InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Thinning ( Chapter 27 )

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


-Oo OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'All day starin' at the ceilin' makin' friends with shadows on my wall
All night hearing voices tellin' me that I should get some sleep
Because tomorrow might be good for somethin'
Hold on – feelin' like I'm headed for a breakdown
And I don't know why …'

-'Unwell' by Matchbox Twenty.

-Evan-


"Shit."

"Where?"

Heaving a sigh, Evan glanced up as Dieter strode into the room with a can of beer in one hand and a cigarette hanging from his limp fingers of the other one.  He'd come over to drop off the painting that Evan had commissioned, and, while Evan had every intention of looking it over better, at the moment, he was trying to fix a song that had been haunting him all evening.  "Smart ass," he muttered, pulling the acoustic guitar over his head and leaning it against the empty rack nearby.  "You look a little peeved."

Dieter shrugged and slumped onto a box amp.  "Aw, it's nothing," he said.

Evan nodded.  Dieter looked like he had something on his mind, and Evan had a feeling that he already knew what it was.  If that was the case, he didn't want or need to hear it, did he?  "Let me play something for you," he said suddenly, reaching over to hit the 'play' button on the small recorder he'd been tinkering with.

Dieter scowled as he listened to the song Evan had been working on, thoughtfully puffing on the cigarette as he considered it.  He didn't comment until it had ended.  "Dude.  That sounded like a ballad or something."

"Yeah, kind of," he admitted.  "Figured I'd add a 'Zel Roka' twist, though."

"It was all right," Dieter remarked almost apologetically, "just . . ."

Evan grinned.  That was high praise coming from him . . . "I don't know," he said slowly, scratching the back of his neck.  "I thought maybe it was a little too . . . commercial for my tastes."

Dieter shrugged again, downing half of the beer without coming up for breath.  "Maybe.  So sell it."

"Well, I thought about that, too, but if I did, I'd have to rewrite the lyrics, and that would sort of defeat the purpose, don't you think?"

"So let the critics shit their drawers.  It isn't the first time you've pissed 'em off."

Evan's grin widened since he rather enjoyed doing exactly that himself. They loved to try to label him, and Evan?  Well, he liked to make them sorry that they tried.

Dieter straightened up quickly, his gaze flashing as sudden inspiration hit him.  "Wait . . . You know, it could start off like that then, get heavier . . . Gimme that guitar."

Evan started to hand him the acoustic guitar he'd just set down.  Dieter stuck the cigarette between his lips and waved a hand with a grimace.  "No, man, the Strat."

Rolling his eyes, he reached for the old-school black and white Stratocaster and handed it over, instead.  It was already plugged in, and after making a few minor adjustments, Dieter shot Evan a grin and began to improvise.

It didn't take long for Evan to figure out where Dieter was going with the song, and he chuckled as the sound reverberated around him.  He had to admit that most often, he did the writing of songs by himself, but it was good—damn good, and he reached for the acoustic guitar, mimicking the riff that Dieter had first played so that he could memorize it.

Dieter grinned as he smashed his fingers over the frets to staunch the sound.  "Not my best, but you know, something like that."

Evan played the riff a couple more times, just to get the flow of it down.  "I like it," he said.  "Why don't you play it in the studio?"

With a snort, Dieter shook his head.  "Nah, I'll stick to the bass," he mumbled.

"Thanks," Evan said with a grin.

Dieter shrugged it off.  "So . . . How's it going?"

Leaning over to erase the notes he'd scribbled onto the music composition paper he'd been working on, Evan frowned.  "Not so bad," he replied almost absently.  "Why?"

"Uh . . . no reason," Dieter replied though there was a certain hint of ambivalence in his tone.  "Maddy said you got another court date next week?"

"Yeah . . . Got some shows comin' up, and I have to ask them if I can cut out of here for them."

Dieter cleared his throat.  "Your attorney . . . She, uh . . . She said that you . . . You'll have to do some time."

"Did she?"

"Zel . . ."

Evan straightened up and grinned at Dieter.  "Hey, don't worry about it.  It's all good."

He didn't look relieved.  Tugging on the white v-necked tee-shirt he wore, he chewed on his bottom lip and slowly shook his head.  "It's not right," he finally stated, quietly, almost as though he were concerned about Evan's reaction.  Shifting his feet, he fiddled with the Stratocaster, his gray eyes darting around in a nervous sort of way.  "I mean, hell . . ."

"Nah, it's fine," he lied with a shrug.  "'Sides, at this point, it'd look pretty damn convenient, don't you think?"

That earned him a darkened scowl as Dieter adamantly shook his head.

Evan set the guitar aside once more and pushed himself to his feet.  "C'mon, man.  Let's get outta here and do something," he prodded.

Dieter looked irritated at the abrupt change of topic, but he stood, too.  "Like what?"

Evan grinned at the unwilling interest in the artist's tone.  "Hell, I dunno . . . We could do what we were planning on doing before . . ."

"Fucker!  You mean, before you ditched me for your attorney?"

Evan's grin widened since he recalled that particular night fondly enough.  'Free the fishies . . .' He shrugged.  "Something like that."

Dieter pondered that for a moment, as though he didn't particularly want to go along with the idea but was compelled to do so anyway.  "All right," he finally allowed.

Evan didn't figure that he would get that much of an argument out of him.  He grabbed his leather jacket, foregoing the shirt since he rather disliked wearing them and shrugged it on as the two of them headed for the doors.

"We could call Maddy," Dieter suggested as he stepped up beside Evan on the wide porch.

Evan shook his head.  "Nah . . . You said before that this was a guy thing, and Madison lacks the one crucial bit that makes a guy, a guy."

He felt Dieter smile more than saw it.  In the inky light of the half-formed moon that was barely visible under the hazy glow of countless city lights, he could hear the hum of traffic, could feel the current of electricity that rose off the millions of inhabitants of the city.  It still invigorated him as much as it had when he'd first moved here years ago.  He'd been so young then—just a pup, really—and he'd thought that he knew it all . . .

They set out at a sprint, leaping onto the roofs of nearby houses, lighting on the thick edges of high privacy fences as they made their way across the landscape.  Evan's cell phone beeped in his ear.  He ignored it as the two kept moving.

The night was brisk despite the underlying smells of the city that just never quite went away—clean and as clear as it could be—better than it had been years ago, or so he'd been told.  Ordinances against pollution were strict but effective, and the overall glow of the city added a certain ambience to the night.  He felt as though he were balancing on a precipice, staring down over the origination of everything in the world.  Dashing past the cars dotting the bridge, he deliberately let his mind clear, leading him away from everything in the world; letting it lead him away from the pressures of his life, of his choices.

Dieter ran beside him and at times, slightly behind him as they crossed the bridge, leaving the perplexed humans in their wakes.  They thought that maybe they'd seen a blur of something; a flash of motion, and maybe they felt the unnatural breeze created by the moving bodies, but they couldn't be sure, and in the end, they'd believe that it was just a sudden gust off the water far below, if they thought anything at all.  The artificial lights seemed both gentle and completely harsh at the same time, yielding blacker shadows than the moon, lending a fake sense of warmth that was little more than illusory.

It was the night that welcomed him, invited him—called to him in the quietest of voices.  Something about the millions of people who called the city home lent him a feeling of excitement.  As though he could feel all of their emotions, as though he were taking them into himself and making them his very own, the surge of abandon that raced through him was exhilarating and entirely frightening, all at the same time.

Dieter suddenly laughed beside him, glancing at Evan with a sparkle in his gaze that Evan understood.  Dieter felt the same way, didn't he?  It was one of the things that Evan had noticed way back when the two had first met: there was something inherently similar in Dieter, and while they weren't the same by any stretch of the imagination, they were in complete sympathy with one another.

"The idiot savants," Madison had once joked.  Evan understood what she'd meant.  Evan strove hard to obtain and create the illusion that best suited him: the ne'er-do-well son who got bad grades, not because he was stupid, but because he chose to.  Dieter?  Dieter just hadn't ever really been interested in those things that made up the fabric of conventional education, and if it didn't interest him, he wouldn't be able to retain the knowledge.  But Dieter excelled in art, using sculpting as a release for his emotions while Evan's vice always was and probably always would be his music.

Still, the two of them were friends, and that was the bottom line.  Friends did whatever they could for one another.  That was the way of it, and Dieter . . .

"Sometimes," Dieter said, silvery eyes aglow, as the two of them leapt to the top of a nearby building and scanned the city mapped out before them, "I feel like a king or something," he murmured.

Evan nodded slowly, his gaze taking on a knowing sort of light as the sounds of the streets so far below drifted up to meet them.  "I know what you mean," he agreed quietly.

Dieter grinned then shrugged, as though he thought that whatever he was thinking wasn't worth stating out loud.  "I brought Miss up here awhile back," he admitted at length.  "She . . . She couldn't believe the view."

"Yeah, I can get that," Evan allowed.  "It's pretty fantastic, isn't it?"

"Hey . . . You sure you like that painting?"

Evan's grin widened as he glanced at Dieter then back at the city below.  "It's awesome," he said.  "I swear to God, I'm going to hang it over my bed."

Dieter grimaced though Evan could feel the resonating sense of happiness at Evan's high praise.  Dieter normally didn't have the patience to paint too much, and that he did it this time spoke volumes, as far as Evan was concerned.  "Yeah?  Well, I don't know about that.  Doesn't seem quite right; not really."

Evan chuckled.  Okay, so that was probably true.  Of course, he could always hang it in the living room . . . "I think it rocks."

Dieter opened his mouth to say something, but his cell phone rang, and he scowled as he glanced at the illuminated screen.  "Uh, I'd better take this," he said almost apologetically.  "It's Miss."

Evan gestured for Dieter to do so as a brisk breeze lifted his hair—a nice, hideous shade of bright carrot orange.  Up as high as they were, the smells of the city were less invasive, and he could even make out the underlying mineral scent of the water.

"Hey, baby," Dieter greeted.

"Dieter?  Where are you?" she asked.  The artist had the volume of his phone turned up enough that Evan could hear the conversation, too.

"Oh, I'm just runnin' around with Zel."

". . . Oh . . ."

Evan's eyebrows lifted at the very real disapproval in the woman's tone.

"What's the matter?" Dieter asked.

She sighed.  "Well . . . I just . . . Dieter, do you remember what today is?"

"Uh . . . W-Wednesday . . .?" He covered the phone receiver and shot Evan a rather panicked sort of look.  "It is Wednesday, right?" he hissed.

Evan nodded.  "Yup."

Dieter nodded and uncovered the phone.  "That's right.  It's Wednesday, Miss."

"I-It's our anniversary," she mumbled.  Evan had to strain to hear it.

He grimaced inwardly.  Dieter grimaced outwardly.  "W—I—Y-Yeah, I know," he lied, scratching his head as he cast a feverish eye around and winced.  "I was just . . . uh . . ."

"Don't tell her, man, or you'll ruin the surprise," Evan drawled, thumping Dieter on the back for good measure.

"Oh?"  His eyes widened when he intercepted the slow nod from Evan.  "Oh!  Yeah!  Ruin it!"

Evan stifled a sigh.  'Poor bastard,' he thought as he dug out his own cell phone and punched in the fourth number on speed dial.  "Just tell her to be watching for a delivery, and when it gets there, tell her to get ready, and you'll be home in awhile to pick her up."

"Hello?"

"Jilli-bean!" he greeted, artfully stepping away so that Miss wouldn't hear what he was about to say.  "How's my girl?"

"Evan!" Jillian Zelig Jamison gushed.  "I haven't heard from you lately!"

"Well, you know how it goes," he breezed.  "The life of a rock star, right?"

Jillian giggled.  In the background, Evan could hear the blipping sound of a video game and figured that his baby sister was probably enjoying an evening, snuggling on her mate's lap while he was absorbed in gaming.  "Sometimes I think you're avoiding me," she pouted.

"Never," he insisted then chuckled.  "Hey, I got a favor to ask you."

"Anything for my Evvie!"

He grinned.  "Well, see, it's like this.  Dieter forgot his anniversary tonight, and I was wondering if you knew someone who could hook her up with something nice for a night on the town?"

"Hmm," Jillian considered then snapped her fingers.  "I know!  I just met this woman—Brittani—who is going to be the next Jioni Raphaella, or so they say.  I'll bet she has something perfect, and she did say that if I ever need anything at all . . . Dieter's wife, Miss?  What is she?  About a zero?  Size one?"

Evan considered that then shrugged.  "If the design runs small, I'd say a one.  Otherwise, I'd say she's a zero, easy."

"When do you need it?"

"As soon as possible."

"Okay," she replied then giggled.  "How positively Cinderella!"

Evan laughed.  Leave it to Jillian to think as much.  "Let me give you their address."

She waited long enough for Evan to send over the address via text.  "All right, I got it," she told him.  "I'll have her send over something that'll be absolutely perfect!  All my love to Dieter!"

Evan hung up and shook his head with a smile.  After a quick succession of calls, a few favors that he had to pull, and a couple minutes of general schmoozing, everything was in order, and Evan pocketed the cell phone with a satisfied smile after he answered a final call from Jillian, who wanted to let him know that the dress was on its way.

"Hey, Deet," he called as he wandered over to his friend.  "Listen, okay?"

"Shit, shit, shit, shit!" Dieter muttered, shaking his head, scratching nervously at the back of his neck as he paced the rooftop.  "I can't believe I forgot something that important!  I just can't believe it!  I'm a fucking moron!  Shit, shit, shit!"

"Knock off the histrionics, will you?" Evan drawled, catching Dieter's shoulder and pulling him back around to face him.  "Now, listen to me.  Jilli had a friend of hers send a dress over for Miss, so you swing past Della Contessa's Flowers to pick up a dozen or so roses and go home to get her.  I sent Bone over with the limo, and he'll meet you there and take you for your night on the town.  Got that?"

Dieter blinked slowly.  "Flowers then home . . . Got it."  He started to grin then quickly shook his head.  "What about Danny?"

Evan chuckled.  "Danny's gonna hang with Bitches tonight."

He brightened up instantly.  "Miss likes Bitches all right," he allowed.  "But—"

Evan rolled his eyes and gave Dieter a little shove.  "Don't worry 'bout it."  He smiled a little sardonically.  "At least the Zelig name's good for something."

"You're the best," Dieter insisted.  "I owe you."

"Are you kiddin'?  You didn't charge me for that portrait."

Dieter made a face.  "Yeah, well, that was kinda . . . fun . . ."

Evan laughed as Dieter sprinted away, traversing the rooftops that would bring him to the flower shop—his destination—in a matter of minutes instead of the half-hour or more that it would take if he'd caught a cab, instead.

He watched him go and heaved a sigh.  To be honest, he'd been looking forward to hanging out with Dieter since the two of them didn't really get a chance to do that much anymore.  Never mind that they were fully intending to hang their bare asses from the highest point on the Statue of Liberty for all of New York City to see . . . Of course, he knew damn well that there was a good chance that one Ms. Valerie Denning, esquire, might not have thought too highly of the venture, but it was all in good fun, and besides: they'd never actually been caught doing it before, now had they . . .?

Still . . .

'Taking care of his mate is far more important than waving the white orbs for the delectation of the city,' he decided with a wry smile.  'If I had a mate . . .'

'If you had a mate, you'd drag her along to hang her assets for the world to see, too.'

Evan pondered the truth in his youkai voice's claim.  'Yeah, okay.  I'd do that.'

'She's gonna kill us . . . if she can find us,' his youkai remarked almost wanly.

He smiled since he'd seen that the phone call he'd missed during the sprint over the bridge was, in fact, the lawyer in question.  'She won't kill us,' he retorted airily.  'Well, maybe she'll maim us . . . a little bit.'

His youkai snorted indelicately, probably because of the hint of relish evident in Evan's thoughts.  'Damn, she's hotter than fuck when she's mad, isn't she?'

'Damn straight, she is.'

They both heaved a collective sigh as Evan checked his watch.  'A quarter till nine . . .'

Slumping onto a nearby cinderblock beside the low ledge of the roof, Evan shifted his gaze over the craggy outline of buildings, windows illuminated like a thousand fireflies.  Somewhere far away, he heard the pronounced yowl of an alley cat . . .

He could call Madison—or not.  With a grimace, he remembered just a little too late that she'd gone back to Maine to attend her mother's birthday party.  Of course, Bugs was always around, but as much as Evan liked him, he had to admit that he just wasn't in the mood for the rabbit-youkai's silly antics, either.  He considered dropping by Jillian and Gavin's apartment, too, only to discard that idea a moment later.  Those two, as much as he adored his sister . . . Well, they were just too fucking happy for his comfort, weren't they?

No, really, he supposed that he was well and truly dumped for the night: a rare thing for Evan Zelig and an even more unprecedented thing for Zel Roka . . .

And the next thought that crossed his mind was almost an afterthought: one that normally landed him in more trouble than he'd like to think about . . .

"Damn it . . . I'm bored . . ."


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A/N:
'Unwell ' was recorded by Matchbox Twenty on their 2002 release, More Than You Think You Are.  Song written by and copyrighted to Rob Thomas.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Oh, he didn't just say he was bored, did he ...?
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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 26
Chapter 28
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