InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Unsalvageable ( Chapter 7 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Seven~~
~Unsalvageable~


-< i>OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Everybody needs a little place they can hide.
'Somewhere to call their own - Don't let nobody inside.
'Every now and then we all need to let go.
'For some it’s the doctor - For me it’s rock and roll.
'For some it’s a bottle - For some it’s a pill.
'Some people wave the Bible, ‘cause it's giving them a thrill.
'Others point their finger if they don't like what they see.
'If you live in a glass house, don't be throwing rocks at me.'

'We all need a little shelter - Just a little helper to get us by.
'We all need a little shelter - Just a little helper ooo, and it’ll be all right …'

-'Shelter Me' by Cinderella

-Valerie-


"Let me make a few things clear, Mr. Roka," Valerie stated as the waitress hurried away to bring their drinks.  "This is strictly business.  That means no questions regarding my personal life, no inappropriate commentary of any kind, no untoward gestures, no sexual innuendos, no double entendres, no referencing body parts, no body noises or secretions—either voluntary or otherwise—and no—let me repeat, no—touching of yourself in any manner that might cause an old woman who is innocently passing by to blush or to enlist the assistance of the local, state, or national authorities.  Do you understand?"

Zel ran his fingers through his long light-brown hair and grinned unrepentantly.  “Well, hell . . . what are we s’posed to talk about, then?”

“As little as possible, I hope,” she muttered, swiping up a laminated menu and jerking it up over her face.

“And what if my balls itch?  You sayin’ I should just sit here and squirm around and hope that they stop on their own?”

She leveled a completely unimpressed glower at him before lowering her gaze to the menu once more.  “Not my problem.  If that should happen, I suggest you get up and go find the restroom.”

He chuckled, his bright gray eyes sparkling with obvious mischief.  “That ain’t very friendly.  Why don’t you scratch ‘em for me?”

“Do I need to remind you of the rules I just stated when we sat down, Mr. Roka?”

He waved a hand, lounging back against the bright red vinyl bench, draping his arm along the edge.  “I don’t think there was a damn thing sexual about itchy balls,” he remarked.

Valerie opened her mouth to argue then snapped it closed and shook her head.  What was the point, anyway?  He was impossible—completely impossible.  She might as well give up before he drove her completely insane . . . “Why do you always have to be so obnoxious?” she mused, more to herself than to him.

Zel broke into a lazy grin—a sexy grin, damn him.  “I dunno, V . . . why do you like to hide in my bushes?”

Indignant flames shot into her face at the blatant reminder.  “W—Th—I-I-I wasn’t hiding!” she blurted.  “I told you, I dropped my . . . my . . .”

“Earring?” he supplied helpfully.

She snorted and fluttered her hand in blatant dismissal.  “Yes, my earring!  I was not hiding!  Hiding implies that I had no right to be there, and I did!  I was just—”

“—enjoying the view?” he cut in with a wider grin and a helpful tone.

She narrowed her eyes and sat up a little straighter.  “—bringing the contract over for you to sign,” she bit out from between clenched teeth.

“Oh, right, that,” he drawled, winking at the waitress as she set a pilsner of beer on the table in front of him.  Valerie heaved a sigh and shook her head as the woman set her ice tea down and snapped her gum.  She’d reminded him that beer wasn’t allowed, according to their agreement.  He’d laughed and asked her if she’d ever gotten drunk off it.  She’d conceded his point but shot him a pointed glower as he shot her a shit-eating grin and ordered it, anyway.

“You know what you want or you need another minute or two?”

“Aww, I know what I want,” he said.  “You figure it out yet, V?”

Valerie stifled a sigh along with the rising desire to kick him hard under the table.  “A chef salad without ham with low calorie ranch on the side, please.”

The waitress clicked a few buttons on the electronic order pad and nodded.  “You want rolls or buttermilk biscuits with that?”

Valerie held up her hand in a dismissive gesture.  “Neither, thanks.”

The waitress nodded before turning back to Zel once more.  “The usual?”

He grinned.  “You know me a little too well, Peaches.”

Valerie couldn’t help but roll her eyes as the woman laughed and hurried away.  “Peaches?” she echoed when she was certain the waitress was out of earshot.  “You call her ‘Peaches’?”

He laughed again—an entirely pleasant sound that, under ordinary circumstances, might not have gotten onto her last nerve.  Too bad that everything about him got onto her very last nerve . . . “That’s her name,” he finally said.  “Hell, she’s worked here for as long as I can remember . . .” Leaning forward, he offered Valerie a conspiratorial sort of wink as his laughter trailed off into a soft chuckle.  “She told me way back when that I was going to be a star.”

“Did she tell you that you were going to be a pain in the ass, too?” she asked dryly.

“Nah, she must’a forgot to add that part . . .”

Valerie sighed and dug the slim-file she hadn’t bothered to pull out of her purse the night before.  “Mr. Roka, we really need to discuss your preliminary hearing,” she explained as the slim-file booted up.

“Eh-h-h-h, I don’t wanna talk about that,” he complained, stifling a yawn with the back of his hand.  “’Sides, that’s what I’m paying you for, right?  To take care of that stuff?”

“And I will,” she replied in a very brusque, businesslike tone.  “But you’re still going to have to be there, and you’d better listen to what I tell you before hand.”

He cocked his left eyebrow.  “Are you going to coach me?”

“I wouldn’t call it ‘coaching’, no, but I am going to tell you that you’d better not say a damn thing if you know what’s good for you.”

“Now, what could I possibly say that could get me into more trouble than I’m already in?” he asked with a chuckle.  “Hell, from the way you talk, I’m already buried up to my left nut.”

Valerie sighed and rummaged through her purse for a bottle of Advil.  “You will be if you say anything stupid.”

“Stupid?”

“Yes, stupid.”

“Define stupid.”

She spared a moment to glance at him before resuming her quest for the Advil.  “I mean stupid, like telling him that you were bored or something.”

“Oh, well, I wasn’t bored that night,” he admitted.

“Really?”

He shrugged.  “Nope . . . I was on a beer run.”

Dropping her purse, she contented herself by draining half of her iced tea before she dared to answer.  “And that would be a stupid answer, too.”

“But it’s the truth!”

“Mr. Roka . . .”

He held up a hand in mock surrender.  “Okay, okay, I hear you.  Zel no speak-ie; I got it.”

Shaking her head and wondering why she honestly didn’t think that the man knew how to ‘no speak-ie’ to save his life, she tapped through the file.  Police reports, toxicology . . . emergency hospital room reports . . . pages and pages of doctor reports from Mr. Matthis’ slew of physicians . . . She really, really couldn’t understand how one solitary man could possibly get into that much trouble . . .

“How did you cut your forehead?” she asked absently as she surveyed the image of a particularly nasty-looking bruise on the right side of Zel’s temple.

“Looks bad, doesn’t it?  Nearly broke my moneymaker,” he teased.

Valerie rolled her eyes but smiled just a little.  “The ER report says that you had a mild concussion and that you checked out of the hospital against doctor’s advice.”

Zel snorted, downing his beer and waving at the waitress to bring another.  “They only wanted to keep me there because I’m a big ol’ rock star,” he assured her.  “Where the hell’s my food?  Damn, I’m starving . . .”

“You poor thing,” she remarked, her tone lacking any real compassion.

Zel grinned.  “You know, V, I . . . da-a-a-amn . . .” he cut himself off, letting out a long sigh in the form of the last word.

Valerie glanced up from the file with a frown.  Eyes wide, lips quirked with just the barest hint of a somewhat dangerous grin, he was staring in awe toward the glass doors at the front of the small restaurant.  Almost afraid to look, Valerie followed the direction of his gaze anyway, only to shake her head slowly as a disgusted scowl surfaced on her features.

Long black, blade straight hair that reminded Valerie of Morticia Addams from the old, old movies and television shows—she’d seen pictures in magazines over the years but had never actually seen the shows—the woman who had entered the establishment wore a stretchy lycra shirt that barely contained her massive chest—those really had to be fake—and a matching micro mini that almost didn’t cover her at all . . . five inch stiletto heels that were held to her feet via a configuration of thin black laces . . . She looked completely and utterly trashy.  ‘Right up his alley,’ Valerie thought with a derisive snort.  “No.”

He only chuckled at her staunchly uttered word.

“I mean it, Mr. Roka: absolutely not.”

“Do you know what a girl like that could do with those tits?” he complained, proving, at least, that he’d heard her.

“They’re fake,” she pointed out, disgusted that he couldn’t tell that for himself.  “Just look at them!  You can tell they’re implants!”

“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, dragging his eyes off the woman at last.  “Damn fine lookin’ implants.”

Valerie shook her head.  Why wasn’t it surprising that he would say something like that, anyway?  “God, you’re disgusting . . .”

“Oh, come on!  You’re tellin’ me that you think that I ought to ignore it when they’re presented so damn nicely?” he countered.

“Yes!” she snapped then drew a deep breath as she rubbed her temples with a weary hand.  “Mr. Roka—”

“Excuse me . . . are you Zel Roka?”

His grin widened into a very lazy, very lecherous sort of expression as he leaned back a little further and let his gaze roam up and down the woman’s frame.  “That’d be me.  What can I do for you, honey?”

The woman giggled as Valerie shook her head in complete and utter disgust.  “Oh, I’m such a huge fan!” she gushed.

Zel’s eyes dropped to her chest as that grin of his widened.  “Oh, I can see that,” he drawled.

“Can I have your autograph?”

“Sure,” Zel remarked without taking his eyes off the woman’s fake breasts.  “Got a pen, baby?”

“No-o-o-o,” she pouted, pursing her blood red lips that shimmered and shone with the mass amounts of lip gloss that she’d obviously so painstakingly applied.

“Awww, well, let me see what I can do,” he offered.

She giggled again, half hopping around from one foot to the other as her chest jiggled precariously.  ‘Oh, I’m going to be ill,’ Valerie thought with a mental snort.

“Hey, Peaches, you got a pen on you?” he asked as the waitress set another glass of beer on the table in front of him.

Peaches grinned and dug a fine point Sharpie out her apron pocket.  “Here you go.”

He grinned and pulled Peaches down to kiss her cheek.  “Thanks!”

Valerie blinked as Zel got to his feet, struck once more by exactly how very tall the man really was.  He had an overwhelming presence, didn’t he?  Something inherently dangerous—almost animalistic—despite the friendliness in his expression.

Shaking her head at her own capricious thoughts, Valerie wrinkled her nose and sat back, crossing her arms over her chest as she watched the debacle unfold.

Everything he does is like a massive train wreck!’ she fumed.  The woman apparently didn’t know what paper was, and she laughed rather obnoxiously as she tugged her already disturbingly low top even lower.  Valerie wasn’t sure if it was worse that Zel was quite used to such a display or that the woman started moaning low in her throat as his hand brushed over her skin when he started to write.

“What’s your name, sweetness?” Zel asked as he continued to write.

“Candy,” the woman replied with a sickeningly cute giggle.

“Candy,” he repeated with a quick wink.  “You as sweet as your name, Candy?”

“I’ve been told I am,” she replied.  “You want to find out for yourself?”

He chuckled nastily as Valerie gritted her teeth.  Everyone in the restaurant was staring quite unabashedly now.  Some of them were whispering to each other and pointing.  Valerie wondered how long it’d take before more of Zel’s fans moved in.

It didn’t take very long.  A couple girls a few tables over stood up and wandered over, looking entirely embarrassed but hopeful as they stared at Zel with expressions akin to hero worship on their faces.  Seeing the other two line up, a few more joined the growing queue.  “So much for a working lunch,” she muttered sourly as she reached for the slim-file.

“Well, look at that.  I ran out of room,” Zel commented in a low, husky tone that Valerie didn’t doubt that he normally reserved for the bedroom.

The woman twittered and leaned forward, tugging the front of her shirt down even further.  “I don’t know, Candy.  Still not very much room there . . .”

She laughed and started to adjust her shirt a little more.  Valerie snapped the file closed and cleared her throat loudly.  “This is a family establishment,” she hissed at Zel.  “If she pulls that shirt down any farther, things are going to fall out.”

Zel laughed and shot Valerie a completely unrepentant sort of grin.  “I don’t see a damn thing wrong with that,” he pointed out.

If he were closer, she would have been hard pressed not to kick him.  Narrowing her eyes, she sat up a little straighter.  “Mr. Roka . . .” she began in a warning tone.

“Sorry, Candy.  My attorney, here, doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.  Why don’t you give me your number, and I’ll finish my autograph later . . .?”

Candy blushed deep crimson but her smile widened.

“No,” Valerie stated once more.

Zel heaved a melodramatic sigh and shrugged as he straightened up to kiss the woman’s cheek.  “There you go.  Nice to meet you,” he said, sounding much more sincere than Valerie would have ever thought possible.

Candy looked like she might pass out just before she threw herself against his chest in an exuberant hug.

Valerie pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index finger.  At the rate he was going, he’d be signing autographs all day long.

But it didn’t take nearly as much time as she figured it would.  All in all, about a dozen or so people stepped up to get his signature, four of whom were men.  Zel was as attentive and just as polite to the last one as he had been to Candy in the beginning—something that Valerie had to grudgingly admit was nice, considering the man’s food had come during the second autograph and was likely now completely cold since he didn’t mind, standing around, making a bit of small talk with each and every one of them, too.

When he sat back down, though, he grinned at her, digging into the food on his plate without seeming to notice that it wasn’t even warm.  “Sorry ‘bout that,” he said between bites of his huge cheeseburger.

“That was nice of you,” she admitted as she sipped her ice tea.

Zel shrugged and grinned.  “Nah.  Hell, they’re the ones that buy my shit, right?  Gotta be nice to ‘em.”

She didn’t comment.  That wasn’t exactly the truth, and she knew it.  Lots of stars weren’t nearly as magnanimous as he was, especially when they were out doing things that ordinary people took for granted, like trying to eat lunch.  “It doesn’t fit your spoiled persona,” she pointed out with the barest hint of a smile.

Zel glanced at her then looked back again, blinking as his eyes flicked over her features.  “Damn, you got a helluva smile there, V,” he said with a wink.

Valerie blinked and shook her head.  “You’re hopeless,” she said with a heavy sigh though her tone lacked any real censure.

“So they tell me,” he muttered.  “Bet your fiancé thinks the same thing.”

She was a little surprised that he’d said as much without any trace of rancor or sarcasm.  “I suppose,” she replied.  In truth, she couldn’t recall Marvin ever commenting on her smile before, not that it mattered.  She knew well enough that Marvin really did think that she was attractive.

“When’s the big day?”

“Spring of next year,” she replied, unsure why she was telling him anything of the sort.  She supposed that it was because he was actually being conversational instead of outrageous.

“That far away?”

Valerie shrugged, nodding at the waitress when she set another iced tea in front of Valerie.  “We’re both very busy.”

“Mm,” Zel intoned as he polished off his burger.  “I guess . . . He a lawyer, too?”

“No.  He’s a medical researcher.”

Zel made a face but grinned.  “Sounds boring,” he pointed out between piles of fries that he was stuffing into his mouth, two-and –three at a time.

Valerie rolled her eyes.  “Not at all.  He’s researching childhood cancers—well, he wants to.  He’s got some theories that he’d like to prove.”

“Wants to?  What’s that mean?”

Shrugging offhandedly, Valerie dug into her purse for her lipstick.  “It means that he’s currently trying to garner funding for the project.”

“Oh, you mean like begging for handouts?”

She snorted.  “Hardly.  It’s a good cause—a worthwhile cause.  It’s not begging.”

“You don’t think so?  Running around with his hand stuck out?  Sounds like begging to me.”

She sighed, wondering how she’d been able to forget, even for a second, that Zel Roka really as a complete ass.  “Do you know how many children are diagnosed with cancer every day?  Do you know how many of those cases are forms that many people have never heard of?  I fail to see how wanting to figure out how to help or even prevent such cancers isn’t worthwhile, and—”

He held up one hand in mock-surrender.  “I get it; I get it.  You’re right: it’s a sad thing.”

“You’re such an ass,” she muttered, her cheeks pinking with indignant color.  “You can try to belittle him all you’d like.  A man like Marvin is ten times the man you’ll ever be!”

Her statement didn’t even faze him as he reached for his drink while still chewing a huge bite of burger.  “Where is he now?”

“Come again?”

He rolled his eyes, wiping his fingers on a clean napkin.  “I said, where is he?  You make it sound like he’s running all over Hell’s Half Acre.”

“At the moment, he’s in Phoenix.  There’s a gentleman here who is known for undersigning research projects, especially when it pertains to children.  Marvin thinks that he’ll have some luck there.”

“Phoenix?  Damn, that’s pretty far . . .”

“He travels a lot,” she admitted with a frown, unsure why she was telling Zel Roka any such thing and hating the hint of defensiveness she could hear in her voice.

He nodded slowly, pushing his plate away.  His gaze lit on the ring on her left hand as she reached for the new glass of iced tea, and before she could grasp it, he caught her fingers to inspect the ring.  “What the . . .?  This your engagement ring, V?”

Jerking her hand away, Valerie stuck them under the table, away from Zel’s curious gaze.  “Yes, it is,” she replied stiffly.

“Where’s the rest of it?”

Heaving a sigh—she figured he’d say something obnoxious like that—she pressed her lips together in a thin, tight line.  “An eighth of a carat is hardly something to scoff at,” she informed him.

“Absolutely not,” he agreed easily—too easily.

“Look, it’s the one I wanted,” she snapped, pinning him with a formidable glower.  “It doesn’t have to be big enough to choke a horse, and Marvin liked it when he saw it, too.”

He frowned at her, his expression taking on a suspect glow.  “You make it sound like you bought it and showed it to him after the fact.”

Valerie shrugged.  “He’s busy,” she reiterated.  “We both are.”

The incredulity on Zel’s face slowly faded, only to be replaced by a completely dumbfounded expression—one tinged with the barest hint of something much darker.  “Shit, V . . . what the hell kind of relationship is that?”

Stuffing the slim-file into her purse, she stood abruptly.  “What do you know about relationships, Zel Roka?” she bit out.

“I know well enough that if I were in some kind of relationship, I sure as hell wouldn’t let her pick out her own engagement ring.  Hell, I’d get her the biggest damn rock I could find.”

“That would be gaudy,” she remarked, “and a woman would be a fool if she were stupid enough to fall for a guy like you.”

Something amused him as he slowly shook his head.  “A guy like me?  What’s that mean?”

“I think you know damn well what I mean,” she hissed.

“Quick to assume, aren’t you, V?  Do you really think you know me?”

“I know enough,” she insisted.  “You . . . You snap your fingers, and you think that women should just fall at your feet, don’t you?  That’s why you can sit there with that grin on your face and pretend that you’re so much better than anyone else when you don’t really know the first thing about relationships.  You’re a rock star, and that’s what you’re good at.  Everything is just a part of the show to you, right?”

He didn’t answer right away, but he did smile.  “Damn, you do know me,” he allowed.

Valerie sighed and shook her head, tamping down the misplaced feeling of pity that his words inspired in her.  Forcing a tight little smile, polite at best, she nodded once and straightened the sleeves of her jacket.  “At any rate, Marvin and my relationship is none of your business, you know, and this lunch is over.  Good day, Mr. Roka.  Try to stay out of trouble, won’t you?”


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~ =~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
Shelter Me” appeared on Cinderella’s 1990 release, Heartbreak Station.  Copyright 1990 Cinderella.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final
Thought from Valerie:
A completely lost cause
==========
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge):  I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga.  Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al.  I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.
~Sue~
Chapter 6
Chapter 8
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