InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Silent Night ( Chapter 116 )

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


-OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

' So say it ain't true, the things that they've been saying
'They say that you've found someone new
'But don't break my heart
''Cause your baby never looked good in blue …'

-'Your Baby Never Looked Good in Blue' by Exposé.


-Evan-


"So tell me again why I need this dress?" Valerie asked without glancing up as she leafed through a magazine.  "Stop that, will you?"

Evan stopped jingling the little earrings hanging on the small rack next to the chairs long enough to grin at Valerie before he started flicking them again.  "Because the Christmas benefit means a lot to Mama," he replied.  "It's the one time a year she can actually talk everyone into attending."

"Everyone?" she repeated, dropping the magazine on the table and turning her full attention to him.  "Including your father?"

Evan nodded.  "Even Cain," he said, rolling his eyes.

Valerie considered that, pursing her lips, running her tongue over her teeth behind those pooched lips.  "And I need a dress for this."

"Yep."

"You should've told me that before we left New York," she told him.  "I have perfectly good dresses there."

He chuckled.  "You make it sound like buying a new one is terrible," he pointed out.  "Don't worry.  I got it.  I can't believe you wouldn't let me see the dress . . . It's hot, right?"

She snorted.  "Your idea of 'hot' and mine are vastly different, Roka," she said.  "Of course it is . . . and you can just wait till the party, can't you?  And what are you going to wear?"

Evan shrugged.  "A tux, of course."

Staring at him for a long moment, she nodded.  "You brought one."

"I did," he agreed.

"I could have afforded my own dress," she said.

"Of course you could have," he allowed in an entirely humoring tone of voice.  "I told you I'd buy you whatever you needed though, and it's not a big deal."

Valerie rolled her eyes, and he figured that he'd still not heard the last of it since Valerie wasn't exactly pleased about the idea that he'd just slapped down about five hundred dollars for her dress—which was cheap, if you asked him.

"Evan?"

Evan blinked and slowly stood up when he spotted the woman who had addressed him.  "Hey," he greeted as Chera Karankoa, an old high school friend, strode over.  She'd been standing over by a rack of informal dresses when she'd spotted him, and as she hurried over to greet him, she squealed in delight as she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.  "How are you?"

Chera laughed, tucking an errant strand of dark brown hair behind her ear.  She looked good—damn good—maybe better than she had in high school.  Then again, she used to have braces and bright red framed glasses . . . "Good, good, and you?  I hear you've been successful as a songwriter," she said, grasping his hands in hers as her smile broadened.  "I always figured you would be.  Of course, I always thought you'd be a rock star or something . . . Anyway, you going to be in town awhile?  We could get together or something . . ."

Judging from the tone of her voice, her idea of 'getting together' was meant to be taken quite literally, and Evan gave a noncommittal shrug.  "Ah, well, you know, things change.  I'm only here over Christmas.  You look good."

She giggled, her cheeks pinking as a hand rose to flutter at her throat when she finally stepped back.  "So do you," she replied, glancing quickly up and down.  He didn't miss the look.

A very curt throat-clearing sounded behind him, and Evan grimaced inwardly as he chuckled, pulling his hands away and stuffing them into his pockets.  "Oh, hey, this is Valerie," he said, stepping back to gesture at the attorney who sat bolt-upright with her arms crossed over her chest looking anything but welcoming at the moment.  Okay, so that might have been jaded by the idea that that's what he wanted to think.  Still, she wasn't smiling, and when she met Chera's very interested gaze, Valerie only nodded.  "V, this is Chera, a girl I, uh, knew in high school."

Evan blinked when Valerie's eyes flared slightly—maybe not enough for Chera to have noticed, but Evan did—and he grimaced inwardly.  It didn't take a brain surgeon to know what was going through Valerie's head, now did it?  She knew how badly behaved he had been in high school.  He certainly hadn't made an issue of trying to hide it, and considering the very warm welcome he'd received from Chera?  Yeah, it didn't look good, now did it . . .?

"Pleased to meet you," Valerie said, slowly getting to her feet, her tone of voice a lot more cordial than her body language.  Extending her hand, she managed a deceptively warm smile as she shook Chera's hand.  "How well did you know Evan in school?"

'Oh, boy, here it comes,' his youkai voice sighed.

'Maybe not . . .'

'You're gonna be hung by your fucking balls.'

'. . . Probably.'

Chera smiled as she gave Valerie the curious once-over before glancing almost worriedly at Evan.  "Oh, well, we were casual friends, more or less . . ."

Valerie's smile warmed a few degrees.  "Casual friends?"  She shot Evan a very knowing glance.  "Is that so?"

Chera looked rather nervous as she looked at Evan once more before taking a quick step back in retreat.  "I-It was nice to see you again, Evan," she blurted quickly as she raised one hand to offer him a half-hearted wave.  "Nice to meet you, too, Valerie.  Uh, bye."

Valerie slowly sank back into the chair once more as the woman hurried away.  A moment later, the distinct clang of the bell hanging over the door sounded, and Evan let out a deep breath before slowly, very slowly, turning to meet Valerie's ire.

"She seemed pleasant," Valerie remarked mildly, burying her nose in a magazine once more.

Slowly, hesitantly, Evan sat down again.  Why, oh why, did he feel like he was sitting on the edge of a volcano . . .? "She's always been a nice girl," he told her.

"A pretty girl," Valerie ventured at length and without looking up from the magazine.

"I . . . I guess . . ."

She nodded and rattled the magazine.  "She seemed very happy to see you."

"Did she?"

"Did you get her phone number?"

Evan made a face.  "No . . ."

Glancing at her watch, Valerie still didn't look up from the magazine.  "Well, if you hurry, you might be able to catch her," she replied pleasantly as she resumed perusing the pages once more.

He heaved a sigh, figuring that he deserved that well enough, given his history.

'Of course you did, you damn dog,' his youkai growled.  'You just let Chera kiss you, didn't you?'

'That wasn't my fault!' he insisted.  'You were there!  You saw what happened!'

'Like that matters!  It's what she saw, isn't it?  And you didn't do much to stop Chera, now did you?'

He didn't get a chance to respond, however, because Gin stepped out of the dressing area in a very long, very gorgeous floor length white velvet gown held up by spaghetti straps with an overlay of white gossamer fabric shod through with iridescent thread that caught the light and lent a very pretty shimmer to the overall effect.  She spun around in front of the myriad of floor-to-ceiling mirrors before smiling rather shyly as she met Evan's gaze.  "So what do you think?" she asked, sounding a little breathless.  She always did whenever she was trying on formalwear.

Evan grinned.  "Looks good, Mama."

Pressing her hand against her stomach, she nervously bit her lip.  "You think so?  I-I don't know . . ."

"Don't be ridiculous.  You look good in everything."

She didn't look reassured.  "But this is for the Zelig Foundation," she said, shaking her head thoughtfully as she glanced over her shoulder at her reflection in the mirrors.

"Mama, you could show up in a sackcloth dress and you'd still be gorgeous," he assured her.

That didn't do a thing to make her feel better.  If anything, she seemed even more nervous.

Hauling himself out of the chair, he ambled over to Gin and slipped his arms around her.  "Cut that out," he chided gently.  "You look fantastic."

"But it's white," she said, eyeing herself critically.  "Maybe I should look for something that's a little darker—more matronly."

"Why wear something matronly when you don't look one, in the first place?" Evan countered, kissing her cheek as he leaned down to give her a little squeeze.  "You look great.  Cain'll never know what hit him.  What do you think, V?"

Valerie laughed and untangled herself from her chair.  "I think it's very elegant," she said as she slowly wandered around Gin, giving her the critical once-over.

"You really think so?" Gin asked, glancing down as she smoothed the skirt over her hips.  "You don't think that it's a little too . . .?"

"I think that it's perfect," Valerie insisted.

Gin peeked up at Evan before grasping Valerie's hands and pulling her closer.  "Well, but I wanted something a little . . . you know, sexier," she whispered as though she thought that Evan wouldn't overhear her.

Chuckling as his mother's shoulders flushed, Evan let go of her long enough to pull the ruby red dress that one of the salesgirls had brought back while Gin was changing off the nearby rack.  "Then try this one," he suggested.

Gin giggled as she hesitantly took the dress that he held out to her.  "Red?"

"Sure," he said.  "Red's sexy as hell."

She stared at it for a long moment but finally took it, her cheeks pinking a little more as she hurried off toward the dressing area once more.

Valerie waited until the door closed behind Gin before she leaned toward Evan.  "Evan?"

"Hmm?" he asked without taking his eyes off the door where his mother had disappeared.

"Can, uh . . . Can your mom actually do 'sexy'?" she asked.

"Mama?" Evan echoed, pinning Valerie with a rather shocked look as he dug a pack of gum out of his pocket.  Then he shifted his gaze back to the closed door once more, and he sighed.  "I don't know about 'sexy', but she's got 'cute' down to a science."

Nodding slowly, Valerie reached over and plucked the gum out of his hand.  "Yeah, she does," she mused as she pulled open the wrapper and bent the stick into her mouth.  "She really, really does . . ."


-Valerie-


Descendin g the stairs, Valerie rounded the banister and stared thoughtfully at the open door that led to the basement: Evan's room.  The sound of male laughter drifted to her, and she frowned.  Knocking on the wall or door wouldn't really do much to announce her intention of entering since the stereo and television seemed to be turned up way too loudly.  Creeping down the stairs, she blinked when she glanced over the railing, only to look again when the basement came into view.

She didn't know what to expect.  Evan had told her before that he'd been moved downstairs away from the rest of the family, but the way he'd said it had made it seem to her that maybe she'd misunderstood.  Of course, in hindsight, it seemed rather stupid to have believed that the Zeligs would have put their son in a less than gorgeous room, didn't it?  And it was true.

It wasn't just one room from what she could see.  No, there was another one behind a sheet glass wall, complete with recording machinery though not as many or as new as what she'd seen at White Wave.  Still, for a teenage kid, growing up with dreams of being the biggest star on the planet?  Not bad at all, she supposed.

In fact, the basement was very tastefully decorated with cherry wood paneling—not that cheap veneer paneling, but real panels of wood, interrupted only where the hulking stone fireplace ran the length of the room across from the French doors—a private entrance that led to the back yard behind the mansion.  On the far wall was a door that Valerie supposed led to his own private bathroom, and built into a small niche in the corner between the French doors and the bathroom was a desk with a very comfortable looking chair.

Evan had retired downstairs after dinner when Gavin had unceremoniously told him that he could 'kick his scrawny little ass', and for a moment, Valerie had thought that the two men were going to do something weird, like fight or something.

She should have known better.

The two of them were sitting in a couple overstuffed recliners with video game controllers in hand in front of a huge television mounted on the wall and surrounded by built-in shelving that matched the walls, and Valerie blinked at the very large stereo system beside the television—and just about every video system on the market, right there on the shelf.

"Cheater," Gavin grumbled despite the grin on his face as he reached over to smack Evan in the arm.

"The hell, Gavvie," Evan shot back with a chuckle.

"Now, now, you boys better play nicely," Jillian remarked as she strode over.  Valerie glanced over in the direction that Jillian had come from.  A small kitchenette?  Good grief . . .

"We are," Evan replied, grinning at his sister and reaching for the beer she held out to him as she passed.  "Thanks . . . Oh, hey, V!"

"Playing video games, Roka?" she asked baldly.

Evan grinned.  "Yup . . . and kicking ol' Gavin's ass, too."

"In your dreams, Evan," Gavin growled without taking his eyes off the television.  He even leaned to the side to keep from breaking his view of the television when Jillian settled into his lap.

Evan craned his neck to look back at Valerie as she slowly wandered forward.  "What's the matter, baby?  Want to go do something?"

Wrinkling her nose, Valerie rolled her eyes but smiled.  "Nope, just figured I'd see what you were doing and why you were being so quiet."

He grinned and glanced back at the television long enough to adjust the car on the screen before looking back at her again.  "You sure?"

"I'm sure," she replied.  "Besides, you seem like you're having fun."

Jillian kissed Gavin on the cheek before hauling herself out of his lap.  "You two get it all out of your systems," she said as she stretched her arms over her head and yawned.  "I'm going to bed . . . Are you coming up soon, Gavvie?"

Gavin grunted, making a face when Evan bumped his car and sent it veering off the road and nearly into a ditch.  "Aw, you little jerk!"

Evan laughed heartily.  "Call it payback for all the times you've beaten me," he retorted.  "Here!  Have some more!"

"Damn it!" Gavin growled, steering his car wide to avoid another nudge before aiming his vehicle at Evan's to bump him off the track.

Valerie grinned at the silly exchange since it just didn't jive with the image of the ultra-hip rock star that Evan liked to project in public.

Jillian rolled her eyes and grabbed Valerie's hand.  "Come on," she said, jerking her head at the two men who were wholly absorbed in the video game.  "They'll be at this for hours."

"Where are we going?" Valerie asked as Jillian dragged her back toward the stairs.

"Let's go have some tea," she said.

Following Jillian up the steps and through the house to the kitchen, Valerie couldn't help but smile at the vivacious, talkative woman.  "Hmm, do you know, you're the first woman that Evan's ever brought home for Christmas?" she asked as she reached for a small white square jar on the cupboard where Gin kept the teabags.

"Really?" Valerie couldn't help but ask as Jillian reached for the pot of hot water that was kept on the stove.

"Nope, not a one . . . Well, Madison normally comes by, but that doesn't really count.  I mean, they've been friends forever . . . You've met Maddy, right?"

"Uh, of course," she replied.  "She's a good friend of mine."

Jillian smiled, her sparkling blue eyes alight with a very warm, friendly glow.  "Good!  I mean, I've always worried that Evan's relationship with Madison would be difficult when he finally found his mate."

Valerie didn't say anything as she took her cup and followed Jillian to the table over by the windows that caught the morning sun coming up in the east.  Jillian's choice of words seemed odd to Valerie, but she ignored that.  No, the thing that made her the most uncomfortable was the foregone assumption—the belief—that Evan and she were boyfriend and girlfriend . . .

"You seem like you have a good head on your shoulders, too," Jillian went on, oblivious to Valerie's discomfort.  "You're good for him, if you want my opinion.  I mean, he's a great guy—the best guy—but he has his moments, doesn't he?"  She laughed and waved a hand dismissively.  "I guess you know that.  You're his attorney, right?"

For some reason, looking at Jillian's friendly, open face, Valerie bit her lip.  She couldn't help but to feel bad for the lie, and even if Evan did maintain that it was harmless, that it would keep his mother from asking him about his love life, the guilt that nudged at her was enough to make her shift in her seat.  "Uh," she said, clearing her throat to rid herself of the fist-sized lump that had somehow gotten lodged somewhere between her lips and her lungs.  "About that . . . We're not . . . not really together . . ."

Jillian laughed, lifting the teabag out of her cup with a spoon and carefully letting it drip a few times before moving it off to a small plate kept on the table for the used bags.  "Maybe not," she agreed easily enough, "but the two of you really are perfect for each other; that's what I think."

Valerie blinked and stared at Jillian, watching as the woman reached for a single packet of artificial sweetener.  "H-How would you know that?"

Her smile was entirely reassuring, yet completely unsettling, too.  There was a strange, almost spooky, sense of understanding that Valerie couldn't comprehend.  No, it wasn't that she couldn't comprehend it: she didn't want to, did she?

"It's all there in the way he looks at you," Jillian said as though it was the simplest thing in the world, as though she'd just told Valerie that the sky would be the steely-gray-blue of winter come morning . . .

"That . . . That can't be right," Valerie heard herself saying, her voice thin, almost transparent.

Jillian laughed like Valerie had just told her the best joke she'd heard in years.  Tossing her head back, the crystalline sound of her amusement tinkled against Valerie's nerves like a million shards of glass.  When she finally wound down, she reached across the table, patted Valerie's hand with hers, the warmth in her smile a palpable thing.  "You'll see," she said, her tone bright, happy.  "Anyway, I'm happy that he talked you into coming home with him."

"Hmm, what are you two chatting about?"

Valerie forced a weakened smile as she glanced over at the woman who had just sashayed into the kitchen.  Stepping over to the counter, Sydnie Zelig filled a teacup of her own and sauntered over to join them.

Jillian giggled and scooted over to make room for her sister-in-law.  "Nothing much, Sydnie.  Just telling Valerie that I'm glad that Evan twisted her arm."

Sydnie smiled as she slowly stirred the liquid in the teacup.  "You need to put that one on a shorter leash," she remarked.  "Though he is an awful lot of fun . . ."

Valerie snorted and sipped her tea.  "I don't think it's possible," she scoffed darkly.  "He only has two modes: 'bad' and 'worse'."

"Chop his balls off," Sydnie said matter-of-factly.  "That would teach him."

Unfortunately, Valerie had just taken a sip of tea but hadn't swallowed it yet.  As it was, she coughed and sputtered, sending a spray of tea across the table before she could grab a napkin out of the rack in the middle of the table to staunch it.  "Sorry," she muttered despite the bashful smile on her face.

Jillian wiped up the dribbles that had landed on the table near her and grinned.  "Now, Sydnie, Valerie might want to use those balls one day," she quipped.

Luckily, Valerie wasn't holding the tea at the time or she'd likely have spilled it, too.

Sydnie laughed—Valerie might have considered it more of a giggle, but she didn't really think that the sound actually qualified as that, either.  Infinitely warm, almost throaty, there was something entirely sultry about it—about her . . . Maybe that was why she had been Evan's dream woman for so long.  The term 'sex kitten' came to mind, which was silly.  Valerie hadn't ever really thought that anyone actually 'fit' that phrase before, yet here she was, staring at Evan's sister-in-law and thinking exactly that . . .

The two women kept talking—a conversation that Valerie wasn't really a part of.  She finished her tea and murmured her excuses before slipping out of the booth and making quick work of washing out her teacup.

The lights were turned down in the living room, and the mansion was quiet.  The clock on the mantle struck midnight as she headed toward the stairs.

Why was she feeling so entirely unsettled?  Why did she feel so isolated, so alone . . .?

Trudging up the stairs, hearing the laughter drifting through the house from the kitchen, she sighed.  She knew why, didn't she?

In her head, the image of that woman, throwing her arms around Evan's neck, kissing him like she owned him, and he . . . Well, he certainly hadn't tried to stop her, now had he?

She sighed as she stepped into the bedroom and closed the door.  That was stupid, wasn't it?  After all, it wasn't like he was her boyfriend or anything, so what did it matter, who he kissed?

It didn't, damn it . . .

. . . Even if he had told his mother, his family, that they were dating.

It shouldn't matter to her, should it?  It shouldn't bother her, not really.  After all, she was his attorney, and even if they were friends, too, she didn't really have a say over what he did or didn't do, and even then, that woman—She'd gone to school with him a long time ago, right?

Right.

Which, of course, didn't do a damn thing to make her feel any better about it all.  Nope, if anything, it only served to further her irritation overall.  That was how he'd lived his entire life, wasn't it?  Moving from girl to girl without trying to work at something more permanent, always telling himself that they didn't want more from him, and in so doing, never bothering to make the effort to prove them wrong at all . . . It was the rock star mentality, something he'd had since well before the world had ever heard of 'Zel Roka'.  A guy like that couldn't change, could he?  And worse, he could be just as earnest, just as charming as anyone else, but the ugly truth of it was that it would always, always, end the same way: with regrets and broken promises and good intentions gone so wrong . . . Unfortunately, she'd started to think somewhere in the back of her mind that maybe, just maybe, Evan was being sincere about his feelings.  Some small part of her had started to believe that he was real, that his intentions were true, after all, and worse, if she were to be completely honest with herself, she would have to admit that that small part of her wanted him to be serious, and maybe . . .

And maybe that was the hardest thing to swallow . . .

Even if she wanted to, she couldn't live her life like he did.  She already had more than enough regrets, didn't she—a lifetime of them.  Adding Evan Zelig to that list . . .

It wasn't something that she could do.


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A/N:
'Your Baby Never Looked Good in Blue' originally appeared on Exposé's 1989 release, What You Don't Know.  Song written by and copyrighted to Diane Warren.
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
Oh, Evan
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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 115
Chapter 117
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