InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ New Snow ( Chapter 117 )

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


'< i>Beauty queen of only eighteen …
'She had some trouble with herself
'He was always there to help her
'She always belonged to someone else …'

-'She Will Be Loved' by Maroon 5.


"How much farther?"

Evan chuckled and glanced back at Valerie.  She didn't look uncomfortable, and that was a good sign.  She was hanging in like a real trooper, though; he had to give her credit for that.  Considering they'd just spent the last four hours, riding the perimeter of the Zelig estate, she was doing a good job of either hiding her discomfort or she'd lied to him about having never been on a horse before . . .

'Come to think of it, we're not feeling too great, either,' his youkai pointed out.

Stifling a sigh, Evan had to allow that was true.  The saddle he was using was slightly smaller since Cain's saddle was apparently being retooled so certain parts of him were rubbing uncomfortably against the saddle horn . . . No doubt about it, he should've taken the time to run into Bevelle to buy himself a saddle before dragging Valerie out of the mansion for the venture.

"We're almost there," Evan assured her.  "You'll like it; I swear.  Watch your head," he admonished as he ducked to avoid a low-hanging branch.  A few steps later, he entered the clearing around the small pond—Jillian's pond—and he reined in the horse.  A moment later, Valerie's horse stepped out of the foliage, and she let out a sharp breath as her eyes widened, as she stared in wonder at the quiet beauty of the surroundings.  Even covered with a blanket of snow that extended up and over the frozen shoreline, the thing that saved the pond from freezing over completely was the small waterfall on the far side.  "When I was young, Jilli and I went swimming here all the time," he said.

Valerie smiled as she stared at the rippling water on the unfrozen side of the pond.  "It's gorgeous," she breathed, her eyes sparkling as she continued to take in her surroundings: of the new snow that had fallen last night to blanket the world in a pristine white blanket.  His footprints and hers were the only ones to mar the perfection.  Maybe it was fanciful to think so, but it was almost as though they were the only two people on earth . . . "I can't believe you got to grow up here, surrounded by all of this . . ."

Slipping off his horse, Evan tethered him to a nearby tree before stepping over to pull Valerie down.  "Yeah, not so bad," he admitted with a shrug.  She wandered toward the pond while he secured her horse to a different tree.  "I told you Maine was worth seeing, didn't I?"

"You did," she agreed softly, drawing in a deep breath as she wrapped her arms around herself a little tighter.

"Cold?" he asked, slipping his arm around her waist.

She shot him a quick glance, a startled glance, but smiled.  "A little," she said.

He sighed and frowned as she started to walk, and he fell into step beside her.  He'd sensed it all day, hadn't he?  There was something bothering her, and he knew it.  In fact, if he were to be completely honest with himself, he'd have to admit that he knew what that 'something' was likely to be.  Even though she'd sworn this morning over her grapefruit and coffee that she was 'fine; just fine', he'd known.

'Well, you know, a little advice.'

'From you?'

'Of course.'

Evan snorted inwardly.  'And what's that?'

His youkai-voice heaved a sigh.  'The next time some woman who isn't V comes rushing up and kisses you?  Step back, stupid.  Just step back.'

'Like I knew she was going to do that,' he shot back as he glanced at Valerie and grimaced.  'All right; all right.  Point taken.'

'Good; good . . . Now fix it, will you?'

Evan gave a curt nod, though he had the feeling that it would be easier said than done.  "You're still pissed off about that whole thing with Chera," he mused, trying for a nonchalant tone of voice.

"Uh, no," she insisted, her smile thin, wavering.  "An old friend, right?"

"Something like that," he allowed, covering his unease with a curt cough.

She digested that for a long moment then slowly nodded.  "You slept with her, didn't you?"

It wasn't really a question despite the way she'd asked it.  Evan stifled a sigh.  "Not . . . recently . . ."

Stopping short, she turned to face him.  He could see the gathering clouds of impending doom blowing in behind her gaze.  "How recently is not recently?"

"Well . . . I might've hooked up with her once or twice since I left Maine," he admitted, "but that was years ago, V."

She nodded slowly, as though something was starting to make sense to her.  "I see . . . So that's why she was comfortable enough to come up and grope you in public . . . I don't know whether to think that she's a damn skank or you're a man-whore—Oh, wait.  I already knew that one . . ."

Evan chuckled, relieved that she was calm enough for her acerbic sense of humor to make an appearance.  "Man-whore sounds so trailer-trash," he quipped as he slipped his arm around her waist once more and started walking again.  "How about . . . purveyor of the flesh?"

"Sounds like a pimp," she replied.

He laughed. "Okay, you're right.  Barrister of the booty-calls?"

"N-N-No-o-o-o," she drawled.

"Professor of Puss-ology?"

"Dream on, Roka."

"Great god of the almighty orgasm?"

"Stop while you're ahead, Roka," she retorted, crossing her arms over her chest, pulling her coat a little closer at her throat.  "Man-whore will have to do."

Rolling his eyes, he heaved a sigh designed to let her know what he thought of that title despite the grin on his face.  "You win, V, but I swear to God, you don't have any reason to be jealous.  Just say the word, and I'm all yours."

That earned him a stern look.  "I'm not jealous," she scoffed, tossing her head defiantly.  "Don't be ridiculous!"

Evan laughed.  He couldn't help himself.  She looked so indignant, so self-righteous, he just couldn't contain it.  "Okay, you're not jealous," he agreed easily enough.

She jerked away from him and stomped off, which, curiously, only made him laugh harder.

There was a giddy kind of relief that washed through him—relief that she wasn't nearly as upset with him as he'd thought that she was.  Well, that wasn't entirely accurate.  She wasn't nearly as upset with him as she had been, and that was something.  She'd come around eventually.  Sooner or later, she'd have to allow that he really wasn't as unreliable as she seemed to think that he was.  It was just a matter of time . . .


Wandering through the Zelig mansion alone, Valerie frowned, rubbing her forearms under the bulky turtleneck sweater that she'd donned right after the two hour soak that she'd indulged in when she'd discovered that her morning spent on the back of a horse had left her unbelievably sore from about the middle of her back down that she'd actually thought that she just might cry as she'd trudged back to the house with Evan, who didn't look any worse for wear from their excursion, which really just figured.

But it was fun, she had to admit, even though she wasn't entirely sure that she wanted to see let alone ride another horse for at least a few days, until her body stopped screaming bloody murder . . .

At least, that's what she'd thought until she was stretched out in the steaming hot water in the huge tub—easily big enough to fit three of her, and then some—and Gin had come in with a cheesecloth sachet of some herbs that she's hung over the faucet by the white ribbon strings that held it closed.  She'd said that it would help with the stiffness and soreness, and Valerie wasn't entirely sure what kind of herbs were in there.  She could smell them, but they were so well mixed that they didn't have one single distinctive aroma, and though the thought had occurred to her at one point that she was simmering like a soup, she'd stayed in the tub a lot longer anyway.

Thanks to that sachet, she felt pretty good, actually.  Now, if she could just find Evan . . .

She'd already been down in the living room.  Gavin had said that Evan had gone to the kitchen to get a sandwich, but he'd had his eyes glued on the television screen where he was playing a video game of some sort. S,o she'd gone to the kitchen where Bas had been pouring a glass of milk.  He'd said that he saw Evan upstairs earlier in the east wing of the house.

The east wing of the house, she found, was one of the largely unused areas in the mansion.  Most of the bedroom doors were closed—Valerie had checked them to see if Evan was in one of the four guestrooms—and those rooms were a little more clinical, a little colder, but that was likely because of the emptiness.  They weren't lived in: there were no personal touches.  Oh, Gin had decorated them beautifully despite the white dust covers that were carefully laid over all the furniture—ghosts in the fading morning light—and despite the stripped beds with the carefully pressed linens in thick clear plastic bags that were stretched over the foot of the beds, waiting to be shaken out and used.  They rivaled some of the most lavish suites at the best hotels in the world.  In fact, most of them were laid out with a few rooms, like a small apartments, but there was a certain lived-in feel that was missing, too . . .

One of the rooms, though—actually, the only door on the right side of the corridor—had a glass door, and Valerie hadn't opened that one.  She didn't have to, but looking through the pane of sheet glass, she'd seen what had to be Cain and Gin's studio.  Evan had mentioned it before, and she'd smiled to herself at the sunny feel that reached her, even from the outside.  Cain was standing before the huge wall of windows, his back to her while he worked on a canvas that she couldn't see.  Shirtless, he was, which surprised her.  She didn't know why, but it did.  What also surprised her?  From the back?  Hair aside, Evan looked just like his father, didn't he?  Maybe she simply hadn't looked for it before.  After all, she'd only met Cain Zelig once before her trip to Maine.  Maybe it was just because they dressed so differently that it had been easier to miss.  Cain was a little broader in the shoulders, even a little bulkier, muscle-wise, but the overwhelming similarity was there.  If he had that tattoo on his shoulder, and if his hair was silver instead of bronze in color . . .

She also wasn't entirely sure what Gin had been talking about when she'd accused him of getting 'chubby', either.  From what she'd seen, there wasn't a thing wrong with him; not at all.  Of course, Cain had turned right around and built his own snowman—or woman, as the case was.  He'd even put breasts on her, which had made Gin's cheeks turn bright red, likely because the ones on the snowwoman were obscenely huge . . .

Of course, none of that solved the question of where Evan was, and Valerie bit her lip as she moved toward the door at the end of the corridor: the last room in this wing of the house.

She pushed the door open, expecting to find another guestroom: maybe a larger one than the others she'd already seen.  If he wasn't in here, would he be up on the top floor?  He'd said before that the fourth level wasn't actually used unless they were having a lot of guests, but it was possible, she supposed . . . Pushing open the door, she started to step inside, but with a sharply indrawn breath, she stopped.  What she found, however, made her eyes widen, and without considering whether or not she really ought to go in, she wandered forward and into a seeming realm of someone else's imagination.

It was a small gallery, wasn't it?  Portraits lined every wall including the moveable ones arranged throughout.  Stands with gorgeous, intricate statues arranged under domes of glass, so many works of art that it was almost unreal.

She frowned as she slowly moved over to stand in front of the nearest painting: Gin, wasn't it?  Wearing a gauzy white nightgown, it looked like, her hands folded atop her very large, pregnant belly as she stood in front of a window, half-hidden by billowing sheer curtains, the sunlight filtering through the windows, casting golden squares on her face.  Even the diamond ring on her finger sparkled and shone, caught so intricately by the delicate hand of the artist.

But if it was Gin in the painting, then Cain had to have been the one who had to have captured that insular moment?  Sure, she'd known that the family was related to Cain Zelig, the renowned artist.  She just hadn't realized that Evan's father had so obviously inherited the artist's talent as well as his name.

The next painting was gorgeous, almost hauntingly so; an instant captured on canvas of a mother and her golden-bronze haired infant.  'Bas . . .' she thought as she stared at the painting, and yet, it was difficult to reconcile the image with the man he had grown up to be.

Painting after painting, portraying moments that had to have been so fleeting, so poignant in the knowledge that they would never come again despite the serenity, the peace, reflected in them . . . Could a mortal eye really capture so many of them and with such clarity?  And how many of them were meant to be moments that weren't shared, at all?  So much intimacy there in those images, so much love . . . They were extraordinary, weren't they?

A little girl with the same golden bronze hair and the same sapphire blue eyes as Cain—as Evan—with such a brilliant smile as she posed so proudly in her beautiful dresses . . . a boy with golden-bronze hair and startling golden eyes—Bas, chronicled in time as he grew older . . . A sweet little baby with a mad tuft of flyaway silvery hair and dazzling blue eyes—his father's eyes—always grinning; always grinning . . . A little girl with hair so pale that it almost seemed to possess a bluish tint, a shy smile on her face . . .

"Ah . . . I see you found the gallery," Cain Zelig remarked quietly, a gentle smile on his lips as he leaned casually in the doorway, lost in the copious folds of the nondescript white button down shirt that he'd donned since she had spotted him in his studio earlier.

"Oh, uh, I-I-I'm sorry," she blurted, her cheeks pinking as she realized a moment too late that she really had no right to be in here . . .

Pushing himself away from the doorframe, Cain stepped forward, the smile on his face dissolving fast.  "No, no, it's fine," he insisted.  "I don't mind if you take a look around."

"If you're sure . . ."

He smiled again and shrugged.  "I'm sure," he said.

She smiled, too, though hers was a little self-conscious.  "Did you paint all of these?"

To her surprise, the man actually blushed, scratching the back of his neck in a decidedly nervous sort of way as he shuffled his feet.  "Uh, not all of them," he allowed.  "Gin painted some of them."

Valerie nodded as she glanced around, but she spotted a painting that drew her forward.  It was a good deal darker than most of the paintings.  It seemed to her that Cain's work tended to be lighter, more ethereal, but that must have been a conscious choice, because the image that she was staring at was a lot darker, a lot moodier: an image of Evan, on stage, his movement adding a hazy blur to the edges of him, his hair flying up to cover part of his face.  The frenetic energy of his shows was somehow captured by the stroke of a paintbrush in grays and blues and cold, stark whites . . .

There was something heartbreaking, raw about that image, and yet the same feel of love that seemed to saturate every painting in the private gallery was there, too, and without conscious thought, she lifted her hand, brushed her fingertips over the dried paint.

"He always was brighter than anyone else," Cain murmured, coming to stand directly behind Valerie.  "Bas was always quieter . . . Jilli was always sillier, but Evan . . ." Trailing off for a moment as he struggled to find the right words, Cain sighed.  "Evan's always . . . kind of glowed, if that makes any sense . . ." Heaving a sigh, he shook his head, as though he didn't think he'd actually been able to convey what he was thinking.

"I think it does," she said quietly, her hand falling away from it.  "I guess they call that 'star quality'."

Cain shrugged, reaching out to touch the painting in much the same way that she had just done.  "I think I worry about him more than I've worried about the rest of my kids, combined," he admitted quietly.  Eyebrows drawing together in a thoughtful scowl, he stuffed his hands into his pockets as he turned away, as he shuffled over to the window.  "He's always done whatever his heart tells him to do," he went on.  Valerie had to wonder if Cain even realized that he was talking out loud or not.  "It's always seems to work out for him in the end . . . I just . . . I hope it always does."

The silence that fell over the room was telling.  This man . . . This was the father that Evan believed never wanted him?  The man that Evan antagonized and refused to call 'dad' . . .?

Suddenly, though, Cain seemed to shake himself, seemed to remember that he wasn't alone, after all.  Leaning toward the window, he blinked and uttered a half-laugh.  "What the hell is he up to now . . .?" he muttered though he sounded more amused than anything else.

"Evan?" Valerie asked.

He nodded.  "Yeah . . . But it's hard telling with him . . ."

She closed the distance between herself and Cain, following the direction of his gaze, only to do a double take when she spotted the man in question, hunkered down on the beach not too far from the water's edge, and he appeared to be digging.  "What on earth . . .?"

"I don't know," Cain ventured, turning away from the window with a sheepish little smile on his face, "and I'm not so sure that I want to know, either."


"So . . . What do you think you're doing?"

Evan glanced up from his task of arranging wood in the in the rock-lined pit he'd dug in the pebbly sand after he'd scraped the snow away from earlier, grinning broadly when he spotted Valerie.  Her gorgeous blonde hair was blowing off her face as she wandered toward him, her arms were crossed over her stomach under the thick down of the ski jacket that she'd grabbed before stepping out of the mansion.  "Hey, baby," he called back.  "Don't suppose you're hungry, are you?"

Raising an eyebrow as she glanced at the pile of near frozen seaweed that he'd gathered—another adventure, really, but not so important at the moment—she shook her head.  "What are you up to?" she asked suspiciously.

"A clam bake," he said simply, straightening his back and patting his pockets for the book of matches that he'd grabbed before leaving the mansion.

"A what?"

He chuckled as he pulled the matches out and hunkered down to light the firewood he'd stacked up.  "Aww, c'mon, woman.  You've been to a New England clam bake before, haven't you?"

She snorted, looking less and less enthusiastic by the second.  "Not in December, not in the snow, and . . . no, I haven't."

Evan blinked, the first match he'd struck sputtering and dying since he'd stopped shielding it when she'd admitted that she'd never been to a real clam bake before.  "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Rolling her eyes, she made a face.  "No, I'm not . . . and it's freezing out here, if you didn't notice."

"Eh, give me a minute.  It won't be cold for long," he promised.  "It's not freezing, anyway.  It's at least a couple degrees over."

She snorted yet again.  "Evan?"

"Yes, baby?"

". . . I'm not staying out here with you."

"Okay, baby."

"And I'm not your baby."

"Sure thing, baby."

She uttered a terse little growl.  "Stop calling me 'baby'."

"Right, right . . ." he said as he dug into his other pocket for the wad of dryer lint he'd grabbed before heading outside.  He pulled it into pieces and stuffed the pieces into a few crevices here and there.  Those lit quite nicely, and, satisfied that the fire was going to take off, he sat back on his haunches and grinned at Valerie.  "Hey, baby?"

She heaved a very long, very drawn out sigh.  "What?"

"I stuck some beers into the snow behind that log if you want one."

She rolled her eyes again, muttering under her breath about ignorant men and stupid ideas and didn't he realize that it was cold outside as she stomped over to grab one of the bottles out of the snow.

~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~ =~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
'She Will Be Loved' by Maroon 5 first appeared on the 2002 album, Songs about Jane.  Copyrighted to Adam Levine, James Valentine.
== == == == == == == == == ==
monkeyseemonkeynodo ------ Kynkii ------ RisikaFox ------ OROsan0677 ------ Tashwampa ------ theablackthorn ------  Titiana ------ CatLover260
OROsan0677 ------ cutechick18 ------ Shiratsuki
Thought from Valerie:
A clam bake …?!
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 116
Chapter 118
« Fanfic Author Profile »
« Other FanFics By This Author »
« Add Author to Favorites »

« Write Review »
« Read (2357) Reviews »
« Add Fan Fiction to Favorites »
« Alert Webmaster »