InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Twenty-Four Times Two ( Chapter 68 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Sixty-Eight~~
~Twenty-Four Times Two~


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Turned away from it all like a blind man …
'Sat on a fence but it don't work …
'Keep coming up with love but it's so slashed and torn …
'Why, why, why?
'Love …
'

-'Under Pressure' by Queen and David Bowie.

-Valerie-


"So what do you think?"

Slowly wandering around the cabin that was much larger than she'd figured it would be, Valerie's eyes shifted to take in everything, from the extra long though somewhat narrow bed that was bolted to the floor beside the two doors: one that opened into a rather cramped but fully functioning bathroom, or so Evan had claimed, and the other, a closet that already held his clothing, the granite table affixed to the floor beside the window on the passenger side of the bus and the two thickly cushioned, rich blue suede upholstered bench seats on either side of the table.  Rich, darkly stained wood cabinets in the small kitchenette . . . a television that was almost as wide as the bus that folded flat against the roof when it wasn't in use . . . a sinfully comfortable looking sofa covered in the same dark blue suede as the benches . . .

And, naturally, stands for Evan's guitars and a nearly full sized keyboard, all secured to the floor—a shame since it was covered in a very thick and really soft dark blue pile carpet.  "You don't have any walls," she said with a frown.  "Well, except for the bathroom . . ."

"Don't need walls," Evan said with a shrug.  "I mean, I'm the only one on this bus, anyway."

She shook her head and slipped off her shoes, burying her toes in the carpet.  "Hmm . . . I think you should have rented one for me, too," she decided with a grin.  "If I have to travel with you, then I should at least get to do it in style."

Evan chuckled, flopping down on the sofa with a satisfied grunt.  "Rent?  Come on, V!  This sucker was custom built—and it cost more than I care to think about."  His grin widened.  "Good thing I didn't have to pay for it, right?"

Rolling her eyes, she smiled, too.  "As if it would have made a difference to you if you did have to buy it," she shot back.  "You have more money than God, remember?"

"As true as that may be," he said, pushing his faded Wikked Boys tee-shirt up so that he could scratch his belly, "I don't really feel badly for making the powers-that-be pay for this, either."

Valerie nodded since she couldn't rightfully blame him for that.  He was still riding high from the absolute rush of adrenaline he'd gotten last night from the small show he'd done at the Manhattan Civic Center to celebrate the release of his new album and the impending tour.  He'd only done five songs, and he was in and out of the facility at a speed that had amazed her.  He'd said that he really couldn't stick around long after shows anymore because of the security issues it presented, and he'd seemed a little sad about that part of it.  Still, he was so hyped up after they'd gotten back to the mansion that he'd quite literally been bouncing off the walls.  Valerie had ended up, crashing out on the thick rug in front of the fireplace sometime around three a.m., but as for Evan?  She'd be surprised if he had slept at all.

He reached for a paper that Mike had handed him earlier—a tentative list of dates and venues that Evan was supposed to look over.  The manager had explained that the schedule wasn't set in stone, that it was likely to change daily, but that it gave a rough outline of their travel plans.

Frowning as she stared at his hand, she shook her head.  She'd noticed earlier that there wasn't even a slight mark where he'd hurt himself the night he'd lost his temper.  He had just laughed and told her that he simply didn't scar.  Valerie, however, wasn't entirely sure what to make of it.  He must not have hurt himself as badly as she had thought to begin with.  She'd noticed when she bandaged his hand that it wasn't too deep, but maybe he was just a really fast healer.  She'd heard of people like that before, anyway . . .

With a raised eyebrow, she nudged the one thing that seemed out of place—a plain cardboard box with a stamp on top that read 'Roka'—with her foot.  "What's this?"

Evan's grin widened as he slid off the sofa and reached for it.  "Epic!  They remembered to pack 'em for me!"

"Pack what?" she demanded, kneeling down and waiting impatiently for him to open the box.

With an almost giddy laugh, he tugged the flaps back and pulled out a tee-shirt.  "Check it out!" he insisted, shaking the garment before holding it up to show her.

Valerie blinked and gasped, her eyes widening as she gawped at the garment, hot color flooding into her face.  A black shirt with an image of her—her—silkscreened onto it.  It was one of the pictures from that damned photo shoot though not the one used on the album cover.  Nope, it was worse.  Situated on that bed with the rumpled sheets arranged around her, she was lying flat on her back with her knee bent and Evan—complete with a shit-eating grin on his face—between her legs, resting his cheek on her stomach.  "Oh, my God," she moaned, covering her face with her hands.

He laughed.  "Aww, come on!  It's not like anyone can see your face, right?"

Which was true enough.  Her head was turned away from the camera—the one saving grace of it all, she supposed.

Evan flipped the shirt around.  "Look, look!" he insisted.

She really didn't want to, but she did, slipping her fingers apart and peering through the cracks.  She shouldn't have done it, because the back was almost—almost—worse than the front.  'I did V with Zel Roka,' it said . . . "I am so going to kill you," she grumbled.

He ignored her.  Having yanked the Wikked Boys tee-shirt off, he'd opted instead to pull the new one over his head, which just figured, didn't it?  She wasn't ever going to be able to live that down . . .

"Here," he said, tossing another one at her.  She caught it and blinked at it like it was some kind of mysterious artifact.

"What am I going to do with this?" she grumbled and chucked it back at him, irritated even more since she just couldn't keep from blushing every time she look at or thought about what was on the stupid garment.

Evan grinned like a complete idiot and shrugged.  "Wear it.  Sell it."  Eyes widening, snapping his fingers, he chuckled.  "Send it to Eddie Munster!"

That earned him a really scathing glower.  "It's Marvin, you jackass—Marvin!  And I'd rather die a million deaths than send it to him, thank you very much."

"Why's that, V, hmm?" he asked, blinking at her in the most innocent yet nasty way that he could manage.  It was pretty bad.

She heaved a sigh and shook her head.  "Six weeks . . . on a bus . . . with you . . . God help me."

"Ze-e-e-e-e-el!"

The door that separated the driver's compartment with the rest of the bus slammed open and a blur of motion that was Bugs whizzed into the cabin.  Valerie's eyes widened as she watched the slender man zoom past her.  Good Lord, she hadn't realized that a body could move that fast, had she?

"Hey, Bugsy," Evan greeted with a good natured chuckle.  "Oof!"

"How could you try to leave without saying goodbye to me, you horrible, horrible man!" Bugs whimpered, black eyeliner running down his cheeks in a completely vampy sort of way.  He'd lunged at Evan in a whirl of black lace and satin in a rather melodramatic and decidedly old fashioned sort of mourning dress that had been reworked so that it ended just above the man's knees.  "Break my heart, why don't you?"

"Aww, I'm sorry, babydoll," Evan crooned, rubbing Bugs' shoulders, apparently not too interested in getting rid of him, either.  "What do you want me to bring home for you?"

Bugs leaned back to stare at Evan for a moment before huddling against his chest, tucking his head under Evan's chin.  "Besides you, you mean?"

"Uh huh."

Bugs sighed.  "Well, if you see anything tall and blonde with bulging muscles and bulging pants, that'd be just fine," he decided.  "Oh, and if he doesn't speak English, that's fine, too."

Evan chuckled and rubbed Bugs' arm.  "I'll see what I can do."

Opting to ignore the two, Valerie pulled open the closet to shove her suitcase inside.  Evan had sworn that she really didn't need to bring anything fancy, that if she did need something like that, he'd be more than happy to send out for it, and since he was the reason that she had to be there, she figured it was a fair enough trade.  Instead, she'd bought a lot of comfortable and casual clothes—jeans, sweaters, sweats for lounging around on the bus—and he'd said that it was fine.  Of course, he'd also said that she should have brought some slinky satin negligees, too.  'Jerk,' she snorted inwardly despite the hint of a smile on her face.

Bugs gasped suddenly, sitting up straight and pointing at Valerie in an entirely accusing sort of way.  "What is that doing here?" he demanded indignantly, his voice absolutely trembling with righteous outrage.

Evan chuckled and tugged Bugs back against his side.  "Now, now, babydoll.  No need to be nasty.  There's more than enough of The hEvan to go around, right?"

"Not for that," Bugs insisted, turning an exaggerated pouty face on him.  "He's mine, sister, so you'd best step right off, you feel me?"

Valerie blinked and stared rather blankly at the two men, cuddling on the sofa.  Evan was grinning—not really surprising, all things considered—while Bugs was still mid-'moment'.  To emphasize his point, though, he stuck out his tongue at her, huddling closer to Evan's side.  "You're not going to cheat on me, are you Zel Roka?" Bugs demanded.

Shaking her head, Valerie said nothing as she headed for the exit.  Evan didn't seem to be in a hurry to get moving, and she'd rather take a minute to buy a newspaper before willingly allowing herself to be locked away with him for the next six weeks.

"V!  Sweetie!" Madison called as she hurried over to catch Valerie in a quick hug.

"When did you get back in town?" Valerie asked when Madison stepped back.

Madison waved a hand dismissively but smiled.  "We caught the red-eye last night.  Miami is so not my town, but Bugs would probably fit in rather nicely.  Anyway, I just needed to drop Violca off before I go home and crash for a day or two."

"Drop her off?" Valerie echoed, shaking her head in confusion.  "I thought you were going to keep her with you."

"Oh, she's doing much better now," Madison insisted happily, glancing back to where she'd left the girl, standing just outside Evan's bus.  When she saw Valerie, she wiggled her fingers in greeting, a bright smile surfacing on her pretty features that made Valerie want to grind her teeth together just the same.  "Besides, I'm flying out to London the day after tomorrow.  The Queen's Ball, you know . . ."

"You're going to the Queen's Ball?" Valerie blurted.  It never ceased to amaze her, just how casually both Evan as well as Madison could drop names of such affairs without so much as batting their eyelashes.

Madison looked properly aghast at the mere suggestion.  "Bite your tongue, V!" she scolded.  "As if I'd go to something that stuffy."  She sighed at the befuddled expression on Valerie's face then laughed.  "I have some clients who are flying me in to do their hair."

"You know, maybe you should go to it," Valerie mused thoughtfully.  "You could catch yourself a prince or something—or a duke, at least . . ."

Madison wrinkled her nose and shook her head.  "Ew . . . a lifetime of very boring, very proper sex?  No thanks," she said.  "I think I'll pass."

Valerie laughed and hugged Madison again.  "Why can't you come along on this stupid tour?" she whined.  "It'd be livable if you were here . . . You cannot leave me alone with that man!"  Then she sighed in a thoroughly defeated sort of way.  "And that girl . . ."

"Relax, Valerie, I swear, she really is behaving herself a lot better now.  She won't try to climb into bed with anyone—unless it's a mutual thing."

"How did you explain that to her?" Valerie asked suspiciously.

Madison smiled and dug a pale peach lip balm out of her purse.  "I just talked to her," she explained as if it were the simplest thing in the world.

She narrowed her eyes.  "You know German?"

Shaking her head, Madison spared a moment to smile at her before returning to her work of touching up her lip balm.  "Nope, but I have a friend who translated for me.  Anyway, he stayed with us while we were in Miami, and now Violca understands things a lot better than she did before."

"Wow," Valerie said, unable to suppress the admiration in her tone.

"Of course, that doesn't mean that everything'll be perfect," Madison went on as she snapped her compact closed and stowed the gear back in her purse again.

"Why's that?"

"Because Violca says that she's definitely in love with Evan, or rather, with Zel Roka."

It took a minute for Madison's statement to fully sink in, and when it did, Valerie snorted.  "You're kidding, right?"

Just why did Madison look so damn amused, anyway?  "Nope.  She says . . . Oh, how did she put that again?"  Tapping her chin as she scowled thoughtfully and lifted her gaze heavenward, she concentrated on remembering.  "Ah, yes!  She says that he's a 'beautiful man'.  Yes, that was her word: beautiful."

"About as beautiful as an ingrown butt hair," Valerie grumbled, her growing sense of relief popping like an overinflated balloon.

"Hey, Maddy.  Hey, Valerie," Mike said as he strode over, sunglasses perched atop his head with a palmtop computer open in his hand.  "You're traveling in Zel's bus, right?  We've got to get going."

"Have fun, V, and stop looking like you're heading to the gallows," Madison teased, leaning in to kiss Valerie's cheek before grasping her shoulders to turn her around and giving her a little shove.

A heavy sigh escaped her as she trudged back toward the bus.  Bugs stepped off, and Violca was nowhere to be seen.  Valerie figured she was already on it.  Farther down, the members of the backup band were boarding their busses, and the road crew that hadn't left yesterday were on the last one.  Most of that group were security since the techs and roadies were sent out early to get things set up for the opening show in Detroit.

Still, she couldn't help but feel that with every step she took, she was moving in closer and closer to a ticking time bomb just waiting to blow up right in her face . . .


-Evan-


'Yeah . . . Didn't this stop being funny about three states ago?'

Stifling a sigh, Evan nodded slightly as he concentrated on keeping his gaze off the two women who were currently sitting at the table, stealing glances at one another , which would have been a lot better, he figured, if they didn't look like they were each plotting the other's painful demise.  If they actually made it all the way to Detroit without incident, he'd be amazed—and thankful.

To be completely honest, he wasn't entirely sure what to make of it.  If he didn't know better, he'd swear that Valerie was jealous or something.  Of course, she didn't care, and why should she?  She had that royal thorn in his side, Marvin, right?  That's what she said, anyway, minus the royal thorn part.  Still . . .

It was actually a little ridiculous, and even though it was kind of amusing right now, he knew well enough that the novelty was going to wear off pretty damn quickly.

But damned if it wasn't the strangest thing.  From the time that Valerie had gotten back onto the bus, only to find Violca sitting square on his lap and covering his cheek with kisses, she'd looked as though she were fit to kill.

Of course, that wasn't all of it, either; not by a long shot.

Violca was still very eager to please Evan though she seemed content to let him keep his clothes on.  What she wanted to do, though, was everything else she could possibly do to make him happy, from fetching his guitar when he started to reach for it to checking his water bottle every ten minutes to make sure that it was properly chilled for him to, well, anything else she could possibly do, and that might have been all right by him, but . . .

But it certainly wasn't all right with Valerie.  She'd started off by simply frowning at Violca, but after the first hour or so, she must have decided that she needed to beat Violca at her own game, and basically, they were pretty well competing with each other to see who could do something as stupid as retrieve a guitar string out of the case when one broke with an ungodly harsh twang.

And it wasn't that he didn't want Valerie to do those kinds of things for him.  It was more that he didn't want her to do them just because she didn't want someone else to do them.  He wanted her to do that stuff because she wanted to, damn it . . .

Violca stood up and grabbed a bottle of beer out of the stocked refrigerator, carefully popping the cap off as she shuffled toward Evan.  "You need a fresh one, yes?" she said.

Evan smiled politely and nodded in thanks as he took the bottle and lifted it to his lips.

Apparently, though, that was the wrong thing to do.  "Need I remind you that you're not supposed to be drinking?" Valerie asked, nose buried behind the pages of a book she'd picked up awhile back when they'd stopped to refuel the busses.

Evan didn't remind her that she hadn't seemed to care if he drank beer or not in weeks.  "Wouldn't want to waste it," he said instead but slipped it into the cup holder built into the thick wood table beside the sofa.

The attorney stood up and strode over to them, pinning Violca with an ill-humored scowl as she retrieved the bottle and drained half of it in one long gulp.

"For Zel!" Violca protested.  At least her grasp of English had improved somewhat during her time with Madison.

Valerie shook her head and carried the beer back to the table.  "He's not allowed to have it, Violca," she pointed out a little too calmly.

Violca turned her pleading eyes on Evan.  Glancing up from the acoustic guitar on his lap, he blinked and tried not to fidget.  "It's okay," he told her with a little smile. "I wasn't thirsty, anyway."

"She hates me," Violca insisted, crossing her arms over her chest and kneeling on the floor beside his feet.

"Ah, she doesn't hate you," Evan hedged, trying to reassure her despite the knowledge that Violca probably wasn't very far off the mark.

"She does," Violca argued unhappily.  "It is because she loves you, too!"

That gave him pause, and he couldn't help the grin that surfaced at the idea Violca had presented.  "You think so?"

The intrigued expression on his face didn't seem to please Violca in the least, either.  "You see it, too, no?  But my mama tell me, you will be my man!  She—" She pointed accusingly at Valerie.  "—Wants to kill me!  She wants me to die!"

"No, no, of course not!  That's ridiculous; I swear it is!" Evan hurriedly said.

"She's talking about me, isn't she?" Valerie loudly demanded.  "What did she just say?"

Blinking rapidly as he glanced from Violca to Valerie then back again for good measure, he shrugged.  "Who?  Her?  About you?  Uh uh . . ."

Valerie's eyes narrowed dangerously, and he had the distinct feeling that she'd stopped considering Violca's imminent demise in lieu of entertaining some fantasies that had a lot to do with making Evan's body disappear without a trace.  "You are such a liar," she stated flatly.  "I hate liars . . . and girls who don't know when to stop throwing themselves at men who are so obviously not interested . . . At least, they'd better not be . . ."

He grinned.  He couldn't help himself.  A jealous V was a very endearing V, wasn't she?

'Endearing?  You realize, right, that you're about two steps from having your ass handed to you.'

'Yeah, I know . . . small price to pay, all things considered, don't you think?'

His youkai voice snorted indelicately.  'As long as you remember that it's your ass, not mine.'

'You know, technically speaking, my ass is your ass, so—well, you get the picture, right?'

'Hmm, you're kind of an asshat, aren't you?'

He chuckled to himself.  'Probably.'

'Yeah, whatever, but you know something even better, asshat?'

'What's that?'

'Both of the ladies are staring at you funny right now.'

Snapping back to reality, Evan pressed his lips together when he saw that his youkai really had been serious, after all.  Both Violca and Valerie were staring at him, and both of them had equally quizzical expressions on their faces.

"Is losing your mind also a part of your touring ritual?" Valerie asked dryly, turning her attention back to the book in her hands once more.

He laughed.  "Could be.  It's entirely possible."

His amusement was short-lived, however, when Violca latched onto his left foot and started to massage.  "Oh, damn," he breathed, slumping lower where he sat.  It felt good—damn good, and for the briefest of moments, he forgot that he really shouldn't be encouraging the girl.  "Wo-o-ow . . ."

Violca giggled happily.

"Ow!" Evan barked, sitting up straight and yanking his foot away from the girl when the book that Valerie had been reading smacked into the center of his chest.  She glowered at him, arms crossed over her chest, and when he met her gaze, she shook her head meaningfully.

Stifling a sigh, Evan shook his head.  About the only bright spot in the entire situation as far as he could tell was that they should be in Detroit by evening.  What worried him most was exactly what would happen once they reached the hotel because he had a full night of bullshit to take care of: a couple interviews, a television appearance, a short signing at one of the record stores that was helping to sponsor the show tomorrow night, and both Tay and Frankie had hinted that they'd like for him to find some time to jam with them awhile since the search for a new bassist had barely ended before they'd left the city . . . If he got to see his own hotel room tonight, he'd be damn lucky.

He could only hope that Valerie and Violca didn't kill each other before he figured out exactly what to do with the gypsy girl because that was the last thing that he had the time or the inclination to consider . . .


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A/N:
'Under< /b> Pressure' by Queen and David Bowie first appeared on Queen's 1982 release, Hot Space.  Song written by and copyrighted to Queen and David Bowie.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
It's gonna be a long-assed six weeks, isn't it?
==========
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 67
Chapter 69
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