InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Illusory ( Chapter 108 )

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


-OoO oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'Time for me to fly – Oh, I've got to set myself free
'Time for me to fly – And that's just how it's got to be
'I know it hurts to say goodbye
'But it's time for me to fly …'

-'Time for Me to Fly' by REO Speedwagon.

-Evan-


"Are you going to be able to make it home for Christmas?"

"Eh, you know.  No promises, but I'll try."

"Okay, okay.  I mean, you're still busy with that awful trial, right?  Do you think that they'll let you come home?  Maybe I should call the judge . . ."

"Don't do that, Mama . . . I, uh, don't know," he said since he didn't really want to get into the details of the latest turn of events.  Surprisingly enough, the truth hadn't yet been leaked to the press—a small favor that he didn't delude himself into thinking would last much longer.  His conscience nagged him.  He should tell his mother that he was as good as home free, according to Valerie.  Trouble was, he was still too irritated by the turn of events to talk about it without getting agitated all over again . . . "We'll have to wait and see."

Gin giggled softly.  "It's too quiet here, you know," she pointed out, as close to scolding as Gin ever got.  "Especially since Sebastian and Sydnie are in New York City, too . . ."

"I'm sorry, Mama," Evan insisted, tapping his knuckles on the counter as he stared out the window at the grayish wash of November daylight.  "I'll do my best."

"Hmm, if you see your brother, could you tell him that he's more than welcome to drop the children off here for a while—you know, so he and Sydnie can have some alone time."

Smiling at the implied innocence of his mother's request—too bad he also saw right through it—Evan chuckled.  "I'll tell him if I see him," he promised.

"Or you could find your mate so that I can have your children over for extended stays with baa-chan!"

"Oh, is that right?" he deadpanned.

"What about that beautiful girlfriend of yours?  Oh!  You should bring her with you for Christmas!"

That reminder was enough to wipe the slight grin off Evan's face.  "Ah," he hedged, wondering if his mother would believe him if he hung up and said that the connection went dead.  "Well, you know how things go," he went on, carefully choosing his words as well as his tone.  It wouldn't do to get his mother worried, no.  With his luck, she'd hop right into her car and drive down if she thought that he was in trouble . . . "We figured we'd take things slower.  Careers and stuff, right?"

"Careers are important," Gin allowed slowly, thoughtfully, "but so is family, Evan.  You're not overdoing it, are you?"

"Of course not, Mama," he assured her.  "She's just got a lot on her plate, and so do I; that's all."

She wasn't impressed with that, either.  "Nothing in this world is more important than love, you know.  Are you sure you're okay?  You looked a little pale when you were doing your show—oops, your gig—in Maine . . ." she trailed off, giggling softly to herself.  She found great enjoyment in using what she considered to be 'technical jargon'.

Evan's eyebrows lifted at the mention of his concert there.  He hadn't realized that they'd known about it.  "Did I?"

"Yes," she insisted.  "I wanted to stop in to see you after the show, but your father was afraid that I'd be crushed . . . some of the people there were just wild, weren't they?"

His eyebrows drew together at that.  It almost sounded like . . . "Were you there?" he asked, unsure why he felt so reluctant to hear her answer.

"Of course we were!" she said.  "My baby, the rock star!"

"Yeah," he agreed easily enough despite the frown that had grown darker.  They'd gone, but they hadn't bothered to come backstage to say hello?  Now why didn't that surprise him . . .?  "Hey, Mama, I need to get going.  Love you."

Gin giggled again.  "Okay, sweetie.  Remember, you promised that you'd try to make it home for Christmas."

"I know," he assured her.  "Talk to you later."

"Love you, Evan," she said.  A moment later, the connection died, and Evan snapped the phone closed against the heel of his hand.

It was a lot to take in, wasn't it?  Talk about strange things . . . His parents had actually come to one of his shows?  It wasn't entirely surprising that Gin had.  She always wanted to see him perform, but Cain?  Well, there was a good chance that Cain wasn't nearly as impressed with it as Gin had been, and even though he wasn't in what he'd consider to be a good mood, the idea of his poor darling mother's reaction to the Sea of Breasts?  Yeah, that might have been worth seeing.  Too bad he'd missed it . . .

There was little doubt in his mind, though, that Cain had only gone along with Gin because he didn't want her to go alone, which was stupid, really.  If Evan had known that she wanted to be there, he sure as hell would have sent for her and made sure that she was well protected the entire time.  Hell, he'd probably have stuck her up in the skybox with Valerie.  Of course, knowing Cain, he probably hadn't believed that Evan could watch out for her properly.  It just figured, didn't it?  It really, really did . . .

Hell, the way his life was going, he fully expected that he'd get an earful from good ol' Cain just as soon as the news broke, anyway.  In fact, he'd lay a bet on that . . .

"What about that beautiful girlfriend of yours?  Oh!  You should bring her with you for Christmas!"

And that was the other half of the problem, wasn't it?  Okay, if he wanted to be brutally honest, he'd have to admit that it was more than half of it.

Almost a week since she'd found out the truth, and he'd known what would happen.  Damn it, he'd known, even if he didn't really want to accept it.  Even if he didn't really want to believe it.  Those words she'd uttered in what seemed like a lifetime ago kept running through his head, whispering to him in the night when he tried to sleep, always spoke to him, and he couldn't forget them, couldn't shake them . . .

"Listen, Roka . . . I wouldn't marry you for real if you were the last man on earth, and God himself decreed it. Right now, I don't really like you very much, and even if I did, do you think I'm stupid enough to marry someone who doesn't know when to keep his damn pants on? Someone who's never even had a girlfriend because he's too much of a player and a jackass to be serious for even five minutes? As soon as your case is over, I swear to God that I never, ever want to see your sorry face, ever again."

She'd meant that, hadn't she, and why not?  He hadn't given her any kind of reason not to feel that way.  If anything, he'd done his level best to reinforce her idea that he was nothing more than your run of the mill rock star: all flash, no frazzle.  The thing was, he had no idea how to change her mind, and he had a feeling that it was too damn late to even try.

Wasn't that the real reason he'd slipped out of her apartment after finally finding her, jogging near the docks?

So he'd lied and said that he was out doing the same thing, that finding her had been coincidence.  He'd gone to her apartment, hoping that he could coax her out to go for a jog with him, sure, but then he'd chased her all over, and by the time he had, he'd been irritated.  She was an attorney.  She had to have known that it really was dangerous down by the docks.

It wasn't until after she'd summarily dismissed his worry that he'd realized that he was acting no better than a jealous boyfriend or something, and he'd panicked, taking off because he hadn't wanted to push her away even more than he already had.

He sighed and made a face, throwing himself into the chair, kicking his feet up onto the coffee table with an air of disgust.  No doubt about it, he'd screwed up in a colossal way.  Valerie might well be his mate, but it made no difference at all when she had no idea, and he had no way to show her.  The problem was, he was completely at a loss as to what, exactly, he could say or do to convince her that she ought to stick around.  Maybe if she didn't have a lifetime of letdowns to support her general belief that musicians were no better than garbage, he'd have a chance, but . . .

But he couldn't rightfully blame her, either.  He knew what those men had put her through, starting with her father, echoed in every musician she'd met after him.  It was all coming back to bite Evan in the ass, and while he couldn't blame her for her feelings, she had to know that he was different.

Or did she?  When had he ever actually tried to prove her wrong?  Making jokes because he wanted to hear her laugh without considering that his idea of a joke and hers were vastly different or ignoring the things that bothered her because he couldn't understand how anyone could possibly be afraid of a big dust-mop like his dog?  Maybe he hadn't done any such thing; not really . . .

"As soon as your case is over, I swear to God that I never, ever want to see your sorry face, ever again."

Yeah, she'd meant that.  He knew deep down that she did.


-Valerie-


"V!  Sweetie!  I've missed you!"

Valerie blinked and turned to look as Madison breezed into her office with a smile on her face and a light tan on her skin.  "Hey, Maddy," she said, rising to her feet and leaning toward her friend when she stepped around the desk and kissed her on the cheek.  "I'm glad you're back."

Madison's brilliant smile dimmed and faltered when she finally noticed the wan expression on Valerie's features.  "Uh oh . . . Did Evan do one of his 'stupid man things' again?"

Valerie managed a small smile and shook her head then shrugged.  "Kind of . . . not really," she allowed.

That earned her a raised eyebrow.  "Well, that was an evasive answer, wasn't it?" Madison parried dryly, perching on the edge of the desk and extending her foot to show off a very nice, very expensive fawn colored leather boot.  "Aren't these delicious?  I found them in Madrid along with a lovely man named Eduardo who was more than happy to spend a few hours helping me try on shoes . . ."

Smile widening, Valerie rolled her eyes.  It was absolutely impossible to be irritated or even a little vexed with Madison Cartham, and she knew it.  "Sounds like you had a good time."

"Well, you know what they say about all work and no play, right?  So . . ." She drew a deep breath, her foot falling away as she folded her hands together on her knee and turned her complete attention to Valerie, "what did Evan do this time?"

Dropping heavily into her chair once more, Valerie crossed her arms over her chest and stared hard at Madison for a moment.  She'd lied to her, too, and while Valerie knew that it was loyalty to Evan that had kept her silent, she had to wonder not for the first time if the reason that Madison had suggested that she take Evan's case in the beginning was because she was hoping that Valerie would be able to get to the truth of it all . . .

"The charges against Evan are going to be dropped," she said without preamble, watching Madison's face for her reaction.  "He wasn't driving.  You knew that, right?"

Madison's smile faded, her shoulders drooping, her chin dropping.  She didn't respond right away, and she had the grace to look contrite.  "I didn't want him to take the blame," Madison admitted softly.  "Dieter begged him the next day to go to the cops, to tell them the truth, but Evan . . ."

Valerie snorted and shook her head.  "If he wanted to go to the police, then why didn't he?  Evan isn't the end-all, be-all, damn it.  Why would you have gone along with this story, Madison?"

Madison winced, and she offered Valerie a small smile, a contrite smile, a sad smile.  "Because Evan was right," she said.

"How could you possibly think that going to prison for something he didn't do was 'right'?" she demanded.

With a sigh, Madison rubbed her forehead.  "Dieter wouldn't have lasted in jail, not again," she explained.  "Everyone knew that—everyone."  She shrugged almost helplessly, as though she thought that it was the only way she had to express herself.  "That's why we all went along with it.  We knew . . . and Evan knew . . ."

"You really thought that?" Valerie asked with a scowl.

Madison sighed, pushing herself off the edge of the desk and wandering toward the windows.  "He tried to kill himself the first time he was in prison," she said quietly.  "He told me once . . . He cut himself because Miss had sent him a letter saying that she didn't want to see him after he got out."  Staring outside without seeing anything at all, Madison shivered slightly, but it had nothing to do with the temperature inside the office.  "I don't think he ever told Evan about that," she admitted then sighed once more.  Pushing her sunny blonde bangs out of her face with the back of a limp hand, she shook her head, adjusted her red silk blouse in an idle sort of way.  "I'm sorry that I lied to you, V," she murmured, cheeks flushed, head bowed, "but I . . . I didn't know what else to do."

Frowning, Valerie slowly shook her head.  Sure, Evan had said that he'd worried that Dieter wouldn't have made it, too, but she'd really thought that he was overreacting.  For Madison to say it, too, though . . . Maybe he wasn't . . . That still didn't make it right, but maybe, maybe, she could understand, even if she didn't agree.  "But he didn't want to be protected, not like that," she said.  "I only wish he had said something sooner . . ."

Madison turned to look at Valerie at last, her gaze suspiciously bright though she didn't lift her chin.  "I think he tried," she ventured sadly.  "I think he tried a few times.  I just think . . . I think he was afraid of letting Evan down."

It was on the tip of her tongue to tell Madison how ridiculous that was.  She didn't.  What was the point, anyway?  They'd all tried, hadn't they?  Covering for one of their clique because they didn't think that he could withstand it himself . . . To be that well-protected?  What was it like to be that loved?

Brushing that thought aside, Valerie stood up, wandered over to stand next to Madison, her back to the window.  "I don't think that Dieter ever really understood why Evan had befriended him," Madison went on, her voice a little stronger, a little sadder.  "His family was a lot worse off financially, and he was a little awkward, you know?  Too shy to be really popular with the girls and not even remotely interested in sports or anything . . . Dieter didn't really fit in with anyone . . ." Madison laughed softly.  "Maybe that's the real reason why Evan liked him."

"But Evan had lots of girlfriends," Valerie scoffed, unable to help the hint of irritation in her tone.

Madison stared at her for several moments as though she was trying to see inside Valerie's head, but in the end, she smiled just a little.  "Evan always wanted to be friends with everyone," she explained, "and when he found out that Dieter played bass?  He thought that was really cool."  Letting out a deep breath, Madison reached out, squeezed Valerie's arm.  "I hate to run, but I've got a few things I need to do at the salon."

"Okay," Valerie allowed, giving Madison a quick hug.  "I'll call you later."

Madison nodded, and though she looked like she wanted to say something else, she didn't.  Instead, she pasted on a wan smile and sauntered out of the office, leaving Valerie to mull over the things she'd said.  That Evan had a lot of friends in school was a given, wasn't it?  But Dieter didn't?  And somehow, that sounded about right, too.

"He thought that was really cool."

Yeah, Valerie supposed that Evan would have thought that it was cool.  Hearing Madison explain it that way . . . It made a lot more sense to her, didn't it?

Evan really would want to be everyone's friend, wouldn't he?  Knowing him the way she did, she had to admit that it made sense.  That it was Dieter who was in trouble hadn't mattered.  He would have tried to cover for anyone that he felt was his friend; that he worried about.

Misguided, maybe, and frightening how close he'd come to taking the blame for it all, but to Evan?  If he really thought that Dieter wouldn't have made it out of prison alive, maybe she could understand that . . .

A soft knock on the door sounded, and a moment later, Anne peeked into the office.  Spotting Valerie by the window obviously deep in thought, she grimaced in apology.  "This was just sent over," she said, holding out a manila envelope.

Crossing the floor in her no-nonsense gait, Valerie took it and frowned.  It was from the DA's office.  "Thanks," she said, waving away the receptionist.  The girl ducked out of the room and quietly closed the door behind her.

She wasn't sure how she ought to feel as she pulled the docket from the envelope.  It was the formal discharge of all charges levied against Zel Roka for the accident occurring on that cold night half a year ago.  For some reason, it didn't make her nearly as happy as it should have.  By rights, she should be gloating, shouldn't she?  It should have been a slam-dunk case for the prosecution, right?  She'd just saved the man from certain jail time, and that should have been reason to celebrate.

Remembering the sadness in Evan's expression, however—recalling the pain in Miss' eyes that still hadn't waned—considering the haunted kind of blankness in Madison's gaze . . .

It was a bittersweet victory, wasn't it?  Bittersweet and a little heartbreaking, too . . .


-Evan-


Loping down the steps with a towel tucked loosely around his waist and another towel covering his head, Evan hummed the song he'd been working on under his breath.  As he hit the bottom of the stairs, he stopped short, tugging the towel off his head as his brain kicked in a moment later, telling him what he ought to have known to start with.  "H-Hey, V," he greeted casually—a little too casually—as he tossed the towel in the general direction of the sofa.  "What's up?"

The smile that she offered him was forced and thin, anxious.  "Thought you'd want this," she said, holding out a manila envelope as that tight little smile widened.

Evan blinked and stared at the envelope, but he was hesitant to take it.  Something about her demeanor . . .

"What's that?" he asked without reaching for it.

Valerie's smile dimmed and disappeared, licking her lips as she shifted from one foot to the other.  "Why don't you look and see?"

Against his better judgment, he finally took the envelope and pulled out the court papers.  Somehow it seemed almost surreal, didn't it?  Just like that, and the charges against him had been dropped?  It was over, really over, and yet . . .

Those words stuck in his mind.  'It's . . . over . . .'

"As soon as your case is over, I swear to God that I never, ever want to see your sorry face, ever again."

It hit him hard—really hard.  The realization that came with it was harsh, painful.  Dieter and now Valerie . . . 'Sh . . . Shit . . .'

"Congratulations," she said, her voice tentative, almost reluctant.  Then she drew a deep breath.  "Listen, Evan, I know you aren't too happy about this, but really, you shouldn't have been jailed for something you didn't do."

He nodded once, still keeping his eyes trained on the docket.  "Well," he said, inflicting enough carelessness into his tone to make her believe it, adding a smile for good measure, "it'll be great for your career, right?"

She didn't look impressed with his statement.  Crossing her arms over her chest, she just stared at him.  "You think that's why I took your case?"

Evan chuckled, turning away and dropping the docket onto a nearby table before she could get a good look at his face.  "Naw, you took it for Maddy, right?  Because she asked you to.  That's okay; it's all good.  You're a damn fine attorney."

"You think that I'm a pain in the ass," she argued dryly.

He shrugged.  "Not really," he admitted.  "You'll be glad to be rid of me, right?"

"Rid of you?" she echoed.

Evan tilted his head back, staring at the ceiling as a sardonic little smile twitched on his lips.  "The case is over, ain't it?"

"Yeah, but . . . That is, you could still be charged with obstruction of justice."

"But that's not much," he countered mildly.  "I mean, who the hell gets into real trouble for that?"

"You could," she muttered darkly.

He chuckled at her tone though the expression didn't really come through on his face.  "I'm a fucking rock star, V.  They won't toss me in jail for something that fucking stupid.  They'll just fine me or something."

"That's probably true," she allowed.  "Still, you don't know . . ."

"Anyway, who the hell cares?" he scoffed, rubbing his chest with his knuckles, and still he refused to face her.  "No big deal, right?"

He heard her sigh, then she suddenly grabbed his arm.  "Hey, why don't we go out to dinner?  You know, to celebrate the charges being dropped?" she asked brightly.  "My treat."

The smile that he'd managed to conjure up for her faltered and faded.  For a moment, his entire body stilled as her suggestion dug into his brain.  'Celebrate . . .?'

"Evan?"

Clearing his throat, struggling to regain his composure, Evan slowly turned to look at her.  "Ah, you know, as fun as that sounds, V . . . I . . . I think I'd rather go out tonight," he lied.  "Hell, you've kept me on such a short leash, it's about time I did, don't you think?"

A strange sort of expression flickered over her features, but she blanked it before he could adequately discern it.  "Oh . . . right," she said, letting her hand fall away from his arm.  Shaking her head, she turned away quickly.  "I don't know what . . . what I was thinking . . ."

Grimacing inwardly, Evan opened his mouth, ready to beg her to stay, to beg her not to make good on her word . . . What did anything matter if he lost her now?  What did anything matter?  The first time he'd lost her had been a travesty.  This time?  He just couldn't let her go; not without a fight, damn it.  Pride be damned, right?  He'd just have to change her mind about not wanting to have anything to do with him, no matter what it took.

Drawing a deep breath, he swung around to face her, to beg her, to plead with her if he had to.

Somehow while he wasn't paying attention, she'd slipped out of his house—and out of his life—for good.


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A/N:
Baa-chan: Japanese informal address that is roughly equivalent to 'granny' or such.

'Time for Me to Fly' originally appeared on REO Speedwagon's 1978 release, You Can Tune a Piano but You Can't Tuna Fish.  Song written by and copyrighted to Kevin Cronin.
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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~

Chapter 107
Chapter 109
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