InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Barter ( Chapter 10 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoO oOoOoO-

'Yeah, I … I got to know your name,
'Well and I … could trace your private number, baby,
'All I know is that to me,
'You look like you're lots of fun,
'Open up your lovin' arms,
'I want some—want some …'

-'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)' by Dead or Alive.

-Valerie-


Valerie tapped her foot as she waited for Zel to try on the clothes she'd bought him.

"The pants are too fucking tight," he hollered from upstairs.

She sighed and shook her head.  She figured she was ahead of the game, really.  At least she'd been able to talk him into changing upstairs instead of down here, which he'd tried to do . . .

Honestly, working with him was like working with a child.  The DA had given her the smuggest look when she'd met with him earlier, too, which just figured.  The man was one of those types with the luxury cars, the wife who regularly checked into and out of rehab for recurring dependence on sleeping pills and Prozac, two perfect children, both in law school, all set to take right after Daddy, and a smile so thin that one could shine a flashlight through it.

Rubbing her forehead, she flicked her wrist to glance at her watch.  Nearly seven o'clock, and that man had yet to tell her exactly what it was he and Dieter were planning, damn it.

"V, this just don't feel right . . ."

Blinking quickly as she lifted her face to watch as he descended the open metal staircase, she gaped as her mouth dropped open, as her hazel eyes took on a menacing slant.  Oh, he'd put the suit on, all right, and from what she could tell, it fit him decently though the jacket did seem to be a little tight across the shoulders. No, that wasn't the problem.  The odious bottom-feeder was wearing the underpants she'd brought him over his slacks . . .

"Oh, my God," she muttered, burying her face in her hands.

He made a face as he bowed his legs as far apart as he could and continued down the stairs, rather resembling a cowboy who'd been in the saddle too long . . . or Frankenstein . . . "Too . . . tight . . . cutting . . . off . . . cir . . . cu . . . la . . . tion . . ."

"What the hell is wrong with you?" she demanded, peering at him from between her splayed fingers and viciously biting back the desire to laugh.

Zel cast her what had to be the most pathetic sort of look, ever, and she had to bite down hard to keep from heaving a sigh and giving in.  What was it about that man that made her forget her most stringent resolve . . .? "Have a heart, V!  I can't wear these things!  I'm suffering nerve damage in my balls!"

"You can wear them for one day," she countered mildly, lifting a cup of coffee to her lips in an effort to keep him from seeing the small grin tugging at the corners of her lips.  "Didn't your mother make you wear underpants?"

Zel snorted, tugging injudiciously at the crotch of the offending undies.  "Hells, no," he pouted.  "Said it'd stifle my creativity."

"Oh?  And is your mother a Zen-master, too?"

He shot her a completely cocky grin.  "Somethin' like that."

"I'll bet she is," Valerie muttered.  "Will you stop tugging on those?  If anyone causes nerve damage, it's going to be you," she insisted.

Zel's face scrunched up in a pained grimace that only served to make Valerie roll her eyes.  "Sorry, V," he half-whined as he reached for the zipper and shoved the pants down before she could blink or form any real protest.  "You know, if you were nice, you'd apologize to my boys, here," he said, making the most hideous show of cradling and rubbing his testicles in his hands.

Valerie could feel her skin go up in flames as she quickly forced her gaze away.  "Would you put that away?" she hissed, pressing the back of her icy cold fingers against her burning cheek.  "You have absolutely no sense of propriety, do you?  What's the matter with you?  Did you get dropped on your head when you were a baby or something?"

That damned cheesy grin widened.  "Entirely possible, V.  Dunno.  I never asked."

"Completely unsalvageable," she muttered under her breath.

"Ah!  Feel the Zen flow!"

She slowly closed her eyes and counted to twenty seconds before she dissolved in a fit of helpless laughter.  She couldn't help it, damn it.  The man was entirely too incorrigible for his own good . . .

Lilting sideways in the chair, she couldn't control the escalating fit of giggles.  Every time she tried to stop, she only managed to laugh a little harder, and by the time she finally wound down and opened her eyes, it was to find him staring at her with the strangest sort of expression on his face . . . like he . . . like he . . . but . . . 'No-o-o-o . . .'

"Wh-What?" she stammered, sitting up straight and clearing her throat, trying to pretend that she didn't just suffer a momentary lapse in her sanity.

Zel chuckled softly—a different kind of chuckle than she'd heard from him thus far.  Warmer, smoother, infinitely more personable . . . it was the kind of sound that sent an entirely too-nice shiver right down her spine . . .

"Marry me, V."

She blinked, eyes widening as she wondered if her ears had just failed her.  "Huh?"

He grinned that boyish grin—the one she'd seen before . . . the kind of smile that could completely disarm her if she weren't careful.  "Marry me," he said again.

For one dizzying moment, Valerie felt as thought he entire universe had flipped upside down, tossing her belly straight up in the air along with it despite the knowledge that nothing at all had really changed.  For that one instant, she'd almost thought that he was serious, and for reasons that she didn't dare consider, every inch of her body was shivering, too . . . "D-don't be stupid," she muttered, abruptly reaching for her briefcase to rummage through it in an effort to alleviate the overwhelming tension that had sprung up around her.  "Very funny, Mr. Roka.  Can we get back to business now?"

"I was being serious," he pointed out with a shrug.  "Even the class clown can do that every once in awhile, can't he?"

She glared up at him, only to stop short and shake her head, realizing a moment too late that he was still naked from the waist down as he flopped onto the sofa.  "Please put some pants on," she gritted out.

Zel blinked at her a few times then heaved a longsuffering sigh though he did actually reach for a pair of tattered jeans that he'd slung over the arm of the sofa earlier.  "All right, then," he agreed airily as he tugged the pants on.  "You do know, right?  When we're married, you'll have to see me nekkid at some point or another."

"We're not getting married, so I don't really foresee any problems with your keeping your pants on."

He chuckled a nasty little chuckle—entirely too soft, entirely too seductive.  "But how will we do the dirty deed, V?"

Valerie bit her lip, refusing to let the current discussion continue.  "Suppose you tell me what you and Dieter have planned for ten o'clock tonight?" she asked instead.

"Not a thing, V," he lied.

"I know damn well that you're up to something," she replied.  "Tell me."

He offered her an entirely insincere grin.  "It's a guy thing," he told her.  "We do it every year, so it's no big deal, right?"

"Wrong," she countered, arching an eyebrow in challenge.  "Spill it, Roka.  I'm on to you."

"I wish," he muttered.

"What was that?"

"Eh, nothing, V.  Nothing at all . . ."


-Evan-


Evan sat back in the orangey-red vinyl-covered bench seat and grinned across the table as Valerie tried for the fourth time to get the waiter's attention.  "Give it up, V," he remarked.  "I told you: they don't have silverware here, anyway."

She shot him a droll sort of look.  "What do you mean, they don't have silverware?  Of course they have silverware.  Even fast food joints have silverware.  Why wouldn't they have silverware here?"

He snorted and leaned in just a little.  "You don't get out much, d'ya, V?"

She narrowed those stormy hazel eyes on him, a light flush of righteous indignation flaming below the smooth surface of her skin.  'Wonder if she'd look like that when I'm fucking her . . .?'

His youkai only groaned.

"I get out just fine, Mr. Roka.  Why don't they have any forks here?"

"Sorry, babe," he replied insincerely as he reached for the icy cold bottle of Budweiser.

She wrinkled her nose and reached out to snag the beer out of his hand.  "No liquor," she reminded him.

"It's just a beer!" he argued.

Leveling a look at him, Valerie shook her head.  "It's liquor.  No liquor."

Rolling his eyes, he shot her a slightly lopsided grin.  "You let me have one the other day with lunch," he reminded her.

"Yes, well, that was then; this is now."

It was on the tip of his tongue to protest just for kicks, but he fell silent when the woman tipped the bottle to her lips and sucked it down in one long series of swallows.  Her eyes drifted closed, her lips poised on the rim of the bottle . . . Watching the gentle swell of her throat, rising and falling as she drank the beer down was almost more than he could stand . . .

Leaning back, he stared at her in silence, wondering exactly how hard she'd smack him if he slipped and voiced any of his thoughts . . .

She tipped the bottle all the way up, swallowing the last of the beer before slamming the bottle down on the table with a very satisfied sort of expression on her gorgeous face.  'Damn . . . she's hot,' he nearly whined.

Again, his youkai only sighed in agreement.

"You know, you're supposed to drink beer when you eat crab," Evan pointed out with an arched eyebrow.

"No liquor, Mr. Roka," Valerie insisted, balling her hand into a fist to cover her mouth as she stifled a petite little belch that brought tears to her eyes, probably because of the carbonation in the beverage.  She rubbed her nose and blinked a few times to clear her vision.

Evan smiled.  'God, she's cute . . .'

"Now, remember," she said with a shake of her head, "you promised that you'd wear the suit and underpants to court in exchange for dinner."

"Okay, all right," he agreed.  "I agreed I'd wear a suit and under-fucking-pants; I know; I know . . ."

The one and only waiter that Evan had ever seen in the place hurried over with two banged-up tin pails heaped full with steaming crabs before striding away again.

Valerie's eyes widened as she slowly shook her head.  The kid—Mark, he'd told Evan his name was once before—returned with a bowl of clarified butter and a wire basket of baking soda biscuits wrapped in a threadbare old white napkin, two wooden mallets, two small paring knives, and a couple more beers.

"How do you eat these?" Valerie finally, grudgingly, asked, motioning at the crabs.

Evan grinned.  "Well, first, you yank off his legs," he instructed, demonstrating on a crab from the nearest pail.

Blinking as she watched him, she slowly shook her head, her face registering a quiet sense of disgust.  "Positively barbaric," she muttered.

Evan rolled his eyes.  "Maybe, but absolutely delicious.  One of my favorite things."  Cracking open a leg, he pulled the meat out and extended it to her.  "Just try it."

She looked dubious, at best, but gingerly reached for the hunk of meat.  "That's . . ." Her gaze brightened as the suspicious air that had been clouding her expression faded away.  "That's good. . ."

Evan chuckled and popped a lump of crabmeat into his mouth with a wink.  "Almost as good as pussy."

Valerie heaved a sigh and shook her head but didn't even try to correct him.  'Score one for the Roka,' he thought with an inward chortle.  Slowly, carefully, she pulled a huge crab out of the bucket in front of her.

She didn't do too badly, either.  Stubbornly refusing to ask him to show her again, she resorted to watching him as he pulled his crab open.  He took his time and actually reached for the knife since she was watching, making sure that she saw the parts that weren't to be eaten as he scraped them out and pushed them away.

"You gotta dip it in the butter," he told her when she managed to pull a hunk of meat out of a crab leg and popped it into her mouth with a very self-satisfied sort of smile on her face.

"I don't eat butter," she replied almost by rote.

"What do you mean, you don't eat butter?" he countered with a raised eyebrow as he dipped a nice hunk of meat into the butter and leaned forward to catch the butter dribbles with his tongue.

She looked up from the crab she'd been working on in earnest and blinked in a rather vacant sort of way.  "What?  You've never heard of someone making a conscious choice not to eat something?" she remarked.

He shook his head.  "Not butter," he retorted.  "I mean, it's butter!"

Scowling at her hands for a moment since she didn't have a napkin handy, she made a face.  "I don't eat butter," she reiterated slowly.

"Why not?"

She shrugged, as though  it were of no real recourse.  "It's fattening," she said.

He snorted and dipped another hunk of crabmeat into the butter.  "Everything's fattening if you eat a ton of it."

"Maybe, but just the same, I find it easier just to avoid it completely."

"Wo-o-ow . . ." he drawled with a shake of his head.  "V, I gotta tell you, butter is a necessity when you're eating seafood."

"Maybe for you, but not for me."

He let it go for a moment and reached for a biscuit, instead.  It took him all of two bites to realize that she was staring at him again, but this time, she was doing it in such a way that he knew damn well he wasn't supposed to notice.  Head lowered as though she were looking at the crab in front of her, she was picking delicately with the tip of her paring knife, but he could tell from the tilt of her head that she was, in fact, eyeing him.  'Huh . . . no biscuits, either, I guess . . .' So he did what any man like him would do: he slathered on the butter and made a huge display of eating the damned biscuit . . .

"V?"

"Wh-What?" she blurted, her cheeks pinking just a little.

He'd flustered her?  Just by saying her name?  'Nice . . .'

"Want some?" he asked innocently, holding out the last bite of his biscuit—a bite thick with slathered butter.

She swallowed hard and stared at the offered bite, then suddenly, quickly shook her head.  "N-no, thank you," she managed in a very tight little voice.

Evan chuckled and shrugged off-handedly.  "All right," he agreed, popping it into his mouth.  "But damn, it's good . . ."

She blinked, staring at him in a completely chagrined sort of way.  When she met his gaze, he grinned at her, and she rolled her eyes.  "So where did you learn to do this?" she asked, frowning in concentration as she smacked the crab's claw and jerked away when some juice squirted out.

"Grew up in Maine," he told her with a shrug as he reached over to grab the crab to finish laying it open for her.  She returned the favor by nabbing his beer and draining it dry.  "You don't grow up there and not know how do crack a crab or lobster."

"So you aren't completely useless, then," she teased.

Evan broke into a wide grin.  "You don't think?"

She didn't move her head as her eyes flicked up to meet his.  The laziness in her gaze was enough to send a delicious shiver right down his spine.

'Shit . . . I need to fuck the hell out of that woman,' he thought as he swallowed hard.

'Shit . . . I need to marry the hell out of that woman,' his youkai replied in a pained, strangled voice.

'Y . . . yeah . . .'

'Which one?'

Evan's grin widened as she proceeded to down the third beer on the table.  '. . . Both . . .'


-Evan-


Evan put his finger to his lips and tried to shush Valerie as he held onto the Styrofoam cooler they'd picked up at an all-night convenience store just off the docks.  "You're so totally gonna get us busted, V," he remarked.

Valerie giggled unmercifully, waving her hands at him to shut him up.  "C'mon, Roka.  You promised we'd free the fishies, right?"

"Well, I suppose I did," he agreed, peering over his shoulder to see if they were in any danger of being caught.  "I swear to God, this has to be the most expensive non-date I've ever been on . . . and I'm not even gonna get laid for it."

"Aw, you poor baby," Valerie crooned in between fits of laughter.  "Hurry up!  It's cold out here!"

Evan snorted as he tugged the lid of the cooler off.  "Hold on, V.  I gotta get these bands off or they'll be nothing but hella expensive fish bait . . ."

Luckily for him, not only was it dark, but she was also more than a little tipsy from the beers she'd slugged down.  He shook his head as he snapped the bands on the first lobster he pulled from the cooler.  He'd spent damn near a thousand dollars, give or take, buying every lobster they could find in about ten restaurants along the stretch, and all because she'd very nearly jumped out of her skin about an hour and five beers into their dinner.  A couple at a nearby table had ordered lobsters from the live tank nearby, and Valerie hadn't been prepared when they'd 'screamed' when dropped into the pot of boiling water.  Evan had assured her that it ws just air escaping from under their shells.  She'd sworn up and down that it was their last, dying shriek, and he'd blinked when tears had sprung to her eyes, muttering about the inhumanity of it all . . .

"I swear to God that it doesn't hurt 'em," Evan tried to console her as she dabbed at her eyes with the last clean napkin on the table.

She sniffled and shook her head, unwilling to believe him.  "I suppose I'd scream, too, if you dropped me into a pot of boiling water . . ." she allowed, her voice muffled by the napkin.

"They don't have vocal cords," he pointed out gently.  "They can't scream without those."

"Don't you tell me what I heard or didn't hear, Zel Roka!" Valerie fumed.  The sparse patrons in the restaurant stopped and stared at Evan curiously, but thankfully, no one bothered to approach.  "They were screaming . . . because they'll never get to see their poor families, ever again!"

". . . Poor families . . .?"

She snorted at his indelicate reply and spun around in the booth, pushing herself up on her knees—she had to hang onto the back to keep from swaying—to glower at the people who had ordered the lobsters.  "You're lobster murderers!" she accused loudly.  "Home wreckers!"

Evan shot to his feet though he couldn't contain his amusement as a chuckle slipped from him, and he gently grasped Valerie's shoulders to get her to sit down once more.  "It's okay, V . . . Tell you what.  If you swear to leave the rest of the people alone, I'll never try to get you to eat lobster, ever."

She looked irritated for all of a second, but her eyes widened when she caught sight of the live lobster tank.  "Those lobsters . . . someone's going to eat them, aren't they?" she whimpered.

Evan grimaced when he saw what she was staring at.  "Well . . ."

She leaned toward him, grasping his hand in both of hers, her gaze pleading as she stared at him as she slowly broke into a very pretty, very tipsy smile.  "Zel?  We've got to save them!  For their little lobster-y babies . . .!"

It was because she'd smiled at him, damn it, showing off those absolutely adorable dimples of hers.  That smile was dangerous, wasn't it?  It added a sparkle to her eyes, a brightness to her entire being that was entirely too inviting to him.  Hell, it was because of that smile that Evan had said the most ridiculous thing of his life, wasn't it?  "Marry me, V . . ."

He made a face as he stole a glance at the woman in question.  Leaning over the railing—she'd fall in if she weren't careful—she was trying to see the first of the lobsters that Evan had dropped into the water.  "Buh-bye, little lobster!  Don't get caught again!"

Evan chuckled despite himself.  Okay, so he wasn't entirely sure why he'd up and asked her to marry him, and he wasn't sure if he was more irked that he'd done it in the first place or that she'd been so damn quick to discount it.  He supposed, in hindsight, that it was a little bit of both.

"So tell me something, Mister Roka," Valerie said, holding onto the railing as she turned her face to gaze up at him.  The weak but warm light from the security light high above cast her face in harsh shadows.  "Zel is short for something, right?"

"Guess you could say that," he remarked, dropping another lobster over the side.  'Only about twenty-five more to go,' he thought with a disbelieving shake of his head.  'Yup . . . completely fucking nuts . . .'

"So . . .?"

Four more lobsters plopped into the water.  Evan shot her a cocky grin.  "What do you want it to be short for, V?"

She rolled her eyes and grasped his arm to hoist herself upright again.  "I should have known I wouldn't get a straight answer out of the likes of you," she pouted.  "Fine, fine, fine . . . You just be that way, why don't you?"

"There," he said, dropping the last of the lobsters into the water.  "What do you want to do now?"

She giggled, wrapping her hands around his arm and tugging him away from the safety rail.  Evan grabbed the cooler and let her drag him along, pausing beside the large trash barrel standing nearby to break the cooler into pieces and toss it into the can.  "I want some wine," she announced suddenly.  "This is a special occasion, right?  We single handedly freed the fishies—"

"Lobsters," he corrected.

She slapped at his arm.  "Don't interrupt me.  Anyway, we freed the fishies—err, okay, the lobsters . . . It was a humanitarian act . . . That calls for a celebration, right?"

"I dunno, V . . . I think those beers did you in."

She snorted indelicately, letting go of his arm, only to spin around, poking him in the center of his chest with her outstretched index finger.  "Let me tell you something, Zel Roka!  I'm not drunk, just so you know!"

He grinned unrepentantly and slowly nodded.  "Of course you're not," he agreed.

She straightened her shoulders proudly, sputtering loudly in an effort to blow the strands of hair that had escaped the severe knot at the base of her neck out of her face.  "Oh, fuck that," she grumbled, grasping the knot and giving it one good yank to dislodge it.  Her hair cascaded over her shoulders in a wave of liquid silk, and she shook her head quickly, scrubbing at her scalp with her fingertips.  "There . . . That's better . . ." She frowned.  "Now, what was I saying?"

Evan almost laughed.  He didn't, but it was a close thing.  She looked entirely befuddled as she chewed on her lower lip.  Damn, he wanted to kiss her . . . He heaved a sigh, reminding himself yet again that she was drunk, and even if she weren't, she was also very, very engaged . . . "You were saying that you wanted to celebrate," he reminded her against his better judgment.

Her eyes flashed open wide, and she giggled again.  "That's right!  Aren't you clever, Zel?"

"Ev—" he started to say, almost automatically.  He caught himself in time and frowned.  Why did it bother him?  Hearing her call him by his stage name . . .? That kind of thing had never bugged him before, had it?

"Look . . . there's a liquor store.  Buy some wine, Mr. Roka.  Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  We can go drink it in Central Park!"

That brought him back to his senses quickly enough.  Central Park at night was a fairly dangerous place—at least, it would be to a human, he supposed.  It was a bad idea, and he knew it.  Opening his mouth to tell her as much, he gave up with a sigh and smiled instead.  "All right; all right, but only if I can have some, too," he prodded.

She snorted then rubbed her nose.  "Well . . . Since you're with me, then I guess it might be okay . . ."

"So you're saying that as long as I'm with you, I can drink?"

She thought about that then slowly nodded.  "Just a little bit," she allowed.

Evan grinned and veered toward the doors of the liquor store.

"You're buying," she told him.

Evan rolled his eyes and pulled the door open, standing back so that she could go in first.  "Yes, ma'am," he muttered.  "Whatever you say, V . . ."


-Evan-


"Do you have cold toes?"

Evan blinked and shifted his gaze from the stars high above—he could only make out a few of the brightest ones because of the glow of the city around them—to the back of Valerie's head.  She was sitting up with one hand hugging her legs—damn, she had fine looking legs—and she idly gestured with the wine in her other hand.

"Do I have cold toes?" he repeated.  "Not that I know of."

She giggled a very girlish giggle.  "Marvin has cold toes," she ventured.

"Does he?"

"Mm . . . and a cold nose, too."

Evan made a face. She didn't see it.  Damn it, he really, really didn't want to talk about Marvin . . . "You don't say."

"Oh, I do," she countered.  "Always so cold . . . You know, sometimes when I wake up, he's got all the covers, too!  And I'm freezing . . ."

"Poor baby," he crooned, only half-joking.  The other half of him . . . He snorted inwardly.  He had no idea what the other half of him was thinking, did he?  Not really . . .

"I know!" she agreed with another giggle.  "Poor me!"

Silhouetted in the filmy dimness of Central Park by the weak and wan light of the lamp burning beside the path above them on the low rise, there was something altogether earthy about her—touchable yet entirely unattainable . . .

She rubbed her arms suddenly through the thin white cotton shirt—she'd left the no-nonsense gray tweed blazer at his house earlier.

"You cold?"

She nodded absently then uttered a smallish laugh—one that seemed almost a little sad, almost a little sheepish.  "Marvin tells me I'm always cold," she admitted.

"Yeah, well, you can't be nearly as bad as Maddy," he remarked.  "That woman's always got a cold ass . . ."

"That's right . . . Madison said that you're always warm," Valerie said suddenly, her voice taking on a mild intrigue.

"If you ask my father, he'll tell you that that's why he kicked me out of my mama's bed," he said with a nostalgic little smile.  "'Parently, I toasted ol' Cain right outta bed."

She drained the last of the wine and flopped back with a wince and a full-body shiver that Evan certainly couldn't miss.  A moment later, she rolled toward him, crashing against his side with a little gasp of delight.  "Oh, you are warm!" she exclaimed happily.  "Really, really warm!"

He grimaced, mostly because the of the shock of her body so very close to his.  'Da-a-a-amn . . .'

"Why are you so warm?" she demanded suddenly, her voice muffled slightly by the side of his chest.

"I dunno, V," he mused, slipping his arm up and over her, stroking the side of her arm in an idle sort of way.  "Just lucky, I guess."

"How come you're being so nice?" she asked.

He chuckled.  "Am I?  Guess I make it a habit to be nice to drunk women," he teased.

"I'm not drunk," she declared but didn't move.  "I'm . . . mellow."

Shifting his gaze to the side, he wasn't surprised to see that she had her eyes closed.  "Mellow."

She nodded just a little.  "Yes, mellow."

'Which means 'drunk',' he thought with an inward sigh.  'Damn it . . .'

'Evan?'

'Huh?'

'. . . We're gonna die . . .'

Evan heaved a sigh and smiled wanly.  'Well, if I gotta go, this is a helluva way to do it.'

Valerie heaved a contented sigh and snuggled a little closer to him.  "Why didn't I think of this before?"

"What?  Camping out in Central Park?"

She giggled.  "Yes!"

"Yeah, well, I'm pretty sure that there's probably an ordinance or some damn thing against it," he remarked.

"Oh, poop!  We're not sleeping; we're star-gazing . . ."

He laughed again, noticing not for the first time that having Valerie so damn close . . . It was nice—almost too nice . . .

"You know, you're not such a horrible person," she ventured with a shake of her head, as though she couldn't quite believe that he wasn't actually the bastard she wanted to think that he was.  "A little . . . oh, what's the word?" she asked, snapping her fingers, or at least trying to.

He shook his head though his grin didn't wane.  Valerie had already been tipsy enough, just from the beers she'd drunk during dinner.  After the boxed wine, though . . .

He chuckled.  Boxed wine.  Who'd'a thunk it?  A woman like Valerie had actually chosen boxed wine.  She'd said that it was 'sweeter' . . .

"Sexy as hell?" he supplied hopefully.

She wrinkled her adorable little nose and waved a hand in blatant dismissal.  "Ornery!  That's the one!"  She giggled.  "Anyway, anyway . . . You going to tell me what you and Dieter were going to do tonight?"

"Is it really important?" he countered with a shrug.  "I mean, I didn't do it, did I?  I was hangin' out with you all night, instead."

For some reason, that sent her into another fit of laughter.  "We're hanging out?  Really?"

Evan rolled his eyes but grinned.  "Well, aren't we?"

"I thought it was more like babysitting, myself," she replied.

"Oh, yeah?  So who's babysitting whom?"

She blinked and shook her head at him.  "You know the difference between 'who' and 'whom'?"

"Yes, V, I know the difference between subjective and objective," he retorted mildly.

"So you're not completely stupid . . .?"

He snorted but grinned.  "Well, hell, of course I'm stupid!  I'm a rock star, right?"

She shot him a calculated sort of glance but was sidetracked when she heard a noise nearby.  "Zel . . .?"

"Hmm?"

Valerie lifted her head just a little with a marked frown.  "There's a very large black man over there, poking around in those bushes," she whispered.

He laughed but didn't move.  "Uh-huh."

Pushing herself up on her elbows and narrowing her eyes, she slowly shook her head.  "Zel . . .?"

"Hmm?"

". . . Is that your very large black man?"

He chuckled again.  "'Course!  That's the Bone.  He's just checking for paparazzi."

She frowned and leaned back but didn't lie down again right away.  "They're a problem for you, aren't they?" she ventured quietly.

He shrugged.  "Dunno about problem," he confessed.  "They can be a nuisance, I guess . . ."

She laughed suddenly and flopped onto her back.  "Like when you're trying to free the fishies, you mean?"

He grinned.  He couldn't help it.  Something about her laughter was just infectious.  "Yeah, something like that."


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A/N:
'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)' as recorded by Dead or Alive, 1985, and first appeared on their album, Youthquake.  Written by and copyrighted to Pete Burns, Wayne Hussey, Mike Percy, Tim Lever, Steve Coy.
Just a chapter today to get everyone ready.  Real posting will begin next Monday!
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Free the fishies …?
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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 9
Chapter 11
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