InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Tribute ( Chapter 48 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Forty-Eight~~
~Tribute~


-OoOo OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Bang a drum for tomorrow
Bang a drum for the past
Bang a drum for the heroes
That won't come back …'

-'Bang a Drum' by Jon Bon Jovi.

-Evan-


"So let me get this straight," Valerie said dubiously as she eyed the grand and looming edifice that was the Statue of Liberty.  "We have to go up there to do this ritual?  It's not even open at this time of night . . ."

Evan glanced at her but didn't stop moving.  "Don't worry about it, V.  I've got it all handled."

He could feel her gaze boring into his skull.  "I'm not sure I like the sound of that," she muttered though her gait didn't falter.  "Handle it, how?  Are you drunk, Zel Roka?  You had a lot of beer . . ."

Evan heaved a sigh, mostly because he'd rather welcome some sort of buzz at the moment.  Unfortunately, he was stone-assed sober . . . "I'm fine," he told her mildly.  "I don't get shitfaced off beer."

She snorted loudly and poked him in the shoulder.  "That's what I said!"

"At least we lost them," Madison piped up, rubbing her arms through the sleeves of the thin leather jacket she'd worn to the funeral earlier.

"Keh," he muttered, his gaze slipping to the side to peruse the area that he knew well enough was secured.  There had been a van that had followed the taxi he'd called to take them to the ferry where he'd ended up paying a hell of a lot of money to convince the ferryman to bring them over to Liberty Island, but they'd lost sight of it at Dawes-Maywin airstrip—a new and private facility that catered to wealthier clientele who owned private jets and retained pilots—when Evan had instructed the driver to stop in front for five minutes so that Madison could run inside the gift shop to buy a pack of gum.  By the time she'd come back out, security had forced the van to move on.  They'd driven past twice, obviously circling the facility in hopes of catching him again.  The taxi driver had been more than happy to wait until the third pass was complete before they'd driven away from the terminal.  The last thing he'd wanted or needed was to have the damned paparazzi following them all frigging night . . . 'Damned vultures . . .'

"Who's there?"

The three stopped as they approached the steps leading up to the main doors and waited.  Evan recognized the security guard.  "Hey, Stan.  How's it going?"

"Mr. Roka," the man greeted, lifting his flashlight and looking Valerie and Madison over.  "I heard about Mr. Reichardt.  Sorry about that."

Evan sighed then shrugged.  "Yeah.  Figured we'd, you know, come on out and say goodbye."

Stan nodded as though he understood the sentiment.  "Sure . . . I was just doing a security sweep."

Stepping away from the women, Evan pulled a wad of money out of his pocket and handed it to the guard.  "Think you could look the other way while we go up?" he ventured.

Stan gave Evan a long, hard look, but finally nodded.  "What the hell?" he muttered.  "Give him my regards, too."

"Sure thing," Evan said, gesturing for Valerie and Madison to follow as he led the way toward the Statue of Liberty . . .


-Valerie-


"It doesn't seem very daring," Valerie commented as she frowned and tapped her foot somewhat impatiently.  "Not for you, anyway."

"Not gutsy enough for you, V?" Evan teased.

She rolled her eyes.  "If you could do it, then I can, too—what, exactly, are we doing?"

"We're mooning New York City," Evan replied over his shoulder as casually as if he'd just said that the moon was full or that it was raining or snowing or something.

"M-Mooning?" Valerie repeated.  "And you're sure that the security guard guy isn't going to turn us in?"

Evan snorted.  "He never does."

"Never does," Valerie repeated.  "Good.  Good . . ."

Madison laughed and grabbed Valerie's hand, dragging her up a few more steps so that she could see the door that Evan was fiddling with.  The air lock released with a soft hiss and a quiet 'beep', and Evan pushed it open, holding his index fingers to his lips to hush them.  "Ladies first," he murmured.

Okay, so Valerie was pretty sure that this was a really bad idea.  Still, she followed Madison out onto the deck that circled around Lady Liberty's torch.  She vaguely recalled reading an article years ago about it—the torch, along with the actual statue itself hadn't been open to the public in years, not since terrorist attacks had taken down the World Trade Center in the city back in 2001 . . . The Statue had been closed for a long while then, a preemptive measure to forestall any further terrorist attacks, and when it had finally reopened, people were only allowed to venture as high as the top floor of the pedestal.

"Illegal, huh," she muttered under her breath as she slowly ventured closer to the railing that ran around the perimeter of the deck.  "Are you sure that you and Dieter did this?" she demanded, cautiously lifting her gaze to scan the horizon and feeling distinctly woozy in the process.  'Dear God, this is high . . .'

"Every year," Evan said, his voice quiet, subdued, "except this one . . ."

Turning around, Valerie stepped back over to him.  "Then this is a good way for you to say goodbye to him," she insisted.

Letting out a deep breath, Evan nodded though he didn't look entirely convinced.  "Y-Yeah . . ."

"All right, people," Madison interrupted with a clap of her hands.  Setting her overly large purse down on the deck, she shot a glance over the horizon, at the city glowing around them, and smiled sadly.  "Let's do it—for Dieter."

"You don't have to do it, V," Evan murmured, casting her an inscrutable look, eyes heavily hooded in shadows despite the glowing flood lights that illuminated the statue's torch.

"Of course I'm going to," she shot back haughtily, her chin lifting, her gaze snapping.  "I said I would, and I will."

He stared at her for a moment.  She could almost hear his voice in her head.  "Thank you, V . . ." That's what he was saying.  She smiled just a little then reached out to steady herself with one hand on his arm, tugging off her delicate lace thong panties off with the other—no small feat, given that she was wearing a pair of three inch heels . . .

"You wore white panties?" Madison quipped as she swung her own panties—black silk, from the looks of it—on her index finger.

"What's wrong with white panties?" Valerie demanded as she straightened up again.

"Nothing, nothing," Madison said with a wink.  "C'mon, Evan.  Drop 'em."

Evan laughed—Valerie wished that she could hear him make that sound the way he always had before—but he made quick work of unfastening the black leather belt and dress pants that he hadn't taken off after the memorial.  "All right," he said, holding up his pants with one hand as he strode toward the railing.  "For Dieter."

Valerie glanced at Madison who offered a curt nod before stepping over to Evan's side while Valerie stopped on the far end.

"One . . . two . . . three!" Evan counted off.

Valerie leaned over, tugging her skirt up over her rear end, hearing the voice in the back of her mind that berated her for doing something as base as mooning New York City.

"Kiss my ass, New Yuck!" Madison hollered.

"Can you see it, Dieter?  This is for you," Evan yelled.

Biting back the insane urge to giggle like a lunatic, Valerie couldn't help the little smile that surfaced anyway.

"Ah, where's that whiskey?" Madison said, tugging her skirt back into place and sauntering over to retrieve her purse.

Valerie stood up and straightened her dress, unable to believe that she'd actually done that.

"For Deet," Evan said, grasping the booze that Madison pulled from her purse and tossing aside the lid as he tilted the bottle to his lips.

Valerie gripped the railing and leaned over, unable to resist the urge to see just how far off the ground they really were.  "O-O-Oh," she breathed, her vision blurring for the briefest of moments as she stared down, down, down, down . . . "Oh, my . . ."

"V!" Evan hollered, grasping her around the waist and jerking her back against his chest.  "What are you doing?"

"Oh!" Valerie gasped, leaning away from Evan as she lost her grip on her panties.  "Oh, that's not good . . ."

"If you fell off here, you'd die," he pointed out.  She could tell from the tone of his voice that he was irritated.

"I wasn't going to fall, Roka," she enunciated carefully.  "I was just looking—and you made me drop my panties."

He blinked and stared at her.  "You . . . dropped your . . . panties . . ." he repeated.  She had a feeling that he was trying desperately not to laugh.

She snorted and pulled away from him before reaching for the bottle in his hand.  "Of course I didn't," she corrected.  "You did."

"Hmm . . . I don't think you can get them back, V," Madison pointed out as she leaned over the railing to look down into the darkness.

"Are you nuts, too?" Evan demanded as he grabbed Madison and pulled her back.

"Madison still has her underpants," Valerie said with a marked pout, her voice muffled by the bottle of Jack Daniels.

"Oh, I know," Madison piped up.  With a flick of her arm, the black silk panties went flying over the edge of the railing.  She dissolved into a fit of giggles.  Evan rolled his eyes and reached for the bottle of whiskey that Valerie rather deftly moved out of his reach.  "Now we're both sans panties!"

"I love you, Maddy," Valerie beamed.

Evan rolled his eyes and shook his head but smiled a little ruefully.  "Now you see?  This is exactly why chicks weren't allowed," he grumbled indelicately.

Valerie shook her head in obvious confusion.  "What did we do?" she asked.

Evan heaved a sigh, crossing his arms over his chest.  "Nothing, V.  Don't worry about it."

"We're not completely smashed yet," Madison said.  "The ritual isn't over until we are, right?"

"That's true," Evan allowed, holding out his hand for the bottle of booze.

Coughing slightly and making a face of distinct dislike, Valerie wiped her lips with the back of her hand and unleashed a rather loud belch, but this time, she let Evan take the bottle.

"Now, see?  That was very masculine," Madison teased.

"I think I'm going to throw up," Valerie whined, clutching her stomach.

Evan rolled his eyes again and drained a good portion of the bottle before handing it off to Madison.  "Only pussies throw up," he goaded, grasping Valerie's hand and dragging her over to sit down.

She shot him a pouting grimace and shook her head.  "I'll throw up on you," she warned.

"Do what you gotta do, V," he replied, grabbing the bottle and taking a healthy swig.

Madison sank down on Evan's other side and leaned forward long enough to carefully pull off her shoes.  "Pass that bottle, Zelig," she said, wiggling her fingers impatiently.  "We're not nearly drunk enough . . . yet . . ."


-Evan-


"Do you feel any better, Evan?"

Forcing a smile, he glanced down at Valerie and shrugged.  "A little," he hedged.

"You're lying," she slurred as the whiskey started to seep into her.

"I'm lying," he admitted with a nonchalant shrug.  Narrowing his gaze as he stared out over the sprawling cityscape, lit up like tiny Christmas lights, as far as the eye could see, he could have been a million miles away instead of sitting there beside her.  "I just can't help but think . . ." Shaking his head, as though he wouldn't have to face it if he didn't say it out loud, Evan heaved a sigh and made a face.  "Hell, what does it matter?"

"Do you really think it was your fault?" Valerie challenged quietly.  She was still too damn sober for his liking.

Evan scowled at her.  "Yes.  No . . . maybe."

"Don't be stupid, Evan," Madison said, turning her face to stare at him.  She'd stretched out on the deck, spent the last few minutes with her gaze intent on the paltry show of stars high overhead, dulled as they were by the incessant glow of the city.  "You know as well as I do that Dieter would be pissed as hell if he heard you right now.  You know he would be."

"It's not that simple, Maddy," he shot back.  "He should have gotten himself out of the way, not worried about shoving me.  He should've made damn sure that he got to home after all that, but he didn't, did he?"

"Oh, grow up!  Dieter pushed you out of the way because you were his friend, and if he hadn't?  Well, then I guess I'd be up here with him, saying goodbye to you, wouldn't I?  Maybe I'd have asked your mom to come along . . . or your brother and sisters . . . Maybe I'd have brought the whole damn world up here . . . And how, I ask you, would that be any different?  Sometimes, you're the biggest damn baby in the world."

"Madison!" Valerie hissed reproachfully, casting Evan a worried glance.

Evan glowered at Madison for a moment before letting his chin drop, his eyes closing.  She . . . She was right, wasn't she?  As much as he hated to admit it—as much as he didn't want to believe it . . . Why was he so ready to believe that he was to blame for this when he knew—knew—that Dieter . . .

"If it had been you—if you had been the one to die . . .  then I'd have lost both of you, wouldn't I?  And where would that have left me . . .?" Madison whispered, ignoring Valerie's reprimand.

"Maddy, lay off him," Valerie said, slumping forward, catching herself on her hands, pushing herself up onto her knees to crawl toward Madison's prone form.  "He's got enough to deal with without you jumping down his throat."

Heaving a sigh, Evan shook his head, finally opening his eyes to stare at both of them.  "She's right, V."  He swallowed hard, letting his head fall back to thump against the wall.  "Dieter had . . . issues with depression . . ."

Valerie didn't look entirely convinced, but she rolled onto her rear and stuck her feet out in front of her.  "Still . . ."

"It's not your fault, Evan," Madison insisted.  "I want you to understand that."

And he did, didn't he?  Deep down, he knew that.  It didn't really help to alleviate the feelings of guilt that he just couldn't shake.  If he'd been paying better attention . . . If he had sensed the danger in the area . . . But who would have thought that some lunatic would come out with a gun and start shooting outside a children's hospital?

"Fucker!  Look at the water down there . . . Kinda looks like toxic ooze or something," Dieter said the first time they'd climbed up the statue to 'salute' the city.

Evan peered over the side of the railing and grinned.  "Hell, it sorta does," he agreed.  "Damn, this city's something else, isn't it?"

Dieter grinned, his eyes darting over the city that sprawled in every conceivable direction across the water.  "And it's ours, huh? Y'know . . . through rock n' roll.  Ours . . ."

"Ours," Evan whispered, a single tear spilling down his cheek as the memory faded away.


-Evan-


Loping down the steps into the living room in a pair of black hakama that he'd traded the dress pants for, Evan frowned and glanced around.  He could sense Valerie near, sure, but he couldn't see her.

A moment later, though, he found her, lying flat on her back underneath the baby grand piano.  "Uh . . . comfortable?" he drawled, hunkering down beside the instrument.

"I lost one of my earrings," she said, carefully enunciating each word.

"And you're going to find it while you're lying flat on your back?"

Staring up at the bottom of the piano, she shrugged.  "I'll find it in the morning," she intoned.  "I'm kind of comfortable here."

Evan chuckled and crawled in beside her.  "You know, V, I think that the bed would be a lot more comfortable than the hard wood floor," he pointed out.

She jabbed him lightly in the ribs.  "It probably would be—if I felt like getting up, which I don't."

"Oh, well, there is that," he agreed, knitting his fingers together atop his chest.

"Evan?"

"Hmm?"

She let out a soft breath, idly twisting her feet in then out then in again.  "I'm sorry about Dieter.  I . . . I wish I could say something that would help you . . ."

Evan made a face and crawled out from under the piano.  "You did help me," he told her.

"Not really," she replied sadly.  "I wanted to . . ."

Evan snorted, grasping her by the ankles and tugging her clear of the instrument.  "Come on, V.  You don't want to sleep under there."

"Ugh, you could have given me floor burn, doing that," she complained.  "You're not looking up my dress, are you?"

He nearly smiled at her suspicious question.  "No, I'm not," he lied since he could see up her skirt a little bit—too bad that there were some really thick shadows down there, damn it . . .

She whined and complained but let him pull her to her feet, and when he scooped her up, cradling her against his chest, she didn't fight him, wrapping her arms around his neck instead.  With a soft sigh, she leaned against his shoulder, perfectly content to be right where she was, and he wondered absently if she knew just what she was doing.

Where had the understated sense of calm come from?  For days, he'd felt as though he were going to explode at any given moment, as though he were coming apart at the seams, and while it could well have been the liquor he'd slugged back all evening, he didn't think that was it, either.

Thinking about Dieter . . . It hurt.  Evan had a feeling that it always would, and yet . . .

"Penny for your thoughts, Evan," Valerie said softly.

He'd almost thought that she'd fallen asleep and wouldn't have been surprised if she had.  She'd had enough to drink . . . "Don't know that it's worth that much," he admitted.

"Of course it is," she insisted.  "You're thinking about Dieter."

He sighed as he let her down on the bed and reached for the blankets to pull up over her.  "Actually," he began, "I was thinking about Miss . . . and Daniel."

"Sometimes people are stronger than you think," she murmured without opening her eyes as she snuggled deeper under the covers.

"Is that right?"

"Mm," she said.

He stretched out beside her, staring at nothing in particular, a thoughtful scowl on his face.  "What if she's not?" he challenged quietly.  Even if Dieter hadn't marked her, she was still his mate, wasn't she?  Human or not . . . what kind of damage could be done with only a half-finished mating . . .? Could that, alone, save her?  Or would it just prolong what would normally be inevitable . . .? "What if Miss isn't really that strong at all?"

She yawned and rolled over onto her side, propping her cheek on her elbow so that she could gaze thoughtfully at him, her eyes oddly clear, all things considered.  "Where's your faith, Evan?" she challenged.  "You have some, right?"

"Maybe," he muttered then shook his head.  "Even then, Daniel's just a pup . . ."

A strange little smile surfaced on her face, a bittersweet expression that looked somehow pained.  "You might be surprised at how strong kids can be," she said, a strangely haunted sort of light lingering in the depths of her eyes.  "Sometimes they're strong even when they don't know they are."

Something about her eyes . . . Evan reached out, touched her cheek, fingertips lingering on her delicate skin.  "Were you one of those kids?" he asked.

She looked startled for a moment, as though she hadn't realized she'd admitted as much, and swallowed hard.  "I guess I was," she said at length.

"You lost your parents?"

For a minute, he didn't think she was going to answer.  A thousand little hints of emotion played out over the canvas of her face—a myriad of unspoken fears, a pain so deep that it still had the power to reach out, to touch her, even if she thought that it didn't.  Suddenly, she lay down, closing her eyes and burrowing deep under the blankets, as though she were trying to escape the thoughts that troubled her.

Seconds ticked away—the moving hands on the clock the only sound in the room, louder even than their breathing, and he sighed.  The last thing—the very last thing—that he'd meant to do was to dredge up bad memories in her, and for that, he was sorry . . .

But then she spoke, her voice little more than a whisper.  "I didn't lose my parents," she said.  "They . . . They lost me."


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A/N:
'Bang a Drum' by Jon Bon Jovi first appeared on his 1990 release, Blaze of Glory.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jon Bon Jovi.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Goodbye …?
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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 47
Chapter 49
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