InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ The Coyote Child ❯ Chapter Seventeen ( Chapter 17 )
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.
Pairing: Inuyasha/Kagome, OFM/OFC
Summary: Inuyasha and Kagome are asked to adopt a coyote-hanyou baby from Arizona.
Email feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Navajo Words used in this chapter:
Ahé hee’ – Thank you
Hózhó Nahasdlii – Walk in beauty
Hágoónee - Goodbye
Yukio had known that his and his father’s hearing was excellent, but he hadn’t realized how sensitive it was until he was out in the desert with little or no noise pollution to muffle his senses. He knew he heard the chopper, but it was several minutes before he was able to lay eyes on it, and by the time it was fully in view, the sun had risen completely. It was a smaller chopper, obviously privately owned, the kind corporate bigwigs and millionaires favored.
He and his father took up defensive positions while Temeh ushered David, Ruth and Sara back into the hogan, then guarded the door, his face tense but not wary.
“Uncle get a new chopper?” Yukio asked Inuyasha, although the chopper did not seem as large or luxurious as the ones that were usually in Sesshoumaru’s fleet
“Hell if I know,” his father replied, then looked to the coyote-youkai. “Oi! You know who that belongs to?”
Temeh frowned and nodded. “I think so. It looks like one of my cousin’s helicopters.”
“Your cousin has helicopters?”
The young father shrugged as if that answered everything.
They waited for the chopper to land about fifty yards away from the hogan, and Yukio saw his father put a hand down to easily grab Tessaiga if needed. He hoped it wouldn’t be necessary. If the chopper truly belonged to Temeh’s family, then it was best if the occupants were friendly.
The pilot turned off the engine, and the blades were still coming to a stop when the side door on the chopper slid back to let out two figures, a male and a female. Yukio looked at Temeh to gauge his reaction to whoever was exiting, and saw him relax and tense up again. The young coyote-youkai’s demeanor changed from defiant to contrite to resigned, then defiant again all in the space of a few seconds. It told him that the newcomers weren’t a threat, but that Temeh wasn’t all that happy to see them.
“Let me guess, your parents?” he offered, noting the uncomfortable scrunch to the young father’s nose.
“Yeah,” Temeh confirmed as Kohteh and Kohmeh lowered their heads and tucked their tails in submission at the approaching pair.
“Well, at least you don’t have to call them.”
Temeh snorted, but cast him a small smile. “True.”
They watched, not moving or letting down their guard, as the couple walked closer while the pilot stayed with the chopper. Yukio could see the confusion and wariness on their faces at the picture of defense presented to them, but they seemed undeterred. He saw the male frown and lift a lip to reveal his fangs, and that was enough for his father to draw Tessaiga and step directly into their path.
“I am Inuyasha, brother to Sesshoumaru, Lord of the West, this home and all within it are under my protection,” his father announced, more formally than Yukio was used to hearing him speak.
The couple paused several feet away. They were dressed well, Yukio observed. The male was in an expensive, dark grey suit that was obviously tailored to fit him. Instead of a tie, the mandarin collared shirt had a jeweled cabochon, and he wore matching cufflinks. The female was in a deep blue, couture dress, Donna Karan, if he knew his designers, (Eri would skin him alive if he couldn’t tell a Karan from a Givenchy,) and a long overcoat that looked like an Armani. She was wearing a small fortune in jewelry, if her earrings and the number of rings on her fingers said anything.
Yukio watched the two males size each other up, noting that the female stood slightly behind her mate, her face stony until she looked at her son. There was a flicker of relief, and then disappointment in her eyes.
“I am Tamahoh. This is my mate, Azuna. We have come for our son. He is here without permission, and we are here to retrieve him. We have no quarrel with you or the Lord of the West,” the male spoke in a formal tone.
Knowing his father had no gift or patience for diplomacy, Yukio stepped forward to join him.
“And we have none with you, but Temeh has requested our protection, and it has been granted. I think you will understand once you know the reason why,” Yukio replied.
Any further conversation was cut off by the cry of an infant. Both Temeh’s parents startled and stared wide-eyed as the door of the hogan opened and the occupants came out. Kagome lead the way, her posture wary and defensive. She was followed by Sara carrying Peter, and Ruth. David and Emma exited last, making their way to the side.
Azuna’s eyes fell on the baby, and she gasped. “Nene, what have you done?”
Yukio saw Temeh grimace at being called ‘Baby Boy,’ but he motioned for Sara to step up beside him.
“Padre. Madre. This is Sara, my mate, and our son, Peter,” the young father stated.
Tamahoh’s shock faded and anger took it place. “Your son? You are barely out of childhood yourself! How can you have a son?”
Yukio almost wished his mother would go into a long explanation of the mechanics of mammalian procreation just for the entertainment value, but she didn’t. Instead she joined his father in partially blocking the newcomers’ access to Sara and the baby.
“Sara and I met last year,” Temeh explained calmly. “I knew the moment I saw her that she was the one for me. I courted her, took her as my mate and made our son with her.”
“You told us nothing of this,” Tamahoh accused.
“I knew you would not approve. I planned to keep Sara a secret until the baby was born, but then you moved us to California and Sealed me in my room.”
“You caused a mass panic in Tucson! Over a stupid toy!” the coyote-youkai yelled with paternal disapproval.
“Yes. I did. It was stupid and childish, and I regret it. What I regret most of all is that my punishment separated me from my mate in the last two months of her pregnancy, leaving her to have him without me there. Her father tried to kill him the night he was born, and then her own brother took him away from her and tried to give him up for adoption.”
At the news of his grandchild being at risk, Tamahoh’s eyes flashed red and his teeth and claws extended in protective rage. Inuyasha brandished Tessiaga to get the other male’s attention and diffuse the situation.
“Oi! Put a sock in it!”
Tamahoh snarled. “You tell me my grandson was almost killed, and you expect me to put a sock in it?”
“The threat has been dealt with, in more ways than one. Peter is no longer in danger,” Yukio assured them.
Azuna had been slowly inching her way closer to the new mother and pup. She’d crossed over to the other side of her mate to be nearer to the side Sara was on, and was obviously straining to get a better look at the infant. Sara noticed and was shuffling her way towards her mate’s mother. The two finally gave up the pretense and closed the distance before anyone could stop them.
“Azuna, what are you doing!” Tamahoh scolded.
“Seeing my grandchild. Why don’t you put a sock in it?”
Yukio swallowed a laugh, because it was obviously where Temeh had inherited his rebellious streak.
“May I see him?” Azuna asked.
“Of course,” Sara replied, turning Peter so the woman could get a good look at him.
“Ohhh, precious bebé. He has his father’s eyes,” the new grandmother cooed.
Not that Temeh’s parents couldn’t be trusted, but Yukio moved to block access to the chopper… just in case they couldn’t be trusted. He cast a side-eye at the pilot who was still with the chopper, although he was now sitting on a folding chair placed in the shade of the helicopter.
“Chiquito, why did you not say anything to us?” Azuna asked her son.
“I was afraid of what Papa would say, Mama. You know how he feels about us mating with humans after what happened to Tío.”
“Oh, Nene, you know I wouldn’t have let anything happen to them.”
“But Mama, you know what he said after…”
Azuna nodded sadly. “I know, but words spoken in grief are often untrue. Tío’s son had been murdered, and Tío himself had almost died. It was a very dark time, Nene. Your father… he didn’t want you or your siblings suffering such pain.”
“Would you like to hold him?” Sara asked.
The youkai woman’s eyes misted over, and she nodded. “Yes, please.”
The young mother smiled and gently placed Peter in his paternal grandmother’s arms. The baby burbled and looked at the new person, letting out a soft bark. Azuna responded with a croon of her own, telling the infant that he was safe. Temeh followed it up with a reassuring bark, and the baby reached a questioning hand up to touch Azuna’s face.
“What is this?” Azuna asked, referring to the turquoise and silver beaded necklace around Peter’s neck.
“That is his concealment spell locus,” Kagome explained. “I blessed it yesterday.”
The youkai woman looked up, assessing the miko. “You are Kagome, mate of Inuyasha. You are a youkai doctor.”
His mother nodded. “Yes. Sara’s brother and two representatives from the Navajo Nation brought Peter to us in Alberta.”
“Alberta? They flew with my grandson so very young?” Azuna questioned, concerned.
Yukio shook his head. “No. They drove him up to us.”
Azunea hissed softly through her teeth. “Such a long trip for such a young pup.”
Kagome hurried to assure her. “They did their best and kept him safe. I gave him a complete exam when he was brought to me. He is healthy and growing well.”
Azuna smiled in gratitude. “And then you brought him home.”
“We could not accept him into our family without his mother’s permission. When we found out he had been taken from her against her will, we knew we had to return him and offer her sanctuary with us,” Yukio explained.
“There are things you do not know,” Temeh’s father said abruptly.
Yukio lifted his head, surprised at how close the male Coyote-youkai had come, and now they were all clustered around Sara, Azuna and Peter. He heard his father snort.
“The bats? Killed them,” Inuyasha scoffed.
Azuna gasped. “You killed the Terror Bats?”
Inuyasha shrugged. “They attacked the hogan and the people in it. No way we’d let them live.”
“And we informed my Uncle,” Yukio added. “I am sure he will find out who is behind them.”
“It was Counsel Deveran. We are sure of it,” Tamahoh informed.
“That is what we told Lord Sesshoumaru’s agent when she arrived to investigate. Since we no longer feel the barrier keeping the bats here, we can only assume my Uncle dealt with it,” Yukio said.
The Coyote-youkai’s shoulders relaxed in relief. “That is… good news.”
“See Papa, everything is alright. The bats are gone and Sara is safe.”
“You still did all of this without our knowledge, and you broke your Seal to run here,” Tamahoh replied harshly.
Temeh’s face hardened. “I had no choice. Sara needed me. I thought they were in danger.”
“It would have been better had you told us the truth in the first place,” Azuna scolded.
“And listen to another lecture about how I am not ready to take a mate because I’m too young and don’t understand?”
“You are too young! And you don’t understand! Look what your irresponsibility has done!” Tamahoh argued.
“Peace, peace,” Azuna interrupted. “These are old arguments that have no answer and often draw more blood than is wanted. All children have disagreements with their parents about their futures.”
Yukio snorted and cast a wry glance towards his mother who gave him a tiny, understanding smile.
“We should let them talk it out and decide what is next,” Yukio said, stepping back from the group.
He was relatively certain that the danger had passed, and there was no risk in allowing the new family unit to work out their differences without the interference of strangers. He, Emma and David moved furthest away, going over to where the Jeep was parked. His mother eventually managed to convince Inuyasha to stop hovering and allow the others to talk amongst themselves, but he noticed that they stayed close. He had no doubt that there were rocky, tense times ahead, and a lot of big decisions, but at least everyone was safe and healthy.
“What do you think will happen now?” Emma asked him.
He looked quickly over at Sara and Ruth standing amidst the Coyote-Youkais. Everyone seemed uncertain, but no one looked distressed or afraid.
“I’m sure there’ll be some yelling, and some tears, and some uncomfortable talks, but in the end, Temeh’s parents love their son, and they will want to be part of Peter’s life. They’ll work it out.”
“You think so?” David questioned, not looking convinced.
Yukio shrugged. “I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I think they’ll get there.”
“So now that Temeh’s parents are here and the demon bats are gone, what happens next?” Emma asked.
Yukio sighed. “I guess we go home. Sara and the pup are safe. The pup’s father has them under his protection, and the Navajo Reservation is no longer infested with Terror Bats. There’s no need for us to stay any longer, and we have businesses and family at home. You have classes and David needs to get back to school, too.”
“How will we get back?”
Yukio looked at the Jeep. “My father wants to leave Sara and Temeh the Jeep. If he does that, we’d need to get a ride to Flagstaff to get a flight home.”
The more he thought about it, the more likely he felt that Inuyasha would leave the Jeep to the young couple. It wasn’t like they couldn’t afford to replace it. Unless Temeh’s parents were willing to donate a reliable vehicle that could handle the rough desert roads. He doubted that anyone could convince Ruth to leave her hogan, especially now that there was a steady source of water.
“When do you think we’ll leave?” Emma asked.
He took another quick glance towards the hogan. Things still seemed to be going well.
“Today probably. Tomorrow at the latest would be my guess.”
Emma nodded and let out a long sigh. “I’m glad. This trip… it’s been…”
“Long? Dangerous? Frustrating with a side of probable death?” he offered, trying to lighten the mood.
She gave him a small smile that told him she saw right though him. “Enlightening,” she corrected.
He looked away from her too knowing eyes. “That, too. I’ll be glad to be home. I miss Ian, and my work. I have clients who are counting on me, and my mom has patients that need her.”
“Yes. I miss home too.”
He fell silent for a moment, feeling a slight tingle rushing under his skin. Emma moved a little closer to him, and he had to fight the urge to move away. He was still at war with himself over what he wanted, and his own healing wounds, but he forced himself to stay still and calm as she came into his personal space.
“But I think…” she began softly, “that it would be nice to see you again sometime.”
He mulled over the words a bit, then nodded, his eyes still looking towards Sara, Peter and their family. “You mentioned a place with live music?”
“The Sugar Bowl in Edmonton on Friday and Sunday nights.”
Her tone was guardedly hopeful, and Yukio remembered the words Miaka had spoken to him in his… dream? Vision? He wasn’t sure, and he hadn’t had time to process what he had witnessed. Time for reflection and examination of the vision Manifesting would come later, when he was safely home and away from distractions. Perhaps he would even talk to Mariko about it. But for now, he tried to take Miaka’s words to heart and allow himself at least the opportunity to be happy.
“Typically my father is in the Edmonton office on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I have to pick up Ian from school, but I can check my calendar once we’re back home, see if I have any days when I could make the drive up.”
He heard her let out a soft gasp and could almost hear the smile in her voice.
“That would be good.”
“And don’t forget, my mother offered to help you with your new skills. Manifesting new abilities like yours can be pretty unsettling. I meant it when I said some people go crazy. It really would help to have someone train you.”
“Yes, this new way of seeing is… It will take some getting used to,” she agreed.
Something in him settled and he relaxed.
“So if I accept help from your mother and let her train me, does that mean we’ll be seeing each other often?”
“It’s possible. It depends on my schedule, but I am sure there will be days when I am around.”
“I… I think I would like that.”
“Me too,” he admitted and smiled when he realized that he truly meant it.
“We should trade numbers so we can keep in touch, and I can call you when there is a good performer scheduled at The Sugar Bowl.”
He nodded, reaching for his cell phone.
“I’d call you, but… no signal,” Emma reminded as she recited her number.
He gave a small grunt of acknowledgement and created a new contact for her. “I told Otou-san that we needed satellite phones, but he kept arguing with me. If we’d had working phones out here, we could have called Uncle ourselves to ask for help.”
Emma snickered as she added him to her contacts list in turn. “Thanks. Once we get home, I can look at the Sugar Bowl’s schedule and let you know if I think anyone particularly talented will be playing.”
“That’d be good. I liked the singer we saw in Helena.”
She looked at him, and he was trying to think of something to say, when he heard the sound of an approaching truck. His parents and the coyote-youkais also heard the noise, and all conversation stopped as they turned to face the coming vehicle. After a few moments more, his brain supplied him with a sound memory, and he recognized the engine noise.
“Who is it?” Emma asked him.
“It sounds like Michael’s Jeep. He must have spent the night at Ben’s.”
“Hm. This could be interesting depending on how he feels about his sister’s in-laws.”
A few moments later, the older vehicle came into view, and they watched as Michael parked and got out. Confusion was evident on the young man’s face, but before Yukio could approach him to explain, Ruth broke off from the group by the hogan. He heard the woman address her grandson, then saw her guide him over to where his sister was standing with Temeh and his parents.
Yukio didn’t envy Michael’s position. It was awkward enough to meet your younger sister’s soon to be in-laws under the best of circumstances, let alone a situation like this. Michael’s shoulders were tense, but he could see that Sara and Ruth were doing their best to ease the introductions and explain what was happening.
“That looks like it’s going well…” Yukio heard Emma comment.
Yukio nodded. “No screaming or threats of bloodshed at least.”
Emma made a sound of agreement and shifted closer.
“If Michael’s back, that means others will be arriving soon for water.”
Her words reminded him of his mother’s promise to assist with water hauling that morning. “That’s true.”
He focused his hearing on trying to determine if more people were on the way. So far, he couldn’t hear any approaching vehicles, but that didn’t mean anything. Many Navajo were early risers, and they would come for the water they needed for the day.
“We can get things ready for the water hauling while they keep talking. I don’t think they are anywhere near finished,” he offered.
Emma nodded. “That’s a good idea. David? Are you feeling well enough to help haul water?”
David put a hand to his head, but nodded. “Yes. My headache is gone, and I’m not dizzy anymore.”
“Great. We should start getting things set up. People will be arriving soon.”
They headed towards the well, and were soon joined by his father.
“Oi. What are you doing?” Inuyasha demanded.
“The other tribe members will be coming for water. We’re getting ready for them since it doesn’t look like Sara and Ruth will be done talking with Temeh and his parents anytime soon,” he explained.
Inuyasha huffed, but came with them. David retrieved buckets from the side of the hogan and brought them over. The pump would need to be primed so it would be ready to dispense water once people started to arrive. They got the water flowing, then filled a 50-gallon barrel for Sara and Ruth.
“So this is the new well my son dug for the People,” Tamahoh said as he approached them.
“Yes,” Yukio confirmed. A quick look revealed that Azuna was still by the hogan with Sara and Ruth although Peter was back in Sara’s arms.
The Coyote-youkai snorted. “It was not his place to forge a new pact with the People.”
Yukio gritted his teeth. “You going to destroy the well, then? Deny the pact and take away the water?”
Tamahoh glanced at him and his father, obviously weighing his next words carefully. “No. If this is truly to be a new beginning for our kind and the People, we must operate in good faith. Temeh dug the well. The well will stay.”
“Good of you,” Inuyasha dead-panned, but it was obvious that he was ready to fight to protect the well had the answer been different.
The Coyote-youkai stepped back, hands in a neutral position. “I am not against this pact. I only fear for my son and grandson. Humans are… unpredictable and often irrational.”
“Keh. Tell me something I don’t know,” Inuyasha huffed.
“That’s true, but you have to start somewhere,” Emma said. “This well will mean fresh, clean water. It’s a precious gift. It will go a long way towards fostering good will.”
Tamahoh nodded, his face serious. “True.”
“Have you decided what you are going to do?” Yukio asked.
“It is our wish that Temeh and his mate come to California with us, but she will not leave her grandmother and the old woman will not leave this…” His face crinkled with distaste as he looked at the hogan. “House…”
“Sounds like you still have a few things to work out,” Yukio commented.
“Feh. Do not go against old women. Trust me. Babaas are scary,” Inuyasha said with a shudder.
Yukio chucked, remembering Kaede with fondness. The old miko was a guiding hand and a dear friend, but she had been a force to be reckoned with.
Tamahoh nodded, his face serious. “Of this I am well aware.”
The sound of approaching trucks reached the edge of his range.
“They’re coming,” Yukio said, for the benefit of the others who did not have enhanced hearing.
“There’s gonna be a bunch of people arriving very soon,” Inuyasha said to Tamahoh. “You need to decide what you are going to do when they get here. Doesn’t matter who they are, humans gossip.”
Yukio shook his head slightly. “Youkai, too.”
His father canted his head in agreement.
Tamahoh looked back to where his mate was standing with Temeh and the others. Michael was now holding Peter and looking uncomfortable, but calm.
“Azuna and I wish to leave. There are things that must be done if the Bats are truly gone.”
“They’re gone,” Inuyasha insisted.
“I do not doubt it, but if that is so, we may return to our home in Tucson.”
“That would put you much closer to your grandson.”
“Yes. Temeh has already stated that he will not leave his mate. I want my grandson protected, but my son has responsibilities, and resources here are so… limited.”
“We’re leaving our Jeep here. Temeh and Sara will have reliable transportation,” Yukio assured.
“That is generous of you, but Azuna and I can provide them with a new vehicle. They are part of our pack. Their care is our responsibility.”
“Yes, but the Jeep is here now. Why not allow them to have it, and replace it later? There are many other things that they need,” Emma said.
“We are happy to leave it, but we would need a ride to Flagstaff to catch a flight home,” Yukio assured.
Tamahoh cast a glance at the helicopter. “Our helicopter cannot seat many extra people.”
“We are five. Myself, my parents, Emma and her cousin, David,” Yukio replied.
The Coyote-youkai shook his head. “That is too many.”
“Do you have a satellite phone that works out here? We can call my uncle to send someone to pick us up.”
“That I do have. I am surprised you do not,” Tamahoh said.
“Feh!” Inuyasha snorted.
“Thank you. We will call once we have a better idea as to when we will need to be picked up. In the meantime, the others will be here for water very soon. What would you like to do?” Yukio asked.
“Azuna and I will go, but we will be back later. I will give Temeh back his phone so you can use it when the time comes.”
The Coyote-youkai gave another sharp nod, then turned to go back to his mate and son. Yukio saw him address Ruth and Sara. The old woman nodded and replied, gesturing towards Sara and the hogan. There was a brief discussion, then Tamahoh and Azuna headed for the helicopter. The chopper was lifting off just as a line of older pick-up trucks and SUVs came rolling down the dirt drive, laden with empty barrels and water tanks.
It took the better part of three hours for everyone who came for water to be served, even with youkai strength and speed. Word of the new well had spread, so people came from all over the surrounding region to get water from the new “blessed” well. Some were those whom Yukio had met before, but there were many new faces. None seemed to trouble Ruth, however, and Yukio trusted her judgment to know who was a threat.
Yukio greeted each person, but did not talk much as he hauled barrels and filled them. Sara and Ruth came over to see each newcomer, chatting away in Dineh, while Michael and Temeh helped unload barrels. At some point, Yukio switched duties with Temeh, leaving the young father to operate the pump while he and Michael carried barrels back and forth. They gave David lighter duties because they were still worried about his head injury.
“How are you doing?” Yukio asked the young Navajo during a short break.
Michael turned his gaze towards where Sara was standing next to Ruth. Peter was still in her arms, but the baby was facing outward, his eyes watching all of the people milling about around the well.
“I am… adjusting,” was the answer, but his face was somber.
“It’s a lot to handle in a short time.”
“My family and I are leaving today. We’ll probably give Sara and Temeh our Jeep.”
Michael paused and Yukio could see that he was trying to choose his words carefully. “That would be… very helpful. Your family has been very generous to us. I wish I could be more grateful, but… I am sorry.”
“But generations of your People being wary of Coyote cannot be erased in single day by one hanyou child,” he offered.
“I am glad you understand.”
“More than you know.”
Michael sighed. “It will take some getting used to. David and I also need to get back to school. Once we all leave… I don’t know how safe my sister and her baby will be.”
“Ben has pledged that he’ll make sure they’ll be okay,” Yukio reminded. “And yesterday went well. As long as Peter’s concealment charm stays on him, he’ll look like a normal baby until he’s old enough to maintain a spell on his own.”
“Last night many came to Ben’s hogan to discuss what happened when the… bats attacked. We told them they were sent by greedy Belaganas who wanted our uranium.”
“That is true.”
“Ben also told them that Coyote sent you to protect us and kill the bats.”
Yukio canted his head a bit. “That’s an… embellishment, but technically also true.”
“He is working on making sure my people accept the new pact.”
“The well helps.”
Michael nodded. “It does.”
Two trucks lumbered up while Yukio and Michael were speaking. Each was laden with a large tank meant for dispensing water. Yukio frowned, wondering how they would be able to fill the tanks with the hand pump, but then relaxed when he saw that the trucks had come equipped with the proper tubing. He watched as the driver of the first truck hooked the tubing up to the pump with practiced ease, and saw Temeh begin to work the hand crank.
‘I should add a motorized pump to the list of things we need to get them,’ Yukio thought.
He was already planning to order a wood stove for Ruth. It would be easy to include a solar powered well-pump to the delivery. Given the number of people who were coming to get water from the new well, it would have to be a high-volume system to meet the demand.
Michael walked over to the driver of the second water truck and began speaking to him, leaving Yukio at loose ends until Emma approached him.
“Seems to be a popular place this morning,” she commented.
“Michael told me the next nearest reliable well is hours away.”
“If this well will truly never run dry, then it will make life a lot easier for everyone living in this area.”
“Once everyone gets water, we should start packing up. Tamahoh said he would leave Temeh his satellite phone so we can call my uncle for a ride to Flagstaff. From there we can either get a charter or ask my uncle for one of his private planes to take us back home.”
“I think David is planning to go with Michael when he leaves so they can go back to school together.”
“Okay. That makes sense.”
“Do you think Sara and the baby will be okay once we leave?”
“I hope so. Ben said he would make sure they were protected, and if Temeh’s parents move back to Tucson, they’ll be closer. And I am sure my father will make sure there is a way for them to call for help. My mother can also reinforce the protective wards she put on the hogan to make sure only people who are invited can enter,” he replied.
As if on cue, Ben’s old Scout came into view, and Yukio saw that Lori had once again accompanied the hataalii. Ruth was already headed towards the vehicle, calling out a greeting. Yukio pointedly did not listen in on the conversation. Even if it hadn’t been in Dineh, it would have been rude to eavesdrop.
“Oi,” his father’s voice interrupted as Inuyasha came to stand beside him and Emma. “Pick-up in four hours.”
“You called Uncle with Temeh’s phone?”
“Keh! As if I’d call him for help. Your mother insisted.”
“We’re leaving Sara and Temeh the Jeep then?” Yukio asked.
Inuyasha nodded. “We’ll get a new one when we get home. Been wanting to trade it in for something a little bigger anyway.”
“Okay. How are we getting back to Alberta?”
His father frowned. “Your mother asked to use one of the jets. It’ll be waiting at the airport when we get there.”
“That works. I figured it would either be that or we’d hire a charter.”
“Looks like they’re almost finished,” Inuyasha commented, looking towards the second water truck which was now hooked up and being filled.
“Yes. I was planning to order a solar powered well pump and have it delivered with the wood stove I was going to buy for Ruth. She can’t keep cooking on that makeshift woodstove. It’s dangerous.”
“Already ordered. They’ll be on chopper when it gets here.”
Yukio chuckled. “Trust you to always be one step ahead of me.”
“Feh. That’s why I’m the Alpha.”
:Yes, Leader-male,: Yukio huffed, chuckling at his father’s answering grumble.
Any further conversation was cut off by Ben walking towards them, followed by Ruth and Lori.
“Ya-tah-hey,” Ben greeted. “I hear that you had visitors this morning.”
“Yes, Temeh’s parents were here,” Yukio confirmed.
“I am sorry I missed them.”
“I am sure they will be visiting again soon.”
“Yes, there is much to be done. Ruth tells me you are leaving today.”
“Yes. We need to be getting back home.”
“I hope that we will see you again.”
“You will. We’ll be checking up on the pup,” Inuyasha replied.
Ben smiled and nodded. “You will be welcome.”
Ruth said something in Dineh and Ben indicated the hogan. “Before you leave, we would like to speak with you and your mate about the child’s health.”
Inuyasha huffed and lead the way back to the hogan where Kagome and Sara were sitting under the shaded arbor. Sara had Peter on a blanket and the pup looked content enough to play with his own feet. Lori hung back and did not come up to him until the others were some distance away.
“I wanted to thank you… for everything your family has done to help us with this… situation,” the young hataalii said softly.
“I know how hard this is for you. I can only hope that things will get easier from here on out.”
“I am… trying to be… open minded.”
Yukio smiled to himself. “That is all anyone can ask of you. Well, that and no more armed mobs showing up to kill a teenager and her newborn.”
Lori winced. “That was unfortunate. I wish it hadn’t happened. I do not think there will be a repeat of it, especially after your family killed those demon bats that attacked.”
“Pretty sure their being here had something to do with the uranium that’s on the reservation. But they’re gone now, and my guess is the person responsible for bringing them here has been dealt with… permanently. Now with them gone, the blessings and wards that were under attack can be renewed. We’ve already sensed that the magic that was allowing the bats to be here has been broken.”
Lori nodded. “Yes. We’ve felt it, too. Many of us will be meeting in the near future to perform Ceremony to protect our land.”
The last of the people who came for water was served, and the water trucks drove away with happy drivers at their wheels. Temeh and Michael waved as the vehicles rolled down the dirt road, then moved to join the group that was gathering in the shade by the hogan. Lori looked uncertain, but eventually headed their way. Yukio brought up the rear.
Emma went into the hogan to brew coffee and prepare a small snack for the people outside. Ben and Lori visited for a while, talking about what was next and making plans for the near future, until Ben stated that he was ready to go back to his hogan. He and Lori left shortly thereafter with the promise to return in a few days.
Michael and David left about an hour later to head back to their classes at University of New Mexico, Gallup. Emma said her goodbyes to her cousin while Sara said goodbye to her brother with tears in her eyes. The siblings hugged, and Michael hugged his grandmother, promising to visit soon, then the two young men drove off in Michael’s older Jeep.
Once the group was down to just his family plus Ruth, Sara, Peter and Temeh, Kohteh and Kohmeh came out from wherever they were hiding and flanked Peter on the blanket. All of them smiled when Peter latched onto the youkai-coyotes’ silver fur, barking happy welcomes as the two settled down with the pup between them.
“Best babysitters ever,” Sara commented.
The rest of them agreed.
Almost four hours to the minute after his father told him Uncle was sending transport for them, the whirr of a chopper broke the quiet afternoon. A short while later, one of Uncle’s luxury Eurocopters appeared on the horizon. It landed neatly about 100 feet away from the hogan, and the pilot stepped out as Inuyasha and Yukio went to meet him.
“I have some cargo,” the pilot said.
“A wood stove and a solar wellpump system?” Yukio asked.
The pilot shrugged. “Dunno. It’s all in big wooden crates.”
Inuyasha huffed, but went to the cargo area. Between him and Yukio, they got the well pump and woodstove unloaded, then spent the next two hours getting both installed and operational.
“This is too much,” Temeh protested.
“Keh. That barrel stove was dangerous. It could hurt the pup,” his father argued.
“It’s true. Hogans burn down every year from faulty wood stoves,” Sara said.
“I should be the one to provide these things,” Temeh countered.
“Now you won’t have to. You can concentrate on other things Sara and the pup need,” his mother soothed.
“First the Jeep, now this wood stove and the water pump?” the young father complained.
“The water pump is for everyone. It will help fill the barrels and water trucks faster and save people from having to pump water manually,” Yukio stated.
“You make it look like I can’t take care of my family.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Inuyasha snapped. “You need these things. Take them.”
“Pride will only get you so far,” Kagome said gently. “With these gifts, your family will have safe heat and cooking, transportation and clean water. And don’t forget, you dug the well. That is the greatest gift you could have given this community. There will be plenty of opportunities to prove that you are a good provider.”
The young Coyote-youkai didn’t look particularly happy about things, but he grudgingly relented.
Once the stove was installed and tested for safety, and the well pump operating as it should, they began their good-byes.
“We cannot thank you enough for what you did for me and my baby,” Sara said, tears in her eyes.
“We are glad we were able to help, and so glad things worked out so well,” Kagome replied.
“Oi, you take care of your mate and your pup. Be a man,” Inuyasha told Temeh, smacking him lightly on the head.
Temeh folded his ears and nodded. “I will. I promise.” :Pup obey Leader-male.:
“You have our contact information,” Yukio reminded. “If you ever need help, you can call us anytime. My uncle has people in Vegas. He can have someone here in less than an hour if need be.”
Ruth came forward and hugged everyone, speaking Navajo blessings and farewells.
“Hágoónee,” she said in Dineh. “Ahé hee’. Hózhó Nahasdlii.”
“She says good-bye. Thank you. Walk in beauty,” Sara translated.
“Hózhó Nahasdlii, to you as well, Grandmother,” Yukio said when Ruth hugged him good-bye. “It was an honor to be here. Thank you for welcoming us into your home.”
Ruth said something in reply, her sunwizened face cracked into a broad smile.
“She says you will always be welcome here,” Sara said.
There were a few more hugs, some tears and good-byes, but eventually Inuyasha was able to usher Yukio, Kagome and Emma into the helicopter. The pilot seemed relieved because it was obvious that he had not expected his simple “pick-up” to last almost three hours. Yukio looked out the Eurocopter window as the chopper lifted off, waving as Ruth, Temeh and Sara waved back. He saw Peter wave as well, his little face looking up at them from his cradleboard. Sara and Temeh were preparing to take their new Jeep into town to get some needed supplies. His father had promised to make sure all the necessary paperwork transferring ownership of the Jeep would be sent to them within a few days.
“Do you think they will be okay?” Emma asked him from her place in the luxury bucket seat across from him.
Yukio thought a moment, then nodded. “Yeah, I think they will. And if they’re not, Temeh is smart enough to get Ruth, Sara and the pup out of there and call for help.”
“Your mother told me she strengthened the protections on the hogan to keep out anyone who would mean them harm.”
He had expected as much. “Her wards are very powerful. The family is as safe as we can make them without having them move from the reservation.”
“Ruth deserves to live her final years in her home.”
“Yes,” Yukio agreed.
“Are you looking forward to being home?”
“I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed in a house with central heat and air conditioning and indoor plumbing,” he answered.
Emma chuckled, but Inuyasha huffed. “Feh. You’re going soft.”
His mother scowled and smacked his father on the head. “You’re one to talk. You’re looking forward to being home, too.”
“Keh! Just because I miss my pup. I don’t need any modern conveniences.”
Kagome cast Yukio a knowing look and he smiled to himself. “Sure you don’t. Just like you didn’t try to modernize our den or our first house.”
“That was for you!” Inuyasha argued.
“Of course, Outoto. Whatever you say,” Yukio teased.
“Feh!” Inuyasha barked, crossing his arms.
“Strap in, everyone,” the pilot said. “We’ll be landing in Flagstaff in about an hour.”
From there they were taking one of Uncle’s Gulfstream jets back to Calgary. Yukio looked back down at the hogan that was growing ever smaller with height and distance. None of the people on the ground were watching the helicopter anymore, and he could see the small family standing together by the hogan door. They were moving on with their day, and their lives.
He glanced over at Emma, who met his gaze with a shy smile that he returned. He really did like her. Maybe there would be something there if he nurtured it. Maybe he should heed Miaka’s words and try to move on with his own life.
“Friday and Sunday nights, huh?” he said.
“Hm?” Emma replied, confused, but then her face cleared with understanding. “Oh, yes.”
He took out his phone and checked his calendar. “I’ll pick you up next Sunday?”
She did a little double take, but then smiled. “That would be perfect. I’ll make sure my schedule is clear.”
“Okay!” he said and put it in his calendar.
She grinned, her eyes shining. “I think it will be a great time.”
“Yeah, I think so, too.”
She nodded and looked away, a faint flush to her cheeks, and from the corner of his eye, he saw his mother trying not to smile. He shook his head slightly, wondering what the hell he was getting himself into, then rested his head against the soft back of the leather bucket seat. Looking out the helicopter window again, he saw that the hogan was no longer in sight, and the view ahead was an endless expanse of cloudless sky.