InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Resolution ( Chapter 90 )

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


-OoOoOo OoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Sad eyes, turn the other way
'I don't wanna see you cry
'Sad eyes, you knew there's come a day
'When we would have to say 'goodbye'…'

-'Sad Eyes' by Robert John.

-Evan-


"They didn't want her back . . . So, she graduated from high school, went to college . . . and she took all the money that people sent her as graduation gifts, and she walked into a courtroom, stood before a judge, and she . . . She told him that she wanted to be . . . Valerie Denning . . ."

Heaving a sigh, Evan frowned into the darkness, head tilted back as he tried to make sense of the story she'd told him.  The bus hit a slight bump in the road, the slivers of ice floating in the glasses on the coffee table clinked like chimes in the night.  She'd tried so hard to make him believe that none of it bothered her, hadn't she?

'No, that's not quite right,' his youkai murmured softly.  'She wasn't . . . wasn't trying to convince you as much as she was trying to convince herself . . .'

Nodding slowly at his own inner voice, Evan's scowl deepened.  All of the things that she'd said . . . it all made sense to him, didn't it?  If he hadn't realized it before, he absolutely got it loud and clear now.  Her parents had planted the seeds of doubt early on, hadn't they?  With their shoddy job of taking care of a child who should have been cherished, they'd hurt her more than she ever wanted to admit, and the anger he'd sensed at times?  Well, he could certainly understand that, too.  Angry at them for abandoning her in her mind or maybe anger directed at herself for still caring at all . . .

As for Valerie, she'd fallen asleep shortly after telling her story.  Curled on her side with her feet draw up on the sofa, with her head in his lap as he idly stoked her hair, she hadn't wanted to talk anymore, and he couldn't rightfully blame her for that, either.  Though she hadn't said, he really had to wonder if she'd ever told anyone as much as she'd told him.  There was just something about the rawness in her voice, in her demeanor, but . . . but if that really were the case, then how much of it did her own fiancé even know?

For reasons that Evan really didn't want to dwell on, the idea that she hadn't told anyone else, including the man she said she wanted to marry . . . that bothered him almost as much as the story itself, and her parents?  Well, he certainly had a few things he'd like to say to them if he ever ran into them in a darkened alley somewhere—especially her father, the one man who should have taught her what a real man was supposed to be.  He hit her with a belt . . .? Grinding his teeth together, Evan had to squelch the rage that roiled up within him.  He wouldn't gainsay someone who chose to discipline their child through spanking even if he didn't agree with that, either, but the very idea of anyone doing something that demeaning, that insane to Valerie . . . Pissed off didn't even begin to come close describing what he thought of that . . .

Grimacing as a long sigh slipped from him, Evan shook his head, letting his head fall back against the sofa and staring up at the ceiling without seeing anything at all.  The last thing she wanted, he knew, was for anyone to feel sorry for her.  She'd worked too damn hard to overcome her past that pity was something that would piss her off, and he knew that, too.  Still, he couldn't help but feel bad for the little girl who just hadn't understood anything.  How lost, how lonely, had she felt when she had no idea why she'd been taken from her parents in the first place?

They didn't deserve to have her, but if they hadn't, then Evan wouldn't be sitting here now, stroking her hair as she slept . . . Still . . .

'That makes it harder, doesn't it?'

Hating the hopelessness evident in his youkai voice, Evan sighed.  It did.  It really, really did.  Bad enough to have to try to overcome the screwups of past boyfriends, but it was another thing entirely to have to try to figure out how to make her see past the disillusion of her past and the fundamental mistakes of those who should have loved her best . . .

'You're not giving up, are you, rockstar?'

Snorting inwardly, Evan sat up a little and scowled.  'Hell, no,' he scoffed.  'Give up?  Me? Keh!'

As if she sensed the unrest that simmered in him, Valerie stirred, uttering a soft moan as she pushed herself up and blinked rather vaguely.  "What time is it?" she whispered, her voice still husky with sleep.

"I don't know," Evan allowed, forcing a wan smile that he was far from feeling in an effort to assuage any residual upset she might be feeling.  "Three?  Four?  Go back to sleep.  I'll wake you up before we get there."

Rubbing her face, she yawned and shook her head.  "I feel a lot better now," she admitted, her eyebrows knitting together in a confused sort of scowl.  "I'm not sure why, though . . . I, uh . . . I don't really like to talk about that stuff . . ."

"Sometimes it's better to let things out than to keep them all bottled up inside," he told her gently.  Letting his head fall to the side, he gazed at her through half-closed eyes.  "But you talked to me about it," he ventured.  "Why?"

She looked startled for a moment, and then she bit her lip.  "I . . . I don't know," she confessed.  "I always thought that people would . . . would judge me or something: think I was still like that or . . . or that I was somehow inferior . . ."

"Why would they do that?" Evan countered, unable to hide the irritation in his voice.  "If anyone really did, then they'd be assholes."

Valerie grimaced and shook her head slowly.  "Don't you understand better than anyone?" she challenged wearily.  "People don't stop to think before they make up their minds—and once they come to a conclusion, they don't change their opinions, either."

"You did," he pointed out, "about me."

Valerie rolled her eyes but finally broke into a wan smile.  "Who says?" she argued with an arched eyebrow.  "You're just as much of a pervert as I thought you were in the beginning."

"Yeah, but you also thought that I was just an idiot rock star," he reminded her with a wolfish grin.

She stared at him for a moment as her grin widened by degrees.  "Yeah, I haven't changed my mind about that, either."

Evan chuckled and winked at her before pushing himself to his feet and wandering across the floor to turn on the lamp over the table.  "So," he said, wanting to ask her some more questions but not wanting to cause her more upset.  "Can I ask you something?"

He heard her let out a deep breath.  "You can ask anything you want," she replied in a tone that indicated that she might choose not to answer.

He figured that was fair enough, and he took his time as he placed his cell phone on the recharging dock.  "Your parents . . . they really never tried to get you back?"

When she didn't answer right away, he figured that she'd decided not to.  "No, they didn't," she finally said in a matter-of-fact tone.  "Out of sight, out of mind, right?"

He didn't know whether or not he could believe that—at least, not the idea that they'd have forgotten about her.  "I always thought that the child protective services tried to reunite families whenever possible."

Valerie grunted softly.  "In the nearly twelve years that I was in the system, I was placed with no less than seven foster families . . . and I only felt as though I was wanted in one of those."

"Were they mean to you?" he asked, careful to keep his tone as neutral as possible.  Sure, he'd heard tales of bad foster families, but he was of the opinion that those tended to be few and far between: the exception, not the rule.

"No," she admitted with a heavy sigh.  "I mean, back then, I thought that they were terrible, mostly because I . . . I wanted to go home, so I didn't want to like any of them.  I wasn't used to living with rules, at least, not the kind the they always seemed to have.  In bed by a certain time . . . putting things away . . . doing chores . . . By the time I was thirteen, I'd been through six placements.  It wasn't until I moved in with the Dennings that I felt like I belonged."

"So that's how you got your last name," he said, nodding as though it made sense to him, and he supposed that it did.  After all, if the family was good to her, and if she'd actually bonded with them more than she had the others, then it made sense that she'd want to have their last name, he supposed.  Seeing her now, though, he never would have believed that she'd ever been in that kind of situation.  The Valerie he knew was so completely in charge of her life, but maybe that was all part of the result—the woman she'd worked so hard to become . . .

"They were older.  Their daughter had died in a car accident when she was five or six.  Anyway, they didn't have any other kids, and . . . and they were really nice to me.  Kept me out of trouble, tried to keep me on the right track . . . They wanted to adopt me, but my parents wouldn't agree or maybe the state thought I was too old.  Whatever . . . It didn't matter, anyway."

"Sounds like great people," he allowed.

"Perry, my foster father, died my freshman year of college.  A heart attack . . . and Grace died a couple years later . . ." Valerie smiled sadly but heaved another tremendous sigh.  "Anyway, can we drop this?" she asked, pinning him with a scowl.

"Whatever you say, baby," Evan agreed.  True, he wouldn't mind getting more answers out of her, but he was treading on dangerous ground, and he knew it.  If he pushed her too far, she'd shut down completely.  Besides, he'd gotten a lot more answers out of her than he thought that he would.  Even then, the rest of the answers that he really wanted . . . Well, he doubted that Valerie knew them, either . . .

"It's ancient history," she went on in an airy tone and a flick of her wrist.  To someone else, she might have sounded entirely convincing, too, but Evan knew better.  It was all there, lingering in the depths of her eyes.  Maybe she'd just been too young to understand any of it at the time, and even now, there was a part of her that still ached, still couldn't grasp exactly what had happened or why.  Oh, he didn't doubt for a moment that she could understand at the basest of levels, why she was taken into protective services, but she'd never gotten to go home?

Thing was, she wanted to believe that it was ancient history, and he knew damn well that she'd spent a long time in convincing herself that she didn't care, and maybe on some level, she honestly believed that, too, but . . .

But she did care, and he supposed that he could understand that, too.  A child was conditioned to instinctively cling to those people that they perceived to be the most important ones in his or her life—a blind kind of devotion that didn't make sense—the same kind of instinct that led youkai to fiercely protect their own, even if it meant dying in the process.  It was the emotion that led ordinary men to do extraordinary things, and children understood that emotion without question, content to blindly follow their hearts . . .

And that was the emotion that Valerie was talking about, wasn't it?  The one she'd never understood—the one that had caused her the greatest emotional pain.

"Okay, Roka," Valerie said as she pushed herself onto the counter and popped open the diet soda she'd retrieved from the refrigerator, "what you were saying before about Rocktoberfest . . . So you're telling me that it's basically like a big old carnival?"

He chuckled and shrugged.  "Something like that," he admitted.  "Actually, it's more of a freak show than a carnival, though."

"Interesting people?"

Digging a beer out of the refrigerator, he nodded.  "You could put it that way," he allowed.

Biting her lip, she smiled a little nervously.  "So you're saying that my normal clothes aren't going to cut it?"

"I gotta tell you, V, it doesn't matter what the hell you wear: you're always fucking hot."

She rolled her eyes but giggled.

"Besides," he went on, relieved and unaccountably giddy at the sound of her very natural laughter, "I have it on very good authority that Maddy's flying in for the fun."

Her eyes brightened and she squealed happily, nearly spilling her soda when her arms shot into the air in celebration.  "Really?  Seriously?  My Maddy?"

Evan snorted but grinned.  "Your Maddy?  Since when is she yours?  Maddy's always been mine, you know."

Valerie wasn't impressed with Evan's claims.  "Sorry, Roka," she told him.  "You lost her to me a long time ago, but don't feel bad.  It's a vagina thing."

His lip twitched, but he managed to keep an otherwise straight face.  "Is that how it works?  Damn . . ."

"That's right; that's right.  Tough luck, pal-y."

"But I've known her longer," he pointed out reasonably.

Valerie scooted off the counter and tossed the empty soda can into the recycle bin before sashaying toward the bathroom.  "Ah, but you don't have a vagina."

He sighed but didn't argue it with her.  What was there to say, anyway?

'There just ain't no arguing with the vagina-card,' his youkai grumbled with a heavy sigh.

'Not really,' he agreed, watching Valerie go with a smile on his face.  'But then, I'm kind of glad I don't have one.'

'Only because you'd spend all your time playing with it.'

'That, too, but you know, if I had one, then I seriously doubt that I'd want that woman to be my mate . . .'

'Yeah, well, don't count your chickens before they're hatched . . . All that information she just gave you . . . it makes things about a gazillion times more difficult, and don't think that she's just going to wake up tomorrow and decide that you're all that and a bag of fucking potato chips.'

His smile dimmed a little bit, and he gave a mental shrug.  'Oh, I don't know . . .'

'What do you mean, you don't know?  Her damn father was a fucking druggie, and her mama wasn't much better—add to that the fact that he was a wannabe-musician, too, and I'd have to say that we gotta be kind of fucked . . . Jesus, she's never had any good experiences with the type, now has she?  Between her old man and her exes—may they forever rot in the bowels of hell . . . She's so fucking stuck on that dumbass belief that safety is better than love that she really does think that she wants to marry that boring little pecker puss.'

'Relax, will you?  The game's not over yet, right?'

'Yeah, well, just how the hell are we going to change her mind?'

Valerie stopped in the doorway and turned back to face Evan once more as her own smile faltered, as a sense of gravity entered her gaze.  "Evan . . . umm . . . I'd really appreciate it if you didn't . . . didn't tell Madison about what I told you . . ."

Narrowing his eyes, Evan frowned at her.  "Did you really think I was going to?"

She smiled a little sheepishly then shrugged.  "No, I didn't; not really," she admitted.

She closed the door behind herself, and Evan let out a deep breath.  He could tell from her tone of voice that she really hadn't thought he'd do any such thing, and maybe that was the reason she'd felt safe enough to tell him the story, in the first place.  The idea pleased him, even if it did raise more questions in his mind than it answered.

As for the other question: the one posed by his youkai voice?  Evan couldn't really say that he had an answer for that, either.  Still, he didn't feel nearly as daunted as he supposed he could have.  After all, if she really did feel safe enough with him to tell him as much as she had, then it had to mean something, right?

He smiled, rubbing his chin as he stared at the closed bathroom door.  'Right.'


-Valerie-


"I forbid it."

"Bone said that the crowd estimates are roughly seven-hundred fifty thousand and growing by the hour," Evan stated, looking entirely pleased and completely ignoring the glowering manager who stood, not five feet away, arms crossed over his chest and a formidable scowl on his face that might have erased just a little of the enthusiasm evident on Evan's face—if he had noticed, which he did not.

"Did you hear me, Roka?  I absolutely forbid it."

"Holy damn, you can feel it, right, V?" Evan asked, grabbing Valerie's hand and hauling her out of her seat and over to the window.  He shoved it open and breathed deep.  "It's fucking electric out there!"

Valerie peered out the window and couldn't help but smile.  Evan's enthusiasm was a palpable thing, and she wasn't sure if it was his influence or not, but she really could feel the sense of excitement that he was talking about.  Honestly, he was like a little kid, wasn't he?  A little kid who couldn't sleep because Santa was coming, and he wanted to catch him this year, for sure . . .

Of course, it helped, too, that the hotel where they were booked shared a parking lot with the new venue, as well.  In fact, all of the musicians that were invited to play were staying—not surprising since the Detroit Industrialis was very proud of their tag line of being 'the hotel that rock built'.  The entire facility was closed to the general public for the week, booked solid with the acts that were scheduled to perform at the festival.  Valerie had to admit that it was, quite possibly, the most decadent place they'd stayed in during the mini-tour, and Evan, as the headlining act, was given preferential treatment over all the other egos present in the building, too.  He and his entourage were given the top two floors of the place, and while Evan hadn't paid a lot of attention to the penthouse suite that was the entire floor, Valerie most certainly had.

It had everything from a state of the art theater system built into the main room that was easily the same size as ten of her apartments put together, a huge hot tub, a fully appointed industrial grade kitchen, no less than eight huge bedrooms that he'd promptly told Valerie were going to remain vacant except for the ones that she and Madison chose to use while they were here, and each of those bedrooms had huge, satin draped beds and  enormous bathrooms that were appointed with what looked to be real gold fixtures and mirrors covering the walls from floor to ceiling.  There was also a meeting room, a built-in recording studio—Evan had said it wasn't bad but wasn't that impressive, either—a good sized gym with a hot tub built into one end of the room, and even a game room, complete with pool table and about twenty different arcade games along with a virtual reality system that Valerie had seen on a tech show last winter.  They'd said at the time that it cost nearly twenty thousand dollars for the system alone, and the games ranged from two to three hundred dollars.

All of it didn't really surprise Valerie, though.  Rock stars were used to excess, weren't they?  The first musician client she'd had was a guy from a popular boy band who had been arrested for driving under the influence when he'd wrapped his brand new Zerra Intego around a tree when he'd missed a curve in the road.  He'd plead guilty and got slapped with six hours of community service that he'd served by hosting a charity event without the being paid the normal appearance fee, and an earnest promise that he'd never do it again, and he'd donated a hefty sum to the judge's re-election fund later on.  He'd celebrated the release of his judgment by wrecking his next brand new car into a parked station wagon with a few kids inside.  Two of the kids had suffered severe injuries, the pop star had tested well over the legal limit for alcohol, and Valerie had very conveniently passed the new case off to one of the other attorneys at the office . . . She supposed that it really wasn't any wonder that she'd originally written Evan off before she'd ever met him, given his prior record as well as his notoriety, not to mention her experiences dealing with other entertainers who had wandered into her office well before he'd ever heard of her . . .

What did surprise her, however, was that the penthouse was actually tastefully decorated, albeit in very dark colors, likely chosen to soothe the brooding rock star's propensity for all things dark and EMO . . .

Of course, now that she thought about it, Evan didn't conform to that kind of persona, either, did he?  His house was quite airy and decorated in light neutrals, and while she had to allow that it was huge, it didn't seem to her that he'd indulged himself nearly as much as others in his position would have.

"Zel?"

"Shit!  Look at all the kids, camped out there already!" Evan said.

Valerie shook her head.  She couldn't miss them, could she?  The parking lot was full of campers and trailers, beat up old vehicles that looked like they shouldn't be running, at all, and everywhere she looked, kids milled around, most of them wearing outfits that she'd rather die than to be caught out in.  From their vantage point up so high above, she could see couples here and there doing things that they should probably be arrested for.  Evan chuckled.  "Looks like the festivities are getting started a little early . . ."

"Roka, I swear to God, if you sneak out of here and pull any of your usual shit, you're going to cause trouble, and if you do, I might need an attorney—are you listening to me?"

Shaking her head again, Valerie turned away from the window to frown thoughtfully at Mike, who looked like he was ready to spit nails.  When he intercepted her stare, he sighed.  "He gets like this every year," Mike confessed, waving a hand at Evan.  "Can't help being caught up in the excitement, I guess."

"Hey!  Keep warm down there!" Evan yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth as he leaned halfway out the window.  A distinct roar echoed up from the ground: thousands of voices melded together into one . . .

Valerie nodded and strode over to the wet bar.  Not surprisingly, it was completely stocked, courtesy of the hotel, or so the valet who had showed them to the room and then given them a brief tour of it had told them.  She poured a glass of scotch on the rocks for Mike and seltzer water for herself and walked back, handing the glass to the manager.  Mike nodded in thanks and took a swig of the drink then heaved a sigh and shot Evan a thoughtful glower once more.  "It's not that I don't want him to have fun," Mike said suddenly, his cheeks reddening slightly as a hint of defensiveness crept into his tone.  "It's just harder these days."

"Because of his fame," Valerie commented.  It wasn't a question.

"Because of that damned face of his," Mike grumbled, dropping heavily into a thickly cushioned black suede leather armchair.  "Used to be that he could hide just by changing the color of his hair, of his eyes, but that doesn't work nearly as well anymore, and at a place like this . . .? Forget about it."

Valerie digested that in silence as she sipped her seltzer water and gazed thoughtfully at Evan's back.  Still hanging halfway out the window and yelling down to the kids that could hear him, the din of the fans screaming back at him was deafening.

"If he sneaks out, there'll be trouble," Mike predicted rather glumly.  "Every year, this thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger, it's a damn nightmare, really, and if it weren't Rocktoberfest, I'd try to talk him out of appearing . . ."

Valerie smiled half-heartedly and offered Mike a consolatory shrug.  "Isn't it every rock star's dream?  To play at this festival?"

Heaving a sigh, Mike nodded.  "Unfortunately, yes.  Headlining here is just a dream for most bands, and here he is, the only artist ever to be asked multiple times . . ."

"Shouldn't you be prouder?"

"I am," he countered though he looked even more displeased about the entire affair.  "It's just getting harder to keep him safe; that's all."

She could appreciate his concern, of course.  Evan tended to be just a little too impulsive for his own good, and she, better than anyone, knew that for a fact.  It all put Mike in the very unenviable position of being Evan's warden, didn't it?  Unfortunately, Valerie could understand it all just a little too well.  It wasn't that Mike was trying to pick on Evan, but the very real possibility that someone could be hurt eventually really weighed on the manager, and she had a sneaking suspicion that his biggest fear—the one he didn't give voice to—was that the one who would end up being hurt would be Evan himself.

"So you want me to discourage him from going out.  Is that it?" she asked evenly, making no attempts to beat about the bush with it.

Mike blushed a little darker but nodded.  "He, uh, listens to you a lot better than he listens to me."

It was on the tip of Valerie's tongue to counter that assertion since she really didn't believe that in the least.  In the end, though, she smiled wanly as her gaze flicked to the man in question once more.  There were too many stories every day on the news: stories about people being injured or killed at these kinds of events where accidents were entirely too hard to avoid, and while she liked to think that nothing bad really would happen to him, the sharp memory of the hours following Dieter's shooting when she had no idea where Evan was or if he had been shot, too, were too fresh in her mind.  Trouble was, she knew damn well that Evan wasn't going to like the idea that she'd side with Mike against him, but that wasn't really the case, now was it?

Still . . .

Letting out a deep breath as she set her glass on the table and sat back, crossing her arms over her chest, she stared at Mike for several seconds before she nodded once.  "Okay, Mike.  I'll talk to him."


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A/N:
'Sad Eyes' originally appeared on Robert John's 1979 release, Robert John.  Song written by and copyrighted to Robert John Pedrick.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Oh, he's just not going to like this
==========
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 89
Chapter 91
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