InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Los Angeles ( Chapter 69 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Nine months on the road
'Don't know if it's night or day
'A little gypsy blood
'Sure seems to go a long way
'Time's getting' tough
'So, I'm getting tougher
'Just let the music rock these blues away …'

-'City' by Y&T.

-Evan-


Flopping into a thickly upholstered chair beside the bed, Evan heaved a sigh and draped his forearm over his eyes.  One a.m., and he'd just gotten back to the hotel after doing a slew of interviews with people he'd rather spit on than speak to since most of them already had the answers they wanted to hear in their heads long before he'd ever walked through the door and sat down.

Three days into the tour—two shows under his belt—and it felt like it'd been a year since he was home.  Normally it took at least six months for this kind of feeling to grip him, and he had very little doubt in his mind that it had more to do with the battling women than anything else.  He'd already known that women were strange creatures.  In fact, he'd known that for quite awhile, but those two were something else entirely.  Valerie wasn't so bad though he could tell that she was fast approaching her limit, but Violca had apparently decided that Valerie was her nemesis, and the looks they exchanged, the tension that seemed to emanate from the both of them . . .

He sighed.  Something really had to give.  It really, really did.  If it didn't . . .

He considered ignoring the curt knock on the door.  Given his mood at the moment, he wasn't fit to keep anyone company, but the unseen visitor wasn't dissuaded, and when the fourth round of tapping started, Evan growled under his breath and hauled himself out of his chair, set to tell whoever was on the other side of the door to go get fucked.

"Hmm . . . you look like hell."

"I didn't know you were in LA," Evan said, blinking in surprise.

Gage Jordan leaned casually against the door jamb, shoulder length jet black hair shining bluish in the ambient light of the hotel hallway.  Shrugging one shoulder, he grinned lazily, shaking his head just a little as he met Evan's gaze.  "For now," he allowed, flicking his wrist without taking his hand out of his pocket to check the time.  "But I heard that you were here, so I had to see your face for myself."

"Yeah, it's been awhile, hasn't it?" Evan allowed with a wolfish grin.  "Want to go grab a beer?"

Pushing himself away from the door frame, Gage merely lifted an eyebrow as Evan pulled the door closed and started down the hall.  "You can have your beer," he agreed easily enough.  "I would prefer something a little less . . ."

"American?" Evan supplied.

Gage chuckled indulgently.  "I wasn't going to say that," he replied smoothly with only the barest hint of an accent adding a slight lilt to his words as they pushed into the stairwell.  "I was going to say 'barbaric'."

Evan laughed.  "Heard you quit teaching at the university," he commented.  "Thought you loved being a professor."

"What I loved were the girls," he corrected with an unrepentant grin.  "The teaching was secondary."

"Yeah, well, you were the best Prof I ever had," Evan said with a shake of his head.  "The others were all as dull as dishwater."

"And you were the first student that I found to be even mildly compelling—who didn't wear a skirt, of course."

Evan grinned and rounded the landing to take the next flight of stairs at a jog.  True enough, he supposed.  He had spent countless hours in Gage's office, debating the merits of musicians and genres—not just the current bands but all kinds of music from just about every period in history.  To him, it had been something of an eye-opener to meet someone, even a college professor, who knew as much about music as a whole and who could so readily see the evolution that had shaped and inspired every successive generation of musicians.  Somewhere along the way, maybe during those hours of often inspired if not outright heated debate, the two had become friends, and that was where the line between teacher and student had dissolved.  Gage, born to a French mother and an Irish father, called himself native Frenchman whose love of music was rivaled only by his appreciation of pretty girls, most of them students in his classes.  Gage Jordan wasn't stupid, however, and he had managed to get the hell out of Dodge well before any of his liaisons had come to light.

"I heard about your legal problems, Roka," Gage remarked about the time they'd hit the second floor landing.  "It doesn't sound like you."

"Don't worry about it," Evan replied.  "It's all good."

"It is?"

With a nod and a grin, Evan chuckled.  "Hell, yeah.  You should meet my attorney . . ."

"The one I saw in the newspaper?  Beating on you, wasn't she?"

Evan laughed—he'd forgotten about that—and shrugged offhandedly.  "Ah, she loves me.  It's just a matter of time before she figures it out for herself."

"Ever the optimist, I see.  I would have thought that your success would have jaded you by now."

"Nawp, not me," Evan quipped, shouldering open the door that led to the lobby.

They hadn't taken more than a dozen steps toward the hotel bar when a group of fans that had somehow managed to get past security darted at him.  Gage didn't seem to mind and even looked rather amused as he stood back while Evan signed a few autographs.

He'd taken to staying in nicer hotels a couple years ago, mostly because of the security factor.  From where he stood in the lobby, he could see the crowd gathered outside through the wall of smoked glass and shook his head.  Those kids would camp out there until after Evan had left the city, and most of them probably didn't have tickets to the show, either.  Mike had been talking about bringing in tighter security, too, especially after Dieter's death, and while Evan could understand why he was worried, he knew that he'd eventually end up sneaking out to sign some autographs and talk to some of the ones who thought nothing of spending a couple of nights, parked outside the Grande Tower Hotel, just hoping to get a glimpse of him . . .

After giving his autograph to everyone who asked, Evan nodded politely and waved, gesturing at Gage that he was finished.  He'd figured out a long time ago that if you gave the fans a bit of what they wanted, they tended to be more than happy to let him do what he wanted, too—in this case, have a nice, quiet drink in the bar with a friend.

"I was sorry to hear about Dieter," Gage remarked after the waitress had brought their drinks.  Sitting in a booth in a dimly lit corner of the establishment and far away from the windows that overlooked the garden in front of the hotel, they were basically alone, which suited Evan just fine.  "He was a good friend, no?"

"He was," Evan replied with a half-hearted smile.

Gage sighed, idly turning his snifter of brandy on the table.  "I have no words of wisdom to impart you.  I wish I did."

Shaking his head, Evan reached for his bottle of beer, slowly drained half of it.  "I've heard it all before," he said.  "Don't worry about it."


-Valerie-


Valerie stepped into the bar with a notepad and pen in her hand.  She wasn't sure why she couldn't sleep.  Maybe it was the unsettled feeling that she'd had ever since she'd boarded Evan's tour bus four days ago.  After trying to drift off for more than an hour, she'd decided that maybe a glass of wine would help, but for some reason, the idea of drinking that glass of wine alone seemed unbearable tonight.

She'd expected the mini-tour to be insane, of course.  She hadn't realized that it would be complete bedlam.  The busses were usually parked in a secured area at the venues where Evan was going to play, and then they were shuttled to the hotel, usually in limousines, where they would be dropped off at a side or back entrance to avoid the crowds, which was good, all things considered.  The crowds were huge despite the fact that Mike was trying to keep everything quiet.  There were always the inevitable leaks, and when one kid spotted Evan coming or going, it didn't take long for that kid to text every single person he knew, and then the madness began all over again.

It was frightening, and seeing all of it happening was slowly giving her a whole new respect for Evan who never lost his temper with a fan who wanted an autograph even though he knew that they needed to get moving in order to keep to the schedule, never complained about the long hours spent, confined on the bus when she knew damn well that it had to be driving him crazy, and though it was early in the tour, she'd heard enough of the roadies saying that Zel Roka was, hands down, the best rock star to tour with.  Quite a few of them had been a part of Evan's crew for years, so she supposed that it said something about him, didn't it?

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie glanced around the bar, only to stop when she spotted Evan, sitting in the corner at a table with a man she didn't recognize.

Her first instinct was to find a seat elsewhere since she didn't really want to intrude, but he looked up suddenly then grinned, waving a hand to invite her over.

In the end, curiosity won out over reticence, and she approached the table, slipping into the seat beside Evan when he scooted over.  "Hey, V.  Thought you'd be sleeping by now."

"I wasn't tired," she replied.

Evan grinned.  "Oh!  V, this is an old friend of mine, Gage Jordan.  Gage, this is Valerie Denning—my attorney—and the future Mrs. Zel Roka."

"When hell freezes over," Valerie muttered under her breath.

Gage's dark eyes flared wide, then he smiled, and Valerie blinked.  Good looking didn't even begin to describe him; not at all.  He had the easy bearing of a man who knew what his worth in the world was and wasn't afraid to embrace it, a silent grace that manifested itself in a sense of quiet wonder—the kind of man that might walk past her in a store or on a street, and she'd look twice just because of the ease in which he moved.  Long fingers, carefully manicured nails, he reached out, took her hand, brought the back of it to his lips as his eyelids fluttered closed—the blackest, thickest eyelashes she'd ever seen fanning demurely over his cheeks . . . "Pleased to meet you, Ms. Denning," he said, his voice rich and deep and smooth.

"Likewise," she replied, unable to keep the hint of bemusement out of her tone.

"All right; all right.  Enough of that," Evan interjected, grasping Valerie's hand and pulling it away from Gage's grasp.

He chuckled, understanding Evan's action for what it was.  "She's too old for the likes of you," Evan said, leaning forward as though he meant for Valerie not to hear the comment.

"I think I could make an exception for her," Gage replied, casting Valerie a rather devilish wink.

"I'm not old," Valerie pointed out.

"That's true," Evan allowed, "but Gage tends to like his girls a little more on the teenage side, if you know what I mean."

Valerie wasn't sure exactly what to make of that.  In fact, she wasn't entirely certain whether Evan was teasing or not.  Both of the men laughed, though, leaving her feeling like she was missing some inside joke, but she didn't have time to dwell on it, either.

"I shall buy you a drink," Gage said, smiling just a little.

Valerie opened her mouth to reply, but Evan was faster as he gestured for the waitress.  "That's okay.  I got it."

"Then I will be sure to pay for the second one," Gage replied as Evan ordered her drink.  A soft beeping sound interrupted him, and he smiled apologetically as he dug his cell phone out of the inner pocket of his impeccably tailored jacket.  "It's my sister," he said.  "I must take this.  Excuse me for a minute."

Valerie watched the man get up and step a few feet away with a rather bemused smile on her face.

"Oh, come on," Evan grouched, only half teasing.  "He's not that good looking."

"Yes, he is," she replied.

Evan snorted and shook his head.  "Forgot about Calvin, did you?"

Shifting her eyes to the side, she almost laughed at the thoroughly disgruntled expression on his face.  "Of course I didn't forget about Marvin, but there's nothing wrong with looking, is there?"

He narrowed his gaze.  "Yeah, I think there just might be," he muttered.

She laughed and sipped the wine that the waitress set in front of her.  "So how did you meet a guy like that?" she asked.

He sat back, crossing his arms over his chest.  "What's that supposed to mean?"

Valerie giggled.  "It means that you just don't seem like the type to have friends like him.  You know: suave.  Smooth.  Sensual."

For a second, he looked a little irritated, but he must have thought twice about it because he grinned.  "Met him in college, if you must know."

Valerie did a double take, narrowing her eyes as she tried to decide whether she thought he was teasing or not.  He didn't look like he was pulling her leg . . . "You went to college?" she asked slowly.

Evan shrugged and finished off his beer before answering.  "Didn't we talk about this before?  Had to.  Ol' Cain insisted."

"Since when do you do anything that anyone makes you do?" she countered, "And if we did, I don't remember it."

He wrinkled his nose since he never really liked to talk about anything that even remotely had to do with his father.  "It's a long story, V, and pretty damn boring, too, and you know what happens when I get bored, right . . .?"

She knew that he was trying to dance around the subject, but since he wasn't being completely obnoxious for once, she figured that she might as well let it go.  "Were the two of you in the same classes or something?"

"You could say that," Evan replied.  "He was one of my professors."

That surprised her.  After all, Gage didn't look any older than Evan—and Evan didn't really look like he was over thirty, either, for that matter.  "A professor?  He is?"

"He was," Evan corrected.  "Nowadays, he's just a bum."

"A bum, now am I?" Gage asked as he slipped back into his seat once more.  "Sorry for the interruption.  My sister wanted to tell me about her concert earlier."

"Oh, yeah?  Where is she this week?" Evan asked.

Valerie frowned.  His sister was a musician, too?  Was she famous?

"She's in Madrid.  She was rather nervous since she hasn't been onstage since before she got pregnant."

Evan snapped his fingers and sat up straight.  "That's right!  She married that bastard of a manager of hers, didn't she?  How's her baby?"

Gage shook his head.  "Bernard is a very nice man," he corrected, casually sipping his drink.  "I simply despise him on principle—and Luke is just fine—the apple of his mother's eye, of course."

"Zel!"

Evan sat up and looked over toward the doorway in time to see Violca hurry into the bar.  Her smile widened as she approached, but her eyes were locked on the rock star, much to Valerie's everlasting chagrin.  When she reached the booth, Evan leaned toward Valerie.  She pinned him with a formidable glower before he could suggest that she move to allow Violca to slip into the booth, too.  He started to open his mouth to ask anyway but was cut off short when Gage stood up and gestured at the bench.  Violca blinked but scooted in.

It hadn't taken Valerie more than five minutes to figure out that, while Madison was right about Violca's understanding of the situation in general, the girl had also decided that she wanted to land herself a rock star sugar daddy by training her sights on Zel Roka.  Maybe it was completely jaded of her to think, but there just wasn't any way that Valerie could accept let alone believe that Violca was in love with him.  She didn't even know him or anything about him, not really.   As far as Valerie could tell, Violca didn't even know Evan's real name, for God's sake, so she might give the girl infatuation at best, there simply wasn't any way possible that she actually loved him.

Of course, that didn't really stop Violca from making a complete fool of herself, either, and Evan, miscreant that he was, wasn't really helping Violca get a grasp on it.  If anything, his refusal to set the girl to rights was only serving to exacerbate the situation.

And that, unfortunately, left Valerie in the very unpleasant position as the big heavy—yet another strike against the jerk-face rock star.  She'd have to be an idiot not to know that Violca now regarded her as the enemy, and why not?  She'd made it her mission to thwart Violca every time she caught her up to her little tricks.  She had to.  There was just too much at stake to let things go as they were—like Evan's freedom, for starters.  There was just no way around the idea that he'd be slapped with statutory rape charges if anyone found out about their relationship . . .

Rubbing her forehead as she felt the distinct throb just behind her eyes that served as a precursor to the monstrous headache that she could sense coming on, Valerie drew a deep breath and cleared her throat to gain the girl's attention.  She did, all right, but she also managed to draw both Evan as well as Gage's gazes, too, which just figured.  "Ev-Zel, you need to tell her that she cannot be inside a bar," Valerie muttered under her breath as she leaned in closer in the hopes that only he would hear her.

"Aw, come on, V, it's late, and this isn't just some random bar," he pointed out reasonably—a little too reasonably.

She shook her head.  He really was enjoying himself far more than he ought to.  "I'm serious, E-Zel," she corrected again.  Mike had pulled her aside before they'd left New York City to remind her that no one else knew Evan's real name and that she needed to call him Zel, too, at least in public.  She was finding that to be one of the more challenging things to remember . . .

"Okay, okay," he replied.  "Violca, I—eh?"

Valerie glanced at Evan, only to find him staring across the table with a rather amused expression on his face.  Following the direction of his gaze, she blinked.

Gage and Violca were carrying on a conversation, it seemed, and weren't paying the slightest bit of attention to Evan or Valerie at the moment.

"He knows German?" she asked, leaning toward Evan so that she could whisper.

Evan shook his head then shrugged.  "Possibly," he replied, glancing at her before shifting his attention across the table once more.  "He's speaking Romani."

"Romani?  He knows Romani?  Is he a gypsy?"

Evan chuckled.  "Not quite, V, but it wouldn't surprise me if he knew one or two."

"Why?"

He grinned at her.  "You'd understand if you knew him better," he replied.  Not exactly the answer she was looking for, but the soap opera unfolding across from them was far more interesting at the moment.  She wasn't sure what Violca had said, but Gage made a soothing kind of clucking sound, reaching out to cover both of her hands with one of his.

"What did she just say?" Valerie asked Evan quietly.

Evan glanced at her and smiled.  "She told him that her mama died, which is why she's traveling with me."

Wrinkling her nose since it bugged her to no end that she just couldn't understand a single word they were saying Valerie poked Evan in the ribs and jerked her head toward Gage and Violca impatiently.

"He asked her if she'd be more comfortable with other Romanis."

". . . And . . .?"

"And she said that her mother told her that there weren't any more."

She poked him again when he fell silent.  "Well?"

Evan's grin widened as he sat back and crossed his arms over his chest, looking entirely smug if not a little relieved.  "It seems that Gage knows of some others, and he's offering to take her to meet them."

Valerie blinked and stared at Evan for a long moment.  "He knows other gypsies?"

"Apparently."

"Well, why didn't you talk to him about it sooner?"

Rolling his eyes, he chuckled and slipped an arm behind her, resting on the top of the bench.  "Because I didn't know that he knew of any," he explained.  "See?  Everything works out if you just give it a chance."

"You mean that she wants to go with him?"

Nodding slowly, he gestured for the waitress to bring another round of drinks.  "Yup."

Valerie scowled.  On the one hand, sending Violca with Gage was an answer to the current dilemma.  On the other, was it really all right?  Just what did she know about this guy, anyway?  But Evan trusted him, didn't he?  Furthermore, he seemed to think that it was a great idea, too.  Then again, Evan also thought that sneaking into a morgue to 'borrow' a body bag was a good idea, so going strictly by his judgment might not be the soundest thing to do . . .

Violca seemed to be completely enthralled with the man, though, and that was something, wasn't it?  In fact, she hadn't taken her eyes off of him since she sat down, even when Evan spoke to her.  Eyes round with absolute wonder, she seemed to be entirely entranced.

On some level, it irked the hell out of Valerie.  For a girl who supposedly loved Evan, it seemed like an awfully easy dismissal.  She sighed.  'Knock that off, Valerie!' she scolded herself.  It wasn't like she wanted Violca to remain hung up on Evan, did she?  It was easy to see that Evan didn't and never had returned Violca's affections, so what did it matter if the girl's feelings weren't as deep or genuine as they should have been.  Just why did it bother her, anyway?  She should be glad that Violca had done a complete one-eighty . . . Shouldn't she . . .?

Gage stood up and stepped back to allow Violca to slip out of the booth, too.  She positively beamed at Evan and Valerie.  "Thank you so much," she said in English.  "You will . . . take care of Zel, yes?"

"Yes," Valerie said, caught off guard by the complete lack of contention in the girl's demeanor.

Evan grinned, nudging Valerie to move so that he could stand up, too.  She did, stepping back so that he could hug Violca.  Then he said something in German and kissed her on the cheek.

Violca giggled and glanced almost nervously at Gage, but her smile didn't falter as she waved quickly at Valerie and fairly ran out of the bar.  Slipping back into the booth, Valerie just didn't know what to make of the girl's abrupt departure.

"Don't worry," Gage said, slipping his hands into his pockets as he faced Evan with a smile.  "I will make sure that she is taken care of, I promise."

Evan nodded.  "Give me a call if you have any problems."

Gage chuckled.  "It was a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Denning.  See that this one stays out of trouble, no?"

Valerie smiled politely and nodded.  "If that's possible," she allowed.

Evan grinned and nudged her over with his hip as he sat back down again.  "I never go looking for trouble," he insisted.

"No, it just finds you, yes?"

Evan's grin widened.  "Something like that."

Gage inclined his head, his gaze flicking over to Valerie for a long moment.  Then he nodded as though he'd figured something else, but if he had, he didn't remark upon it.  Patting Evan on the shoulder, the man turned to go, his gait easy and fluid, and he didn't look back.

"You didn't really believe that she was in love with me, did you?" Evan asked quietly.

Glancing over at him, Valerie's frown deepened.  Staring at her with a slight smile touching his lips, he was watching her in a completely open and frank kind of way, and despite the brown contacts that he was currently wearing to mask his true eye color, she could see the amusement that lent his expression a certain brilliance and warmth.

"She said she was," Valerie pointed out.  Heaving a sigh, she shook her head.  "Is it really okay to send her with him?"

Evan shrugged, reaching past her to nab his beer.  "He'll help her out," he assured her.  "If nothing else, Gage loves women, so you don't have to worry about that."

She shot him a look that stated quite plainly that wasn't exactly what she wanted to hear.  "He does realize that she's underage, right?"

Evan chuckled.  "I believe he's taking her to Europe to find the other gypsies he knows."

And that wasn't really the reassurance that she was after, either.  Still, it seemed as though there wasn't much that she could do about it, one way or another, and she sighed since she really didn't have any options other than trusting Evan this time around, so she opted instead to let it go.  "How did your interviews go?"

Evan's good humor slowly faded.  "They went," he replied with an offhanded shrug.

"Not good?"

"You learn pretty quick that interviewers either don't know shit or they already have the answers in their heads before they ever meet you," he explained.

"And which ones did you have to deal with today?" she prompted.

Evan let his head fall back, staring up at the ceiling for a minute.  "Eh, you know, been doing this for awhile, so the ones I meet these days are usually the ones who already know everything about me, or so they think."

"And do they?"

"Do they what?" he asked quizzically.

She sighed and shook her head since he ought to know well enough what she was asking. "Do they know everything about you?"

The look he shot her was enigmatic—a hint of amusement, a little chagrin, the barest hint of irritation, and something else—something she couldn't quite get a handle on—something that she couldn't define . . . "No," he replied quietly, seriously.  "They really don't know jack shit."

"Okay, so what did they ask you, then?" she questioned as she sipped her wine.

He turned his face to look at her but didn't lower his chin.  "Same old, same old," he hedged.  "You know, stuff about the new album . . . was I planning on doing a more extensive tour . . . why you were in my bushes . . ."

"Oh, you're such an ass!" she grumbled, pushing at him to get him to move.

Evan chuckled and half-stumbled out of the booth.  Valerie scooted out and shot him a purely chagrined look which only made him laugh harder.  Shaking her head, she crossed the floor, leaving him alone with his ill-placed amusement.

It was only after she was safely ensconced in the elevator taking her to the floor where her room was that she broke into the barest hint of a smile, and by the time the doors slid open, she was laughing out loud, too.


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A/N:
'City' by Y&T first appeared on their 1989 release, Ten.  Song written by and copyrighted to Al Pitrelli, Jimmy DeGrasso, and Phil Kennemore..
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
What a jerk
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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 68
Chapter 70
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