InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Insanity ( Chapter 70 )

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

-OoOoOoO oOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Oh, I get hysterical, hysteria, oh, can you feel it; do you believe it?
'It's such a magical mysteria
'When you get that feelin' better start believin'
''Cause it's a miracle, oh, say you will, ooh babe
'Hysteria when you're near …'

-'Hysteria' by Def Leppard.


Rain pounded against the bus, a thousand dull plops as they struck the windows, splattering wide, running down the panes of glass in a spider web of motion.

It was the monotony that he couldn't stand.

On the bed across the bus, Valerie stirred and sat up slowly, rubbing her eyes and looking adorably confused.  "Where are we?" she asked.

Setting the guitar aside that Evan had been holding but not playing, he stood up, pacing the length of the floor and back to stretch his legs.  "Not sure," he replied over his shoulder.  "I think we're close to Ft. Worth."

"Is that where your show is?"


"Tomorrow night?"

He shook his head.  "Straight off the bus and into sound-check, then straight from the show, back on the bus and heading for Tallahassee, Florida."  Scratching his head—his hair was a kind of funky shade of ratty brown—he shrugged.  "I think . . . Then again, it might be New Orleans—somewhere down there."

Cocking an eyebrow, Valerie smiled just a little.  "Losing track of your own schedule?"

"After awhile it all looks the same, V," he told her with a grin of his own.

"If that's how you feel about it, you'd think that the same would apply to your women."

He chuckled, grabbing a pillow off the sofa and using it as a soccer ball as he bounce it rather pitifully off his knee a few times.  Not quite the same effect, was it . . .?  "You mean that it'd all start looking the same after awhile?  Hell, no!  Different colors of baby fuzz, if you know what I mean."

Rolling her eyes, she reached behind herself and grabbed a pillow to whip at him.  He ducked and laughed.   "You throw like a girl," he jeered.

Valerie snorted and scooted off the bed, stomping past him to retrieve a bottle of water out of the fridge.  "You know, your schedule makes no sense at all.  You start out in Detroit, then to LA, then to Ft. Worth, then to—" She leaned in to check the schedule taped to the refrigerator.  "—Denver, Colorado—how you got Tallahassee or New Orleans out of that is entirely beyond me . . ."

He grinned and kicked the pillow, nailing Valerie in the ass.  "Score!"

"Jerk," she retorted flatly, popping the seal on the water bottle and draining a quarter of it.  "Anyway, it's no wonder you get so confused.  I would be, too, if my schedule looked like yours."

"Aw, c'mon, V!  Are you saying that you're not thoroughly enjoying the life of a rock god?"

"You've been promoted to 'god' status?" she countered.

He nodded.  "Epic, right?"

She rolled her eyes and wandered over to sit at the table, turning her face toward the window.  "I don't remember approving that memo."

"Baby, I don't need no stinkin' memo to be promoted to rock god," he shot back.

She shook her head but otherwise ignored his commentary.  They passed the signs indicating that they were entering the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, and Valerie sighed.  "I thought it was always supposed to be sunny in Texas," she remarked.

"Any state you're in is sunny enough for me," Evan quipped, grabbing a dumbbell that he'd been lifting earlier and pumping it a few times.

"Oh, my God . . . that was the cheesiest thing you've ever said," she half-groaned.

Evan shot her an entirely unrepentant grin.  "Now, see, I thought it was pretty damn good."

"You would," she muttered, but he didn't miss the hint of a smile turning up the corners of her lips, either.

"I absolutely would," he agreed.


It was madness—sheer chaos.  The bus was pulled up as close as it could possibly be to the VIP gates of the Ft. Worth Municipal Arena, meaning that there was only about two hundred feet that they'd have to get through before they reached the relative safety of the outer yard, and as she peered out the window at the assembling security team, she slowly shook her head.  Sure, there had been some fans hanging out at the places where Evan was going to play before, but most of them had congregated around the hotel.  Not the case here . . . "There's got to be a thousand kids out there," she said quietly, "or more."

Evan grinned.  "Word must've got out that we weren't staying here overnight," he said.  "Besides, they'd have showed up early, anyway.  Wouldn't surprise me if some of them had been here all night."

Listening to him, Valerie shook her head.  It wasn't a big deal to him, was it?  All of the insanity that seemed to erupt wherever he went was just par for course in the day of the life of Zel Roka.

The sliding door opened, and Robbie, one of the two drivers for Evan's bus, stuck his head in.  "They're ready for you, Zel," he said.

"Thanks."  Turning toward Valerie, his grin widened, the excitement of the moment radiating off him in nearly palpable waves.  "Ready?"

She wasn't entirely sure that she was, no, but she sighed and stood up, slipping on her shoes and following Evan to the front of the bus.  The roar of the crowd was deafening.  Valerie felt dazed as she stepped down behind Evan.  Someone slung a coat over her head, but not to protect her from the rain that had slowed to a cold drizzle as much as it was to hide her from the fans, she supposed.  It wasn't the first time that this particular scenario had played out, but it was the first time that it was on such a large scale. Normally, she was asked to remain on the bus until well after Evan had been swept off in a waiting limo or something before she would be taken to the hotel to wait for him.  All of it was for her own safety, she knew, but that didn't mean that she hadn't felt an unwelcome and unsettling sense of anxiety at those times.  She'd felt as though she had been abandoned, and that was a feeling that just didn't sit well with her.

In fact, it would be the first time that she got to actually see the whole show, too, since the same sort of precautions had been in place at the other venues.  About an hour before the show ended, she had been escorted back to the hotel, which meant that she'd only actually seen about half of the performances from the safety of the skybox with a handful of others.

But the hundreds of screaming voices hit her with a physical presence like being struck full-on and pushed back by a heavy wind.  Those voices melded together into an indistinct roar, and Valerie was powerless to do anything except be carried forward by someone's strong arm around her.  She heard Evan's voice calling out to the crowd, but she couldn't make out what he'd said, either, and he'd sounded like he was so far away.  It was one of the most surreal and frightening things she'd ever felt, and by the time the doors closed behind them inside the shocking quiet of the VIP foyer, she was shaking like a leaf, holding onto the coat that was still covering her head and shoulders so tightly that her knuckles were white.

"Woo yeah!  Fuck, yeah!  Woo!" someone yelled.  "That's a hell of a crowd!  Goddamn!  Goddamn!"

Valerie winced when someone tugged on the coat, reluctant to give up the strange sense of security that it offered her.  "You okay, V?" Evan asked. She forced her eyes open, blinking as the harsh light accosted her vision, only to find Evan staring down at her in a worried sort of way.  Smoothing her hair back with gentle fingers, he slowly shook his head.  "It was kind of nuts, eh?"

A late sense of irritation washed over her, and she knocked his hand away with a scowl.  "I'm fine," she muttered tersely, angry at her own strange reaction.

He let out a deep breath and nodded.  "Didn't doubt it for a second," he lied with a smile.

Down the hallway, one of the tech crew stuck his head out of a doorway.  "Roka!  Move your ass!  We need you for sound-check!"

Evan ignored him.  "You want to come along?" he asked casually.  "Or I can have Bone take you to my dressing room if you'd rather hang out there."

"I said I'm all right," she bit out.  "Lead the way."

Eyebrows lifting as he stared at her for a long moment, he finally nodded, shrugging on the jacket that he'd tossed over her head just before she'd stepped off of the bus.  Then he grabbed Valerie's hand and pulled her along behind him down the corridor.

That corridor actually let to another corridor then another and another—a winding network of hallways that seemed to lead nowhere.  Pointing down one of the hallways as they passed, Evan spared a moment to grin down at her.  "My dressing room's down there," he said.  Intercepting the quizzical expression on her face, he shrugged.  "I've played here lots of times," he explained.

"How long does sound-check take?"

"Not too long unless they've got to do some huge adjustments.  The crew's still got their records from the last time we played here, so it shouldn't be a big deal.  When we play new venues, though, that can take a little longer."

"So there's actually work involved?" she teased.  "Who'd have thought it?"

He chuckled and gave her hand a little squeeze.  With a start, she glanced down at her hand, clasped in his.  In that moment, she hadn't realized that he'd taken hold of it, had she?  Pulling it away, she couldn't help the slight blush that stained her skin, and when Evan glanced back at her, he chuckled again and grabbed her hand once more.  "It's kind of an art," he went on, opting not to remark upon her attempt to gain her freedom.

Snorting loudly, she gave up for the moment since she knew he'd just reach for her again, Valerie shot him a look designed to let him know what she thought of his arrogance.  He didn't see it, which just figured.  "It's more of a pain in the ass when you're looking at a show with more than one or two acts.  The people in charge tend to get a little pissy if you're running late or running over . . . Rocktoberfest is usually a pain in the ass that way . . ."

"That reminds me," she said, tugging on her hand, only to have his tighten around hers.  "Who's opening for you tonight?"

"Another local band," he told her.  "They had a big battle of the bands contest.  The Funk Skunks won."

"The Funk Skunks?" she echoed, unsure whether or not she really buy that one.  "What kind of name is that?"

Evan laughed and turned around long enough to tweak the tip of her nose.  "Mike said that they used to be called the Fucker Suckers, but the PR folks in charge of the contest weren't too keen on printing that on their flyers and shit."

Snapping her mouth closed, Valerie shook her head.  "Yeah, I'm not touching that one," she muttered.

Grinning at her, he jerked his head toward somewhere in the distance.  "Hear that?  Frankie's already getting it started."

Shaking her head, Valerie quickened her pace so that she was walking beside him instead of behind him, dragged along like a child.  The throb of the drums seemed to echo all around her, growing louder, then softer then louder again.  "Why'd they start without you?"

"Percussion always does . . . Then Tay and I'll mess around some . . . and, uh, Pete, I guess . . . Then me again.  Vocals are always leveled last."

Valerie frowned at the sudden shift in Evan's mood. Gone was the good natured smile, and the slight frown that replaced it was telling.  She's noticed during the shows she'd seen that Evan tended to avoid the stand-in bassist, but she wasn't sure if maybe she wasn't reading more into it than what was really there.  Worrying about Evan too much was just as bad as not worrying at all, wasn't it?  She sighed.

"What's the matter?"

Forcing a smile, Valerie quickly shook her head.  "Not a thing," she insisted.

Rounding the corner, Valerie's eyes widened as they stepped into the arena.  Places like this seemed so much smaller when she watched from above, but standing there in the midst of it, so to speak . . .  It felt overwhelming, didn't it?

Some of the roadies were rigging up the two gargantuan screens that flanked the stage while others were checking the metal light frames, making sure that they were properly affixed to the stage.  There had to be at least two hundred people or more, and all of them were moving like a well oiled machine, and while she had to admit that their work was flawlessly efficient, the real testament to their skills was that, according to Evan, they could have the entire set torn down, packed up, and be on the road, heading for the next venue within two hours after the show ended.

"Pretty damn cool, isn't it?" Evan said quietly beside her.

Valerie nodded without taking her eyes off the stage, fascinated by the skill they possessed in doing their jobs.  Then she sighed as she stared at the myriad of shirts—black ones that all read, 'The Crew Did V with Zel Roka' on the backs.  She's already told him in no uncertain terms that she wasn't amused.  He'd just laughed at her, of course.

"There's Bone," Evan remarked, raising his hand to point at the bodyguard, as if Valerie wouldn't be able to spot him.  Taller, bigger, broader than anyone else there, Bone stood out like a sore thumb.  "Stay with him, okay?"

It was on the tip of her tongue to remind him that she was a little too old to need a babysitter.  She nodded instead, though, when she finally got a good look at his face.

He wasn't frowning, exactly, but he didn't look happy.  His gaze was trained on the stage, or more exactly, on the bassist standing off to the side, patiently waiting his turn to play, and on impulse, Valerie leaned up and kissed Evan on the cheek.

He blinked and glanced at her, his eyes registering his confusion at her abrupt action.  Then suddenly, he broke into a wide grin, a boyish grin, and laughed as he let go of her hand and loped over toward the stage.  "Hey, Bone!" he called without breaking his stride.  "Go take care of V, will you?"

Valerie's eyes narrowed as she slowly shifted her gaze.  Why did it seem like every single head in the arena had just turned to stare at her?

"They've all be wondering who 'V' is," Bone remarked as he sidled up next to her.  "So now they know."

Stifling a sigh as hot color flooded into her face, Valerie wondered if anyone would rat her out of she wandered over and bludgeoned Evan Zelig with his own microphone stand.  It looked decently heavy, after all . . .

As though he read her mind, Bone chuckled and slipped an arm around her waist and steered her toward the center of the arena.  "Come on, V.  You can see better from over here . . ."


"Testing, testing, one, two, three . . ." Evan spoke into the microphone.  "Testy, testes, testicles . . ."

Valerie rolled her eyes but giggled, shaking her head at Evan's brand of demented humor.  Sitting in a folding chair with a plate of food that one of the roadies had brought her, Valerie picked a grape out of the fruit salad and popped it into her mouth.  Bone stood nearby, talking quietly into his cell phone, coordinating the plan for their departure after the show, he'd said.

A guy standing near the stage pressed his hand against the headset he was wearing and gave Evan a thumbs up.  "Give me a level, Roka," he called.

Evan sang a quick scale a couple of times.


After a few minutes of that, the man nodded.  "Okay.  Go ahead and do a song."

Evan grinned and grabbed the guitar slung over his shoulder, strumming it a few times.

Glancing back at Frankie, Evan nodded.  The drummer held his sticks over his head, tapping them together in an even cadence before the band launched into a song.

It was one from Evan's first album called 'Down on Me', but her mouth dropped open when she heard the words since he'd apparently decided that a new, updated version was in order—as if the original lyrics weren't bad enough . . .

"'My name is Mikey, can't you see . . .
'I got no balls and a tiny pee-pee . . .
'When I go, I gotta squat to wee . . .
'And I love them boys in the paparazzi . . .
'I manage Zel Roka 'cause he makes me horny  . . .
'Because he's more man than I'll ever be . . .'"

"Oh . . . my . . . God . . ." Valerie muttered under her breath then pressed her lips together to keep from laughing out loud.  Exactly why he had to be so damned twisted was entirely beyond her, and she must be going a little nuts, considering that the more she thought about those lyrics, the funnier they became in her mind . . .

"Don't worry.  That one isn't nearly as bad as some of the others he's come up with," Mike remarked as he came up behind her.

Biting her bottom lip lest she laugh right in Mike's face, Valerie nodded slowly and stuffed another grape into her mouth.  A flash of anger sparked to life—she still hadn't quite forgiven the man for hitting Evan when he was already down.

"Is he behaving himself with you?" Mike went on with a frown as he stared at Valerie like he expected her to lie.

She nodded and cleared her throat, standing up and setting the plate on the metal chair, her back stiff and straight, her tone civil at best. "Yes, he is," she replied, trying her hardest not to hear the words that Evan was singing.  He'd moved on to something about Mike stuffing socks in his pants so no one knew that he had no penis . . .

"Good," Mike said though he still seemed to be a little unsure as to whether or not he really believed her.  "Meant to ask you about that back in LA, but the start of a tour is always a little insane."

Valerie didn't reply right away.  To be honest, she hadn't realized that Mike was even in LA until just after the show since she knew he hadn't gotten onto one of the busses, to start with.  Evan had told her that it was normal, that more often than not, Mike just flew in for shows when he had time—or if he had to bitch him out for some perceived ill.

"Are you sure you're all right?" Mike finally asked.  Valerie could feel the man's gaze on her but didn't look to verify it.  "He's not behaving, is he?"  He sighed.  "I'll talk to him; I promise."

"And do what?" she countered, the simmering anger surging up like a flash fire. "Hit him again?  That's okay; I can handle Evan just fine without your help."

The manager blinked and stepped back as though Valerie's ire was a palpable thing.  Holding up his hands, he sighed again and slowly shook his head.  "It wasn't like that," he hurried to explain.  "Sometimes the only way to deal with Zel is to get down on his level, and—"

"Is that right?  So he hit you first?" she challenged, her tone much calmer than the expression on her face.

Mike grimaced.  "No, he didn't, but you don't know Zel like I do.  He—"

"If that's the case, then you're pretty sad, aren't you?  He just lost one of his best friends, not to mention the fact that he saw it happen and couldn't do a thing to prevent it!  If you know him so well, then you should know that your insistence that the show go on isn't good for him!  Even I know that, and of course I don't know him nearly as well as you do . . . right?"

"You think I didn't try to stop him?" Mike countered.  "I did.  I told him that we could cancel; that people would understand."

"Was that before or after you hit him?" she growled, eyes flashing, temper unleashing completely.  "Let me tell you something.  If I were Evan, I'd have pressed charges against you for battery, and you certainly wouldn't be my manager.  How dare you lay a hand on him, and I promise you this: if you ever—ever—do it again, I swear to God that I'll bury you, regardless of what Evan says."

Mike nodded slowly then suddenly smiled as though something made sense to him.  Valerie narrowed her eyes but he didn't clarify.  "I understand," he finally said with an apologetic sort of shrug.  "You know, I just wanted to thank you.  At least he's not getting into as much mischief as he used to since you're around."

She wasn't entirely ready to let it go, but satisfied that she'd made her point crystal clear, she crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her gaze toward the stage once more.  Evan was singing another song now, one that seemed to be about how big Bone's  . . . bone . . . was . . . "Oh?"

Nodding, Mike stuffed his hands into his pockets and bobbed his shoulders dismissively. "Between him and Dieter . . ." Barking out a rather terse laugh, he shook his head.  "Those two were always getting into some kind of trouble, and the hell of it was, most of the time, they weren't even really trying to . . . Both of them were way too smart, you know?  So when you take two people who are too damn smart for their own good, toss them onto a bus for hours at a time, add in some booze or other . . . stuff . . . Eh, it was just a recipe for disaster, I guess.  God only knows how many times I had to dig their asses out of trouble—or jail . . ." He didn't laugh as he trailed off, but he did smile.  It was a little sad, though, and Valerie had to wonder if Mike missed Dieter as much as Evan did . . .

"There was one time that I had to bail them out of jail in Biloxi . . . They snuck out of the hotel and ended up, wandering the streets at four a.m., and I get a phone call from the police station saying that they were both busted for peeing on a statue of the Virgin Mary outside a church."

"Evan did that?" Valerie asked.  Even for him, that sounded pretty awful.

Mike let out a deep breath then chuckled.  "He said that they weren't trying to pee on the Virgin Mary, they were just peeing, and the statue just happened to be there, but Dieter . . ." Trailing off for a minute, Mike looked sad despite the wan smile on his face.  "Dieter said that they couldn't find a fire hydrant."

Valerie laughed despite her lingering irritation with the manager and shook her head.  For some reason, that sounded about right . . .

"Then they were kicked out of Seattle.  They drank a couple bottles of whiskey then figured it'd be interesting to try to dig up the oldest grave in the city.  Dieter had heard about it on the news or something—maybe they'd looked it up on the internet.  Who knows?  So the two of them get caught desecrating this grave, and the story they gave the cops was that they just wanted to see if the 'old dude's' body had completely disintegrated yet.  Can you imagine?"

Pressing her lips together, Valerie nodded slowly.  Yeah, she really could imagine that . . .

"The dumbest thing about the whole thing was that the graveyard was right across from a police station," Mike added almost as an afterthought.  "Hell, if I had a dime for every scrape I've had to dig the two of them out of over the years, I could retire a millionaire a few times over . . ."

Valerie shook her head and smiled.  Something about his tone, the expression on his face . . .  "You miss Dieter, too, right?" she asked.

Heaving a sigh, Mike looked a little embarrassed but finally nodded.  "He doesn't think I do," he said, inclining his head in the direction of the stage.  "He's always regarded me as an enemy," he admitted.  "Goes with the territory, I guess."

"He's having trouble dealing with it," she allowed.

"You think I don't know that?" Mike grumbled.  "You know, the first time I met him, I knew he was going to be big, but he was in a band with Dieter and the others, so when Wicked Soundsations wanted to sign him—just him—he told them to go fuck themselves.  Deet was the one who talked him into signing . . . I don't know that Deet ever really wanted to make it big as much as he just wanted to jam with his friend."

Valerie blinked and shook her head.  She didn't know that.  It spoke volumes, though, as far as she was concerned.  The depth of Evan's relationship with Dieter . . . Maybe she really hadn't understood it completely, and maybe she never would.  "He's avoiding the new bassist, isn't he?" she asked as she stared at the men on the stage.

Mike sighed again, rubbing his forehead in a weary sort of way.  "Yeah, he is," he said.  He didn't sound like he knew what to do about it, either, and he laughed kind of sadly.  "If I point it out to him, he's liable to come unglued . . ." He chuckled and shrugged again.  "Then you'd bury me, right?  But if I don't . . . Well, it's pretty obvious, what he's doing.  There was even a write-up about it in the Los Angeles Sunset after the show . . ."

Valerie nodded but didn't reply.  She could understand exactly what Mike was saying.  If it was obvious even to her, then she supposed that it was worse than she knew.  Sure, she could understand Evan's reticence, and she knew that, to be fair, she'd have to admit that he was dealing with things better than she might if she were him.  Unfortunately, she didn't have any ideas about how to change it, either . . .

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~ =~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'Hysteria' by Def Leppard first appeared on their 1987 release, Hysteria.  Song written by and copyrighted to Joseph Elliot, Richard Allen, Phil Collen, Steve Clark, Mutt Lange, Rick Savage.
== == == == == == == == == ==
slsonic ------ monkeyseemonkeynodo ------ mynera ------ OROsan0677 ------ Dark Inu Fan ------ JKD1989 ------ theblackthorn ------ Gin_Hayashi ------ FireDemon86 ------ Usagiseren05
Shiratsuki ----- Proforce ------ malitiadixie ------ WonderAway ------ Amerise ------ cutechick18
Thought from Evan:
I thought the new lyrics rocked
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.

Chapter 69
Chapter 71
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