InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Dr. Zelig ( Chapter 96 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

' Say my name and say his in the same breath
'I dare you to say they taste the same
'Let the leaves fall off in the summer
'And let December glow feel flames …'

-'I Don't Care' by Fall Out Boy.

-Valerie-


Shuffling out of the bathroom in a thick white terry robe sporting the letter 'V' embroidered on the back in pink thread and her hair wrapped, turban-style atop her head with a cup of steaming coffee in her hands, Valerie took her time sipping the drink as her gaze fell on her unpacked suitcase standing near the window.  She'd dig out something to wear in a bit, but at the moment, she opted to wander over to the windows instead, narrowing her eyes against the bright glow of the late October sunshine.

Evan actually had brought her a full carafe of coffee, and he'd left it for her on the counter in the bathroom before assuring her that breakfast would be done 'shortly' and that he'd make sure that she had something 'acceptable' to eat.  Of course, it was rather late in the day for breakfast, but Valerie wasn't going to argue about it.  She didn't really want something heavy like supper, anyway.

She really needed to sit down and refresh herself on Evan's case, and to be honest, she probably should've started that a couple days ago when they'd first gotten home.  Because of the mini-tour, she'd lost a lot of valuable time already, and while she had to admit that she had enjoyed the experience on a whole, she couldn't help but feel more than a little discouraged about the lack of progress she'd made on the case, too.

Letting out a deep breath, Valerie set the empty coffee mug on the window sill and turned her attention to getting dressed instead.  Grabbing the first pair of jeans she laid hands upon and a white sweater, it didn't take her long to accomplish her task, and she couldn't help the smile that surfaced as she shook out the robe and held it up to stare at the 'V' embroidered on the back.  It rather ruined her delusions that he was keeping the robe around for any of his many and varied female guests, all things considered.  Shaking her head, she draped it over her arm and turned to head back toward the bathroom to hang it up again.

She supposed she ought to thank him, anyway, considering he'd actually taken the time to run both the towel that she'd used as well as this robe through the dryer long enough to get them good and toasty before she'd gotten out of the shower.  When he'd returned with the coffee, he'd had the robe and the towel slung over his arm, and when reached for them a few minutes later, the warmth that still permeated the items was enough to make her smile despite herself.

After hanging the robe on the hook empty hook where he'd hung it after bringing it upstairs, she headed back to the bedroom once more.  The rumpled bed was the only thing that seemed out of place in the bright room, and she frowned as she strode over to pull up the sheet and blankets.

It didn't take long to straighten up the bed, but as she moved to stand up on Evan's side, her toe bumped against a shelf that she hadn't seen underneath and winced at the unmistakable sound of breaking glass.  "Damn," she muttered, dropping to her hands and knees to assess the damage.

It was some kind of glass ball that held what looked to be sand inside.  It hadn't broken completely, but it had cracked, and Valerie grimaced.  She doubted that Evan would be angry, of course.  He never had been one to stand upon things, but that didn't make her feel any better about having broke it, in the first place.

Bracing her hands against the floor to push herself back to her feet once more so she could go find him and show him the damage, Valerie's thoughtful frown deepened when she noticed the books stacked on the shelf.  There were two of them and one thin black leather binder that was sandwiched in between.  'High school year books . . .?' Bevelle Bugler was imprinted on the spine, and she bit her lip, settling into a more comfortable position as she pulled them out and opened the first one.

Scanning through the index until she found the name 'Zelig, Evan', Valerie pressed her lips together as she flipped pages until she found the photograph.  She wasn't sure what she was expecting to see.  After all, didn't everyone's yearbook picture look a little awkward, a little geeky?  But no, even in black and white—Evan was a freshman that year—she grudgingly had to admit that he really didn't look that much different back then: a little leaner in the face, a little more slender overall, but the reality of it was that he hadn't really changed that much, had he?  "Figures," she muttered, shaking her head as she grasped the pages, referencing the next number in the index before flicking the edges, the pages whispering softly as she searched for the next image.

Evan and a very young-looking, very pretty Madison, sitting on the edge of the stage in the school auditorium . . . He had his arm slung around her shoulders; she had her temple resting against him.  'Goofing around during practice for the spring production of 'Grease' are Kenickie (aka Evan Zelig) and Frenchie (aka Madison Cartham).'

Valerie smiled to herself.  Somehow the idea of Evan in high school theater didn't really surprise her.  After all, if music was involved, there was no way he'd have any kind of second thoughts about it, would he?

Those were the only two pictures of Evan in that year's book, though, and Valerie set it aside, enjoying her impromptu stroll down memory lane.

A little smile that quirked the corners of her lips as she ran her fingertips over the nondescript black leather folder widened slightly.  The gold seal on the outside denoted it as having come from New York University. She'd known that he had attended college; he'd said as much before, but as she carefully lifted the cover, as she read the document inside, she frowned.  'Wh . . . What . . .?'

"All right, woman.  Breakfast's almost ready," Evan commented as she strode into the room with one hand jammed casually into his pocket, a cup of coffee in his other.  "Hope you're hungry because I cooked a lot."

"You're a doctor?" she replied without looking up from the document in her hands.  Her tone was even, a little impressed.

He didn't seem to notice.  "Huh?" he countered, his voice muffled by the mug in his hands.

"A PhD," she reiterated, finally looking up to pin Evan with a challenging, albeit amused, gaze.

He finally seemed to notice what she held in her hands, a fleeting glimpse of a darker emotion flickering to life, only to be squelched before she could rightfully discern it.  "Oh, that?  Eh, that's nothing . . . It's . . . It's one of those honorary ones."

Valerie rolled her eyes and shook her head, grabbing the yearbook off the floor and carefully replacing the stack on the shelf once more before pushing herself to her feet again and crossing her arms over her chest.  "That wasn't an honorary degree," she countered mildly, unable to fathom why he was downplaying the obvious accomplishment.

Evan snorted and drained his coffee cup.  "It ain't no big thing," he insisted.  "Music theory is hardly an accomplishment."

The disbelief in her expression grew as she stared at him, as she tried to comprehend the idea that he was actually trying to downplay the entire thing.  In fact, if she didn't know better, she'd swear that he was . . . Irritated . . . But why?  "Don't give me that, Roka," she challenged in a much milder tone than she wanted to use.  "I went to college, you realize, and I graduated from law school.  I know damn well just how hard it is to get a Ph.D. in any subject, music or otherwise."

Evan made a face and let out a deep breath as he set his coffee mug aside and shuffled over to flop on the bed.  "Music's always been easy for me, V, and it's not like I'm a real doctor or anything," he grumbled, letting his forearm drape over his eyes.

"Like that matters," she scoffed, settling on the edge of the bed and smacking Evan's arm with the back of her hand.  "Bet your mom thinks it's a big deal."

"Eh, she probably would," he allowed with a candid shrug.

The retort that had been forming on Valerie's tongue died abruptly as she shifted to stare at him, as her gaze clouded over with a suspect glint.  "What do you mean, 'probably'?" she demanded quietly, the implication plain even if she really didn't—couldn't—believe it.

"Forgot to tell them," he replied as though it were of no real consequence.

Valerie blinked and stared in abject surprise.  "You . . . forgot . . . to tell them?" she echoed dumbly.  "How the hell did you forget to tell them that you'd earned your doctorate?"

Lifting his arm away from his face far enough to cast Valerie a somewhat bored stare, Evan considered her question before answering.  "Slipped my mind," he drawled.  "'Sides, they just mailed it to me, anyway."

She snorted indelicately and let out a long, drawn-out sigh.  "It's still a huge thing, Roka," she admonished almost sadly, disbelief still thick in her tone.  "Why do you downplay every single good thing you ever manage to do?"

Pushing himself up on his elbows, Evan grinned unrepentantly.  "Like anyone would believe it, anyway," he pointed out with a thoroughly amused chuckle.  "Anyway, it wasn't about them.  I just thought that the classes were interesting; that's all."

"You got your Ph.D. because the classes were interesting?" she repeated dryly.  "Is that what you're trying to sell me?"

He shrugged and sat up, scooting off the bed before reaching for her hands to tug her to her feet, too.  "Yeah, that sounds about right," he replied.  "Damn, I'm fucking starving . . ."

She wanted to argue with him over the idea that no one would believe his accomplishment, but she sighed instead.  It was quite obvious, judging from his demeanor, that he had no intention of entertaining further discussion on the subject, and even if she didn't understand why he harbored such reluctance to show anyone that he really was incredibly smart, she knew, didn't she?

Somehow, it wasn't nearly as surprising as it could have been, either.  Evan . . . When had he ever tried to convince people that he was anything other than the cliché 'idiot rock star'?  Even if it bothered her more than she could credit, maybe . . .

Maybe it was enough that she knew otherwise.

Maybe.


-Evan-


"I went to college, you realize, and I graduated from law school.  I know damn well just how hard it is to get a Ph.D. in any subject, music or otherwise."

Drumming his knuckles on the table as he waited for the dump to be written, Evan tried not to think about Valerie's commentary.

What did it matter, anyway?  It didn't, not really.  It just wasn't a big deal.

Besides, he hadn't gotten his doctorate to impress his family or anything.  No, he honestly had thought that the curriculum was interesting, which, in his mind, was as good a reason as any to have gotten the degree.  After earning his master's degree, it had seemed like the logical thing to do, never mind he hadn't bothered to tell his family about that, either.  He hadn't tried to keep it from them, no, but he hadn't actually gone out of his way to make a big deal out of it, either.  He'd gotten his masters for himself, anyway—the bachelor's degree he'd first earned was to satisfy his father—and at the time, Evan had just wanted to do something for himself.  Even then, as much as he had hated high school, college, he'd discovered, was a whole different ballgame, probably because he hadn't had to sit through hours of lessons that he'd already learned.

The truth of it was that there hadn't been as much of a thought of his future or anything involved.  He'd simply been fascinated with the theory, the structure, of music, and he supposed that it was natural, given his propensity to gravitate toward anything and everything that was musically oriented.

He frowned.  True, he hadn't told his family that he'd opted to continue his education, but the decision not to tell them about having earned his Ph.D. hadn't actually been planned at the time.  In fact, had things been different, he might have let them know about it, but as it turned out, receiving his degree had been the last thing on his mind back then.  The entire family had been turned upside down when his cousin, Samantha had inexplicably disappeared, and Evan hadn't given it a second thought, opting instead to fly out, to help everyone try to find her.

They had in the end—well, kind of.  Samantha had come home after three months, and while no one had known where she was or what had happened to her during her time away, the mystery was cleared up soon enough when video chips had been found in her backpack, and the awful things that she'd had to endure during the three months when she was missing was enough to turn Evan's stomach even now.  She'd been subjected to all manner of atrocities, all in the name of 'research', but in a strange twist of fate, she'd ended up falling in love with the man who had captured her in the beginning, and while Evan didn't like what Kurt Drevin had done, he had to allow that the man really did love Samantha and that he honestly hadn't realized at the time that all youkai weren't necessarily monsters.

Given the situation at the time, though, it wasn't really any wonder that Evan hadn't bothered to tell anyone about earning his doctorate.  To be entirely honest, he had completely forgotten about it, anyway, until he'd gotten finished with the world tour he'd ducked out of to help with the search for Samantha.  When he'd finally gotten home again, his degree was waiting for him, along with a small mountain of personal mail that had accumulated while he was on the road.

He supposed that it had become almost an afterthought then.  It just hadn't occurred to him to tell anyone, and the more time that passed, the more he'd realized that his mother might be more upset that he hadn't mentioned his achievement years ago, so he just never bothered.  After all, Gin really would have made a huge deal out of it, and, well, Evan hadn't thought that it was necessary to do so.

The portable chip writer beeped to indicate that the data transfer was complete, and Evan ejected the chip to put away.  He wasn't completely finished with the song he'd recorded, but he figured that he could come back to it in a week or two, give it a listen, and probably be able to tell then just what he thought was lacking.  It wasn't a big deal, and it was something that he'd done pretty frequently. Usually it worked, too, and some of his better songs had come about in such a way.

Heaving a sigh as he leaned back against the sofa, rubbing his neck to chase away the trace stiffness that had set in after hours of sitting in one place, hunched over the acoustic guitar he always used when banging out a new song.  Glancing at the clock on the wall, he wasn't entirely surprised to see that he'd been holed up in his music room for over twenty-four hours since Valerie had gone home shortly after their impromptu breakfast with the admonishment that he'd better behave because she had to get back on the job of trying to keep him out of jail, and he, of course, had grinned since it never failed to amuse him whenever she behaved as though she believed that he was nigh unto Satan.  'Course, to her credit, he did have a bad habit of reinforcing that belief—or at least, he didn't go out of his way to disabuse her of the notion.  But he'd retired to his music room just to spend some time playing whatever struck him, and at some point, he'd ended up with a riff that he'd liked enough to record and the start of a tune.

"Fuck," he muttered, hauling himself to his feet to place the old acoustic guitar back on the rack where it usually sat whenever he wasn't playing it.  He honestly hadn't meant to stay in here that long.  In fact, there was a good chance that Mike was going to be more than a little irritated with him since he'd blown off a meeting earlier—not intentionally, and not that it'd matter.  He'd still get an earful from his manager, but it wasn't the first time that Evan had lost track of time because he was in his groove, and he highly doubted  it'd be the last time, either.

Shuffling over to the central panel that monitored the house's systems, Evan grimaced when he noticed that he'd missed a number of phone calls during his session.  Four of them were from Mike—those he deleted without listening to them since he figured he knew what those were about.  Bugs had called to welcome him home, Bitches wanted to let him know that she'd stopped by a couple days before he'd gotten home to perform an aura cleansing, Bone was letting him know that he'd had to call the cops to have a couple overzealous fans picked up.  That one elicited a lifting of the eyebrow since that wasn't something that usually happened.  Normally the big guy would just hang out with the fans for a little while, give them an autographed photo that the team kept in the guardhouse, and it was all good.  Those kids must've tried to sneak past security a few times or something.  Even then, Evan figured that Bone just asked the fuzz to remove the kids until they calmed down, no big deal.

A phone call from his mama to let him know that Bas would drop off the dogs next week when he was in the city though Evan had little doubt that she'd try to keep at least one of them since that tended to be par for course, as well.  A couple from Madison to let him know that she was currently somewhere in Beverly Hills with a guy named Viero Ruiz.  Evan hadn't heard of him before, but Madison said that he was a 'lovely Spaniard' who didn't speak much English but seemed to speak her language well enough . . .

Six calls from Valerie, and those made him smile.  "Just thought I'd give you a call and make sure that you're behaving, Roka.  You'd better be . . ." Beep.  "You know, there's a bunch of construction workers doing some stuff to the sidewalk outside my office.  One of them looks like he might be your type—big, muscle-y . . . Very little brain . . ." Beep.  Evan chuckled.  "Oh, I have a good one for you: what do you call a rock star with a Bible?  Give up?  A priest!"  Beep.  He grimaced, but couldn't help the grin on his face, either.  "I saw a review for that new French restaurant in the Times today and was wondering if you've been there yet?"  Beep.  "Seriously, now, you're really not out getting into trouble, right?  Please tell me you're behaving . . ."  Beep.  "So there was a guy outside my building earlier when I got home.  He was apparently quite proud of his penis since he was flashing everyone who walked by.  A relative of yours, maybe?"  Beep.  Those messages made him grin, and he'd have to tell her how much she amused him tomorrow.  At the moment, though?

Keying in the password to set the locks in his house, Evan yawned and rolled his head back and forth a few times before turning to trudge toward the stairs.

True enough, he could usually run with the best of them, and he wasn't weary in body as much as he was mentally tired—something that tended to happen when he spent as long as he had, holed up in his music room.  He'd be right as rain after a few hours' sleep though, and with that thought in mind, he headed upstairs.


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A/N:
'I Don't Care' originally appeared on Fall Out Boy's 2008 release, Folie a Deux.  Song written by and copyrighted to Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
I knew he wasn't stupid!
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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 95
Chapter 97
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