InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ V ( Chapter 36 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Thirty-Six~~
~V~


-OoOoOoOoOoO oOoOoOoO-

'And I know who you are
It wasn't that hard
Just to figure you out …'

-'Figured You Out' by Nickelback.

-Evan-


'Ma- a-an, you know there's a damn good chance that you're gonna burn in everlasting hellfire for the rest of your days.'

Evan blinked slowly as he stared at Valerie, who was dozing rather fitfully, huddled in the corner on the far side of the limo's back seat.  At least the darkened circles under her eyes had disappeared shortly after he'd waked her up.  Otherwise, she was starting to look just a little vampy.  'Yeah, probably.'

Day Six, and Valerie still hadn't broken.  To be honest, he wasn't entirely certain that she was going to, after all.  Despite the fact that she'd zonked out during the ass-long meeting yesterday and had, in fact, ended up snoring loudly enough to draw everyone's collective attention, she'd really done well to keep up with him as long as she had, and for that alone, Evan would be eternally impressed.

It hadn't really helped matters, either, that he really hadn't been able to allow her much more than a catnap last night.  Having spent the bulk of the day in that infernal meeting, only to end up in the studio where he'd had to record a few more tracks for the bonus DVD release that would coincide with the album, The Voxumentary, as it was tentatively called—he wasn't sure who came up with these titles, but he was pretty certain that they needed to be fired—they'd been there so long that, in the end, Evan had just stretched out on the sofa in his office upstairs with Valerie and had managed about a twenty minute power-nap before duty called once more.

If the photo shoot that was scheduled bright and early this morning hadn't been so damned important, he might well have cancelled it just to allow Valerie to sleep, but the delays in the recording sessions had cut the entire process a little close, especially if they wanted to release the new album before the tour dates scheduled in a couple months.  He needed to do the cover, and while he had a few ideas, he'd given up creative control on the artwork for this one when he'd realized just how crunched for time he was going to be.

Of course, the main problem was that he wasn't entirely certain just how he was going to top the last one.  The cover of Shock Knocker had featured an extreme close up of a woman's nipple.  He'd thought it was fantastic, especially since the censors hadn't actually figured out what it was until months after its release, and by then, so many units had been sold that it made no sense to reissue it because of the cover art.

Because of his legal troubles, compounded by the delays that had already plagued this album, the bigwigs had told him that he would do well to try for a more 'conventional' cover this time around, and while that might ordinarily encourage him to do just the opposite, he also had to admit that they had a point regarding the release and just what having to postpone it might do to potential sales.

No, the biggest bone of contention yesterday was the song, V.  The bosses thought that the single had real market potential, but they wanted Evan to record a 'clean' version of it—something that Evan flat-out refused to do.  Even if he wanted to, that would call for drastic re-writes, considering the song was most certainly about nothing but fucking.  True, as they said, it could reach a broader audience if he did it, but he couldn't tolerate the idea that he'd be compromising his integrity as an artist if he gave in to their demands.

So they'd spent the better part of six hours arguing over that one, which was more than enough to irritate the living, breathing hell out of him.  Valerie had actually been the one to have the final say in that, much to his amusement.  She'd woken from her impromptu nap around lunchtime and had listened to the majority of the argument without comment.  When the frustrated men had started to try to tell Evan that he had to do what they wanted, she'd cleared her throat quite loudly and informed them in no uncertain terms that they had no real legal grounds on which to base the assumption that Evan had to do whatever they wanted just because they desired it to be so.  Citing a few landmark cases from the last few years where musicians had won out over their labels in the matter of creative control, she hadn't batted an eyelash as she'd sat back once more and pinned each of them with a very cold, very stony stare, and Evan had relished every moment of it.

'Don't fuck with an attorney,' he thought with no small measure of pride as he watched the woman huddle a little deeper into the apparently comfy corner.  With a grimace, Evan bit his lip, reaching over to tug her over since she was turned just enough that she was leaning heavily on the wall instead of the back of the seat, and that had to be uncomfortable.  She didn't notice the sudden shift as she snuggled against his side, drawing a rather goofy grin from him as he indulged himself in watching her sleep.

"Can't believe she's still hanging in there," Bone remarked without taking his eyes off the road ahead of them.

Evan grunted in acknowledgement.  "She's tougher than you thought?"

Bone chuckled.  "Something like that."

"Yeah . . . She's pretty damn amazing, isn't she?" Evan mused, grabbing a bottle of water situated in the holder on the narrow ledge across from him without disturbing the snoozing attorney.

Bone nodded slowly, allowing a comfortable silence to fall.  It was a welcome change from the slight sense of unrest that had tinged the entire day yesterday whenever the two men were in the same vicinity.  Bone finally cleared his throat.  "Hey, Roka . . . I'm sorry about the other night," he finally remarked.

Evan nodded, too, as he considered Bone's words.  "Yeah," he said then shrugged.  "She's fine now, right?"

Bone suddenly chuckled.  "Not much like Sydnie, is she?"

Evan grinned.  True enough.  Bone knew damn well that Evan had always maintained that he wanted a woman—a cat youkai just like his sister-in-law.  Of course, that was more of a joke, really, and mostly designed to irritate the living, breathing hell out of his brother, Bas, but there was a measure of truth to it, too.  The first time Evan had met Sydnie, he'd about creamed his jeans; damned if he hadn't.  That woman really was something else . . . Talk about walking, breathing sex . . . How she'd ended up with someone as uptight as Bas was entirely beyond Evan, and as far as the latter was concerned, it was akin to a gross miscarriage of ultimate justice . . .

And, true, it had irked him to no end that Bas—lucky bastard that he was—had managed to snag such a prime piece of proverbial pussy.  Even worse, Sydnie had always thought of Evan as little more than a 'baby', never mind that by the time he was fifteen, almost sixteen when he'd met her, he'd fucked more girls than his father and brother had in their lifetimes, combined . . .

But that was neither here nor there.  Sydnie and Bubby were damned happy these days, and she'd just given birth to their second child—a daughter they'd named Olivia—last year to prove it.  If Evan considered it, though, he would have to admit that it wasn't necessarily Sydnie that he had lusted after, but a woman like her: one who was drop dead gorgeous and enjoyed a nice romp in between the sheets, too.

Sipping the water with a thoughtful scowl, his gaze returned to the sleeping attorney.  Okay, so he really ought to wake her up.  After all, she had to reach the point where she'd admit defeat if he had any hopes of keeping the mini-tour on schedule.  Something stopped him from doing it, though.  Maybe it was the absolute warmth of her body against his.  Maybe it was the look of complete contentment on her face.

He heaved a sigh and slowly shook his head, resisting the urge to reach for her and pull her against him.

"You're a sucker, you know," Bone commented.

When Evan glanced up, it was to see his friend-slash-security guard staring at him in the rear view mirror.  He was grinning, too; damned if he wasn't.  "Am I?"

"She's never gonna cave if you let her get away with napping all the damn time," Bone remarked, completely ignoring Evan's question.

Evan didn't make a move to rouse her, though.  "Eh, we're almost at the location, anyway.  Might as well let her alone till we get there."

Bone slowly shook his head.  "Whatever you say, boss . . ."

Ten minutes later, the limo pulled to a stop in front of the nondescript building where the photo shoot was to scheduled, and Evan rather reluctantly gave Valerie's shoulder a little shake.  She jerked and started, blinking furiously as she shot a somewhat wild glance around, her disorientation a very viable thing.  Evan smiled.  "Come on, V," he prodded gently.  "Don't wanna give out on me now, do you?"

It took another moment for her to discern what he'd said, and when she did, she snorted.  "Right, Roka," she retorted though her voice still held a groggy lilt.  "Let's go."

He chuckled as he got out, sparing a moment to wave to the paparazzi that always tended to follow him around before reaching back into the limo to help Valerie.  Stifling a wide yawn, she stumbled.  He caught her, wrapping his arms around her, and for the briefest of moments, she allowed him to pull her against his chest, entirely too sleepy to put up a fuss over their close proximity.  "All right there?" he murmured into her ear.

She nodded though she didn't open her eyes.  "Mmhmm," she murmured.

His grin widened as he reluctantly steadied her on her feet and let go of her.  "C'mon, V.  Time to take some pictures."

"Hmm," she intoned, stifling a yawn with the back of her hand as he dragged her toward the studio.  "I like pictures . . ."

Ignoring the questions being rapid-fired at him by the reporters anxious to get the 'inside' scoop as well as the flash and 'snicks' of cameras, Evan hurried Valerie through the doors and breathed a good-natured sigh of relief when the quiet of the enclosed foyer blocked out the insanity.

"Looks like Cassie's put on a couple pounds," Bone mused, glancing out the glass door at the ragtag assembly—most notably, one of the paparazzi that had followed Evan around for years.

Evan grinned.  "Oh, yeah?  You gonna go out there and tell her that?"

Bone snorted but grinned, too.  "Hell, no!  She'd probably boot me in the 'nads with those pointy-assed shoes of hers."  Crossing his arms over his chest, he turned to face Evan.  "You'd better get her somewhere so she can lie down," he warned.  "Want me to carry her up?"

"Keep your damn hands to yourself, Bone," Evan warned mildly.  "Come on, V.  Ready to go?"

"He can carry me," she slurred, waving a hand in Bone's general vicinity.

"Oh, no, he really can't," Evan quipped.  "Not unless he wants his hands broken."

She stopped and shot him a truly baffled sort of look.  "Who's going to break his hands?"

Evan rolled his eyes.  "Me."

It took her all of fifteen seconds to digest that, and when she did, she dissolved in a helpless round of laughter.  "You?  Against Bone?"  More laughter—so much that tears were spilling down her cheeks.  "That'd be like . . . like a sumo wrestler going up against a baby . . ."

"Ouch, V . . . that's my ego you're stepping on," he mock-pouted.

She leaned against him.  "I'm sorry," she relented though she didn't actually sound at all 'sorry'.  Intercepting the thoroughly blasé expression on his face, she cleared her throat and tried a little harder to convince him of her sincerity.  "Pictures . . . pictures . . . Yours or mine?"

He chuckled again.  He couldn't help it.  Valerie tended to be rather random when she was tired.  "Mine.  Album cover and promo shit."

She brightened considerably at that.  "Does that mean I can sleep while you're posturing?"

He snorted.  "I don't posture."

"You're a rock star.  Of course you do."

He didn't really have a comeback for that, so he grabbed her hand instead and dragged her over to the elevator.  "Sure, you can," he relented, sparing a moment to cast her a cheesy grin as he waited for the doors to open.

"I can?"

"Yup," he said, "as soon as you admit defeat."

She gasped loudly, her eyes flashing open wide as she stared at him.  "That's so devious!"

He laughed and dragged her into the elevator.  "Save it for the jury, woman.  All's fair in dares and touring."

She uttered a sound suspiciously close to a whimper but remained silent.  Another twinge of guilt assailed him, and he brushed it aside.  True enough, he wasn't exactly playing nice, but hell . . . "Like I'd ever give you the satisfaction of losing to you!  This is nothing—nothing—and—" She paused to yawn again.  "—I'll prove it to you, buddy!"

"Just as soon as you catch up on your sleep, right?" he teased.

Her hand stilled as she carefully wiped her misting eyes.  "Oh, I don't even have the energy to tell you to go to hell," she grumbled.

"Sorry, baby," he replied, sounding anything but sincere.

She heaved a longsuffering sigh designed to let him know exactly what she thought of his tongue-in-cheek rebuttal.  "Jerk," she muttered, slumping against the wall of the tiny compartment.  "Urgh, I hate elevators . . ."

It lurched to a stop.  Valerie clutched at her stomach and groaned as the doors slid open.  "Let's go, Private.  Don't give up on me now," Evan encouraged, slipping an arm around her waist and savoring the way she sort of slumped against him as he escorted her out of the cubicle.

"Ze-e-el!" Zaundra Kirkpatrick greeted as she swept across the studio to greet him.  She'd shot the last three album covers for him, and when Mike had told him that she'd agreed to work with him again, Evan had grinned.  Known for her risqué style and provocative eye, she was the perfect complement to Zel Roka's outrageous music.

"Hey, Zandi," he said as she leaned up to kiss the air on either side of Evan's cheeks.

"Just look at you . . . you look like you just tumbled out of bed," Zaundra mused with a disapproving shake of her head as her sooty gaze flickered over Valerie's face.  "Oh, I see why, don't I?"

Chuckling at the suggestive tone behind the teasing, Evan couldn't help but to go along with her.  "Well, hells, yes!  I mean, she's hot, isn't she?  And not just hot, right?  More like damn . . . fucking . . . hot."

Valerie yawned and blinked as she tried to look around the studio, her normally sharp gaze blunted by the effects of sleepiness she was still fighting.  If she heard the exchange, she didn't react, and that was probably for the best, too.

"Just see if you can't hold onto this one a little longer than you normally do," Zaundra said, arching one of her eyebrows to emphasize her words.

Evan laughed and steered Valerie toward the curtained off areas where wardrobe, hair, and makeup were being done.  Her sharp gasp stopped him in his tracks as she tugged on his hand to gain his attention.  "Evan!" she squeaked incredulously.  "Look—look—look—look—look!  A bed!  A real bed . . . Oh, and it looks so comfy . . ."

Following the direction of her gaze, he chuckled softly.  True enough, there was a bed set in the center of the white screen backdrop.  It was obviously for the shoot, but she looked so entirely bewitched that he figured he'd wait to point that out to her.

"Finally!  You're late," Madison said as she planted her hands on her hips and pinned Evan with a disgruntled arching of an eyebrow.  That expression dissipated, though, when she glanced at Valerie.  "What have you done to my V?" she demanded in a completely flabbergasted sort of tone as she tugged Valerie away from Evan's side and coddled her.  "Aww, you poor baby!" she crooned.

"I know!" Valerie whimpered against Madison's shoulder, nestling her face against Madison's neck.

Madison slipped her arms around Valerie's shoulders and crooned in her ear.  "Poor V!"

Valerie sniffled in response.

"You two do that anymore, and I'll come in my pants," Evan warned, only half joking.  Two of the hottest women he'd ever seen, basically snuggling right in front of him?  Hell, he'd have to be a eunuch not to notice that, now wouldn't he?

"You'd better go get changed, Zel Roka," Madison warned, idly stroking Valerie's hair.  "Come on, sweetie.  You can stay with Maddy."

"I love my Maddy," Valerie muttered vaguely.

Evan rolled his eyes but grinned.  "All right," he grudgingly relented, "but no sleeping—unless you're doing it together, and if you do, I'd better get a copy of the video."

Madison threw a bright orange hair clip at him, and he laughed as he sauntered away.

Ducking into the makeshift wardrobe area, Evan spotted a girl he'd never seen before standing off to the side, fussing with a pair of shockingly white, patent leather pants.  "Hey," he greeted with a grin.  "Never seen you before . . . I'm—"

"Zel Roka!" she gasped, freckled face paling noticeably as her already large blue eyes widened dramatically.  Blowing her unruly bangs out of her face, she shook her head, her impossibly kinky red hair bobbing almost comically as she stared at him in something akin to hero worship.  "Wow . . ."

He chuckled and gave a little shrug.  "So they tell me," he quipped.  "And you are?"

"Uh, Trixie," she blurted with a nervous laugh.  "Trixie Lee—I'm the wardrobe mistress."

"So I gathered," he said.  "Whatcha got for me?"

Trixie opened and closed her mouth a few times like a fish out of water then squeaked out something akin to a squawk as she carted around and grabbed a pale pink  . . . blouse . . . off a rack and shoved it out toward him.  "Zaundra said she wanted 'fresh' and 'innocent', so . . ."

Evan snorted before he could stop himself as his eyes widened at the appalling garment.  Pale pink was the right way to describe it, certainly, and even if the color weren't bad enough, the damn thing had a v-neck framed in full ruffles, billowing sleeves, and cuff ruffles, to boot.  "Nice joke," he said.  "Now seriously, where's the gear?"

"Oh, and these," she said, yanking the white patent leather pants around for his inspection.

There were so many things wrong with those pants that Evan wasn't sure where to begin.  They looked like they were about four sizes too small—not a horrid thing, really, but they made him cringe and want to cover his balls just looking at it, and even if he were inclined to wear white—white—leather pants, he sure as hell would never, ever be caught dead in patent leather ones.  The damn things snapped up the sides, but that didn't matter, did it, when he had no idea just how they thought he'd be able to squeeze himself into those without giving himself a hernia . . .

"The shirt was specially made for you by Bettista Romanov, and the pants—well, they just make the outfit, don't they?" Trixie asked, obviously very proud of the spectacle she was trying to create.  "They're made out of the very latest in leather—stretch leather."  Her very round eyes widened even more, lending her an owlish, almost spooky sort of expression.  "They breathe."

Evan snorted.  "Yeah, sweetheart, that's just not happening."

Trixie frowned, quite obviously in a great deal of distress.  "I didn't bring anything else," she lamented.

"Fuck," he muttered, turning on his heel and stomping out of the area, intent on finding Zaundra to find out if she'd somehow managed to lose her damn mind.  "Zaundra!" he hollered, striding straight toward her when he spotted her, checking her equipment.

The photographer glanced up and actually had the audacity to smile at him as he headed toward her.  "Something wrong, Zel?" she deadpanned.

"Wrong?  Hmm . . . Zaundra, have you seen what your wardrobe mistress brought in for me to wear?"

Zaundra's smile widened.  "Isn't it just scrumptious?"

He considered that then slowly shook his head.  "That's not exactly the word I had in mind," he muttered.  "You realize, right?  There's no way in hell I'm wearing it."

She didn't look like his bald statement surprised her.  It shouldn't have, all things considered.  Crossing his arms over his chest and tapping his foot on the utilitarian concrete floor, he pinned Zaundra with as formidable a glower as he could muster.

She sighed and slowly shook her head.  "It wasn't my call, Roka," she explained in a slightly weary sort of tone.  "Ramón called me and said in no uncertain terms that Wicked Soundsations wanted a clean cover—wholesome, I think they said . . ."

Evan snorted.  "I'm about as fucking far from wholesome as you can get," he growled.  "But I ain't wearing that outfit."

"Well, there's a little more to it than that," she went on, setting her camera aside to give Evan her full attention.  "He mentioned that he'd promised Bettista that he'd use that shirt—I think he's trying to fuck her or something."

"Ramón can bite me," Evan grouched.  "I am not wearing it."

Zaundra heaved a long, drawn out sigh and rubbed her face.  "Let me call Ramón and see what he says," she said slowly.

Somewhat satisfied, Evan whipped around on his heel and stomped off toward the makeup area again.

"So why are you raising Cain?" Madison asked as Evan tossed the curtain aside and strode inside.

He planted his hands on his hips and snorted once more.  "Have you fucking seen the shit they think I'm gonna wear?" he asked hotly.

Madison blinked and held up a finger in front of her lips, jerking her head toward the uncomfortable chair where Valerie was settled.  Leaning on a table with her elbow propped up and her cheek cradled in her hand, the attorney looked like she was about ready to zonk out.  Evan rolled his eyes.  "Have you?" he demanded again.

"Well, no," Madison admitted with a little shrug.  "But I do know what colors they ordered for your makeup . . ."

Something in her tone made Evan want to groan.  He didn't.  "What?" he drawled instead.

Madison's smile was very tight as she popped open her utilitarian case and tilted it so that he could see for himself.  All pastels, it looked like—pinks and blues and purples.  Evan shook his head.  "Fuck, no," he stated flatly.

"Oh, he'll be pretty," Valerie giggled vaguely.

Evan grunted.  "Go to sleep, V."

She yawned.  "Okay . . ."

"I just do what I'm told," Madison quipped airily, waving a hand in the general vicinity of the makeup chair she'd toted along.

True, he didn't have anything against said makeup.  One couldn't be in the entertainment business and refuse to wear makeup.  It just didn't work that way.  The thing was, he didn't mind it when it helped to add to the show—just look at the past masters like Kiss—those dudes did better when wearing the makeup than they did after they showed their ugly-assed mugs, didn't they?  And Zel Roka didn't mind that, either, but when you took those damned colors—the pinks and shit—and added them to the outfit that they thought they could get him to wear?  'Yeah, when donkeys fly . . .'

"M-Mr. Roka!" Trixie exclaimed as she burst through the curtain, very nearly colliding with a scowling Evan who still reached out to steady her on her feet, lest she go sprawling across the floor.  "You've got to get changed," she insisted, her face reddening enough that the generous sprinkling of freckles were paler on her skin than the living blush.  To emphasize her point, though, she thrust the hangers, complete with the absolutely unacceptable clothes, at him.

He waved a hand to flick them away.  "I told you, I'm not wearing that," he explained brusquely but calmly.

Madison clapped a hand over her mouth as her eyes widened in abject horror.  "Oh . . . my . . ." she squeaked.

Evan shook his head.  "You're wasting time, Trixie.  You should be running downtown to find something better."

Trixie bit her lip and looked entirely uncomfortable.  He could understand her dilemma.  She really didn't want to be labeled as 'the one who argued with the famous Zel Roka'.  Too bad he wasn't about to give in to make her life easier, either.  "But . . ."

A sudden eruption of high pitched giggling cut Evan off before he could retort, and against his better judgment, he glanced back at Valerie, who was staring quite intently at the hideous garb.  "Zel Roka, the pretty pink Pirate of Penzance!" she choked between guffaws.

"Oh, ha ha, V," he grumbled.  "I thought you were going to sleep."

"I was blinded by the pinkess," Valerie retorted, waved a hand in front of her rapidly reddening face as she struggled to breathe.  "That looks so . . ."

Evan narrowed his eyes but remained silent.  Valerie missed the expression completely.

". . . Gay!  Zel Roka, the gay pretty pink Pirate of Penzance!"

Heaving a sigh, Evan gestured at Valerie as he turned to pin Trixie with a full-on glare.  "See?"

Trixie swallowed hard.  "I-It's not th-that bad—"

Too bad she didn't sound like she believed that, either.  Evan grunted.  "That is so far away from 'rock' that I don't even know what to do with it," he shot back.  "Forget.  It."

Trixie looked like she was ready to sob.  "Zel, why don't you go take a quick shower, and we'll talk it over with Zaundra," Madison nearly purred.  Evan glanced over his shoulder at her, only to curl his lip up in a marked snarl when he noticed the way Madison's cheeks were puffing in and out in her own herculean effort to keep from dissolving in laughter.

"You can all go straight to hell," he grumped as he strode past Trixie and headed for the bathroom.

The explosion of female laughter that taunted him as he slammed the door closed did nothing to pacify him, and Evan heaved another loud sigh as he yanked off his shirt and slapped his hand against the water control beside the door before reaching for the buttons on his jeans.

If they were smart, they'd have figured something else out by the time he got out of there or he was leaving, and if the label didn't like that?  "Too damn bad," he snarled to no one in particular.  It didn't really make him feel any better.


-Evan-


The shower actually did serve to calm his irritation, at least a little—enough so that he didn't feel the insane urge to stomp out there and wreck something.  Pausing a minute to stare at the clothes he'd left on the floor, he wrinkled his nose and grabbed a thick white towel instead, draping it around his hips and tucking in the corner to secure it.  With any luck, they'd have figured out something else since he was sure he'd made it abundantly clear that he wasn't going to wear that outfit, come hell or high water . . .

'Gay pirate, indeed,' he thought with an inward snort as he extended his arm to thump open the door.

Zaundra was standing near the bed in the middle of the studio, adjusting some lights and frowning at the sensor in her hand.

"Figure anything out?" he asked without preamble as he strode over to Zaundra.

The photographer glanced at him before going back to her task.  "Yep," she replied with a rather enigmatic little smile.  "All set."

Somehow, he wasn't sure he liked her tone . . .

"You'd better go hit makeup," Zaundra went on airily.  "We're already behind."

Evan still wasn't entirely certain that he trusted her, but he figured he might as well let it alone, at least for now.  To his surprise, though, Madison and Valerie weren't in the makeup room, but Codie, one of Madison's assistants, was, and she smiled broadly as Evan stepped into the area.  "Where's Maddy?" Evan asked.

Codie waved a hand dismissively.  "She'll be back," she replied, patting the stool, indicating that Evan should have a seat.

Glancing at the clock on the wall, Evan slipped into the chair.  True enough, the shoot that should have started about an hour ago was running sorely late, and at this point, he just wanted it to be over with.

Someone must've gotten the message, though, because the colors that Codie had out were definitely more along the lines of Evan's usual, and for the first time since he'd seen that God-awful outfit, he started to relax just a little.

"You win, Roka," Mike said as he slipped into the partitioned off area with a shake of his head.  "Spoiled brat . . ."

Evan shot his manager a questioning look since he hadn't expected to see him today.  "Gay pink pirates are bad for the rocker image, don't you think?" he asked pointedly.

Mike heaved a sigh and shrugged.  "Yeah, I told Ramón you wouldn't go for it.  Shows what the hell I know, right?"

"Oh, so you knew about all this?"

Mike grinned.  "Not nearly as much gets past me as you seem to think," he rejoined.  "Get off your ass and get moving, will you?  You've got an interview in a couple hours, or did you forget?"

Evan pushed himself off of the stool and winked at Codie before following Mike through the curtain again.  "So what am I supposed to wear?"

Mike didn't answer as Evan stopped short, his breath whooshing into his lungs in an almost painful gust when he spotted Valerie, standing near the bed and wearing that God-awful pink shirt that somehow didn't look nearly as bad on her as he knew it would have on him and those white patent leather pants.  They were way too long for her, but that didn't matter since Trixie was on her knees with a pair of shears, mercilessly hacking off the extra length as Valerie yawned, trying to hold still as Madison touched up the pale pink lip-gloss she'd just applied.

"What the fuck is going on?" Evan hissed, grabbing Mike by the shoulder and spinning him around to face him.

Mike half-grimaced, half-grinned.  "Well, Ramón just said that he wanted the blouse in the shoot; he didn't actually say who had to wear it . . ."

"V isn't a model, Mikey," Evan pointed out tightly.

Mike shrugged.  "Maybe not, but she is hot, don't you think?"

Evan snorted.  "Of course she is, and that is hardly the point."

"Don't worry about it, Roka," Mike went on, shaking off Evan's hand as he headed toward the gathering in the center of the studio, leaving Evan to catch up with him.  "She signed the release."

Grinding his teeth together, Evan shook his head stubbornly.  "And she's half-asleep, or didn't you notice?  Goddamn it, she never would have signed it if she weren't, and you know it!"

Mike's expression shifted into one that Evan knew: pacify the rock star, was it?  He snorted.  Mike held up a hand.  "Look, she said that she thought the blouse was pretty, and she said that she'd wear anything if she could lie down on that bed.  Besides she's completely dressed, right, and—"

"And you don't think that she's gonna object about the minute she figures out that you've totally manipulated her, never mind she'll automatically assume that it was my idea, anyway . . ."

"I didn't do any such thing," Mike rebuffed.  "They did."

Evan snorted since he was waving in the general vicinity of Madison and Zaundra—both of whom were next on his list to hear what he thought about the entire situation.  "Give me the fucking release, Mike."

"I don't think that's a good idea," he began slowly.

"Oh, yeah?  You like getting paid?  Then you'd best remember who the hell signs your paycheck!"

Mike cleared his throat delicately and almost grinned—almost.  "Your accountant does."

"Mike—"

The sudden and almost obscene sound of the snaps that held the pants together, giving way, thundered through the studio with all the finesse of a sledgehammer.  A moment later, Zaundra tossed the pants aside, nodding in approval of the sight of Valerie's insanely sexy legs.  Trixie yelped and dove for the pants before scooping them off and darting off toward the wardrobe area while Evan stifled a groan and reminded himself that he was supposed to be arguing with Mike, not staring at Valerie, no matter how hot the woman was . . . 'Her legs . . . oh, da-a-a-amn . . .'

"All right; so she was completely dressed," Mike amended with a slight grimace.

"Give me the release, Mike," Evan demanded, holding out his hand as he strode after the insane manager.

"Zel—"

"She won't be recognized, I swear.  Zaundra's going to use special filters to give the images an overall hazy effect, so if that's what you're worried about—"

Evan's loud snort cut off the frazzled manager.  "Fuck that, Mikey.  I'm more concerned with my body and my balls becoming passing acquaintances."

"It won't be that bad," Mike assured him, "and if it is, they do miracles with reconstructive surgeries these days."

"Keh!"

Valerie started to rub her eye with a balled-up fist.  Madison caught the limb and gently held it down.  "Now, V, you don't want to mess up your makeup, right?"

Valerie didn't open her eyes.  "Hmm . . . Can I lay down now?"

Madison giggled.  "You go right ahead, sweetie."

Valerie stumbled off toward the bed.  Evan heaved a sigh as he dragged his eyes off Valerie.  "The release, Mike.  Now," he growled.

Mike sighed, too, though for entirely different reasons, and dug the blue backed release from his attaché case.  "Just think about it, Roka.  If you tear this up . . ."

"What are you doing?" Zaundra demanded, yanking the release form out of Mike's hand before he could hand it over.  "Are you nuts?  That girl's golden!  She's perfect for the shoot!"

"Well, maybe, but Zel—"

Rolling his eyes as he tried not to look at Valerie, all curled up on that damned bed and looking entirely too damn hot to ignore, Evan started to reach for the document.

"Evan?"

He stopped and blinked, unsure for a moment, whether he'd actually heard Valerie say his name or not.  

She frowned slightly and tried to curl herself into a tighter little ball in the center of that bed.  "Cold . . ." she whispered.

Unable to stop the grimace that surfaced on his face, Evan let out a deep breath and snatched the release form out of Zaundra's limp fingers since she was still in the middle of arguing with Mike and didn't actually notice that he'd gotten a hold of the damn thing, anyway.

'She's gonna chop off your boys, toss 'em into a blender, and serve 'em to you as a power shake,' his youkai warned as he strode around the bed to slip in behind her.  Before he could, though, Madison reached over, grasping the edge of the towel and giving it a good yank.  He shot her a glower.  She lifted her eyebrows, as if to tell him to lighten up.  Giving up for the moment, Evan shook his head and crawled onto the bed.  The second Valerie felt the movement of the mattress beneath her, she scooted back against him, drawn to the warmth of him, and she relaxed.  Evan stifled a groan.  Too much skin and too little clothing, sending his senses into overdrive as his brain struggled to play catch-up . . .

'Yup.'

'Then she's probably gonna slap a lawsuit on you so fast that it'll make your head spin.'

The shirt that reached mid-thigh on her when she was standing had ridden up, exposing her hip, all the way to the thin lace strip the held her thong panties in place.  Evan winced as he stared at the exposed skin, fingers shaking precariously as he slowly reached out to touch her.

'Yup.'

'Need I point out how bad an idea this really is?'

Dragging his eyes off the spectacle that was Valerie, Evan let out a deep breath and scowled at the release form.  'Shut up.  I'm reading.'

His youkai offered a frustrated sigh.

Standard, of course, with a fifteen thousand dollar offering for said signee, regular statement of release pertaining to any intellectual copyright, real or implied, of any images that would be created during the photo shoot . . . Evan snorted and held out a hand.  "Hey, Maddy . . . you got a pen?"

Madison dragged her eyes off of the warring factions still facing off nearby.  "A pen?  Oh, sure . . . hold on . . ."

A moment later, she handed him the writing utensil and watched as he crossed out the amount, only to write another one above it.  In the margin, Evan scrawled a few more changes, though the rest of the release was a standard one and fairly straightforward.  After he'd finished looking it over and changing it to suit him, he handed the pen back to Madison.  "Initial those changes, will you?" he asked her.

Madison did as he asked, then took the release and sashayed over to Mike and Zaundra.

Evan sighed, propping his head on his hand as he gazed down at Valerie—already sleeping beside him.  Golden blonde hair spilling around her in wanton disarray, her cheeks tinged with just the barest hint of pink as her long, thick lashes spilled over her cheeks . . . Evan smoothed her hair before pulling her closer, ignoring the voice in the back of his head that was telling him over and over that he really ought to get the hell away from her before it was too late . . .


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A/N:
'Figured You Out' first appeared on Nickelback's 2003 release, The Long Road.  Song written by and copyrighted to Nickelback.
The Pirates of Penzance is an opera written by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
I'm so fucking dead
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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 35
Chapter 37
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