InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Insomnia ( Chapter 50 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Fifty~~
~Insomnia~


-OoOoOoOoO oOoOoOoOoO-

'Well, I'm hot blooded; check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three
Come on, baby, do you do more than dance?
I'm hot blooded; I'm hot blooded …'

-'Hot Blooded' by Foreigner.

-Valerie-


Clutc hing the mug of tea in her hands, Valerie padded through the living room to the small desk situated near the windows in her apartment.  Hazy sunshine flooded through the windows, bathing the room in the warmth of its light, and she smiled vaguely to herself as she set the mug aside and sat down.

Pulling out the keyboard shelf, she quickly typed in the address of her bank and logged into the account she'd created yesterday to deposit the three hundred thousand dollar check that Evan had given her.

She frowned, pushing aside the guilt that assailed her.

She hadn't deposited it into her account—into her and Marvin's joint account.

It wasn't that she was ashamed of posing with Evan for that cover, no, and she really didn't think that Evan would make her pay back the money if she had put it into her joint account, but . . .

But there was something else she wanted to do—needed to do; something that Marvin would definitely understand if she told him, but . . .

Letting out a deep breath, she waited as the page loaded then smiled happily when she saw that the check from Wicked Soundsations really had cleared and was now parked in a nice account that would draw decent interest over time.  

Of course he'd understand.  Marvin was a good man.  She'd known that for years.  If she told him, though, then she'd have to tell him a hell of a lot more than she wanted to, would have to explain things that she wasn't entirely certain she could even understand, let alone explain—to rip open old wounds that she had fought for so long to forget.

Closing the browser window with a click of the mouse, she sighed and rubbed her eyes.

Evan was doing so much better yesterday, or so she'd thought.  He had been, up to a point, anyway.  When Miss had showed up yesterday afternoon to ask if she could borrow his house in Maine for awhile, it had brought everything right back.  The change in Evan had been startling, especially when the man had sat down with Daniel, who still just didn't quite understand.

"I thought that maybe, if we could just get out of here for a bit," Miss said as she watched Daniel wandering around the base of the statue in the living room.  Quiet—unnaturally so for a child his age—the boy hadn't said a word since they'd arrived at the mansion Evan called home.  "Maybe it'd be better for Daniel, too."

Evan nodded and stepped over to his desk, rummaging through a drawer until he found a key ring with two shiny silver keys dangling from the nondescript ring.  "Sure," he said, pressing them into Miss' hand.  "Stay as long as you need to."

Miss sighed, fiddling with the ring as she turned her gaze toward the glass doors.  "It just . . . doesn't seem real, you know?  I hear things in the loft sometimes . . . like whispers, and I think . . ." Shaking her head suddenly, as though she thought that she was starting to sound a little insane, she uttered a weak laugh and shrugged.  "Those damned reporters were following me this morning when I walked Daniel to preschool.  I just want them to leave us alone."

Evan's jaw ticked in silent testament of his irritation.  "Yeah, well, they don't know jack shit," he muttered.

She let out a deep breath and took the mug of tea that Valerie offered her.  "Thank you . . ."

Valerie nodded as she handed Evan a cup, too, before slipping back off toward the kitchen to grab a cup for herself.

"I know Dieter's family's there, and they offered to let us stay, but . . ." Miss sipped the tea.  ". . . I can't help but think that it'd be a little weird.  I mean, I only met them a few times . . ."

"You're welcome to use the place as long as you want," Evan assured her.  "The house's central-nav computer there is linked to this one, so if you need anything at all, just let me know."

He'd been quiet for the rest of the day, and Valerie hadn't known what to do for him.  As much as she wanted to help him, ultimately, it really was something that he'd have to deal with alone, and while she knew that, it didn't stop her from wishing it were otherwise.  After awhile, he'd disappeared into his music room, and she'd gone home, reasonably satisfied that he would be all right, and maybe at that time, being alone was something that he needed . . .

She sighed and pulled open her desk drawer, carefully lifting the stack of pictures out of the drawer—pictures she'd stubbornly claimed from the huge stack of them that Evan had gotten from the photo shoot—the proofs, he'd said.  When she'd started picking some of them out, he'd laughed and told her that he could ask Zaundra for another set.  Numerous prints of Evan cuddling with her, even if it did happen under false pretenses . . . the expression on his face in some of them . . . Sure, he was cocky, and the grin was wholly Zel Roka, and yet there were some—just a few—where that façade had been stripped away, leaving nothing but emotion and Evan Zelig.  Those were the images that she had kept; the ones that she hadn't figured they'd ever consider using.  The look on his face . . .

Smashing her hand against her heart, she pressed her lips together as she stared at her favorite image.  He was holding himself above her, his arms taut, strained.  There wasn't a doubt in the world that the man was bare-assed naked in it since his profile was entirely visible, including the length of his very erect penis, but that wasn't what had caught her attention.  It was the gentle expression on his face, the tenderness that had shocked her the first time she'd seen the image.  She wasn't sure why he'd be staring at her like that, but . . .

She liked that, didn't she?  That look that she'd barely been able to credit . . . She'd seen that look on his face only once before: when he was staring at his mother during that ill-fated party and the next day during his parents' brief visit.

'Don't be stupid, Valerie.  You're seeing things that aren't there.  You're just seeing what you want to see . . . maybe he was in the middle of thinking about something else.  That look . . . It wasn't—it couldn't have been—for me . . .'

Biting her lip, she smiled a little sadly.  It was a good thing, wasn't it?  If that look really had been meant for her, if she saw that look on a regular basis . . .

'Would I believe it . . .?'

Shoving the pictures into the drawer once more, she pushed it closed and slowly shook her head.  Enough of that, wasn't it?  She had more important things to do than to sit around, mooning over a stupid picture that was taken at just the right—or was it wrong—time.

Heaving a sigh that lifted the light fringe of her bangs, Valerie leaned over to nab the attaché case.  In the chaos of the last few days, she hadn't gotten a chance to go over more of Evan's file, and with another pre-trial coming up sooner than she'd like, she really needed to see if she couldn't make some sense out of it all.


-Evan-


The darkened mixing booth was a comforting thing, lending a quiet to the atmosphere that was sorely lacking in his life of late.  The slight glow given off by the illuminated buttons and knobs and dials was bright enough to guide him, and with a sigh, he hit the playback button and rubbed his hot, gritty eyes.  One more pass ought to do it.  After all, the rawness of the track he'd just laid down was somehow perfect, wasn't it?  Two songs: one that no one else would ever hear—just him and the one it had been intended for.  The other?  Maybe it would never be heard, either.  Maybe it was simply something that he had to do for himself . . . and for Dieter.

"You're not serious, right?  Oh, shit.  You are . . ."

Slight redness in otherwise pale cheeks as the bassist's eyes slipped to the side.  "Shut the fuck up, fucker!  They were just dummy lyrics, anyway . . ."

Evan rolled his eyes, grinning around the guitar pick he held fast between his teeth.  "'I Love You More Than Bunnies,' Deet?"

The redness shifted into a definite ruddiness.  "Miss laughs when I say that to her," he confessed.

Evan shook off the reverie and drained the tepid cup of coffee that had been sitting beside him on the sound board for awhile and flicked the Styrofoam cup into the nearby trash can before hitting the button to send the mix to the digital dump.  A minute and a soft beep later, it was finished.  The small tray ejected, and he stared at the tiny chip, no bigger than the tip of his thumb.  He took the chip, slipped it into the polythene sleeve that would protect it forever, and ran his finger along the seam to seal it closed as the tray closed on its own.  'Miss', he wrote on it before slipping it into his shirt pocket.

Why did his vision blur abruptly as his finger shook, hovering over the button marked 'delete'?  Struck suddenly by the finality of that word, maybe?  If he pushed that button, it'd be erased forever . . . just like . . . "This is for you, Deet . . ."

Wiping his eyes impatiently, Evan sniffed loudly and pressed the button, and in a blink of an eye, the song he'd been working on for the last few hours was gone like it had never existed at all.  But that wasn't true, was it?  He held the one and only master copy in his pocket—the last reminder . . . The thing that would linger long after he'd shut off the lights and gone home, like the sound of laughter that echoed in the recesses of his mind.

"Fucker . . ."

He smiled—a weakened and trembling thing—a pathetic expression even as the burn of tears tingled in his nostrils, prickled behind his eyelids . . .

"One down, one to go," he muttered to himself, his voice oddly hollow in the darkness.  Somehow apropos, wasn't it?  Hollow . . . and empty . . .

The second song was so uncharacteristic of Zel Roka, so far removed from everything that he'd ever committed to hard copy.  It wasn't nearly as difficult to listen to, maybe because the words were his, the emotions his own.  They weren't Dieter's, and they held no special meaning to Dieter, either . . .

The vibration of his cell phone drew his attention, and for a moment, Evan considered ignoring it.  A certain level of irritation accompanied the interruption.  After all, what he was doing was intensely personal, wasn't it?

Drawing a deep breath, he pulled the phone out of his pocket and stared at the screen as the tick of annoyance quickly faded as he yanked off the headphones and tossed them onto the sound board.  "Hey," he said, tapping the screen to answer it.

"I'm hoping you're not getting into trouble," Valerie said in a half-teasing tone.  "You're not bored, are you?"

The corners of his lips quirked as he wiped his eyes and cleared his throat.  "Uh, no, not today," he replied.  "Just had something I had . . . had to do."

"Evan?  Are you okay?  You sound a little . . . off . . ."

"I'm fine, V; I swear," he assured her.  "Just needed to get something down; that's all."

"Get something down?" she echoed.  "I see . . ."

Letting out a deep breath, he swallowed hard.  "Maybe I'll come by when I finish up here," he said noncommittally.

"Take your time.  It sounds like you're busy."

"Kind of.  Not really . . ."

"Okay," she said.  "I'll see you later."

"Absolutely," he replied.  "Bye."

"Bye," she whispered.  A moment later, the connection cut off, and Evan dropped the phone into his pocket again.  An unexpected, savage desire to see her shot through him, as powerful and as real as a physical hit.  He had to grit his teeth against the surge of emotion, closing his eyes for a moment, willing for it to pass.  He had to finish this, didn't he?  If he didn't do it now . . .

Grabbing the headphones and jamming them back onto his head once more, he licked his lips and sat back in the chair.

If he didn't do it now, he wouldn't do it, at all.


-Valerie-


Biting her lip as she stared at the doors of the studio, Valerie hesitated before stepping forward.  She didn't know how she knew that he was here.  Maybe it was just the things that he'd said, or maybe it just seemed like the most likely place to find him.  Or maybe . . .

Maybe she really did know him that well . . .

She had considered the idea of letting him alone, but the sound of his voice, the underlying emotion she'd heard . . . Why did she have a feeling that he needed her—missed her . . .?  No, it was more than that, wasn't it?  It was stronger than a simple feeling.  It was a deeper understanding that even without him having to say it that he was hurting and that he wanted her to come and find him . . .

But the studio was eerily quiet as she walked through the doors and down the corridor just beyond the very posh receptionist area.  It felt empty, and the echo of her footsteps on the cold marble under her feet only served to emphasize that ambiance.  Pausing long enough to peer through the long, narrow windows in the doors, she bit her lip.  The entire building seemed empty, but that couldn't be.  The doors were unlocked, weren't they?  And the feeling that Evan was near was growing stronger and stronger . . .

He wasn't on the first floor, though, and he wasn't on the second one, either.  She found him on the third floor—there was only one studio up there, along with an office for the manager of the establishment and what amounted to a small penthouse for the more elite clientele who might rent out the entire studio for their exclusive sessions.

He was sitting alone at the sound board with no lights on, save for the trace glow of the board itself.  She reached for the door handle but paused.  There was something so entirely sad about him, something that reached out to her and didn't let go.

Drawing a deep breath, she quietly opened the door.  Evan rubbed his face with his hand in an infinitely weary sort of way, and Valerie grimaced.  Suddenly, though, he turned his head, peering over his shoulder, and when he saw her, he smiled just a little.  "Hey, baby," he said, sliding the headphones down to hang around his neck.  "What are you doing here?"

She shrugged and stepped forward, rubbing her hands together in a rather nervous sort of way.  "You kind of sounded like you could use a friend on the phone," she admitted quietly.

He stared at her for a minute then nodded once, pushing out the chair beside him with his toe and reaching for another set of headphones.  "How'd you know where I was?"

Settling into the thickly cushioned black suede chair, she shot him a little smile.  "It wasn't that hard to figure out.  So, can I hear it?"

"Sure."

He plugged in the other headphones and handed them to her.  She adjusted them over her ears and waited patiently while he fiddled with the controls before starting playback.

She didn't know what she was expecting to hear.  She supposed that if she'd stopped to consider it, she might have realized that he would try to find an outlet for his pain in this sort of way.  The haunting chords of the acoustic guitar, though, were so far removed from the man she knew as Zel Roka; as disconcerting as it was beautiful.  Just a guitar and a singular voice . . .



"'What happens to a friend . . .
'When all you've got to give. . .
'No matter what you've said, I never knew. . .
'Was it a piece of me or a piece of you . . .?

'Time goes by so fast, you see?
'When you're dreaming hard and runnin' free . . .
'And all those times, I never knew . . .
'If it was me or if it was you . . .

'Did you stop to think . . .
'There were so many lost chances . . .
'But then, maybe you knew . . .
'If that piece was me or if it was you . . .'

'It's too hard to say goodbye . . .
'So maybe it's okay to say, "I'll see you 'round" . . .
'Then it'd be somethin' we both knew . . .
'That piece of me was a piece of you . . .'"



Simple words . . . beautiful words . . .

Wiping a tear from her cheek, Valerie nodded as the song faded out, and she had to clear her throat before she even dared to try to speak.  "That . . . That was . . ."

Evan let out a deep breath and yanked off his headphones, tossing them onto the mixing board with an almost self-conscious shrug.  "I tried to write something, you know, pissed off, but I . . . I wasn't really feeling it."

She smiled gently at his admission.  "Maybe you're tired of being angry," she suggested.

He shrugged again.  "Maybe."

She nodded, watching as he reached for the headphones and adjusted the sliders a little.  The care and precision he was taking in mixing the track spoke volumes enough, as far as she was concerned.  Evan Zelig just wasn't an angry person.  More likely to be hurt, wasn't he, than to lash out at anyone, to suffer the pain that he hid behind a bright smile and a public façade . . . but how did she know that?

Because she'd seen hints of it, hadn't she?  Fast with a smile and slow with a temper that could be as ugly as anything she'd ever witnessed before . . . and he hated that part of himself, didn't he?  That rage that could so easily spiral away from him if he allowed it to do so . . .

She knew these things in her heart.  Despite his silly antics and innate ability to get into mischief, he just wasn't the cut-up she'd wanted to believe . . . Well, he wasn't all the time, anyway . . .

"I don't know," he finally said, breaking the companionable silence that had fallen.  "Maybe I should do a second take."

"I don't think you need to do that," she countered mildly.  "The more takes you do, the more . . . polished it feels.  You don't really want to polish it, do you?"

Evan let out a deep breath and shot Valerie a rather startled look.  Maybe he hadn't expected her to understand that much of it—maybe.  Maybe he hadn't expected for her to understand that much of him . . . "Is that what I'm trying to do?  Polish everything up, nice and pretty?"

She shook her head and reached out to pat his hand.  "No . . . I don't think you're doing that, at all."

"I dunno . . . maybe I am," he replied with a simple shrug.  "Maybe the end was so ugly . . . Maybe what comes after shouldn't be."

"Except that it isn't . . . Your song isn't ugly at all."

He stared at her for a long moment then uttered a soft chuckle.  "You savvy pretty well, baby."

Valerie broke into a little smile and shook her head, though she couldn't staunch the flow of blood that colored her skin at the warmth in his tone.  "I try Evan," she admitted.  "But you . . . you don't make it easy."


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A/N:
'Hot Blooded' by Foreigner first appeared on their 1978 release, Double Vision.  Song written by and copyrighted to Lou Gramm and Mick Jones.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
More than bunnies, eh?
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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 49
Chapter 51
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