancing with
mischief. "If they aren't back by nightfall, then I'll start to get worried. In the meantime, I
need to figure out how to mix sheep meat with ramen noodles without offending

She just tossed her head back and laughed.