InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Daybreak ( Chapter 72 )

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


-OoO oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Wastin' away again in Margaritaville
'Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt
'Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
'But I know it's nobody's fault …'

-'Margaritaville' by Jimmy Buffett.

-Valerie-


The passing blare of a car horn brought Valerie rudely back to her senses, and she sat up quickly, blinking as she looked around to find the source of that sound.   It took a few minutes for her mind to catch up with her body, and when it finally did, she heaved a frustrated growl and flopped back against the thick pillows once more.

"Jackasses . . . honking their damn horns at the crack of . . ." Glancing at the clock, she snorted.  ". . . Ten . . ."

She needed coffee in the worst way.

"Evan?" she called, figuring that since he tended to be a lot more coherent than she was first thing in the mid-morning that maybe she could talk him into making the coffee for her.

There was no answer.

Grudgingly sitting up, Valerie slowly shifted her gaze around the bus' interior.  Everything was just as it should be with one glaring exception—no Evan.

He wasn't in the bathroom.  The door was wide open.

So where in the world was he?

"It's not like he could just get up and decide he had to go somewhere," she muttered, tossing the blankets back and rolling out of bed with an irritated snort.  Knowing that man, he was off somewhere getting into one kind of trouble or another.  She was starting to think that he just really didn't know any constructive ways to stay out of it.

Stomping over to the sliding door that separated the bus from the driver, she slapped the panel to release the lock and gave it a good shove.

"Morning, V," Lars greeted without taking his eyes off the road ahead of them.

"Morning," she replied, bracing herself in the doorway to maintain her balance as the bus slowed slightly to take a fairly sharp curve.  Then again, it wasn't going nearly as fast as it should be.  That was odd, but Valerie didn't remark upon it.  "Where's Ev—Zel?"

"Roka?" he replied, his brow furrowing thoughtfully.  "You check behind the bus?"

Valerie blinked and shook her head.  "Behind the—?  Why would he be behind the bus?"

Lars chuckled as though he thought that she'd just asked something kind of stupid.

Making a face, she ran back through the bus and into the bathroom, grabbing the blind cord and giving it a good yank.  Eyes widening, she spotted the errant rock star.  Jogging behind the bus, he was safe enough between the vehicles, and since they were basically smack in the middle of nowhere, she figured that he probably wasn't too worried about safety or paparazzi, either, for that matter, which was a good thing since he'd opted to do his running without a shirt on, wearing only a pair of loose black shorts.

Letting out a deep breath, she spared a moment to watch him.  Golden blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail that swung carelessly behind him, he was wearing a set of cordless earphones, probably listening to music or something.  How fair was it, really?  He moved with such a grace, almost a certain kind of elegance that most ordinary people were never able to attain, and as loathe as she was to admit it especially to him, she couldn't help but appreciate exactly how beautiful his body really was.  Shouldn't it have been enough that he was tall and good looking?  Broad chest that wasn't so wide that it made him look like some kind of bodybuilder . . . narrow waist . . . six-pack abs . . . sinewy strength that seemed so entirely effortless . . . and the symmetry of motion in every single thing he did—she wouldn't have described him as cat-like, no . . . more like an elk or a deer: one of those beasts that moved with such skill, such precision that it could mesmerize the person watching them.  Why did every single part of him have to have such perfect proportion?  It certainly wasn't because he went out of his way to take care of himself.  Sure, he did like to jog like he was doing now, and yes, she'd seen him spar with Bone and with his brother, but she knew damn well that he didn't even bat an eye over the idea of putting things into his body that could potentially hurt him.

It just wasn't fair, damn it.  She woke up every morning after trying to get a decent night's rest, ate things that were good for her, tried to do some sort of exercise every day, and she knew that if she were to slack off, it wouldn't take long for it to show on her figure.  Ugh, she hated people like Evan Zelig who didn't really have to work to maintain the body they had . . . even if he was extremely easy on the eyes . . .

Biting her lip, Valerie hurried back into the main part of the bus, pausing only long enough to pull on her jogging shoes.  She'd worn sweats to bed last night, so she didn't bother to change as she darted to the front of the vehicle again.  "Stop the bus," she ordered.

Lars took his eyes off the road long enough to give Valerie a questioning glance.   "Yes, ma'am," he agreed, reaching for the button on the instrument panel that connected all the busses in the line.  "Pull over.  V wants to jog with the boss."

A few minutes later, Lars got the okay to stop the bus, and he opened the door with a wide grin.  Stepping down into the faded grass beside the road, she bent over to stretch out for a minute as Evan came loping around the side.  "Everything okay?" he asked, frowning in concern as he closed the distance.

Valerie straightened up and shot him a haughty look as she jogged past him.

He laughed and ran after her.  A moment later, the bus ahead of them rumbled and crept forward, slowly gaining speed as it pulled away.

"Do you do this a lot?" she asked, breaking into a comfortable jog—just fast enough to give her a good workout, not so fast that she had to kill herself to keep up.

"Just when I can't stand being cooped up in there," he said, jerking his head at the bus ahead of them.  He fell into step beside her, their feet creating a rhythm as they hit the pavement.  It was impossible to tell just how long he'd already been running, but she figured that he couldn't have been up to it very long.  He hadn't even broken a sweat yet . . .

"I'm surprised that Mike lets you."

Evan rolled his eyes.  "He's not my father.  Hell, if he were, I'd have run away from home about the time that I learned how to walk.  'Sides . . . he's not here."

She glanced at him and shook her head.  "But he got on the bus last night, didn't he?  I know he did . . . He's on that one with Bone . . ."

"He got on the bus," Evan allowed with a shrug.  "Needed to bark at Bone.  Then he got right back off again—a meeting or something.  Who knows?  Mikey doesn't like traveling on busses so he normally just flies in for the shows."

"Why don't you fly to your shows?" she asked, her voice starting to take on that breathless quality.

"Eh . . . fly around the country, only to have more fucking time, stuck in a damn hotel?  No, thanks, V.  I'll pass."

"So there is a method to your madness . . ."

He chuckled.  "Well, that . . . and if I flew, then I'd never be able to shake Mike off my ass, now would I?"

Uttering as much of a laugh as she could, she rolled her eyes then glanced down at the road to make sure there wasn't any potholes for her to trip over, but when she caught a glimpse of Evan's feet, she gasped.  "Why are you barefoot?" she demanded, stumbling slightly as she shot him a disapproving glance.

He caught her elbow and steadied her.  "I never run with shoes on; I told you," he replied calmly.

"And I thought it was bad enough that you're out here with just those stupid shorts on," she muttered, increasing her pace just a little.  "It's got to be, what?  Sixty degrees?  Maybe sixty-five?  And you don't have the common sense to put a shirt on at least . . ."

"I'm fine, V," he argued mildly.  "I'm hot blooded, remember?"

Snorting loudly, Valerie shook her head and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.

Speeding up, he shot out ahead of her, only to turn around and run backward with a ridiculous grin on his face.  "Ah, much better . . ."

"You're going to trip and fall on your big, fat head," she pointed out.

"I'm telling you, V, the view out here is spectacular."

Glancing from side to side without moving her head, she wrinkled her nose.  "It's nothing but rock, Roka.  Twenty feet of rock on both sides of the road."

He chuckled.  "No way," he argued.  "By the way, you're not wearing a bra, are you?"

She could feel the blood explode under her skin but stubbornly kept moving.  "None of your business," she growled.  "Now shut up or I'll get back on the bus."

His chuckle escalated into a full-out laugh, but he did turn around and fall in beside her once more.

The exercise, though, was starting to work on her.  She'd always appreciated how physical exertion could improve her mood . . .

They ran along in silence for awhile.  Every so often, Valerie would alter her course to avoid as much of the exhaust fumes as she could from the bus ahead of them.  Glancing at Evan, she was pleased to see that he had finally developed a fine sheen of sweat.  Granted, she'd prefer for him to be drenched from head to foot, but she'd take whatever she could get . . .

"It's going to be a really great day," Evan ventured, breaking the companionable quiet that had fallen as they jogged.  Valerie didn't reply as a car passed on the left.  Kids inside were yelling, probably because Evan's bus had 'Zel Roka' painted three feet high on the side panels—not good for trying to remain inconspicuous . . .

'A great day, huh?' she thought to herself as Evan waved at the kids—boys, all of whom seemed to be trying to lean over each out and out the windows to get a glimpse of the rock star.  Smiling to just a little, she quickened her pace.  Maybe he was on to something there . . .

Maybe.


-Evan-


"How's the tour going, sweetie?"

Evan grinned and flopped back on the bed with the cell phone to his ear.  "It's going all right, Mama," he replied.  "How are things at home?"

"Oh, just fine," Gin assured him.  "Trying to get everything ready for the children's Halloween party at the hospital and all that . . ."

"So you and Cain worked things out?"

She sighed quietly—she probably didn't mean for him to hear it.  "Everything's fine," she stated again.

"What did he do to land himself in the dog house?" Evan asked quietly.

"I-It was nothing," Gin said brightly—too brightly.  "Just a misunderstanding . . ."

"A misunderstanding," Evan echoed, rolling onto his side and frowning at the wall.  "Helluva misunderstanding if you went to Bubby's house for . . . how long?  A couple weeks?  Three?"

"Don't worry about us," Gin hurried on to say.  "Don't you have a big show tonight?"

"Tomorrow night," he corrected.  "Anyway, you're more important to me than a gig."

"You're such a sweet boy!" Gin told him.  "I just love you!"

He could hear the smile on her face coming through in her voice and chuckled.  "Love you, too, Mama," he said.

Gin sighed and hesitated, as though she wanted to say something but wasn't sure how to do it.  Evan waited, knowing that she'd get around to it sooner if he didn't press, and he was right.  "How . . . How is she?"

"She?" he repeated with a thoughtful frown.  "V, you mean?"

"Um, no . . . That girl—Violca."

Something in Gin's tone gave him pause.  She sounded almost grudging, like she didn't want to ask any such thing but felt that she had to.  It wasn't an inflection that Evan was familiar with, at least, not from his darling mother.  "Violca?  She's all right.  In fact, a friend of mine took her with him.  He said he knows some gypsies, so he'll see if they'll take her in."

"That's good," she said with a sigh of relief.  "I was afraid I was a little too . . . mean . . . to her . . ."

That made Evan sit up straight.  His mother?  Mean?  To anyone . . .?  "How were you mean?" he asked slowly.

"W-Well . . ." she hedged.

"Mama?"

"It wasn't a big deal," she said, her tone a very strange mix of whine and belligerence, and then the belligerence took over.  "I meant what I said.  I just should have been a little more diplomatic about it, is all."

"What did you say to her?" he couldn't resist asking.

"I'd rather not say," she replied haughtily.

"That bad, eh?" he teased despite the prickle of curiosity that was driving him a little insane.

"I've got to go, sweetie.  Break a leg at your recital!"

The line went dead, and Evan sighed then chuckled.  Only Gin would call a rock concert a recital . . .

Heaving a sigh, he scooted off the bed, reaching for the first pair of jeans he touched inside the bag someone had brought into the hotel for him.  Fascinating, wasn't it?  Gin just wasn't a mean person, and he knew that better than anyone, which only fueled his desire to know what she'd said to Violca.  It couldn't have possibly been nearly as bad as she thought, though.  Then again, Violca's grasp of the English language was shaky at best, so even if Gin had been over the top rude, she probably hadn't even realized it, anyway . . .

He was just pulling up the jeans when a curt knock sounded on his door.  It was probably the interviewer that Mike had mentioned on the telephone earlier—a pushy woman named Jennifer Ecco that Evan normally tried to avoid like the plague.  'Sleep with a woman one time, and she thinks she has the right to ask me about everything under the damn sun . . .' Making a face, he reached for a tee-shirt.  "Come in."

The door opened, and Jennifer sashayed into the room with a catty smile on her carefully polished face and a scrawny guy who looked like he might have just finished high school right behind her.  "Hi, Zel," she greeted in a tone as close to a purr as he'd ever heard as she extended her hand, careful not to chip the candy apple red polish on the nails that Evan was pretty certain were fake.

All the same, he shot her a saucy grin as he tugged the shirt over his head and pulled it down.  "How's it going?"

She smiled, dark brown eyes glowing as she slowly, methodically looked him up and down.  She was trying to stalk him, wasn't she?  He almost laughed at the ridiculousness of the given situation.  In times gone by, he might have taken her up on the unspoken offer, after all, she really was something to look at, and she knew it.  She ought to.  Evan figured she'd spent enough money on herself through the years that if she didn't look absolutely spectacular, she needed to sue a couple plastic surgeons.  Very large, perfectly shaped, absolutely gorgeous breasts that were a little too firm to be real, beautifully tucked waistline, soft thighs that were just too slender not to have become familiar with the art of liposuction, a nose that used to be a bit more on the Grecian side of things was now more apt to be described as 'pixie' . . . Even the platinum blonde hair that hung to her waist was entirely too light to match up with the black eyebrows that were meticulously plucked—all in all perfect—maybe a little too perfect . . . or maybe a little too much of someone else's idea of perfection . . .

The flash of hazel eyes stared at him from the recesses of his mind, and he smiled.  Jennifer could stand to learn a few things from a certain attorney he knew if she really wanted to see what 'perfect' could truly be.  He knew damn well that it didn't matter if she was wearing top of the line designer fashions straight off the runway in Paris or a pair of jeans and a soft little sweater, Valerie wore her clothing; they didn't wear her, which was something else that Jennifer had yet to figure out.  There wasn't a surgeon alive who could make that particular woman any more gorgeous than she already was . . .

Still, he took her hand and kissed it since that was obviously what she wanted of him.  She rewarded him with a very coy smile.  "Thank you for taking time out of your schedule for me," she said.  "This is Dane, my photographer.  Do you mind if he takes a few pictures?  Maybe over there on the bed . . ."

He knew the drill well enough.  Stretching out on the bed, he posed for the first ten minutes or so until Jennifer decided that they should move on.

"Your new album debuted at the top of all the charts this week, so congratulations on that," Jennifer said as Evan dropped into a chair in the middle of the huge hotel room.  "Of course, that's to be expected from a man of your caliber, right?"

He smiled.  "I'd like to think that the new album can stand on its own merits."

"Hmm, of course, of course," she agreed with a wave of her hand.  "Let's talk about your new single, okay?"

"Well, I—"

"It's just racing up the charts and promises to be your biggest single to date!  Everyone's looking forward to hearing it live, right?  So what's the delay with the video?"

"I'm not making a video for it," he replied when she finally decided to let him put a word in, edgewise.

Eyes growing round in exaggerated surprise, she shook her head as she leaned forward to pat his hand like she thought he was being confrontational just for the hell of it.  "Is that so?  Why ever not?"

"I have my reasons," he said.

She ignored the clipped tone in his voice.  "Now, let's see if I did my homework on you right, shall we?  Word is that you wrote it for Dieter Reichardt, your bassist who was so brutally gunned down in cold blood just months ago right in front of you.  All of us saw you go down, too, and your fans were so grateful that it was just Dieter and not you that was really hurt.  Do you have any kind of response for those in the media who are lambasting you for caving under pressure and recording this song to appease those radio stations and video channels that only want to play your less racy songs?"

"Who the fuck cares what a bunch of blowhards have to say about a damn thing I do?" Evan countered, the last nerve in his body fraying at lightning speed.  Just Dieter?  Just Dieter . . . "If I listen to anything they had to say, I'd have given up music a long time ago.  As for Deet?  He was one of my best friends."

"Of course he was," she said, the sudden concern so intense in her voice that it nearly choked him.  After a moment that he supposed she meant to convey her condolences, she gave a brisk little sigh and pasted on her very best broadcast smile.  "So you're denying that there's a correlation between your record setting sales in the first week of your album's release and 'Piece of You'?" she asked.

Grinding his teeth together, he reminded himself furiously that he had yet to lose his temper with anyone in the media, and he wasn't about to start now.  Maybe.  "If I wrote the song just to bring in sales then I guess I'd give a rat's ass, but I didn't, so let's just leave it at that."

She jotted some notes on the steno pad in her hands and shot him a syrupy sweet smile.  He knew her game a little too well.  What she was jotting on that paper was what would eventually end up in her article, and he had a nagging suspicion that she wasn't writing down his words verbatim, either.

Stifling a sigh as she went on with her next question, Evan pasted on as much of a smile as he could muster and tried to look like he was paying attention—and like he wasn't two seconds from standing up and demanding that she and the photographer who kept clicking away get the fuck out of his hotel room.

It was going to be a long interview, wasn't it . . .?


-Valerie-


Hurrying down the hallway to Evan's room, Valerie laughed to herself and quickly ran her fingers through her hair.  She felt unaccountably good.  Then again, after nearly a week of limited exercise, the morning jog probably had more to do with her good mood than anything else.

In fact, after her shower—a nice, hot one that she'd stood under for at least an hour—she felt more relaxed, more like herself, than she had since she'd left on this little adventure.

So good, in fact, that she thought that she'd go find Evan and see what he had planned.  Of course, there was a good chance that he was going to be busy with interviews or something, and she knew that Mike had mentioned to him earlier that it'd do them some good for Evan to sit down with the band and have a jam session—anything to get a little bit of practice in.  Still, she was kind of hoping that she could talk him into grabbing something to eat with her since he didn't have a show today.  He didn't like to eat before going onstage, and then he ate like he'd never seen food before when he was finished.

Tapping on his door, she waited.

"You waiting for Zel Roka?"

Turning toward the sound of that voice, she glanced at the rather scrawny young man who had spoken.  He was waiting a little further down the hallway in front of the elevator.  When he noticed that he'd gotten her attention, he blushed a little then shrugged, adjusting the leather bag on his shoulder.

"He'll be busy awhile," the guy said, nodding at Evan's door, his face reddening as he shuffled his feet and avoided Valerie's gaze.

"Is someone in there with him . . .?" she asked cautiously.  The kid was acting weird, no doubt about it, and that didn't go over with her very well.

"Dane McCarthy," he said, ducking his head slightly in greeting.  "I'm a photographer for Buzz! magazine . . ."

Nodding slowly—okay, so she recognized the name of the hard rock publication—she stepped back.  "Valerie Denning, Zel's attorney."

Dane cleared his throat and tried to smile.  It looked more like a grimace.  "I'm here with a, uh, co-worker . . . She was doing an interview."

"Okay," Valerie said slowly, wondering why it felt like she was trying to pull the kid's teeth.  "So why will it be awhile?"

She hadn't thought that it was possible for him to blush any redder.  She was wrong.  Face a deep crimson, he shrugged again and made a lame gesture at the door.  "They're, uh . . . old friends, if you get my drift . . ."

Eyes flaring wide as the implication finally sank in, Valerie unleashed a few choice curses before grasping the door handle and giving it a vicious yank.  It wasn't locked, which was a good thing.  If it had been, she just might have hunted down an emergency axe or something to bust it.  The door flew open, smacking hard against the wall, and Valerie stopped short at what she saw.

Some bottle blonde bimbo was crawling all over Evan with one hand down his pants and the other buried in his hair, her face hidden in the curve of his throat.  Evan had his eyes closed, his face contorted in a tortured grimace, his hands holding onto her upper arms like he couldn't decide whether he wanted to push her away or drag her closer.

Valerie cleared her throat and shook her head.  If the door slamming open didn't interrupt the two of them, what made her think that a stupid sound like that would . . .? "Just what the hell do you think you're doing?" she growled, refusing to move in any closer since she wanted to kill the both of them.

The woman slowly turned her head to stare at her, a catty smile on her face.  She must've thought that Valerie was the unfortunate girlfriend or something, and for one brief instant, she almost—almost—crossed the floor to flatten her—or yank out a couple handfuls of that fake ash-blonde hair of hers . . . Both of those options would be entirely satisfying in completely different ways, as far as Valerie was concerned.

Evan took the lapse in her attention to yank her hand out of his jeans.  He looked irritated, but Valerie had to wonder whether he was irked with that woman or with her for interrupting.  "Do I really have to remind you of our agreement, Mr. Roka?" Valerie asked stiffly, crossing her arms over her chest and deciding that the woman just didn't deserve any of her attention at the moment.

"Not really," he replied, grasping the woman's arm and escorting her to the door.  "She was just leaving anyway.  Later, Jen."

"Zel!  But—"

He didn't wait for her to finish, closing the door firmly in her face.  Valerie ground her teeth together and waited for whatever he had to say.

To her surprise, though, he didn't even try to explain.  Pausing just long enough to fasten his jeans, he strode over to grab his cell phone off the nightstand beside the bed and dialed a number before smashing it against his ear and stalking over to the balcony doors, throwing them open as a cold burst of air swept into the room.  "Yeah, Mike, it's me.  Do me a favor, will you?  Tell Buzz! that that's the last time I'll talk to Jennifer Ecco, and if they send her again, I'll refuse to talk to her.  Got it?"

Letting out a deep breath, he stalked over to the wet bar and dug a bottle of water out of the small refrigerator.  "Not exactly.  Just humor me, all right?"

Clicking off the phone, he dropped it onto the counter along with the plastic bottle cap, draining the entire thing in one long quaff.

Valerie frowned.  If she was inclined to light into him before, the thought was rapidly diminishing.  Something about that woman had really rattled Evan's cage, and that was enough to quell her irritation.  She still had questions, sure, but given the foreboding expression on his face, she wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to ask them, either.

"I need a drink," Evan muttered under his breath as he grabbed his jacket off the back of a chair and yanked it up over his shoulders.

She knew the feeling.  At the moment, she kind of felt like she could use one, too.  "An ex-girlfriend?" she asked mildly, following him out of the hotel room and down the hallway toward the stairs.  The woman and her photographer-friend were gone, thank God.  All things considered, Valerie just didn't feel like seeing what would happen if Evan were to run into them again any time soon.

"Hardly," he snorted, pushing into the enclosed stairwell and taking the steps two at a time.  "Thought I told you already, I've never had one of those."

Rolling her eyes since she didn't really believe that claim in the least, Valerie charged down the stairs behind him.  "Whatever, Roka," she replied dryly.  "I'm glad, though . . ."

He glanced at her in an almost startled sort of way.  Then he grinned and chuckled, and he finally looked like the Evan she knew.  "Would you be jealous, V?"

"As if!" she shot back as they rounded the landing between floors.  "However, if she was your girlfriend, I'd have to wonder about your taste in women."

"Didn't think she was pretty?"

Valerie shrugged and shot him a look.  "Sure . . . if you like Barbie dolls.  Was there any part of her that wasn't artificially inflated, shrunk, moved, lifted, lowered, or otherwise bulldozed?"

Evan laughed and grabbed her hand, increasing his speed as he dragged her along behind him.  "Yeah, I kind of thought that, too.  What about you, V?  Have you had any work done?"

She snorted again and considered dealing him a good shove for a moment.  But if she did, he'd drag her down with him . . . "I work damn hard on my figure, I'll have you know," she replied haughtily.  "What you see is what I was born with."

"Is that right?" Evan said with a wolfish grin.

Valerie smiled despite herself.  "That's right, Roka."

"Damn," Evan murmured, smiling in obvious approval.  "Damn . . ."


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A/N:
'Margaritav ille' by Jimmy Buffett first appeared on his 1977 release, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jimmy Buffett.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
They bounce
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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 71
Chapter 73
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