InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Upheaval ( Chapter 105 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter One Hundred Five~~
~Upheaval~


-OoOo OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'You can't hide your lyin' eyes
'And your smile is a thin disguise
'I thought by now you'd realize
'There ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes …'

-'Lyin' Eyes' by the Eagles.

-Valerie-


"Come again?"

Miss bit her lip and fidgeted under Valerie's incredulous gaze, but she squared her shoulders and drew herself up a little taller.  "Dieter was driving," she stated once more.

A spark of anger flared deep within Valerie's chest—anger that she had to tamp down before it showed itself in the form of righteous indignation—or a million other things that all hinged, one upon another.  Anger at a group of people who would rather watch Evan take the fall for the accident than to fess up about what really happened—anger at a friend who was trying to be everyone's hero—anger at a man who refused to believe in her enough to tell her the truth—and yes, anger at herself that she hadn't figured it out from the beginning.  "And why didn't you come forward with this information sooner?" she demanded, her tone sharp but not unkind.

Miss winced and quickly shook her head.  "No, no!" she insisted.  "It's not like that!  I mean . . ." She grimaced.  "I mean, I didn't know."

Valerie rubbed her face, struggling for a calm that she was far from feeling.  "But that doesn't make sense," she countered then heaved a sigh.  Damn it, as much as she wanted to be angry, it wouldn't really help her now, and Miss . . . She looked as confused as Valerie was irritated.  No, taking her anger out on Miss wasn't really going to help anyone, and she knew that, too.  "I apologize," she relented, willing herself to calm down, to think logically.  "Why don't you tell me why you think that Dieter was driving?"

Miss nodded once as she stared at Valerie for several moments.  In the end, she sank into one of the chairs that faced Valerie's desk, scowling at the worn edge of the leather jacket a she fiddled with the heavy zipper pull.  "Danny misses him," she finally said at length, her voice rough, raw, full of the pain that she still hadn't managed to come to grips with yet.  "He wanted to come home, and I . . . I thought it was time to put some of . . . of Dieter's things away.  I started to do that, you know?  Started to go through his drawers, to pack away his clothes . . ." Trailing off, she covered her face with her trembling hands, as though she were struggling for some sort of calm that she couldn't quite reach, not yet.  After a moment, she lowered her hands, and her face was pale, peaked, but there was a certain determined light in her eyes.  She cleared her throat.  "Anyway, there was a letter in his drawer . . ." Pulling a rumpled envelope out of the inner pocket of the leather jacket, Miss held it in her fingertips and stared sadly at the bold scrawl on the front.  "I . . . I don't know when he wrote it.  He thought that I'd be mad at him . . ." Wincing as she uttered those words, she held onto the envelope so tightly that her fingertips turned white.  Then she drew a deep breath and slowly, jerkily, shoved it at Valerie.  "It's all in there," she said quietly.

Valerie stared at the envelope for a long moment before slowly, hesitantly, reaching out to take it.  "He wrote this to you . . ."

Miss nodded as she grasped the arms of the chair and pushed herself to her feet, looking as though the venture had taken the very last vestiges of the strength that she possessed.  "He didn't want to see Zel take the blame for something he did," she explained hollowly, wearily.  "It's . . . It's my fault," she admitted with a shake of her head, "He thought that I'd leave him . . . I told him I'd leave him if . . ." Choking on a sob, Miss quickly dashed the back of her hand over her eyes and sniffled loudly as Valerie pulled a couple tissues out of a box on her desk and offered them to her.  "I wouldn't have," she maintained with a shake of her head.  "I mean, he was a little drunk, but he wasn't stoned . . ."

Valerie frowned at the young woman, wishing that she had something to say that wouldn't sound trite or even condescending when she meant to be neither of those things.  In the end, there wasn't really anything she could do, not really, and she sighed.

Forcing a weakened smile, Miss tucked a long strand of hair behind her ear.  "Anyway, I think Dieter would have wanted you to have that.  He, uh . . . He didn't want Zel to go down for something he did."

"But why would Dieter have let Evan take the blame to start with?" Valerie couldn't help asking.  It just didn't make sense.  Dieter was one of Evan's best friends, and to stand back and watch as Evan claimed responsibility . . .? No, she really hadn't thought that Dieter had that in him; not at all . . .

"Dieter had just gotten out on parole," Miss explained.  "I guess they all thought that he'd get sent back if the cops knew he was driving."  Crossing her arms over her chest, she looked like she wanted to say something else.  "Do you think . . .?  That is, if it isn't a problem, do you think that I could have that letter back?  When you're done with it, I mean . . ."

"Yes, of course," Valerie allowed.  "I'll make sure you get it back."

"It's just . . . It's the last thing I have from him, you know?" Miss went on quietly.   "It proves that he was a good man, right?  Because a good man . . . He'd never let his friend take the rap for something he did . . ."

She was grasping at straws, trying to hold onto the belief that Dieter really was all the things she wanted him to be, wasn't she?  Valerie could sense that, could see it, and in the end, she smiled.  It was thin, and it was weak, but it was heartfelt, and the younger woman smiled, too.  "I don't think that you need proof of that.  I think you already know that he was," Valerie said.  "But yes, I'll make absolutely certain that you get this letter back."

Miss' smile widened, and the lingering shadows in her gaze faded.  "Thanks," she said, moving toward the door, but she stopped with her hand on the handle.  "I want Danny to be like his daddy," she said, rattling the handle almost nervously.  "I want him to know what's right and wrong, I mean . . . Maybe not make the same mistakes, but . . . But I want him to understand that it's okay to make those mistakes as long as he's man enough to own up to them, too . . . like Dieter did."

Valerie nodded, watching as Miss let herself out of the office.  She didn't know how long she stood there, staring at the closed door.  Whether it was minutes or seconds, she wasn't sure.

Dieter had been driving that night?

Somehow, that answer seemed completely natural as well as entirely surprising, and she wasn't sure why.   Gaze dropping to the envelope in her hand, she let out a deep breath, her tongue flicking out to moisten her lips as she pulled the letter out and slowly, methodically, unfolded it.

.

Dear Miss,

How's it going?  Just got home from the gallery, and you're gone right now.  I think you took Daniel to the dentist or something.  Damn, I hope to God he doesn't bite him like he did the last time.  Thought we'd never hear the end of that one, but who the fuck is stupid enough to ask people questions when they got their damn paws in your mouth, anyway?

I know you said before that you think it's stupid for me to write letters to you when I could just talk to you, and I've tried to tell you a few times, but always chickened out of it.  I been thinking lately, right?  About you and me and all the mistakes I've made.  I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry.  I mean, I've told you that before, but then I just screw up again, and you get pissed at me because I let you down again.  I try real hard not to, but it always seems like I'm constantly apologizing for one reason or another, and it's always my fault because I didn't think.

Thing is, I'm real sorry because I got to do that again right now, and I figured that maybe you'd listen to me if I write it down, or at least read it all before you get pissed off.  I mean, you got the right to be mad, and I figure that I deserve it, too.  I'm just hoping that you'll forgive me one last time.  I know you said that if I screwed up again that you'd leave me.  I deserve that, but I hope you won't.

It's about that accident: you know, the one that Zel said was his fault?  With the guy that is in the hospital now?  They said he might not walk again, and Zel said to leave it alone, but I can't, you know?  Because he's my friend.  I've thought about it.  I know that if I go and tell them what I know, they're gonna throw me back into the can again because of the terms of parole and all, but it's not fair, right?  Not fair to Zel, and kind of not fair to me, either.  See, I was driving that night.  Zel was more fucked up than I was, but I'd been drinking a lot of beer and some whiskey.  I mean, I was fine; I swear I was, but you know how those tests are, right?  It doesn't matter how sober I was, those tests always say that you're more messed up than you are.

I freaked out.  I mean, after that guy zipped into the intersection, you know?  Miss, I swear I tried to avoid him, but he was just flying.  It was weird, too.  The whole thing just kind of slowed down.  I remember seeing stupid shit, right?  Like how the streetlights sort of seemed to stream out like a ribbon?  The car was moving fast.  Guess the old guy hit us pretty damn hard.  Scared the shit out of me because he hit us on Zel's side, but afterward, you know, before we got out of the car, I was flipping out, I guess.  I should've been more concerned about the other guy, right?  And I wasn't.  All I kept thinking was that I could hear the sirens already, and they were going to take me back to jail, and you'd said that you wouldn't wait around for me if I fucked up again . . . How fucking cowardly was that?  And now when I think about it, I can't believe I was such a goddamn pussy.

Zel forced his door open—I'm still not sure how he did that.  I mean, his door was bashed in, right?  But he did, and he moved so fast.  One minute he was sitting in the car beside me, and the next, he was yanking me out of the driver's side.  He told me to get the fuck out of there, and I did, running into the alley and disappearing before anyone actually saw me, you know?  I'm ashamed to admit that I was scared.  Coulda pissed myself, I was so scared.  So, I ran back to Zel's house to pretend like I had been there all along while he took the rap for the accident so that I wouldn't get hauled back in, and the hell of it?  Everyone's going along with it, too, and they all knew, right?  They knew I was driving, and they didn't say anything because Zel told 'em not to.

I've tried to tell him a couple times that I don't want him going down for my mistake, but he won't listen to me. He says that it's okay because he doesn't have the same things that I do; that he doesn't have anything to lose.  He says that I got a family that needs me and all that, which is true, but . . .  Thing is, I can't stand the idea of him getting sent up when he didn't do anything wrong.  I know you're going to be mad at me, and I don't blame you, Miss, I really don't.  I mean, what kind of person lets his best friend take the rap for something like this, and I guess it's just another screw up on me.

I guess I just wanted to tell you, wanted for you to understand.  I get it if you don't, though.  Even if you're mad at me for the next thousand years, it's okay as long as you don't leave me.  As long as I have somewhere to come back to, then I'll be fine.  I'll make it up to you.  I swear I will.  I've told you that a lot, but I mean it.  I'll find a way to prove it.  You and Daniel are everything to me.

I'm going to go talk to V next week and tell her everything about the accident.  I think I'll try to talk to Zel one more time first.  I figure I can do that after we get done at the children's hospital.  He usually ends up in a pretty good mood after those visits, so he might listen better.  I know he means well, and that he thinks he's protecting me.  Thing is, for once, I want to be the one who does the protecting, you know?  Instead of relying on Zel to talk us out of trouble, if I just go and tell everyone the truth, then maybe I won't be such a worthless fuck up anymore.  I hope you can understand, Miss.  I just want to be someone worthwhile—someone Daniel can be proud to call 'Daddy'.

Love you more than bunnies,
Dieter.

.

Valerie finished reading with a heavy sigh and let the letter bend closed over her thumb as she slowly shook her head.  Evan . . . He was trying to protect Dieter . . .?

And somehow that just wasn't really surprising, was it?


-Evan-


Dropping his cell phone on the table with a heavy sigh, Evan rubbed his face in an infinitely weary way as he trudged toward the living room with only one thing on his mind: escape.  Maybe it'd help him to clear his head if he locked himself away in his music room for a day or so . . .

He'd spent the majority of the afternoon, driving around with Ryder to look at various venues that were being considered for the impending video shoot, and while Evan normally enjoyed such things, this time . . . Well, he was just tired—exhausted, really.  It wasn't a physical thing, no, more of a mental kind of block that, he supposed, stemmed from the conspicuous lack of a certain woman's presence of late and those parting words of hers that made him feel like the biggest asshole alive . . .

"I've told you things, you know, because I never thought that you'd judge me: because I trust you . . . I would have thought that maybe . . . Maybe you'd trust me, too."

It wasn't that.  It really wasn't that.  He trusted her; of course he did.  It wasn't a question of trust, damn it.  It was a question of protection, wasn't it?  Protecting Valerie from the idea that she might well know too much, and protecting her from having to lie for him because it wouldn't matter in the end.  Whether she knew the truth or not wouldn't help him.  He didn't want help, damn it.  He never had . . .

That didn't mean that the guilt had waned.  Nope.  Far from that, actually.  What made it worse?  He knew—knew—that she hadn't really been trying to do any such thing.  Valerie just wasn't the kind of person to stoop to deliberately trying to lay a guilt trip on him, and he knew it.  If anything, she'd just said what was on her mind—something that he appreciated about her, damn it—and if he felt guilty?  Then he supposed that it was because he had a reason to feel that way . . .

In fact, he was so busy thinking about all of that stuff that he somehow managed to miss the single most important thing that he should've known from the moment he'd stepped into his house, and as he shuffled into the living room only to stop short at the sight that greeted him, he blinked.

"H-Hey, V," he greeted, pasting on a weakened smile for her benefit.  It was the best that he could do.  "Been here long?"

Valerie didn't even try to return the sentiment as she gazed at him over the rim of the glass of red wine in her hand.  Sitting quite comfortably in the chair directly across from him with her ankles crossed demurely, still wearing the sensible albeit boring suit she'd worn to work, the darkened hue of her eyes was enough to give him a moment's pause.  "Not really," she replied, her voice low, soft, almost like a caress, even if she wasn't intending for it to be.  "Maybe ten minutes."

That earned her a raised-eyebrow-ed look from him.  It was almost eleven o'clock at night, and she was still dressed like that?  As fastidious as she was about how she kept her work clothes, he knew damn well that she had to have just left the office before coming over, foregoing a trip back to her place to change . . . "Putting in a late night, were you?" he asked rather noncommittally.

Uncrossing her ankles only to cross them the opposite way, Valerie merely lifted the glass of wine to her lips again, taking an inordinate amount of time as she slowly sipped the liquid, and he watched in silence as her throat bobbed lethargically.  If he stared at her long enough, he might even be able to make out the pulsations of her aura that were in time with the beat of her heart . . .

Shaking himself out of his reverie, he sighed inwardly and moved off to grab a beer out of the kitchen.  There was something odd about her demeanor, wasn't there?  Something almost frightening . . .

Brushing away the strange undercurrent—he had to be imagining things—Evan pulled a beer out of the cooler and headed back into the living room once more.

Valerie hadn't moved an inch, was, in fact, still idly sipping the wine when he returned.  Holding the glass in front of her face, she stared thoughtfully at the rich color of the wine, projecting an air of contrived nonchalance as she lazily examined the glass.  "I had a really long day," she admitted at length, her voice quiet, almost hypnotic as she sat back a little deeper into the cushions of the chair.

Ambling toward her, Evan sank down on the end of the coffee table and set his beer aside.  "Yeah?  You sound tired," he allowed.

"Not really," she contended though her voice was almost brittle, attesting to the lie that had slipped so glibly from her lips.

"Don't suppose you came over here to tell me that you've changed your mind about marrying me?" he drawled.

That earned him a snort.  "Not in a million years, Roka.  Besides, it's bad form to ask something that ridiculous when the ask-ee has already been through the day from hell."

Reaching down to retrieve one of her feet, Evan pulled it into his lap, tugging the sensible black pump off and letting it thump on the floor as he gently massaged the sole of her foot with the pads of his thumb.  "Day from hell, huh?  Want to tell me about it?"

Easing down a little farther into the chair, she let out a deep breath and wiggled her toes.  "I went to meet Mr. Thompson—the man who did the forensic testing on the car," she said.

Evan's fingers stilled momentarily before he resumed his task once more.  "That right?" he asked, careful to keep his tone as neutral as he possibly could.

Her eyes were closed, and if she noticed his lapse, she didn't remark upon it.  "Yeah.  Of course, I was running late . . . had someone who wanted to see me come in right as I was leaving."

Concentrating on massaging the arch of her foot, Evan glanced up at her, only to find her staring at him through half-closed eyes.  Cheeks slightly flushed, probably from the half of a glass of wine, there was a frankness behind her gaze that both startled and unsettled him, and he forced his gaze away before he did something really stupid, like lean over and kiss her . . .

"So why don't you tell me who was really driving the car that night, Roka?" Valerie asked, her tone carefully neutral, though there was something else there, too, just below the contrived calculated calm.  Almost as though she . . .

"I told you, V," he started to say.

"Tell me again," she interrupted before he could finish his sentence, "you were hurt, right?  You had a pretty good gash on your forehead, didn't you?  Where was it again?"

Something about the tone of her voice . . .

Evan brushed aside the odd feeling that something just wasn't right.  "Eh, I don't remember.  It wasn't that bad," he lied.

"It was on your right temple, wasn't it?"  She laughed suddenly, though the sound wasn't actually amused at all.  No, it was more incredulous than anything.  "See, I knew there was something strange about that, but I couldn't put my finger on it . . ."

"Strange?" he echoed.  It was his turn to keep his voice carefully neutral as he let go of her foot and reached for her other leg.

"Mm," she intoned, allowing him to continue with the impromptu foot massage.  "You said in your statement that you hit your head on the driver's side window, and that's how you got that cut," she reminded him.  "That's what you said, remember?"

"I guess," he murmured.  Something about her demeanor convinced him that he was treading on very dangerous ground . . .

"It's funny, though, isn't it?  I mean, how the hell could you have hit your right temple against the window that was on your left side?"

"Stranger things have happened during a car crash," he pointed out a little too reasonably.

"I suppose," she allowed.  "I also suppose that you've got a good, sound explanation as to how your blood and some of your hair ended up embedded into the passenger side window where it was cracked?"

He snorted.  "It's my car, V.  My DNA is all over that thing, I'd imagine."

She nodded slowly as though she were contemplating his statement.  "I'd buy that," she agreed easily enough.  "Oh, and something else?"

"What's that?"

She looked positively smug as she set the wine glass aside and grasped the ends of the armrests to pull herself upright.  "The driver's side window was down the whole time.  No damage at all."

Evan wasn't impressed.  "So I hit my head on the steering wheel or something.  Big deal, V," he scoffed.

"Evan?"

"Hmm?"

She cleared her throat until he looked at her, and when he did, he grimaced inwardly.  She knew—knew—what had happened.  He wasn't sure how she knew, but she had to.  It was all there in her expression . . . "Tell me the truth, Evan," she prompted.  "I need to hear it from you."

"Don't know what you're talking about, V," he muttered, pushing her foot off of his lap and standing abruptly to stomp across the room.

She shot to her feet, grabbed his arm before he could move away from her.  "Yes, you do," she argued.  "You didn't ask me who came to see me."

Blinking at the sudden change of topics, it took him a moment to collect his wits, and he shrugged offhandedly.  "Doesn't matter to me," he challenged.

"It does," she argued, letting go of his arm and striding over to the sofa to rummage around in her attaché case.  Pulling out a few papers that were stapled together in the upper left corner, she leafed through them before turning her troubled gaze on him once more.  "It was Miss," she said quietly, "I mean, I couldn't very well turn Dieter's widow away, now could I?"

Evan grunted and shrugged.  "So, she came to see you.  Doesn't mean anything."

"Doesn't it?" she parried with a raised eyebrow.  "She told me, Evan.  She told me that Dieter was driving that night."

The air in his lungs whooshed out of him, like an overinflated balloon.  Miss didn't know—he knew she didn't.  No one had ever told her about any of that.  "She wouldn't have known a damn thing," Evan muttered, more to himself than to the attorney.

"You're wrong," Valerie said, shaking her head as she strode toward him once more.  "He wrote it all down," she went on.  "He wrote her a letter, and he told her that he was going to tell me, too, but he . . . He died before he got the chance."

Blinking as she stuck the papers into his hand, he narrowed his eyes.  It was a copy; certainly not an original document, and Evan grimaced inwardly.  Even at a glance, he could recognize Dieter's familiar scrawl.  "What the fuck is this?" Evan demanded, unable to muster as much irritation as he probably should have as he crumpled it in his hand.

Valerie sighed, rubbing her arms through the wool jacket of her suit.  "It's a copy of his letter, Evan," she explained, "and it won't matter if you destroy it or not.  I have the original, safe in my office."

Evan snorted.  "You can't prove that he wrote it," he insisted.

"Are you really going to make me drag in someone to analyze this?" she countered with an arched eyebrow.  "Do you honestly think that Dieter would have wanted you to go to jail for something he did?"

"Damn it, V, leave it alone," Evan growled, tossing the letter to the side and planting his hands on his hips as he glowered at the attorney.  "Deet wouldn't have lasted a day if they'd have thrown him back in jail!"

"You don't know that," Valerie argued.  "Dieter never wanted you to take the blame!"

"Yeah, well, that was just too damn bad," Evan snarled, his anger rising, thick and ugly and fast.  "He had a hell of a lot more to lose than I ever did!"

"Like what?" she challenged.

"Like Miss!  Like Daniel!"

Grabbing his arm, Valerie hung on when he tried to jerk away from her.  "You can't protect everyone, Evan!" she shot back, her fingers digging in as she stubbornly held onto him.  "And you certainly can't protect people like this!"

"The hell I can't!" he yelled.  "You have no idea what jail did to him the first time, V!  No idea!  And Miss . . . Goddamn it!"

"You're wrong," she contended, letting go of his arm.  "Miss was proud of him—proud!  Proud of him because he'd rather tell the truth than to watch his best friend take the blame for something that he did!  Don't you take that away from her, Evan Zelig!  Don't you dare!"

Glowering at her for a long moment, trying to get a grip on the rage that he just couldn't repress, Evan had to struggle to keep his emotions in check.  "He'd just gotten out on parole," Evan gritted out from between clenched teeth.  "They'd have sent him right back faster than you could spit, and they'd be damned before they'd listen to anything he had to say."

"You don't know that, Evan," she said quietly, pleadingly.  "A few beers and a couple shots of whiskey . . . He might not have even tested close to the legal limits."

"And it wouldn't have mattered," Evan insisted.  "Terms of parole, V!  No booze, right?  They'd have thrown him in the clink and lost the fucking key . . . and Miss and Daniel . . .?  How fucking long do you think it took him to convince her to let him have another chance to start with?"

"But if he didn't test over the legal limits, then the accident would have fallen squarely upon Mr. Matthis," she contended.  "You didn't even give them a chance to do that, did you?  What the hell were you thinking?"

"I was thinking about my friend," he growled, slamming his fist down on the corner of his desk so hard that the things on top jumped and bounced.  The small marble bowl of polished river rocks teetered on the edge before crashing to the floor.  Neither Evan nor Valerie seemed to notice.  "Call them tomorrow," he insisted stubbornly. "I want to change my plea to guilty."

"No," she stated flatly.

He snorted.  "Don't you think that it's a little too easy?  Blame the accident on a dead guy?  It's not like they can do shit to him now, right?"

She narrowed her gaze and slowly shook her head.  "Why are you still so determined to take the blame?" she demanded.

"Oh, come on, Valerie!  Do you really want Daniel's last memory to be of his father fucking up again?"

"No, Evan, I don't," she bit out, obviously struggling for a semblance of calm that she simply didn't feel.  "I want what Miss wants: for Daniel to know that his father was just like anyone else: that he made mistakes, but that he was man enough to own up to those mistakes, too."

"That's bullshit, and you know it," Evan growled.  "Just plead me guilty."

Letting out a long breath, Valerie shook her head again.  "I can't," she said simply, as though it was the simplest thing in the world.  "Even if I wanted to, I can't."

"What do you mean, you can't?" Evan demanded.

Valerie grabbed her attaché case.  "I mean, I already talked to the DA, and he's going to look into it and very likely drop all charges against you.  He's got Miss' sworn affidavit that the letter did come from Dieter, and after reviewing Mr. Thompson's findings, I'm sure that he'll find that you really couldn't have been driving at the time of the accident, anyway."

He didn't respond as she started out of the room.  The anger within him was bitter, cloying, rising thick and hard with a bitterness that rivaled only the sense of inevitability that he just couldn't shake.

Valerie stopped in the doorway and slowly turned back to look at Evan, her gaze belligerent but punctuated by an air of sadness, too.  "You hired me to represent you, Roka.  You didn't hire me to hang you."

He still stood there long after she'd gone, well after the last vestiges of her presence had started to fade.  A low howling thumped in his head, the cadence of rage that he knew all too well, but there was more to it, too . . . and underlying melancholy, the feeling that, try as he might, he hadn't been able to protect anyone at all and an overwhelming bitterness that turned his stomach and threatened to engulf him . . .

"Dieter," he growled, hunching forward, digging his claws deep into the thick desktop.  "Damn it, why . . .?"


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A/N:
'Lyin' Eyes' originally appeared on the Eagles' 1975 release, One of these Nights.  Song written by and copyrighted to Don Henley and Glenn Frey.
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Final
Thought from Evan:
Damn it
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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~
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