InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Gentleness ( Chapter 88 )

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

- OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'But she wants everything – He can pretend to give her everything
'Or there's nothing she wants – She don't wanna sort it out
'He's crazy for this girl – But she don't know what she's lookin' for
'If she knew what she wants, he'd be giving it to her
'Giving it to her …'

-'If She Knew What She Wants' by the Bangles.


"Great show, man!"

"I love you, Zel!"

"You rock!"

"Fuck, yeah!"

"Come back!  Please!"

"I want to have your baby!"

Waving at the fans who were pretty well plastered against the security fence fifty yards away, Evan didn't pause as he strode toward the bus, grimacing as the wind cut right through his still-damp hair.  By the time he stepped onto the stairs a minute later, the long strands felt frozen.  They even crunched when he grabbed a handful and squeezed to check it.

Apparently, Lexington was in the midst of an unusual burst of cold, so maybe it was a good thing that Valerie had opted not to get off the bus since she'd no doubt have a few choice things to say to him about the inclement weather.

Stepping through the doorway, Evan stopped short when he spotted Bone and Valerie, sitting at the table with a deck of cards between them.  Valerie had nearly half a bag of pretzel sticks lumped into a pile in front of her while Bone was busy, stuffing ten or so into his mouth from his pile that was about half the size of hers.

"You know, it's impossible to tell who's winning if you've been eating your stash, Bone," Evan commented dryly.

The big guy slapped his cell phone closed and grinned at Evan.  Probably doing a last minute security check-in with his second in command, Evan figured.  "She's been kicking my ass," Bone admitted as he got to his feet, grabbing another handful of pretzels as a parting gift.  "Later, V."

She nodded and sat back, nibbling the end of one tiny stick.

Evan stepped back to allow Bone to pass.  "Kicking his ass, eh?"

Valerie wrinkled her nose and waved a hand before standing up and scooping the pretzels back into the bag that they'd come out of.  "He was letting me win," she said.

Evan snorted.  "I let you win the other night."

That earned him a rather dour look.  "You did not," she shot back.  "I beat you then because you suck at poker."

"I do not," he argued with a grin.  If something was still bothering her, she was doing a much better job of hiding it.  Then again, maybe he'd just imagined it earlier.  After all, he'd been so worried that she was irritated with him that maybe he'd imagined something that wasn't there.

That was the rationale he'd come up with during his lightning-fast shower after the show, anyway.

"It's crazy," Valerie murmured.

He blinked and glanced at her, only to find her staring out the window at the myriad of flashing lights and day-glow yellow barricades that were set up to keep the kids at bay while the police escorted the Zel Roka entourage out of the parking lot.

She laughed rather ironically and shook her head.  "I know, it's not the first time I've seen this," she admitted.  "It's just not something that I can get used to, no matter how many times see it . . . How did you?"

"How did I, what?  Get used to all that?" he asked, waving a hand toward the window before heading over to the refrigerator for a beer.

She nodded.

Letting out a deep breath as he plopped into the chair that Bone had vacated, he shrugged.  "At first, I thought it was really wicked," he said.  "I mean, the cops had to turn out just to make sure that no one stormed the fucking bus?  Seriously!  I mean, hell, I figured it didn't get any better than that . . ." Gaze glossing over as the bus jerked to life, Evan saw the officers, complete in full riot gear, as they ordered the crowd back to a safe distance behind the barricades they'd set up.  "Then I guess I stopped noticing it."

"Wouldn't it be simpler to, I don't know . . . airlift you in and out by helicopter or something?"

"Some bands do that," he allowed with a shrug.  "I don't like those, though."

Dragging her gaze off the insanity that the bus was creeping through, Valerie stared at him.  "Why not?"

He snorted and popped the cap off the beer.  "You kidding?  All that wind?  It'd mess my hair up, wouldn't it?"

Rolling her eyes, Valerie stood up and wandered over to the closet.  "You're entirely bent . . . and I'm going to borrow one of your shirts.  Do you mind?"

"Go right ahead," he told her, draining the beer and rubbing his forehead, watching as the bus crept steadily toward the exit of the parking lot, as the sound of the closing bathroom door punctuated Valerie's defection.

How long had it been since he'd first noticed the subtle changes?  A security team that had started as more of a joke than an actual force . . . Back in the early days, Bone had been the head roadie for Evan and his entourage, and it was more of a friendship than actual work.  Evan could damn well set up his own gear, and he could tear it down just as quickly, but Bone had teasingly said one night over a fifth of Jack Daniels that a real rock star didn't lift a finger to do that sort of thing for himself, and Evan, who was a little drunker than Bone was at the time, had agreed and said that he'd let Bone do it from then on.

And he had.

It had seemed like a natural enough progression, and to be honest, the thing he missed most was that he couldn't hang out with the fans after his gigs like he used to.  More often than not, he'd end up getting shitfaced with a group of them—whoever hung around after the lights went down.  In the old days, Bone would get just as hammered as the rest of them, and while the big guy could still slam it down with the best of them, he tended to be a little more conscientious these days, and it was more commonplace to see the buffalo-youkai drinking water or soda instead of liquor.  Apparently being clear-headed was an asset in his chosen profession, or so it would seem . . .

That didn't mean Bone had lost his edge.  On the occasion when he wanted to drink Evan under the table, there was no denying that he absolutely could, and he knew damn well that Bone tended to get more than his fair share of women, too.  He had to wonder if Bone would be more popular with the ladies than Evan if he wasn't a rock star.  As much as he'd like to think otherwise, he wasn't stupid enough not to realize that many of the women he slept with were far more interested in their own perceptions of Zel Roka than they were in Evan Zelig.

Not that he could complain about any of that, either.  He wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak, and it wasn't as though he wanted anything permanent from any of those women, anyway.  There was nothing romantic at all about it.  He was no Don Juan set on seducing the fairer sex or looking for love.  It was all about feeling good, releasing tensions and sometimes frustration in a way that helped him to relax.

At least, that was how it was before he'd met a certain attorney, anyway.  He'd forgotten about the way things used to be, at least, until Valerie had reminded him.

Heaving a sigh, he stood up and shuffled over to the sofa, figuring that he might as well relax a little since it'd take awhile to reach Detroit.

A lazy grin surfaced on his features at the thought of Rocktoberfest.  Damn, but he had some really twisted memories from past years . . . Dieter and he had been notorious for sneaking out of the hotel to mingle with the myriad of fans, many of whom hadn't been able to get tickets to the actual event and were just milling around the thoroughfare.  It wasn't a big deal the first year they'd gone.  After all, Zel Roka wasn't that well known at the time and even less recognizable since he changed his appearance so frequently.  They'd gotten drunk with a bunch of Hell's Angels and started a fight with a group of posers from Miami who claimed to be the biggest metal fans on earth.

Back then, Mike hadn't cared as long as they made it back to the hotel in time for their time slot, and Evan had the best time ever, joining up with a local band to do a few covers of some rock and roll classics in a free impromptu show on a stage that was nothing more than the bed of a pickup truck.

It had only actually been in the last couple of years since that Mike had asserted that Evan shouldn't go out.  He was just too recognizable to do it without drawing undue attention.  Of course, that didn't mean that Evan and Dieter had given up or given in.  Hell, no.  They'd still gone, much to Mike's everlasting chagrin . . .

And, to be honest, Evan had every intention of doing it this year, too.  Valerie deserved to get the full experience, didn't she?  He owed it to her to show her the joys of Rocktoberfest, right?  At a new venue with the sexiest woman on earth?  Why wouldn't he want to go?

'Because,' his youkai cut in, 'it's not going to be the same without Dieter, now is it?'

The anticipation that he'd felt waned just a little at the hollow reminder.  It was the first time that he'd ever be there without Dieter, and the realization of exactly what that meant was pretty bitter to swallow.  Hell, the first time they'd gone to the festival, they hadn't been performing at it.  The first year after he'd moved to New York City, he'd gotten it into his head that he wanted to go, and Dieter, who had stolen his mother's car to drive down to see him, had showed up out of the blue, announcing that he was quitting school and did Evan mind if he crashed with him for awhile.  They'd gotten completely trashed on cheap vodka that Evan had flirted the clerk into letting him buy without seeing his ID, smoked all the weed Evan had hidden in his room, and sometime during the course of things, they'd decided to get odd jobs to make the scratch to get themselves to Detroit.

They'd made the money and then some, mostly because Evan had gotten the bright idea to go in for an open call for male underwear models, and they'd set out with money in their pockets and a bag of dope in the glove box that could've gotten them both slapped with felonies if they'd gotten pulled over on the way.

And they'd had the best time, ever.  In fact, it was there that they'd hooked up with Tay and Frankie, and Philansoclantes was born.  Of course, back then, they'd called themselves the Dog Boys, and Evan was content to be the front man of the band.

Evan smiled a little sadly and let out a deep breath.  It had all seemed so simple back then.  Too young to have realized that the music industry was more business than art, believing that all it took to make it big was a lot of talent, a little luck, and a good dose of attitude . . . and he'd had more sex in that one week than he'd had in the year prior to Rocktoberfest.  Hell, the band had performed an impromptu gig on top of Dieter's mom's car while a very stoned, very big boobed blonde sucked his dick in front of God and sundry while her boyfriend—a huge, fat guy who called himself Skeeter fucked her up the ass . . .

'You were pretty stoned yourself,' his youkai pointed out.

'Maybe . . . She was a biter, if I recall . . .'

'Damn straight,t she bit you, and you retaliated by shooting jizz all over her face.'

His grin widened.  'I did . . . and if memory serves, Skeeter licked it off of her.'

His youkai grunted.  'Yeah, I was trying to forget that part of it.'

Evan chuckled softly and shook his head.  'Me, too . . .'

'Anyway, it won't be the same, you know?  Without Dieter . . .'

'True . . . but V wants to see it, doesn't she?  Who am I to keep her from my company if she really wants to go?  Besides . . . Mikey'll be disappointed if I don't try to sneak out of the hotel, right?'

'Wow . . . If that isn't the most fucked up reasoning for going that I've ever heard,' his youkai piped up with a decisive snort.

'What?  It's the real show, right?'

'Just admit that you want to go.'

Evan grinned to himself and gave a mental shrug.  'Okay, okay.  I want to go, too.'

"You know, it kind of scares me when I come out here and you're over there smiling like that," Valerie commented as she exited the bathroom and stowed her clothes in the laundry bag she kept in the closet.  "What are you up to now?"

"No-o-o-othing," he drawled, batting his eyelashes at her for good measure.

She eyed him dubiously for a minute then glanced out the window.  "How long will it take to get out of this God-forsaken state?" she grumbled under her breath.

Evan blinked and let his head slip to the side but didn't sit up.  She didn't sound like she'd meant for him to answer.  Pushing herself away from the window, she paced across the floor and back a few times.  "You okay?"

Valerie glanced at him and wandered over, and plopped down beside him before pulling up her feet.  "Fine," she said, occupying herself with carefully pulling on a pair of socks.  "Why wouldn't I be?"

He watched her for several moments, appreciating the efficacious movements of her hands as she smoothed the socks over her feet.  She wasn't acting weird, exactly, but there was a certain level of tension in her aura that she couldn't hide, not from him.  Still, he was reluctant to call her on it.  If she was nervous because of the other night, he might be able to understand that, but if that was the case, then why would she have opted to sit beside him?

"How was the show?"

Snapping out of his musings at her softly uttered question, Evan smiled and shrugged.  "I rocked the hell out of them," he told her.  "What else did you expect?"

She rolled her eyes but smiled.  "And I'll bet all the girls in the audience just had to show you their breasts?"

His grin said it all, as far as he was concerned.

Valerie slowly shook her head.  "You realize that some of the girls in the audience had to be underage?"

"Aww, come on, V," he argued despite the grin that didn't fade.  "It's not like I made them do that.  Can I help it that women just want to strip for me?"

"Why am I not surprised that you'd see it that way?" she complained half-heartedly.  "You're such a pig, and twisted pig, at that.  If you weren't a rock star, you'd be a pimp, wouldn't you?"

"Well, no," Evan said slowly as he considered her question.  "I mean, I just like to fuck 'em.  I don't want to sell them out to someone else to do the fucking—and I prefer 'dog', V.  Haven't I said that before?"

That earned him a stern look, but it was ruined a moment later when she giggled.  "Just like I said: twisted."

"I'll twist with you any day, baby," he offered, leaning toward her with his lips pooched out like a five year-old trying to steal a kiss.

She planted her hand in the middle of his face and pushed him back.  "Forget it.  I don't know where those lips have been."

Evan chuckled and tried to pout.  It didn't work.  "Heartless, V.  Absolutely heartless . . . and need I remind you that you stripped for me, too?"

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," she muttered, cheeks pinking as she turned away.  She sighed and stood up, bracing her hands on the small of her back long enough to stretch before shuffling over to the kitchenette.  He didn't say anything as she retrieved two glasses out of the cupboard, grabbed a small bucket of ice out of the freezer, and a bottle of Jim Beam that he didn't remember being there earlier out of the cabinet beside it.  Then she wandered back over to the sofa and handed him a glass as she sat down once more.

"What's that?" he asked, nodding at the bottle in her hand.

She shot him a look that stated quite plainly that he really ought to know the answer to that particular question.  "It's Jim Beam," she replied, "house wine of Kentucky."

Raising an eyebrow more at her tone than at her claim, he shrugged.  "That right?"

The smile that quirked her lips was anything but amused.  "In some houses," she replied, setting the bottle on the table and dropping a handful of ice into his glass.  "How sad is it when a state's claim to fame is cheap bourbon?"

"Well, there is the Kentucky Derby," he pointed out as she filled her glass with ice and popped the seal on the bottle of booze.  "And let's not forget good 'ol Kentucky Fried Chicken."

She laughed and shook her head as she poured Jim Beam into his glass then hers.  "Drunken hillbillies waving drumsticks from atop a horse," she mused.  "Nice mental image there . . ."

He grinned and sipped the bourbon she'd poured into his glass.  "So why the drink, V?  Wouldn't think you'd want to have a repeat of the other night—or more exactly, the other morning . . .?"

"I'm not getting drunk," she said, casting him a dark look at the blatant reminder of her hangover from the bowels of hell.  Taking a healthy swig from her glass, she winced and coughed and thumped her chest with her palm a few times.  "Besides," she choked out between coughs, "why would anyone choose to drink this, anyway?"

"Well, it's not a bad bourbon for the price," Evan allowed.  "Where'd it come from, anyway?"

Valerie cleared her throat and shook her head.  "Bone and I went to the liquor store," she confessed, setting the glass on the table.  "Wasn't he supposed to be guarding your body?"

"Technically speaking, he's the head of my security team, meaning that he takes orders from me, so when I said, 'Hey, Bone, go watch V,' he said, 'Sure thing, boss!  Anything you say,'" he pointed out.

Valerie snorted.  "Why do I think you embellished that a bit?"

He shot her a cheesy grin and shrugged.  "Maybe just a little."

"Tell me something," she said suddenly, smashing her hands into the sofa cushions to lift herself up and twist herself around to face him fully.

Evan blinked and shook his head, momentarily confused by her abrupt change of topics and even demeanor.  The stiffness that he'd sensed in her seemed to vanish in an instant as she pinned him with an entirely expectant sort of look, instead.  "Okay," he allowed slowly.  "What?"

"What made you want to be a rock star?  I know, you've said before that it was the music, but that seems like a rather simplistic reason—almost a cop-out, right?  So, what?  Did you see a rock star on television and think that was what you wanted to do or something?"

Chuckling softly, he continued to shake his head.  "I swear to God, V, it was the music," he insisted.  "Even when I was a pup, I loved music. Mama's told me time and time again that I used to gravitate toward anything that made music.  I had a fascination for the mobile that they hung over my crib, and I'd sneak into Bubby's room when he was listening to the radio . . . Sang all the time, sometimes for weeks on end.  She always thought it was kind of a game, and she'd sing back to me.  Mama says that there was one time that she swears that I didn't speak for a month unless I could sing the answer."

A little smile turned up the corners of her lips, her gaze taking on a soft glow as she wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin atop her raised knees.  "You knew that many songs when you were that little?"

"Nah . . . I made 'em up."

She rolled her eyes but laughed.  "You were one of those impossibly cute kids, weren't you?  Too cute for your own good, I'll bet . . ."

"Well, sure," he replied.  "I'm sure you were cuter, though."

A flash of a darker emotion flickered over her features before she squelched it behind that smile of hers once more.  "Did your parents stop by after the show?"

"Hmm?" he intoned with a slight frown.  "After what show?"

"After the one in Maine," she said.  "I mean, I could've sworn that I saw them down in the audience . . . but they were pretty far back.  Why didn't you get them better seats?  Or send them up to the box where I was?"

He barked out a terse laugh and shook his head again.  "They weren't there," he said with a simplistic shrug.  "They don't come to my shows.  I mean, Mama might, but Cain?  Keh!  No way in hell he'd show his face at one of my gigs, and even if he would, can't say that I'd want him there, anyway."

She didn't look entirely convinced, but she seemed to realize that discussing his parents—actually, his father—was just not something that Evan wanted to do.  "Well," she said, her tone thoughtful, as though she were trying to make sense of things for herself, "it was pretty far down, and the lighting wasn't that great . . ."

"If they were there, they'd have come back and seen me," he said, unsure why he was trying to make her feel better.  Maybe it was the expression on her face . . .

Letting out a deep breath, she managed a wan little smile as she flicked her wrist and glanced at her watch.  "Your mom seems great," she remarked almost sadly.  "Told you stories, sang songs to you . . ." Sitting up a little straighter, she suddenly seemed intrigued.  "Tell me another of the stories she told you . . . I mean, you told me the one about the Fairy King, so what other ones were there?"

Sipping the bourbon once more, Evan nodded.  "Stories?  Hmm . . . Well, a lot of times she just read books to me.  Gotta tell you, no one, and I do mean no one, reads Where the Wild Things Are better than Mama."

"Where the Wild Things Are?"  Valerie laughed.  "I haven't read that one."

"Seriously?  I thought every kid had that one read to them at some time or another . . ." Scratching his chin, his expression turned thoughtful, and he shrugged.  "Then again, I guess it is more of a boys' book than a girls' one.  Jilli hated it, now that I think about it.  She liked stories about ponies and unicorns and girly bullshit like that . . . So, what kind of stories did you mama read to you?"

A started sort of glint entered her gaze but only for a moment before she squelched it, offering him instead a rather tepid sort of smile—the kind he hadn't seen on her face in quite some time.  "She . . . She wasn't really much of a reader," she said.

Evan frowned.  Something in her tone . . . It bothered him.  "V?"

Valerie tried to smile, but the gravity in her gaze lingered.  "What?"

He sighed and set the glass down before turning to stare at her, probing her face for something—anything—to give him a clue as to what, exactly, was really bothering her.  The glimpse of feeling that he saw in her eyes was gone too quickly for him to discern it, and he shook his head.  "Want to tell me why you've been acting so weird the last couple days?"

She looked surprised; she really did.  Maybe she'd thought that she'd hidden it well enough, but she hadn't.  He knew it, and she knew that he did.  "Nothing," she said after opening and closing her mouth a few times.  The smile that surfaced was so thin, so weak that it looked more like a grimace.  "I'm fine.  Everything's fine."

"Saying that everything's fine doesn't really make it fine, does it?" he asked gently.

She looked like she was going to argue with him simply out of stubborn pride.  Before she could, he reached for her hand, grasped it firmly in his, stared at her for a long minute, willing her to understand even if he had no idea exactly what he was trying to tell her.  Suddenly, though, she stood up, striding across the room to retrieve Evan's acoustic guitar.

Holding it gently in her hands, she turned it over, ran her fingers over the strings, a tender little smile touching her lips as she gazed down at the instrument.

She stood there for awhile—a minute or ten, Evan wasn't sure.  Finally, though, she walked back over and held out the guitar.  "Play something for me, Roka," she said quietly.

"What do you want me to play?"

Her smile was sweet, genuine, beautiful . . . but the emotion that he saw—the one he hadn't quite been able to place before . . .

It was a confused kind of sadness that he couldn't even begin to comprehend.

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'If She Knew What She Wants' originally appeared on Jules Shear's 1985 release, The Eternal Return and covered by the Bangles in 1986.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jules Shear.
Where the Wild Things Are is written by and copyrighted to Maurice Sendak.
== == == == == == == == == ==
mynera ------ OROsan0677 ------ Fairia13 ------ theblackthorn ------ Nozome ------ monkeyseemonkeynodo ------ Nate Gray (unfortunately, it is entirely true LOL) ------ CandyEars ------ JKD1989 ------  sueroxmysox ------ anime_game_lover
FriskyPixie ------ Midcat ------ OROsan0677 ------ Ice_Sick_El ------ becky ducky ------ cutechick18 ------ sueroxmysox
Thought from Evan:
What's she thinking …?
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.