InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Respectable ( Chapter 16 )

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


-OoOo OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'R-E-S-P-E-C-T
'Find out what it means to me
'R-E-S-P-E-C-T
'Take care, TCB …'

-'Respect' by Otis Redding.

-Madison-


"So, what, exactly, are we going for here?"

Evan chuckled.  "Aw, respectable, right?"

Madison arched an eyebrow, pausing as she pulled some of her gear out of the quick tote bag she'd packed for the occasion.  "Respectable, huh?"

He nodded as he pulled the immaculate black tuxedo from the dry cleaner's bag.

She eyed the garment and slowly shook her head.  "Dragging out the Vonderosi?" she quipped, making reference to the tux' designer.  Gianni Vonderosi was one of the most expensive lines in the world, and no wonder since every last one of them were made to order according to measurements, and every last one of them was made by hand by the aging designer.  That Evan's was fashioned from a lightweight silk that was brushed to remove much of the signature sheen—it could easily be confused with a sturdier cotton or even linen, Madison knew damn well that it was likely the most expensive thing that the man actually owned . . . "You weren't kidding, were you?"

"What do you expect?  I'm accompanying the most gorgeous woman in the known universe tonight," he replied with a wink.  "I gotta look the part, don't I?"

"Hmm," she mused, unable to hide her smile.  It never failed to amuse her.  The ultra-hip, ultra-popular Zel Roka was the biggest mama's boy on the face of the planet, and the idea of spending an entire evening as her escort?  He'd blown off the chance to do a gig at the newly reopened Stone Pony—a venue that she knew he'd been dying to do ever since they closed it down some twenty years ago . . . A lot of great rockers back in the day got their start at that club . . .

"So what are your plans for the night, and don't tell me you don't have any," Evan said as he plopped onto the small stool where he always sat whenever Madison cut his hair.

She heaved a sigh.  "Well, believe it or not, I'm going to hang out with Bugs."

Evan blinked and shot her a quizzical look to see whether or not she was joking.  She didn't appear to be . . . "Hanging out with Bugs?  Since when?"

She shrugged.  "He came in to get his weekly hair treatment yesterday, and he was all kinds of upset over his latest boy-toy's defection, then Alicia pointed out that I didn't have plans tonight, so . . ." She trailed off for a moment then sighed again.  "I really should fire that girl . . ."

"So you're going out with Bugsy?  Sounds fun," he teased.

Madison shot him a droll look.  "Oh, it shouldn't be too bad.  He said I could pick the place."

Evan chuckled as Madison made the first cut with the hellaciously sharp scissors.  "Hmm . . . well, don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"That leaves it pretty well wide open, doesn't it?" she remarked.  "Oh, what do you think of my new dress?"

The grin widened when Madison stepped back and posed prettily for Evan's perusal.  He held up a hand and twirled his finger.  She complied, pivoting so that he could get the full effect.  "Nice," he replied with a wink, smiling brightly at the black leather dress that clung to her body as though it were molded to fit her as she fiddled with the black metal zipper pull that dangled between her breasts.  "C'mere, Maddikins."

She laughed and sauntered toward him, watching with a bemused smile as he caught his claw through the small hole on the end of the pull and tugged it down a few inches.  "That's better," he approved.  "Hell, if you got the tits, might as well show 'em off, right?"

"Is that right?"

He nodded.  "That's right."

Madison stepped over once more, reaching for the comb she'd set aside a few minutes before.  "Hmm, I have a good feeling about tonight," she ventured as she lopped off another long strand of hair.

"Oh, that's not the half of it," he told her with a broad grin.

"It's not?"

He shook his head.  "Nope.  Mama asked if she could auction me off."

Madison paused long enough to shoot him a very amused smile.  "Is that so?"

Evan nodded.  "Yup.  Apparently 'Eligible Bachelor Number Ten' hurt himself, and being the good and devoted son that I am . . ."

"You let her talk you into it, of course."

"Of course."

Madison shook her head and quickly finished cutting Evan's hair.  Heck, she'd done it so often that it wasn't even a thing she had to think about anymore.  Every so often, he'd ask her to do it so that he could escape; so that he could wander the streets without anyone recognizing him.  It was an interesting thing, really, as far as she was concerned.  He adored the attention that he garnered as shock-rocker Zel Roka, but even he had moments when he just wanted to be 'normal'.

But then, Evan had always been that way, ever since she could remember.  He loved to shock people; to give them 'the show', but he also had his introspective times, and while they tended to be few and far between, she knew damn well that there were moments when he'd tell his family one story or another, only to grab her and disappear deep into the forest or wandering the vast Maine coast for a day or a week.  During those times, Madison was the only person he ever had taken along, probably because he knew that she'd be lost without him, and when they were younger, that was true enough.

When Evan had moved to New York City a year before she'd finished high school, she'd seriously thought that she'd go insane.  Sure, she had other friends, and some of them were really close to her—friends like Jillian Zelig, now Jillian Jamison, but as close as they were, there were still things about Madison that she doubted that Jillian would understand, even if she tried.

Evan was the only person who'd ever really 'gotten' her: gotten her without question and without having to have it explained.  It was as though the two could look at each other and know what the other was thinking, and she knew well enough that she'd probably never find anyone else who understood her quite as fully and completely as Evan Zelig did, and while it made her a little sad, she had to be thankful that she'd found him, in the first place.

And everyone had assumed, growing up, that there was something between the two of them, too.  Maybe that was the real reason that neither of them had really ever found a significant other for any length of time.

Of course, that didn't mean that they didn't get into their fair share of mischief over the years, either.  They had, and it was a lot of fun.  It hadn't taken Evan long to figure out that women just loved him, but maybe that was the real problem, too.  He was too good-looking, wasn't he?  Movie star looks and a killer smile . . . The girls had been a little daunted by him, and Evan?  Well, he'd reveled in the attention.  The thing was, none of the girls ever seemed to take him seriously, either.  Maybe he was just too good-looking.  Girls automatically assumed that he'd never be anything more than a playboy, and he'd conformed.  Not many people knew the Evan that she knew: the sensitive guy who really just wanted nothing more than to find the one woman meant for him.

Not that it stopped him from looking or playing.  Hell, no . . . He rather enjoyed his 'fun', and as long as he wasn't hurting anyone, then where was the problem?

Madison smiled as she carefully brushed the excess hair off Evan's shoulders.  "I suppose that'll be about as 'respectable' as you're going to get," she said a little dryly.

He turned his head from side to side as he eyed his reflection in the small portable mirror he'd grabbed off the table beside him.  Hair cut very short and tapered in the back and sides, his bangs were a little longer.  Silver hair gleaming in the stark afternoon sunshine filtering through the wall of windows that overlooked his back yard, he shot Madison a smile of approval.  "It'll do," he told her with a grin.

"You know, it's been so long since I've seen your regular hair color, I was starting to forget what it looked like," she mused as she slipped her shears into the hard plastic case.

He chuckled and stood up, balling his hands into tight fists as he leaned back and stretched.  "Yeah, it's a little weird, innit?"

"All the same, you look nice, though I don't doubt for a moment that your mother isn't going to be too pleased that you went and cut off your hair for the night."

He wrinkled his nose and reached for the pristine white Jordane DeSalvio shirt, narrowing his eyes as he gave it the critical once-over.  "Nah, she'll dig it."

"Well, there you go," she said as she packed up the rest of her gear.  "I gotta run."

"So soon?" Evan asked with a blink.

Madison nodded as she tugged the strap of the nondescript black leather bag—her to-go kit—over her shoulder.  "Yep.  The life of a hair executive, you know."

"You did Mama's hair, right?"

"Just before I came over here," she said.  "I saw the dress you bought her.  Has Cain seen it?"

Evan grinned.  "You think I'd be taking her if Cain had seen it?"

Madison giggled.  "Good point," she said with a wink.  "You know, your mama doesn't have a clue, how hot she really is."

Evan's grin turned a little goofier.  "Yeah," he admitted.  "Makes you wonder why she settled for an ugly old dog like Cain, doesn't it?"

She rolled her eyes and shook her head since she knew damn well that Cain Zelig was hardly an ugly old anything.  "I don't know . . . If I had been around when your father was still single, I might have tried to get into his pants."

"Ugh," Evan grunted, making a face of absolute disdain.  "Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh . . ."

Madison laughed and headed for the door, pausing long enough to blow a kiss over her shoulder at him.  "Bye, Evan . . . Have fun . . ."

His soft laughter trailed after her, lingering in the air long after she'd closed the door behind her.


-Valerie-


Valerie bit her lip as she frowned at the dress she'd bought on impulse.  She'd been so irritated at the time that she'd let Madison talk her into it, despite the tiny voice in the back of her head that kept insisting that Marvin wouldn't like it; not in the least.

She sighed and rubbed her forehead, cradling a steaming cup of coffee against her chest.  Marvin wanted to present a more businesslike appearance, and she had to admit that there was nothing at all 'businesslike' about the dress she'd purchased . . .

To be honest, she hadn't started to feel too bad about it until earlier today when she'd finally started to put things into perspective.  After all, her changes in plans weren't really Marvin's fault.  He hadn't known what she was planning to do, and if she had told him, he would have insisted that she go, and she knew it.  So why had he made her feel so badly when she'd insisted that she wanted to go to her conference, anyway?

Marvin's work was important, and she knew it.  It would mean a lot more than trying to get a rock star out of trouble that he thoroughly deserved.  She was being selfish and terrible, wasn't she?  And then . . .

Face shifting into a grimace, Valerie shook her head and set the cup aside.  It was too late to go to the store and find another dress, but she still had the black one—the one that Madison hated.  She winced.  She'd heard of the Zelig Foundation fundraisers.  They were the absolute talk of the highest of society, weren't they?  The guest list was always relatively small—only about five hundred or so—and every last person was normally exceedingly wealthy, to boot.  How Marvin had gotten an invitation was entirely beyond her, and because she knew just how exclusive it was, she'd wanted to buy a new dress so that she wouldn't look completely out of place amongst the beautiful people . . .

'It'll have to do,' she thought with a stubborn lifting of her chin.  The black dress wasn't cheap, by any means, and yes, she'd worn it a few times, but it wasn't even close to up to the standards of the women she'd see tonight, was it, and even then, it was more the kind of dress that one wore to a semi-formal day function, not a full-out gala hosted by one of the richest families in the world.  She let out a deep breath and tried to tell herself that it would be just fine.  Given the situation, she supposed that it couldn't be helped, either.  Damn her rash decisions, anyway . . .

"Valerie!"

She let out a deep breath and headed toward the closet.  "In here!" she called out.

"Finally!  I tell you, I've done nothing but house calls all day," Madison said as she sauntered into the room.  "I guess it's understandable, given the occasion, but I swear, I should double my going rate for this kind of thing."

"Have I told you lately how much I adore you?" Valerie muttered half-heartedly.

"What are you . . .?" Madison trailed off then gasped when Valerie tugged the stand-by black dress from her closet.  "Oh, no!  No, absolutely not!"

Valerie sighed and shook her head stubbornly.  "I can't wear that one," she said, jerking her head toward the dress that had just been delivered.

Madison snorted.  "Of course you can," she argued.  "You can put it on and walk out the door, and if Marvin doesn't like it, then even better, I say."

"Madison—"

She was cut off by the trill of her cell phone, and she heaved another sigh as she snatched it off the nearby table.  "Hello?"

"Oh, uh, Val?  Hi . . . You okay?"

Darkening her scowl as she shot Madison a warning look, she turned away.  "Yes, fine, Marvin.  Shouldn't you be coming home to get ready soon?"

"Yeah, well, that's the thing," he said in a slow, almost uneasy sort of tone.  "I got to talking to Dane Candlor, and he said that he's got a place right next to the Faaustin Garden, and he wanted to hear a little more about my research, so I figured that I'd just change over there."

Valerie blinked and shook her head.  "But you just went to pick up your tux," she said.  "I thought we were going together . . ."

Marvin laughed a somewhat nervous little laugh.  "Just catch a cab, Val, and I'll meet you there.  How's that sound?  I mean, by the time I got back there, I'd have to hurry to change, and then it'd be a little silly, wouldn't it, driving back across town again?  Is it really such a big deal?"

Valerie could positively feel Madison's irritation rising, as though the woman could hear what Marvin was saying, which was entirely impossible.  "Sure, it's fine," she said, unable to keep the clipped tone out of her voice.  "I'll see you there, then."

She hung up before Marvin could say anything else.  She didn't need to look at Madison to know that the woman was likely getting ready to lambaste Valerie's fiancé.

Glancing at the boxy black dress that more resembled a suit than a party frock, she snorted, herself, and jammed it back into the closet once more.  Why was it that she could normally overlook such things as this?  After all, Marvin did it all the time, didn't he?  He'd make plans with her, then change them at the last moment, and why did it feel so odd, the idea of showing up at this function alone?

"I'm sorry, Val, but he's really, really interested in funding at least part of the research . . . I know you wanted a summer wedding, but fall's just as nice, right?  I mean, with the changing leaves and all that . . . Heck, it might even be prettier . . ."

"Uh . . . Yeah, you didn't order the invitations for the wedding yet, did you?  It's just that Henry Montgomery invited me out to his place that weekend, and he said there'll be a lot of would-be investors there, too . . ."

"Earth to Valerie . . . Are you all right?"

Valerie blinked away the lingering echo of Marvin's words, pasting on a bright smile that didn't quite reach her eyes as she whirled around on her heel to face her friend.  Madison looked concerned, and for once, she didn't bash Marvin, either—something that Valerie could appreciate.  "You know," she said, rubbing her hands together in a completely conspiratorial sort of way, "you have a bottle of that color remover in your bag, don't you . . .?"

Madison's eyes widened since Valerie had been quite adamant about leaving her hair brown for the occasion despite Madison's insistence that she ought to wash out the color rinse and let her true colors be seen, so to speak.  Still, she didn't comment as she dug the bottle of Maddikin's Striptease—a signature creation that removed temporary and semi-permanent color without stripping the hair of its natural oils and without harming the original color of one's hair—out of her bag and handed it over.

Valerie's smile brightened, her eyes flashing with a determined sort of light, as she took the bottle and headed for the bathroom . . .


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A/N:
'Respect' was originally recorded by Otis Redding on the 1965 album release, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, and later by Aretha Franklin.  Written by and copyrighted to Otis Redding.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Hmm
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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 15
Chapter 17
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