InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Normalcy ( Chapter 49 )

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


-OoOo OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Well, I'm not paralyzed but I
Seem to be struck by you
I want to make you move because you're standing still
If your body matches what your eyes can do
You'll probably move right through
Me on my way to you …'

-'Paralyzer' by Finger Eleven.

-Evan-


The sun was shining in the windows when Evan opened his eyes.  It was a lot later than he normally got up—not surprising since he hadn't really slept well in days, but still rather disconcerting.  Valerie was sleeping, snuggled against his side, unconsciously seeking the warmth that he afforded her, and he sighed. Grayish blue skies—the haze of the city a pervasive thing—seemed brighter than they had been in awhile.

He hadn't dreamt about Dieter's death.

Just what did that mean?  Had the little sojourn to the Statue of Liberty helped to ease the grim thoughts that he hadn't been able to shake?  Maybe . . . The sense of guilt was still there, and it hurt—damn, did it hurt . . . and yet . . .

Yet . . .

Sparing a moment to indulge himself in staring at the sleeping attorney, he almost smiled.  Did she have any idea just how much her support meant to him?  No, he didn't figure that she did.

'Friends . . .' he thought with a wry smile.

'That'll do . . . for now,' his youkai voice spoke up.  'Stop idling, moron.  You've got more important things to worry about.'

'I do?  Like what?'

His youkai chuckled.  'Like what she's gonna do to you if you don't have a fresh, hot cup of joe waiting for her when she wakes up.'

And that was entirely true, too.  Sparing a moment to savor the comforting warmth of her body against his, he let out a deep breath and carefully crawled out of the bed, taking great pains to make sure that he didn't let any of the cooler air under the blankets.

It was true, however.  If there was one thing that he knew about Valerie Denning, it was that the woman simply could not function in the morning without her coffee, and while she did seem to prefer gourmet, she'd settle for whatever was on hand—including Mike's coffee, which, in Evan's considered opinion, was even grosser than his cousin, Morio's killer brew.  'Hell that . . . You can practically stand a spoon up in Mike's coffee, and woe betide you if you unwittingly end up with the last cup of that crud . . .'

'Unless you like the taste of coffee grounds.'

'That's right . . . Which I don't.'

Trotting through the house to the kitchen, he considered meditating briefly before he discarded that notion.  The other thing he'd discovered about Valerie?  If she woke up cold, she'd pout for hours—sometimes the entire day.

He smiled just a little, shaking his head as he filled two mugs with fresh coffee.  He hadn't set the machine the night before.  He hadn't thought of it.  Bone must've started it when he'd brought in the newspaper earlier . . .

So he grabbed the mugs and headed back upstairs, pausing long enough to grab the New York Times off the table where Bone always left it.

Everything still felt unfinished.

How could it feel that way when he could also feel the stirrings of life welling inside him again?  Was this the thing that humans felt, that they seemed to innately understand; that thing that youkai had a harder time coming to terms with?

But he knew that Valerie couldn't reason it, either.  She'd tried to.  He'd seen her struggle and knew that she'd wanted to say something that could help him to come to grips, and yet she hadn't.  Maybe he could get that.  Unwilling to say anything that sounded crass or condescending, cliché or trite . . .

Too bad he could mull it over in his head a hundred or a thousand times and never be able to make sense of it.  Dieter's death . . .

'Why . . .?'

Valerie's soft groan drifted to him, and Evan hurried his gait.  If he didn't get moving, she'd be ten kinds of irked when he got there, wouldn't she?  No coffee and waking up cold . . . What a terrible combination . . .

Setting the cups on the table, he managed to slip back into the bed without disturbing her though she did roll to the side, curling against him as she gravitated toward the warmth he offered.  Considering that she'd probably wake up with more than a little pounding from Maxwell's silver hammer going on in her head because of her overindulgence, he figured he was probably better off, letting her sleep awhile longer, so after one last, long moment of staring at her, he reached for the newspaper and unfolded it.

True enough, he did have a media reader around here somewhere.  Still, he tended to prefer the old fashioned habit of reading an actual paper.  There was something comforting in the smell of the paper and ink, wasn't there?  It made it easier to linger over what he was reading, not that it took him long, anyway.  He supposed it had something to do with the idea of it.

The headline on the front of the city section stopped him, and he blinked as he stared at the accompanying picture.  'Hmm . . . shi-i-i-it . . .'

His youkai chuckled.  'No shit . . .'

'No fuck, no shit,' he retorted, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from chuckling.

Valerie let out a soft sigh and smothered a yawn with the back of her hand.

"Morning, V," he drawled, letting the paper fold on his lap as he reached for his cup of coffee.  He hadn't bothered to take the time to add sugar or creamer to his—something that he normally did, but since he'd been unwilling to chance Valerie waking up alone, he'd foregone it this once.  Draining the mug in a series of quick gulps, he set it aside once more and grasped the other one.

"Mmm . . . I smell coffee," she murmured, struggling to open her eyes, pushing herself up on her elbow.  The movement allowed a waft of cooler air under the blankets, and she shivered.  "Gimme."

He gave her a mug and leaned down to kiss her forehead.  She ignored the gesture, opting instead to concentrate on the coffee in her hands.  "You made front page of the city section," he commented as he shook out the paper with one hand and slipped an arm around her to pull her closer to his side with the other.

"That's nice," she mumbled, only paying half-attention to him as she savored the warm drink.  "This is really good coffee."

"I have to admit, I'm pretty impressed," he allowed.  "It takes some doing, landing on the front page."

She snorted then blinked, leaning away to cast him a suspect eye.  "What's that?"

He shrugged and handed her the paper.  "Front page," he repeated.

She scanned the page, her expression thoroughly confused.  It only took a minute for her to figure out what she was looking out, however, and her sharp gasp—actually, more of a wheeze of breath—didn't particularly surprise him, either.  "Oh, my God!" she groaned, letting go of the paper and covering her face with her hands.  "My panties!"

He chuckled as she stared between her fingers in absolute horror at the tiny white slip of fabric that had gotten caught on Lady Liberty's tablet and was dangling precariously in the breeze in the photograph.  The article had stated that they weren't quite sure what it was.  'If they only knew . . .'

"Oh, my God," she repeated.

"Relax, V.  I doubt they'll try going up there just to see what that is.  Probably just some photographer with too much time on his hands, you know?"

She didn't seem very comforted by his words.  "Oh, my God . . ."

"'Course, if they did, they could probably run some diagnostic tests to find out whose panties they are," he couldn't help adding.

Her abject horror intensified, tenfold.  "I hate you!" she gasped.

"You only wish."

Her answer was a long-suffering sigh.

"Roka!" Bone called from somewhere downstairs.  "You up yet, you lazy little shit?"

Face contorting in a very pronounced scowl, Evan heaved a sigh and extricated himself from the warmth of the bed, taking the mug from Valerie and retrieving his own before heading for the door.  "You want a refill, V?" he asked over his shoulder without breaking his stride.

Valerie muttered something wholly unintelligible.  He figured that was her way of saying 'yes', and he shook his head as he loped down the stairs.  "Piss off, Bone," he said when he spotted the security guard, standing in the kitchen and helping himself to a mug of coffee.  "What the hell do you want?"

Bone didn't even bat an eyelash as he drained the coffee he'd just poured and reached for the carafe again.  "Zaundra stopped by a few minutes ago," he explained, his voice muffled slightly by the ceramic mug.  "Dropped that off."

Evan glanced at the hot pink, tamper-proof envelope lying carelessly atop a large, manila mailer packet on the counter.

"She said she ran into that little weasel-dick, Ramón, and he sent over the check, too."

Evan nodded as he reached for the hot pink envelope and slit it open with his claw.  "Talk about small consolations, huh?" he muttered under his breath, figuring that not having to go deal with the pouty executive could only be considered a boon.  It only took a minute for him to make sure that everything was in order, and he set that aside as he reached for the larger packet.  "Thanks."

Bone stepped over to the sink to rinse his mug and shrugged offhandedly.  "Don't mention it, Roka.  I'll be up at the guard house if you need anything."

"Sure . . ."

He knew what that was.  In the commotion of the last few days, he'd completely forgotten about the pictures, hadn't he?  With good reason, sure . . . Still . . .

Zaundra hadn't sealed the packet, which was just as well.  Pulling out the thick stacks of proof prints, he smiled.  They were the completely raw images, undoctored by whatever special effects that would be added later, whatever touchups that they deemed necessary.  Valerie, of course, needed no such airbrushing.  Hell, no.  Why would she?  The woman was damn near perfect in every single way . . .

'Fu-u-u-u-uck . . . I'm gonna come . . .' he half whined, reaching down, idly rubbing his burgeoning boner.  Staring at a picture of the angel-faced V, eyes closed with a dreamy little half-smile on her face, her hair shining like spun gold . . . Evan's face couldn't be discerned.  He was entirely absorbed in staring down at her, wasn't he?

'Suck it up, Roka.  It ain't like—da-a-a-amn, she's hella hot . . .'

'But . . .'

'Mental masturbation, that's all it is.'

He just sighed and flipped to the next image.

"You . . . You deviant," Valerie grumped as she padded into the room, still very bare-footed, still wearing the now-very-rumpled black dress she'd worn to the memorial the day before.  "'According to the coroner, two bodies ended up with the wrong toe tags: the body of Mel Clark was mistagged in a bizarre mix up with that of the body of Christy Heilbrand.  Luckily, the mistake was discovered at the funeral home and rectified before any lasting damage could be incurred.  The police are looking into the incident.'" Slapping the newspaper onto the table, she shook her head and glowered at him, crossing her arms over her chest.  "Evan!  Don't you dare smile about this!"

"I'm . . . not," he choked out.

Those fantastic eyes of hers narrowed dangerously.  "I thought you said Dieter put them back in the right places!"

"He, uh . . . He said he did . . ."

"But he obviously didn't . . . Oh, God . . . What if they find out that I was with you?  I'll never be able to practice law again . . ."

He snorted but somehow managed to keep a straight face.  "See?  It's a good thing he's already dead, huh?"

She shot him a look that rather blatantly told him that she didn't think he was quite sane.  "What?  Why would that ever be a good thing?"

"Well, you can't kill him now," Evan drawled.

Valerie slowly shook her head.  "God, you're warped."  He laughed.  She snorted.  "What are you looking at?" she demanded suspiciously.

"Porn," he quipped, flipping to the next picture.

She rolled her eyes.  "You would, you twisted little monkey.  What are you really looking at?"

"Told you, baby, I'm looking at porn."

She reached over and snatched the stack of pictures out of his hand.  An expression of confusion seemed to melt away as those brilliant eyes of hers widened slowly, methodically as a sharp intake of breath fairly whistled into her lungs.  Mouth opening and closing a few times like she couldn't quite form coherent words, she jerked her head 'no' a couple of times as color blossomed in her cheeks, as her nostrils flared once, twice.  "Oh, my God!" she squeaked, cheeks darkening to crimson as she struggled to make sense of the pictures in her hands.  "What the hell are these?"

Evan grimaced and pushed his index finger against his ear, rubbing furiously to alleviate the lingering ringing that echoed through his head.  "Damn, V.  Have a heart, will you?  'Sides . . . you look pretty hot, don't you think?"

She uttered a terse moan and leafed quickly through the pictures.  "Aww!  I'm the pink pirate!  You were supposed to be the pink pirate!"

"Yeah, but you made a lot sexier pirate than I would've."

She snorted and fairly collapsed back against the counter, groping blindly for the cup of coffee that he'd just set beside her.  Draining it in a couple gulps, she slammed the mug down and leveled a formidable glower at him.  "You did this!" she hissed, slapping her hand against the prints she was holding.  "Evan!"

He stifled a sigh, distinctly recalling the conversation that he'd had with Mike at the time . . .

"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—"

"Fuck that, Mikey.  I'm more concerned with my body and my balls becoming passing acquaintances."

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

"Keh!"

And in his mind, he could see his balls, idly rolling away . . .

Crossing his legs as he leaned against the counter and hoped that Valerie didn't notice his obvious nerves, Evan shrugged.  "Now, V, we're gonna use a shot where your face can't really be seen and all that, and you did sign the release."

She snorted.  "As if, Roka!  There's no way in hell I'd ever do something as stupid as that!  And just what makes you think that I won't be recognized, anyway?  Are you out of your gourd?"  Leafing through a couple more images, Valerie heaved what could only be described as a half-groan while Evan dug a copy of the release out of the hot-pink envelope and glanced it over.  "A release?  When pigs fly!  I'm telling you right now that I never, ever, ever would have—What the hell is this?" she demanded, yanking the blue-backed release form out of his grasp.  It only took her a moment to glance it over, most notably, her signature, such as it was, on the bottom line: one very large 'V' along with a distinctive swirl that sort of resembled a 'D'—if  you turned it to the side and squinted a little, that was . . . "Oh, God, I did," she moaned.

"I had nothing to do with it, V," he added softly and shook his head.  "In fact, I told them that you'd be pissed . . . I even tried to tear it up."

She shot him a very dubious glance.  "Somehow, I just don't buy that," she muttered.

"It's your fault that I didn't," he replied.

"How do you figure?"

He couldn't help the little smile that surfaced at her surly tone.  "Because you said that the bed was cold," he explained patiently.

Her answer was a loud, long sigh.  "You can stop it, right?  Do a re-shoot or something?"

Evan clucked his tongue and leaned forward to rub her arm.  "Oh, come on, it's not that bad."

"Speak for yourself, Roka," she growled.  "I'm an attorney!  Attorneys don't go around, posing for album covers with demented rock stars!  And I was exhausted!"  Her expression lightened just a little, though the glimmer in her eyes was a bit suspect.  "It was coercion—" Waving her hands suddenly, she shook her head.  "Okay, not coercion.  That's a pretty hard one to prove . . ." She snapped her fingers "Attrition!  That would stick!  That release would never stand up in a court of law!  Any judge would agree that, given my mental state at the time, I couldn't possibly be held responsible for signing any kind of legal and binding agreement, no matter what that—" Cutting herself off abruptly, her gaze widened as she gaped at the check that he casually stuck in front of the pile of pictures in her hand.  She blinked once, twice, three times.  "That . . . is a lot of zeros," she murmured, the color in her cheeks brightening considerably.  "Evan?"

He wisely held in his amusement at the complete and utter bemusement on her features.  "Yes?"

She held up her free hand, crooked her fingers to bring him in closer.  "How many zeroes is that?" she asked, poking her index finger at the check.

Evan's lips curled in an entirely amused sort of way.  "Five, V—not counting the two after the decimal point."

"Five," she repeated without taking her eyes off the check.  "I see . . . and that there?  Is that a three, Evan?"

He leaned over her shoulder and peered down.  "It seems like it," he allowed.

She nodded slowly.   "So . . . this check is made out to me for three hundred thousand dollars . . .?"

"Sounds about right," he said amiably.  "It wasn't as much as they'd have paid a model or something—someone like, say, Jillian Jamison . . ."

"Jillian Jamison, yeah," Valerie repeated without actually paying much attention to what Evan was saying.  "Do you have any idea what I can do with this much money?"

Her tone was rather breathless, and Evan's grin widened.  "Buy about three hundred thousand of those?" he deadpanned, jabbing a finger at her entirely laughable engagement ring.  "Oh, wait . . . more like a million two hundred thousand of those, assuming that one came out of a quarter machine . . ."

"Go to hell, Roka," she said in a rather perfunctory sort of way.

"Do what you want with it, baby," he said with a simple shrug as he headed over to pull down a frying pan for eggs.  "Just don't give it to Edwin."

"Marvin," she corrected.  She finally looked up from the check.  To his amusement, she folded the check in half and stuffed it down her dress.  "And just for that, I think I might."

"You can't," he replied.

"Of course I could," she remarked irritably.  "It's my money—blood money, you could say."

"Did you read the release?" he countered mildly.

Valerie narrowed her eyes.  "No . . . why . . .?"

Evan chuckled.  "Score one for Roka," he muttered.

"What's that?"

He shook his head as he grabbed a bowl of eggs off the counter.  "Nothing . . . it's just that there's an anti-Orville clause in there.  You can't give that money to him, or you'll have to pay me back."

Her mouth dropped open.  Evan didn't need to look to know damn well that she was plotting about a million painful demises for him.  "There is not," she gritted out.

"Black and white, V," he tossed over his shoulder.  "You give Wilber any of that money, and you'll be in breach of contract . . . and you'll forfeit any royalties that you're due in perpetuity."

She snorted and snatched the notarized copy of the release off the counter where she'd tossed it.  "You wrote that in there!" she blasted.

Evan shrugged.  "Yeah, I did.  Little fucker isn't getting your money, V, and I don't give a shit if you like it or not."

"You can't hold me to something like that—and what do you mean, 'royalties' . . .?"

He almost laughed.  He really hadn't expected her to be so preoccupied by the mention of money . . . "You know, royalties . . . That check is your base payment, but you'll get royalties for every unit that sells bearing your likeness.  If they want to use another image for, say, a poster or tour shirt, you'll get another payment—probably about a hundred thousand—and royalties for that, too.  Par for course . . ."

She digested that in silence.  He had a strange feeling that she wasn't nearly as contrary to this idea as she was, to start with.

'Interesting . . .'

'You could offer her money to sleep with you,' his youkai suggested.

He considered that for a moment then brushed it aside.  'Naw . . . I want her to fuck me because she wants to fuck me, not because I'm paying her to fuck me . . .'

'Yeah, I guess.'

"And you'll make sure that my face doesn't show?"

He grinned at the grudging tone.  "Absolutely," he said.

She didn't look like she believed him entirely.  She did look like she was listening, though.  Letting her gaze fall to the pictures again, Valerie heaved a long sigh.  "I . . . I like this one," she ventured at length.

Evan cracked open an egg and dropped it into the hot skillet.  "Let me see."

She wandered over beside him and held out the image for his perusal.  He smiled, too, knowing damn well that they'd never go for that one; not in a million years.  Lying with his cheek against hers, he looked entirely too . . . sweet . . .

"I like this one," he said, tugging one from the back and placing it on top of the stack.  He was grinning in the picture as he rested his face on her hip, one hand out of view under the hem of the God-awful pink blouse.

She smacked him with the stack of pictures and sloshed more coffee into her empty mug.  "You would," she muttered though not before he caught the tell-tale pink in her cheeks—and the little smile tugging at the corners of her lips.  "You would . . ."


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A/N:
'Paralyzer< /i>' by Finger Eleven appeared on their 2007 release, Them Vs You Vs Me.  Song written by and copyrighted to Carl Bell.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Royalties …?
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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 48
Chapter 50
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