InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Betting the Devil ( Chapter 31 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Thirty-One~~
~Betting the Devil~


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

' The devil bowed his head
'Cause he knew that he'd been beat
And he laid that golden fiddle
On the ground at Johnny's feet …'

-'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' by The Charlie Daniels Band.

-Evan-


"Here," Evan said, handing a cold soda over Valerie's shoulder as she concentrated on the open file in her lap.  She took it without a word and held onto the can while he quickly and efficiently popped the top for her.

"Thanks," she murmured, reaching up with her free hand for the glass of ice that she knew well enough he'd have for her.

He grinned and handed that over, too.  "Welcome," he said nonchalantly.

She set the slim-file aside and shook her head.  "Just so you know, I'm not buying this whole thing."

"What whole thing?" he countered mildly, twisting off the cap of the beer bottle in his hand.

"Why won't you really tell me exactly what happened that night?" she countered smoothly.

Evan chuckled and shrugged as he dropped onto the sofa.  "I did, V.  You're the one who keeps insisting that I'm not, but honest Injun, I am."

She blinked quickly, those magnificent hazel eyes of hers flicking up to meet his gaze over the top of the slim-file.  "Did you just say 'honest Injun'?"

He nodded slowly since he had a good idea as to what was coming next.  Good ol' V and her PC-ness.

"You realize, right, that if you said that in public, you'd be offending anyone with Native American ancestry."

He rolled his eyes and opened his mouth wide, tipping the beer to drip into his waiting maw before forcing a somewhat pathetic belch and slamming the bottle on the table.  "It's just a phrase, Miss Manners.  Give it up, will you?"

She snorted and shook her head in complete and utter dismay.  "Whatever, Roka."  Pausing, she shot him a studious glance before continuing with her line of thought.  "You know, it occurred to me, the judge might like you a little better—and I do use that phrase loosely—if you were to do something to show contrition."

"Like what?" he challenged, reaching over to spin the bottle in place.

"Like going to see Mr. Matthis in the hospital?  Like telling him how sorry you are about the accident?  Of course, you'd have to make it look like something you chose to do instead of something that your lawyer browbeat you into, but if we could keep your visit from seeming like a press-circus, then it would look entirely genuine . . ."

Evan snorted loudly and shot Valerie a rather condescending sort of look.  "What?  Hell, no!  He ran the red light!  He can damn well be sorry!"

She was pissed.  He could sense it in her aura, and he didn't need to glance at her to verify it.  He did anyway and almost laughed out loud.  Eyes narrowed, skin burning with an entirely indignant flush, she was holding onto the slim-file so tightly that her knuckles and fingertips were leeched white.  "Why are you fighting me?  You say you want my help, but you don't.  You act like you'd be just as happy to go straight to jail, but then you say you've been set up!  Do you want my help or not?" she demanded.

Evan stared at her for a moment before swinging his legs off the sofa and pushing himself up, trying his hardest to look at least somewhat contrite.  Judging from the look on her face, though, it didn't seem to be working so well.  "That damned old bastard isn't gonna like me, no matter what you do.  Hell, you could wrap me up in pink paper and slap a bow on my head for his birthday, and he still won't like me.  No matter what I do, it wouldn't be enough to change his mind, and even if it were, then it'd be the wrong reason for doing it, in the first place."

"And what does that matter if the end result is that you come out looking less like a spoiled brat and more like a compassionate human being?"

"Listen, if I wanted to go see him, I would, but I certainly wouldn't do it just to make nice to a grouchy old man who sorely needs to get himself laid."

Valerie snapped her mouth closed, and for a moment, Evan had to wonder if he hadn't pushed her just a little too far.  A moment later, though, she cleared her throat conspicuously, looking very much like she was struggling to keep her humor in check.  Shaking her head when she intercepted the knowing look on his face, she let out a deep breath.  "You're entirely incorrigible."

"But that's why you love me," he countered.

She snorted but didn't comment.

"Hey, V?"

"What?"

He grinned.  "Will you go on tour with me?"

She didn't even glance up from the slim-file.  "No."

"But—"

"No."

"Why?"

S he slipped her eyes to the side, staring at him for several moments before she deigned to respond.  "Because you're a pain in my ass.  No."

He heaved a longsuffering sigh.  "That's not really an answer, V."

She heaved a sigh very much like the one he'd just done.  "Look, Evan, I realize that you really don't understand the concept of 'working', but I do, and I have to.  Not everyone makes a living by playing all day, and I happen to like going to work in the morning and doing my job—at least, I do when it doesn't involve digging you out of trouble that you brought on all by yourself."

He started to laugh then thought better of it since she'd probably start removing crucial bits of his anatomy for the slight.

"Needless to say," she went on airily, "I'm too busy to drop everything, just to go running around the countryside with you."

"'Listen, honey, can you see?  Baby you would bury me . . . If you were in the public eye . . . Givin' someone else a try' . . ." Evan said rather earnestly.

Valerie blinked and stared hard at him for a moment.  He had the distinct feeling that she was trying to figure out whether or not she recognized those words.  He schooled his features for good measure.  "Wh-What?"

He cleared his throat.  "'And you know you'd better watch your step . . . Or you're gonna get hurt, yourself . . . Someone's gonna tell you lies . . . Cut you down to size' . . ."

She snorted.  Loudly.  Then she rolled her eyes and uttered a terse little 'hrumph'.  "You're such a jerk," she muttered under her breath.

"Are you sure you don't want to tour with me?  Could be lots of fun," he coaxed, waggling his eyebrows for good measure.

Snapping the slim-file closed with a decisive motion, Valerie dropped it onto the table and took a very long sip of her soda.  "Listen, rocker-boy," she said as she placed the glass back on the coaster and turned her attention to him, "I would be bored stupid if I went on tour with you," she predicted, fluttering a perfectly manicured hand in his general direction.

"You think so?" Evan couldn't resist asking.  "So you get in trouble when you're bored, too?"

She narrowed her gaze just for a moment at him.  "Hardly, Roka.  I have more than enough real work to keep me busy—unlike some people I could name, but won't."

He chuckled.  "V?"

She reached for a Hit Parade magazine and started to leaf through the pages.  "Hmm?"

He stuck his hand out, smacking it down dead center on the page she was trying to read.  "You couldn't keep up with me; not in a million years."

Brushing his hand aside, she laughed: not just a giggle, either, but a full-blown belly laugh—one that sent Evan's senses into a whirling tizzy.  "Oh, ri-i-i-ight, because you do so much all day, every day," she countered, sarcasm fairly dripping from her words.

"Sounds about right," he agreed earnestly.

"Oh, please!  In the length of time I've known you, you haven't done a whole lot of anything!  Not.  A.  Damn.  Thing.  Roka."

He grinned.  "Well, that wasn't entirely my fault," he told her with a shrug.  "Mike's been dealing with Wicked about a few things, but those are straightened out now, so no sweat.  Didn't you look at that itinerary you demanded from Mikey?"

She rolled her eyes yet again, but fished out the document in question. "Oh, so you're recording this week.  Big hairy deal.  You go in, and you sing for a little while.  How tough can that be?"

He stared at her and slowly shook his head.  "Uh huh . . . Okay, V, if you think I'm such a joke, then I contend that you could not deal with my schedule for a week."

"A week?  Is that all?" she tossed back carelessly.

"Be careful, V.  You might hurt my feelings."

She tossed her ink pen at his head.  He caught it in his teeth and spit it out on the table.  "And just to make things interesting, if you are able to keep up, then I swear, I'll be nothing but good from here on out—and I'll take a full page ad out in the New York Times, proclaiming that I'm a lazy, good for nothing bastard.  How's that?"

Her eyes were sparkling though she looked dubious, at best.  "Who said anything about me actually following you around for a week?"

"What's the matter, V?  Chicken?"

She knew he was goading her, and quite childishly, too, if her expression meant anything at all.  Too bad that Evan could also see very well that she hated—hated—to be called 'chicken'.

"I'm not chicken.  Don't be stupid," she grumbled, her cheeks pinking at the perceived slight.

"And if you lose and have to admit that you cannot keep up with my schedule, then you have to take out a full page ad where you will admit that you—Valerie Denning, esquire—are a wuss and that you were wrong—you really hate to admit that you're wrong about anything, don't you, V?"

She snorted again.  "Like it'd happen," she countered.  "Keep up with you, Roka?  I could run circles around you."

He grinned.  "And . . ."

She shook her head.  "And?" she prompted when he trailed off.

"And . . . you'll also agree to do the mini-tour with me.  Wouldn't want to let my fans down, would you?"

She stared at him somewhat blankly for a moment before she let her head fall back in laughter.  "That's it?  That's your deal?  If I can keep up with you—and I assure you, I can and will quite nicely—then you'll leave me alone about the tour?"

"Cross my hard-on and hope to fry."

She snorted.  "Can I get this in writing?"

"You sure you want to commit this to hard copy?" he goaded.

"Oh, you're so on, rocker-boy.  Better start drafting that full page ad because I want you to make sure that it runs in the Sunday edition."

Evan chuckled rather ominously and very deliberately checked his watch.  'Four p.m.,' he read with a mental shrug.  "All right, then.  If you're sure."

"I'm sure," she retorted, a certain level of competitiveness rising in her gaze.  "This is going to be too easy."

Evan let her enjoy her perceived victory for a few minutes, content to sit back and watch as she laughed and positively crowed to herself.  He almost felt sorry for her—almost.  Then again, she didn't have to accept his challenge, either, now did she?

"Hey, V?" he said at length after her humor had finally wound down.

"What?"

He cleared his throat and tried not to look too smug.  "You should probably go home and get in some sleep before my day starts."

She stared at him rather incredulously.  "It's only four in the afternoon," she told him.

He shrugged, the absolute picture of innocence.  "All right," he drawled, "but don't say I didn't warn you, because I totally did."

"Of course; of course," she said, though her expression remained overly confident.  "You're just trying to psyche me out, and you know, it's just not going to work."

Evan grinned and slowly shook his head.  "All right, but don't blame me when that pretty little ass of yours is dragging tomorrow."

"Oh, please!  You're so full of it!  What time do you have to be at the studio?"

"Four," he replied.

She paused just for a moment.  "Four?"

"Yep, four.  Oh, that's a.m., not p.m. . . ."  

She pressed her lips into a thin line as she considered that, probably trying to decide whether or not he was just trying to pull her leg.  She even tugged the itinerary out to verify what he'd told her.  "So you've got to go into the studio tomorrow for what?  A couple hours?  Not a problem.  Then what?  Oh, an interview.  Wo-o-ow . . ."

Evan let her have her moment, ignoring the pang of guilt that assailed him.  He watched in silence as she gathered her things, stuffing them into the attaché case she seemed to carry with her everywhere.  "Okay, Roka," she called over her shoulder as she headed for the door.  "Do you think I've got time to schedule some spa time tomorrow afternoon?"

Evan didn't answer, but he did smile at her.  That smile faded when the emptiness that seemed to engulf his home whenever she left flooded over him.

He couldn't figure her out.  Well, he could, sort of.  Just not as much as he'd like.  She really did believe that he didn't do much of anything, didn't she, and while it was true that he hadn't actually done a lot since he'd met her, that was only because Mike had cleared most of his schedule so that he could deal with the lawsuit.  Of course, Mike had also hoped that Evan could get the entire thing cleared up before he started laying down tracks for the new album, too.

Letting out a deep breath, he pushed himself to his feet, retrieving Valerie's glass and his empty beer bottle before heading toward the kitchen.

Okay, so he really wasn't playing fair, and he knew it.  Valerie really didn't have a clue, what the life of a rock star really did entail, and he knew that, too, and while he should be glad that he'd just assured that his US tour would go on, he couldn't help but feel just a little, well, mean.

Hell, how many times had he been told that his schedule was hard for anyone to keep?  Madison had bitched about it often enough, back in the days when she used to travel with him almost everywhere.  The last couple years, though, she'd been so busy with her shops that she hadn't been able to do that, and while he missed her when he was away, she was pretty good at showing up here and there, and she had hand-picked her replacement hair specialist who toured with him, but whenever he was home, he preferred to have Madison around, instead.

Jillian had traveled with him for a little while, too, years ago, and she'd remarked more than once that she didn't know exactly how he could stand it, which was pretty funny since she was pretty high profile herself.  Now a retired super-model, Jillian knew the constant pressure of public scrutiny all too well, and it wasn't at all surprising that she much preferred the relative quiet that her retirement had afforded her.

Yeah, he knew well enough that his life wasn't for everyone, but it was something that he loved.  The business side of it was a joke, of course, but the shows and the fans?  That made it all worth it.  The electricity he felt every single time he stepped out on stage . . . that was the rush he craved, equaled only by the absolute satisfaction that he felt whenever he nailed down a new song, when he created a three minute masterpiece that could either be beautiful or completely mortifying.

But V . . .

He had to hand it to her.  The girl had bravado in spades.  That wasn't really going to help her out much.  She really had no idea just what she'd agreed to, and if he weren't desperate to gain her compliance with the impending tour, he might not have stooped to such a low.

Then again, having Valerie all to himself for a month on the road?  He'd be damn stupid not to go for that, now wouldn't he?

'Now if I could just convince her that her damned Marvin wasn't worth the time she spends on him . . .'

'Yeah, but that might not be as simple as it sounds.  For some reason, she thinks she belongs with that little dickweed . . .'

Evan frowned, making quick work of washing out Valerie's glass and setting it on a dishtowel to air dry.  'But it doesn't make sense.  A woman like her could have any man she wanted.  Why's she settling for him, anyway?'

It didn't really make any sense, no matter how Evan considered it.  That little fucker . . . what, exactly, was it about him that made a woman like V think that she had to settle for the likes of him?  'Damn it . . .'

'So first you convince her that that little runt-fucker isn't nearly good enough for her, and then . . .'

A determined little grin surfaced on Evan's features.  'And then I convince her that I am, right?'

'Something like that . . . At least, you could pretend that you're good enough for her, anyway.'

'Pretend, huh . . .?'

His youkai voice chuckled.  'Sounds about right . . .'

Now if he could just figure out exactly how to convince her of that, he'd be one step ahead, wouldn't he?  Or maybe . . .

He was going to get to her, one way or another.  It was just a matter of time . . .


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A/N:
'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' first appeared on the Charlie Daniels Band 1979 release, Million Mile Reflections.  Song written by and copyrighted to Willian Joel Digregorio, Charles Fred Hayward, John Thomas Crain, Jr, Fred Leroy Edwards, James Wainright Marshall, Charlie Daniels.
'Don't Do Me Like That' is written by and copyrighted to Tom Petty.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Keep up with Zel Roka?  Not a problem
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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 30
Chapter 32
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