InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ December in Maine ( Chapter 114 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

' Took this love and I took it down
'Climbed a mountain and I turned around
'And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
'Till the landslide brought me down…'

-'Landslide' by Fleetwood Mac.

-Valerie-


"What about my suitcase, Roka?" Valerie asked as Evan tugged her along behind him up the neatly shoveled walkway that led to the front porch of what she could only describe as the Zelig mansion.

Evan laughed and kept moving.  "I'll get it in a bit," he promised.  "Stop trying to procrastinate."

"I'm not," she argued hotly.  Well, she was, but he didn't need to know that.  For some reason, the looming edifice was intimidating, and she'd very nearly told him to turn around and take her to a hotel when it finally came into view.  Good God, this place?  If Evan's house on Long Island was a mansion, then this place—the place he'd grown up in and called 'home'—it was a damned mausoleum . . .

"Okay, you're not," he agreed a little too amiably.

"This place is larger than a lot of apartment projects in the city," she complained as he marched her up the wide stone steps.  "How many families live here?"

"Just one," he told her with a wink.  "Oh, damn, I can smell dinner all the way out here . . ."

Valerie rolled her eyes since that was entirely impossible.  "You can't be hungry, even if you could smell it," she informed him.  "How much junk food did you eat on the trip here?"

"I'm a growing boy," he challenged.  "Not my fault."

She snorted.  "You stopped at every fast food place we passed," she pointed out.

He grinned, mostly because she wasn't too far off the mark.  "Growing boy," he stated once more.  "You having fun so far?"

Rolling her eyes since all they'd done was turn an eight hour trip into one that had taken about ten hours just because of his frequent stops, Valerie giggled.  During the time they'd spent in the car, okay, yes, she'd had fun.  It was hard not to when he'd done nothing but sing Christmas carols all the way—Christmas carols with very, very twisted lyrics, anyway . . . "I suppose," she allowed with a nonchalant little shrug.

He looked like the kid who had just won the new bike in the school raffle.  "You're going to have a great time," he insisted as he tugged her over to the door.  Reaching for the massive brass door handle, he stopped suddenly and glanced at her almost sheepishly.  "Oh, yeah . . . Mama still thinks you're my girlfriend, so . . ."

"What?" she blurted as a wash of color slammed into her cheeks.

"My girlfriend," he reiterated.

Grabbing the front of his shirt in both hands, she yanked him around to face her.  "What do you mean, she thinks I'm your girlfriend?" she demanded.  "You didn't tell her that we'd broken up or something?"

His grin widened as his hands came to rest on her hips .  "Well, see, she really likes you, and—"

He didn't get a chance to finish that.  The door opened, and Valerie blinked when she came face to face with the very diminutive Gin Zelig.  The woman laughed happily and stepped back to invite them inside.  "Now, you two shouldn't be standing outside, kissing on the porch," she chided, her cheeks pinking at her perceived interruption.

Valerie gasped, yanking her hands away from Evan's shirt, her own cheeks heating almost painfully at the cinch that Gin had witnessed.  "Uh . . ."

"Hey, Mama," Evan greeted warmly, stepping over to hug his mother and plant a very loud, very obnoxious kiss on her.  "You remember V, right?"

"Of course I do!" Gin insisted, shooing Evan out of the way so that she could properly greet Valerie, who only blinked and stood still as the smaller woman hugged her and gave her hands a quick squeeze.  "I'm so glad that Evan talked you into coming!  Your trip was good, right?"

"Oh, uh, y-yes," Valerie stammered, taken aback by the warm welcome she'd received.

Gin positively beamed at her.  "So, tell me!  Has my baby been behaving himself?"

"Now, Mama, we just got here, and we've been traveling all day . . . Don't you have food to offer us or something?" Evan cut in before Valerie could throw him under the proverbial bus.

Valerie slipped him a sidelong look.  She hadn't missed what he was doing; not at all.

Gin, however, seemed to be easily enough sidetracked.  "Oh!  Oh, I'm sorry!" she said, bowing low a couple of times as her cheeks reddened.  "Where are my manners?"

"Evan, you aren't really picking on your mother, are you?"

Head pivoting to meet the rather bland gaze of his father who stood, lounging in a nearby doorway, Evan grinned when he spotted Cain.  "Absolutely not," he drawled.

Cain eyed him for a long moment before casually shoving himself away from the frame and ambling over to his tiny wife.  "Evan knows where the kitchen is, baby girl," he told her as he slipped an arm around her waist, effectively putting a stop to her show of contrition.  "Miss Denning, nice to see you again."

"Thanks for having me," she said, frowning slightly at the tension that she could feel, hanging in the air between father and son.

"Oh, I'll make up plates for you two," Gin volunteered as she hurried toward the high arched doorway.

Evan spared a moment to cast Cain a very bright grin as he dug his keys out of his pocket and tossed them to his father.  "You mind bringing in our luggage, Cain?"

Valerie blinked when Cain actually broke into a little smile.  "Sure, Evan," he replied.  "No problem . . . and it's 'Dad'."

Evan nodded and held up a hand to indicate that he'd heard his father as he escorted Valerie out of the foyer and through the living room toward the kitchen.

"I don't suppose you brought me any peanut butter cups?" Gin asked hopefully as she led the way.

Evan laughed and tugged on Valerie's hand to move her along a little faster.  "I might've," Evan drawled.  "I might've . . ."


-Valerie-


Valerie slowly looked around the room, her eyes unblinking as she took in the childish décor that surrounded her.  Standing in the doorway, Evan crossed his arms over his chest and smiled to himself.

Gin had been beside herself, apologizing a number of times because she hadn't gotten a room ready for Valerie.  That was his fault, and he'd told her so.  He'd explained that he was so happy that Valerie had decided to come with him after all that he hadn't thought to call his mother to let her know ahead of time.  Cain was the one who had solved that problem, telling Gin that he was sure that it wouldn't be an issue to let her stay in Evan's old room upstairs since she always kept her children's rooms ready, just in case they should happen to stop by, and while Evan's bedroom had been moved to the basement long ago, she had always kept his childhood room exactly as he had it when he had still lived upstairs.

That was the room that she was currently inspecting.

Valerie pulled out a pair of onesie footy-pajamas: white fleece with the Power Puppies logo all over it.  Evan's grin widened.  "Oh, my God," she breathed, shaking out the pajamas and holding them up for her inspection.  "Did these actually fit you?"

He laughed, rubbing his chin idly as he offered a vague shrug.  "Of course they did," he ventured.  "Those used to be my favorite PJs.  I think I was around . . . four?  Five?"

She giggled, lifting the pajamas to her nose and inhaling deeply.  "Smells nice," she said, a dreamy little smile lighting the depths of her eyes.

Evan chuckled.  "It's called 'Downy', V," he teased.

Ignoring his rather bald commentary, Valerie closed her eyes as she smelled the sleeper again.  "I can't picture you this little," she admitted, shaking her head as she continued to stare at the tiny fleece outfit.

Evan grinned, striding over to the closet.  "Oh, well, if you think that's little," he remarked, pushing the closet open, looking for the small, pastel blue garment bag that he knew was hanging in the back.  He found it, sparing a moment to grin at the tiny white leather soft shoes that were carefully bagged and hanging from a loop around the blue satin covered hanger.  Then he tugged the zipper and pulled the tiny sailor's outfit out of the bag.  "What do you think, V?  Totally 'me', right?"

Valerie blinked, her expression blank as she stared at the suit on the tiny baby hanger.  A wide wooden hanger with the name 'Evan' painted on in Gin's careful script in rust-colored paint in the midst of sprays of tiny blue wildflowers and scrawling vines . . . Bas had a hanger that looked like that, too, as did Jillian though her name was written in pink.

"Oh . . . my God . . ." she murmured, her voice barely above a whisper.  "That is the cutest thing I've ever seen . . . You fit in that?"

Chuckling at the absolute incredulity in her tone, Evan shrugged and let her take the outfit, out of his hand.  "Yeah, well, you've seen Mama, right?  I had to be tiny to come out of her, don't you think?  Anyway, this is the outfit I wore home from the hospital, she said."

Valerie shook her head without taking her eyes off the little sailor suit, holding it gently, as though she were holding something so delicate that she was afraid it might crumble to dust if she weren't careful.  "So cute," she murmured, her smile widening as a soft giggle escaped her.  Then she sighed and shook her head.  "I still can't picture you in that," she admitted.

"Remind me tomorrow, and I'll show you the picture," he said.  "It's hanging in Mama and Cain's studio."

She still looked dubious at best, but she handed over the garment bag and watched him put it away.

Running her fingertips along the shelf above the bed where all of Evan's Power Puppy figurines stood, she took her time, looking them over as she continued her perusal of the room.  "Did you play with these?" she asked at length.

"Those?  Yeah, all the time," he said.  "I loved those things."

The look she shot him was entirely amused even though she didn't smile.  "So you were just a normal kid," she concluded.  "The biggest rock star on the planet played with Power Puppy figurines, just like any other child."

"I know; I know.  Kind of a letdown, right?"

Crossing her arms over her chest as she gazed at the Power Puppy murals that were so carefully painted on the walls, Valerie finally grinned.  "Actually, I thought it was kind of reassuring," she said with a shrug.  "I didn't know they made this many different ones, though."

"Well, some of them came from Japan," he told her.  "My brother-in-law sent me quite a few omake."

"Omake?"

He nodded.  "Think of them like the prizes in a box of Cracker Jack . . . or a Happy Meal . . . or a box of cereal.  Same idea, roughly."

She nodded slowly then shot him a quizzical glance.  "Your brother-in-law?"

He couldn't help but chuckle.  "You met him in Hawaii," he explained.

She still looked confused.  "I did?"

"Yeah . . . Remember?  Kichiro and Bella?"

"Those two?  But they're not that much older than you are," she scoffed.  Sure, she remembered them.  She also knew damn well that there was just no way that they were that much older than Evan was.  They couldn't possibly be, could they . . .?

She sighed and rubbed her forehead.  Of course it was possible.  Just look at the man's parents, for God's sake.  Neither Cain nor Gin looked like they were old enough to have a thirty-two year old son, now did they?  And she knew that Bas was older than Evan, too.  'The beautiful people . . .' she thought with an inward snort.  Just what was it with this family?

Then she smiled despite her strange thoughts.  What did it matter, really?  After all, they were good enough to allow her into their home at what should be an intensely personal family time of year, weren't they?  So far, Valerie had been amazed at their warmth, the understated and unquestioning welcome that they'd extended to her.  It wasn't just the fabulous decorations that seemed to drape every inch of the mansion—at least, that she'd seen so far.  There was an elegance that was somehow warm and intrinsically inviting in all of the ornamentation, in all of the whimsy of the season.

The other thing that amazed Valerie?  As large as the mansion was, as rich as the family was rumored to be, the Zeligs did not employ any kind of household domestic staff—no maids, no cooks, nothing.   There was a large stable off to the left of the huge mansion, but Evan said that was a recent addition, and as far as she knew, Evan had mentioned that there was a guy who came in every day to look after the horses, and he seemed to be the only actual employee on the vast estate.

In short, they were as down to earth as anyone that Valerie had ever met before, and maybe that was why Evan didn't have a legion of people to wait on him, too—because, though he'd been raised with money, he had never been spoiled by it.  He didn't have a personal assistant, and he didn't have staff to cater to him, either.  He had a maid that came in a couple or a few times a week to do the general cleaning, but she knew from experience that Evan did his own cooking, and gladly.  He probably had someone come in to take care of the yard, but that wasn't really surprising, either, given his schedule, and that was okay.  Some people were just not meant to do the yard work, and Valerie was one of those people, too . . .

"I'll take you on the full tour tomorrow," Evan promised, grinning widely when Valerie yawned.

Blinking away the residual tears, she couldn't help the glance she shot the bed that should have been a little too large for a toddler or a small child.  "I'm not sleepy," she lied.  For some reason, she felt like she might miss something if she went to bed, not that it made any sense to her.

Somewhere in the distance, a clock struck the hour: midnight.  "Yeah, you are," he countered with a soft chuckle.  "Get some sleep, okay?  Unless, of course, you want to come downstairs and sleep in the big boy's bed."

Rolling her eyes, she shook her head.  "Don't be a jerk, Roka," she retorted, her cheeks pinking at the mere suggestion.

"You know, it's not like Mama would say anything about it," he went on, ignoring her admonishment with ease.  "She let Jilli sleep with Gavin for years."

That earned him a dubious look.  "No way," she argued, crossing her arms over her chest.

Evan chuckled.  "Way," he insisted.  "Jilli knew early that she was going to marry him one day."

Valerie snorted but smiled at the decidedly romantic idea of knowing such a thing as a child.  "I'm sure you're exaggerating," she scoffed as she grasped her suitcase and hefted it onto the bed.

"Totally not," he said.  "You need help changing?"

She tossed a pillow at him.  "No, I don't."

"Okay, okay," he relented.  "If you're sure . . ."

"Positive," she assured him, stepping behind him and bracing both hands against his back to propel him toward the door.  "Goodnight, Roka."

"If you need anything, my room's the door at the bottom of the stairs."

"I'm sure I can manage just fine," she told him as she shoved him over the threshold.

He heaved a sigh designed to let her know just what he thought of the unceremonious ousting, but she heard him chuckle as she closed the door, and then she heard him shuffle off down the hallway toward the stairs.


-Evan-


"Come in," Evan called, not looking up from unpacking the suitcase.

Very quietly, the door opened, and Evan glanced over just in time to see his mother peek around the edge and smile impishly at him.  "I thought you might be sleeping," she admitted.

"Hey, Mama.  How's my best girl?"

Her smile widened, and she hurried into the room, stopping next to him to hug him tight before shooing him away from the suitcase before digging out a stack of clothing and moving off to put it in the dresser.  "I'm so glad you talked Valerie into coming with you!" she said, sparing a moment to smile over her shoulder at him.

"I am, too," he said, returning Gin's smile with one of his own.

"I really missed you at Thanksgiving," she went on, lifting another stack of clothes and stepping over to the dresser once more.  "It just wasn't the same without you."

"Thanks for the food," he told her, plopping on the edge of the bed and leaning down to tug off his shoes.  "It was fantastic."

Gin giggled and kissed his cheek before heading over to put away the last of his clothing.  "It was the least I could do," she assured him.  "Anyway, your brother should be here sometime tomorrow, and Jillian said that she'd be here the day after that . . . I'll have all of you home for Christmas!  It's so exciting!"

Evan chuckled.  He wasn't exactly inclined to agree, but seeing his mother was well worth the bother of dealing with his brother and his father, as far as he was concerned.  "Anything for you, Mama."

She smiled brightly, but she went strangely quiet for several moments, and Evan had the feeling that there was something she wanted to ask.  He didn't have to wait long to find out.  "So, tell me, sweetie . . . Valerie . . . is she your mate?"

For some reason, that question brought a bright smile to Evan's face.  "Maybe," he drawled, meeting his mother's gaze out of the corner of his eye.

"Maybe?" she repeated, her eyebrows rising.

Evan's smile widened.  "I'd like for her to be," he admitted.  It felt good to say it out loud, didn't it?

Gin's smile was positively brilliant.  "I'm so happy for you, sweetie!" she said, clapping her hands and throwing her arms around him.

He chuckled.  "It's not a done deal yet, Mama," he warned.  "There're still a few things that we need to work out."

Waving a hand dismissively, Gin settled on the bed beside him, clasping his hand in hers.  "Don't be silly, Evan!  If she's your mate, then that's all there is too it!"

He sighed, wishing that it was as simple as she made it sound, but he didn't argue with her, either.  "Absolutely."

Gin smiled, her optimism very apparent as she gazed at him.  "She's really pretty," she said, leaning toward him, lowering her voice as though she were telling him a secret.

"Almost as pretty as you," he quipped.

Gin giggled but rolled her eyes, flicking her wrist to dismiss his claim.  "She's much prettier than I am," Gin insisted.

"No way," he argued, kissing Gin's forehead.  "You've always been the most gorgeous woman on earth to me."

She still didn't look like she believed him.  "You'd better think your mate is the prettiest woman alive," she chided.

Evan laughed but didn't argue with her.

Suddenly, though, Gin's laughter died away, and she shifted slightly, almost nervously.  Evan blinked at the abrupt change in mood—very unlike his mother.  "Something wrong, Mama?"

Wrinkling her nose, she shot him a decidedly nervous glance.  "Oh, it's nothing . . . I just . . ."

"Just?" he prompted when she trailed off.

She bit her lip, her ears flattening out to the sides for a moment.  "I . . . I just wondered how that girl—Violca . . . Is she okay?"

Evan blinked.  To be honest, he'd forgotten about the gypsy girl he'd sent to live with Gin and Cain months ago as well as the strange altercation that had led to Gin's moving out of the mansion for awhile . . . "Uh . . . she's fine," he assured her.  "You . . . wanna tell me why you moved in with Bubby for a while?"

She shot him a distinctly nervous kind of glance.  "Th-That's long past," she said in a high, twittering, nervous tone.  "It wasn't important."

"Yeah, but if it wasn't important, then you wouldn't have moved out," he told her.

Gin waved a hand to brush away the conversation.  "It's fine, Evan.  Just fine."

He thought it over, staring at his mother with a frown on his face.  Her normally happy demeanor was strained, stressed, and he grimaced.  "Did Violca do something?" he asked, trying to keep his tone casual.

Gin shot him another almost nervous glance, but before she could answer, the bedroom door opened, and Cain leaned into the room.  "Baby girl, are you about ready for bed?" he asked.  When he saw the look on Gin's face, though, he frowned.  "What's wrong?"

Evan narrowed his eyes on his father.  "I don't know, Cain.  You tell me."

"It's nothing; it's nothing!" Gin insisted, scrambling to her feet and hurriedly kissing Evan on the cheek.  "Let's go to bed, Zelig-sensei," she said, her bright tone back in place once more.  Evan blinked and stared.  If he hadn't seen the change for himself, he might well have believed her, too.

Cain didn't look entirely convinced, but he let Gin tug him out of the room.  "Night, Evan," he called over his shoulder.

"Night," Evan replied as the door closed behind his parents.

Well, now, that was even more bizarre, wasn't it?

Staring at the closed door for several moments, he idly scratched his chin.  Judging from his mother's behavior as well as her line of questioning, there was very little doubt in his mind as to whom, exactly, had caused the altercation between his parents, and considering he was all too familiar with Violca's habits, he figured that whatever it was, it couldn't have possibly been good . . .

In any case, he had a few days to try to figure it out . . .


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A/N:
'Landslide< /i>' originally appeared on Fleetwood Mac's 1975 release, Fleetwood Mac.  Song written by and copyrighted to Stevie Nicks.

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Final
Thought from Valerie:
It's a damn mausoleum
==========
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 113
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