InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ One Good Deed ( Chapter 42 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Forty-Two~~
~One Good Deed~


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'< i>It wasn't my intention to mislead you …
It never should have been this way
What can I say …?
It's true, I did extend the invitation
I never knew how long you'd stay …'

-'Toy Soldiers' by Martika.

-Valerie-


Stiflin g a yawn with the back of her hand, Valerie sat in the airport bar, nursing a glass of white wine.  Checking her watch, she wasn't surprised to find that only about ten minutes had passed since the last time she'd looked, which meant that she still had a good twenty minute wait before Marvin's plane was due to land.  According to the silently scrolling arrival and departure monitor located discreetly behind the bar, the flight was on time, and at least that was working in her favor.  The way her luck had been lately, she had half-expected it to be cancelled for one reason or another or delayed, at the very least.  Maybe, though, her fortune was on the upswing . . .

Then again, maybe not.  She hadn't been able to get back to sleep after she'd gotten home from rescuing Evan and Dieter from themselves.  Too incredulous that they'd actually done what they'd gotten arrested for, she'd only been able to shake her head and wonder how it was that the two had managed to live as long as they had and still be out of jail.  Never mind that Evan might well be headed that way, she supposed that she ought to give them some small amount of credit that they weren't already under lockdown at a maximum-security facility.

And worse, they were entirely too proud of their antics, weren't they?  Neither of them showed even the barest hint of contrition for their actions.  They thought it was one big joke.  Well, that wasn't entirely fair, she had to admit.  Evan thought that the whole thing was a joke, sure, but Dieter?  No, she had a feeling that Dieter just didn't quite think in the same way as most people tended to.  That wasn't a bad thing, maybe, but it did take some getting used to . . .

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie dug her cell phone out of her purse and dialed Evan's number before she could talk herself out of it.  She just wanted to make sure that he was behaving himself, especially after last night, and if he told her that he was bored today, there was a good chance she'd beat him . . .

The call was routed straight to voicemail, and Valerie slowly shook her head.  It wasn't entirely surprising, no.  She'd seen him shut off the device a few times while he was in the middle of interviews or recording sessions.  "Remember that you swore you'd behave yourself today," she reminded him via the voicemail.  It wasn't nearly as good as actually telling him, herself, but it would do.  After all, just how much trouble could he get into at a children's hospital, anyway?  With a grimace, she sipped the wine as she dropped her phone into her purse once more.  No, it was probably better not to ask that particular question, wasn't it?  Who would have really thought that the man could have gotten into trouble in a morgue, of all places . . .?

No doubt about it, she'd never disliked the words, "I'm bored," nearly as much as she did nowadays . . .

Okay, she really needed to stop thinking about Evan Zelig and his morbid escapades.  If she didn't, she'd end up ditching Marvin, just to make sure that the idiot-rock star wasn't out getting into more trouble somewhere, considering he was much, much too good at that, to start with . . .

"Hey, Val!  Woolgathering, were you?"

Valerie blinked and smiled as Marvin leaned down to brush a chaste kiss on her forehead.  "Hi," she demurred as he shoved his small suitcase under the table and slipped into the seat across from her.

"You look fabulous," he remarked with a warm smile.  "Then again, I guess you always look fantastic, don't you?"

Laughing softly, she shook her head.  "I don't know about always," she said with a shrug.  "I try, though."

Marvin chuckled, too, and raised a hand as he looked around to wave over a waitress.  "Sorry I can't stay longer," he told her, offering her a sheepish little grin.

Valerie waved it off as Marvin placed an order for a glass of wine for himself and another for Valerie.  "Are you kidding?" she countered as the waitress hurried away.  "You were asked to give a presentation at Duke University!  You can't miss that!"

Marvin's cheeks pinked slightly, a silent testimony of his own excitement.  "It is kind of a big deal, isn't it?" he allowed reluctantly.  He'd always hated to draw that kind of attention to himself, and it was one of those things that Valerie loved about him.  Very humble, he was, and while he loved to talk about his research to anyone who would listen, he wasn't very good at tooting his own horn, either.  "It's an honor."

"Yes, it is," she said with a decided nod, "and you deserve it."

He sighed then uttered a terse, nervous laugh.  "Enough about that," he said suddenly.  "Tell me about that case you're working on.  Well, I know you can't tell me specifics, but you said you were spending a lot of time with him, right?  That Zel Roka?"

Ignoring the strange twinge that ignited in the pit of her stomach at the mere mention of the man's name, she smiled a little stiltedly and hurriedly brushed it aside.  "Oh, he's . . . you know, your typical rock star," she hedged, squelching the tiny whisper in the back of her mind that reminded her that there was nothing at all 'typical' about Evan Zelig . . .

Marvin chuckled, but Valerie could sense a measure of reluctance as he slowly shifted his gaze to meet hers.  "Val . . ." he began almost dubiously.

She had a feeling that she knew what was coming next.  Perversely, she decided to let Marvin get around to it on his own as the waitress slipped the glasses of wine onto the table and was gone without a word.

Marvin cleared his throat and shrugged.  "He's not dangerous or anything, is he?" he finally asked.

Valerie couldn't help the incredulous little laugh that slipped out of her.  For some reason, the idea that Evan was dangerous was just entirely beyond her ability to believe.  "Of course not," she assured him.

Marvin didn't look entirely convinced, but he did try to smile.  "Rock stars, you know?  Seems like they live on another planet or something."

"He's not as different as you'd think," Valerie went on, finishing off the wine and setting the empty glass aside.

Marvin's weak smile widened.  "I guess," he allowed, and this time, he sounded far more reassured.  "Xavier wouldn't ask you to spend that much time with someone who wasn't safe, right?"  He laughed.

"He really is a nice guy," she insisted.  "A little eccentric, maybe, but not too bad."

Marvin nodded, reaching across the table and patting Valerie's hand in the same rather awkward sort of way that she'd come to know from him: a gesture of affection that was always underlined by a slight nervousness that she supposed stemmed from what she knew was a certain level of shyness that he never had outgrown.  Having been a child in the system had added to that, certainly, but he hadn't ever been one of the popular kids.  He had friends, of course, but she also knew that she'd been his first real girlfriend, too . . .

"I just worry about you," he said in an apologetic tone complete with a little shrug and a slight pinking of his cheeks.

Shaking her head, Valerie's smile brightened.  "I know you do," she told him, "but you really don't need to."

"I've got reservations at L'Femme for dinner," he said suddenly, the eagerness back in his voice.  "You mentioned that you wanted to try it, right?"

"Really?  Wow," she exclaimed softly.  "Aren't they usually booked months in advance?"

"Well, see, I was talking to Rafe Gilman before I left Atlanta," he explained.  "He had reservations and said he couldn't use them, so he told me that if I wanted, we could use them."

She laughed.  "So it pays to network," she teased.

Marvin nodded.  "This time."  Sitting back, he sipped his wine and shot Valerie a pleased little smile.  "I've really missed you, Val," he said.

Valerie held up her glass in a silent salute.  "I've missed you, too."


-Evan-


"So is V still mad?"

Evan shook his head as Dieter slipped into the back seat of the shiny black Cadillac—Bone's baby.  "Nah . . ."

Dieter grinned.  Eyes bloodshot with slightly puffy pouches underneath, he looked like he hadn't gotten a wink of sleep in days—entirely likely since he'd said that he had been working on that sculpture before and it was safe to assume that he hadn't gotten any last night, either.  "Nice," he approved, slapping his hands against his thighs in a nervous sort of way as he craned his neck to stare out the car window as Bone merged into traffic.  "Figured she'd still be pissed as hell."

"Eh, V's cool," Evan remarked.

Bone flipped his cell phone closed and glanced into the rearview mirror.  "Mike says that it looks like the paparazzi haven't got a clue," he said, interrupting Evan and Dieter's conversation.  "Just drove by and said that there's no sign of vultures."

"Good," Evan allowed.  The last thing he wanted was a fucking media circus, after all.  One time just after the release of his second album, they'd found him out when he had made an impromptu appearance at a different local children's hospital much like this one, and after seeing what had happened that time, he'd sworn that it would never, ever happen again.  "Make sure that they don't find out."

Bone nodded and grinned.  "No sweat, Z.  Leave it to the ol' Bone."

"Mike's driving the van, right?" Dieter piped up.

Evan nodded.  "Yeah.  He's got the guitars."

Dieter considered that.  "Wicked . . . Anyway, the kids'll be cool," he went on happily.  "Maybe I shoulda brought Daniel along . . ."

"Call Miss and have her bring him up," Evan suggested.  "We'll probably be there awhile, right?"

Dieter shrugged and shook his head.  "Nah.  She took him to go visit a friend in White Plains.  They won't be back till late."

"Oh?  You didn't want to go with her?"

Dieter rolled his eyes but grinned.  "Fuck!  Carmen's a bitch—and she's always staring at Miss' tits.  I swear she's a fucking dyke . . ."

Evan laughed since he'd heard that particular complaint enough times.  Carmen was one of the first friends Miss had made in the city, and when she'd moved to White Plains to open a dance studio, Dieter had hoped that it meant that he wouldn't have to deal with her again.  Unfortunately, though, Carmen and Miss had remained friends, and it wasn't uncommon for Miss to drive out there to see her from time to time, either.  Carmen despised Dieter, or so Dieter said.  Evan figured it wasn't hard to believe, given Dieter and Miss' history.  Volatile was a good way to describe it, and yes, most of the trouble had stemmed from Dieter's drug addictions.  In a very real sense, she was the one who had goaded Miss into divorcing Dieter while he was in prison for drug possession.  That stint away from Miss, who had found out that she was pregnant shortly after he'd been sentenced, had nearly killed Dieter.  Youkai aside, Dieter's other problem was the extreme depression that he suffered—a condition that had been exacerbated by the drugs and later, by the separation from Miss.  Evan knew damn well that another stint in the big house probably would kill Dieter, not because of the forced time away from Miss, though that would also be hard on him, but because, without his usual creative outlets, Dieter had a destructive habit of convincing himself of the absolutely worst scenarios.  He would think of things, then he would convince himself that it was all true.  Evan had seen him do it time and again over the years.  Dieter might well be classified as manic-depressive—if he'd ever agree to go in and get diagnosed.  In any case, it was a good thing that Dieter was clean now.  He'd been able to reconcile with Miss, become a damn good father to Daniel, and get his life back on track.  Even still, Carmen never failed to diss him whenever she could, and Evan didn't doubt that Dieter wasn't far off when he claimed that Carmen was trying to brainwash Miss into leaving him, too.

"Hey, Roka," Dieter said at length.  His knee was bobbing up and down at lightning speed.  Nervous about something . . .?

"Yeah?"

Dieter licked his lips, struggling for an affectation of calm and failing miserably.  "I-I-I was thinking . . ."

Suspicion crept up Evan's spine, and he sighed, shaking his head, as though to forestall whatever Dieter was trying to say.  "Let it go, Deet.  We're gonna hang out with kids, right?"

Dieter wasn't dissuaded.  "I promised Miss that I wouldn't lie to her no more when we got back together, you know?  And keeping stuff from her . . . that's the same as lying, innit?"

"Dieter . . . it's not always lying," Evan said quietly.  "Sometimes . . . sometimes the truth is worse than the lie, you know?"

Dieter didn't look convinced.

"Let it go, man," Evan went on.  "It's ancient history."

The artist didn't look like he wanted to let it go, either.  Evan reached over and gave him a playful shove.  "Hey, fucker!" Dieter growled despite the grin that surfaced on his features.  He returned the shove, and Evan chuckled and did it again.  "Ah!" Dieter hissed, patting the pockets of his black leather jacket—he always insisted on wearing it, no matter what the temperature was outside.  "Oh, shit," he muttered, pulling out the ring box.  It was the one that they'd just gotten yesterday—the one with the most garish, grossly oversized lump of diamond that they'd been able to find.  "I knew there was something I forgot . . ."

Evan rolled his eyes.  "All that, and you forgot to give the damn thing to her?"

Dieter shrugged.  "I meant to," he argued.  "Hell, I was so fucking horny by the time I got home that I didn't think of it . . ."

Evan snorted.  "You know, right?  Being turned on by the damn morgue is more than a little disturbing."

Blinking absently, Dieter shook his head.  "Why?  Miss isn't a zombie or anything . . ."

Evan sighed and let it drop.  He wasn't likely to ever understand exactly how Dieter's mind worked, and somehow, he wasn't entirely sure that he'd want to, anyway . . .


-Valerie-


Valerie flicked on the lamp and dropped her purse onto the table with a quiet sigh as she kicked off her shoes and pressed the blinking button on the answering machine.

"Hi, Valerie.  This is Tanya at the office.  Mr. Xavier asked me to remind you that the quarterly expense reports are due this week—"

Deleted.

"I'm calling on behalf of the fraternal order of police—"

Deleted.

"Hello.  I'm Henry, and I wondered if you'd be interested in a year-long subscription to the New York Times—"

Deleted.

She shook her head and rubbed the back of her neck.  None of the calls were worth returning, and even so, it had been a really long day—a very nice day, but long, nonetheless.

Pushing herself away from the table, she glanced at the clock on the wall as she tilted her head and carefully removed the dangling pearl earring.  Almost eleven p.m., and she had yet to hear back from Evan . . .

She wasn't sure what to make of that.  She'd like to think that he'd found something constructive to do, but she wasn't entirely certain that he was capable of that.

She supposed that she ought to give him a call, but first things first: she needed to change.

Heading through her apartment and down the short hallway to her bedroom, Valerie smiled to herself as she removed the other earring and weighed them in her hand.  Dinner at the L'Femme had been absolutely fantastic, and Marvin hadn't had one phone call, which was nice.  It wasn't that she minded them, but she had to admit that the lack of distraction for once was very pleasant.  They'd danced a few times, talked a lot, and she'd decided as she'd said goodbye to him at the airport that it had been exactly what she'd needed.  The chaos that always surrounded Evan seemed so very far away, and she'd remembered just how nice it was: the quiet companionship she shared with Marvin—something that she knew a man like Evan Zelig would never understand.

Marvin was steady and sure.  Those things that Madison always called boring, Valerie thought of as secure.  Okay, so he wasn't flashy or anything like that, but he didn't have to be.  He offered her those intangible things that she so desperately needed, and that was important.

After carefully hanging up the simple black dress, Valerie reached for a pair of comfy red and blue plaid flannel pants and an oversized black sweatshirt.  Evan was just too spontaneous for her, too quick to do whatever happened to occur to him.  He didn't stop to think things through—she'd seen that often enough during the time she'd spent with him.  Fun, yes—lots of fun, even when she didn't want to admit it, and yes, he was damn good at making her forget that she was supposed to be keeping him in line, but those things that she appreciated about him were the very things that convinced her that any kind of romantic relationship with him would never, ever work.  The bottom line was that they were just too different, and even if he would change—she had serious doubts that he would, even if she asked him to—she didn't have the right to ask that of him.

Tugging the bobby pins out of her hair and dropping them onto the bureau beside the doorway, she shook her head to loosen the locks of brown hair she'd piled up before going out for dinner as a thoughtful frown marred her features.  No, if anything, Evan was fixated on her; nothing more to it than that.  She fascinated him because she refused to give him what he wanted, and she supposed that it was the novelty of her insistence that was the real attraction for him.  If she were stupid enough to give in—if she let herself get caught up in his curious brand of insanity . . .

"It was just a blowjob, V . . ."

"Is that really what you think, Evan?  Just a blowjob?  Just a good fuck?  It's all relative in your head, isn't it?  Is that what you mean?"

"No . . . V . . . what I meant was that something like that?  It's not like I gave two shits about her, right?  And she didn't give two shits about me, either.  She thought I was hot, and she wanted a piece of me.  That's it.  I can't be held responsible for everyone's consciences.  If I'd been with someone—seriously with someone—I would've stopped her.  Simple."

Valerie frowned as those words echoed in her head.  'Simple . . .'

Was it?  Was it really so simple?  And just why had he looked so . . . so sad . . .?

'Besides,' she told herself sternly as she stalked out of the bedroom and toward the living room again, 'I'm his attorney—attorney.  I'm not some sort of . . . of groupie or anything . . .'

Still, she grabbed the telephone and dialed his number—he was the first one on her speed dial—and frowned when the call was routed straight to his voicemail.  Evan always answered her calls, damn it . . .

'Unless he's out breaking one of your ground rules,' a somewhat nasty voice in the back of her mind whispered.  'Care to guess which rule I think he's ignoring . . .?'

Valerie snorted and dropped the phone onto the table with a shake of her head.  As easy as it could be to buy into that thought, she knew well enough that despite all his faults, he really did try to keep his word.  Besides that, she knew that Madison—the only one he theoretically could sleep with—was currently in Houston for the grand opening of a new spa.

Still, the smallest doubt lingered . . .

Rubbing her forehead, Valerie tried to brush that thought aside, along with the twinge of . . . something . . . that roiled around her belly.  Knowing Evan, something had just distracted him.  Maybe he'd decided that he needed to break into something else—an animal shelter or something else equally strange—and she sighed.  'I'm so not bailing him out of jail tonight,' she vowed.

Turning on her heel, she shuffled off toward the kitchen, touching the panel to turn on the television as she passed.  Maybe she'd find a movie or something—anything to distract herself from thinking about Evan any more tonight . . .

She poured herself a glass of wine.  She probably shouldn't have it since she'd already had a bit to drink earlier in the day and at dinner, but she shook her head.  It wasn't like she was planning on going anywhere, and for reasons she didn't particularly want to delve into, she felt like she needed it.

'Maybe I should try to call him again . . .'

Biting her lip, Valerie deliberately brushed aside that thought as she headed back into the living room, glass of wine in hand.  No, best she redirect her mind, otherwise, she was going to drive herself crazy . . .

Glancing at the television, she stopped short.  The volume on the television wasn't turned up enough for her to hear it, but she didn't have to.  In one instant, she felt her heart lurch, lodging in her throat and seeming to stop as her eyes flared wide, all color leeching from her skin in a dizzying moment.  The glass in her hand fell to the floor, shattering upon impact, spraying red wine all over like rain.

Like blood.


~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~ =~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N:
'Toy Soldiers' by Martika first appeared on her 1988 release, Martika.  Song written by and copyrighted to Martika and Michael Jay.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final
Thought from Valerie:
Oh, my God …!
==========
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 41
Chapter 43
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