InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Wandering ( Chapter 106 )

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

-Oo OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'There are hills and mountains between us
'Always something to get over
'If I had my way, surely you would be closer
'I need you closer…'

-'Get Here' by Oleta Adams.


'May be it was meant to be this way.'

Snorting at the unwelcome intrusion of his youkai-voice, Evan dug his hands deeper into the pockets of his leather jacket and kept moving.  Down the boulevard, along the tired and familiar paths that he and Dieter had walked often enough, laughing, joking, discussing the craziest things, like zombies in Central Park . . . Dieter, somehow talking Evan into hiring out on a fishing boat for some quick cash . . . Dieter, paying a couple working girls to pose for pictures with knives and water pistols that looked real enough so that he could paint them later . . . Dieter, buying a cheap police scanner in hopes that he'd hear about someplace where they'd discovered a dead body so that he could see it before it got bagged and removed from the scene . . .

It had started to snow.

It was that hopeless kind of snow: the fat flakes that melted about the second that they touched the pavement.  There was a certain melancholy about them, wasn't there?  A tragic beauty that was never intended to linger, like the skies just before a summer storm out over the ocean or that insular moment when he'd pull the smashed and abused flowers that he'd toted around all day during his misadventures when he was small, that moment he'd show them to his mother, only to receive that look of pleased surprise that only a mother could give . . .

And none of it meant anything at all; not a damned fucking thing.

'You're being too harsh.'

That statement made him snort: a low, dry, derisive sound.  It skittered over his raw and razed nerves with a vindictiveness that he just couldn't reconcile.  Harsh?  Who was to say?  When all he'd ever wanted to do was to protect his friend?   Was he?  Was he really?

'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'.'

That letter. That damned, God-forsaken letter . . .

The dull thud of his heels hitting the pavement echoed in his head like gunfire.  To be someone worthwhile?  That was what Dieter's letter had said, and yet the one thing that Dieter had never understood . . .

He was worthwhile to Evan, wasn't he?  A friend, one of his best friends . . . someone who had understood Evan in his own way, and that was worthwhile to Evan . . .

'But you really shouldn't have tried to cover up the truth from the start,' his youkai-voice chided.

Evan snorted and hunched his shoulders a little more, drawing into himself as he deliberately slowed his gait, ignoring the crush of the city around him—the reek of trashcans and oil spots on the dingy, cracked streets, the greasy, wizened light of the streetlamps that lined the sidewalk at intervals that were just a little too wide to be helpful . . . Somewhere in the distance, the wail of sirens came to him, rattling through his head as yet another stab of unaccountable rage slammed through him.

If he only knew who it was that he was truly angry with.

'Face it; you're mad because Dieter decided that he didn't need your help.  That's what's really eating at you, right?  Your friend, and you wanted to fix things for him, but you never stopped to think that maybe—maybe—he didn't want you to fix a damn thing.'


Then again, Evan knew damn well that Dieter, with all his idiosyncrasies, with all of his problems, existed on that precarious cusp, didn't he?  Always balancing between joy and despair, how many times had Evan seen Dieter battle against the demons that his own mind had created?  If he were human, he likely would have been diagnosed as bipolar.  As a youkai, there weren't any medications that could have helped him that much, and even if there had been, did it really matter?  Through the years, Evan had made it his mission to make sure that Dieter stayed on that even plane.  At the time, he hadn't seen it.  At the time, he'd just figured that he was hanging out with Deet.  Now, though, looking back . . .

And that was what he had been trying to do this time around, wasn't it?  Unable to do more than to watch as Dieter had been packed off to jail for the drug charge before, Evan had known, hadn't he?  He'd been the only one to go see Dieter in the big house.  He'd seen the shadows that had built layer upon layer just beyond the scope of the mortal eye.  He'd almost lost Miss at the time, and the things that haunted him had very nearly destroyed him, too.

Knowing that, seeing that . . . being unable to do anything to smooth things over for Dieter . . . and one of the things that Dieter never knew was that Evan had gone to Miss, had begged her just to listen to Dieter when he got out of jail.

She had.

Evan wasn't vain enough to try to think that he was the sole reason that Miss had taken Dieter back, but he had to believe that his talk with her had helped to at least open her heart to the idea of listening.

But somewhere along the way, maybe Evan had just gotten used to the idea of trying to keep Dieter out of trouble.  Somewhere in the back of his mind, he'd even blamed himself for the drug bust that had ultimately landed Dieter in jail, in the first place—never mind that Evan hadn't had anything to do with it; never mind that if he'd been there, Evan would have ended up in just as much trouble as Dieter, too.

The thing was, Evan knew—knew—that if Dieter had gotten sent back to jail for the accident that he wouldn't have walked out of there, either.  He knew Dieter too well to believe otherwise.  Stuck in that place, there would have been no one to distract him from himself, and that was the real reason that Evan had tried . . .

And failed.

The snow was coming down much heavier now.  Whether he had been walking for a minute or an hour, Evan didn't know.  The people who wandered the same street that he was seemed to dull and fade away—nameless, faceless nobodies that meant nothing at all to him.  Wandering the same streets as he was, there was a cautious kinship that would never be shared again; not by the same people, not in the same place, and the emotions would change, too . . .

Wouldn't they?

It was too easy, wasn't it?  Too simple?  Easy to cast the blame on a dead man, on someone who couldn't defend himself . . . How in the world could he possibly be let off, free and clear, when Dieter . . . Dieter would never be allowed his own moment to explain . . .

"You think you should drive, Zel?  You're pretty fucked up . . ."

"It's all right.  I ain't that bad."

He wasn't that bad, right?  Just staggering a little bit, right into Dieter, almost knocking him over.

Pushing him back, Dieter shook his head as Evan stumbled but caught himself.  "Fuck!  You can't even walk a straight line, fucker!"

Insane laughter . . . Madison was the voice of reason . . . "Come on, Evan.  Maybe you should let Dieter drive."

"All right; all right," he agreed, tossing the keys to his friend.  "Don't wreck my car, Deet.  The ink ain't even dry on the title yet."

He'd let Dieter drive, hadn't he?  He hadn't been the one behind the wheel, but he'd allowed Dieter to be there . . . That was the truth of it, wasn't it?  If he'd told Dieter to forget it . . .

Did it matter who was driving, anyway?  It was Evan's car, Evan's choice as to who was sitting behind the steering wheel.  He was responsible, and that was why he'd had no issue in taking the fall . . .

None of it was supposed to be this way.  He was supposed to protect Dieter, and he had done a miserable job of it.

'Come off it, Roka.  Isn't that just your ego talking?'

Snorting indelicately as he stumbled onward, Evan kept walking, kept walking.  'Ego?   What the hell?  You know why we were doing that,' he maintained, tilting his shoulder back as he maneuvered past some homeless men gathered around a barrel.  The stench of the burning garbage stung his eyes, his nose.  He kept moving, ignoring pleas for money, the cloying hands of filthy men who had lost to the more vindictive side of life.  Stumbling onward into the night, down the corroded streets of the city, lost in a haze of dulled realization . . .

'To protect Dieter, but you know, Dieter tried to tell you, didn't he?  He didn't want you to protect him.  He didn't need for you to do that, and maybe what he really wanted was to be the protector for once.  You're going to take that from him even now?  Even after he's gone?'

Grimacing against the condemnation in his youkai-voice, Evan felt his fists tighten, could feel the flickering heat of despair as it stubbornly hung onto him.  There was no rhyme or reason to anything that had happened, was there?  There was nothing to prove or disprove: nothing that would ever become of questions that simply had no answers, and where did it leave him in the end?  Alone as he struggled with loss that he still couldn't comprehend . . .

And the falling snow, the pristine whiteness, seemed to mock him: the innocence of the moment that fell onto a warped and bitter world.  Drifting down with a gentleness that only served to highlight the abuse and excess of a world that simply stopped caring, and yet it still turned.

Dieter lived, Dieter died, and the only constant was the continuing seasons, the ebb and flow of an endless procession of faces that didn't know or care about anything, let alone one life that had slipped away.  A boy without a father, a woman without her mate: two lives that were irrevocably changed without any reason, without any sanity.

Perhaps it was the only thing that he could do to protect Dieter's memory.  The seeds were already planted, sure.  There was more to it than that, wasn't there?  The wife and child he'd left behind . . . What kind of legacy would that really be?  Dieter had fucked up one more time: that was what they'd say.  Whispers and looks, pointed fingers and silent laughter, smothered the moment that they were discerned . . . Didn't Miss and Daniel deserve better than that?  Evan had always been the joke, hadn't he?  Would it really have been so bad to have let it remain that way . . .?

If Valerie had just left well enough alone . . . He had known that she'd never let it go if she had known, and that was the real reason he hadn't told her.  It wasn't a question of trust, no.  It was a question of promises and perception, of what he could and could not be.

If Miss had just kept that Godforsaken letter to herself . . . Even if she thought that what she'd done was the right thing, what was the point?  Once the conviction of her belief wore off, once she realized that the pitying glances and sorrowful expressions could easily give way to the innuendo and speculation of a world that was entirely too fickle . . .

If . . .

'Or maybe you're underestimating people . . . Maybe you're forgetting the truth behind it all.'

'Truth?' Evan scoffed, trudging down the street, alone in the midst of a thousand faces.  'There is no truth.  There are just shades of gray that shift like shadows in the night.'

That was the ultimate truth, wasn't it?

And Evan, better than anyone, knew that, too.


The heavy scrape and clank of the gate closing behind him was the most real sound that had occurred to Evan all night.  As the first rays of weak and watery sunlight stabbed through the pallor of the morning haze, he shuffled along the driveway of the too-familiar place that he called home.

He'd walked all night, searching for some elusive comfort, some transient semblance of truth.  Wandering through the city, along the streets, down the alleys and the passages, but he hadn't had that magical epiphany, hadn't suddenly been blessed with that sense of enlightenment that he'd been searching for.  He had come to realize somewhere around Fifty-Third Street that there wasn't any real answers, no insular moment of clear definition.

"H-Hey, Zel."

Blinking as he lifted his chin, Evan stopped short at the rather miserable sight of Miss Reichardt, sitting on the porch steps, huddled so small and frail-looking in the oversized leather jacket—Dieter's jacket.  Hair flattened by the wind and snow, cheeks burnt by the weather, only her red-rimmed eyes were bright as they searched his face, looking for something, though Evan didn't know what.  She was a little thinner than she should have been, maybe a little worse for wear, but at least she didn't look like she was faltering, and for that, Evan was thankful.  "Miss," he said, digging his hands deeper into his pockets, shuffling his feet in a decidedly nervous sort of way.  "How you been?"

Pushing herself to her feet, she drew herself up proudly, as though she were expecting that Evan was about to light into her.  "I, uh . . . I know about the accident," she said.  "Dieter wrote me a letter . . ."

"You told V," he said, though there was no accusation in his tone.  No, only a flatness, an air of inevitability, and maybe somewhere deep down, he'd realized that it would eventually come to this.  "It's all right."

She sighed, shoulders slumping, rubbing her face with her slightly trembling hands.  Evan grimaced, realizing a moment too late that Miss had to have been sitting here for quite a while, and she had to be cold—freezing, even.  Striding past her, he loped up the steps and slapped his hand against the identilock to open the door and let them inside.

"Let me get you something hot to drink," he said, not waiting for her answer as he headed off toward the kitchen.

"You were gone an awfully long time," she said as she stepped into the room behind him.  "You okay?"

Evan spared a moment to cast a small grin over his shoulder at her before resuming his task of making a pot of coffee.  "Fine, yeah," he lied.

She saw right through it.  Not surprising.  Miss was a lot more perceptive than Dieter had given her credit for being.  "I know that you were trying to take the blame for the accident," she said quietly, slowly.  "What I don't understand is why."

The air whooshed out of Evan in a gust, and he slammed the coffee reservoir closed harder than he'd intended.  "Fuck, Miss," Evan muttered, shaking his head, refusing to look her in the eye, "he'd just got out of there.  Damned if I wanted to see him go right back."

Managing a wan smile, she nodded as though his answer didn't surprise her.  "You were trying to protect him."

"Fat lot of good it did," he said, yanking a couple mugs out of the cupboard.

"I'm proud of him for wanting to tell the truth," she ventured.  "He didn't want to see a friend take the blame for his mistake, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Her statement did nothing to alleviate the feeling of guilt that still ran deep.  "He belonged with you, Miss, not in some goddamn jail—not for something as stupid as that."

"Your friendship meant a lot to him, you know?" she said, her sad little smile widening slightly.  She took the mug of coffee he held out to her, taking her time, sipping the steaming brew.  Her smile faltered as she lowered the mug, setting it on the counter, spinning it idly between her hands as she ducked her chin, stared into the cup.  The shift in her demeanor was a painful thing.  Gone was the upbeat façade she'd so carefully affected, and the sadness, the rawness that surrounded her was thick and heavy.  "Just seemed kind of . . . right, I guess," she said.  "That he died protecting you . . . It doesn't surprise me in the least."

Rubbing his forehead, Evan sighed.  "You deserve better," he admitted.  "The press is going to fucking crucify him when they get wind of this.  I didn't want that.  I didn't . . ." He grimaced then heaved a heavy sigh.  "Damn it . . ."

"You think he didn't know that?" Miss argued quietly.  "You think I didn't . . . didn't know that?"

"You don't need the press and shit," Evan growled, scowling at the cup of coffee before him that he hadn't touched yet.  "They're like vultures, you know.  They'll hover and speculate and print fucking lies . . . and what happens if Matthis comes after you for punitive damages?  What then?"

She stared at him for several moments—painfully long moments—as her gaze bored into his skull with a quiet intensity, an understated grace.  "It'll be worth it," she contended at last, a determined sort of light entering her stance, her gaze.  "No matter what they say; no matter what they do—if Mr. Matthis wants money for his injuries, it'll be worth it."

"How do you figure?" he demanded softly, finally daring to lift his chin, to meet her steady eyes.

Her answer took a moment as she considered her answer.  Her smile resurfaced, but this one was bigger, a little more genuine, and she reached out slowly, hesitantly, and squeezed his hand in hers.  "Danny," she said with a simple shrug.  "It's okay, isn't it?  To teach him that being a man—a real man—doesn't mean that you have to be perfect.  What makes a man a real man is the ability to own up to his mistakes—and to do whatever he can do to protect the people he cares about . . . like his father . . . and like you."

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~ =~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'Get Here' originally appeared on Oleta Adam's 1990 release, Circle of One.  Song written by and copyrighted to Brenda Russell.
== == == == == == == == == ==
monkeyseemonkeynodo ------ Dark Inu Fan ------ theablackthorn (now why did you never point out that I've been misspelling your username for a while now??? Lol sorry!! ) ------ Nozome ------ Tashwampa ------ Titiana ------ CatLover260 ------ OROsan0677 ------ lere
Midcat ------ GoodyKags ------ indigorrain ------ FriskyPixie ------ inubaka ------ Proforce ------ OROsan0677 ------ cutechick18
Thought from Miss:
Unless Dieter came back as a zombie
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.

Chapter 105
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